Carolina: Cruising Past 70: WOW: Saying Goodbye to Florida!

Monday, March 26, 2012

WOW: Saying Goodbye to Florida!

Bill sharing the boardwalk with a friendly Florida alligator...
beauty in Spanish moss covered oaks...
We arrived in Florida Nov. 9, 2011. Through Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas, New Year, Valentines’ Day, Bill’s birthday, and St. Patrick’s Day, we enjoyed the warmth of the Florida sun. But now we must start our trek to the north towards Nova Scotia where in July Bill’s high school buddies are holding their nth reunion. Following that we go to Quebec and Ontario before driving through Bill’s boyhood home in Pittsburg, Kansas for their 50th year reunion. Then we spend winter in southwest USA or the Philippines for a change.

As we bid Florida goodbye, I thought about what sets this sunshine state unmistakably apart from the rest. I have come up with these Top 10 things we will miss:

beautiful palm trees adorn buildings, too
Spanish Moss and Palm Trees
Spanish moss is a flowering plant that grows upon larger trees, hanging from tree branches in full sun or partial shade, depriving the host tree of nutrients. In the long run, it overtakes the host. The process makes for plenty of unique tree/moss combinations that can ironically be things of beauty.  Aside from Spanish moss engulfed oak and cypress trees, Florida is the home of ubiquitous palm trees. Many varieties of palm trees abound, adorning streets, homes, buildings, and parks. Feels like home!

miles and miles of white powdery beaches...
Florida’s beaches also remind me of home. Her coastline is all of 1350 miles, 580 along the Atlantic Ocean and 770 along the Gulf of Mexico. On the Atlantic Ocean the more famous are South Beach, Miami Beaches, Ft. Lauderdale Beach, and Daytona Beach. On the Gulf Side are the Tampa Bay Beaches, etc. Then, of course there are the Keys where you literally have white sand beaches on both sides of the highway that connects the islands.

The Sunshine State!
Sunshine and Snowbirds
Florida’s climate, like the Philippines, is tropical. Winters can have lows in the mid30s at night but daytime hovers around high 70s and low 80s. Almost every day is a day of sunshine, perfect for all outdoor activities. Thus snowbirds come in droves to escape the cold in their hometowns up north. A University of Florida study says about a million of them temporarily add to Florida’s population every winter.  Most come from the northeastern part of the country with about 5% coming from Canada.

snowbirds include Bill and me!
golf carts, instead of cars, park in front of stores!
Golf Carts and Flea Markets
They usually congregate around retirement communities and the hundreds of RV campgrounds in the state. One of the hallmarks of these communities are those cute little golf carts plying to and fro the vast resort acreages at tops 10mph on their own little roads! They fancy the thriving flea markets that spring up on weekends or other special days. The snowbirds love shopping there. I found 3 new summer dresses at the Webster’s flea market for only $30!

just a tiny section of Webster's Monday flea market!

ubiquitous Florida Citrus Centers... 
Oranges and Alligators
Then there are 17 varieties of oranges, all known for their sweet taste and juiciness. They make up 70% of all the citrus fruits sold in the US each year. We always have a lot of oranges when we are in Florida. I love the red navels the best! But as common as oranges are! Most of the campgrounds have small ponds or lakes that have a couple of alligators swimming around. You see a lot of signs that say, ‘Please do not feed the alligators’. I used to be afraid to go near those ponds. I will miss them, too.

Theme Parks
this balloon will always lead you
 to Downtown Disney
My grandkids visited us last holiday season and they specifically said they did not want to experience them. They had only one thing on their minds: the giant theme parks. There were about 80 million visitors in 2004, making Florida the top travel destination in the world, generating an economic impact of $57 billion on Florida’s economy. The biggest draws are Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando. But there seems to be always new parks opening, the latest being LegoLand.

So if by chance you are visiting Florida, please do not forget to go to Key West, the Everglades, Miami and Tampa Bay Beaches, the Kennedy Space Center, and the Orlando theme parks. If you have more time, there are so many amazing places. We tried to describe as many as we can in our posts from our visits in the winters of 2011/2012 and 2009/2010. This is the state we have most thoroughly covered. In fact, we could choose to settle down here, if only our children are not all in the west. So with much regret, Bill and I bid a sad goodbye to this awesome sunshiny state!