Sunday, June 8, 2014

Florida: the early days

6/5/2014 8:22pm Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola Florida

I’m taking Florida slow. It’s a long state, and I want to go to the tip of it. Why must there be a national park at the tip? Why can’t there just be nothing and then I can continue on? Oh woe. Oh well. It’ll take all of tomorrow to get near St. Petersburg, and even then I’ll probably do the rest stop thing before continuing on. Leah put the word out there so hopefully I can have somewhere to crash.

But I’m getting ahead of myself: Alabama! Easy driving. I gained an hour when I crossed the state lines, and that hour has yet to take itself back. I picked up this pamphlet for this chevre place, but when I finally located which city it was in (the map on the pamphlet was ambiguous and my GPS was being difficult) it was soooo far out of my way. Tip: if you are going to put a pamphlet in a welcome center, include a map of your state with a little star showing just where you are generally located.

So I continued south. Through Birmingham. Lovely skies, but very warm. My friend Alicia didn’t get off work till late, so I had some time to cruise around Montgomery. I got some iced tea and sent off some postcards. I wandered around the Riverfront. I melted from the humidity and had to change my shirt because of it. I don’t know how people can live with this humidity all the time! I guess lots of A/C and not going outdoors. Montgomery was weirdly vacant for a city of its size. Not a lot of traffic or congestion, but it seemed built in a way that there should have been more. I found my way to a mall and enjoyed their a/c for a while. At 8 I returned downtown and met Alicia at the Riverfront Baseball Stadium. She used to work there so she had free vouchers for the game and coupons for food! Yay! The Montgomery minor league baseball team is the Biscuits and their mascot is some “biscuit loving beast” that looks like some weirdo ant eater thing. Very odd. The Biscuits didn’t win, but it was fun anyway! Nice to get a bit of Americana in on this America trip. We wandered around a bit and talked, but she had work in the mornings so we said out goodbyes.

I made my way south, and the second rest stop forbade overnight parking so I backtracked to the first and slept there. Got an 8amish start and 3 hours later I was at the Gulf of Mexico! The Alabama Gulf Shores State Park was full, so I continued East into Florida and Big Lagoon had space! So I got a spot there. Nice to have camp set up early in the day, and to have shower facilities. After I was refreshed, I got my swimsuit on and headed to the beach. And there was a National Park beach which had an entrance fee which my annual pas covered. I’m now two bucks from making it pay for itself. And since there was a fee, the beach wasn’t all that populated. I spent 3 hours alternating swimming and reading my Kindle. I applied sunblock at reasonable intervals. Reasonable to prevent sunburn but still with some allowances for tan. I’ve never been tan, so that is something I’d like to try to achieve on this trip. I want to come back to Washington not looking at all like a Washingtonian.

I went to Sonic for the first time, and got a shake and some onion rings, but only after being trapped in some heinous traffic. Such bad traffic here! And wow the hotels are just massive, one after another along the beach totally obliterating any view the people on the other side of the road would have. Why are they so big? Could they ever be possibly filled up?

So the shake was good. I watched the sunset down at the lagoon and a Heron strut by me. Now I shall retreat into my tent and hopefully I haven’t been bitten by too many mosquitos. Check out is 1, so that is nice. Ample time to sleep in, pack up, and plan. Once I leave it’ll be a lot of driving, so what’s the rush?

I wonder how long Florida will take me? I’ll have to see how long it takes me to get down to Key West and Tortugas National Park.

6/8/2014 10am Silvia’s Place, Sarasota, Florida

To answer how long Florida will take me: a while. But I took the scenic route, so spending the entirety of the 6th driving was my own doing. I was so excited about the possibility of sleeping in that I forgot about how hot it gets in a tent. My own private sauna. So 8ishamish I got up and quickly packed up my tent before I got too hot. Then began the drive. I took 98east, which curved along the coast of Florida. Very nice, with plenty of pretty Gulf views, bridges, palm trees, and goliath hotel complexes. And it took hours. Hours and hours. It wasn’t a fast road, and it went through many towns so there were lights. But it was good on fuel economy to not go 70mph down an interstate.

But that fuel economy gets less appealing when you’ve been driving for 5 hours and still have 3+ more to go. My goal was Gainsville, which was on 75 and then to go on to a rest stop. The sun was setting at the first rest stop and it was set when I got to the second, where after I paid for an ice cream bar from an ice cream vending machine in nickels, I went to sleep. But oh I forgot to mention: the first Friday of June is National Doughtnut Day, so I procured a free (with beverage purchase) doughnut at Dunkin’ Doughnuts in celebration. Viva doughnuts!

It was a quick drive to St. Petersburg. A relatively quick drive. Hour and a half, tops. Which is the Santa Cruz to San Francisco time.

I arrived at the Dali Museum at 9:30, but it doesn’t open till 10. I paid to park there, with the full intention of leaving my car there while I walked around the city, regardless of if I was in the museum or not. Suck it! Plus with a dude there watching the cars, it was probably a safe spot to leave my car.

The Dali Museum is neat but I kinda feel that if they don’t have a temporary exhibit going, the admission should be cheaper by about five bucks. But audio tours were included, so I got one of those. So I had never ever seen any of Dali’s HUGE paintings before. Like the later year stuff. Massive detailed well painted things. He can paint, he just didn’t. There was a quote of I think Gala’s that once you’ve seen the Melting Clocks, you never forget it. Which is true. Dali tends to fall out of favor with art students once they get to be sophomores. Some sort of shedding of past interests for favor of more nuanced/informed ones I guess. Either way, his stuff that wasn’t the surrealism was really awesome. I don’t mind his surrealism, I just think some of it gets a bit repetitive.

The museum was made to hold these people’s collection of his work, so it was a nice array from his life time. His early work was nice to see in its clumsiness. But damn the later work! I just wish there was some Philippe Halsman. I really love his photographic collaborations with Dali so much. Halsman is one of my favorite photographers, and they didn’t even have any of his postcards! They had a 16 buck card set. And they had the photobook he did with Dali “Dali’s Mustache” but it was priced at $20 but on the display copy you could see it was suggested at 12.95. Rip off!

So I left the museum and pulled up my gps and entered “brewery” and Green Bench Brewing was a mileish away, so I went there. I got diverted into Morean Art Gallery Place Thingy, where they had a free print exhibit. There were three separate shows: a collab between artists and their printer, student prints, and… something else in between. I really liked the Alex Katz prints but they were priced exactly as much as they knew they were worth. That’s why you buy prints from people starting out! I have a nice little print collection, plus the several print portfolios I’ve been in. Anyway, some of the artist that I really liked were Trenton Doyle Hancock, Malcolm Morely, Bradlee Shanks, Eri Holschen Almazan, Jay Wallace, Yuji Hiratsuka, and M. Robyn Wall. The exhibit mostly made me think of how amazing the printmakers are that I know. Robin Milliken, Heather Birdsong, Alyson Provax, Anthony Roberto, BT Livermore… yeah I know some great people.

Green Bench was hoppin’. I got a pretzel and after a couple samples I went with the coffee pot bayou porter. I was the only one who ordered it. Many people favored the Green Bench IPA.

Same place, same date, 2:53 pm

We went to the beach. Lido Beach. I swum a bit and read in the sun. Got some rays on my upper thighs. I have an ombre tan on my legs right now, due to the varying lengths of the shorts I wear. And my pink skin is starting to be less pink. Hurray! After the beach we went to an Indian restaurant which was having a lunch buffet and I had two plates of various curries and rice and a plate of salad and rice pudding. Silvia asked why I ate so much. Well, I don’t know when I’ll get another big meal? Some days I don’t each much on the road. And now I’m good to go for the rest of the day.

But where was I? Oh yes, Green Bench. I had a my beer and snackums and chatted with the bartender. Lots of beards, which surprised me considering how warm it was. And the bartenders were wearing cute shorts that cut off right above their knees. I like those length of shorts on guys, especially when they have nice gams. I should go to more breweries and oogle more bartenders.

It was a nice walk back. I returned to the Dali Museum and gave the exhibits another eye ball before I headed out to Sarasota. I paid the toll on the bridge in more nickels and dimes. I need to get some cash in the advent of more toll roads.

Didn’t take long at all to get to Silvia. She made me an omelette and heated up some left overs and fried plantains. I’ll never need to eat again once I leave Sarasota! In the evening, we went to Ocean Blues and listened to the music. Silvia sweet talked the dancing instructor dude, who was the only other person my age at the bar, to dance with me. Hee hee hee.

But seriously, I was the youngest by 20 years, and that’s being very generous. There was a singles meet up happening and the guys just didn’t try at all! They were wearing tees tucked into jeans while the ladies had nice tops and dresses and skirts, and their makeup was done well. Just generally good looking gals and men who couldn’t be bothered! Tsk tsk.

I got to sleep in a bed again. That was nice. Woke up before 9! I was expecting to sleep in for way too many hours. So now I guess I shall take my leave. It’s been lovely but I must go further south.

No comments: