Road Trip 2 - Florida (Part One)

Trip Start Aug 07, 2001
Trip End Dec 19, 2001

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Evening all,

I'm sitting back in the same old WIU computer lab in Macomb as I write to
you - how depressing. Moreover, the weather that has greeted me upon my
return to Western would make Manchester jealous - grey, cold, drizzle.

Anyways, as you've probably gathered, I'm in post-holiday blues. This can
mean only one thing though - I had a top holiday. Indeed I did!!! As I
mentioned in my last email, I was going to Florida for the first half of
thanksgiving brake. So...

The adventure began last Thursday week (15th) at about 4pm. There was an
entirely new cast for this sequel (apart from myself of course). I was
joined by Jon (English guy and best mate over here), Dick (yank) and James
(yank). Oh, and a Toyota Corolla - the loyal slave. So, off we set on our 18
hour (straight through) drive. We were each clad in shorts and a t-shirt in
anticipation of the Florida sun, and armed to the teeth with munchies and
Mountain Dew (guaranteed to keep us awake).

After what seemed like forever we finally reached the end of Illinois (it
really is a long State) and headed in to Kentucky. At this stage Jon and I
tried to no avial to get a photo of the 'Welcome to Kentucky' sign. It had
been our intention to take one of every state we passed through - we ended
up getting only the Florida one. After Kentucky, we hit Tennessee and drove
through the Mountains - their name escapes me, but they seemed more like
molehills to me anyway. After Tennessee we hit Georgia, stopping once more
for gas and to say hello to the local hicks. From the cotton fields of
Georgia (again, another very long State), we finally hit Gator country/the
Sunshine State/the Retirement State - whichever you prefer, we'd reached
Florida. We got there in just 17 hours, and after just 4 gas stops, 2 meal
stops, 79 Waffle House's (we made a point of counting them on the way back),
and no sleep.

The first thing that struck me about Florida, as the sun came up, was not
the warm, sunny weather, but how green it was. 17 hours earlier, we'd left a
leafless, lifeless Illinois, and now we were surrounded by Spanish Moss and
Palm trees - sweet.

We were staying at James' brother's house in a small town named Tavares,
half way between Tampa Bay and Orlando. Upon our arrival, we were hot and in
need of freshening up. So we changed in to our swimmies and headed for the
conveniently placed lake opposite our new home. It was a beautiful day with
sunny blue skies and temperatures around 80. The water was wonderful though
quite cold. We threw the football around for a bit and swam a little.
However, it was hard to completely relax as we had been informed that the
lake was home to several gators. Even though we were assured they only feed
at dawn and dusk, you couldn't help jumping everytime you felt or heard

Later that night, James' bro (John) cooked us up some steak, mashed potato,
brocoli, onions and gravy. It was the first home cooked meal I'd had since
early August and it was fantastic. That night we all slept very well, having
not slept for almost 2 days.

After enjoying a good nights sleep, I was abruptly woken up by Jake and
Dustin, 1 and 3 years old repectively. They were very loud the entire length
of our stay, but were equally adorable. This was my cue to shower and get
ready for the days activity - Daytona Beach. It took us only an hour to
drive there, and upon our arrival we felt it rude not to stop in at the
local Hooters for lunch. After lunch we hit the beach. The beach was pretty
empty and not what I'd been expecting. I guess this is what you get when you
come in November not Spring Break though. This did not deter us though.
James decided it would be a good idea if we each chug a beer and then run
into the sea. However, having just eaten 25 chicken wings to himself, James'
stomach clearly didn't approve of such a plan - he proceeded to vomit all
over the sands of Daytona. After a few minutes James was ready to complete
the second half of his plan, and we ran all the way down the beach and
straight in the sea. I was expecting it to be freezing - it was mid-November
after all. Instead it was very nice. After swimming in the waves and playing
football in the shallow water for a while, we called it a day. The whole
experience of swimming in the ocean in the middle of November was quite
surreal and one I won't forget in a hurry. Also memorable about the beach
was the presence of 2 complete rainbows. It was breathtaking -we tried to
get photos, but couldn't fit the whole thing in. I'd never seen one complete
let alone two that were so vivid. Rainbow? That must mean it rained! Indeed
it did, but we were wet anyway so it didn't matter.

Later that night, John took us to a local pool hall and bar. We drank a few
suds and shot some pool and the night was pretty good. However the highlight
of the evening was the copious amount of mullets we saw. Obviously, they
never went out of fashion in these parts - very disturbing!!! Upon our
return to the house, myself, James and (his Brother) John stayed up for a
bit of late-night poker. I proceeded to lose $20 in 20 minutes, so went to
bed in a sulk.

Stay tuned for more Floridian antics/banalities in my next installment,
coming soon to an inbox near you!!!
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