Saturday, June 06, 2009

Gulf Coast Impressions

Well, as of tomorrow, I'll have been on the Gulf Coast of Florida for a whole week, and so far my impressions have been favorable. Sure, in some ways it has disappointed, but it has pleasantly surprised me just as much, and lived up to my expectations in other ways, so on the average the impression is favorable:

The one thing I wanted to see more than anything else was a wild alligator. Has not happened yet.

I have been told repeatedly by my wife that this is a much better place than the Pacific for hunting for seashells. While I readily admit that the variety of shells here is far greater than in the cooler waters of the Pacific Northwest, the surf here has proven so far to be as harsh as any with regards to the natural destruction of shells.

Florida drivers are frickin' insane. Seriously -- they scare me, and not in an "I'm impressed and intimidated" way, but in an "I fear for my life" way.

Ft. Myers reminds me of a cross between San Diego and Houston, but with a fraction of the population. Ft. Myers Beach in particular reminds me of Mission Beach/Mission Bay in San Diego, and Sanibel and Captiva Islands remind me a lot of Coronado. But with smaller crowds. And friendlier people. And humidity.

Lord, have sweet mercy, the humidity. And it isn't even "bad" yet. Thank Merciful Jesus I'll be gone before that benchmark is reached.

Haven't seen a gator yet. I want my money back.

It's odd to be in a place with an about even mix of southern and New York/New Jersey accents. Every time I meet someone, I'm waiting to see if they'll greet us as "Y'all" or "Youse Guys".

I can't compare it to Oregon, it's like apples and oranges (never was there a more fitting metaphor, given we're talking about Florida and the Pacific Northwest), but I can compare it to California, and may my mother forgive me, but I think I prefer Florida. With a caveat:

If you only want to, or can only afford to, live in one place year round, and want more varied options in terms of act9vities, including activities normally not associated with beaches or the troppics, pick Cali. Skiing, wine country, the desert, mountain climbing, Yosemite, etc. If you can pull off the snowbird thing, or are happy with a warm, summery, beach-style lifestyle, head for Florida. I swear I'm transmorphing into Jimmy Buffet. This plase is like (San Diego-Crowds)x(affordability+friendliness).

Yesterday was my 41st Birthday, and after taking me to dinner, the Inlaws gave us a walking tour of Downtown Ft. Myers. Friday nights is Art Walk night, so all the galleries were open to the public late, and giving out free hors d'ouevres and minimally priced "Adult refreshments". Relax, California and ORegon, wine is the one arena in which you still kick Floridian hiney. HOWEVER, I have a new favorite cigar maker. Rocky Patel is out of Bonito Bay, Florida. His Connecticut 1997 (Connecticut shade wrapper, Nicaraguan filler) was one of the smoothest, mildes smokes I've ever had, and it was only $8 in a shop where my old fave (the Macanudo Hampton Court) was $11, yet the Rocky compared favorably to it.

I haven't been following politics too closely. Did Obama apologize for American arrogance and aggression in invading France, a country that wasn't even our enemy, back in 1944?

Anyone know where I can see an alligator?

I even got flirted with last night, by someone other that TFR. A woman complimented me on my Panama hat (authentic, made in Ecuador as all real Panama hats are), and gave me that sly, sweet smile. Obviously, I merely thanked her and went my merry married way, but still and all, it was a damned nice boost to what is these days a very bruised ego.

Florida's too damned flat for me to live here year round, but I could see myself snowbirding some day.

Speaking fo the flat terrain, it's weird being able to see weather coming, and going, and missing you by miles, so far off. As a son of the mountains, I'm used to having my weather give me maybe 10 minutes warning, tops, before it's on top of me.

Still waiting for my gator sighting.

But tomorrow, I get to eat what I have not yet seen -- they appearently serve gator nuggets at the Ft. Myers flea market. Yum....

Really wish we could get down to the Everglades before we head home, but we don't have the money for an airboat, and without that, I'm not sure it's worth the trip.

I am still in communications with a job opportunity back home that I really, really, really, REALLY want. Keep me in your thoughts/prayers.