A Travellerspoint blog

Farewell to Florida

I am going to miss Florida. It is like no other state I have been in. The weather was wonderful and the company was even better. I got a chance to see, eat and enjoy everything I wanted too. I am always a little sad when I have to leave one of my friends and move on.

The drive up Florida was long and hot. I really like to get the full expierence of traveling so I abstane from using my A/C and have the windows open in order to enjoy the full senory impact of the area I am moving through. It is nice to have a little time alone to sit and think as well.

I arrived in Atlanta (Hiram) to the warm welcome of my long time friend. Sometimes it is shocking to see how quickly your friends childern grow. It makes one feel old. It seems like only yesterday we were high school kids getting in trouble and now it will soon be HIS children that are getting in trouble.

I am very excited. I will be here for two weeks and I plan to enjoy every minute of it. I am getting a tattoo from one of the top artist in the nation, Phil Colvin. I am getting to see the Braves and we will be spending a lot of time on Jon's boat. Life will be good! I can't say it enough, I love the south. The people are always so nice down here. The only exception is the drivers. Atlanta is the second worst place I have been for rude drivers and bad freeways, Houston being #1. From here it is up the East Coast and home. It will be nice to cool my jets, recharge and find a new direction. More to come.

Posted by JustJ 09:51 Comments (0)

South Florida and points south

Warning: This is a long one.

Florida... what an incredible state. I have been through 11 other states so far it is like no other place I have been. It is flat (REALLY FLAT) covered in little (and big) bodies of water, swamp and beaches plus palm trees everywhere and a tropical environment. Its like a peanut butter and banana sandwich, it does seem to go together until you taste it. This place is hot, HOT! and humid but the nights are glorious, with a nice ocean breeze. I couldn't see myself living here but I sure could come here to vacation, often. I am loving it so far.

My friend Melani has lived in Florida most of her life and I have been lucky to have her as my tour guide. She was gracious enough to give me a place to crash and feed me while I was in town. I am lucky to have the friends I have.

I have found that once I got rolling it has been hard for me to stay in one place for too long. I just want to keep moving and seeing. That has worked out perfectly here. Once I got settled and decompressed from the road we headed out to Key West. On the way we stopped in the Everglades to take a "Gator tour". Let me tell you, if you come to Florida that should be a must. You get to cruise around the swamp in an airboat and see alligators from no further away then a couple of feet. I got some really great shots.

From there it was off to the Keys. Just so you know, maps lie! If you look at a map of Florida the Keys look a short distance from Miami, but it takes 5 hours to get to Key West. What a trip. There is a bridge that is seven miles long, where you drive over nothing but water for miles. The water is breathtaking, soda blue and dotted with little islands (keys).

Key West was great. A cute little tourist town. It has the furthest point south in the US, which is only 90 miles north of Cuba. An entertaining little tourist trap street called Duvall St. where you can drop a pretty penny in no time. The butterfly conservatory where they breed butterflies and let them fly all over, what a wonderful experience. The west side of the island, by the docks, has a nightly celebration of the sunset. It is like a carnival experience, with live entertainment and food and shops. It is a lot of fun and Friday night on Duvall St is a lot like Bourbon St, it like one giant party. We rented and electric car and cruised all around, picked up a couple of people and ferried them down Duvall St just for the hell of it. Great times. Just as an aside, I checked the price of real estate while I was down there, the low end houses (shacks on the beach) were 450 and the highest house price I saw was 1.9.

After the Keys it was off to Miami and Miami beach. Mel promised that I would see a Ferrari, Bentley, Lamborghini and Rolls Royce while we were there and we did, within and hour. Sat on South Beach and then it was off to a Marlins game. I hate multipurpose stadiums. They just suck. Joe Robby Stadium is probably great for football but it sucks for baseball. Huge and not well set up, with crappy food. I was not impressed. The game was great and once again the home team won (that makes me 4 for 4). Today its a boat ride and alligator for dinner. Should be an interesting experience.

Sometimes there is little voice in the back of you mind that is telling you something and it is the wise man that listens to it. I bottomed out my truck on a huge (semi sized) pot hole while I was in West Memphis and I thought something might be wrong with the truck. That little voice told me to get it checked and I am glad I did. The impact actually bent something on the truck. I took it in and the wonderful people at the Toyota place where able to fix it and even gave me a deal on the service. You can't ask for much more and boy am I glad that I did take it in, I could just picture my wheel falling off in the middle of nowhere South Dakota. More to come.

Posted by JustJ 09:42 Comments (0)

Memphis to Savannah to Lantana

Talk about a lot of driving. I traveled 1800 miles in two days. 11 hours from Memphis. Sometimes I look at the map and think to myself that doesn't look too bad. The reality sets in around hour 8 of driving that I still have a long way to go. That is when I just put my head down and trudge on. I traveled through three states and had a chance to see some really beautiful country.

I have finally reached the east coast. Put my feet in the Atlantic and thought of home, alas no fog and the water was 15 degrees warmer. I am almost to the half way point of my trip. Florida is great, very hot and humid but great. I have been so lucky on this trip so far. I just missed (again) some kind of disaster. I left Texas in time to avoid the terrible tornadoes and I just missed the big fires here in Florida, which closed I-95 (the main highway down), by a day.

Florida is different then anywhere I have been in the south so far. The people are really different. The forests and land is entirely different iguanas and geckos running all over the place, alligators and crocodiles right there on the side of the road, it is like a whole different universe to this west coast boy. The weather is really different. Hotter! and I am here when it is the driest it has been in years, 50% humidity!! Huh??

Big plans for my week down here. I am going to see AND eat alligator, visit the southern most point in the US, see two baseball games and visit the famous beaches of Miami. It should be quite an adventure. I will keep you posted, more to come.

Posted by JustJ 20:12 Comments (0)

A great day

This morning I woke up and really wasn't looking forward to seeing the city, my impression colored by West Memphis. It is amazing how much can change in the span of a day. I started by going to Graceland. I thought that touring NASA with a bunch of teenagers hopped up on sugar was bad. It was nothing compared to a bunch of rabid Elvis fans waiting to get on a bus to tour Graceland. I though that some of these people were going to hop out of their shoes waiting. The tour was better then I thought. It is just a regular (big) house, but his awards and costumes were impressive.

The botanical gardens were next and it was just what I needed. A nice walk in the woods with acres of beautiful flowers really took the crust off my mood. The rose gardens were truly impressive. The aroma was intoxicating. I highly recommend it to anyone who even slightly likes flowers. The Civil Rights Museum was interesting but the amount of information it provided was overwhelming and by the end I was tired from all the reading (I should have taken the audio tour).

Here is where things took a dramatic turn for the better. I went to the Sun Studios simply intending to buy a sticker and get on with the day. I decided on a whim to actually take the tour ($10). That was the best decision I made today. The tour was GREAT. I had no idea how many of my favorite blues artist recorded at this studio. It was fun, quick and informative. An example, Howlin Wolf did a reply song called "Bear Cat" to (the original) "Hound Dog". It hit me what the songs were about is not a lazy dog, but a man who is a dog and a woman who is a... Anyway, I really enjoyed it.

It was then off to Beale St. What a happening. It is kind of like a Bourbon St. for adults, except even if you don't drink there is plenty to enjoy. Live blues everywhere, great food and tons of people just cutting lose. It was the cherry on my sundae. I walked and enjoyed music all afternoon, ate some great BBQ then ended my day sitting in the park listening to some wonderful blues and smoking a good cigar. It couldn't have been better. I could see coming back for a nice vacation here.

I map quested my trip to Miami and decided there is no way I am going to travel 18-20 hrs to do it in one day. Instead I am going to break it up and get up early travel to Savannah and stay the night, tour the city (I hear it is a beautiful place) then travel on to Miami. More to come.

Posted by JustJ 20:26 Comments (0)

A journey within

I left New Orleans today and I have to say I am really sad about that. Last night I was treated to the most incredible sunset, a glowing orange sky shot through with silver and deep purple clouds. It was like nothing I have ever seen before. I left a little piece of my heart behind in that city.

Most of the drive from New Orleans to Memphis was down a dense corridor trees and underbrush. So thick and tall that it was almost like driving between 30 foot high sound walls. There was very little to see for a good part of the early journey and this gave a lot of time to just think. Part of this trip, for me, is self exploration. I want to learn more about myself and move closer to the core of my being.

Today I was reflecting mostly on relationships and some of pain and betrayal I have suffered through them. What have I learned from that pain? I am a firm believer that there is always a little pain with growth. I wondered can someone really change? The real conclusion that I came to is that I know I have learned from my mistakes and grown so it must be possible for others to do the same. I also realized that I can never turn my back on love. No matter how badly I have been hurt, otherwise if I close myself off, I will turn into that bitter old man who lives alone and wont let you have your ball back once it goes into his yard. I know that a broken heart can always heal, maybe not perfectly, there will always be a little scar tissue but it will heal.

I also thought about what I want to do when I finish with this adventure. The surprising part? I don't know. That was a little disconcerting. Everything seems so clear when you're a kid. Grow up, be President or a doctor or whatever but as life progresses things seem to get less clear. I am 39 and I don't have a clue. I know that I want do something that makes me happy. Once in my life I would like to have a job that look forward to getting up and going to. I want a job that challenges me, that isn't the same repetitious crap day after day, and of course that pays enough for me to live comfortably in the Bay Area. As always my constant companion "fear" is there to whisper in my ear that it just not possible. Fear of what could happen, what has happened, of everything. Ha! All I can do is (and this will sound a little hippie/new age) is trust that as long as I continue to put one foot in front of the other and make an honest effort the universe will provide. (insert shrug here)

Enough of that, back to the trip. The border of Mississippi and Louisiana is the first time I have ever seen a marked difference in the landscape right at the border. As soon as you cross the border it moves from swamp and bayou to pastures and forest. It was weird. A new record today. I moved through four states, ending up in Arkansas. I had forgot that Memphis startles the border between TN and AR. West Memphis is actually not the nice part of Memphis but at least the motels are cheap. The city looks really beautiful and I am looking forward to visiting the kings house as well as eating some great food while listening to the blues.

Posted by JustJ 19:06 Comments (0)

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