Monday, March 31, 2014

Speedbumps in Life

As our sojourn in Florida continues, we are now spending time in Naples with old friends from high school who have built a lovely winter retreat here. We picked them up at the airport and will spend a week visiting them. Since they are living here for a portion of the year, they have to arrange services, including water, power, cable, internet, phone etc. . . . .

I don't think I will swim here
When we arrived at their house he discovered that the TV was not working, and he decided that a trip to the local TV/Internet/Phone provider was in order. He warned me that it would probably be a zoo there. The provider was notorious for providing slightly less than exemplary service. In fact as we drove up to their storefront service center, he expressed relief that the line-up did not extend outside down the sidewalk.

He did warn me that I might be in for a bit of a wait, but I went along anyway, and as he waited inside eagerly anticipating his number being called, I stood around outside chatting with people as they came in for service.

This being the end of the season here in Naples and many of the “Snowbirds” were headed back north hoping for the arrival of spring in New Jersey, Chicago, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and had to return their Internet routers, TV Receivers, DVR recorders, and assorted other IT bits and pieces. I actually had a good time standing out making new friends in Naples Florida. 

First person I met was a gentleman from Ireland who had seen a condo advertised for sale in Naples on E-Bay. It looked interesting, and on a lark, he put in a couple of bids before going to bed for the night. He woke the next morning to an e-mail announcing that he was the successful bidder and now owned a condo in Naples. Our spirited conversations about visiting Ireland and Nova Scotia drew other people in and the cranky people waiting to complain and bitch about their TV, their Internet or their Phones suddenly started smiling and chatting.

One girl said she had already gone and enjoyed a starbucks coffee, but her number in line was still far enough in the future that the neighboring shop offering pedicures was starting to appeal as a way to pass the time.

Yup . . .  Southern Eatin
Then we all stopped to watch the newest arrival. A man and woman approached from the parking lot. He was clutching a red bag containing his TV receiver and Internet router, and she was clutching his arm. These were serious ‘snowbirders’ determined to spend as much of their golden years down here in the Naples warm sunshine. They slowly inched across the road in front of the office. But between them and their destination someone had installed a speed bump. He hit the bump, but his shuffling gait only got him half way up before he was bounced back. Determined to return his IT gear so it would be here for him next year he made another shuffle at the speedbump, but again was unable to make it up and over. He turned to his wife holding his arm, and she gave him a bit more push on the next attempt and with a satisfied smile he made it over and continues his journey to the shop.

Ask me if I'm relaxed yet?
Now this was extremely funny to watch, but stop and think for a minute. This guy was probably over 90, and had a very difficult time getting around, but he arrived in a car, was returning IT gear from his visit to Florida so was probably returning to someplace colder in the north, and he and his wife were doing it on their own. I say good for them!

I hope I have to tenacity to make three attempts at speedbump ascent when I am their age. Live life to the fullest while you can. 

*** Please note the pictures in the post are just general pictures from Florida - I did not take shots of the Speedbump attempts . . . .  ***

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rolling South

I don’t really like winter. I like it HOT – there is no such thing as “too hot”. I quickly get used to the heat. I also enjoy driving, so driving south to Florida is a very pleasant experience, and I enjoy each kilometer that brings me closer to warm sunny weather. Or at least that is how it is supposed to be . . . . .

Rolling South
This trip it took much longer for the “South” to make its presence known. It was bitter cold when we left, and even though it was officially spring, the temperature was -10° as we left home, and dropped to -15° as we made our way through New Brunswick. There was still snow on the ground at home, and it seemed to take forever to get rid of it. Of course it didn’t help that we were fleeing a huge storm that was coming up the coast against us. We avoided it by going in-land, but it spread snow all the way south to Virginia.

Trees in Bloom
Rolling south brings temperature changes as you progress down through the states. Normally the temperatures gradually increase, but this time it took much longer. Leaving Connecticut it was -7°, and although it did get up to 0° as the sun came up, it remained at 0° way down to West Virginia. From there it slowly came up a bit to +4°, but when we stopped in Virginia for the night Regis had to scrape not only our windshield but also the lady’s car parked next to us. She was not prepared for the -5 that morning and didn’t even own a scraper. It didn’t actually warm up until we reached South Carolina when it got up to 10°, but the real warmth did not arrive until we got to Georgia when things finally started climbing, and by the time we hit Florida it was finally up to 20°.

The other thing you look for as you roll south is the changes in the vegetation. At home everything is dull boring, brown, but as you roll south things slowly start to green. First come the farmer’s fields fertilized and prepped for the year to come. This appeared first in West Virginia, but as you got to southern Virginia even the highway mediums were starting to green up. Finally in the Carolinas the trees start to bloom and green buds appear. As we got to South Carolina even the trees started to leaf out, and finally in Florida things are actually green.

Florida at Last
Of course the other change that occurs as you roll south is the clothing. Before Virginia it was all winter clothes and boots. The first T-Shirt did not appear until Virginia, and he was pushing it in my opinion. The first pair of shorts appeared in South Carolina, and the flip-flops did not arrive until we hit Florida, where the bikinis and pink surfer shorts also made an appearance.

I’m hoping that I stay here in the warmth long enough that I do not have to roll north into freezing weather again . . . .

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Doing the Snowbird Thing

We have had a pretty bad winter this year, cold, snowy, and generally miserable. Spring has arrived, but there is still more winter type weather to come. We just got word that the “storm of the year” was headed up the coast to dump more snow on Nova Scotia than we have gotten all winter. I think it is time to escape to someplace warm. Last year we went to Portugal, and spent a month is Spain the year before, but this year we thought we would stay on this side of the pond and give Florida a try. You know, do that Canadian Snowbird thing.

We discovered that we have a lot of friends who have “places” in Florida and they all seemed very keen to have us come to visit. In fact, as we started looking into this option, we discovered an excess of places we could stay – we had too many people wanting us to come south. We had friends who bought a house during the real estate crisis in the US, we had friends who had timeshares, we had friends who built their own southern retreats, we had relatives who lived in Florida, and we had friends who were renting places in the warmth. Why get our own place when we had lots of people to visit?

Regis found that she had over 20 % of her pickleball partners living down in one resort in Florida, and as one of the EDCC Pickleball ambassador  she felt it was her duty to go and see how they were doing.  Me, I am just going to sit in the sun and see if I can find some decent beer down there to sample. So my travel blog this time will follow our trip south to Florida.