I have to confess. I have never been to Florida. Ever. I am not sure I even know the reason but for years our holidays always centered on visiting PEI (when I lived in another province). My vacations home to visit my parents and family always trumped the Florida/Disney vacations. I have no regrets. My children did not know our parents well, but at least I gave them every opportunity to know them.
This year after much persuading (and it wasn’t easy) and with time constraints I and my better half succumbed to the ‘Florida’ getaway – amidst much sub zero weather in our East coast/Northern hemisphere. It was a getaway for a week. A mere week – but with wind and snow and freezing rain howling around our rafters it sounded great. I have my friends to thank. I don’t think we would have chosen Florida – but choose it we did.
So off to Canada’s winter bedroom we flew. The flights were all on time. Air Canada didn’t disappoint. But I really, really do not like security checkpoints. Even as we departed our fair province with shoes off, belt off, all jewelry off ( that could set off that alarm); and all liquids visibly available to the agents; no contraband items (and the list is extensive) we finally settled in on our flight. One stop to connect to the 2nd leg that would take us to Orlando. Great! Half way there…yay! Toronto was as usual…Toronto. Long lineups and thankfully we both had carry-on luggage. Good thing. We dutifully ‘quick stepped’ it to our gate for USA. But we were outside security so back through ‘the drill’ we went again. Unbeknown to me the airlines tagged my boarding pass to the USA with a series of ‘SSSS’s’. Now to the unsuspecting eye this wouldn’t mean anything. BUT to the security agents at the USA connections it DID mean something. The hot pink highlighter scribbled ‘ssss’ should have been a dead giveaway. NO…not to me – I live in a bubble you see!
So when I was ushered into a ‘different’ lineup for baggage scanning than my husband I beckoned him to join me…in my lineup. The security agents respectfully said …no no…he can go over there. I ignored them and asked again…come with me…my lineup is shorter. At this point the security guards were starting to smirk. What’s the e’ffing joke I was muttering to myself. One sweet young guy in an official uniform asked to see my boarding pass. “Ahhh…he says…did you notice the hot pick highlighter?” “Huh ?” I reply. He giggles and informs me that I was ‘randomly’ picked for the ‘works’. You know what that is right? Yeah. The full body scan. The full body ‘pat-down’. Baggage and everything I own scrutinized. Come on…you’ve got to be kidding! By the time I got through ‘the drill’ I had them laughing because I went into great detail on how I dressed/packed so I wouldn’t set off any alarms – that I read all the tips for security requirements in the ‘departure guide’ online and followed them to the letter. Ok – so call me anal! I looked over to my better half. He is shaking his head and grinning. Haw haw.
Florida was grand. Temperatures on a daily basis were in the low 80’s (Fahrenheit). It was lovely getting into sandals and having cocktails by the (heated) pool in the evening. We had a grand tour of Orlando – even did some shopping at downtown Disney.
St. Pete’s was my favorite though as I could see beach and ocean. Call me crazy, but in the dead of winter it is such a treat to see ocean crashing into the shore. I need it; it restores my sanity.
The orange groves were plentiful and I couldn’t resist getting out of the car to touch an orange on a tree. Simple pleasures!
Florida seems to be inhabited by everyone who isn’t born and raised in Florida though. I waited to hear ‘an accent’. Nope – not one. I enjoyed the wine stores with the bargain basement prices….are we ever fleeced here in Canada when it comes to wines!! I did not partake in much shopping (the Cdn dollar is at an all time low right now). Anyway, shopping was not what took me to Florida.
Now, I can say …I’ve been to Florida. Will I live there for the winter in the future? The jury is still out on that one. But I can see why people would want to escape. We just weathered another storm of storms here in PEI! It will take days to dig out after 67cm of snow dumped in our little province. But somehow the change in seasons is what makes life interesting. I don’t have to worry about getting to work. I am not sure if I want to shovel snow forever, but there is always an alternative.
Life is good like that.