Monday, August 22, 2011

In sunny (humid) Florida

I'm writing this from a hotel room in sunny, gorgeous, humid Florida. Wow, what a change from Idaho!

The flights went very smoothly. In fact, much more smoothly than I anticipated. I haven't flown in eight years so I knew things had changed. I did my utmost to avoid getting a TSA groping -- no metal hairpins, no underwire bra, no jewelry whatever (even took off my wedding ring)... only to find out the Spokane Airport either doesn't use a full-body scanner, or they apparently didn't see the need to send me through one. I merely walked through a metal detector, slipped my shoes back on, and I was on my way. Whew!

(This won't be the case going home, though. I noticed the full-body scanners as I was coming off the plane at the Orlando Airport.)

One thing's for certain, planes have gotten a lot squishier since I last flew. The knee space between my seat and the seat in front was pretty narrow. And when the passenger in front reclines the seat, the space becomes even narrower. Once I was sitting down, it was virtually impossible to move; so on the second leg of the flight I learned to put everything I'd want in the seat pocket in front of me. That's why there are no photos of the first leg of my flight (Spokane to Denver) -- my camera was in my computer case under the seat and I couldn't reach it.

Denver Airport

I hadn't eaten anything yet, so I foolishly thought I would grab a bite in Denver. Ug, airport prices. A salad for $13? Not likely! So I didn't get anything to eat until long after I landed in Florida.

I didn't have a window seat on the first leg of the journey so I couldn't see the scenery from the plane. I did on the second leg, however, and what struck me was how vast and open our nation truly is. Not an original thought, perhaps, but it's true. Of course, a lot of the reason for that is how the most critical resource, water, is unevenly distributed.

East of Denver, Colorado is very flat, very arid, very irrigated.

(Sorry for the weird colors, I'm trying to compensate taking these through the window.)

It was interesting to note how geographically isolated all the towns were.

Oddly enough, what kept going through my mind as I peered out the window from 35,000 feet is what kind of rural bugouts some of these places would make. Weird to be a Prepper, ain't it?

Needless to say, things got much greener as we headed east.

As we came into Florida, we started dodging thunderstorms. Don't know if you can see what looks like torrential rain coming down in the center left of the photo. (Click to enlarge.)

Flying over Florida was fascinating. I've never been to this state except once, many years ago. For some reason I had it in my head it was wall-to-wall urbanity, but it most certainly is not. In fact, vast stretches looked like pristine wilderness. That's what made the contrast between the suburban development we flew over, interesting.

Braking as we're landing.

I realize now it would have been better to fly directly into Tampa rather than Orlando, but all this time I thought the studio was located in Deland, not Largo. (Deland is the location from which the show is broadcast, or something like that.) At any rate, I drove a couple hours to get to Largo and it gave me a chance to see a bit of the state, including this rather startling billboard:

I passed all sorts of attractions, including a place that featured dinosaurs.

Here's an neat-looking ampitheater, I believe as part of a fairgrounds:

Downtown Tampa has a beautiful skyline.

Right after Tampa, I suddenly found myself on the enormously long causeway over an ocean inlet of some sort. I think it was Tampa Bay. Wherever I was, it was impressive!

Still on the causeway, coming toward Largo.

I found my way to the hotel without any problem and pretty much collapsed for the evening. I also learned what I'd forgotten to bring -- sandals. I'd like to see the beach but can hardly walk around in my church shoes, which I wore on the airplane, so I'll be hitting someplace cheap today and getting flipflops.


  1. Welcome to Florida, fun to see where I live through anothers eyes. Yes, Florida is actually a very rural state outside of the few larger cities. Hopefully the coming storm will push some of the humidity out as it approaches and give us some dryer air. I hope you have a great trip.

  2. I hope you have a chance to have a window seat on the return trip. Flying over the mountains is very interesting!
    Andrea S

  3. Florida State Fairgrounds for the ampitheater and Tampa Bay for the causeway. Good guesses. Did you note the sign for be sure you have gas, there's nothing till you get to the other side of the causeway. Always love it - talk about being prepared.

    Google a 'night time photo of Florida' and you'll see how little of Florida really is developed. Taking I-75 south from Tampa to the Port Charlotte area, about 2 hours south, you pass thru mainly undeveloped land as I-75 is about 5 miles from the coast. Take 41 south from Tampa and you pass thru almost all the coastal towns - what a huge difference.

    Hope you enjoy your stay.

  4. I am enjoying reading your impressions of my state. Yes, Florida has its sprawl, but it also has millions of acres of rural land and we live on some of that land! Yeah! I had to laugh when I saw the billboard - that same billboard is on several highways. Sorry for the shock, but I figure your trips to Oregon already brought all the shock you can imagine. Just get home before the hurricane preps begin. My public blog is have a safe trip.

  5. There is a very lovely little beach located in the city of St.Petersburg Beach called Pass-A-Grille beach. Just look for the beautiful old pink hotel- the Don Cesar. The beach is just down from there. Really worth checking out.

  6. My lil' brother was *very* disappointed at our place in Florida. No palm trees. Lots of woods and pastures.

    Most of the population is within @ 30 miles of the coast (except for Orlando).

  7. Did you fly Southwest? Yep, squished seats on their planes and no food. I should have warned you! They all are the same model Boeing 737s with SWA. Other airlines have bigger seats and a bigger price. I love to take a water bottle on a flight but you can't take it, filled, through security so here's my frugal technique: take a water bottle to the airport and drink it BEFORE you go through security. Then refill it AFTER you get through security. You can also take 2 empties through security. Hey, I just save you $7.00!!
    --K in OK<><

  8. It looks like you were on the Howard Frankland Bridge between Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. That bridge used to be only two lanes in each direction and passing was not allowed! An accident on the bridge would tie up traffic for hours! I remember having to drive the old bridge in driver's ed when I was 16 and was scared half to death! At least *suicide junction* has been re-engineered at I-4 and I-275!

    Have fun tomorrow!

    Daytona Mom

  9. Oh my! Your pictures brought back memories! Many of my relatives live or lived in Orlando, Tampa, Edewater/New Smyrna and I remember that billboard!! Been there a loooooong time! And Deland! I have movies of my sisters, me and my mom getting off the train there in the '60's from Washington, DC at Easter. We are dressed in dresses, hats AND GLOVES! :-) Hope your trip is very special and successful!!

  10. I ain't believing you're in Florida 'till you show me some moss hangin' on some trees! LOL

    A. McSp

  11. ive driven i95 many many times from top to bottom. Mr Vasectomy has hundreds of those billboards along the way. :-/