Sunday, November 02, 2008

Florida - Casperson Beach - Days 4-8

I've become more of a beach bum as I've got older and Casperson Beach is my second favourite beach on the planet (Maldives No 1). It has everything - miles of white sand, dolphins curving just behind the surf, pelicans skimming, herons staring, sandpipers keeping one step in front of the froth. Fishermen catching the beautiful Ladyfish and even sharks. We always catch a few fish when fishing straight off the beach here. On long walks there's always wildlife to watch, and the beach washes up fossilised shark's teeth. In some stretches you can pick up a few every few yards. Then there's the sunsets - long after the sun has set the colours deepen and the green herons come out to feed. Even behind the beach there's the gopher tortoises and Ospreys. The turtle nests are carefully marked and you can occasionally find bits of their broken shells. All of this walking makes you hungry so there's Mel's Diner with its babyback ribs, Crows Nest for seafood and Sharky's on the beach for beer and a burger.
As a backdrop experience I enjoyed the South Florida Museum, with its aquarium and three manitees, planetarium and exhibits around elections, early colonialism, geology, flora and fauna. While having lunch outside at the nearby marina we saw a shoal of two-foot long Tarpon attack a shoal of smaller fish by cornering them in the harbour. It was right in front of us.

Florida - Orlando - Days 1-3

Being in the US in the last few days of their election was both surreal and sobering. Surreal in that a momentous event is in the air with the election of a black president, sobering in that almost no policies or numbers were ever mentioned. Fox has become even more barking mad, presenting plainly partisan debates, where all of the participants are Mcain supporters, and a steady stream of outrageous attacks on Obama. Hours are devoted to Palin's choice of wardrobe, Joe the Plumber (he's not called Joe and he's not a certified plumber), and whether Obama is a socialist, even Marxist. No mention of defecits, ideas on foreign policy, education or health. There's only one policy word that has currency - TAX. And that means 'tax cuts' even when the nation is faced with a truly unmanageable defecit, and a collapsing medical system.
But we're here to have some fun, do a lot of shopping and spend most of our time on the beach over at Venice on the Gulf Coast. First the shopping. Despite the fall in exchange rate it was still worth buying the iPOD Touch and suitcases full of clothes. The eating was better than usual, as my brother-in-law and sister have a house here, and have got to know the lie of the gastronomic land. Had enormous Santa Fe salads, and a one pound burger.
Second the fun, with a fright night at Universal Studios. If you've never done this, then give it a try. It's like going to several horror movies in one night and if you like that experience, you'll love being scared shitless by the dozens and dozens of hired actors. many just roam the streets with chain saws, in strait-jackets or masks, chasing you. But it's the special events that get the adrenaline flowing. The Doomsday event, based on the excellent British movie, had the movie clips entertain us while we waited. Inside we were attacked by punk-like cannibals. In the Interstellar spaceship we were attacked by mad space colonists and finally, asylum lunatics in  strobed event that was truly terrifying. Now for the beach.