Well, here in Chicago it was a little warmer than typical for this time of year (high near 40). Back on the Gulf side of Florida it was probably in the mid-70s with plenty of sun. Oh well, it stills feels good to be home. Sort of.
As with every trip, there were lessons learned.
Lesson 1: Florida is weird. Beautiful and sunny, but so very, very weird. Any state that puts houses on stilts or screens in entire backyards is a bit off. You have gators for cripes sakes lurking in every irrigation ditch. And as you head further south there are entire towns where it seems that everyone (visitor and worker alike) is over the age of 70. I loved Florida but man is it weird.
Lesson 2: U.S. 19 sucks. Big time. From 60 miles north of Tampa to wherever that hell hole of a road ends, it is nothing but one stop-and-go billboard loving stretch of pavement. Cousin Frank called it “Useless 19” and I think he was being kind. Avoid U.S. 19 near Tampa!
Lesson 3: Clearwater and Tampa is nice, everything south is heaven. This was the nicest discovery of the whole trip. We loved, loved, loved Venice, Sanibel Island, and pretty much everything south of Tampa. Beautiful beaches, neat towns, and friendly/ slightly eccentric people (old too) made for a cool world to be in.
Lesson 4: No reservations is the way to travel. Only before a trip do Corey and I ever tussle over destinations. When we just sit back and let the trip guide us we almost never fight. And that is what we did this winter. Lodging decisions were usually made the day of and we knew (with the intuition of a true snow bird) when it was time to head back north. We are now back in our nest but are very much restless for our next adventure. Noel, Corey, and Henna too