First Impressions of Florida

I don’t know that I’ve ever moved somewhere I couldn’t find lots of things to like. But Florida seems to have more than its share of fun and beautiful things. First of all is the scenery. Maybe it’s just that we’re coming straight from tumbleweed country, but Florida feels like a jungle. All I can see out my back window is trees. Out of the front window I see my neighbors across the street, and then more trees.

We spent Axa’s birthday at Daytona Beach, which according to itself is “The Most Famous Beach in the World.” It was certainly the widest beach I’d ever seen–wider even than L.A. They have a parking lot right on the sand (which we were of course too cheap to park in). Then there’s another strip of sand where the ice cream truck drives up and down (I kid you not. This was a little much for me). Then they have the rows of umbrellas and beach chairs for rent, and then there are still yards and yards of sand until the water finally starts to lap up shallowly over more sand, before the waves start in earnest. The kids had a great time, although I forbade them from the water (well, at least past their ankles). We had to have a little lesson in how the Atlantic Ocean is different from the Mediterranean Sea, in which they could swim as if it were a bathtub.

We also made a stop for a free tour at the Angell and Phelps Chocolate factory, where we watched potato chips being dipped in chocolate, as well as the production of other high class confections.

One thing we’ve had to get used to is road tolls. The first time I got on a toll road, it was the kind that only accepts exact change. I dug in my purse and pulled out only a quarter and two pennies, which was 23 cents short of the 50 cent toll. Digging a little deeper, I unearthed a Tunisian dinar. I briefly considered substituting it for the missing quarter, but decided against it, since I’d really hate to lose it, and the Florida Turnpike would probably give me a nasty fine anyway. Then I found a real American 50 cent piece, and thought I had hit the jackpot for “exact change.” Unfortunately, the machine rejected it, despite its being perfectly legal tender. Which turned out to be not such a bad thing. I later discovered that it was Tony’s silver 50 cent piece given to him for his birthday by his best friend from junior high. What it was doing in my purse, I have no idea.

In the end, I had a line of irate Florida drivers behind me. I finally noticed the envelopes you could take to send the Florida Turnpike a 50 cent check if you didn’t have exact change, and thus avoid the exorbitant fine for toll ducking. I sheepishly took an envelope and continued on my way. I now carry several dollars worth of change around, although I have yet to get on another toll road.

I’ve also noticed that everyone here seems unusually nice. Even the employees at Walmart go out of their way to be helpful, and are genuinely friendly. When we went to Church on Sunday, no fewer than a dozen people came up and introduced themselves to us.

Shopping at my local supermarket was also an adventure. When I walked in, it looked a little like my favorite Mexican grocery store in Fallbrook, and the employees cheerfully greeted me in Spanish and English. Like my Fallbrook store, they have great produce at good prices (including unusual things like mangoes, cactus, and gigantic fresh aloe vera spears). It’s not so much Mexican as Central American, though. Rather than fresh tortillas, they have pupusas and empanadas. In the meat section, I found chicken livers and gizzards, goat meat, and pigs’ feet.¬†And the canned food section boasts such delights as canned squid (packed in its own ink). Definitely fertile ground for the imaginative cook. We’ll see how imaginative my family will let me be.

Also fun is the fact that our waking hours now correspond more closely to those of some of our overseas friends. And our house, which I just love, and will probably succumb to the temptation of showing you room by room, even though this is no more of a design blog than it is a fashion blog.

Professor Plum, with the revolver, in the . . .  Florida room?

5 thoughts on “First Impressions of Florida

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  • February 10, 2012 at 6:53 am
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    We are 1/2 hour from the beach. The closest beach to us (New Smyrna) is the world capital of shark bites, though. :S And what is a palmetto bug? Should I be worried?

  • February 9, 2012 at 7:18 pm
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    I was absolutely in love with Florida both times I went. How far are you from the beach? Have you had a run in with a palmetto bug yet? I hope you continue to love it! We pray for you guys every day. We love you and hope to see you in the near future!

  • February 9, 2012 at 8:13 am
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    Nice to see you posting again. I hope things go well in Florida.

  • February 9, 2012 at 6:20 am
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    When my CA grandparents came to visit us in FL when I was little, they kept asking “Do you know those people?” No. “Then why are they being so friendly?” Enjoy Florida!

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