Thursday, January 20, 2011

Alligator Alley

On an island in the sun
We'll be playing and having fun
And it makes me feel so fine
I can't control my brain

We'll run away together
We'll spend some time forever
We'll never feel bad anymore

When the plane touches down at your final destination it's always a good thing. When you spend an afternoon getting on and off a plane still attached to the terminal, wait on a flight crew to arrive and then spend time de-icing and waiting for the runway to be plowed, it's even sweeter. After a four plus hour delay I was really happy to land in Tampa, probably not as happy as half my plane who had endured being cancelled the day before. It wasn't exactly Florida warm when I arrived but it beat the hell out of what I had left behind.

First stop Wednesday morning was the quaint Tampa Bay Downs racetrack. There is nothing I enjoy more than a day at the races, sitting on a bench outside, soaking up some sun and watching the horses run. I think I lasted about 3 minutes or so 4 or 5 times I ventured out. It was in the 40's with wind blowing. It must have sharpened my mind a bit as I had a nice day at the windows.
I got to spend the afternoon with my Uncle John and Aunt Betsy who much like his father, my grandfather, is a horse owner/breeder. I try to forgive them for their undying loyalty to a certain school in Durham that they both matriculated from. However, I will take some solace in the fact that in the 36 hours or so we spent together Duke lost their first basketball game of the season.
After a day at the races, it was a two hour drive south to my parent's home in Venice Beach. I had not seen my parents in almost exactly a year. Way, way too long. I really love their house, love the little pool in the backyard, love sitting outside on the lanai, love seeing the sandhill cranes meander by, love watching the golfers as the play their shots into the green and on one occasion into the house. It is as peaceful a spot as I know. It's a very short drive to the beach. One of theses days I have to come visit in the warmer months and really take advantage of all that is near by....that or just move back in with them...just kidding mom. I am glad this trip was under better circumstances than the last one and happy to report that my father is hanging in pretty well and thanks to his dvr gets to see the end of all those basketball games he would fall asleep watching. We got one Terp win and one bad Terp loss on the trip, but it was sure fun to complain about free throw shooting together again. I wish I had taken a picture of the bed I slept in. It's been awhile since I spent a night in a twin bed. With my feet hanging off, and quite certain I would fall off the first time I rolled over it took me sometime to feel comfortable. In fact I think I finally felt comfortable when I was packing up. As always, I can not say enough about my Mom.
High on my list of things to do on this trip was eat seafood. Now I know that getting Maine lobsters in Florida is kind of defeating the point of getting fresh seafood from the Gulf... But it's lobster and I do love my lobster. We had the The Twin Lobster Shack steam us up 8 of these beauties. They were so sweet and so tasty, just like you would expect lobster to be. Jacky was so jealous of my lobster pic that we did it again when she arrived. So of the 5 nights I spent in Venice, 2 of them were surrounded by these yummy treats. I also had some shrimp, scallops, and grouper while on the trip.

Also high on the list was get outside, enjoy the sun and warmth, and get some exercise. I would love to say I got to play some beach volleyball on a 80 degree day with the waves of the gulf rolling in. But I did get to walk around the net while walking on the beach and collecting some rather cool shells. Just another reason to come back when it's warmer. I did hike the two bridges in town as well. They didn't seem quite as high as the last time I hiked them, and no one stranger stopped to see if I was okay or needed a ride. I consider that to be measurable progress :)

I got to do some laps in the community pool. It was a little cooler than what I was used to but I actually think the mid 80's is a really good lap temperature. Not another soul in the pool area the entire time I was there. Lot's of golfers zooming by in carts but peaceful, serene, and of course musical with my swimmp3 player on.

I am happy to report that I was not in violation of rule #14 when I used the pool. Shockingly there was no explicit rule against open puss oozing lesions, or projectile vomiting. Perhaps rule #14 could just be omitted under the common sense clause.

I spent one day driving 3.5 hours south down to Ft Lauderdale to spend the day at Gulstream Park. I hadn't been to Gulfstream since the late 80's when I was working at Hialeah racetrack. It has certainly changed. Completely rebuilt with a open air mall attached to it, a casino, a simulcast center, and loads of bars and restaurants. The weather was a little nicer, I got a little sun, and I gave back the money I made at Tampa. Spent a few hours that night at the Naples Greyhound track. I used the system of picking dogs that looked like my greyhounds. And even though both my dogs are within 5 lbs of their racing weight they sure don't look as skinny as these girls. The Florida greyhound tracks have all been given new leases on life thanks to the legalization of poker. I can promise you they are not pumping any of that money back into the facilities as they look like they did 30 years ago. Not that the 100 or so people paying attention to the dogs really cared. It was a pleasant night to sit outside and laugh at the people in Wisconsin at that moment. I also made a stop at the Sarasota greyhound track later in the week and so the same exact situation, an overflowing card room and a few handfuls of dog bettors. Not bad though for me. 4 tracks in 6 days is my idea of a vacation :)

The flight home was uneventful. Stepping off the plane was breathtaking as the temperature was freezing and I could see my breath the entire walk up the jetway into the terminal. I am home for just about 3 weeks and then off to Utah for a month. It's going to be a long week listening to Bears and Packers fans argue back and forth. But the NFC championship means only two week until the Super Bowl party. Lots to look forward to. Peace, Love and seafood, Jim

No comments: