Palm trees, flailing boats, Mickey Mouse: can you guess where I’ve been this week?

This is the fifth time in my life I’ve been to Florida, the fourth to Orlando, which is ironic when you consider the fact that Disney makes me barf. I’m no Donald Duck fan, I’ll tell you that. I am however a huge fan of warm inviting sunlight, lizards clinging to screens, palm fronds waving in the breeze, and alligators, so I keep going back.

This time I was down for a conference in Orlando, but I left a day early to see my Florida family. I couldn’t get to everyone, but I did get to squeeze in a few adventures. First, Randy took me out on the boat. It was a big boat by my standards, which mainly include canoes and rafts, but smallish for the task of plunging over the Atlantic waves, which is precisely what we did. We worked our way out into water that was truly aqua-colored, a deep, glassy marine, and Randy helped me catch a red snapper. A sea turtle swam past our boat, big as a coffee table. The boat bobbed and rocked and pretty soon I discovered that I get seasick, so before things got ugly we headed back in, riding waves like moguls. I don’t mind saying that was a dream come true.

Then I had the pleasure of seeing AnnDee, whom I have known since I was driving my first car. She reminded me of this and many other things I had forgotten over the years. We had a terrific time, getting breakfast in the local diner, riding in the Saab convertible, cruising the canals in her boat, and I even got to meet her boyfriend, a Good Christian Man, as AnnDee puts it.

I’ll vouch for his goodness since he was kind enough to ship my clothes to me, the ones I left behind in their washer. Thanks, Scott!

Then Orlando. God, I hate Orlando. So fakey-tacky-touristy every flipping where. Two dollar t-shirt shops, discount tickets, bushes cut into the shape of Mickey. Please. I mostly huddled in my gorgeous hotel, courtesy of Kittcom, where I was able to enjoy the conference, the room service, and the pool.

With two exceptions. Planet Hollywood—okay, BTDT. Did not get the t-shirt as I had already parted with twenty bucks for a burger and lousy service, after waiting an hour and a half. But I did get to see the axe Jack Nicholson used in The Shining, and that was practically worth it all.

Also Gatorland. True, it too is a tourist attraction, but man, it’s chock-full of alligators. Creepy, enormous alligators shuttling silently through dark water. Also, as it is a preserve, there are hundreds and hundreds of totally neat-o birds such as egrets, herons, flamingos and buzzards, and some of them are sitting on nests with fuzzy squeaking chicks yarping for more. Even Florida can’t completely subjugate the natural world—though it does seem to try.

Now I’m back on the plane, back to Seattle and the family, a doctor appointment and an interview and all the other assorted mayhem of daily living. I have to admit for a while there, I forgot it all.

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