Sunday, May 17, 2015

An Open Letter to Florida

Dear Florida,

I owe you an apology.  I've been bad-mouthing you behind your back.  I may have even called you the worst state in the Union once.  Man, was I wrong.  You're pretty cool.  You're shaped weird, but I won't nitpick.  Plus, you have to admit, you do have a public image problem.  Have you Googled yourself?  Don't.  It's embarrassing.  Retirement community STD outbreaks, bath-salts fueled cannibalism, 2 Live Crew ... and those are your fun headlines.  I won't go into the really horrible stuff. You know, like Pitbull's rapping.  I'm just throwing this out so you can work on it.

We took the kids on a 9-day spring break extravaganza and I wasn't too confident Florida would pull through for us.  When I told people our plans they said things like, "Florida, in Mexico?" or, "That's nice."  We woke our kids us at 2:00 AM and told them, surprise!, we're going on vacation.  We might not have gotten the enthusiastic reception that we anticipated, and the look on their faces was just ... sleepy.  But 12 hours later when we loaded up into the biggest pickup Enterprise owned, they started to pep up.

First stop, Disney World.  Not just Disney World, Disney World during spring break.  I expected it to be a lot like the theme-park scene in Zombieland.  It was everything I dreaded: crowded, hot, and princess-y.  But, it was also (ug, the cliche) magical.  Disney employees do not half-ass anything and their positive energy is contagious.

The next stop was my biggest fear: Daytona Beach.  I've seen MTV Spring Break specials.  I expected mobs of wasted college students beer bonging off the balconies of their hotels as Vanilla Ice jet skied by.  Ok, I haven't watched tv in a while.  The only mobs we ran into were kids from a cheer competition practicing their routines on the beach.  And mobs of dolphins.  And mobs of fun.  Oh, stop it.

So we did everything we thought tourists in Florida should do (read: everything from the opening credits of Miami Vice). We took the kids to the dog races, we ripped around the everglades on an airboat, we petted gators, we wore white linen suits with turquoise undershirts and no socks with our loafers, we ate too many Cuban sandwiches, we crashed a Cigarette boat into a manatee, and we blew past toll booths in our Silverado. Yeah, about that, Florida. You need to get your act together on that one. $1.25 toll in coins ONLY? Who carries that many coins? No one.

We were also fortunate enough to have a couple of reprieves from toursit-ville.  An afternoon with our cousins in Orlando and some time with an old friend of Regina's who just happened to move to Daytona was just icing on the cake.

But we had a blast.  Florida, I'll say it: you're great.  Just lay off the bath-salts for a while and update your toll road system to 1990 levels, and we promise we'll be back.  You can even keep Pitbull.  Seriously, keep him there.

Kind Regards,

The Eastside Gang