Friday, December 23, 2005

I'm down in Florida for the holidays with the folks, will be down here for about a week, due to an excess of days off and a shortage of cheap airfare closer to Christmas. Helped my dad clean out his garage yesterday. Lord what a lot of stuff. We found a case of several-years-old Coors Light, well past its drink-by date. They must have gotten it for hypothetical guests, because neither of them can drink due to various minor medical concerns, and I'm definitely not a beer-and-pretzels kind of guy. We stood there in the garage and opened each can & inverted 'em over the drain. Smelled like a barfly convention by the time we were done emptying and recycling.

Got a little lost on a long walk around the housing development. I ended up even more lost trying to navigate by the position of the sun, and eventually returned by finding the main drag and tromping along until I came back in via the community entrance. Not only does every house look alike, but the roads are confusingly named - there's a "96th SE Avenue" one block away from "96th SE Circle", for instance - and they aren't laid out in simple grids or contour-lines. Grids would be hard to navigate, but at least you could use the "position of the sun" method. Contour-lines would give you geographic clues as to how the roads ought to lay; but since central Florida doesn't really have any real contour lines except those imposed by developers, you can't rely on those. There's a neighborhood here called "Highland Falls" which is built around a wide, artificial set of falls crafted to flow off of the artificial hillock built around a tall retaining wall for the neighboring "Richmond Hills". Even the lakes are drainage-project remnants of the original trackless swampland of the region.

About the only genuine geographical features of this country are the springs, from which they've constructed at least two modest amusement parks in the area. One of them, northeast of Ocala, holds a holiday illumination event, which we visited the other night. Live oaks and palm trees swathed in Christmas lights glowed in the midst of what was essentially a well-manicured swamp, while a rather chilly-looking giraffe belonging to the park menagerie ambled through the night, and a deep, clear, huge spring five times the size and volume of Bellefonte's Big Spring steamed around the little tour-boats paddling overhead.

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