Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Completely random anniversaries

 So many things going on this week.

It's my one-year anniversary at work.   Other than GRS, it's the only role that I can recall having that I haven't been looking for "what's next" by the one-year mark.  So that's awesome.  More of a challenge than I'd expected, but that's also exactly what's made it interesting :).   Great combo of awesome people, interesting work with enough leeway to make a difference, strong leadership, and flexibility to work remotely.  Solid win.

Then more recently, it's the five-month anniversary of my piano learning adventures.  I am also still really enjoying this one.  I keep expecting the novelty to wear off, but so far so good :).  I will admit I've become very lax about the lesson book and the "technique mastery" portions of things and am very much focusing on learning songs.  I do at least try to strategically pick songs that build skills on each other.   The songs I'm learning are still super-short but noticeably longer than the ones I started with.   The five-month video is here.  Be kind - I'm still a beginner!

That makes it about my four-month anniversary of you-tube 😂.  They switched their settings/rules at one point that super annoyed me because I would've structured differently if I'd known and there's nothing I can do about it now, but sobeit.  Definitely not the end of the world.   I have finally - I think - figured out the "right" sound setup.   Video could definitely still use some help, but it at least works.  Since I can count on one hand the number of people who view it, and I figure half of those are related to me, I'm not going to stress too much about the videography yet ;-P.  Maybe that can be the year-2 challenge.

And not an anniversary, but switching hobbies - I recently purchased a new pattern that was quick fun and easy.  I was super excited about an easy win.  Except that in the pattern it suggested a different type of fabric because of multiple half-stitches.   Now, tbh, I don't mind half stitches.  But I did think it'd be interesting to try a new fabric.  And how hard could it be right?

About that.  *sigh*. It is significantly harder.  What was my 'quick and easy' is the opposite of that now.  BUT - I get to learn something new, and it's a very pretty fabric (Lugana?  Idk - it's mostly cotton ;).   I do think once I learn it, working on this kind of fabric will likely LOOK way better.   I also have a GIANT project to start that I still haven't even started cause I'm slightly overwhelmed by it.  There will be no recording of that one 😂. But some day, a few years from now, there might be a completion post.

So this is two evening's worth of work.
With usual fabric, all the letters would be done by now ;)

A different type of puzzle

I go through phases where I really enjoy puzzles, and then when I don't do any at all.  Sometimes they're tied to weather, but really not so much.  The other day I stumbled upon one that I swear could've been made for me ;).   It's a book, a murder mystery, but the pages are shuffled.   I'm not even kidding.   I heard about it in random social media, of course ;), and went to Amazon.  Sure enough...

So yes, I ordered it :).  You can't be surprised.

When I got it I found out that not only is it indeed a puzzle book, but it's a puzzle book with a potential prize!

So if anyone else wants to join me in this adventure, lmk!

So far I've:

  • torn all the pages out of a book.   The first page was hard.   Like went against pretty much my soul to do so.  Unlike the pages of my cookbook which just jumped out of their own volition - as though they knew being associated w my kitchen would not end well ;)   Anyways - the rest of the distruction was fun and remarkably therapeutic ;-P.   Although I was about half way through before I figured out how to get clean page removal, so that was frustrating.  I would've preferred all the pages be pretty.  Ah well ;)
  • read a few random pages.
  • discovered the writing is not modern; knowing the background of the book, this should not have been even slightly a surprise, but it was.  I have read more centuries of the English language than an reasonable person ever would, but I have to admit, it does make the puzzle just slightly more complicated.
  • learned the novel has an unreliable narrator.  Of course it does.  I fewer than 20 unrelated pages, the narrator has admitted to killing 2, if not 3, of the victims.  SO there are either multiple narrators (plausible) or one completely unreliable one.  And either way, until the pages go together, it's very unhelpful.  And all in the first person.
  • realised I do *not* currently have the time for this adventure.  It will require some heads down hours.  But might be a summer deck project :)

So yeah - mostly just sharing in case anyone else is as amused by this as I am.  May the odds be ever in your favour.

Production 101

Right so, if you've been following the story, you'll know that my latest hobby (of 4.5 months now!) is learning to play piano.   In hopes that there will someday be an "after" for comparison, I've been recording videos.  Never having recorded anything in my life, this in itself has been an adventure.   

So it started with just the iPhone.  And that was okay, but the sound was really dodgy - it actually manages to make my playing sound worse?!?!  I mean, it's pretty bad to begin with, comeon...  Just not fair.

So then I figured okay, maybe I need a better microphone.  I have a good microphone thanks to 2020 and the work from home evolution, so usb to lightning converter and away we go.   Yeah no.  Not so much.  The phone just completely ignored the mic and went on about its business.  Fail.

Bought an external bluetooth mic that would wirelessly pair with the phone.  Worked great - once.   Then it would never pair again.  Returned that one and got a wired one.  This one is pretty good and makes a significant difference in sound quality.  Win.  You can see that one in Friday's GoT video (linked below).

Except...  The room my piano currently in has road noise.  And almost always the dogs are with me - Sasha pants.  Loudly.  And Tucker snores.  Loudly.  And occasional video-game commentary can also be heard in the background.  The new mic picks up all of it.

Okay but... it's a digital piano?  Like the app I'm learning from "hears" what I play from a midi-lightning cable.  This isn't hard.  I should just be able to plug that into my phone and get sound from there.

hahahahaha No.

Cute idea, but no, it most definitely does not work.  The regular speaker still recorded, but since the audio was now gone all it recorded was the sound of silent keys clicking.  And Sasha panting.  Perfect.  

I am not even kidding.  I saved this just cause it made me laugh.
And yes the screen is black; this was an audio-only test.

Dr Google told me that it would work if I used the GarageBand app -- well A, no - still failed, and B - GarageBand doesn't have video.   And I am most definitely not dedicated enough to record both separately and spend time merging.  I'm doing well to remember to upload them and that takes all of about 30 seconds.

So the keyboard has bluetooth; my phone has bluetooth; surely, that's a reasonable solution?   See hahaha above.

I did find one YouTube video that looked promising until they put in a headphone jack.  Like how old is this video????  Could we have some time relevance please?

Okay so then I decided if you used to be able to go through the headphone jack, why not?  I got a headphone splitter, sent one signal to my actual headphones so I could hear what I was playing and the other to the iPhone via a connector cable.  This one earned me silence.  It wasn't picking up what it was hearing, but it also wasn't picking up piano sounds.

Continue my Google/YouTube adventure and eventually discovered that to go from piano to phone, you need an in-between conversion step.  Well awesome.  This time, instead of just ordering more stuff to return to Amazon, I went to the local music store.  Well not the actually local music store because they have retiree hours and are basically never open when I want them to be, but the slightly farther away music store.

So first of all - it was packed?!?!  And staffed accordingly which makes me suspect it's often packed?  In my entire 4.5mth music career, I've yet to see more than one other customer in a music store, so definitely surprised at this.

Suffice to say I didn't bother with the DIY version, and asked for help from the first sales person I found.  Taking from lessons learned at work, I didn't tell them what I was there to buy, I told them what the problem was I was trying to solve.   And I say them, because this created quite the adventure.  By the end I'd say 3.5 sales people were involved.  lol the .5 was because one of them asked this particular person if he had any experience with X and he just said no and laughed.   But essentially between them, they had a solution they were certain would work until one of them recalled *which* keyboard I'd told them I had; being far from the most expensive on the market, it lacks any output other than a headphone jack.   And they were most definitely not convinced their solution would work that way.   Clearly entertained by the challenge, one of them realised they had the same keyboard in stock (Google says it's hard to find these days, so hence the surprise) -- pulled out the gear, set it all up, and ran a test case.   They were not able to test connecting it to a phone (something to do with having to register the product) but they were able to connect it to an amp, and were very convinced that if it worked with the amp, it would work with my phone.  It was also entirely refundable.

So off I went on my own merry way (withOUT buying any of the many many many appealing books of beginner-friendly sheet music might I add), detoured by the last store to return the many cables from my previous attempt, and gave it a go.

It took a little bit to set it up - a couple things didn't work quite the way the pdf manual suggested it would, but - it WORKED!  The only thing I can't figure out is if the volume is too loud, it sounds staticy.  Not sure what that's about, but I can accept it till the day I'm bored enough to do more googling.

So now I can record without extra background sounds and without my husband having to listen to my efforts ;).  A win all around really.

As for *what* I'm recording...  On Friday I did Game of Thrones - the Intermediate version (this is with the mic - for comparison purposes later).   This one is interesting because it was the very first song I tried to play, so it's fun to see the progression.  Also, the advanced version builds directly off the Intermediate (more so than most) so I'll continue practicing it so my fingers remember when it's time to level up.   This is important because this one took me a SOLID two weeks to learn of practicing daily.  Admittedly this was two weeks after a 1-week vacation where my brain apparently forgot everything it tried to learn previously, but still.  It was a one bar at a time adventure, and the parts that should've been (in my mind) easiest, took the longest.  Super frustrating for something that sounds super-simple in the end.   BUT.  I did it.

However, today is Saturday (or at least it was when I started writing this blog post ;).  So I needed a new song.  One of the next on my list was the Flowkey version of I'm Yours.   This was super-short and, I expected it to be super simple (I hoped!  I'm getting *slightly* better at analysing that by looking at the music ;) -- I chose it for a couple reasons: one, I really wanted a quick win after the pain that was GoT;  two, it's the first one I've done to really use chords and I figured it'd be good to practice that on something slow first.  Then added bonus, it was a chance to play with the sustain pedal, which I've only used a *tiny* bit in the textbook work.  I am not good at the pedal.  lol ten fingers is enough to coordinate without adding in a foot!   But it was short, simple, and slow enough that I was able to learn it quickly so I had something to test recording on.

Side note - I also learned I don't love slow.  I think it might actually be harder to make slow sound good than fast.  Fast may be harder to do technically, but it sounds way cooler with no effort ;)

So I just listened to Fri and Sat recordings back to back.  GoT was a way more interesting song, but recording quality is SO much better with the new setup; now I just need to learn how to play!

How it started vs how it ended: MBA edition

How it started: 

How it felt in the middle:

Full-time work and full-time MBA?  No problem.

How it ended:
I hire people all the time; I've never once asked their GPA.
Yet somehow, this made me really happy ;)

Multi-lingual Skype ;)

When you know you're somewhere in the intermediate realm of Spanish.  My teacher Skyped me, in Spanish, about a problem that the lesson we had today didn't register properly in the system.   Given more time, patience, and energy I probably could've answered in Spanish, but I was multitasking and it was definitely faster in English (and I know that his English is better than my Spanish) so I did that -- but I never had to cheat and translate what he was sending me either.   Finished in Spanish, albeit a little grammatically questionable ;)

Since I've been putting most of my "optional" time to piano lately, my Spanish has deteriorated horribly :(.   It gets to come back on the list as of April.  Although I'm only on day 3 of this month's challenge and determined to finish it on time, so have to do a fair bit of catch up in there ;).   But yeah, definitely noticed in today's lesson I was struggling more than normal, so need to get it back into a regular part of things.  Ah well - the list grows.

Sleep-deprived road trip thoughts

So these are misc posts I wrote as I was going along; complete randomness -- consider yourself forewarned.

We had a car cooler on loan from my mum; the car cooler has two settings: hot and cold. The first time we plugged it in was cold. Things stayed cold, life was wonderful. The second time was hot. My bag of mini mars bars is now one GIANT mars mess and we were lucky we caught it before the cokes exploded or C’s beers do whatever beers do when they get too hot. Lol at least now we know how to tell which way it’s set ;). And that mars bars, once re-chilled, make for a still tasty, if oddly shaped, pull-apart bar.

Singing loudly fuels late night driving; idk about anybody else, but I really enjoyed the live concert featuring me ;)

Google lady gives amazing instructions while driving (including, thankfully, what lane to be in) but is very hit or miss when walking.

Waterproof phone and camera both survived far more of a torrential downpour than I would willingly have subjected them to. Win.

Just because the sandals are the most comfortable footwear you own, does not mean it’s a good life choice to wear them for a 3h city hike when they haven’t been worn since pre-winter. And definitely don’t do it two days in a row, even if your other shoes are wet. Ow.

Scavenger hunts are more fun when you do all the challenges, particularly the silly ones.

I am far more willing to talk to strangers to solve a puzzle or win a game than I am for any practical life purpose. Strangers also seem to enjoy participating in said games.

Budget hotels are budget for a reason; some make it far less obvious than others.

Finding that the most amazing cookies exist but are more than a 20h drive from home is both a very good thing and a very sad thing.

I like subtlety in my life. I've come to the realisation that the things and behaviours that make me dislike the States generally fall under the “too much” category: too big, too loud, too in your face, or tries too hard. And alas, while the vast majority of people and things probably don’t fall under that category, they are, by definition, quiet about it and thus drowned out.

mmmm Piña Colada slushy

7-11s in the States have piña colada flavoured slushies. I am so jealous. I also did not discover this nearly early enough in our trip. All the junk food that I eat way too much of at home, I can’t eat here because it tastes wrong (they usually don’t use real sugar - corn starch they use for flavour is illegal in Canada). Which, when I briefly lived down here resulted in me losing all kinds of weight ;). But is less fun when you’re trying to be a kid in a candy store on a road trip. So discovering NEW junk food is wonderful. Ice cream and baked goods from actual bakeries are also generally excellent ;). And, given US sizing, I’m still going on the cookie I bought two days ago. Lol

I have, for most of my adult life, been subject to motion sickness. I can’t use gadgets in the car, or read, or sit in the back seat. Buses are my own personal hell. And motion sickness drugs knock me out cold. They do work, but less fun if a good part is the adventure is to enjoy the ride. Arm bands help a little as long as I put them on early. Usually if I’m in the front seat I’m fine as long as it’s not stop and go or really jerky driving. So I figured I’d prob be okay on this trip; if nothing else, I know what to watch for and I’m very careful not to do anything to trigger it. However, much of my blogging I wanted to do while being a passenger. Reading and writing are a hard no, but it turns out I can touch type - with a real keyboard I’ve been able to do that since high school (my single most useful hight school class bar none - grade 9 typing lol). But I never realized until this trip I can do it almost as well with my phone as long as it’s letters only. The issue is when autocorrect tries to help.  I have definitely found a few interesting “fixes” when rereading at night and undoubtedly have missed others. The other fun one is there’s no way to landmark without looking, so if I get to the wrong line I can have a very large amount of transposed letters. It’s a code you could puzzle out if you were really bored but less fun trying to remember what I was actually writing ;-P

So one definite win as we travel - burgers! I haven’t had a good burger since we moved - everywhere sells these stupid smash burgers. But idk if it’s just where we live now or if it’s an Ontario-wide trend but it is not good. Twice on this trip I’ve had truly awesome burgers. It’s the little things in life ;)

Somewhat surprised by the number of bail bond offices. How and why is that such a big industry?!?!

A week was enough of a road trip for me.  Almost every other vacation, I haven't been ready to return when we did, but this one I was definitely ready to come home and sleep for about 3 days.   That being said, I had an amazing time, and really enjoyed myself, which is even more impressive when I remember it was a vacation I wasn't sure I wanted to go on to begin with.   So huge win there :)

Now it's time for Spring to arrive.

Highway Thoughts

This post is complete randomness of things I wrote regarding the actual act of driving / navigating the US as we drove many many many miles to and around Florida. Consider yourself forewarned ;)

So the rest stops that are just super clean washrooms and nothing else are very civilized. Less civilized is the need to leave the hwy to find gas and food. Not difficult but much slower and hit or miss.

So the highways in Florida - in some locations (eg going into the Everglades or the Keys) it’s one lane each way with no on or off ramps for excessively long distances. Since there was little to no traffic when we were there this made for consistently lovely driving. But, what surprised me, was with all this big open space, how I was fighting feelings of claustrophobia?!?! I really struggled with the idea that I couldn’t just get off the road or turn around. No reason I would need or want to but definitely some long since unnecessary instinct was triggered by it. Not an issue, just found it mildly interesting.

Similarly “there is a 20 minute delay; you are still on the fastest route.” Thanks Google lady, we’re on the *only* route lol 

Honking. Okay seriously Americans behave like toddlers w their car horns. Sitting at breakfast in a restaurant downtown - typical city traffic. But constant horns. OMG somebody six cars ahead was 2 seconds late off the gas!!! HEY that light is about to turn green! I’m not getting what I want right this second so everybody needs to hear about it. Or later - sitting in stop and go, nobody can move anywhere, traffic and still often horns? Like a definite boy who called wolf scenario. If everybody is always on their horns, nobody’s going to pay attention when it actually matters. And on top of that it’s loud and obnoxious.

One thing that really amused me in the keys were the number of cop cars parked as if to be speed traps that were just empty cars. Only saw one with an actual person in it, easily identified as it was parked in the shade ;)
Alas, we did not get to see an actual panther :(

So very cool - they have panther crossing signs. Which is cool enough but also, some of them flash when it knows a panther is near. How does it know? They’re tagging them with gps trackers that trigger the lights. So if it’s flashing, one of the previously caught ones is nearby. 
This seems to suggest the flashing lights might have a purpose

They also have night speed limits in animal crossing areas - we saw them for both panther and deer in separate areas - which are 10 or 20mph lower. 

Then there are these signs across Florida which made me realize they don’t have an emergency broadcast system…
I guess an emergency broadcast system would be impinging on freedoms??? ;-P

Speed limits are consistently higher than in Canada, which is lovely, and about as much (or as little?) respect is paid to them…. More of a guideline ;).  I can’t get used to 100km/h speed limits on roads with lots of entrances and stop lights though. Some of those were a little dodgy.

Traffic congestion warnings are way better in Fl than we have at home - they identify where the congestion stops and ends, even more accurately than the Google lady! Although she’s better at giving alternate routes ;)
If we knew where we were going, this might've been very helpful ;)

As long as you’re not on a hwy golf carts appear to be road legal?!?! Lol can’t get over how many we’ve seen just puttering their way around random towns. And honestly, with no snow, why not?

Tolls and parking are both generally cheaper than home, even w the exchange rate factored in.
WTF is fog smoke?!?!
We didn't see it, so remains a mystery...

Hwy lane exit info painted on the road is super helpful- definitely wouldn’t work where there’s winter, but was lovely here.

Our credit cards often don’t work in gas pumps, so we have to pay inside in advance which is just a royal pain.

Billboards everywhere - the US is just one big ad. Which, around the cities alright, but where it really got to me was when they cut down trees solely for the billboard. I really struggled w that one.

Summary - will miss the high speed limits, the advantages of no winter, and the clean restrooms with no expectation of purchase.  I won't miss the literal and visual noise.

This doesn't seem like Florida anymore...

Drove through Ocala this am - waved at the horse park and had flashbacks to when the horse world was my real life. I know some of you are down here now - I’m appropriately jealous. The Ocala forrest was also lovely to drive through and I imagine could have some gorgeous hacking :) 

This part of the drive was gorgeous.

We decided to skip the Let’s Roam in Jacksonville and headed straight for Savannah. We had tickets to tour a plantation home there and also a Let’s Roam. 

This was the house we were going to tour

Savannah was stunning AND it had a great Let's Roam, so that was an amazing combination. We were a little surprised as we got there that the home we had tickets for was right in the city centre; turns out it was the plantation owner's home, not actually the plantation. But definitely still interesting. The last of the family owners bequeathed it to the museum in the 1950s, and they've done a combination of keeping it in its original state and restoring other areas back to what they would've been.

Tours were every 15 minutes, and the only way you could see the house, so when we checked in, it was about 45 mins to the next available tour.   We decided we'd start our Let's Roam and come back when it was closer to starting time.   This Let's Roam was a Ghost Tour, the first I've done of those, and fairly entertaining.  Was a bit of a walk to the Pirate's House that started it out, but a gorgeous walk.   

This is the first city I've been in where I've noticed
No Parking so they can sweep!

We did the first couple stops which conveniently led us right back to where we needed to be; our museum wasn't on the tour, but we had a stop across the street, so at that point we hung out a did a few challenges while waiting for our tour.

We were able to wait in this fairly stunning garden;
Apparently this would've been a far more practical work space
(including housing a cow that escaped) once upon a time.

Our tour started in the stables / housing for enslaved people.  The stables had been renovated at one point beyond the point of historical restoration, so they are now the orientation centre.   However, the housing for enslaved people still exists much as it would've.

The tour guide was excellent in his word choice and in conveying
both sides of the life experience throughout the tour

The orientation centre has this wall with the names of the enslaved people
who kept the estate functioning (when they were known).
There are lots of extant letters between the husband and wife that reveal many of the details both about people and life that otherwise would've been unknown.

This would've originally been 3 rooms, and housed 6-12 people, including children

From here we moved through the garden to the house, using the back entrance.  The rooms at the back would've been more family-focused, as we moved forward through the house they became grander and more ostentatious.  Symmetry was a huge thing in the design, as were faux finishes (it cost more to paint wood to look like marble than to use actual marble, so they did that instead to demonstrate wealth; similarly with painting one type of wood to look like another).   

The grand staircase was certainly impressive, 
but more interestingly, it led to...

...this fairly stunning bridge connecting
one side of the upstairs (kids bedrooms) to the other (Dad's office)

The master bedroom was downstairs; partially this was for heat control (14' ceilings and lower) but partially it was because this was the first house in Georgia with indoor plumbing (12 years before the white house) and being downstairs allowed the owners a private bathroom.

The girls' bedroom.  Note the bedroll under the one bed;
it belonged to the enslaved nanny who would've had to stay with them,
rather than returning to stay with and raise her own daughter.

We finished the tour going down to the basement which housed the kitchen and bathing areas -- these are as they once were and show a dramatic contrast to the "above stairs".  Down here they also display, museum style, some of the artefacts of the time, and stories of some of the people who lived and worked there.  In one room are reprints of letters sent between the husband (who at this point was a politician in DC) and the wife (running the plantations) that both give some details as to the enslaved people living there, but also show how very clearly they were not seen as people but as possessions or investments.  Really horrifying to read, yet effective in demonstrating the mindset of the time.

After the tour, we resumed our Let's Roam and got to explore a lot more of the city.  

For the curious - this is an example of a Let's Roam challenge;
Challenges are all optional, but imo they make it more entertaining.
This one would've come after some sort of actual clue about the square or the statue.

I loved all the gorgeous parks scattered around.   Also a number of tree-covered streets.

Just a pretty walk

We finished our hunt and debated dinner.  C was after southern BBQ, but there was an intense storm rolling in, so we weren't sure how willing we were to get soaked again (memories of the Everglades were still clear), but we were hungry and both enjoying the town, so with the aid of Google we located some BBQ and off we went.

BBQ was excellent, but the heavens opened while we were there.  lol we retreated just down the street and Chris grabbed a drink at the mojito bar we'd passed earlier in hopes the rain would settle before we left.

Yet another store made for Chris

Suffice to say we got slightly wet, but we stopped in a nearby tourist store and bought a ridiculously low quality but reasonably effective umbrella.  lol that got us to the pharmacy for our required COVID tests and back to the car without being soaked.  By the time we were ready to drive, the rain was done.  Win.

Happy and fed, we decided we'd drive till we got tired -- made it just past Charlotte and then crashed for the night.

Home tomorrow :)

Naples and Tampa

After the Everglades we traveled to Naples - not the Italian version, although certainly saw some houses mimicking the style ;). Naples was Oakville relocated somewhere warm and then some ;). LOTS of money, everything super well cared for, very little obvious tourism, next to nothing interesting to do. But a gorgeous beach with a lovely pier that had dolphins playing off it. 

Off the pier in Naples
Chris shot this one; I was too busy watching the dolphin play to remember to snap :)

The Let’s Roam here was okay - lots of long walks w no stops which I find less fun. I don’t mind the distance, but I want to be doing stuff in the way. Also there was one where the answer was about a 5 min walk from the question, on a timed clue. That was less cool. We made it no problem but A - we’re good at navigating and B - we walk fast. There are lots who would’ve lost that one just from walking a normal pace or respecting street lights. 

The beach was stunning and I would've loved
to have planned for an actual beach day there.

Other than that it was good though and some fun pics. I was mildly disappointed not to take advantage of the beach with some perfect beach weather but we weren’t really set up for that. 

I got to meet an elephant!

I’m not sure it’s a town I’d really target for vacation per se, but I could see snowbirding there or somewhere like there if the new world relaxes enough to allow out of country remote work. Except not really, cause the internet was the worst we’ve seen yet - a mild frustration for a gps-based online game, but a severe difficulty for remote work. 

Off the beaten path, comparatively tiny and plain, but still lovely.

So after Naples we went to Fort Myers - driving it was definitely a different economic area, but when we got to the downtown it was super cute. Alas, it was also INSANE. Turns out it’s St Patrick’s Day and people take it seriously in Fort Myers. Many streets closed, ALL parking full, and people everywhere. I even saw someone with a mini-horse?!?! And even it was dressed for St Patrick’s. So we aborted that effort and continued on our way… 

Best rest stop views yet!

Evening in Tampa, dinner at Cigar City Brewing, which has been on C’s list for a while. I quite liked our waitress (Sonata) who, when C asked about St Paddy’s day food, responded with “we’re not cool like that” but was super patient with giving C time to fully explore the very long beer menu. They also had possibly the best apple crisp I’ve ever had. One of the spices was different but neither C nor I could identify it. 

Love this pic of Chris :)

Our hotel was way out of town and while still budget, light years ahead of the last two. Last night’s was almost a joke how awful it was and the night before the room was bright enough that I could read with all the lights out.

So of three potential Let’s Roams today we only ended up doing one, but lots of time in the sun and a nice relaxing dinner were all good.

Tomorrow will be the end of our Florida driving but still a couple potential Let’s Roams to go!

Everglades - take 2

Back in the Everglades today - we drove right by where we were the other day and debated going back to do the two walks we bailed on due to being soaked and cold. But in the end decided to continue so we’d have time if we found something else cool to do.

Driving through, I was fascinated by the giant cypress section - perfect horror story background - tall, whispy, ghost trees. Impression only increased by the addition of Spanish moss.

The horror movie setup

This is a prettier version

We drove past a few “back country parking” - somehow when I think of back country camping, this is not the environment I’d tackle by choice ;). I’m sure some of that is familiarity but also - I just don’t see any way if making what is essentially a giant swamp pleasant. Interesting for sure - but not so much for camping ;)

Stopped at a random boardwalk just to look and see. A ton of alligators and interesting birds. Very few people so super quiet, which was nice.
Resting at the rest stop.
There were MANY gators here.

Saw one sign for a canoe launch - have to think that’s be v difficult in the Everglades…. Paths created by alligators, super shallow, random stops…. The big canals sure but the rest? Maybe not so much.

Chris’ comment driving into Everglades City was that “it must be small; it only had one sign and the sign for the panther crossing was bigger” lol

Cute town though and we got here just early enough to snag the last of the breakfast menu at a super cute little cafe. Think Muskoka with gators.