adventures in florida! (intro)

So a couple weeks ago, Paul and I went to Florida for his friend Rachel’s wedding.

Our trip to Florida was a madcap four days across the state that I like to call, “America’s Wang”. It has everything a crazy weekend adventure could want, too. Romance! Danger! Excitement! applecrapgranny and I yelling about muffin squashing, golden plungers and man-cooch! A wedding! Make that a wedding on the stage that Skinny Puppy once played on! My boyfriend looking really, really hot in a tux! Shark fetii! Tornadoes! Four hundred year old Spanish forts! Alligators in conquistador hats!

Maybe I should explain the above photo. Paul and I were in St Augustine the day of the wedding, for the morning and afternoon. We were walking past the fort at the end of the day, and were getting somewhat tired and silly. So when we were admiring the fine construction and moat of the fort, I remarked that the Spanish should have made it EXTRA safe by putting alligators in the moat.

Paul asked, “Would they have been part of the Spanish army? A detachment of ‘gators?”

“Yes,” I answered. “And they would have had to wear conquistador helmets!

Paul did laugh at that, but he seems to think I’m amusing for some reason. “I can just see the History Channel special now,” he said. “They’d have an old ‘gator on saying that the alligators of the 87th never got any respect, and were only a footnote to history.”

This is why we have to stay together. NO ONE ELSE CAN PUT UP WITH US. Certainly, I think very few men would appreciate their twenty-eight year old girlfriends happily chattering about how the Spanish should have catapulted alligators onto the British ships. “Then, when then landed, they’d be all grumpy and ready to eat someone!”

“They’d be more than grumpy,” Paul said, after he finished laughing. “They’d be kind of dead.”

But I decided that the idea of an alligator in a conquistador helmet was the funniest thing I’d ever seen, and vowed to create it when I got home. And there it is. The only problem is that the helmet kind of obscures the vision of the ‘gator. However, I hear they have a great sense of smell.

I was upset that I didn’t see ONE SINGLE LIVE GATOR while in Florida. I mean, the news is just FULL of stories of people having their dogs eaten by alligators, right? There seem to be ‘gators everywhere in the South. Yet I spent days there and didn’t get to see any of them. We tried to – I made Paul stop specifically at a gas station that had a Florida Citrus Center attached to it, including a promise of a GATOR. That was the billboard a mile before the stop – “ORANGES. INDIAN VALLEY FRUIT. JAMS, JELLIES, 12 FOOT GATOR.” And the last billboard before the exit was just a giant photo of an alligator’s jaws, wide open, with the word GATOR in giant font over it, almost too big to be read. But when we got there, as I figured, the alligator was stuffed. And it was surrounded by dried baby gator heads, ranging from three inches to half a foot long. So although I didn’t get to see any live alligators, I did see many alligator heads. And I did also see shark fetuses in jars. Don’t ask me why – they were $9.99 and were definitely fetal sharks, in jars, across the aisle from the State of Florida shaped fruit jelly candy plates.

That particular stop was somewhere between Tampa and JAX. Which is a reasonable chunk of Florida (link goes to Google map of route). When I say MADCAP TRIP TO FLORIDA, I mean it – we started in JAX, drove to Ybor City (part of Tampa) within 12 hours, stayed in the Tampa area just under eighteen hours, and then headed back to JAX for the remaining day and a half of time in Florida. It was a lot of Florida in very little time. And I will need to get more sleep to have the energy to write about it.

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