One fine road trip

We’ve just been on a terrific road trip into central Florida from Key West. I do love a road trip in any circumstances and this was as good as they get: easy driving on quiet backroads, good weather (OK, it was a bit nippy to start with, but it warmed up later and I stopped thinking wistfully about the snuggly cardigan I’d left behind) and lovely people and places to meet along the way.

One of the games we played in the car was a comparison between Good Things in the UK and those in the USA, but the latter came to mind so thick and fast that we stopped making the comparison and just enjoyed the ones we were experiencing. (Some examples. Clean loos absolutely everywhere, even in places that in other countries you might think twice about visiting. State parks in abundance, and all with excellent facilities like picnic tables and no litter, plus genuinely helpful signs & leaflets, and volunteer staff filled with enthusiasm. Food in little cafés and restaurants along the road delicious and cheap. And in supermarkets, if a piece of wrapped fruit – papaya, say, or pineapple – says “ripe and ready to eat” you know what? It absolutely is.)

One of the first things to catch my eye was this plantation of palms, spaced with such formidable regularity as though the UK’s Forestry Commission had been at work.

I was also amused by this pedestrian push-button instruction: a street called Shade is rather sweet, especially in a town (Sarasota) where there are many streets with names like Shade or Shady, and I also like the one called Ringling. (The circus of the same name used to have its winter quarters here, and there’s an enormous complex of museums and galleries bequeathed to the city by the astonishingly rich John and Mable – yes, Mable, spelled that way against expectation – Ringling.)

The main destination of this trip was to the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic homestead at Cross Creek.(It’s a State Park! With great facilities!) She’s a writer I’ve admired for years, and yes you have heard of her – her Pulitzer Prize winning novel was “The Yearling” – and the visit was a big treat for me. The house is lovely, and now restored to look largely as she left it, but her orange groves were neglected and have now returned to a tangle of dense hammock growth. Still, the State Park people have planted a few token orange trees in her yard: here’s one of them.

And two road trip signs that are worth recording:

A sign in front of an ankle and foot injuries clinic that said: “Walk-in appointments available”.

And a piece of graffiti:

“Save the Earth. It’s the only planet with chocolate.”

2 Responses to “One fine road trip”

  1. Frances Thomas Says:

    American is a foreign language, though. I remember wondering why the sign in front of the bus stop said ‘No Standing’. And missing several buses before I worked it out.
    And then being screamed at by one of the Not-So-Friendly Americans (yes, they exist too) for asking for white coffee in his cafe. (‘Whaddya mean, white coffee?)

  2. admin Says:

    Two nations divided by a common language, eh? The thing I often notice is the difference in road signs – it’s often a problem in any foreign country, and sometimes it’s as small a difference as the angle of a pointing arrow that causes confusion, panic, wrong turns, etc.

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