There is a major difference between sand and snow. It is not just the texture, but more the psychological effects that each induces. As I write this, the snow is falling lightly but steadily on Fergus, and it has been cloudy and below freezing for over a week. But we are still dreaming of the idyllic few weeks we spent in the South.
The Florida Panhandle is warm in October and November, and only in December does it start to show signs of winter. By then we were actually in Alabama’s Gulf Shores, after three perfect weeks of sun in Florida’s State Parks. The shells were sparse, but the sand and surf in this whole area run for miles, backed by dunes, small lakes and woods.
This area is very different from the Disney-like unreality of Orlando, and the endless concrete commerce of Clearwater and points south. We did not see any alligators, bears or cougars, but there were rumours of all three. We did see a couple of 8-foot sharks browsing in the shallows, but the water was too cool for swimming and no incidents made the TV news.
Besides the rural attractions of this area, there are still many tourist temptations, and we enjoyed some fresh seafood, with the “Happy Hour” oysters at $6 per dozen in Seaside.
We drove through the bottom of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, and into Texas, were we park our truck and trailer in the little town of Taylor.
In earlier times it was cotton and railroads that made it prosperous, but the downtown has now fallen on hard times, and only the malls in the suburbs thrive. Our friend James drove us to the two picnic tables that masquerade as a station and around the bend came the Texas Eagle, bound for Chicago. The engineer obligingly stopped so that our sleeping car was opposite the tiny platform, and the Amtrak attendant asked: “John and Elaine?” The very same, and we stepped into our private bedroom. Later we contrasted this with the flight from Chicago to Toronto. While it takes a day-and-a-half for the rail part of our journey home, and the plane is faster, many of you will be familiar with the absence of fun at airports.
Let me tell you about the baseball bat. On second thoughts, this is in the next posting, coming shortly.
John … and the ever-trusty editor, Elaine.