Sunday, April 29, 2012

Greetings from the State of Flagler

For the past week, I've been on vacation in Palm Beach Shores, Florida. This tough assignment mostly entails reading on the beach, bobbing around in the waves, and collecting freckles (under heaps of sunscreen). 

Life is rough.

So while I am mostly out of the loop with this LRT thing, I have learned a few important things about the Sunshine State.

1. Flagler is king. Almost a hundred years after his death, this state is still obsessed with Henry Flagler (of FEC and Overseas Railroad fame). Some people joke that the abbreviation "FL" does not actually stand for Florida, and now I see why. Flagler Bank, Flagler Street, Flagler Hospital, Flagler College, Flagler Development Company, even Flagami (a city) - it goes on and on. This dude, a true railroad baron and mega-developer, was a tremendous visionary (if not a little bit of a kook). His touch on this place is undeniable - he practically invented Florida. Did I mention they wanted to name another city after him? But he politely declined, insisting on Miami. I mean, for serious. 

2. Center turn lanes are the worst. And Florida loves them. No one in Minnesota would ever pull onto Grand Ave and drive in the center lane, waiting to merge. These lanes are not for driving! A quick search revealed that I am not crazy. 

3. License plate art optional. Apparently, in Florida, you don't need a front license plate. That opens up that space for higher and better uses. I think this one speaks for itself.

4. Gators are
no joke. One afternoon, the hubby and I decided to rent a canoe for a peaceful trip down the Loxahatchee River. The advertisements sounded lovely: surround yourself with the beauty of old Florida. Just imagine... paddling your canoe down a cypress lined waterway, past heron, egrets, turtles, deer and all manner of birds and four-legged wildlife. It didn't mention that the Loxahatchee is pretty secluded, and more than a touch creepy.

The first gator we saw had a two-fold impact. Oooh look - an alligator! Right over there in the water! was quickly followed by that alligator is reeeeally large! I hate to admit, I was picturing the Florida Gators cartoon mascot. This one was not a cartoon.

Look close.

Our canoe outfitter, a man of few words, had given us brief advice - don't poke 'em, don't feed 'em, don't get out of your boat. The first gator was far away - a comfortable distance. I can't say the same about the second one...or the third (which was in the water and moving). The river was narrowing, so this third pass was within feet. Recognizing that our chances of being eaten were somewhat good, we turned back and retreated to the beach. I'm going to stick to the St. Croix - the real Florida is terrifying!


  1. The MN Legislature just passed a law removing the front license plate requirement:

    I may have to buy a car just to have a place to display an airbrushed portrait of my beloved beagle, the late Harlequin Q. Dawgg.

  2. I'm so glad the legislature is keeping busy with these important debates.

  3. Hey I don't mind if they waste time on license plates as long as it distracts them from the heinous stuff they usually work on.

  4. Correction: the license plate bill only passed the House, so does not have the force of law, sorry about that. I was just excited to find a larger market for my airbrushing skills...