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February 27th 2007
Published: March 1st 2007
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Ferris WheelFerris WheelFerris Wheel

This was my favorite out of the many many ferris wheel shots.
After 6 weeks in Sarasota, my time there was up and I decided to visit my friend Jen as a stopover on the way home. She is a friend from Boston and now lives in Ft. Myers, a scant 90 minute drive south from Sarasota. We arranged to meet on Monday afternoon at a halfway point near Port Charlotte, where my aunt and grandma dropped me off and she picked me up. I said good-bye to my family, not knowing if I would make it back to Sarasota before heading home a week or so later. Jen and I drove back to her house, along with the dogs, making for an interesting drive. Sierra, her black lab mix, mostly had her head out the back windows while Deuce, the beagle, wavered between that and standing in my lap with his nose pressed up to the windshield.

Once we arrived, I got the tour of her new house and shown to my room. It was a different feeling to have my own room, with no one else's things to be seen, yet it was still someone else's room and place and I'm finding that these days it would be great if I had a space to actually call my own. Maybe it was just because there is no door on the room yet. The good news was that it was upstairs, which was all mine, so no one was ever walking by.

That first night Jen had a craving for Chinese food, but I mentioned my craving for Chili's chips and ranch and the decision was made. Somehow my craving influenced her own and I suddenly found myself scarfing chip after ranch-laden chip, falling into my own euphoric nightmare-dream. There really is little better in life than good food. We caught up on all the things that had happened since our brief meeting the past Thursday for the circus - not much as it turned out. Once we got home we stayed up watching tv for a while but it was a fairly early bedtime for each of us. Her, because she works twelve hour nights and has crazy sleeping hours and times and was tired on her night off; me, because I enjoy sleep.

Most of the week went by quickly. Jen had to work Tues - Thurs nights, which meant her coming home around 8am and then going to sleep an hour later, waking up again around 4:00 or so. Around that time we would throw dinner in the oven for an hour and then eat an early meal before she left for work at 6:15, after we took the dogs for a walk. During the days, I had access to the car and could go wherever I wanted to go, same at night if I wanted to drop her off and pick her up in the morning. Not so much. I ended up just spending quiet days on the computer or reading while she slept, and quiet evenings watching tv or reading while she was at work. It was a nice change to have a place all to myself and I took advantage of it. That and I have no discretionary income, which is somewhat limiting.

I did also make myself useful as the house bitch, doing all the cleaning and tidying up and sweeping and dishes and you name it. I do like things to be relatively neat and even like cleaning to some degree, so it was no problem. The only thing I couldn't bring myself to do was fold her clothes. She had two laundry baskets of clean clothes waiting to get folded and they are probably still waiting. But they are quiet about it so no worries.

Friday morning Jen came home from work and instead of getting some much needed sleep, we had breakfast and took the dogs to the dog beach near Lover's Key State Park. It took us about an hour to get there and it was well worth it. It was a beautiful warm sunny day and the dogs loved it. I thought it was great - a beach where you can just let your dogs off their leashes to run and play as they see fit. Deuce was all over it immediately and just goes wherever he feels. Sierra is a bit more shy and will go play with some other dogs but then comes back to spend some time with mommy. She likes to run around but not really play with toys. As Jen put it, she doesn't like to chase balls, she likes to chase dogs chasing balls. There was one great dog there would had a ball and she would bring it to someone, drop it, and then wait for them to
Jen and ToddJen and ToddJen and Todd

A romantic second date, except that I was there. And Alexis. We know romance.
throw it. The she would go to someone new and do the same thing. Her owner said she had scored 31 different throwers one day. Funny dog. There were packs of small dogs, really large dogs, and everything in between. And they were all really good and well trained. The funniest thing was that whenever someone was eating, Deuce and Sierra would sit with them and just stare, hoping for a piece of the action. It definately made me laugh.

Once back to the house we had a quick lunch and then Jen got some sleep. I went up to my bed to read and found myself nearly napping as well. I'm not a good napper - it makes me disoriented and cranky when I wake up - but I was exhausted from the sun. So instead of reading I just laid there with my book in hand, head on pillow, smiling with my eyes closed. It was great. I got up and took a shower an hour and a half later, just before Jen was due to rise for her date. She was going on a first date with Todd and needed some time to wake up and get ready. There is no way in a million years I could be as sleep deprived as she was and go on a date, but she is used to this schedule for herself. Todd came to the house to pick her up so I could use her car that night, and so I could meet him in case her body turned up on the streets the next day. Once they left I was fairly sure I would be staying in for the evening, until I realized that this was just another challenge, like making myself go to a ballroom dancing class, so I got my book and headed over for - you guessed it - chips and ranch. This time I didn't even bother with a meal, just a bowl of chili to make it look a little like I wasn't just there for ranch. The chips themselves are good, but more of a vehicle for getting the ranch to my mouth. I'm not sure if sitting at Chili's alone with your book (yes, Michael, a fantasy book) on a Friday night still doesn't qualify you as a loser, but it's who I am and I'm comfortable with that. Back at home I started singing out loud with Beyonce, much like I am doing now, hoping that any neighbors listening in would believe it was Jen and not me doing the signing. This was also a pre-warning to let Jen know I was still up should she invite Todd in. Even through my solo vocals I could hear his truck pull up and two doors close, so I knew they were coming. It turns out they had been by earlier after dinner to see if I wanted to go for some ice cream but were pleasantly surprised that I had in fact made it out of the house on my own. They came in and we chatted for an hour or so until I went to bed and Todd went home.

Saturday was our trip to Sanibel and was pretty well covered in its own blog.

Sunday was a mega-long day. Todd originally invited us to some kind of hillbilly ho-down that involved mudding and some sort of swamp vehicle, but that got canceled. Instead, he creatively came up with the county fair, so we agreed to be ready at 11:30am for the festivities. I donned more sunscreen as every day since I'd been here had been warm and sunny and the last two days my tan had increades to dangerously freckly levels. He showed up with Alexis, his 5 year old daughter, and suggested lunch, possibly chips and ranch. I vetoed that since I am worried about developing a serious rehabilitation-clinic kind of dependency. I'm not even sure that the Betty Ford clinic treats ranchoholism yet, but one day it will, you have my word. The disease is skyrocketing as I get others addicted. Anyway, we ended up at Hops (I think), and Alexis showed us around and where they make the beer. I ordered an appetizer pizza for lunch as I wasn't starving (I had stuffed in some food ahead of time, before I knew we were having lunch), but it turned out to be quite large so I was able to share it around a bit.

After lunch we drove at break neck speeds to the Lee County Fair. Once you buy your tickets, you have to enter through the Civic Center, where different schools have posters and things set-up for your amusement. Could have even been science fair but I just didn't pay that much attention. Maybe I should reconsider my thoughts on teaching. The most interesting thing in there was a fake cow that you could milk. Todd took Alexis in, and in true dad fashion, squirted her in the face. From there we found ourselves entering the fair grounds. The first thing you can see (and smell) is the food. It is everywhere and there are so many choices - sausages, candy apples, caramel apples, popcorn, cotton candy, elephant ears, funnel cakes, it never ends. I was once at the fair with two boys, brothers, who believed that the only real reason to visit the fair is for the food. I believe them. The sheer quantity was staggering.

Alexis wanted to go on the ferris wheel, not the small one, the BIG one, so we slowly made our way over. On the way we encountered other rides. Alexis chose to take Jen on the fast-moving-going-in-a-circle ride, and me for the bumper cars. And bump we did. We also played some of those (unfair) fair games where all you can do is lose but think you can win, like the ring toss and such. We did lose but Alexis still walked away with a glowing red spider that sticks to walls and a green plastic car that needs attention. Did I mention her dad tunes cars for a living? Convenient.

Finally we arrived at the BIG ferris wheel. I opted out of this one. I've decided I am really a very amateur photographer, and one can't only take pictures of oneself, so I decided to take advantage of the ferris wheel and time alone while the others were riding it to get bunches of photos. It ended up being really good and a lot of fun and I even scored some pictures of the others on the ride. After a caramel apple for Alexis that we all got our turn with, we decided we'd done enough of the fair and it was time to go home.

But home was not yet in sight. First we decided to see Bridge to Terebithia. To get there on time, we had to go even faster and swervier than I thought possible. Terrifying ride. Then while Jen and Todd were getting the popcorn and drinks, Alexis and I literally ran to the bathroom and then to the theater to stake out seats, since the previews has already started. Not having kids of my own I think it is perfectly acceptable to act like one at times. Running through the theater was hilarious. The movie itself was different than I expected - good, but horribly sad. So consider tissues if you're planning to see it.

After the movie we dropped Alexis off with her mom and came back to Jen's. We decided to watch another movie and ended up with Rumor Has It. Cute but not as good as I'd expected. After that I was ready for bed and headed up to my room.

Monday Jen had to file a homestead tax something or other so I went with her. There were about 70 people in line ahead of her so she decided to do it online instead. We went to Target and DSW Shoes to look around instead. I didn't buy anything but seriously considered a pair of shoes that looked like a sparkly flat brown version of the red "There's no place like home" shoes Dorothy wore in the wizard of Oz. But I tend to be too practical for that. Maybe next time. Monday night Jen had to work again and I packed up my things after a 5 hour Charmed marathon. Mondays are the best and worst for that. Tuesday my folks came to get me and we drove home after I woke Jen up to say goodbye.

I am now back at my parents and need to start looking for a job, again. I'm not sure where to start as everything looks good - teaching, travel industry, writing, aid work, Peace Corps, super modeling - and yet nothing is grabbing ahold of me. So if any of you have decided what I should be when I grow up (now), let me know. Some of you already have and I appreciate it. If you know someone who knows someone who does something cool and can pay me to do it - like travel - I'd love to hear about it. I'm tempted to travel again soon, but if I could combine that with work, even better. Something international would probably be best. There is also a twist that I could go back to Sarasota again soon if my aunt needs to leave again, so I may have some more stunning beach sunsets for you soon. If not, I'll try to work out some other fun to share.



Additional photos below
Photos: 34, Displayed: 31


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Highland CooHighland Coo
Highland Coo

This is the cow we looked for in Scotland. Turns out it was in Florda all along.
Jersey CowJersey Cow
Jersey Cow

This reminds me of a friend's surprise wedding story...You know who you are.
Asleep at the teatAsleep at the teat
Asleep at the teat

This little pig is literally sleeping. Gluttony at its best.
Bumper Car MadnessBumper Car Madness
Bumper Car Madness

Me and Alexis trying to bash the others, but usually being bashed ourselves.


13th March 2007

Dangerous Looking Rides
I have to say that the thought of a BIG Ferris wheel is a bit much for me. I prefer the more gentle, grounded tea-cups or caterpillar ride that moves at a pace more in line with my own brains. On the occupation front I have a suggestion: ... are you ready?... ...sure?... I think you should be... ...the person that makes sure all the astronauts have enough dried curry (or even ranch dressing) in their little pouches to make it round the earth a few times. Your keen observations of the current space programme should stand you in good stead.

Tot: 1.406s; Tpl: 0.099s; cc: 11; qc: 31; dbt: 0.023s; 1; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb