Becoming Floridafied

You knew I was somehow going to use that title, right? How could I resist.

My two “fieds” are very different, though. Becoming Niagarafied is about a whole new way of life for me – that sounds a bit lofty, but it’s the way I see it. Becoming Floridafied is about learning to relax, chill, take a break, let “normal life” go for awhile. To see things differently, through living for a short time in another place. If I’m being really honest, it’s also to escape the dreary cold, snow, and grey skies of winter – though I hear the weather’s been pretty darn amazing for February in Niagara.

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Our first week here has been a mix of stuff. I’m still blogging, and we’re working on some B&B admin and paperwork. We’ve been tired, so there’s been lots of naps. There’s been a fair bit of California wine drinking. I’ve been running most days. There’s been some water, sky and cloud gazing. Visits to local markets. The weather has ranged from blazing hot beach weather, to being only a few degrees warmer than back home (It’s only 11 degrees celsius today)

And underneath it all, there’s still this strange sense. That I need to be DOING something.

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Now, it’s been five years since my last vacation, and there’s been a ton of activity in those five years. Career, finances, health, home, you name it have all been changed, quite dramatically in some ways. So perhaps I’m still too wound up from all the things that have happened. I’m so used to being on alert, having to fix, plan, do, resolve, take charge.

It feels strange to have nothing that I HAVE to do.

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Maybe this will change over the next few weeks. In the past, I found that a week or two for vacation wasn’t quite enough to shift my mindset. It always takes me about two weeks to start to unwind and get into a relaxing groove. I’m fortunate that I have a flexible work situation, and can sometimes take longer breaks.

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So I guess this week has involved a bit of adjusting, trying to find that relaxing groove. I have a few pictures I thought I would share with you. Various little moments I’ve enjoyed. Things that have made me laugh. Or think.

The one below made me do both. As soon as I got over my shock.

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This sign is in a little park, right by our condo. This park is filled with joggers, walkers, dogs, people bird-watching, all happily enjoying a sunny afternoon. They seemed blissfully oblivious to this sign. But never fear, worry-wart Jo was doing all the thinking for them. Something along the lines of “There’s possibly an ALLIGATOR? In THERE?” “Why are these people jogging so peacefully around the water? Don’t they know they might be lunch at any moment?” “Shouldn’t we all leave the park right this very second?”

After I let that sink in, I started thinking even more. “Who would want to feed or MOLEST an alligator?” I would be getting out of the park lickety-split if I saw one, not hanging around to feed or cuddle it. And what exactly is molesting an alligator anyway? What kind of person would want to do this? What about the poor alligator? You see, many questions. Many.

But then this fellow came along and distracted me a bit. I call him the Pied Piper of Birds.

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These birds seem to be unaware of the potential presence of the alligator, flitting and frolicking dangerously (in my opinion) by the water. But when they see this gent coming, all frolicking promptly stops. En masse, they leave the water, and descend on my Pied Piper. It’s something to see.

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Having made it safely through the Alligator Zone, it was time to go to the Gulfport weekly Market. I really like old Gulfport – has kind of a hippie vibe mixed with beach town, and a dash of vintage Florida. It’s a fun place to spend some time in.

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Gorgeous veggies, including Poblano peppers – 3 for $1!

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And these are Florida avocados. This picture doesn’t really do them justice. They were huge, very pear-shaped, and a bright lime green. Very different from the avocados I buy back home. I have been eating them almost every day. They are. so. good.

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This bread changed my life. Seriously. The roasted garlic sourdough was not cheap, at $8 a loaf. But oh my goodness. The best $8 I think I have ever spent.

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We walked along the waterfront, planning to stop for lunch at a popular local beach bar, O’Maddy’s. We had to wait a little bit for our table, so we went out along the pier.

First we came across the casino, which was originally built in the 20’s. I had visions of Al Capone-like gangsters swaggering through the sleepy little town back in the day. But my visions were mistaken. The Gulfport Casino was never a casino like that, with gambling, intrigue, and swashbuckling gangsters. It’s just been a place for the community to gather – and they still do. They hold weekly dances for a mere $8 – choose from Ballroom Dance Night, a Swing Night, a Latin Night. Sounds like fun.

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This pelican seemed quite content with his lot, enjoying himself in the sunshine.

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This bird – and I don’t know what type it is, unfortunately – was hovering by a fisherman, hoping for some goodies.

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Then it was time for lunch.

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I had plans to officially start my vacation. Which means a Margarita.

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All to fortify me for running the Alligator gauntlet on the way back.

It’s been a good first week. And Gulfport? I think you’re swell.