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06 June 2011

Through Florida

Day 12: Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
It's a new month! I taught Ashley to say "rabbit rabbit" to bring her good luck for the month. In the morning, she had to leave for work, and Ueli and I left shortly thereafter. I left her our hand grenade from New Orleans. W forgot our fruit snacks at her house. I drove the car, after applying my daily dose of sunscreen (Ueli's already got a wicked tan line on his arms). We drove to Tallahassee, sticking to small country highways. The rural communities kind of blended together and became more frequent as we headed into Tallahassee. As we entered the city, we drove by Florida State University and then headed straight for the Florida State Capitol.

Florida actually has 2 state capitol buildings: The old capitol is a now a museum and looks like a nice 19th-century colonial courthouse. We walked around inside this building for a while, taking in facts about Floridian history and about the state legislative process (we had already heard all this before at the Texas state capitol). In contrast, the new state capitol building is a stark, 22-story concrete block of a building that towers behind the old capitol. It's also currently in use as the functioning state capitol, so there's a security check to enter the building. The view from the top floor, the 22nd, is amazing; however, trying to get the elevator to the 22nd floor is a frustrating exercise (the trick is, you have to take an elevator to the 21st floor and then transfer to the elevator to the 22nd). At the top, you can see out in all directions, looking out until the landscape disappears into a thick, hot summer haze.

It was (as usual) hot and humid outside. We drove onward from Tallahassee, stoping at a McDonalds for wifi. I wish I had my laptop. I have so much that I want to search for and share online. Maybe I do need an iPhone after all... sigh. Anyway, I drove, and Ueli slept for about 45 minutes, then we stopped for gas. The drive was unremarkable, trees and some rural towns along the way for several hours until it became more suburban about 1 hour north of St Petersburg/Tampa. I saw a Steak & Shake and pulled over to check it outApparently there had just been rain; I could feel it in the air, which was also significantly cooler (this is, in fact, the coolest temperature of this trip since we left Los Angeles). Steak & Shake was good, friendly service and a buttery burger but the shake was unusualy sweet and thin. It's a slightly better mix of Carl's Jr and Johnny Rockets. (oh, by the way, the restaurants here are now Hardees. The last Carls Jr I saw was back in Texas; there were neither any Hardees nor any Carls Jr locations in Louisiana).

I drove on, with the windows down to take advantage of the rain-cooled air. We weren't taking the freeway anyway. Night had fallen as we entered St. Petersburg. (This is Florida's "Bay Area.") We drove across the Gandy bridge into Tampa and went straight to our host Annie's apartment near the center of the city. We came up, chatted with her (she was quite peppy and enthusiastic; I wish I had had that kind of energy too, but so many hours on the road have taken their toll).  We tried to figure out tomorrow: We still had no host with whom to stay in Miami. But beacuse Annie had to leave so early for work, we'd have time to see the everglades and the Florida Keys. Hopefully we'll get a positive response from one of the many couchrequests we sent out.

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