Thursday, November 25, 2021

Second Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day. Even a retired old fart, a young one like me, is forced to remember what day this is so let's start at the beginning: Happy Thanksgiving!  My favorite holiday is still excellent on the road. 

I gave thanks yesterday when I saw the roundabout sign marking a new intersection under the bridge from Pensacola Beach. Traffic circles beat stop signs and lights and when the protocols are ingrained you'll see far better traffic flow. Yield to traffic already in the circle. Simple. The British have been doing this for decades, so how much smarter are they? Precisely. Let's get with the program.

We went to the beach yesterday and ate fish. I had to walk the beast first of course. Rusty loves to see what's outside when we park the van in a new space, so I dealt with that while the women got in line. When we came back to the van after lunch I found a huge indentation in Layne's pillow so I think he slept soundly while we ate.

Some call the Florida Panhandle the "Redneck Riviera" because it's where southerners come to take a seaside vacation. Some Floridians  describe the panhandle as South Alabama as it's more rural and piney than the traditional Sunshine State scenes of palms and mangroves on postcards. It's only part of Florida because that was the shape of the land when the United States bought La Florida from Spain in 1819. The US got the land in exchange for boundary definitions further west and promised to pay Spanish settlers five million bucks to settle any claims they might have arising from the transfer of nationality (!).

Spain found Florida to be a  financial burden and wanted to get rid of it which was all well and good but then Mexico became independent and repudiated the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819 which required some diplomatic finesse to fix the new borders.  I imagine residents of this area must have been feeling somewhat uneasy about their national status as they never knew if they were going to get cable TV in Spanish or English for all those years of uncertainty. Things were only settled between Mexico and the US by 1832 and only until 1846 when things took a bloody turn but that war did not involve Florida so who cares? Maybe we'll take a look at that history when we're in Big Bend.

When you look at Florida's coasts and see what massive money makers they are full of realty contracts and tourists it's hard to imagine what a pit Florida must have been in 1828 when Key West was founded. The peninsula was a steamy mosquito riddled mess, full of yellow fever which periodically killed anyone it came in contact with in the sparse settlements. There were no vaccinations in those days and no one knew where yellow fever, a deadly plague, came from in the first place. So they put the capital in Tallahassee, located in a milder climate, and held on hard to the panhandle as the only part of the state fit for human habitation. Except for Key West, the port city with a reasonable climate and lots of trade which made lots of money. 

Peg Leg on the beach was recommended by Therèse our local guide and she was spot on. We had the best fried grouper bites ever, delicate batter and moist fish inside. The cooked oysters were excellent too, one a weird cheese and jalapeño concoction and the other a classic Rockefeller. The boiled shrimp were not brilliant but I didn't want to  sound the grump horn so I supped my beer and enjoyed the atmosphere on the deck. 

My friend Webb who follows assorted sports as well being something of a gymnast himself as befits a solo sailor of some repute, told me Manchester City was facing off against St Germain des Pres. Manchester versus Paris and he knew Therèse's ancestry rooted in France...so we had some rivalry ready to go when Therèse spotted the game on a television:

Perfidious Albion smacked France and I allowed myself, a non sports fanatic, a mild gloat so the day was perfect...

I enjoy the possibilities of van life created by the mobility of a 21 foot Promaster which we can drive and park pretty much anywhere a car can go. However there are also some drive up possibilities for people in boats:

When I lived and traveled on a sailboat I did this a couple of times but this kind of drive up is really meant for people in power boats easily maneuvered. Pretty cool though. 

The place was vast, no one wore masks so thanks for the patio dining. 

We were in two cars so Therèse and her sister in law went for a drive through Fort Pickens, a National Park site but we had chores to do, some light shopping. It's getting dark early, so by 5:30 it feels like the middle of the night.

Rusty loves moochdocking, and takes advantage of sunny lawns, watching the world go by, and then he goes inside and collapses on the bed.

Therèse's sister in law has an allergy to dogs she says but she noted yesterday that she hasn't met dogs like Rusty and she said she actually liked him. He is pretty non intrusive as you can see. He doesn't bark (unless there is a reason) to the point I'm not sure what his bark sounds like, and he won't beg unless you induce him to annoy you and he spends his time minding his own business. 
Have a good holiday if you are in the US and I have to go as this second Thanksgiving appears to be on track to be as elaborate as any and I wasn't expecting this. Seven people and a million dishes. Here we go.