Thursday, August 19, 2010

Princess of the Plantation

Oh, yeah, I could live at Amelia Island Plantation. I had a beautiful room at the Amelia Inn -- and a balcony overlooking the ocean. I also had a great view of one of the golf courses -- there are three on the property.

Amelia Island Plantation occupies a good chunk of the south end of Amelia Island, Florida. The island, just off the east coast, is about as far north as you can get and still be in Florida. With a good stiff wind, you could spit on Georgia!

It was hot -- though it was hotter by five to ten degrees in Oklahoma -- but what it lacked in Fahrenheit, it made up in humidity! This misty, romantic shot isn't fog -- it's just a steamed up camera lens. Every time I walked outside, I became temporarily blind until I could wipe off my glasses!

One of the highlights of my trip was a Segway tour. Five of us -- and our guide and Segway-sitter Gary -- wound our way along some of the many paths and roads that ribbon through the Plantation.

When we'd gotten about as far as we could from our starting point, the clouds opened and dumped on us. I didn't plan on wearing see-through pants but that's what they were by the time we got back! Wet as I was, I'd do it again in a minute.

There are almost 2000 residences on the Plantation -- a number in several high-rise buildings but many free-standing houses tucked in the trees. Planners were way ahead of their time in considering the environment -- they preserved between 70 and 80 per cent of the tree canopy. I loved riding down this alley of live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.

I went to sleep at night with the sound of the ocean in my ears. What luxury. I felt like Cinderella at the ball. But now it's back to reality. Just pass me my pumpkin.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Who Is My Neighbor?

Excuse the detour from my usual travel adventures. First I have to beg forgiveness for 1. being judgmental (I KNOW I have logs in my eye!) and 2. for eavesdropping (which I do with great regularity.) Here's what I heard this morning at my favorite McDonald's.

On one side of the restaurant is a long bench serving three tables. I was sitting at the middle one, reading my library book and savoring my 7 point (Weight Watchers!) breakfast burrito. An older man and woman and their adult daughter sat down at the table to my left. When the father lifted the lid of his coffee, he discovered it was just hot water. He had asked the server to put hot water in his coffee. The employee had minimal English skills and obviously misunderstood. They checked the bill and discovered they had paid 53 cents for the hot water (the same price as a senior coffee). The father was incensed. The daughter went back to the counter and exchanged the water for the requested watered coffee.

Their conversation became more heated as they castigated "these people" who come here but don't speak the language and how they should be required to study English for a year. (For a digression -- yes, classes are available but they are frequently at inconvenient hours or locations for workers who take these kinds of jobs.)

The more they talked, the madder the father became. He announced his intention of going to the counter to complain again. After he left, the mother and daughter both talked about how they didn't want to be there to see it.

When he came back, the subject turned to their Bible study class. They were quite concerned about the proper sequence of creation -- Did God create Adam first, then Eve? Did God create Adam and Eve simultaneously? Did God create other people first but Adam was the first "special" one?

While they were talking, a Latino couple with a beautiful little girl sat down at the table on my right. They were speaking Spanish. The mother said something to the little girl and all three of them folded their hands as the mother said a prayer over their breakfast. Of course, I couldn't understand the words but it obviously was longer than the quickie God is great, God is good.

I know I am called on to love both the family on the left and the family on the right. But if I had to choose a neighbor to live next door -- well, buenos dias, neighbor.