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Friday, September 2, 2011

Florida (the state, not the diary)

To some people, it may sound silly, but until I started my Farewell East Coast Tour, I'd never been to Florida. I've spent my share of time in the Miami airport, but never saw much else.

This changed on the leg from DC to FL. I'll sing Amtrak's praises later, but essentially, the trip down from Boston to Bradenton cost nothing but redeeming my rail points. This particular part of the journey introduced to me some sweet people on the train down, Carrie and Michael Sean and Carrie's best friend whose name escapes me at the moment. Really special folks. Once in Bradenton, I met up with my dear friend Ann and finally, after forty years, met her parents, the Schauts. These are two of the sweetest, most genuine people you could ever hope to meet.

John's a young man of 92 and his wife Dorothy's a little younger. Their and their daughter's hospitality was generous as well as welcoming. John was integral in getting Head Start off the ground and had worked with Action for Community Development, Boston (ABCD). Ironically, I had done a three-day assignment as a temp some years ago for ABCD. Really great people there, as well. You do meet them in the non-profit world.

John's also a writer, free-thinker, and all around great soul. His wife Dorothy is a trooper and despite some appearance of health issues, both are resilient and a testimony of a lifetime of love spent together. (Over sixty years!)

Sadly, I was only in town for a day and a half. I had originally thought I'd train it over to New Orleans and then into Houston but it's a long haul and I had to admit to myself that I was ready to get to Houston and see sis and friends here. Still, the brief time I spent in Bradenton and the surrounding area was eye-opening and relaxing. Seeing Ann and her daughter Kate for the first time in years was truly wonderful.  

This was the first look at Florida from the train window. Not too shabby.

John and Dorothy have a porch that's perfect for quiet reflection, coffee and conversation in the a.m.

The American anole; first one I've seen in a while.

This is the Gulf Coast I love; where the sky meets the water in utter vastness.

Ann in front of the De Soto National Park's Memorial Cross.

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