Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Father's Day weekend in Florida

We spent Father's Day weekend along the Gulf Coast of Florida north of Tampa. It was an interesting weekend. I'd never been to this part of Florida, and we got to spend time with Dave's Dad and his wife.

Dave's Dad lives in a subdivision smack dab in the middle of national seashore. It's the type of subdivision (with canals) that's no longer legal to build to Florida for environmental reasons.

Having watched all the hurricanes blow through the Gulf Coast over the past few years, it was interesting to see the construction. All the houses are on stilts, although in this subdivision, the stilt level is enclosed (in some cases with breakaway walls and in others, further from the Gulf, with water passthroughs). Even though they live so close to the Gulf, their house is 11 feet above sealevel, so they seemed to feel pretty secure should a storm surge hit them. (Although, in my opinion, having seen what happened with Katrina, how secure can you feel?)

The highlights of the weekend included tooling around the canals in the boat, dinner at a local restaurant called R Beach, and watching the sun set on Pine Island, which is a little bit further up the coast.

Dave's Dad and his wife rented a house there briefly before their current home was built. I guess the seashells in the yard were a dead giveaway that these houses really do need their stilts. We noticed that here, they didn't enclose the stilt level of their homes, and simple park their cars underneath. I guess if you know a storm surge is coming, you either move your car inland or write it off as a loss.

I guess one attraction that we missed is the community of Weeki Wachee, home of the Weeki Wachee mermaids (I'm not sure that they're still around) and a winter refuge for manatees. I'll have to remember that for the next visit.

As I said, it was a nice weekend, but I've come to the conclusion over many visits over the years, that I have no interest in living in Florida. Too hot. Too buggy. Not for me.

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