Anyway, bitches, here I am. And where am I, pray-tell? Currently, I am seated on a chair in a room in a hotel in Lakeland, which is in Florida. It's my Seventh Annual Spring Training Baseball and First Sunburn Of the Year trip, and so far it's fulfilled both criteria:
- spring training baseball
Today's game was on the Gulf coast of Florida, in the city of Clearwater, against the Phillies. I've never been to Clearwater before, and I didn't really get to see much of it, but it's close to Tampa, and Tampa is a god damn hell hole. Ergo, there's bound to be some spillover to Clearwater, right?
(Actually, I don't think that's true at all. Clearwater is much closer to the coast than Tampa is, and the places on the coast tend to be tourstified/fancy/at-least-presentable. So there's that. If anything, Clearwater would form a barrier protecting the coast from the shittiness of Tampa, and vice-versa.)
After the game, instead of diving elbows-deep into Tampa's notoriously bad rush-hour freeway traffic -- the intersection of 275 and 4 is referred to as "Malfunction Junction" -- I decided to head up the coast a bit on US-19 to see what was up there. What I observed can be summarized in a bullet-point list.
- oodles of billboards frequently advertising things such as...
- vasectomies (including "No incision! No scalpel!" and an assurance that the doctor in question has performed over 26,000 such procedures)
- plastic surgery of various flavours (chiefly liposuction)
- personal-injury lawyers (including one with a female lawyer which asks rhetorically, "Have you ever argued with a woman?")
- a picture of a cute baby and the caption, "My heart starts beating 18 days after conception!" -- so, presumably, something right-to-life-ish
- gas station after gas station, all puzzlingly displaying different prices (in Toronto most of the stations move in perfect lock-step, except for full-serve ones which are consistently 0.4 cents per litre higher than self-serve)
- the red/green cycle on traffic lights is WAY longer here than in Canada, which makes for some idiotically-long backups
- lotsa churches, man
That's why I'd love to go back to France -- I visited Paris in 2001 for a week in July, and it was insanely busy and touristy -- but go to a much smaller place. I think it'd be amazing to find a little place in the middle of nowhere, where few people speak English (if any), and just chill out there for a week, forced to sharpen my rusty grade 11 French into something workable. Could be fun.