Saturday, March 15, 2008

What You Need To Know

Going down the elevator at the hotel this past week, a hotel employee accompanying Wendy and I down noticed my Disney "Animal Kingdom" t-shirt.

"Did you enjoy Animal Kingdom?" he asked smiling. I said I did.

"What did you learn?"

I felt my jaw drop. Did NOT expect that follow-up question. It was as if a teacher had called on me unprepared. Dumbfounded, I could not think of an answer, though later I thought I could have said something about the giant bats they have in Africa.

But c'mon! When traveling, I'm in "need to know" mode. Directions, price of hotels, destinations, remembering what to pack . . . that's all need to know stuff. What I learned at Animal Kingdom three years ago? No.

Good information is crucial to a tourist. Here are a few examples of "needed to know" information from this past week that either I or a fellow traveler didn't get on a timely basis:

Number One--Wendy and I drove to Honeymoon State Park on an island near Clearwater, Florida, hoping to get some hiking in on the nature trails there early one morning. We had no sooner paid our $5 admission and driven on about 50 yards when a sign prominently warned: Eastern Rattlesnakes are common on the island.

Augghhh! I don't like sharing space with ANY snake, let alone poisonous ones. Why couldn't we have had that information BEFORE we gave them our money. Wendy thought they should also have told us that rain had formed ponds on the trail so large that we were forced into the tall grasses to get by, where we were certainly prey for a rattlesnake ambush.

Number Two--We headed to Ponce Inlet near Daytona where they have a museum and lighthouse--179 steps to the top for a gorgeous view. After paying admission, an informational video spoke about all the calamities that had befallen this lighthouse and its crew: Indian attack, earthquake, lightning strikes and deadly storms.

But they left something out--on purpose, I think. Something a guy in his 50s nicknamed Big Dave would need to know. About halfway up the strenuous climb to the top of the lighthouse hung a memorial to a former lighthouse keeper who died of a heart attack climbing these same stairs. Again, something I could have been told AT THE BOTTOM. Or better yet, IN THE PARKING LOT.

Number Three--While walking around St. Augustine, we were approached by an elderly man looking stressed. Did we have four quarters for a dollar so he could feed a parking meter? He had been trying to change this dollar in this part of town with no luck, maybe because it was Sunday and businesses were slow to open. Or maybe because people were saving their quarters for church.

He said his wife was being "held hostage" at the meter by the fort, which is run by the national park service. Didn't know exactly what that meant, but it didn't sound good. Fortunately, Wendy had four quarters for him. Oh, was he grateful.

Later, we toured the fort ourselves. While in the gift shop, a clerk announced, "You don't need to feed the parking meters today. The meter readers don't work on Sunday."

That man could have used this information sooner. We could have too. We paid $7 to park in a private lot.


OpenID caroldee said...

WOW that is some entry there DAVE. I agree who needs to learn anything I think I would have told him I learned things cost too damn much there! LOL SNAKEEEEES No way I am outta there,, Guess I will never be visiting that place.
Your vacation sounds nice though warm weather I go for that.. HEY it is over 40 here that considered a heat wave! LOL Take care..

9:49 AM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Dave, if you had known about the snakes, you wouldn't have gone and you wouldn't have paid them $ 5.00 to go inside.

Point two - the trails: Florida has not had much rain this year and they were probably glad to get some....They probably didn't know about the "ponds" on the trails....

Point Three: Big Dave should be in better shape so that he can sprint up those stairs and not have to worry about a heart Actually I remember the last time we went to the Astec ruins cliff dwellings in four corners area, I cold hardly climb the steep steps the get out...and that was at least 10 years ago..YEKS! We need to get into better shape.

Bonnie was very jealous that you got to see the space shuttle lift off. When she went to Florida to go see it, she didn't see it. They had problems and she missed the whole thing. She did however get to see it on the launch pad.

Glad you and Wendy had a good time. Any pictures?

11:42 AM  
Blogger Kacey said...

Gee, Dave, you didn't come visit me in Ft. Myers! Good thing you didn't --- I had a wild and crazy vascular doctor tell me Wednesday evening that I needed to get back to Toledo post haste. We shut down the house, packed up some of our stuff, cleaned out the fridge and we left early Thursday morning. We made the trip from southern Florida to northern Ohio in nineteen hours flat, only to have my surgeon here tell me that he can see me next Tuesday. One of the things you need to know when going to Florida is----what do you do when a medical problem rears it's ugly head?
I hope you and Wendy had a great time and I'm sorry that Florida did not show you some really hot weather.

3:42 PM  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

At least NEXT time you won't make the same mistakes. As if there were to be a next time.....

3:51 PM  
Blogger Betty said...

Well, this reminds me of the time I cluelessly stepped into the centripetal force machine in the outdoor courtyard of the local science museum. My son was around 4 so it never occurred to me to let him ride it without me.

I was in for the ride of my life. My heart races just thinking of it. Once we began spinning, I noticed that I was the only adult. My ensuing panic probably doubled my already off-the-charts heart rate.

The ride caused each rider to rise up off the floor and become stuck to the sides of the huge spinning cylinder we were inside of. The only problem was, when the torure finally ended, the kids dropped to the floor giggling while whirlingbetty remained plastered to the wall. Even my violent shaking didn't loosen me!

Eventually gravity came to my rescue, and I fell to the floor. Ashen and still shaking, I checked myself into the museum's first aid station.

A sign at the entrance would have been nice.


4:40 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

No doubt parking sucks in St Augustine. Was there for a weekend recently and it was a nightmare. We couldn't even find the 7 dollar parking lot which we would have gladly paid just so we had some place to park the GD car.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Deb said...

LOL That's hilarious Dave. :o)

Buy you know, if wanted to tango with snakes, there are some Western Diamondbacks here you could've "Two-Stepped" with for free.

Glad you had a great time. :o)

5:19 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LUCY--Haven't got my pictures back yet. If I take a roll of 24, probably two will be "okay." I'll try to put some up soon.

KACEY--Hope your vascular problem is resolved now. I did wonder how snowbirds dealt with that kind of thing. My uncle once said he thought Florida was depressing because of the number of ambulances and hearses he would see on almost a daily basis.

CHRISTINE--We parked at the Visitor's Center in town, which I'm guessing is private. On-street parking is tought to find though.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Carine said...

Dave, I'm w/ you-No snakes. We did Animal Kingdom a few months after it opened. It was July, 120 and pouring. We thought the best part was the "safari ride" and anything in an a/c venue! Actually, we took a bus from the hotel and considering the heat and steam, we had a good time

6:04 PM  
Blogger LZ Blogger said...

Big Dave ~ I think I am starting to see the problem here with your failed vacation photos. My SECRET... don't go to a place with Rattlesnakes (my hands would be shaking so bad, that I would not be able to get a good shot either). The first thing I thought of about the guy looking for quarters, was WHERE do they charge to park the streets on Sundays? ~ "Not there either" it sounds like to me. I hope all is well? ~ jb///

11:24 AM  
Blogger Nankin said...

I guess this means next time I get a snake in my garage, I shouldn't call you.

Jimbob wasn't much help either. I pulled the little sucker out by the tail and sent it on its way.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

There are infamous sidewinders in my part of the desert. So far, I have yet to encounter one.

As to Florida, watch out for those fire ants. THEY ARE THE WICKEDEST EVER!

Sounds like you are having a good time though. If I read between the lines, that is.

Looking forward to reading more about your adventures.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A delightful and inspiring tales. I do have a similar tale too. One mid noon day in Panama City Bch. park. Trailing along the outskirts edge of the park, a narrow path leading down to the bay area. No fee's required, but a sign saying; beware of aligators!! Awww. lol..ok...turn back~lmao

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite the lack of info, sounds like you and Wendy had a good time.
I bet you were referring to Caladesi Island....When we lived in New Port Richey, we used to go there.
I love St. Augustine. A really neat town. So you were all over the Sunshine State and didn't make it HERE to my island? Shame on you!

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:41 PM  

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