The smiling group in the photo is about 18 hours away from where I am now, and may be even longer depending on when I post this entry.
Having boned up on this trip by immersing myself in “Final Destinations” 1 and 3 (we’ll get to the roller-coaster bit later), the flight was gloriously uneventful apart from the massive adrenalin rush of take-off and the fact that we’d cleared the west coast of Ireland before I had really settled into my seat. As someone who doesn’t fly much – laziness and a love of the British mountains rather than any environmental concerns, I’m afraid – I am struck by how matter-of-fact it all is. Here we are, suspended 34,000 feet above the ground in a metal tube travelling at a ground speed of just under 500 mph (I know this because of the display screen on the seat in front of me) with the prospect of crossing the Atlantic Ocean in just over 3 hours, and people are sleeping, and playing with their devices, and watching the rubbish in-flight entertainment, and no-one seems to find it in any way remarkable. I know that, statistically, air travel is the safest mode of transport there is, but it still seems sufficiently precarious (if anything does go wrong, then it’s not just a case of pulling over onto the hard shoulder, is it) to merit a sense of wonder and respect. But of course, nothing did go wrong and we all arrived in Uncle Sam’s place in good order (well, apart from a brief bout of complete deafness on descent) only about 10 hours after we had left Brizzle.
The villa is gloriously decadent and full of the sort of unnecessary knick-knacks that always abound in holiday homes. Who in their right mind – with the average temperature in the 30s – makes up the bed with the sort of quilt (I think the Americans call them ‘comforters’) which wouldn’t be out of place in Wuthering Heights in winter ? At the moment, the wardrobe is stuffed, not with our holiday shorts and t-shirts, but with fittings we have removed from the rest of the room so we can actually live in it. I hope the owners don’t inspect.
Otherwise, a trip to Walmart to stock up on provisions was a trip too far after a long day. Florida (at least the bit from Stanford Airport to the villa) looks like a strange and featureless place. Flat as a pancake, crossed by major roads, settlements dotted at random intervals and completely separated from the shopping malls. Not at all like the Gloucester Road. I’m sure this is a very superficial impression and a naive one. However, it’s plain even after being here for only a few hours, that you don’t function in this part of the world without your car – and that one of the overriding feelings I get is one of insularity. Gated communities everywhere (the one we are in is just that) and no real need to step outside your front door unless you want to drive somewhere. But then, I suppose this is a state with a high ratio of tourists and retired persons, so much of that is unsurprising.
Certainly, for someone coming from our own crowded little island and town, there feels to be a lot of space – between places and possibly between people. Never mind – I was delighted to learn that we not only travelled through Orange County but also Polk County, where we are. Sure there are a number of songs in there somewhere.
Anyway, bed after a quick swim and ready to take on the first of the parks in the morning……