Change of scenery

Saturday I flew down to Sarasota to spend a few days with Dad. I’ve been here so many times that it feels like home but I always suffer a bit of culture shock for the first few days. In Maine, in February, we drive dirty cars and trucks and because of the ice, usually they’re 4 wheel drive. This morning I slipped out for a bit of Starbuck’s (something else we don’t do in Searsport) and was amazed when I backed into my parking space. I was sandwiched between a Lexus, two Jags, too many Mercedes to count and a red Beamer…and all of them were shiny. In my real world, the only thing people check out in the parking lot is your tires~ do they have good treads?

This is high season on Florida’s Gulf coast. It’s disconcerting to see that there are vacancy signs on every property. Are people traveling less? Do they have less vacation time? Is Florida just boring compared to more exotic destinations? Or more simply, are they all snowed in up in Northern New York? With no desire to hurt Southern states’ tourism, my personal hope is that travellers are saving alot of money this winter by staying home and then they’ll head up the North bound highway to our rocky paradise.

If I could offer you one travel tip based on my 15 years of managing the campground and greeting thousands of guests, it would be to choose a destination that allows you to feel settled for at least a week. Spend part of your time exploring the back streets and the tiny restaurants that don’t get promoted in the glossy fliers. Choose a place to camp where you don’t have to be on the go all of the time…it should be beautiful enough that some days you’ll just want to stay put…read a book and daydream. The saddest vacationners of summer are those frantic city people who are trying to pack a maximum number of sights into each day…they miss the really good parts of being in Maine where life truly is slower and tends to follow the rhythm of the tides.

If you are looking for a good campground guide, the best on the shelves is the Unofficial Guide to Campgrounds by Frommers. In another posting, I’ll tell you more about how these guides usually work but for now, suffice it to say that these guys have been the best. If you’re looking for the best advice for local attactions, talk to the people in the sites beside you and to the shop owner down the street…in our part of the world, the advice they give you will be the best because frequently the owners of the smaller destinations don’t have the money or the time to spend on advertising or don’t get the support of the State’s marketing mechanism. Tell me, where do you get your best touring advice?

The rain has stopped for a bit so I think I’ll I’m head to the local greenhouse to buy Dad some annuals to brighten his patio. Bye for now, Astrig

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