Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Tourists Are Coming! The Tourists Are Coming

One thing you learn to quickly despise once you move to Florida is the annual immigration of tourists. From about the day after Easter until Thanksgiving Day life is pretty normal here. The weather is hot, the humidity is high, and the tourists are gone! As soon as Turkey Day arrives however, all things change. Suddenly every road and byway is clogged with endless traffic. Overnight you can't find a place to park anywhere near a beach. Just as quickly you need a reservation to eat at your most favorite restaurant - even in the middle of the afternoon on a week day! Worst of all the countryside rings with the nasal sound of people going to "wok da dog on lon guylund" and others who end every sentence with "eh"

I thought we still had 3 solid months of relative solitude here until in the last few days when I've seen an uptick in the number of "foreign" license plates, especially from Ohio and Kentucky.

Such was the case today as I dashed across the state on my futile jaunt to see a baseball game that ended as I arrived. Along the way I noticed an inordinate number of foreign license plates with Ohio leading the list. This was especially true around Orlando but at the time I dismissed this as an abberation because everyone and their cow seems to be in Orlando at the theme parks all year long. Maybe I was just hallucinating?

However on returning to Sarasota this afternoon I darted out to Lido Key and to the south tip of Longboat Key for some much needed birding. As I drove around St. Armand's Circle I saw an overabundance of license plates from Ohio and Michigan and Kentucky and Joyzee and New Yawk. Then I saw the clincher - a plate from Ontario, eh. When I saw that license plate I knew this was no blip in the system. For whatever reason the Canuckadians have left the great white north, eh, and have started to arrive already on Florida's west coast. This does not bode well!

My old friend and colleague Tom Dahl once said while living in St. Petersburg that he wanted to make his first million dollars by producing, marketing, and selling a bumper sticker for use in Pinealls County that read, simply, "Who's Left in Ontario?" If you have been here in winter you'll immediately understand Tom's idea.

Today, three months earlier than normal, I saw the first one. It's going to be a long long winter here in the palm trees. I can already tell.