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St. Augustine, FL
Miles Today: 225.6
Total Miles: 3428.3
Days on the Road: 96

Love Tester Results:
Anthony: Uncontrollable
Liz: Cold Fish
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Forever Young, and Sweaty
N 29°53.682 W 81°18.872
Tuesday, May 6, 2003 - Day 96

Welcome to Florida, home to fleets of biting insects, waves of heat and garishly unoriginal and oversized oceanfront homes in pastel shades of green, pink and yellow. Riddle me this: What draws droves of retirees to this state of swamps and sweltering heat? Sure the sunshine might lure them here, but the air-conditioning has got to be why they stay. A sure sign we're not locals - we drive with the windows rolled down. It's not that we don't have AC, it's just that the requisite compressor belt recently got chewed up and spit out the rear. We're thinking of adding a sticker to the back that'll read: Honk If Parts Fall Off.

Well, maybe those AARP cardholders are on to something - all this sunshine is pretty sweet. And the beach camping isn't so bad, either. It's hard to believe just a few weeks ago we were walking through the Smoky Mountains fingering the trigger on the can of bear whoop ass and now we're strolling the beaches armed with insect spray and sun block. We also recently added a snake bit kit to our first aid supply.

But enough about us and our various animal combatants, let's talk about Noah. It's his birthday tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Nootje.

As for Florida, it was truly built for tourists (thanks in large part to Florida's father of tourism, Henry Flagler) and pleasure-seekers. Take for example Ponce de Leon quest for the fabled Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine. We did, and we drank from it's sulfurous springs and the results have been, well, inconclusive. We did agree, however, that the water tasted eggy.

Moving on, we decided we might as well get the obligatory stop at an alligator menagerie checked off the list early so as not to get excited and pull over every time we spot what might be an alligator (or a piece of wood) floating motionlessly in the water. We got our alligator, crocodile and general reptilian fix at Alligator Farm, also in St. Augustine. Our plan worked - we later breezed by a little swampy outcrop where a gaggle of hushed tourists stared breathlessly at a barely viewable piece of gator nose in the dark water. Been there, done that - we didn't even break stride.

Aside from its alluring alligator attractions, St. Augustine was good for a scenic bike ride through its historic and aptly named Old Town. We saw all kinds of places billed as "the oldest" this or that in the U.S., including the Oldest School House, Oldest House and Oldest Drugstore.

Tomorrow we face the decision of whether to take in Orlando's many pricy and dicey theme parks or continue southbound toward the Keys. But first, we'll check out The Space Coast, which self-promotes as the place "where nature meets technology". We're hoping by that they mean a pristine, secluded campground with DSL, air-conditioning and vending machines that dispense dehydrated ice cream. We can hardly wait.

I feel younger already. Maybe it's the shirt.

Even the alligators are fat.

Pretty birdy
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