with Lynne and Leslie
Tag Archives: Florida

No-fly zone: Five road trips I want to take this year. Where are you motoring?

by SweetMidlife

custard shop naples

Leslie here…and please pause while I sing a bit of “Sister Christian,” because very few people my age have, since 1984, said the word “motoring” and then not sung “What’s your price for flight? In finding Mr. Right! It’ll be all right…to-niiiight.” Old. Rocking. Not sorry.

OK, now that that’s over, I’m all filled with wanderlust after a ridiculously relaxing trip to Maryland with my husband and the kid who lives with us. It’s the first time we’d been to our home state in more than a year, and the wee one’s second set of round-trip flights. (A blog discussing the indignities and pleasantries of plane travel with a toddler is coming soon, but it’s been a heavy day, so I wanna be on the positive tip today, as we olds would say.) It was great to see everyone, we were super chill and the boy had a good time. But after the running through the airport, fighting to sit together and trying to explain to a 20 month-old why he couldn’t climb over me and run up and down the aisle past the beverage cart like a crazy boy, I turned to my husband and said, “Didn’t you want to do a bunch of road trips this year?”

We live in Florida, a very big state with some places we’ve made favorites, some I haven’t visited in ages and a few I’ve never made the acquaintance of but really need to. I’ll bet there are some cool places within decent driving distance of you, so your list is probably different. What’s your top five place to be motoring…and not take a flight? (I am sorry. You’re singing that now.)

1) Naples: We love the Gulf Coast, because it’s quieter and the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico have a different vibe than those out here on the Atlantic. Naples is a particular favorite, because it’s got several of my favorite things – really nice hotels with room service, an excellent downtown with great shops (see above) and eats up and down Fifth Avenue, and beautiful beaches. It’s a historic, elegant place with some quirks.

2) The Keys: There is no place called Kokomo in the Florida Keys, no matter what the Beach Boys say, but there are some incredible islands, shameless sunsets, cool hotels of every type from dive to divine, breathtaking bridges and lots of places to get lost. Key West was a favorite as a single girl, in bed and breakfasts and in a swanky Sheraton Suites on the beach, and now as a married chick (our honeymoon cruise stopped there, and we turned the end of the Ragnar Relay, which I ran three years ago, into a mini-vacation, staying in a little guest house with a clothing-optional pool. I told my husband that the fit runners would not be in the pool, only like old German tourists. And I was right.) We haven’t been back since the kid has been with us, but we’re in talks for my husband’s big milestone birthday this fall (I would also love to check out Key Largo, where I only stopped for an afternoon when my grandparents were staying there. I’d love to do the glass bottom boat.

leslie pool roof3) South Beach: Again, this is a place we’ve done much differently as married people and parents than when I was single (Remind me to never tell you about that.) The above photo is from the rooftop pool at the Riviera, a cool spot in a slightly quieter portion of SoBe, just west of Collins Avenue. We also did The James, which is a little more central, not far from the shops and stuff on Lincoln Road, and the Metropolitan by Como, a relaxing and purposely chill spot where they’re proud not to be a party spot. I do most of my partying dancing around my living room with a toddler singing Four Seasons songs, so I’m fine with that. These days, we stay in nice places and eat. And there’s plenty of that.

4) Seaside: It’s in the Panhandle, where my husband used to live, but where I’ve yet to go. It’s a bit of a schlep. But I would love to take a few days, where we can stop somewhere in between if the kiddie gets restless, because it’s supposed to be gorgeous, with little postcard houses that attracted Peter Weir when he made “The Truman Show.” It’s also between Destin and Panama City Beach, two places I’m excited to visit, although not at Spring Break.

5) St. Augustine: About ten years ago I did a road trip with my friend Rachel for part of a story where I was running in different places around the state. We stayed at the cutest Victorian B&B, did some cool walking tours, including that of the historic fort there, and met a guy dressed as an authentic Spanish soldier named Jeff, or as we called him, El Jeff-e. I’d love to walk the kiddo around the cobblestones and buy him a little soldier hat. I also wonder how old Jeff’s doing.

Where do you want to go?

Five Minute Friday: Visiting home, and having home visit

by SweetMidlife

I no longer feel like a visitor in my own home.

Leslie here! Our word for the day is “Visit.” Here goes!


I am a transplant in South Florida, a place that is often said to have no natives, which is dumb and arrogant on the part of the transplants, because somebody’s getting born in those hospitals. Anyway, I’m often asked “Where are you from?” with the assumption that I am originally from somewhere else. And I am a native Baltimorean by way of Pennsylvania. For years that was my identity, to the point where even though my mail was delivered here, I still referred to Baltimore as “home,” though I hadn’t lived there since 1992. I felt lighter there, more comfortable. I felt like I was at home on my visits, and visiting in Florida, which was technically my home.

But a funny thing happened about five years ago – I fell in love with a man who was from home, from my high school, who also felt like a visitor in the state where he’d lived off and on for a decade. But we found more than a person to kiss and share a mortgage with. We found our home. And suddenly, this place where we were living felt like home. Our friends and family were secretly hoping that, having fallen in love, we would move back to Maryland and finally be home. The weird thing was – we each fell in love with a Baltimorean and finally felt like Floridians. We were no longer visiting in this space. We belonged.

I still don’t get how Floridians drive. But I guess I am one now, no longer a visitor in my home. So it’s sort of OK.


Trayvon Martin, walking while black, and other things that scare me

by SweetMidlife

Hi. It’s Leslie.

Between celebrity interviews and making plane reservations on company time, I did some Google searches about the response to the president’s comments about the death of Trayvon Martin. It had taken President Obama a week or so to make any statements about the shooting (I think it was a murder) of a 17-year-old black kid walking to his father’s girlfriend’s house in Sanford, Fl, armed with just Skittles and an iced tea. An overzealous self-appointed neighborhood watch captain decided he was suspicious, followed him even after 911 advised him not to, approached him, got into a scuffle with him and shot him.

Even typing that makes my heart constrict a little, like it was injected with a shot of rage, fear and despair. Sorry. Back to my point.

I came across this beautiful blog:  http://open.salon.com/blog/keka/2012/03/21/for_trayvon_and_emmett_my_walking_while_black_stories – about a black female reporter’s tales about being stopped by various police officers while investigating stories, driving home from a show or just walking her dog in her own neighborhood. She relates to Trayvon, and to the famously murdered Emmitt Till, whose mother was one of her teachers, in that it only takes one trigger-happy person acting on suspicion and a hunch to ruin a day. Or end a life.

It reminded me of some of my own Walking While Black, Driving While Black, Shopping While Black, Reporting While Black or Buying Candy At A Dance Recital While Black stories – I swear to you that I was buying Skittles at the time. I am not lying. Some of these stories are funny, like when cars pull over toward me as if I am a hooker while running in my neighborhood, because the running shoes, iPod and sprinting just scream “Please pay me for sex, because I’m looking hawt!”

Some of them are outrageous, like the cashier at a grocery store who looked at my Veggie Burgers, my blazer and slacks and brand new car key, and then somehow decided they were a cue to ask if I was paying with food stamps. Or the interview subjects who have sat with me for an hour as I asked them questions and then say, when I mention writing the story “Wait…You’re the reporter?” As if the reporter sends someone else to report for them. And that was this year. It wasn’t my youth, because I’m not young.

They didn’t say I couldn’t be a reporter because I was black. But give me another reason.

I’ve been followed, like the blogger, at nice hotels and asked to produce a key when no one else in the lobby was. I recently entered a government building with white relatives, chatting and talking about where we were going, and was stopped and rudely asked where I was going, because the security guard’s common sense – Hey, this lady is talking to them! She must be with them! She hugged that one guy! – could not conquer his feeling that I did not belong. I have been asked to show credentials in VIP rooms when no one else was, because it seemed wrong that I would be there.

And there was no other reason. Spare me with the mental gymnastics that try to explain away what I know at 40. i was always dressed appropriately for the event. I wasn’t staring at anyone’s purse. I was minding my own business. And yet I have sometimes – not usually, but sometimes – been singled out.

Why is it easier to believe that I am crazy, than to believe that people are racist? Why would you rather believe that? Why does it make you feel better that the black person is overreacting? Is it because it’s easier to excuse one crazy woman than to consider that we are broken as a society. Stop twisting. Start solving. When I’ve been stopped, I’ve been well-dressed, sometimes with a press pass around my neck. When I run, I look like a runner, with all of the sweat, music and general middle-aged overweight acoutrements.

But people don’t always see that. They see brown. And that is not my fault.

Geraldo Rivera is over on FOX blaming Trayvon’s death on his hoodie, saying that because people associate hoodies with thugs, young brown boys, even Rivera’s own son, shouldn’t wear them so that people don’t get the wrong idea and shoot them. For real? They are excluded from a category of sportswear because racists want to shoot them?

I get what he is saying, that sometimes you have to be aware of your surroundings and not give people a reason – I always immediately step back from a store door that starts security beeping, because I don’t want to be accused of anything. I make sure I’m well-dressed at events, to lessen the notion that I’m some homeless person waiting to attack.

And sometimes that is not enough. I can’t wear enough iPods or nice shoes or expensive makeup to blot out the black. And I don’t know what to do about it.

Scrappy Theme by Caroline Moore | Copyright 2020 The Sweet Midlife | Powered by WordPress