Sarasota, Florida – February 8, 2007
We spend several days with Mom in Tampa. She appears to be over her depression and is eating well again. A giant hotel and gambling casino has appeared next door to her house. It is owned by the Seminole Indians. The name is the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel. By coincidence, Anna Nicole Smith died today at age 39 in a hotel of the same name. Her death was reported by Chief Charlie Tiger.
Tampa has become depressingly crowded and congested over the last 50 years. Lonely two lane asphault roads have turned into eight lane highways of stopped traffic. We are exiles now, victims of years of mindless concretization. We drive by my old high school as it lets the students out. We see dozens of high school girls in traditional Muslim dress. We are passed by Dominican students driving erratically. The back of their car has the hand-lettered notation, "Dominican Racer". Their driving is as flaky as mine was at that age.
We drive south to Sarasota to visit friends and play tennis. It is chilly in the morning, about 50 degrees F, but it warms nicely to 80 F. by about 10 AM.
Our friends have found an “RV Resort". It’s amazing. There are 1,500 units and about 3,000 people camped here. It is a small city about the same population as Point Barrow, Alaska.
There is a huge pool heated to 86 F. and two large Jacuzzis heated to 104 F. Other amenities include eight horseshoe pits, twelve lawn bowling lanes , sixteen shuffleboard courts , ten tennis courts, a lake for fishing and miniature sailboat races, two whiffle ball courts, bocceball courts, card game tounaments, a large lapidary shop, sand pit volleyball, dance classes, arts and crafts, a woodworking shop and a pool hall with billiards.
They run round robins for tennis doubles every day, tennis drills and pool exercise sessions. We see white-haired people on bicycles, golf carts and electric scooters. My impression is that these are having more fun now than they did in their childhoods.
Just down the road is a large Amish fruit stand. It also offers homemade Amish ice cream, noodles and cheese. The local area has great white sand beaches, the Ringling Art Museum, a laser light show with a Pink Floyd musical score and high end shopping and dining on St. Armand’s Key.
We decide to spend at least a month here next winter.