Florida Adventures

Relaxing at Navarre beach.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Brandon and I have recently been on vacation. After the pandemic postponed our 2020 travel plans, we ventured down to Florida earlier this month to spend time with his family. Today, I’ll share with you some highlights from our trip.

Brandon’s parents have a pool in their backyard, which offered a welcome respite from the heat and humidity.

Brandon’s family lives in northern Florida, so we divided our time between Pensacola and Tallahassee. We picked July because Brandon was able to get the most time off without using all of his vacation days, due to the Fourth of July holiday weekend. We spent most of our time in Pensacola, where we stayed with Brandon’s parents and their two rambunctious yet lovable Boston terriers. When it wasn’t raining or too hot, we traveled to Navarre Beach and checked out local attractions such as the Gulf Breeze Zoo. We also went to a minor league baseball game (the Pensacola Blue Wahoos vs. the Biloxi Shuckers), where we witnessed a peculiar and heady mixture of baseball, game-show like antics between plays, and concluding fireworks referred to as “Explosions in the Sky.” I don’t watch or follow sports (the last game I went to was with the Keio program in 2019), so the whole thing was a bit bewildering, but I wasn’t bored either.

Brandon with Herman the Mastodon at the Museum of Florida History. To give you a sense of Herman’s impressive scale, Brandon is 6’6″.

Brandon and I also drove to Tallahassee to see his aunt, his sister and her family, and a college friend. While we were there we visited the Museum of Florida History, as one of our good friends and former coworkers from the Roswell Museum is starting a new position there as Registrar. We were both impressed with how this museum emphasizes a comprehensive approach to Florida history through its decided focus on women and people of color, underscoring the state’s long-established multiethnic character. We also liked how it used prehistoric geography to discuss current events, using simple but effective interactives on rising sea levels and other events to underscore the realities of climate change. And we both liked Herman the Mastodon, who you can follow on Twitter.

Another highlight for us was Wakulla Springs, located outside of Tallahassee in Crawfordville. Wakulla Springs is a state park featuring an elegant 1937 lodge channeling Spanish Colonial aesthetics, and a four-mile preserved section of the Wakulla River. It’s also famous as a filming site for several vintage movies, most famously The Creature from the Black Lagoon, released in 1954. Brandon has been visiting this place with his family since he was a kid, so he’s quite familiar with it. He and I also stopped here briefly in 2017, but we were on a fairly busy itinerary and couldn’t stay long. This time though, we stayed the night, giving us ample time to explore the property and take a tour of the river. We got to see alligators, turtles, numerous birds, and even a manatee, which was exciting. Brandon also enjoyed having the opportunity to show me a place that has long been special to him.

Most of the time though, we just relaxed, partly because the humidity was so intense (I’ll admit it made me pretty grumpy while we were walking around downtown Tallahassee), but mostly because we needed the rest. I’ve learned from previous overworking experiences that breaks are crucial to long-term stamina, so I made a point of not bringing any academic or exhibition work with me. Instead, I spent my time reading fiction, sketching my local surroundings, and watching movies. Away from my usual obligations, I even found myself thinking of new projects such as short stories and novels, which is interesting considering I stopped writing fiction more than a decade ago. I don’t know if anything will come of these ideas, but if nothing else, they underscore the importance of getting out of your head, whether it’s through traveling to different places, or just breaking up your daily routine.

Not a bad way to spend ten days.

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