I just flew in from Florida last night, and boy are my arms tired!?! Actually, my great friend and co-worker, Marisa and I flew out and back in first class on Airtran - an airline that does not suck as much as its name would imply. They have a stunning rewards program and upgrades are cheap. This blog is not about airlines, but since I fly more than anyone I know (2-3 trips/mo), I'll do a quick list of my favs. #1 - Midwest - the absolute best treatment in the air. I know people who will fly this airline with stops over direct flights on other airlines. If you have a chance to fly Midwest, do it. #2 - Airtran - for the reasons listed above. They are also the best at notifying you if there is a cancellation, fixing the problem, and giving you real comps (like free food and flight vouchers) if the problem isn't corrected immediately. #3 American - I don't fly them too often, but always enjoy it when I do. Good first class, and not too expensive to upgrade. #4 - Continental and Frontier - Clean planes and decent staff. Avoid NWA, Delta, and United like the plague. I used to be a United Premier, but got lousy service even at a high level of miles. I never fly these airlines. Southwest is the middle of the road airline. It always is on time, but the amount of work you have to remember to perform in order to get a decent seat is excessive. I'll fly Southwest, but it doesn't make the cut of the top airlines.
Anyway, back to Florida. Marisa and I left our flyover state last week to have some business meetings with our brokers as well as to staff our company's booth at a natural products trade show. As those of you who know me know, I am not a fan of the sunshine state. I always think of the place as being full of rednecks or crotchety oldsters. On this trip, however, we experienced none of that. Everyone was truly nice (I hate that word). People were friendly, and, in some cases, even overly helpful. We hit Cocoa Beach one morning before the rains descended (it rained every day we were there). The beach was long, lovely, and devoid of people. We picked shells, watched sandpipers, and walked a mile or so in the sand and waves. Marisa even spotted a dolphin.
The best quick trip we did, though, was to a place my rolfer had recommended. Bok Tower Gardens is the best inland place in the state. It sits atop the highest point in Florida, with views over orange groves and flat expanses in every direction. At its summit is an imposing and beautiful carillon which was dedicated by Calvin Coolidge. The gardens were designed by the son of Frederick Law Olmsted (of NYC's Central Park fame) who was, like his dad, no slouch in the design department. The gardens are too stunning for words. We arrived early, and pretty much had the place to ourselves. The staff is so outgoing that we probably could've been adopted by a docent at the welcome center had we been so inclined. I'll leave the description at that. But if you're in Florida, this place is really worth the trip. Bring a picnic - it is a lovely spot. They also have a decent restaurant on site. Here's a link: www.boktowergardens.org
Outside of the beach, gardens, and a couple of kitschy orange stands, the Orlando/Kissimmee area didn't have a lot going for it unless you're really into Disney. And I should point out that both places we went to required having a car, and, mercifully, leaving the immediate vicinity of the house of mouse. I wanted to take advantage of being somewhere warm to go running each morning, but a total lack of sidewalks and a bit of rain blocked any forays past the treadmills in the hotel's spa until the last day. After 4 days of running on a revolving rubber mat, I'd had it. On Sunday morning I shot out the front door of the resort, past the bellmen and parking guys, down the needlessly circuitous drive, and onto a sand/dirt path sandwiched between a highway and a cow pasture. And actually, the run was nice (there's that word again). I followed the path (probably created by underpaid hotel workers going to and from the nearest bus stop a mile away) until it went under a major highway and came out onto a touristy street with huge sidewalks that are obviously never used, but which pass in front of all sorts of gift shops, camera stores, buffets, hotels, and carnival rides. I had the whole place to myself in the early a.m., and Florida is flat enough to make Kansas look like Colorado, so I covered a lot of ground quickly. All in all, I wish there had been more opportunity to run through the area. It was one of those surreal mixtures of highway, grassland, and tourist trap that made the run so enjoyable.
I did want to make one comment about our trade show (I hate writing about work). At the show, an old guy stopped by our booth. He's familiar to me, because he visits us at a few shows a year. He no longer owns a health food store, but somehow manages to get in to the trade shows. I always hand him a bottle of our wheat grass tablets or powder and he leaves. He's a good enough fellow, but we're not going to make any money talking to him, so I'd never taken the time to get to know him. At this show though he stopped by during a lull. So we started to chat. It turns out that he's a 73 y/o ultra-distance runner. He's done all of the races that I've ever dreamed of doing (many every year since their inceptions). He knows most of the people who are mentioned in the book I've been raving about - Born To Run. He gave me some pointers (which I took to heart), and some words of encouragement. The conversation I had with him (for 10-15 minutes) was one of the best I've had with someone I didn't know in a very long time. It really reminded me to try to be more present and (to really go for a platitude here) live more in the moment.
I'll end this post with a plug for another blogger. I've had a bunch of people ask me about rolfing since I started the 10 series. I checked out a blogger who is a rolfer who has a really good blog (with photos) which explains rolfing a lot better than I have. The site also talks about foot wear - something I hope to do in a future blog - particularly Vibram (I have to try Vibram and Nike Frees out for a longer period before writing about them). Anyway, for those of you with an interest in rolfing please visit http://fasciabalance.blogspot.com/. I think you'll like it.