The Best and the Still-Potentially Good

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April 10, 2022- It helps me to consolidate my learnings from any observational journey, by looking at what was best and what could have been better. It never helps, really, to disparage a given place or person. We are all works in progress.

So, looking at the places of accommodation in which I stayed, over the three weeks just past, here are some impressions:

America’s Best Value Inn, Brunswick, GA- Clean and well-furnished. It was quiet, a bit out of town, but not too far out of the way. Good WiFi.

America’s Best Value Inn, West Melbourne, FL- Clean, but not well-furnished, aside from the comfortable bed, which was also the seat. It was fairly lively, being Spring Break and all, but no one carried on much, after 11 p.m. Good WiFi.

Vero Inn, Vero Beach, FL- Very clean and well-furnished. It is a small motel, yet the owners are very proud of their enterprise and treat guests like family. Great Wi Fi.

Bikini Hostel and Cafe, Miami Beach- Well-tended rooms, excessive surcharges on parking, minimal breakfasts and suppers, reasonable locker fee. The evening manager is engaging and attentive, especially to the needs of young people traveling alone. The rest of the male staff are rather aloof. The ladies, mostly housekeepers, are kind and relaxed, while doing their jobs well. This place could use an attitude adjustment, on the part of upper management and security. WiFi is great, though.

Conty’s Motel, Naples, FL- Large room, good furnishings and clean, though pricey for a place with stand-up shower. Owner is stoic, but attentive. WiFi is fairly good.

Plaza Travel Inn, Clewiston, FL- Very attentive owner-manager greeted me and apologized for having to change out his door bell. Good-sized room, good furnishings and clean. The co-owner even hoses down the parking lot, each evening. WiFi was good.

Gram’s Place Hostel, Tampa- One of the three best places I stayed this time around. Owner-manager is very grateful for visitors, and the place is usually packed. Lots of quirky memorabilia-even a tree Some areas needed work-one sink had no running water, but there was a working sink nearby. Kitchen could use some cereal bowls. (I’ll have to remember to donate some, if that is still the case next time.) Rooms were clean. Patio is spacious and welcoming. Great WiFi.

Motel 6, Spring Hill, FL- I stayed here two nights. Clean, with fairly good furniture. Quite a rambunctious group of guests, but no one bothered me. Desk clerk was engaging and very attentive. Good WiFi.

Motel 6, Americus, GA- I stayed here two nights, as well. Single woman runs the place, and was gentle, but firm, with panhandling drifter who hung around and bothered single female guests. There is a nice laundry room for guests to use. Room was clean and had good furnishings. Wi Fi was good.

Heart of Dixie Motel, Dadeville, AL- This place needs work. The owner did not realize that towels and washcloths were not available. Furnishings are passable. The bathroom was fairly clean. The sleeping room was a bit more so. WiFi was fair.

Sonesta Select, Atlanta- Marvelous, four-star resort hotel, and one of the three best places on this trip-as much because of the regal, but attentive, front desk staff, as because of the accoutrements. Furnishings were excellent and room was spotless. WiFi was gr

The Quisby, New Orleans- The third great place on this journey, and a truly Big Easy hostel, I felt that the management had their act together, keeping a potentially unruly bunch in good order. Clean and well-kept rooms, with comfortable bunks and very nice bathrooms. WiFi is excellent and the food is simple but excellent.

Alamo Inn, San Antonio- I got the last available room here, at nearly the last minute. Alamo would be #4 on my list of “bests”. Rick, the owner, is very accommodating and will even call an Uber for guests needing transport to downtown. The rooms are large, clean and have great furnishings. WiFi is great.

Accommodations being most important, eateries are a close second. The best were: Sunrise Diner, Brunswick; Fourth Street Deli, Fernandina Beach, FL; Tanuki, Miami Beach; Brian’s Place, Hernando Beach, FL; Cowboys Fire Pit BBQ, Lake Park, GA; Farm Burger, Atlanta; Cooks and Soldiers, Atlanta, Thousand Hills Coffee House, Atlanta and Oskar’s Cafe, Dadeville. For sentimental reasons, I add Zaxby’s, Dublin, GA and Osceola Tiger, Miccosuki Reservation, because the kids are caring and attentive.

The most memorable places visited were Andersonville National Historic Site; American Beach, Amelia Island, FL; Kennedy Space Complex Visitors Center, Merritt Island, FL; Downtown Key West; Smathers Beach and Bahia Honda, Lower Keys; South Beach, Miami Beach; Big Cypress National Preserve; Naples Botanical Garden, Naples, FL; Downtown Tampa; St. Petersburg Waterfront; Koinonia Farm, Americus; Tuskegee Airmen National Monument, Tuskegee, AL.

So those are my takes on things Southeast, at least for now.

Aunt Grace’s Homeland

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March 26, 2022, Naples, Florida- The sweet-spirited young woman was glad as heck, that someone entered her family’s small cafe, just as she was opening the door to business. I felt like royalty, being welcomed as if I was the first soul in years to stop by. It didn’t hurt that she had a gorgeous smile and a barely concealed measure of confidence. When I ordered coffee and a piece of fry bread, (a staple among the Miccosukee, as well as among First Nations people around the United States and Canada-a testimony to the creative use of worm-shot flour, back in the Nineteenth Century.), J placed the order for the bread and turned to her uncle and me, admitting that she only knew how to use a Keurig. Uncle D was nonplussed, and calmly showed his teenaged niece how to make coffee using a drip system. Her coffee was superb, as was her mother’s fry bread.

These are the extended family of my late Aunt Grace, who left Big Cypress after World War II, and never returned, even after leaving her husband. Gracie was content to raise her five children and work as a waitress at a discount department store’s lunch counter, until she died a few years back, at age 90. She was pleased when I went to work with other First Nations people, though. She was quiet. but firm in her assessment of things- much like young J.

The Miccosukee are a southern branch of the Seminole, who came to central and southern Florida in the 1700s, and are the branch of Seminole who managed to elude Andrew Jackson’s forces, when he was appointed military governor of Florida, in 1821. Today, they live along the Tamiami Trail and in sections of the Everglades and Big Cypress natural preserves. No sane United States official, today, would recommend moving these careful stewards from the Federal lands. South Florida is rightly viewed as a proving ground for our species’ commitment to conserving water and all other living natural resources.

I spent about an hour in Osceola Panther, as Uncle D’s small village and store are called. Here are some of the scenes from the store and along the Tamiami Canal outside.

Another hour was spent, up the road, at Big Cypress National Preserve, which offers extensive programs to educate the public on the intertwining topographic areas of savanna and wetlands, which comprise most of southern and central Florida.

Here are a few scenes of everyone’s favourite swamp creature: The alligator.

The heat became a bit enervating, after noon, when I found myself dealing with the hyper-energy of Naples, southwest Florida’s southern anchor community. Here, I found that I had returned to suburbia, intense high-speed traffic and people who had scant patience for one another. After a brief preliminary visit to Naples’ excellent Botanical Garden, I rested, took in a Baha’i planning session and rested more.