On Thursday Feb. 23rd, Mom and I drove to Lakeland to visit her cousin Barb. Barb is such a sweet and lovely person, and we were so happy to spend some time with her.

First we drove to the Tampa airport to exchange our electric car. When we got there, so many people were there returning their cars, ending their vacations, and it was a little weird to be there and not doing that.

I finally got somebody’s attention and let them know we wanted to exchange and was directed to go to the Dollar rental booth. The woman there said “We don’t have any cars” and gestured around at all the empty spaces. Oh boy. She said she’d have to talk to her manager, and if she did manage to find a car and it was a bigger than the one I paid for, which was the cheapest one, then I’d have to pay extra. I didn’t have it in me to argue at this point, so desperate was I to get something I could fill with gas.

After waiting around a very long time she announced that she’d located a small car…not the smallest, but small. Whew.

I had toyed with the idea of trying to return the car on Saturday to the Tampa airport instead of Sarasota so I’d be spared the very very long drive, but when I suggested that to the harried worker she said that would be a whole different thing and I’d have to contact Sarasota and blah blah blah. I decided I didn’t care anymore, and with great relief we headed out of the parking garage in a comparatively rinky dink little Mitsubishi Mirage.

We got on the highway to Lakeland and I remembered the last time we’d driven on it, in Feb. 2020, the traffic was crazy, with so many people driving like maniacs, swerving in and out of traffic. That time I’d decided to take a smaller road back to where we were staying but this time I figured I’d just deal with it.

We pulled into Barb’s subdivision and we greeted by these cool birds. I texted a picture of them to Jim, who immediately ID’d them as Sandhill Cranes. Very cool.

We chatted with Barb out on her beautiful lanai and then she took us out to lunch. A good time was had by all. Barb talked about Mom’s dad, Ed, and it sounded like Barb had had the opportunity to see him even more than Mom did when growing up. Ed traveled a lot in his job and apparently visited Barb and her family once a month.

I wasn’t feeling so great during lunch what with the cold, otherwise I’d have grilled Barb more extensively about my grandfather. I’m sad I never knew him.

We all had the steak and shrimp special because why not, we were on vacation.

The drive back was slightly awful mostly because we had to sit in traffic a lot. But it wasn’t so bad and we made it to the beach in time for another sunset. The guy was out there with his kite board again.

He came out of the water and walked past me and I told him it looked like he was having fun. He grinned and said it was and he sounded like he might have been Australian. Hmm, funny place for an Aussie to vacation?

After we got back to our place I decided to walk back out to the beach in the dark. Yes, it might have been kind of risky, but it was so quiet and peaceful and beautiful…

One more day left in sunny Florida.

OK then,