Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Tale of Two Floridas

For the first time ever, I traveled someplace warm during Spring Break. (Little did I know that it would actually be quite warm at home while I was away.) Yuriko and I went to the Florida Keys, and we had a fabulous time. Here is a list of some of the highlights:

  • Sandspur Beach -- Located in Bahia Honda State Park, this beach is simply gorgeous. Aside from a few sand fleas, it was perfect. I was a little worried that my super-pale-senstitive skin would be burned beyond repair, but covered in SPF 50, I was able to soak up some sun and live to tell the tale.
  • Great Seafood -- Yuriko and I both love to eat sea creatures, and we sure indulged last week. Nearly every place we dined had fresh mahi mahi (which they call "dolphin" -- not to be confused with regular dolphins, which are super-intelligent mammals, not tasty fish) and grouper. We also had some great shrimp, oysters, and even sushi.
  • Bicycling -- We rented two bikes and rode out on this really long bridge (about a 2 mile section of "Ye Olde 7 Mile Bridge"). This was easily the most scenic bike ride I've ever taken, surrounded by endless, clear blue water on both sides. Here's a picture of us on "Pigeon Key," where the bike trail ended:
  • Great Weather: 80 degrees and sunny each day; 70 degrees and breezy each night. Only significant rain we saw was on the day we left.
  • Wildlife: Our last two nights we stayed at a bed and breakfast on Big Pine Key, which has a nature preserve to protect an endangered species of small deer. We saw one particular deer hanging out on the beach all the time, and I was able to take several pictures of it. Also saw this cool little lizard.

All in all, a great trip -- we can't wait to go back next year. My one issue was that I didn't like spending so much time in the rental car. The car was perfectly fine, but I wish there was a train or monorail or something that you could take to the keys from the Miami airport, and from key to key.

While my personal little trip to Florida was blissful, I--like many others--have been profoundly disturbed to hear the news coming out of Florida this week. Nearly a month ago, on February 26th, an unarmed, seventeen-year-old black teenager, Trayvon Martin, was shot and killed by a self-appointed "neighborhood watchman" by the name of George Zimmerman. While Zimmerman claims he shot this kid in self-defense, there seems to be little reason to believe that Martin could have posed any kind of a threat to him or the community. The local police, however, failed to investigate or file charges against Zimmerman. As far as I know, Zimmerman is yet to face any charges or even have his gun license revoked. Many community members locally and protesters nationally have been calling for Zimmerman's arrest. It looks like the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI are now looking into the case, since the local police obviously did not do much. I'm hoping to get my English 100 students talking about this case this week, and following it in the weeks to come.

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