2008 May 31 | Everglades, Sanibel

Ever stop to think that if the universe really is a Matrix-like program, some of the parts must take up a ton of processing power, like reflections of moving, curved objects? Or maybe it's just me.

For the Jeep radio presets, you press "1" twice to get "6," "2" twice for "7," and so on, but I can never remember the upper numbers. If the twice-press presets were doubled or squared or had a "0" after them or something, it would be really easy to remember, but I have to stop and think to add 5 to the shown number.

For example, "3" twice is "8." If "4" twice were "8," I could remember that easily, but the current way I have to add in my head, although I've started to memorize them. Actually, I just think of the double-press presets as "1 up" or "1^" or "1 prime" or something instead of the actual number.

This was less-than-wonderful customer service. I was placing my order in the drive-through and it was obvious the woman taking the order wasn't following me very well; I had to repeat a lot of it. I like honey with my nuggets, and that's one thing they tend to mess up a lot, so I mentioned honey a few times. Then when I got to the window, I mentioned it again.

When I got my order, I asked if there was honey, and she said, "Yeah." I checked before driving away, and sure enough, she put BBQ sauce in there. So I looked in the window to another cashier, who looked at my cashier, and then my cashier came back with honey. Now that's what really annoyed me. She obviously knew she hadn't actually put honey in there; otherwise she wouldn't have gone and gotten them without me asking again. And she wasn't running to the window saying, "Sorry, I forgot you wanted honey instead." So she got my order wrong, lied to me about it, and then didn't care.

All of the mini-malls are set way back from the streets with parking lots filled with trees in front of them, so it's almost impossible to see which stores are where while you're driving by. Therefore, unless you know exactly which block a store is on, you'll probably have to drive in lot by lot to find it.

I needed to make a U-turn here. The red light was on the other side of the railroad tracks, so I thought about just driving across the tracks instead of waiting for the light to turn green. I ended up debating the pros and cons of doing so until the light turned green and my dilemma didn't need to be resolved any more.

The lights had just turned green. The tow truck was almost all the way in front of the cross walk just from creeping ahead during the red light. Although, since there are a few more pedestrians around here than in Texas, the red creeping isn't quite as bad here.

I went to the Everglades for part of a day. I was thinking of taking an air-boat tour, but they didn't last very long and I ended up changing my plans anyway.

Well, I should say I went to a tiny part of the Everglades, because it's gigantic, and I only went into the little tiny loop in the middle at the top. Although I did drive all the way across the top eventually, I didn't get down to the lower parts or any of the inner sections.

I considered walking the 15-mile loop at Shark Valley visitor's center, and I wasn't sure how definite the trails would be, so I was fairly prepared. I had Gatorade, trail mix, sunglasses, a cell phone (which surprising still picked up a signal), sunscreen, bug spray, and, most importantly, a compass. All of which I ended up leaving in the car because I took a trolley tour instead and there weren't any other trails other than the paved one.

Baby alligators. Crocodiles are saltwater, so you would only see them at the southern section of the Everglades.

A wet section. As our tour guide told us, it's not a swamp (which has stagnant water), it's actually a very wide river because the water moves slowly.

An area with trees. There were actually a fair number of different types of trees, but each clump had the same type of trees.

Some areas with trees are about five feet higher than the surrounding area, so that's a whole different type of ecosystem.

One of the man-made pools. This one is in the shape of an L. The others are I, F, and E.

This was our tour guide. She was really great and you could tell she just loved her job. There were a few times she got all excited about getting really close to a particular bird and whipped out her gigantic camera. Her she's showing us the skeleton of an alligator which was eaten by a boa constrictor. The boa could digest the head, but not the rest of the bones, so it regurgitated those.

At the end of the loop was an observation tower.

This section of lake had an alligator at the far end, a bird on the lower-right, and some turtles on the rock.

A long-distance view from the obervation tower.

This crow was on a lower section of the tower when we arrived. As we got closer, he kept hopping up to higher sections until he got to the top, which was blocked off from us. I thought I would prove human's superiority by making him fly away eventually, but I was stopped by a little chain.

The pits are called "borrow pits" because the roads were made from dirt "borrowed" from them.

A borrow pit with a ton of alligators.

A bird with a bright beak.

An alligator right by the side of the road. The tour guide said to yell if it started to hiss, open its mouth, or come towards the trolley, but thankfully it just sat there. I didn't really want to try to kick an alligator away from the trolley while it tried to eat my foot.

Some of the birds were tame and didn't take off when the trolley got close.

There were a few red-winged blackbirds around, too.

This guy just sat and watched us as well.

Although this one kept flying away.

Our tour guide got out into the mud and started walking away. Then she bent over, grabbed some, and brought it back. Everyone on that side scooted away because nobody wanted to touch it, but she handed it out anyway.

However, it was really mud and didn't leave your hands wet, which was neat.

On the northwest part of the Everglades was a "scenic" route. Well, it was basically a tunnel of trees and was almost hypnotizing.

Then I ran into the first "stop for one-way traffic during road construction and then follow the guide car" I've hit in years since I've always been driving around cities with multiple lanes.

Ever see something you know for sure is too good to be true, but hope it isn't anyway? This station was advertising gas for $3.29, and I knew it must have been closed for quite a while, but kept hoping it really wasn't, until I got close enough to see it was.

Instead of going to the southern part of the Everglades, since I was halfway across Florida by now, I decided to keep heading west and go to Sanibel instead, which is known for having lots of shells to pick up on the beaches. The tourist center had this sign out front.

The bridge toll was really expensive; even the Golden Gate was only $5.

A lot of places had these signs on the counter. Apparently they weren't ready for all of the tourists.

This was a shop (I think it was called Jerry's) that had really helpful workers. They gave me a lot of advice for finding shells.

The whole island has beaches on the southern end, and all of them are good for finding shells.

I wasn't ready for the beaches to be completely covered in shells, though. There are millions (or maybe even billions?) of them along the water line.

The signs along the road said "no passing on right." Which means enough people must have done it to warrant putting signs up prohibiting it.

This was a neat vending machine. It has ice cream snacks, and there was a vacuum tube that would go down into the correct compartment and pick up the treat by suction. I wanted to keep buying snacks just to watch it.

I don't really watch TV, and I especially hate morning and daytime TV shows, but this one did mention that no-AD sunscreen is one of the best, so I guess I got some benefit out of it. Although, because they were just covering a Consumer Reports study, I probably could have read the magazine instead.

South Beach. There were a few people playing volleyball.

All the guides say there are lots of topless sunbathers because Europeans come over, but there were thousands of people and maybe 10 topless women that I saw, so either it just wasn't the right season or everyone really overestimates the numbers.

Haulover Beach, which has a nude section at the north end.

And, unlike South Beach's toplessness, Haulover's nudeness lived up to the reputation. Although, like any other nude beach I've been to in the US, it's 95% gay guys, 5% couples, and pretty much 0% single women and straight men. I'd bet a good amount of money I was the only straight guy on the beach without a girlfriend or wife along.

I sat at the edge of the nudity-allowed section rather than the middle because it was much less busy, which kept me from getting hit on as much by the gay guys. Not that it really bothered me that much (heck, it's a nice self-esteem booster) but it interrupted my book reading. That was partially my fault, though; I didn't consider what I was reading at the time. I brought Les Miserables, and I should have had a Popular Mechanics instead.

There were some giant cranes working on a building nearby, so those were fun to watch, although I kept estimating their height to be sure they wouldn't land on me if they tipped over.

There's a highway 1 in Florida, too, just like in California. Except that the one in California is actually right on the coast. This one has motels between it and the ocean, so you really can't see anything.

My sandals which I had for years broke, so I threw them away and bought some new ones. Throwing them away was a big mistake, though. You could tell by looking at them they were broken, but they still worked fine. On the other hand, I've bought a couple different pairs of new ones and they all rub on some part of my foot or another and give me blisters. The ones without the ankle strap don't, but I really don't like that style. I should have just used the old ones, and if anyone mentioned they were broken, I could have just said, "Oh, thanks!" like I didn't already know it but kept on wearing them.

I didn't even notice the "9" when I read "gators" until after I had looked at this license plate for a while. It's like those paragraphs with the first and last letter of every word being correct but all of other other letters jumbled; your brain basically ignores the stuff in the middle.

A lot of people hang their cigarettes out the window so they don't mess up their nice cars. I think it would be fun to drive by, borrow it, casually take a few puffs, and then hand it back like nothing out of the ordinary happened, but I don't smoke, so I'd have nothing to do with the cigarette after grabbing it, and that might get me shot anyways.

I went to the play "A Body of Water." It had a pretty interesting plot and the actors were all fairly good, although one was a little over the top and kept pulling you out of the action and reminding you that it was just a play.