Chickenpox and Grits: Johnny Canuck in Florida and Georgia : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread

This is a belated recounting of my trip to Florida and Georgia over Christmas and New Year. (I'll get to the chickenpox bit in due course.)

Five days before Christmas I flew to Atlanta in the company of my wife, her parents - visiting from England - and my 2 young kids, aged 1 and 4. We were originally due to fly to Fort Myers, but our original airline went belly up in November, a victim of the Sept 11th fallout and its own over-zealous expansion. So, we had to settle for flights to Atlanta and then a 600 mile drive.

Now, as some of you can readily imagine, progress is not rapid in a vehicle containing 2 toddlers and a 73 year old male with a leaky faucet (seemingly the fate that awaits all fellas should they reach that age). You don't get to pile on many miles before someone needs a pee break. Still, I was entertained listening to my father-in-law (a retired Russian History professor who is very English) struggle with the southern drawl (someone once said that Britain and America were 2 countries separated by a common language).

We made it safely to Fort Myers where we were meeting up with my wife's two brothers and their families. Our accommodation was a couple of houses, about 100 yards off the beach on Captiva Island. Captiva is a beautiful barrier island just off Fort Myers. The highest point on the whole island is about 6 feet about sea level, so the next hurricane that gets close will pretty well wipe the place out (with the storm surge, rather than the winds).

Anyway, my English in-laws stood out on the beach because they were, quite possibly, the whitest people in Florida. They make Anne Rice look like Jennifer Lopez. Those sterotypes about English people are true, although my relatives do have good teeth! The kids loved playing on the beach and pretty well every day we would see dolphins swimming about 50-75 yards offshore.

The highlight of the whole trip for everyone in our group was the "Dolphin Cruise" on Pine Island Sound (which is between the barrier islands and the mainland). We went out the day after Christmas, when the temperature conveniently dived to the low 50s, and saw about a dozen dolphins swimming in the boat's wake. You can't imagine the power and grace of these animals until you see them leap out of the water 15 feet from you are standing when the boat is doing close to 20 mph. Kids and adults alike were captivated.

The next day me and one of my brothers-in-law went sea-kayaking. The weather was still crappy (low 50s and a 15 - 20 mph wind) so we ended up being the only people going out - the other 10 people who had booked wussed out. I guess they mustn't have been Canadian or British, cuz a little cold weather put them off! The kayaking trip was, how shall I put it, bracing....but it was still better than digging your car out of a snowbank in a January blizard. Everything is relative.

On the following day I arranged to meet one of our fellow inmates here at Unc's. No, not Al-D (although that would have been a psychodelic experience). Rather, the one and only Capn Fun. We met for a few beers in Fort Myers beach and had a great time. I explained to Capn (a born and bred southerner) that Canadians were kinda like Yankees but with a better sense of humour. Listening to Capn describe the antics at the previous gatherings (Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach etc.) gave me a much better perspective on the people behind the handles. I don't know if I will be able to make the next gathering (whenever and wherever that might be) but I would say if you can make it you should. If the Capn is representative, there are a great bunch of people at this forum.

Unfortunately the morning after my visit with the Capn was spent attending the local medical clinic for an infected foot. A scrape on my heel had become badly infected and my ankle had swollen up to about twice its normal size. So much for my theory that beer fights infection. I was x-rayed and poked and prodded. The doctor said she would incise the wound to relieve the pressure. She asked me if I would like my heel frozen before she dug in with the scalpel. I said, what do I look like a hockey player that has just taken a puck off the noggin - yeah I want freezing. She said the needle may hurt a little. She hurt a lot. And it didn't freeze. I found that out when she dug in with the scalpel. She asked if I'd like a second injection. At this point I was mentally looking up the Fort Myers yellow pages for lawyers specializing in medical negligence. The second injection finally numbed up the heel and she was able to dig away to her heart's content.

After I was bandaged up the doctor said she wanted to give me a "deep IM shot of antibiotics". In layman's terms, they stick a horse needle in your ass. I limped out of the clinic $600 poorer (that's almost $1000 in northern pesos!!!!) with my ass hurting like a bugger. More pain was to come the next morning when I went back for a follow up visit: for a 1 minute examination by a (different) doctor and a nurse to attach a 2"x@' piece of gauze with a couple of bandaids I was charged $138. I'm not sure who the Mercedes in the parking lot belonged to........but I can hazard a guess........

Our next port of call was St Augustine, which I believe is just south of Deano-land. St Augustine was memorable for 4 things: the wonderful architecture (Orlando, this ain't), the horse drawn carriage tour where it was a toss up who smelled stronger - the driver or the horse, the saddest marine park I have ever been to (Marineland, about 20 minutes south of St A., where there dolphins are kept in pools not much bigger than your average backyard pool) and the fact that both my kids came down with Chickenpox. From that point on the vacation kinda turned into an endurance test.

Our final destination was Savannah, Georgia. Having read "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", I was anxious to explore this beautiful city. Unfortunately my kids' chickenpox (my younger one was also teething....just to add to the fun) and the incredibly bad weather put a total downer on our time there. Atlanta got 4" of snow and Savannah got 2" of rain and temperatures in the mid 30s. My younger one was so out-of-sorts at night that for 2 nights in a row I had to take her and drive her around to get her to calm down. Lemme tell ya, Savannah is pretty atmospheric at 3 in the morning with the mist and the oak trees and spanish moss. You just can't see much of the squares and buildings etc.

Hope you enjoyed my little tale.



-- Johnny Canuck (, January 29, 2002


By the way, the kids are all recovered and this trip will enter family lore as the "chickenpox vacation".

-- Johhny Canuck (, January 29, 2002.

I did enjoy your tale. Thanks for sharing it. At least your vacation wasn't boring. ; )

-- Pammy (, January 29, 2002.

Thanks, JC. It's nice to read about Real Life(tm) for a change.

And welcome to the wondrous world of US medicine. No matter what they treated you for, once you get the billing, your nose hurts for days afterward.

BTW, credit for the crack about two nations separated by a common language goes to George Bernard Shaw - brilliant wit and Irish expatriate. (You didn't think an Englishman said anything that good, did you?)

-- Little Nipper (, January 29, 2002.


Sounds kinda like National Lampoon's "Summer Vacation". But you will reminisce over this trip in future days and the patina of time will add a warm glow. Family memories are built event by clunky event.

Glad you made it to Savannah. It is beautiful (and wet).

-- (, January 29, 2002.

BTW, your foot infection sounds nasty. How is it responding to treatment? Do you know how you got it? Did you step on a poisonous sea critter while walking barefoot on the sand?

An amusing (to me) speech anecdote. I have a friend who grew up in Panama City FL, in the panhandle ("Redneck Riviera"). He has a softspoken drawl. I have learned to interpolate his speech paterns. Or so I thought. He was telling me one day how he had enjoyed watching hawks drift in the sky outside Spokane where he once lived. He said "hawks". In my haste to accomodate his accent, I thought he said "hogs", as in "hawgs". I figured he was recounting a psychadelic rapture about pigs flying.

-- (, January 29, 2002.

Chickenpox, teething, foot infection and colder than normal weather... sounds normal to me.

-- helen (what@a.vacation), January 29, 2002.


I don't know how I got the infection. The doc said that there are more bacteria in Florida in the winter than in Toronto...I guess our cold weather doesn't allow as many of them to survive. The foot took about 10 days to clear up fully.


I had thought that quote was from GBS, but I didn't want to credit him because I wasn't 100% sure. The other Irishman who has many pithy quotes to his name is Wilde (my favourite: said about foxhunting - "the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible").



-- Johnny Canuck (, January 30, 2002.

Thanks for the kind remarks Johnny, I had a fun time chattin' with you as well and it's allways a pleasure to meet the person behind the persona, though I don't know if i would quite compare Canadians to yankees, as you are a helluva lot friendlier and more polite than most I've met, at least down here.

Damn!!! I knew that foot looked bad and you were walkin' gimpy but I would have never guessed you were at the point that gangrene had nearly set in, it is my professional opinion that the problem was not enough beer! Maybe if we had only done those shots : )

Sorry to hear your trip was on par with a Grizwald family vacation. I know we all like to have a lil sex while on a trip but it sounds like you got screwed (sand included) without even a lil kiss, a grand for a doctors visit? Holy hell!! That is alot of beer.

Better luck on your next excursion my friend.

-- capnfun (, January 31, 2002.

Well, Johnny, we're headed to Florida, too - right soon. I sure hope my trip is less eventful than yours! Thanks for writing about it, it made a really good read.

-- Tricia the Canuck (, February 01, 2002.

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