The land of Big Lizards


My family and I had the privilege of taking a 10-day vacation to Florida last month. It was quite an experience, and I wouldn’t dare pass up the opportunity to share some of our experiences, just like I did for beautiful Nova Scotia last summer. 

Florida is home to alligators, of course. They love the state because it was originally all swampland, and much of it still is. Gators are great for bringing in tourists, and it’s easy to find gator imagery on merchandise at stores all over Florida. In one area called “the Everglades”, we enjoyed an airboat ride over swampy waters to spot some gators up close for ourselves. I even got to hold one, as you’ll see in the photo. He loved being massaged behind his ears, and actually purred in response. Purred! 

We attended “Gator Golf”, where we got to play mini put in the presence of these awesome creatures. Within a day or two, I had an embarrassing moment when I could not, for the life of me, remember what alligators were called. After a few seconds of frustration, I stumbled on the term “Big Lizard”, and it would have been a waste of humour not to continue calling them that. And thus, a new term was coined. Copyright pending.

Another adventurous experience was a visit to the Kennedy Space Center (forgive the American spelling of “Centre”). There was lots to see, but one highlight was a visit to the actual control room used for the launch of the Apollo 8. There was also a real rocket on display, one of two unused rockets from the Apollo missions. The size of the rocket is immense and can’t be described. It’s a “must see” for yourself type of size. 

Of course, swimming was fun, and getting a dose of spring sunshine was welcome. We visited Sarasota Beach, which brags as being “the number one rated beach in America”. The water is warm and clear, and the sand is as fine as flour and stays cool even when the sun hits it. The best part about Sarasota Beach is the free souvenirs – massive sunburns of course! Unfortunately, the kids didn’t get a souvenir, only the adults did, but better luck next time. My back is still itchy as I write this!

The highlight of our vacation that will probably be most interesting to local readers, particularly those who are into fancy new technology or environmental sustainability, is the fact that we rented a Tesla Model Y for the 10 days. It was supposed to be a surprise for the kids, but we couldn’t hold it in, and they found out a couple of weeks in advance. So now the real question – how does it drive?

At the risk of being mugged by all the “dieselheads” of the world, I will admit that the Tesla drives like butter. It has incredible power and range for a battery-operated car, and it’s jam packed with cool driver assist features. In fact, it drove itself for much of the time we spent on the interstate, speed and steering included. It even drives itself in stop and go traffic! 

One downside was charging the car. An 80% charge would only take about 20-25 minutes at a supercharger, with minimal cost (a fraction of what gas costs), but when you’re on vacation, wasted time is not a good feeling. As I have written in the past, electric cars are going to become dominant in the decades ahead whether we want them to or not. If governments want us to switch to electric transportation, then electrical grid upgrades will be needed to eliminate the waiting so that we can charge at home. My wife and I agree that although it was neat, the Tesla is not a “vacation car”.

We learned a tonne in Florida, and had a much needed chance to reconnect as a family and get back to basics. Many thanks to my wife’s parents for flying us out and letting us stay with them. You can bet we will be back. Until next time, Big Lizards!


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