|I enjoyed a couple of non-driving days with my good friends in Saint Petersburg. The town has its charms. There are waterfront parks, bike paths, and quiet streets.
The beach sand is ultra white and so fine-grained as to be nearly powder. That's because it's off-shore dredge spoils that have been cleaned and processed. It's also cleaned in place. In the evening, city crews drive sweepers along the sand to dispose of trash and dead fish.
I believe most beaches in Florida are artificial. I've said before, it you want great beaches, go to Australia.
As bad as traffic has been so far, I am being told it will get worse the further south I go. I am already scheming about a middle-of-the-night-with-strong-coffee escape.
I needed to meet my brother in Orlando.
My navigation app told me the 80+ miles from St Pete to Orlando would take 90 minutes. Following my friend's advice, I allowed 3 hours. It took 2-1/2 with stops. By the way, I don't recommend breakfast bagels from WaWa gas stations.
I met my brother at Orlando International Airport. After a late, real breakfast, we found our hotel, located the stadium for the Sounders-Orlando match, then napped. We also got caught up.
We used Uber for local transport. My brother is teaching himself Spanish. Our drivers to and from the match were from Venezuela. My brother engaged in lively, friendly conversation in Spanish that was greatly appreciated by the drivers, and impressive to me.
The Orlando soccer venue is designed specifically for that sport, unlike the Sounders who are obligated to share an American football venue back in Seattle. Orlando's adjacent neighborhood could be better: we had to pass a local crack house a block from the venue entry.
There was a small home crowd, easily explained by Orlando's last place standing. But the fans were loyal, and their team played well. The Sounders managed to win.
After the match we found ourselves on a block of busy nightclubs waiting for our ride back to the hotel. A couple made out on the sidewalk. Girls wore come hither outfits. Guys had desperate guy looks.
Thank God I'm not young and single.
On to Miami.