(Tampa, Florida; Feb. 24, 2018) Turkeys. It’s always turkeys.
Every time wildlife has actually stopped Sara Jane (my car), it’s a flock of wild turkeys! First time was when I drove into Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky back in December. Then again as I drove the perimeter of the Cowpens National Battlefield Park in South Carolina earlier this month. Ok, ok, I know—that’s only two times. But, still, both times I got stopped by turkeys. Not deer (though I’ve seen plenty munching grass along the highways), not turtles, and not manatees.
It’s always turkeys.
Alright, now that I’ve got that off my chest, I can tackle today’s long-overdue column. The whirlwind is about to slow…at least momentarily. If you glance at the state map below you can see I’ve racked up 12 states now (and the District of Columbia). My goal of seeing all 50 by next November (barring any teaching assignments at sea) is moving along. But, the whirlwind is about to slow for a time. I’m at my sister’s place in the Tampa area. I haven’t decided on a place to settle yet, and she’s putting on the full-court press to get me to settle here. I’ll confess it’s hit the top three with Pensacola and Charleston.
One advantage all three have—they’re in states that either don’t have an income tax (Florida) or don’t subject military pensions to state income tax (South Carolina). All three have a LOT of history and museums to volunteer at. Tampa’s downside: no major Navy presence or naval heritage museum. Tampa’s upside—it’s in my home state of Florida and it’s a really cool area (in a tropically hot sort of way).
I’m heading back home to Niceville for a time. My dad’s birthday is coming up, as is my parents’ anniversary. I need to re-register my car in Florida (Sara Jane is carrying Virginia tags right now and subject to property taxes up there). I need to file my federal taxes. I need to get set up with a new medical provider now that I’m retired. And I need to work on my second murder mystery.
I’ll not be idle exploration-wise, however. The Upper Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic/Southeast legs of this journey are largely completed (I need to get back into Georgia a bit), but more ground will be covered. I’m flying to Hawaii with dad to take care of family business (he’s from Hawaii) in April, so that’ll get Hawaii for me. Still, between now and then I have a short leg to tackle that’ll only take a couple of weeks at most: the Lower Middle South (Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee). During that small leg I’ll swing up again to visit my brother’s family in Ohio and then, on the way back to Niceville, hit a couple of stops in Georgia I still want to see.
In the meantime, I’ve seen more extraordinary places and met some real characters. All this while I battled a stomach virus, twisted a leg and an arm, and sprained a wrist. I tell you, recreating and being a relaxed retiree is dangerous!
I plan to write in detail about a lot, but I thought I’d make this a short entry and otherwise publish a few extra photos over what I usually do. As always, please visit my Flickr or Instagram pages for the whole megillah that I shoot (retired photojournalist, hello!).
Just remember—even if you aren’t in a position (yet) to do what I’m doing and travel extensively, don’t think you can’t explore. Find places you’ve never been in your own city. Plan a day trip on a weekend to somewhere you’ve never visited. Some finds will amaze you, some will wow you, and some will bore you. That’s the way it goes, but if you never start, you’ll only be bored. After all, you miss every shot your don’t take!
So start looking!
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