Saturday, January 10, 2009


The night before last I stayed in Ocala, the horse capital of Florida. I discovered this when I was browsing through Upstairs/Downstairs Antique mall and noticed it was full of horse paintings, bronze horse sculptures and horse bric-a-brac. So I asked the owner who told me that Ocala is really the largest home to racehorse breeding farms in the U.S. – something they love to dispute with Kentucky folks . What I found interesting were that many of the paintings had a decidedly British flavour with depiction of fox hunting with hounds and other British-looking scenes with nary a palm tree in sight.

I watched the local news on my new 10” flat panel, digital HDTV and was reminded that only a few miles away, friends and family of John Travolta and Kelly Preston had gathered at their Ocala home to celebrate the life of their son Jett who died in the Bahamas a few days prior. I had heard that the Travolta’s lived in a gated subdivision in Ocala but what I didn’t know was that this subdivision has its own airstrip and that John Travolta parks his plane right outside his house. The TV announcer said that the celebs attending the funeral weren’t seen in town as they arrived and departed right from the Travolta home. The loss of a child is always devastating and I sent them a prayer as I wondered what their Scientology end-of this-life service was like.

Yesterday morning I left the campground and headed for another Antique mall (this area seems to be full of them) and scored a treasure: I found a silver gravy boat for $6.00. No one wants silver anymore and this had been marked down several times. I was delighted to find it as I’ve wanted one for years. So it’s carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and stowed away for the trip home.

My 10” digital, HDTV is another big score: $138.00 at a post-Christmas sale at Walgreens, a large pharmacy chain. Fellow Canadian Bill Giles, one of the people I met at the Tarpon Springs campground, had one and took me to Walgreens so I could get mine. The U.S. goes totally digital in February and, unless you are hooked up to cable or satellite, an ordinary TV with an antenna will no longer work. I have donated my 13” boxy TV to a Goodwill store already. And there’s an additional bonus: I now have an additional square foot on storage space!

Last night I spent in Gainesville a college town just north of Ocala where I visited Lisa and Sameer Paranjpe and their new baby Rohan. Lisa tells me that there is a pond at the college where alligator live and that they often sun themselves on the banks during the day. I will check this out before I leave town later today.

The weather had taken a cooler turn as a “cool” front has come through. While we Canadians deal with “cold” fronts, Floridians just have “cool” fronts. Last night, though, I did wake up and dig out my sleeping bag as I was decidedly cooler in the van.

Today I will head west from Gainesville and then north towards Talahasee. The leisurely trek west has begun.

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