Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Leaving Florida

We are in the process of moving from Florida to Arizona. Arizona is home, but Florida has been good to us these past three years.

Things I Will NOT Miss About Florida: 

- The schizophrenic weather. This morning it was sunny and breezy with very few clouds in the sky. By lunch time, it was pouring rain. Now it's sunny again. I've had to wipe raindrops off my sunglasses while I'm wearing them. I've seen it rain in my backyard but not my front, and I've seen the forecast say "Sunny All Day!" while it's currently raining. Phoenix might be hot, but at least I know what to expect. March 1- October 15th: No jacket. October 16- February 28th: Jacket in the morning and then again after dark.

- Trying to find my way around. This is a picture of Orlando:
Look at all those lakes you have to drive around! Major roads dead end on lakes all the time, and it is really annoying. I just recently found this out: Those lakes are almost all entirely man-made. They did this on purpose.

The roads are all named AND numbered. You driving down 423? That's also called John Young. It'll change to Lee Rd before you know it.

Add in the fact that the city planners seem to be allergic to putting addresses on anything and that the numbering system for addressing things appears to be willy-nilly. I'm on a north-south running street (more or less) and my house number is five digits long. Less than two miles north of me, however, on another north-south running street, the building numbers are only three digits long. And they get smaller the closer they get to me. #facepalm.

This is a picture of Phoenix (set on the same zoom level and pulled from the same site):
Straight lines. Everything is labeled. And I do mean everything. Houses, storefronts, plaza marquees, street signs, traffic signals, everything. As you drive along freeways, the overpasses are labeled, even when it's not an exit. Are you on a numbered street (35th Avenue, or 44th Street)? You're on a north-south running road. Avenues to the west, streets to the east. Smallest numbers downtown, and they get progressively bigger the further you move in any direction. You looking for house number 17452? It's north of Bell Road, I can guarantee you that. Because Bell Road is ALWAYS 17000 North. Everything north of it is bigger than 17000, everything south of it is 16999 or smaller.

- The freaking wildlife. From frogs in our house (several, over the last few years) to church grounds so full of lizards it looks like the ground is moving. From lovebugs that move through the air in swarms so thick you feel like you could choke to wasps big enough for you to see their eyes from more than fifteen feet away. From the deer that dig in my trash can to the possums that commit suicide on the freeways. The gators, the snakes, the giant birds, the armadillos and the turtles. IN PEOPLE'S YARDS.

- Swamp crotch. If you've ever experienced 90 degrees and 90% humidity, I don't need to explain this to you. If you've never experienced it, be grateful. Oh, and sorry for the graphic terminology. Not sorry enough... but a little sorry, at least.

- Daylight *&^(@*#)^ Savings Time. Twice a year, our schedules get thrown for a loop. In the spring, they suck away an hour of your life, forcing you to be late or need to skip breakfast for a couple of weeks while you adjust to the new time. In the fall, they trick your kids into waking up at 5 AM instead of 6 AM. This stays in effect for far longer than seems reasonable, in my opinion. This is all so that it's not dark when you leave your office to go to happy hour. Or farmers. Or something.

- Colonial Drive. 

- The lack of Mexican restaurants. There's a lot of Latin food here- but it's not Mexican. If you like Puerto Rican food, Dominican food, Cuban food, Guatemalan food, Brazilian food, Ecuadorian food or Chilean food, you're in luck. Mexican food? You better like Abuelo's. (we don't)

- Some of the most crowded and convoluted government systems anywhere. You want a driver's license? Fine. You need to make an appointment. Online. Three days before you can go to the DMV. You'll still wait for a couple hours. You cannot register your car at the same time. That's at a different DMV office. New appointment. More waiting. You'll get your title from a different office, they'll mail it to you. Sell a car? You need to keep the plate and return it to the state yourself.

- Toll Roads. I can sort of understand the need, and I get that it displaces a lot of the local tax burden to tourists (since they will stick to the freeways regardless of cost). But... really?

- Being woken at 2 AM to a sonic boom. This has ceased since Kennedy Space Center stopped sending new shuttles into space, but HOLY COW!!! I can honestly say that I know what it feels like to wake up thinking that Word War III has started in your city. Luckily, I was very wrong... but still.

Things I WILL Miss About Florida:

- My power bill. Cooling a house to 78 when it's only 84 outside is not all that expensive. I can even turn the AC/Heater off completely for a couple of months. Cooling a house to 78 when it's 118 outside? Or heating it to 74 when it's 45 outside? Expensive.

- Say it with me: DISNEY. I think we racked up just over a hundred visits in twenty-seven months of being pass holders. At least we got our money's worth out of them.

- The multi-culturalism. Orlando is a true melting pot, and introducing our children to different races, languages and cultures has been pretty easy.

- Our friends. We've been welcomed into a ward here with open arms. We've forged lifelong friendships. I've watched some of the most amazing people serve in the most selfless and loving ways. Sometimes they've been serving others, and I've been lucky enough to see it. Sometimes I've been lucky enough to serve alongside them. And sometimes I've been a grateful recipient of that service.

My kids have been accepted and loved. In previous places, I've fended off judgmental stares and hurtful gossip. Here, everybody seems to just love my kids for being themselves.

I've cried in front of these people (big surprise, eh?) and I've laughed with them. I've met people from all walks of life, each of whom as has taught me something. And they are what I will miss the most. No question.


  1. Wait, they put all those lakes in ON PURPOSE??????? *head explodes*

    I mean, Canberra is a planned city with a giant lake (also planned) in the middle of it. But it's nowhere near as bad as that! I once had a lecturer tell me that all cities are either Greek style or Roman style. The Roman style ones have grid systems and the major streets always have a focal point (ie. if you stand in the middle of the road, it's leading you TO something important). The Greek style ones are kind of all over the place because they had to fit in around bizarre terrain and the city kind of developed on its own. Melbourne is a Roman style city. Sydney is a Greek style city. I'm fairly certain that based on what you've said, Orlando is a 'Planner was smoking crack while drawing up blueprints' style city...

    (On a completely different note, I'm kind of amused by the number of trailer parks marked on that map of Phoenix...)

  2. Hahaha! I didn't notice the trailer parks! That is probably the lowest-income section of town (in a city with 5+ million in the metro area). I wanted a section with a freeway running through it, and that was the area I snapped. Oh well!

    Here's another funny thing: I know one of the city planners. He takes GREAT PRIDE in his work, and thinks the city runs beautifully. 0_0

  3. Although I'm not a huge fan of Fargo, it's perfectly straight grid system was a huge relief when I moved here - so easy to navigate! I think I'd drive straight into a lake in Orlando. Also, I lived in New Orleans for a summer, so I am all too familiar with swamp crotch. Ick. Good luck with your move!

  4. Is this a strange Australian thing to be taught because I was taught this as well!!
    I like your description of Orlando's style of city!

    Gina - I think my head nearly exploded with the mathematic science involved in the numbering system... I may need to get a pen and paper to scribble that all down on to make sense of.

  5. I'm a new follower, and I've really enjoyed reading several of your posts. Your humor is fantastic!

    I live in Florida but have been considering a move to Arizona. A family member has severe allergies and asthma. We've heard the desert is better for asthma than the humidity of Florida (we're on the panhandle). Wondered if you had any thoughts you'd be willing to share since you've lived in both states. My email is daisycarterfresh [at] gmail [dot] com

    Looking forward to more hilarity!

    p.s. Swamp Crotch is maybe the best (and most disgusting) thing I've heard in a long time, but it's SO true. Even in April. *sigh*

  6. This is rough, because I feel like everybody has different reactions. My middle child (who is now 3) has asthma, and his is definitely worse in AZ. I don't know if the dust is a contributing factor, and some place like Salt Lake (which is dry but not so dusty) might be a better fit. AZ is also much, much worse for our hay fever. I know some people have allergies that go crazy here in FL, but ours don't. I and my son both have serious hay fever and the changing of seasons in AZ is the WORST for hay fever.

    I kinda think the air sucks almost anywhere you go, unless you can manage to be totally rural, out away from everything and control all the pollens in your area.

    If allergies are acting up in FL, there's a good chance they won't act up in the southwest- since the climates are so different. Asthma, though... I don't know. We don't have to use meds here almost ever, but back home he had to use them almost every day.