All good things come to an end, eventually.
So it was with my month in America. After seeing some but certainly not all of Texas and more than I might have liked of New Orleans, as well as a sweet spot in homely Alabama - and it wouldn't do to forget the beautiful beaches and bawdy bars of Panama City - my time in the United States drew to a close more crushing than any holiday doldrums I've experienced.
Before I said goodbye to America, however, I spent the better part of a week frolicking in Fort Lauderdale and its surrounding areas. In Boca Raton, South Beach and Central Miami -- not to mention all the other places whose names I can't recall, for obvious reasons.
But wait, there's more! See, the folks we were staying with in Fort Lauderdale just so happened to have a huge boat moored on the Intracoastal Waterway, so we spent a couple of days motoring across the ocean. Fun was had, especially because no-one got seasick. Proper lite beers were drank in proper American proportions on the deck, from dawn till dusk. After that, I even managed to sleep for a few minutes!
That aside, I don't know that I have a great deal to say about Florida. Having recharged my batteries during the last leg of my trip - both figuratively and literally - I was good and ready to spend all my stamina points (also my remaining Monopoly money) on one last hurrah... but beyond a few short jaunts, Fort Lauderdale didn't really feel like the place for the variety of antics I had in mind. Truth be told, it's not exactly entertainment central. More like a massive rich person's retirement community.
Now that I think on it, though, there was at least one awesome spot. Namely the nearby watering hole: a pirate-themed put called Muddy Waters, which had swinging seats, neon toilets, and a sign that promised FREE BEER TOMORROW. Thus intrigued, I came back the next night, and then the next, but both times the sign said the same thing. I never did get my free beer.
What we did get was a lovely bit of local colour. We met a few fine folks, of course, all of whom seemed to want nothing more than to listen to us talk in our broadest Scottish accents. And on those rare occasions where there weren't gangs of Americans blackmailing us with booze, my traveling companions and I reminisced over delicious tropical cocktails about all the incredible things we'd seen and done in the States so far, up to and including said delicious tropical cocktails; I'd recommend the Blue Hawaiian and the Alco Pop.
Anyway, a few drinks down, the conversation invariably turned to more miserable matters. We'd all loved our time in America, but the sad fact of the matter was ever-present on our final nights. Our holiday was almost over. Like it or not, we were going to have to go back to Scotland shortly.
And Scotland? For all that living here has its plus points - the stark beauty of the highlands comes to mind, and the clime, which I'll politely describe as milder - there aren't an awful lot of 'em. The people are mostly mean, where in America almost everyone was warm and welcoming. The food is assuredly not as good. Gas is twice the price. Our government is like a spiteful childminder.
I know I shouldn't bemoan my homeland - I don't suppose it's all so awful - but coming home was a heady hammer-blow to the heart, and I'll admit I'm still reeling from it somewhat. Given which, you guys might have to give me a little time to remember myself, but here, I've been through this before... haven't we all? I'm sure I'll be back up to scratch before you know it.
One last thing before I go, in part because it's become a bit of tradition in these diaries, but also to give you an idea of what's to come on The Speculative Scotsman now that all the awesome guest bloggers whose work I've had the honour of hosting have spoiled you for quality content: on the long flight back, which was very long - did I mention that? - I squeezed shall we say a fair bit of reading in.
In the first, I powered through A Confusion of Prices by Garth Nix, Steve Rasnic Tem's terrific Deadfall Hotel, and the very fine first third of Aidan's favourite urban fantasy, Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht. Expect reviews of each of these three, in addition to most everything else I read whilst in America - excepting A Game of Thrones, because I have other things planned for that - on The Speculative Scotsman in the not-too-distant.
I also read a whole load of Y - The Last Man whilst in Florida, on good sir Ryan's recommendation, and like the man said, it was stunning stuff. Which is to say, another one of those unbelievably awesome things that, sadly, has to end eventually... like this once-in-a-lifetime holiday.
I say that, but equally this: I'll be back!
Because dang it all, I only saw six states. That means I have another 44 still to visit. :D