Tuesday, 18 May 2010


Woke early mainly due to the promise of a decent free breakfast. Back at the same table as the evening before, looking out at the lake.

Most hotels provide a continental breakfast. This one did cooked food!

In an adjacent booth a number of soldiers in fatigues were choffing on their links.

Americans are very caring about their Veterans. There are memorials everywhere. They have a lot of discounts given to them in shops and restaurants. You can hear it and read it in the advertising.

Why not? We could take a leaf from their book; rather than organising a few parades, maybe some tax breaks and some discounts would not go amiss.

Perhaps there are some in place and I don’t know about them. However, I have never read or heard, for instance, an ad for a vehicle discount for servicemen. Correct me, if I am wrong.

Just before I came away I took my car to be serviced and, as I was waiting, I noticed a soldier also waiting. He was in a wheelchair and only had the one arm left. He had lost three limbs. I felt very small and humble.

It was about 7am. I was feeling mellow as I was just waking up and had ordered sausage hash browns and scrambled eggs, with coffee and Florida Orange juice, of course.

My reverie was broken when the plate arrived and the waitress said:


Wow! She was loud for first thing. Perhaps she was getting into Full Metal Jacket mode for the troops.

Chant: “Its breakfast time and what we want?

Sausages and coffee hot”

A-one, a-two, a-three, a-four!

When my heart rate had slowed and my ears had stopped ringing, I casually glanced out of the window. In the shallows of the lake shore, about twenty feet away, I noticed an alligator.

I looked at him and he looked at me. I am five foot 6 and half. He was probably two feet judging by the size of his head.

“If push comes to shove you can have one slice of wheat toast. Sausages you are going to have to fight me for.”

Finished up, showered, got into the car and headed south. (to see the map of my journey so far, click here)

The Everglades. I have read and heard so much about them.

There is an awful lot of stuff creeping and slithering around in there. You don’t want to mess with them. There are signs everywhere telling you what to watch out for. Just as signs and literature in Yellowstone and Yosemite tell you not to approach the animals. The same is true of the Everglades.

The visitor’s centres I visited. (Hell, that is why they call them that. Although, there were some signage problems later in the day so stay tuned). There, they show you pictures of the several types of brightly coloured venomous snakes and the one that isn’t. I bet the lone softy has esteem problems.

The difficulty with the chart in the window was that, either due to fading or the fact it was supposed to be like that, the pictures of the deadly serpents were in black and white!

Incidentally, stay at least five feet away from Alligators as they are “opportunistic feeders”.

FIVE FEET!!! Fifty yards more like.

In the local vernacular: “I ain’t lettin’ no ‘gator get all opportunistic on my ass!”

Some friends of mine told me of one man who was flying a light aircraft at night over the Everglades whilst on holiday from the UK. It developed engine trouble. So terrified was he that he was physically sick.

He knew what was down there and it was waiting for him.

The smells are interesting and, from time to time, the swamp opens out into rather ordinary country with the cattle . Plus, there are still plenty of orange groves.

People are out there kayaking . Hiking and going on airboat trips. I wonder what if must be like as a parent in this area when your kids want to go out to play.

We worry about traffic. They must worry about their kids being carried off by opportunistic Alligators!

A couple of hours of this and then it was time to brave the Keys; a load of small islands linked to each other via causeways. The sea is shallow and a wonderful blue. I will take some pictures so I can show you on the way back. I am now, as I write this, as far south in the US as it is possible to get, having travelled 5181 miles from Seattle albeit via a none-too-direct route.

Everywhere you looked there were boats and houses. If you are looking for peace and tranquillity this is not the place to be. Every Key/Cay was jammed with motels and boatyards. I was very envious of the boats, though, as I love being on the water.

Also the thought of being out all day fishing (even though I have never fished in my life) is very enticing.

I have been noticing, over the miles, the roadside memorials to accident victims. As I drove the 100 miles to Key West they seemed to be ever more abundant.

Either neat wooden crosses with names, or a small stake with a roundel with names and dates. I think the relatives maintain them as very often they are bedecked with fresh flowers.

This seems so much better than our practice of lashing some dying flowers in polythene to a lamppost along with a note that invariably reads: “Why?”.

Whilst musing on those I began to notice a few signs which, being a pedant and also showing how we are two nations divided by a common language, looked strange to my British eyes...

I enjoyed variously: “Camping site. No camping. Day only”.

A cab company called “Mom's Taxi”.

Also a shop which boasted: “Anthony’s Women’s Clothing”.

“See it all at Woody’s Gentleman’s Club”

I would have thought that you would not be a real gentleman if you were demanding to see “It all.”

Though you probably would be able to have a more thrilling time if you had visited “Doc Syn Laser Surgery” first.

Booked in to a Motel by the beach.

After I checked in I realised that everywhere is by the beach, it is just that some beaches are closer to the main drag than others.

This place isn’t. However, I don’t mind. I am going to sit here for a day or so.

Looking forward to meeting the Dark Lady in Orlando in three days time.

So in the words of the song that I will doubtless play for you as part of “Lester’s Library” when I return:

“No shirt. No shoes. No problem”

By the way, I tweet quite alot about events as they happen, so why not add me by clicking here. With the same login details you can hear my reports "on location" through Audioboo, click here.

And while you are busy clicking here, there and everywhere, don't forget there is a still an Oddcast for you to download. It is a sort of "best bits of the year so far" type thing to keep you entertained until I get back, there is a new compilation every week in my absence. One more time: click here.


  1. Alex, a thought. If you put all these communications together in some sort of book/publication (which I think is a very good idea) can you put in both sides of the tweets. It is fun (and exasperating) trying to work out what the other person said/asked!! Yeah, I know, get with it and tweet along with every one else, but I'm an (older) analogue man in a digital world.... I use the keyboard, base PC and the lap-top. There's a limit to what I can handle... I'll have another beer. Enjoy the sun Best ~ CW

  2. Yet another great blog Alex thankyou for sharing your holiday with us all
    Q for the dark lords fans How many DJ's do you know would share there holidays with the listeners like our leader does I think a queens gong would not be out of order he deserves one Alex Lester OBE sounds good

  3. ........think Sir Alex Lester sounds better

  4. Thanks for sharing your hols with us,it brings back some wonderful memories as we LOVE the states. We have 'done' 15 states so far and we can't wait for October to come as we will be doing about a few more in our 3 weeks hols. You sound as passionate about the place as we do, and for anybody reading this we would thouroughly recommend the l o n g open roads and chilled out way of life ( assuming of course that you keep away from the big cities ).Sooo much too see and do, they sure do know how to entertain and are so proud of their country it is very clean ( in our experiences anyway ).
    Thank you once again Dark Lord, we're sure you'll enjoy the rest of your hols, we'll
    keep listening to the shoe and looking at your blogs.
    Christine and (Trucker) Julian.

  5. great blog, enjoy rest trip and keep on blogging

  6. Another action-packed blog, as always! It must have been so cool seeing an alligator live and in-person (provided you're far enough away from him). Thanks for taking the time to paint these travel pictures for us.