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Florida is back on my mind - Curt Yeomans

This may sound downright sacrilegious to every Georgia Bulldogs fan in this state, but I kind of miss Florida.

Mind you, I don't miss it in a "Gotta move back" way, but I have been thinking about the place.

I once lived just outside of Orlando. Now visiting a place like Orlando for a little while is not the same as living there. When you visit a place, you don't have to worry about home maintenance jobs while you're on vacation, because you're likely staying in a hotel.

On the other hand, in the six months I lived in Florida, from November 2005 to June 2006, while I was a sports reporter down there, I had to put up a plastic wall to hold back my front yard of sand.

No kidding, it was mostly sand, what little I had in terms of a front yard at my apartment. The downside is that, whenever it rained, sand was washed down onto the bottom step and sidewalk outside my front door. It would be my responsibility to clear the sand off the sidewalk in front of my apartment before it hardened. Also, because of the rain, nothing resembling grass could grow on my side of the yard.

I eventually found out weeds could take root, when I started laying down small chunks of granite as a walkway to my patio. The only reason I figured that out is because the weeds started growing up between the granite chunks.

On top of all the home repair stuff, I got sick - a lot -- when I lived down there. It's a great place to visit, but once my body started figuring out the climate, things were not so pretty. I found myself starting each day at approximately 11 a.m., by being sick. Not a pleasant memory of the place.

Florida does have its charms, though.

The City of Eustis, Fla., placed signs on the boardwalks along the banks of Lake Eustis to warn people to not feed the alligators. A rest area on Interstate 75, just south of Gainesville, Fla., has signs which warn people to "Beware of poisonous snakes." You don't see "Beware of poisonous snakes" signs at too many rest areas.

Unusual is normal. Normal is good.

In a less threatening vein, the City of Mount Dora, Fla., is designed to be like a quaint little village, built into the side of a steep hill. That hill slopes down to Lake Dora. As you drive along U.S. Hwy. 441 into town, you're on a cliff that overlooks the lake. Therefore, you can look to your right at the lake's broad expanse as the road curves around the body of water.

It's especially great on a sunny day, when the sunlight is reflecting off the surface of the water and you can almost make out the details of every ripple and wave.

If you look to your left, though, the only thing you can see is a rock face and driveways which rise to houses on a cliff that overlooks the road.

Then of course, there is "I-Drive" in Orlando. It's officially called International Drive, and it's over by Universal Studios and Sea World. All the locals just call it "I-Drive," however. The great thing about this street is that it has everything you could possibly want for some short-term entertainment.

It has countless souvenir shops, Wet 'n Wild water park, a Ripley's Believe it or Not museum, and the upside-down Wonderworks, which is essentially an indoor, science-themed amusement park.

While I don't know if I could ever move back to Florida, I do think I'll need to plan a visit down there at some point.

Maybe I'll go down there next summer, since I've already scheduled a two-week trip to Europe for this summer.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.