Four For Florida

Impressions on our trip to Port St. Lucie and West Palm Beach

Aerial view of West Palm Beach just before we landed.

We got back from Florida last week, our only family vacation of the year. It was a short one, only four nights, but worth it: Relaxing and fun, chill and rejuvenating. My wife, son and I visited family, friends and took a few days off in Port St. Lucie and West Palm Beach. And it was, as travel always is, eye-opening: giving insight into other places and new perspectives on life. This isn’t a post about a long-ago trip, like my others. So, reflection may be limited, but initial impressions are valuable too. Here we go:

1.People were consistently friendly. And not the kind of friendly encountered in the tourist areas. Just about everyone seemed genuinely nice. So much so that my jaded New York City cynicism thought, “Why are these people so nice?” I think it’s because they actually were.

2. Yes, people were nice, but they were also locked-down. Gated communities. Heavy police presence. Lots of traffic cameras. Both Port St. Lucie and West Palm Beach had high levels of security: Gated communities in the former, lots of police and cameras in the latter. Nothing bad happened to us, and I never felt unsafe as if to be a crime victim. Nor was I intimidated by police or security. But the amount of security is remarkable.

Off-season: CityPlace in West Palm Beach

3. It’s the off-season. And it’s empty. For all the security, there weren’t a lot of people around to secure. Port St. Lucie and West Palm Beach must be popular with snowbirds. Traffic flowed smoothly. Stores weren’t crowded. CityPlace — a shopping and restaurant area in West Palm Beach — was mostly empty, (the evening was more vibrant, but felt like it wasn’t near full capacity) and our brief drive through posh Palm Beach was like visiting a wealthy ghost town. All the emptiness made the security even more apparent.

4. Big sky, big roads. Thick forests over rolling hills and mountains make up the terrain here in the Northeast. Florida is flat, making the sky a big beautiful sight (even if it was partly cloudy during a lot of our visit). Combine the flat terrain and big sky with wide multi-lane streets, intersections and highways, and it makes Florida seem vast. I-95 is mostly a 10-lane highway at that point, and it seemed like every intersection consisted of four-lane street with multiple turning lanes. We didn’t encounter any quaint country roads Florida. Everything was big on those Florida roads. That’s good. The drives — and the overall trip — was filled with wonderful sights.

Want to see some of those wonderful sights? I’m working on a video of the trip. I hope to have it finished in a few weeks. I’ll post it here when it’s done.

This is the ninth installment of my 52-Week Writing Challenge. Follow me here on Medium for (hopefully) weekly (but don’t hold your breath) posts about how travel has inspired me. My first post is here. You can also follow me on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and pretty much everywhere @DeanArrindell.