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Richard’s almanac: On the road again

COURTESY PHOTO Richard hits the road for a trip to Florida.

am on the last leg of my annual road trip through the South, settling for a few days in Naples, Florida.

From my window I can see the palm tree fronds gently swaying in the soft breeze. Very nice to look at, but deceptive. Then I step outside by the pool and I feel the chilly temperatures. There has been plenty of rain down here and 50-degree mornings.

I am told that  this weather is an oddity for this time of year. I am not complaining and will enjoy every bit of this great place. I just hope that I have one solid day at the beach even with 70-degree temps.

My expectations were high. When I began this journey last week, my first stop was in the tidewater region of Virginia — the temperature was in the 80s. As I worked my way down to Brunswick, Georgia, the thermometer in my Jeep hit 90.

“I can’t wait to hit the beach,” I thought.

I headed next to Palm Beach, Florida, where it was still very warm. The ocean was beautiful — very fitting for this splendid, quiet island that needs nothing.

The temperatures changed as I worked my way across the bottom of Florida to Naples. I took the top off the Jeep and let the sun pour in and got rid of the January and February aches from my aging bones and muscles.

Feeling great as I exited “Alligator Alley,” the first rain drops started to fall. Nothing major until the next day when we were pounded.

The sun is coming out now and I am optimistic about today. It’s hard not to be in a place that caters so much to the needs of an older population.

Ads in the local newspaper attest to that. It seems that there’s a specialist for whatever ails you — both mentally and physically. Every dental office offers “advanced dental implants” while vision centers push cataract surgery, custom laser vision correction and gels to make the skin around your eyes look better.

Vascular and plastic surgeons along with dermatologists all promise to make us look younger. It’s that search for the fountain of youth that Ponce De Leon looked for in Florida. Five hundred years later people still look for it!

A pink sheet inserted into yesterday’s paper caught my attention. “Stay Stroke Free” it said. It was advertising a screening program for the end of the month. It was said to be painless, non-invasive and you get to keep your clothes on. It does screening of the carotid artery, heart rhythm, abdominal aorta, peripheral artery disease and an osteoporosis risk assessment.

All for $149!

There are also plenty of financial consultants and lawyers specializing in estate planning.

The people I’ve met down here all seem happy and healthy. They tell me every day is “just another day in paradise.” That’s what people say about Shelter Island in the summer.

But it’s very crowded during this winter season. Cars clog the roads just as they do on the East End in the summer. Restaurants are always packed and it’s very difficult to get reservations.

I do have to remember, though, that no one seems to be in a hurry — just taking time to soak up the beauty of each moment.