Notes from the Florida Highway Fall 2009

As the weather turns cooler here in the mountains, kids are back to school, vacations are over and business really quiets down.
fall by the river

Aside from the occasional special event, there is very little going on so it is time to pop the periscope up and see what else might be going on around the country. As it turned out, one of my long time clients in the telecom industry was planning a trade show in Orlando. Once the details of that job were nailed down, I looked at the calendar to see how I could augment the time down there.

A few inquiries to friends who have used me in the past for private parties turned up a pretty full schedule for two weeks. It wasn’t quite the ‘every night in a different bed’ tour but it was close.

I arrived in Tampa airport and “picked ANY car” as per the tv ads. I surveyed the row of cars in my rental category and noticed one Prius, a hybrid. Never having driven one before I thought that this might be the car for me for the two weeks. It turned out to be a wonderful experience…once I figured out how to start the thing. (I found out there *is* a youtube video on the starting procedure… no real surprise there-)there are youtube videos for nearly everything, but I hadn’t had a chance to review it so the first few times I started the thing, it was done by trial and error. Once I got the hang of it, it ran like a top and got about 45 miles to the gallon, which was impressive. I had a slight smile on my face any time I was behind the wheel. It was kind of like the feeling I get when I type on my MacBook. It is an awareness of the fact that I am using a superior system .
FL Prius

After two weeks of driving it, I remain very impressed with it…as was everyone who rode with me during that time.

With my trusty iPhone in GPS mode I made my way south to St Pete Beach and the first stop on this magical mystery tour. A long time fan who is a muckity muck in a wellknown financial firm came through by hosting a party for his friends, even though he and is wife were headed to Japan in 2 days! I gladly shared my limited intelligence on Tokyo and again experienced the giddiness I feel when I think of Japan. much information to share with them about my limited exposure to Japan. He had been there before but she hadn’t so my insights were happily received. A wonderful warm group of their closest friends attended the party and it was a wonderful evening.

The next morning, following a walk on the beach (note to self: start those beach walks early in the day and not close to noon!) I Prius-ed up the coast a few minutes to Treasure Island and the next stop and another old friend from the old days. She is a real ‘Steel Magnolia’- a term I hadn’t heard before but refers to a southern belle, who was soft as a magnolia flower on the exterior but hard as steel on the inside. I discovered on this trip that when she was young she rode bicycles with Jimmy Carter in Plains, GA. This is a woman I met nearly 30 years ago. She was one of a few trophy wives married to older rich men who seemed to flock to the Tower in those days. Her husband died and left her extremely well off. She owns an 80 ft Marlow yacht that is totally tricked out and reflects her keen sense of design and color. Her top floor penthouse shows also spotlights her artistic sense. She lives her life like she damn well pleases. She loves my show and as long as she is not on the yacht and in her top floor penthouse, she will throw together a party of her favorite people and we all get a great show.

When I got there she insisted we drive a short distance to see another couple I knew from the early days of the Tower. Another trophy wife is now caring for her aging and failing husband. He barely remembered me On the way back my host revealed that her health is failing as well. I realized that this MAY be the last time I see her and have fun with her eclectic circle of friends. So the show that night was cathartic in the enthusiastic response from the circle of friends. Maybe everyone there felt the same way.

The next day I headed for an “undisclosed hideout” on the east side of Tampa Bay. This is a lovely couple that I met at a magic convention. Besides being a natural magician he is a computer genius so we jammed on many projects over a restful couple of days and celebrated Stacie’s surprise birthday! My pal has access to this yellow Ferrari and so I took a little ride in it. Quite the machine. More car than I need that’s for sure but a fun afternoon of zipping around the east bay.
Yellow Ferrari's are faster than any other color.

A wrinkle in the plan occurred when I slept so hard that I rolled over on my glasses. and snapped the frames. So it was off to Lenscrafters for a new Rx and new frames. Progressive lenses technology made the next few days pretty exciting visually. Any one who has spent any time at all with these new fangled lenses knows what I am talking about. I feel like my head is bobbing around a lot trying to find the sweet spot for clear viewing. Very exciting and slightly nauseating. How special.

Sunday I rolled into Orlando for the trade show at the Marriott World Trade Center with my long time client DCA Services. I am blessed to have a faithful client who uses me at every show. I am an integral part of their marketing program and included in many different phases of the company. Three days of wearing suits and shaking hands with old and new friends and I was ready for the next stop.

Tuesday night following the show and the debrief dinner, I peeled off from the group and headed north to Ocala and sanctuary with a dear magical friend. Though it had been a couple of years since we spent time together, like the old friends we are, we just picked up where we left off. Our traditional Sushi dinner at Tony’s was stellar as was the companionship. Blessed!

It was right about here that I got word that “my” dog Lila ran into a skunk and didn’t fare too well. A blast right in the kisser sent the household into an uproar. Lila dashed into the house and before anyone could react had managed to rub her nose on every piece of furniture and loose blanket as well as the rug and then downstairs to Kati’s bed and blankets. Needless to say the house reeked for some time and though the girls did a great job of deodorizing everything, when Lila gets wet now, the odor still comes through! I felt terrible that they had to deal with this unpleasantness and I was unavailable to help. Nothing worse than skunk. I doubt she learned anything from the encounter though.
I put “my dog” in quotes because 4 years ago Kati HAD to have this dog. So we went through the considerable hoops to acquire Lila, the miniature schnauzer I have spoken about in these pages. The dog identifies real well with alpha males and females, so she took to Alison and I very well but she is not the cuddly dog that Kati was after so I sort of ‘inherited’ the dog. I love her dearly now and so I guess it is “my dog” though it started out differently. I am very thankful to both Kati and Alison for dealing with a stinky dog!

Thursday I arrived at Magic and Design (MAD) and prepared for a show and lecture. Eliot Hitchcock has devised a performing station loosely based on a blackjack table. He has managed to add smoke, lights and a whole lot of flash into this … thing. He calls it a magic bar but it really isn’t because you don’t sell drinks out of it. It is an interesting idea that is still in development. I had fun working with it but I am not sure that all the bells and whistles make the performance any better. The personality behind the bar is ultimately what the audience remembers. I did a little consulting with him on this projects and gave him a bunch of suggestions. I hope he takes some of my ideas and runs with them. He is on the right track but it is still very much in progress. I wish him the best. He is a good guy with a great heart and he loves magic. All good. A week night, a not so easy to find location, meant that the attendance was soft and the lecture was fun, just not a lot of folks.
Hitch's magic bar

Headed to east of Orlando and a little more sanctuary at a wonderful italian villa on the shores of a lake. Restful and wonderful connecting again with old friends and their two adorable daughters. A stellar dinner with Terry Ward and his beautiful wife who is also a cast member with 20 years with Disney! So much experience! So much talent! wonderful.

The last stop was on Monday and a show and lecture at Wizards in the Seralago resort in Kissimmee. Ironically this is exactly the place that we stayed when we did a family vacation …18 years ago! Back then the ‘Showroom’ was the “Kid’s Club”, a place we dropped the boys off for a little alone time. Very eerie, apparently though, only to me! The room was packed with magic fans -some magicians but a lot of friends -some from Colorado who aren’t magi. We rocked the room. The after show lecture was a spirited exchange of questions and fun. I was so honored that Jack and Mary Kodell came to see me. Jack performed on the Ed Sullivan show in the 50’s! Mary his beautiful wife was a songbird who sang on every major stage in England 40+ years ago. Together they are treasures.

Reluctantly I drove the Prius back to the rent car drop off and began the arduous trip through the airport to home. The threatened snowstorm mercifully held off and I made it home late that night with my head swimming with images and experiences. Love Florida in the right seasons …Summer is NOT the right season!

Lila was as happy to see me as I was to see her.


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