Notes from a weekend in Florida to play poker and visit cousins…

Instead of staying at a casino hotel, I got a room at a place on the beach so I could dip my toes in the Atlantic, go for a walk along the shore, and soak up some sun each morning. As always, my thoughts from that vantage point turned to how those waves have been pounding that sand since before there were humans to observe them, a reminder of how insignificant we are in the history of this planet and of the overwhelming beauty of nature.

While on the beach one morning, I spotted an old man walking with a metal detector, looking for treasures people had dropped in the sand. I didn’t know that was still a thing. The phenomenon was popular in the 60s and 70s, when lots of coins (and jewelry?) must have fallen out of beachgoers’ clothing, but is that still happening? As we’ve become more of a cautious, cashless (and coin-less) society, I wonder how long it takes for someone like him to find enough items of value to cover the cost of the detector. I watched him for about ten minutes and the device never beeped once.

You know the stereotype of Floridian senior citizens driving down the highway with their turn signals on, even when they have no intention of changing lanes or exiting? I spotted three such annoying drivers in my first day there.

One of the casinos I went to had a table game I’d never heard of: One Card Poker. Turns out it’s just War, the first card game every child learns to play, but with an advantage built in for the casino — the extra bet you can place on a tie, which gives the house a double-digit edge. As with most table games, the correct strategy is to not play.

Broward County has banned disposable plastic straws, which is a good thing, but its restaurants will bring you paper straws on demand. They’re not as flimsy as those we used as kids — I was impressed at how they don’t dissolve after 8 seconds in liquid like the old ones did. But I wonder if, at the end of a meal, whoever clears the table throws the new straws into a recycle bin or out with the rest of the table garbage. If it’s the latter, they’re not making the volume of waste headed for the landfill any smaller.

The hotel I stayed in had no pen or paper on the desk in the room. No matter. I do all my writing and note-taking on my iPhone and iPad. No postcards, either, which is fine because I have more efficient ways to contact other human beings than through the postal system.

I got quite a surprise upon my return Sunday. After basking in 75-80 degree sunshine for three days, I lost more than half of that in the three-hour flight back to St. Louis, where we landed to find freezing rain, 35 degree temperatures, and me in a short-sleeved shirt with no coat. Welcome home!