Elephants and Epidemics

This post is really overdue. I got back from my E trip just in time to dive into coronavirus drama, so I’m afraid my E post got pushed aside.

But what a great E trip it was!

Start in Savannah

First, I drove from Charlotte to Savannah to visit the FC (favorite cousin), Mr. FC, and Baby FC. I love these people. Whether we’re bar hopping or just sitting in their living room, I always feel at home with them. This is probably a topic for another post, but I feel a little robbed that I didn’t get to meet Lisa until I was almost 30. (She feels the same way, of course.) Adoption is great but just know that it affects more than just the obvious players.

How cute are these people?

Early the next morning, I headed south.

Mean Elephant Lady

My friend Kim Andrews, researcher extraordinaire, found out about alphabet travel and the fact that I was stumped by E. After a few minutes on her phone, Kim came up with this:

Two Tails is an elephant sanctuary.

In Florida.

And it’s run by a really rude, fed-up woman with one hell of an axe to grind.

I got to Two Tails just in time for my reservation with about 100 other people. Silly me, I never dreamed 100 people would show up at an elephant sanctuary in Florida on a random Friday. But they did. Or I guess we did. I hate being lumped into crowds.

Now you’d probably think that the people running the sanctuary would be grateful that 100 sweaty people wanted to pay them money to see giant animals. After all, Dumbo’s gotta eat.

The sanctuary, which seems to house retired circus elephants, is run by Patricia and Patricia ain’t happy about it. First we were herded to a group lecture where she claimed to want us to ask questions. Not one sweaty person finished their question because Mean Patricia, Knower of All Things Elephant, knew what each person was going to ask before they could ask. She’s that smart. Or that rude. Or that incredibly sick of pandering to tourists to fund her sanctuary.

“How much does an eleph…”

“She eats 200 pounds a day.”

“How many…”

“I have 6 elephants here now.”

“Does the…”

“No, the government does nothing to help us. That’s why I have to endure idiots like you.”

You get the idea. She hates her life but took my money with no objection, just attitude. And then I rode on Marie, a very docile pachyderm. You know those pony rides at the carnival? Yeah, that’s all this was, just led by a pissed-off woman who desperately wanted a cigarette and some peace and quiet.

The biggest pony ever with bitchy Patricia

It was, however, the ultimate E.

Kim Andrews, I’m immensely grateful that you found an improbable E! And bitchy Patricia’s attitude actually made it even more fun!

Next E stop: Elderly City, USA

Next stop: The Villages to visit Jackie and Randy. Jackie and I were friends in middle school when I played 3rd and she played 1st on a softball team. Given my bad arm and the many bruises she endured as a result, it’s a wonder she is so nice to me.

But my God, these people are nice! Jackie and Randy live in The Villages, the ultimate Truman Show community for seniors. From what I can tell, the place is one party after another. Not only did Randy and Jackie let me park my camper illegally, but they also took me out for a great dinner in a souped-up purple golf cart!

Best of all, they gave me gifts. I have no idea why but check this out:

The hat was from Randy and the bowl was made by Jackie! She’s fun AND she has fantastic talent! I’m pretty sure I’m moving to The Villages now.

Randy is one of the best men I’ve ever met. Jackie has excellent taste in men.

Seriously, Jackie and Randy are the best hosts ever. They fed me, poured many drinks, and then made me breakfast the next morning, even though it was Jackie’s birthday. Be nice to them so you, too, can score an invitation!

Angelica’s birthday!

In all truth, I didn’t go to Florida to ride an elephant. I was going to Florida for Angelica’s birthday and elephants were conveniently located along the way.

When I went to law school, I had an idea of what practicing law would look like: long hours, endless research, exciting trials. I never stopped to really think about my future clients. And I certainly never thought I’d end up becoming friends with my clients.

But that’s what happened with Angelica. Her husband died unexpectedly and, unbeknownst to me, I’m on the short list of attorneys for the local Mormon church. Go figure. Neither Angelica nor I are Mormon, but she ended up in my office.

Many years later, she’s living in Florida and invited me to her birthday party with the most fun, interesting group of people I’ve ever met! After a night of passing bottles of bourbon around a campfire (pre coronavirus), I nursed a hangover while listening to fascinating stories of life in various embassies – Angelica, her awesome mom, and their friends have lived huge lives. Huge.

Angelica, meet my friend bourbon. Bourbon, Angelica.

And then the stupid virus crap hit and I’m grounded, stuck waiting to do F. I have great plans for F and G but I have to wait for the world to reopen. Until then, my biggest possible thanks to Lisa, Tim, Addy, Randy, Jackie, Angelica, and Norma for a great trip.


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