Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pilgrimage to Sarasota

Last night I put the laundry on, sealed the tent, and got the dishes going. Well, the tent leaks, and the clothes are sitting in a vat of water, as for the dishes – they're actually clean. So there's one good thing. Just have to put them away, and – there – now time to address the other problems.

The washing machine does not change cycles by itself. I do not know why. I do not know how to fix it. I do know that I can manually click the wheel over to start it draining, then click it over to start the rinse, clicking once more to drain and then spin. But so help me if I move the wheel too far and have to go 360 to get back. The thing is liable to start filling with water and spinning at the same time.

Some trial and error was required here, but at last I had clean-ish clothes. Into the dryer. And go. Luckily, that worked without any problems whatsoever.

In the backyard I crawled into the tent, and sprayed the sealer from the inside this time. I'd never done this before, from the inside, but the tent suggested it via a tag on its inside. Who am I to argue with the tent? If this fails we have a seam sealer – but if that fails too, that's it, we're out of ideas.

It doesn't help that I discovered a small hole on the inside when I was crawling around. But just to be interesting, it's the side without the hole that has a tendency to leak more.

I would have to let this dry, and then ignore it for the rest of the day before checking if it worked. I have no desire to go back outside and set to work on that tent again this day. No – my desire, instead, was to track down Volume Six of Scott Pilgrim. It came out just yesterday and should be on store shelves now. There are no comic stores in Port Charlotte – they'd all since closed down. Also there are no book stores here either, save for the one Christian book store, which I do not think would carry what I was after.

Having read the first five volumes, Katherine and I were eager to finally finish off the series, but to get that book we would have to go to the Barnes and Nobles in Sarasota, almost an hour north of us.

Sarasota is the birthplace of the Barnum and Bailey circus. Some of the bridges there were even built with circus elephants. Surely a town like that would have some other use for us. Into the car, and off we went.

Barnes and Noble, an hour later, did not have the book that we were after. They had the earlier volumes, but whoever was responsible for stocking shelves did not see fit to fast track this book in their order. Still, this store was right beside a Best Buy where I bought some more memory for my camera. I should now have enough to carry me to the end of my trip.

In Best Buy I did a Google search for comic shops in Sarasota – four hits were found. We had a new mission. Planisphere was first, on Tamiami. It was just down the street from where we searched. It was – it – was – a men's clothing store now. O.K. That's fine, one down, three to go. Next up Helen's books and comics. The name of this store made me think it was going to be nothing more than a used comic shop, but I had to know. On main street we searched for it. No, no, no, a few more addresses, and – there! The... building with the for sale sign in the window. O.K. That's fine. That's great. Two down, two more to go.

Our next shop must still exist – it only opened a few months ago. Comics-R-Russ. Presumably the owners name was Russ?

As we walked into this shop, located beside the, “we buy your gold!” shop I feared the worst. The owner was the perfect comic book guy. Large, and balding. He also looked a bit too much like Ron Jeremy for me to be perfectly comfortable. His hand drawn maps to the store listed such land marks as Burger King, to help navigate. The interior of the shop was shelf after collapsing shelf full of back issues. There was one small rack of new releases.

I asked about Scott Pilgrim, and he asked what volume I was after. I said the new one. He asked, “three or four?” Obviously if I wanted the new one, and three and four were both out, it would be four – not three – if he were anywhere close to being correct. But no, I wanted six. He said he'd just started to hear about it, with the upcoming release of the movie. But no, he didn't have it.

He suggested the fourth shop on our list. And off we went, confident now that it would exist.

The fourth shop, The Dark Side, was located in a strip mall. This one was clean, bright, and wonderful – it reminded me of Heroes World back in Markham, Ontario. A comic shop you don't have to feel terrible about entering. As soon as I got in, I was greeted and asked if I needed anything: the new Scott Pilgrim?

They had it, they said – but it was now sold out. One day and their full order, gone. We could get it next week? But we would not be here next week. Not in Sarasota anyway. They suggested Borders, another book store.

They too did not have it. Six stores, six failures. If I were back home, I could have grabbed it from Heroes World, Silver Snail, or The Beguiling without issue. There are also three or four fall back shops I could have checked, but as they remind me of Comics-R-Russ, I'd rather stay away. No offense Russ, it's just, your store? A little creepy.

Our trip wasn't a complete failure. Sure, the comic shops didn't pay off, and historic downtown Sarasota was just a street named Fruitville with themed roads like Orange and Lemon, shooting off from it – but there were the keys. The islands off in the water.

Driving over a bridge onto them, we slowly made our way from top to bottom. A leisurely way back home. The homes here – they looked as if they belonged in the richer parts of Los Angeles. Not here in hurricane prone Florida. With large gates, these houses towered above the ground, uncommon in this world of single level flats. Some had great fountains and sculptures out front, gardeners in full uniform keeping the lawns presentable. Others? They had plastic manatees holding the mail box.

It was the coastal side of the road with the large properties. The bay side were far smaller and more in place here. I wondered what it would be like to live in a shack across from a mansion?

Two keys we travelled gawking all the while, annoyed at those buildings with gates shut, preventing us from drooling over their homes.

At the southern most tip of the southern most key, there was a public beach. Not as spartan as all the private ones, chained off to the public, that we had passed earlier, but still a beach. Parking the car, we took to the sand, and looked out into the ocean, transitioning betweens blues, greens, and crystal whites with every breaking wave and shimmer of the sun.

In the warm water, pelicans took to quick flight, diving down into the surf, coming up chomping away on their new meal. Children built castles far too close to the waters edge, rebuilding them with each crashing wave, and couples sat together with the babies introducing them to the wonders of the ocean.

Pictures were taken, and we stood long enough to say that we were there. But the day was growing long, and we wanted to get back home. With some 49 cent (wow! it's like 1998!) McBurgers in our belly, we raced back along the highway.

Back at base, I napped, Kath read, and we then finished watching Season Two of Venture Brothers – while starting a show called Community. I realized near the end of one episode that I had seen part of this before in a sleep deprived haze, somewhere over the Pacific. I distinctly remember waking up and trying to make sense of it all on a plane some weeks prior. Much better in context, when not fighting for every waking moment.

And then to bed.

My sleep cycle is changing here. Without in house internet, or television, I find myself sleeping when I'm tired, and waking when I'm not. A standard day starts at seven, and ends around eleven. This could be things coming back into cycle – or it could just be that I'm not over being sick. I'd like to assume the latter thank you very much. I'm willing to change, but not that much.

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