Tuesday, May 3, 2011

…and we’re in Paradise!

By TravelGuy:
As most people now know, we’ve lived in Delray Beach, FL for just over a month now.  So far, we love it!  However, like any new region, there is that whole “getting used to the new stuff” time period.  For us, that includes critters and drivers.  

Let’s compare drivers. Please know this is one person’s (my) opinion, and does not represent the opinions of everyone in Seattle, Phoenix, or Delray Beach.  How’s that for a disclaimer?

Seattle:  The drivers are pretty polite.  Not a ton of road rage, not a lot of tailgaters (unless you’re referring to our kick-ass Seahawks Tailgating brethren), but plenty of just plain bad drivers.  It’s tough to give Seattle an accurate grade because of all the days spent driving in dark or wet conditions.  Most drive 5+ above the speed limit, use turn signals, will let a merging car in front of them, and rarely use their horns.  However, I have met my fair share of full blown crappy drivers during my 23 years in Seattle. 

Phoenix:  The drivers are crazy.  Most drive 10+ over the speed limit and they’ll tailgate you like nobody’s business.  That being said, the average skill of driver is well above average.  They’re completely unsafe, but they generally drive with good skills (if that makes any sense).  Let's just say that overall, they are very aggressive drivers, and have the fifth highest rate of DUI in the country!  Just ask TravelGirl how many drunk drivers she reported during our time in Arizona.  They also enjoy rolling into the crosswalk as they anticipate the light turning green.  It’s a good thing very few people walk in Phoenix, because all the crosswalks are occupied with cars!    

Florida:  I only have one month of driving under my belt in the Delray/Boca Raton/Fort Lauderdale area, but the drivers here are overall the worst of anywhere I’ve lived.  You get a complete mish-mash of insane drivers and/or bad drivers who just can’t seem to stay in their own lane while driving or even while parking.  And if there are multiple lanes turning left, look out!  Many drivers here have their own idea of which lane to turn in to.  And the amount of people who aren’t paying attention when the light turns green is unreal.  I guess they’re all re-upholstering their cars at red lights.  This brings me to the one thing I absolutely love about driving here… honking.  If you honk on the west coast, you might as well be flippin’ them the bird.  Here, everybody honks.  I love it.  If you’re screwing up, you should be honked at.  Pay attention! *honk*

Now lets talk about the critters. 

Seattle has raccoons, possums, rats, wasps/hornets, and sugar ants.  Most of those are either easy to control or only come out at night, so you don’t see them all that often.

Phoenix has scorpions, cockroaches/palmetto bugs, snakes, black widows, coyotes, lizards and javelinas.  Our battle with scorpions seemed endless until our cat (Patti) adopted us, as they’re immune to scorpion venom.  Saw one black widow and that was it.  Heard coyotes, but we had a walled in yard, so no worries there.  Only had one cockroach and one palmetto bug the 18 months we were there, so no big deal.  Saw one snake on the highway one time and that was it.   TravelGirl saw a javelina, but it was deceased on the side of the road.  Overall, the scorpions were a pain in the neck the first few months, but we ended up getting it under control with a scorpion slaying stick and Patti. 

Again, Florida has a mish-mash of critters compared to the two cities above.  Raccoons, possums, wasps/hornets, snakes, cockroaches/palmetto bugs, lizards as well as ghost ants, fire ants, bufo toads, and alligators.  So far, except for the alligators, we’ve seen the entire list of these critters, though some were just laying on the side of the road.  We’ve hired a pest control company to keep the critters under control, and so far, so good.  The bufo toads are the most alarming.  They’re nocturnal and can spray venom on you or your pets.  I found a toad floundering in our pool and then saw another one as I patrolled the yard before letting the dogs out.  Not sure if it was the bufo toad or not, but it’s scary knowing that these toads could kill our dogs. TravelGirl has found three lizards in the shower, but Patti is now on their trail.  All is good.

A key reason we left Phoenix is because of the beach… or lack thereof.  We are currently living 3.4 miles from the beach, which is something we’ve never experienced before (in terms of a true swimming beach – Richmond Beach in Seattle doesn’t count!).  We love it!  The culture and speed of Delray Beach is right up our alley as well.  Atlantic Avenue is awesome, and we can easily find Asian food again on just about any corner. 

For now, we’ve found our little slice of paradise – a bit of NW culture, the sun that we so desperately seek, and a friendly and welcoming village.