I am back from my two week road trip, but still suffering from that odd heaviness, the surreal feeling of not quite being there that always accompanies long vacations.

The coolest name I encountered was Bat Cave…I think it was in North Carolina. I also liked Luck, which was near Trust.

The coolest hotel device: the pancake maker. Waffle irons, any traveller will (probably) tell you, are owned by the Devil, and are possessed by little evil spirits. This is why the pancake maker I encountered was the bomb. You put your plate down at one end, press a button, and in a couple of minutes two perfect pancakes will fall down onto it. No guessing. No trying not to burn yourself as you peel your waffle out of the iron. Just two lovely, happy rounds of pancakey goodness.

Best beach: Sanibel island was AMAZING. I am also fond of Flagler, because the pulverized shells made the sand golden instead of white.

Best tourist trap: Monkey Jungle. I fed monkeys and marveled at their tiny, dark little fingers, and felt very happy. I also thought Flamingo Gardens was rather pretty.

Also, if you ever go to Florida, go to the Springs. Homosassa, anywhere. Springs are really pretty…the water is so, so very blue…and a nice contrast to the beach. If you go to Homosassa you will even see manatees…they have two all the time, but in the winter they have tons, apparently.

The thing I learned that made me happiest: Swimming with a straw hat is the best. Thing. Ever. Yes, you look like a weirdo, especially if you are also wearing a tee-shirt (I put one on after awhile because I felt burned) but you can SEE, and it’s like carrying around shade into the ocean. I might have lost cool points in the eyes of those around me, but I felt like the experience was totally worth it.

So, this week I edited the first draft of The Chocolatier’s Ghost and now know where I need to go and fix. Lots of work…this second draft will probably (hopefully) double my word count, because I fell into the rush, rush, rush trap.

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