Thursday, May 27, 2010

Texas & Florida


Why not visit America’s most iconic state and catchup with a friend whilst heading to Florida to join a cruise.

I arrived without my luggage which was a good start but managed not to let it get the better of my blood pressure by worrying about it. Easiest way to forget about complications of replacing everything in my bag…go eat! This became a Texas theme…not something that most people go to Texas for I sure.

I met Lacie whilst on the African Safari tour in 2008, she has kept in contact and offered to put me up for the weeks adventure whilst showing me the best Texas had to offer. Lacie is studying to be a pharmacist with UT (University of Texas) and hence I also spent a week talking shop...boring for most but I/we? enjoyed it.

Pharmacy in the USofA…a good reason for Australia not follow the USA in every aspect! We are often referred to as glorified label stickers in Australia however one can truly appreciate the extended services offered to patients/customers when you compare to the USA model of community pharmacy. They don’t counsel! How can you responsibly give out a medication without talking to the patient about it? Anyway…one last point showing a great difference between Aust/USA pharmacies was the day I decided to try and purchase dry cough liquid…lets say 6 bottles at the same time…I gave them every possible chance by even going to the pharmacy counter in the SUPERMARKET and asking the pharmacist where the cough liquids were…he just pointed to the shelf/isle! I then got to the front of the supermarket where I had also picked up some BBQ brickets to bulk out my sale. The checkout chick was pleasant enough and asked me to say "G’day" again for her then scanned the 6 bottles (dextromethorphan) and BBQ brickets. The total came up and I noticed they we already in the bag ready for me to go when I “realised” I had forgotten my wallet…after I really didn’t need BBQ brickets or x6 bottles! Yep I could have brought them without a single question being asked!

Austin Texas is a city which has a visible pulse, the large university crowd, the alternate crowd, the network of bar’s and cafe's make it a very vibrant city. We spent the first day kayaking on the lake, perfect weather made for some very sleepy sailing but plenty of turtles and crystal clear water to play in. The next day I locked Lacie inside her apartment to make sure she spent some time studying for her exam. I went walkabout across the city, through the capital building and the numerous parks, found a brewery and went back to the park to sleep off the taste testing…yep I am on holidays!

One of the highlights of the week was going back to pharmacy school…I am a nerd! on holidays and choosing to go to school again. The 2nd year pharmacy class was as detailed as we covered in our 4th year! How then do these over qualified university students go from the stimulation of university to working in a community pharmacy that wants them just to be able to push through a 1000Rx per day? Hopefully they end up in hospital pharmacy which apparently has far to many applicants, is paid at the same rate as community with better hours, overtime and holidays. Yep hospital pharmacy in the USof A sounds better than at home and they have broad discretionary powers such as therapeutic substitution within a class without having to even getting the doctor to write the order again i.e. re-write perindopril for accupril if it is the ACEI on the formulary! (Enough nerd speak)

For my last 2 days in Texas I was taken to Fort Worth/Dallas area where Lacie's parents live. Poor Lacie loves to travel, wants to travel but her family are scared about the dangers of the world outside Texas/USA. Yep just like traditional conservative family’s anywhere in the world, why would you want to leave home soil when you have everything you need right there and at Walmart! I was shown around her grandfathers farm which now makes more money off having companies put natural-gas wells on his property than from cattle.

My last evening in Texas was spent at Billy Bob’s...the ‘Largest Honkey Tonk in the World’. This took my favorite things from a country bar and increased its size by about 20 times…it was huge, once a department store, now a huge area of bars, boot scooting-dance floors, stages and more bar areas…WOW…

The drive to the airport couldn’t be just normal…this is a big state and things have to be better then elsewhere…yep I was blown away by the fields of wildflowers…blue bottles, Indian paintbrush, yellow ones, pink ones…hence if you plan a trip to Texas you must go during the second week of April…perfect weather and beautiful flowers.


4 Days in southern Florida (pre-gulf oil leak) and x2 things must be seen.

Everglades National Park - This rivals Arnhem Land/Kakadu, not better or worse, different. Just like any huge wetland it offers a stunning variety of wildlife, flora and picturesque views. The opening credits to CSI Miami are the obvious Everglades image...whizzing across the swamps in a airboat! Once I relaxed to the idea that you can't brake (there is no brakes) and that I realised my captain/pilot knew what he was doing it was extremely fun. Wind, spray, a big block V8 and the propeller noise added to the fun and sights of the mangroves whooshing past, skimming across the grass, gators and python tracks.

The sunset and sunrise across such a vast expanse of flat water and sculptured miniature pine trees is beautiful. See the photos to understand why!

Flroida Keys - This is a long long drive down and back but very scenic. The road simply goes hopping from one out crop of coral/rock to the next for 100 miles. Each Key (island) could be as big as small town or not much wider than the double lane highway running through it. The white rock, the blue water and the copious sunshine make this a paradise that in turn has become a economic power house for Florida. The cars and mansions ooze wealth but in all it has been tastefully developed and still ranks high as one of the best drives I have done. It was a long day down to Key West allowing me a total of 30min before I had to turn around and head back (piss poor planning) so not to get the hire car back late.
An extremely stunning part of the world and hopefully it remains that way with the oil leak happening so close.
My parting memory of the Florida Keys would have to be driving across the 7 mile bridge...the same bridge filmed so well in "True Lies"...hard to believe you can still be driving on the same bridge 15min later with stunning blue waters still lapping at the pylons.