I’ve been flying across the country from other parts of the country and from out of this country for years. When I flew back from my most recent trip to California I had a very different experience than the usual trip home. I don’t mean the fact that Denver airport was shut down due to three tornadoes, causing us to circle the area five times before being rerouted to Salt Lake City to refuel before flying back to Denver, and finally flying onto Florida, arriving over three hours late.
No. What was so unusual was that normally the flight home is usually full of tourists with a few of the home crowd squeezed in. This time, the plane was definitely stuffed with Florida’s friendly folk and we were going to have a party even if we were being stuck on the tarmac because the airport was being shutdown again.
I’m accustomed to hearing grumbling or threats of law suits during plane delays. Instead there were suggestions of free drinks and having a party and clapping and cheering every time something went right even if we had to wait for it a while. Perhaps all of those hours waiting out hurricanes by candle light with nothing but a radio to connect with the outside world has had an effect on how we deal with inconvenience.
But I also did some thinking about the fact that we were a plane full of the home crowd and missing our tourists. The usual sound of tourists was missing. And believe me, we do love our tourists and not just for the revenue y’all bring to our sunny shores. Variety can be the spice of life and the variety that our tourists bring is not as
obvious this year because of a rumor that is only partially true for only a teeny part of our state.
Unfortunately due to the way the media has handled anything that’s been going on in the Gulf region for years, everyone, outside this area, gets the idea that if something happens to Louisiana then it’s happening to everyone in the Gulf. But Louisiana beaches, as well as Mississippi and Alabama beaches are only a very small part of the Gulf coast. Most of the Gulf coast beaches are Florida with Texas coming in second. The Gulf is a huge region and Tampa, Florida is a 1 1/2 hour flight from Louisiana and over twelve hours by car.
Yes, BP has been jerking this state around for most of the spring, going into the summer, along with the rest
of the Gulf Coast states, but the only place in Florida, that the oil has even affected at all is the very end of the Panhandle near the Alabama border with tarballs and about three miles of sludge. Of course most tourists may think that it’s only a matter of a little time before the oil lands all over the Florida shores.
But that’s not taking into account that there is a very interesting current in the Gulf which is called the Loop Current. It’s called that because it comes into the Gulf from the south west side of the Gulf and flows up toward the northern edge of the Gulf, casting flow toward Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama since it turns in front of them. Then it loops around clockwise, parallel to the Florida coastline, casting flow toward the Panhandle area and bypassing the Keys and then exiting out and around Florida going up parallel to the east coast and on to Europe.
There’s a very good chance that most of the west coast of Florida won’t even be touched by the oil due to the current. And in any case, there is no oil or tar balls coming onto any of our 825 miles of beaches except for a few miles of the Panhandle near the Alabama state line. And even in the Panhandle there’s only very weathered
tar balls which are being cleaned up daily so as to keep the beaches open.
Many of the beaches have live web cams monitoring the situation and many of our hotels are changing their policies to take into account the possible need to cancel due to oil on the beaches. Our freshwater and saltwater fishing is still available and so is our sun, our beaches and our water.
I would suggest that when you make your reservations ask the hotel and the rental car agency about their cancellation policies due to the oil spill.