There’s still snow on the ground up here in Maine, so I was very happy indeed to fly off to warm and sunny Ft. Myers for the Southwest Florida Reading Festival. Now in its tenth year, the festival has grown to a huge event with an estimated 30,000 visitors turning up to hear author presentations and stroll the outdoor tents. 500 people showed up to hear me speak Saturday morning — one of the best turnouts I’ve had at any event.
I was invited to the festival by a dear friend from the Portland (Maine) Public Library, Sheldon Kaye, who’s now director of the Lee County library system. Over dinner, I got the chance to catch up with Sheldon and his wife, Barbara:
Well, okay. So Alligators aren’t exactly creepy, but they’re a lot of fun to watch…from a distance.
Then we headed for the coolest place of all. It’s a museum I love, one that I could visit again and again: Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Robert Ripley (who started the collection) was a man after my own heart. He traveled the world, seeking out the bizarre and the creepy. Ripley and I could have been soul mates.
You can find Ripley museums all over the country, but the one in St. Augustine is the original, and still the best. I was tickled to see a replica of Mike the Headless Chicken, whose story has long intrigued me. (I think the real stuffed Mike is probably kept in Colorado. If anyone knows where he is for certain, let me know!)
So that was Florida. The land of book festivals, alligators, and Robert Ripley. It’s certainly a reason to go back.