Politics and Potpourri February 2015

Councilman Bill Barnett

Councilman Bill Barnett

It’s New Year’s Day 2015 and I’m thinking about making some New Year’s resolutions that I could actually keep. I know for sure one of them is going to be that I will never for the rest of my life ever, ever, ever, drive any distance on Thanksgiving weekend.

People have told me for years some horrendous stories of holiday trips and the perils they had experienced. I would always smile and say there was no way that I would ever consider doing that. So spin the clock back to this past Thanksgiving weekend and where do I find myself on Sunday November 30th? In our car with my wife Chris, our rescue bulldog Zsa-Zsa, and our two rescue cats Maggie and Ava.

We were in the process of driving from Lake Placid, New York back to Naples after staying in New York for Thanksgiving. It is a three-day trip and this was the first year that we had ever stayed up North that late.

Long story short, the first day of travel was bearable although the traffic was heavy it moved along with some minor delays. The second day, Sunday, was by far the worst travel day I could have ever imagined. We were going from Mt. Jackson, Virginia to Savannah, Georgia; a trip that normally takes us eight hours. I now understand what all the hype about holiday traffic was all about. After 11 hours we started to feel that nasty panic that happens to those travelers who know they have made a mistake and had few if any options to choose from. We were in bumper to bumper traffic on I-95 about 30 miles from our destination for the night and we were probably at least three hours away because we were averaging 10mph and closer to 5mph. I-95 was backed up for 40 miles,.

People were pulling over on the side of the road after running out of gas, and there was no way any emergency vehicle could ever get through had there been an emergency. It took us an hour to get to the next exit where we got off, got gas, and used the facilities. If there was a saving grace to this story it was the fact that my wife’s car had Onstar. I called them and asked if there was any possible way that they could route us without getting back on the Interstate, and they said yes and an hour later we were at our destination.

It took us about 13 hours total time, and I can’t begin to tell you the compassion I feel for all of those families that had to go through that nightmare of travel and get home that night.

After waiting in line at our local Publix bakery on December 31st, the bakery employee said the following to me after I commented about our Naples season being in full swing. She said with a big smile on her face, “I hate Halloween candy but I love Easter Candy!” I’ll have to remember that line.

There was a time in Naples not that far back when I could name every restaurant in Naples and give a brief description of the food they served. Today, there is no way I can keep up with or even try all the new places to eat in Naples, one could definitely dine out every night for a few years and never have to eat at the same place twice.

As I wind my City Council days down with about a year to go I’ll write a few short sentences about some of my fondest Naples memories and about people who helped me throughout my political career and how Naples has changed since I moved here 42 years ago.

In 1973, US41-Tamiami Trail was just two lanes as was Airport Pulling road and Alligator Alley. Other than a few diners there were two restaurants to dine at. Piccadilly Pub and St. George and the Dragon were the choices, both are now gone. Wednesday afternoons every business other than the grocery store and the bank closed and people would just chill out and enjoy Naples.

Starting at age 67 I ran my first ever Half Marathon hosted by the Naples Daily News. Each January since for the past seven years I have continued to run them. It was a personal challenge and a goal that I set for myself, and this past December 9th, I had umbilical Hernia surgery and didn’t think that I would be allowed to run it this year. Imagine my surprise when two weeks after my surgery I went back to my surgeon for my checkup and asked him when I could run again and he said immediately. So, I did and I’m not sure that I can be ready as
the date of this years event is January 18th, but I’m sure going to try. I wear a road I.D. wristband that has engraved on it “Age Doesn’t  Matter” and it doesn’t. So for 2015 no matter how big or how small it is, pick a goal that might be a challenge for you but one that’s attainable and go for it!

I saw on the news today that 90 percent of the nation has frigid conditions. Aren’t we thankful we are in Naples Florida?

You bet we are!

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