My friends for Montreal were planning a kiting trip to Fort DeSoto park on the gulf side of Florida for 10 days in January. I had been looking for an excuse to head south, Norman’s two children are about Orion’s age and I figured that he could learn some French from them and they could learn some English from us. The drive down was pretty uneventful except there was a serious snow storm from DC all the way to Florida. There were cars in the ditch everywhere, people in the south really have no idea how to drive when there is snow on the road. At times there was as much as 3 inches of snow on the freeway and some people still insisted on going 70 mph.
When we got to Florida it was amazing, there was sun and the ocean was beautiful. Although the wind was very light I very much enjoyed spending time with our new friends. At night we would sneak into Norm’s campsite and play boardgames with him and his children. Once of the smaller boys started getting a sore throat and fever early on in the week. I thought nothing of it really. Then we met another elderly kiter who talked about how he wasn’t kiting because of ‘some strange virus’ that going around giving everyone sore throats and making them tired. I had a sore throat since the day after we arrived so I figured I had gotten something from the kids and thought nothing of it. On the 4th day there I kited on Norman’s big 21 meter kite for several hours in the gulf. Orion was acting very sluggish and did not want to play with capture the flag with the other boys. I knew something was really wrong. That night was New Years Eve and so I went and parked the van in the middle of a residential neighborhood that was in the middle of having a huge New Years Eve bash. There was partying and fireworks for the better part of the night. That night my throat was so sore I couldn’t sleep. I knew something was very wrong. The next morning I used my cell phone to search for sore throats and gulf and although there was very little in the US mainstream media I was able to find articles like this that scared the crap out of me.