Miami Florida/Everglades/Key West trip - February 2005

The Dacrons Florida flash movie

Listen to Eric and Therese go off on each other as they narrate their photos from Florida! (Better than if you were there in person because you can make them stop on your command!)

Running Time: 18 min - Requires: Flash plug-in

Lemme see just the pictures!

Drive to Worcester Airport, pick up rental car (smells like cigarettes), drive to Logan. I painted our red suitcases with multi-colored designs so we couldn't miss them on the baggage carrel.

Arrive at Logan--the usual airport crap. Board the plane, wedge ourselves into our alloted space and...the plane sits for half an hour. It's now 12:45 and we have to catch a connection in Atlanta at 4:15. Also, we're right in front of the engine. Time to get out the klonopin. But not before I experience lift-off: I love that feeling!

About 4 hours, 6 pretzels, 4 ounces of water, 1 paper-thin blankert, 1 neck pillow in the shape of a soft, squishy caterpillar, 4 cramped legs and 2 audio disks later, we arrive in Atlanta.

I don't know why she bothers to type this crap. Yea, going to the airport is mundane, what else is new? (Love ya Schnookie!) :-)

If you've ever been to Atlanta's airport before, you'll understand my concern about catching our flight, given our half-hour delay. First we walked about a mile to the shuttle stop. Then we rode the shuttle about 5 minutes to our concourse. Then, we walked about another mile & 2 escalators to our terminal. We were starving, so we bought some lunch and no sooner did we sit down to eat it when we heard the announcement "Flight 1673 to Miami is now boarding all passengers in sections 1 through 8." (We were in section 4.) Good thing we didn't have much in the way of carry-ons. Eric bolted his jambalaya; I saved my tuna & pasta salad for the plane.

Note: I've never attempted to eat approx. 18 oz. of Jambalaya in 2 minutes flat. I will never again attempt to eat approx. 18 oz. Jambalaya in 2 minutes flat. You know why? At 20,000 feet, it begins to feel like 32 oz. of Jambalya.

Board the "wide-body" plane (the better to sardine more passengers). 1 1/2 hours, 6 pretzels, 8 ounces of Coke...yadda yadda...we land at Miami International. Bones creaking, muscles aching, I drag myself to the baggage claim area. With Eric, of course.

Nooo...I dragged HER to the baggage claim area after the prerequisite "tinkle" break.

Note: He uses the word "tinkle". Not me! Silly man.

I wrote everything down, made lists, organized everything into compartments, but I forgot to write down which car rental agency I made a reservation through. Eric goes to get the luggage, I start approaching different rental counters, asking "Do you have a reservation for...?"

No luck. Eric is more successful getting our luggage. Now what? The information is on the laptop, in my email inbox. Can we find a place to hook up our computer? When we ask a couple of security types, they act like they've never heard the word "Internet." The point vaguely upstairs. We haul our luggage to the nearest elevator and head upstairs to the phones, where--yay!--there's a computer terminal that you pay for like a telephone.

It has a touch screen which doesn't seem to be cooperating, but finally we get to my Yahoo! email account. There's the Expedia email! info about the car rental. Anyway, I end up calling Expedia, we find out which agency, pick up our Nissan Sentra, get directions to Miami Beach and drive away...

Ya see? I would never keep all my e-mail on a Yahoo account when you've got a nice, spiffy Macintosh Powerbook to keep yer stuff on. Besides, if you lose your account on Yahoo, you'll never be able to retrieve all those porn links you've sent to yourself.

Day One, Part Two

We arrive in Miami Beach and, without much difficulty, arrive at the Lombardy Inn. Now, let me explain: Eric--my sweetie--wanted to save money, so I found this place in North Beach for $60 a night. Some website--where people who've been there can leave reviews of hotels, etc.--had a good review or two of this place, so...My brother voiced my secret opinion: "It's probably a crack house!"

On the way there, my apprehension grew and Eric brushed it off, saying "It's probably some funky place!" Well.

We turned onto Collins Avenue--the main drag on Miami Beach--and saw huge hotel after huge hotel. We're looking for number 6300, and, after a bend it the road, we see it: this squat, worn adobe 3-story building with a huge neon sign proclaiming "The Lombardy Inn". We had already been warned about the small parking lot: the person on the desk keeps the car keys because they pile the cars on top of each other and half to shift them like those little hand-held games where you push the squares around.

So, we leave the car out front and walk in: three squat little peasant women chatting away in a language I couldn't recognize (Italian, Hungarian?) stopped speaking and stared at us. I looked to our left: out on the "patio", another small group of semi-elderly peasants.

Hey, that Hungarian social security crack is some pretty decent stuff. It was weird seeing all those modern (circa 1970) wicked tall buildings surrounding this one joint. Didn't enough falling debris from all that construction back then finish off this immigrant flop house? Eh, at the time I felt "60 bucks is 60 bucks".

I tried to tell him: you get what you pay for!

We check in, haul our luggage up 3 flights of steps (we didn't expect frills, of course) and unlock the door of a depressing little room. The bed was rock hard, the air conditioner was one of the first ones ever made, the pink-tiled bathroom was decorated with scum and hair, and huge trucks seemed to rumble by the window every five minutes. I didn't even have to sleep on the rubber slab to know we weren't going to stay there more than one night.

You've got a point there Schnookie. I was intrigued (at first) by the noises the air conditioner made. It wasn't just a constant hum, but a 10 minute cycle of sounds starting from high pitched whine, to a light-dimming descending growl. Hey, 60 bucks is 60 bucks.

So, after a terrible night, we go down the street for breakfast and try to find another place to stay. I wasn't expecting much on short notice, but we found a place called The Greenview Hotel for $129 a night, and the desk attendant assured me it was "a nice hotel, a nice room." Sold.

Now, to check out and get our money back. We hauled our luggage back down the stairs and told the woman we were leaving early because we weren't happy. She informed us, as did a sign facing us, that there were no refunds. Hah! I told her we would pay for 2 nights. She mumbled about seeing what she could do and disappeared into the next room with our credit card.

We only paid for two nights, and when she asked why we weren't happy, I told her. With a sigh of relief, we fled the Refugee Hotel.

I dunno, I bet in Russia this would be considered the Ritz-Carlton. Guess what? This stay cost me 120 bucks. Since I ended up paying for two nights, I was thinking of coming back later just to bang on the pipes at 1 a.m.

The Greenview Hotel is a modest place, but they had a lobby with furniture and an elevator, so right away that was a good sign. A smiling Hispanic male with perfect very white teeth welcomed us and told us we could park our car across the street in the municipal parking lot for $8 a night or the Greenview's sister hotel--in back of us--The Albion, would valet-park it for $22 a night. Hmmmm...

You were looking at his teeth? I thought you were checking out his crotch. (Or was that his keychain?)


So YOU were checking out his crotch, eh??

The bed is acceptably comfortable, the air conditioner hums quietly, there was a room darkening shade over the window and the bathroom was clean. However, when we sat on the toilet, we had to pull our elbows in as the toilet was wedged in between the toilet paper dispenser and the sink. And the sink! It was just big enough to spit in--and even then, we ended up spitting on the oversized faucet. Oy!

Yea, I'm pretty sure our truck camper bathroom was roomier. Seriously, I had to remove the toilet paper roll from the dispenser, just so I could get my butt wedged onto the seat.


They had free continental breakfast, however. And it was located in South Beach right next to the famous Lincoln Road Mall, not a mall in the usual sense, but a pedestrian-only area lined with shops and restaurants. And a couple of blocks down from that was Espagnola Way with its lovely Spanish Colonial architecture. (And more shops & restaurants.)


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