10.05.2008 - 15.05.2008 32 °C
Hey Hey! – been a few days! – The firework display at San Francisco was a bit of a disappointment unfortunately. In the windiest city we’ve ever been in, yes, you guessed it, there was no wind the night of the display, so the whole lot went off in it’s own smoke. You couldn’t see a thing. Ahh well, seen plenty of fireworks in Valencia before so it was no biggie.
We did have the pleasure of talking to an older couple sitting next to us on the harbour wall. The lady was a textile artist by trade. When I probed further, I found out she makes sculptures out of bones…. And where does she get her bones? She buries animals in her garden. Any animals she can get her hands on. She waits a while, then digs up the bones when the critters have decomposed. She told us how her pet donkey is in the garden, so to speak, and she took a peek the other day (dug it up) and it was, in her own words, “not quite ready”. Lovely. They were actually. Just barking mad too.
Had a lot of fun the next day. After getting up at 4am to check out of our new hotel ( the meanest hotel in the world – they charge extra for onions on a burger. I mean, come on!) I discovered, just before getting into the airport taxi that we no longer had our passports. GULP! – Major panic!!
We quickly realised they only place they “should/could” be was in the room safe in our last hotel, so I called them and quickly ascertained that house-keeping had found them and put them in a locked room. Only problem was that house-keeping didn’t get in until 7am. Our flight was at 7.15 am…. I got guy on duty to call them but there was no reply. In the end, we decided to leave them behind rather than miss our 8 hour flight to the East coast. Fortunately you can fly domestically with other photo ID, so we used our driving licences. Phew! Mega relief. Would have cost a lot of money to reschedule the flights, the accommodation there, and the accommodation at the other end!
So sans-passports we set off to Florida. A long old journey. America is BIG, very big.
We checked into a superb hotel in Fort Lauderdale. I used hotwire.com again, and went for $89 a night 3 and a half star. Turned out to be an uber bargain. A proper suite plonked in a marina. Best hotel so far. Well, it was more like an apartment to be honest.
(this is the restaurant terrace at the hotel in Ft. Lauderdale)
The next morning I met up with a friend I’ve known on the Internet for a couple of years at least – I know him via online poker, Claudio. Top fellow. We headed to the local casino and entered a $100 No limit poker tournament. I lasted all of 27 minutes :--( I played like a total dick. He did a lot better and lasted a few more hours, which left me with little to do but sit by the pool and drink. I coped :--) All the while Kirstin went off shopping, probably glad to have me out of her hair for a day.
After that we hooked up with his wife Jennifer and the four of us had a lovely dinner. He’s also been a life saver – I’ve had our passports couriered the width of America but the problem is getting them delivered to a hotel that we are staying at long enough. As you can guess, problem solved, I’ve had them delivered to Claudio’s house. We are going to drop in on our way up to Orlando and grab them this Sunday. Sorted!.
As of now, we are in the Floriday Keys, on Long Key – it’s about half way down from Key Largo , which is at the top.
The keys are stunning. Nothing prepares you for how turquoise the water is, and how much of it there is!
There is one long highway, US Highway 1, which runs all the way down, much of it long, long bridges. One of them is seven miles long. Guess what it’s called? Yep, 7 mile bridge. I’ll see if I can dig out a library pic of one of the bridges. You can’t stop on them, and I was concentrating too much on not hitting oncoming traffic to take any pictures. Though I did liberate one from Google Images...
Our accommodation is cute, though a bit of a shock when we got here. It’s a motel on the water, and right by the US highway 1. Our room is basic, with a kitchenette. The shocks were:
Aircon unit: so loud you can’t even hold a conversation – let alone sleep
Smell – Oh My God! – like rotten eggs – and damn strong. Unbelievable
US Highway 1 about 40 ft away.
Luckily, after half a day we’d sorted everything:
Aircon: I went outside, and after much tinkering, I found ramming a spoon under part of the main unit shut it up. Eat my shorts McGuyver.
Smell: This was down to a thick layer of seaweed on the beach and under our sea deck. In the morning the staff came out and raked it all away. It had been washed in by recent rough seas apparently. Smell gone now.
US Highway 1 – well, it’s not busy, and we’ve driven all the way down to Key West , at the very end, and the one thing we realised is everyone is by the highway! – it’s the way it is. It is the only road all the way down and consequently everyone lives by it.
(This is the view out of our room. I sit outside at night and play poker online. We've seen oodles of stingrays and other fish in the water, and a baby shark!!)
Our balcony view in the evening - (I’ve started playing with HDR images – you take three different pictures with varying exposures and “mix” them together – that’s how I got the colour of the sunset without the sun being a massive white blob, and how you can see the boats near by – they would normally be black silhouettes with such a bright background - need practice but it’s a useful new skill) – Incidentally, that’s how I also got the room detail in the picture above this one. I’m getting photo-nerdy. Sorry.
My God is it hot here. We thought Phoenix was hot, where it was usually 90 degrees (gets to 120 in the summer!). Down here it is still in the high 80’s but due to the humidity, but more importantly, our position in relation to the sun, it is WAY hotter. Apparently it’s because we are at latitude 22, whatever that means. I’m assuming it basically means we are closer to the sun. Don’t understand why it is not therefore 150 degrees, but it isn’t.
You know there is a difference after your 1st 10 minutes sunbathing. You are burnt! We sunbathed on the 1st evening, from about 4pm to 5pm at the most, and are both like lobsters now. It is so hot that we simply cannot go out on our sea/sun deck during the day. Period. You just burn. You have to stay inside, or sit on the other side of the room , by the car park, in the shade. There is no in between, you simply cannot sit in the sun!
It’s a little frustrating as the only Internet I can get is by latching onto someone’s’ personal home wifi that they have not protected. Problem is, I can only get a signal sitting on our sun deck! – so no Internet until after 7pm, or before 9am.
We now fully understand why the Americans do a couple of classic things:
Wear socks with trainers: You either wear sandals, or if you need to be smarter, you have to wear trainers. But it’s so hot you’ll ruin your trainers and have sore feet. Hence socks. You can’t wear shoes. That would mean wearing trousers. Too hot for trousers.
Wear baseball caps backwards: Yes, I’m ashamed to admit, I now wear mine backwards here. You HAVE to to stop your neck getting frazzled. Even if it’s a bit cooler, you have to wear one, the right way round, or you’ll get sun stroke.
It is definitely too hot. Hotter than Thailand by a country mile. All the same, we were bloody glad to leave San Francisco. Having cold days reminded us of London and what we have fled. People get more up tight when it’s not hot. We really notice it as we travel. As soon as it’s hot, people chill and are more laid back.
Key West was beautiful. We didn’t see too much today but we got a good feel for it. We drove down and then hit the main “Duval” street which is all bars and live music. The houses are again beautiful, all colonial wooden style with verandas and balconies. The whole place has a real Bahamian feel to it, and I’ve not been to the Bahamas yet, but you know what I mean. Really relaxed, tropical, and up for a laugh.
No pics of Key West – the camera was flat. Silly me.
Right – another hour or so and I can venture outside and post this update!
p.s. Poker – after I lost the tournament in Fort Lauderdale I went online and played like a demon! – I learnt so much from that real game I’ve taken it into my online game. I played again last night and won another $170. :--)