January 12th, 2016

Charlie Brown

This is a story about my holiday vacation. It's long and wordy. You've been warned.

Florida vacation. Yay!

We left Christmas morning. We were only about 25 minutes behind the schedule in my brain, but I was okay with it. I knew traffic would be pretty light as it was Xmas Day, and the traffic doesn't really pick up until about 10 a.m. Thankfully, I remembered on Christmas Eve to reserve parking at an off site lot. There was no parking ANYWHERE EVER IN THE PHOENIX AREA on Christmas Day, at least according to the internet. Anyways, I thought about stopping at Coffee to get a drink for us to hit the road, but the two people that I don't trust to make my drink (because they are both really bad at it) were working. We went to the QT instead. Yeah.

J fell asleep on the road after he ate his yogurt from the QT. The coffee stayed in the car the entire trip. Never took one sip. Good thing he bought breakfast for us both. :) We arrived at the car park and they had to do valet because they had NO parking anywhere. It was parallel parking on top of regular parking and all kinds of whackadoo going on. The poor guys handling the incoming cars looked stressed. I felt kind of bad for them. It's cold and people are grumpy for some reason. Usually, people are really calm on Christmas Day. We get out of the car and hand over the keys. While we are unpacking the back, one of the parking guys keeps repeating himself, "I'm sorry ma'am, but there are no spaces right now. I can get the manager for you if you like, but we won't be able to park the car until the people arriving today leave and we can put your car in one of those spaces. No, ma'am, like I said, there are no spaces right now. I can get the manager for you if you'd like..." Seriously. About 5 minutes of that. I handed the guy helping us two Starbucks gift cards and told him that was for him and his co-worker. Take a latte break and don't let the grumps get you down! He seemed pretty happy about it.

The shuttle appeared right away and we were whisked to the airport pretty quickly. We got there with about 45 minutes to go and then...THE SECURITY THEATER LINE!

Let's backtrack a bit, there is a soda called Diet Squirt. It's pretty damn delicious. It's not available east of the Mississippi for some really weird reason. I had two 12 packs, one in each suitcase. We realize that J's suitcase is carry-on size. You see where this is going, right? Yeah, we had to toss out the 12-pack of soda. I was so bummed. You know what really sucked? We had to check the bag at the gate because the flight was so full. Yeah. That happened. Whatever. We got new neck pillows though. I like neck pillows. I need to put one in my truck again so that my work naps are more comfortable. :)

Board the flight, it's super full. And, I had a first. I FINALLY used an airplane bathroom. In my 20 years of flying, I had never done this before. They aren't as scary as I thought they would be, but they are as small as I thought they would be. Also, everyone can hear you toot. It's true. Ok, it's not really true. But, it could be.

The drink and food cart were going by, J and I figured out what we wanted to eat. An extravagance, to be sure, but we were hungry. All we brought with us for snacks was some beef jerky for J and some bananas for me. Well, for whatever reason, the food guy just skipped us. Maybe he thought we were asleep, maybe he asked and we didn't hear. I don't know. The drink cart came by, I ordered some whiskey and ginger ale. Sadly, no limes were to be had (not that I thought there would be, funnily enough, on the flight back someone asked for lime). The best part of that drink, I didn't pay for it. Apparently, they forgot to charge me. I'm down with that. Especially since I didn't get to even order a hummus snack box!

We land, everything is fine, get our bags which took a little longer than usual and taught us that we need to definitely get a luggage tag for J since he has a little black bag. I have a huge orange bag. Get in the car with the parents and head towards the hotel in Orlando. That may have been one of the top 20 worst car rides, ever. We arrive, check in, and unpack a few things. We gave my dad one can of Diet Squirt. We told him that we had cajoled the TSA agent into letting us take one precious can with us. He was super excited to get it.

We went to Medieval Times for dinner. The Green knight was our champion. Sadly, he lost to the Red knight after everything. The Red knight went forward to defend our lands against some dude with face paint who was all about taking the princess back to his King. Yeah, right dude. I had the vegetarian option. That was a delicious stew. Yum! There was also a blood orange cider that was amazingly delicious. I wish that we had it out here.

See, this is the problem with local breweries, you can't get the stuff where you live. Waaaaaaaah!

Anyways, we dropped my parents off at the hotel and went off in search of a battery for a digital camera that J had purchased at the thrift store a day or two prior to our leaving. Instead of, you know, taking care of it before we left town. Or, you know, using MY digital camera until after our vacation. Yeah. I know, right? Siiiigh.

Saturday, December 26th

We all get up and get ready to go to Universal Studios. Yaaay! Harry Potter time. Except, we missed the shuttle. Because no one will listen to me that it's time to go get the shuttle, "oh, no, I'm sure they'll announce that it's here." Uhh, why would they do that? This isn't the Greyhound bus station. Yeah, they didn't announce it. Ok, we'll drive over. We have the handicap placard! Yaaaay! Only had to pay $20 for parking, still got to park in the preferred area, and we were on our way in. Because we got there so early, the wait for Spiderman was zero. Which was awesome. My mom got her scooter before we headed in, we got on Spiderman, and then headed for Harry Potter world. Except, we stopped in the Toon area and got on a water ride. I'm so dumb. It's like I've never been to a damn theme park before. Yeah, we got soaked.

While we wandered around, we noticed that there were water cannons on the pedestrian walkway over one of the water rides. There were two people standing there pumping quarters into the machine and enjoying spraying people way too much. They were really cool. They let us take a few turns because the other machines weren't working. Nice people. :)

Harry Potter was amazing. I want to go back and do the VIP tour experience thing so that way I can get backstage and see stuff and not wait in line for rides. Because, for real, that's where all your time goes. I need to start saving my pennies now so I can afford it. It'll be like $500 for the day. Totally worth it. You get lunch included!

Later in the evening, I got to meet up with Heather. I haven't seen her in person for YEARS. I wish we had had a day together. Just the two of us to just chat. And have like cake and coffee and potato skins with bleu cheese and hot sauce. Yeah.

Sunday December 27th

We left Orlando and headed to St. Augustine. Which means we sat in traffic for hours. Seriously. It was on par with Phoenix traffic on a Monday. I didn't know we were going to stay the night. Had I known, I would have recommended they call ahead and get a room at a place they normally stay in. Yeah. We wound up at a Days Inn by the freeway. Which means J got all pissypants. And instead of using his WORDS he gave the silent treatment. He also got pissy because I wanted to take a nap once we finally had the rooms. I had been driving all day (or rather, sitting in traffic all day) while everyone else in the car napped. I was running on about 12 hours sleep over the past three days and was just using caffeine as life blood. Because, everyone else gets to nap in the car, but not the driver.

Yeah, good times. We went to some place to eat that really wasn't worth the hour wait we endured. I'm sure the food is good during non peak times, but my food was room temperature at BEST. And, honestly, if you are going to offer a vegetarian option, could you at least put some freaking thought into it? Like, for real. Just, SOMETHING, other than a mushroom sandwich. I guess it's better than a Boca burger, though.

Monday, December 28th

We left St. Augustine. I was going to suggest going to the Kennedy Space Center, but my dad's feet were in really bad shape. Swollen, he had sores, and he couldn't wear his shoes properly. We headed for home. we stoped at a 7-11 so I could get some coffee and while I was inside, I was delightfully entertained by an old couple. The man was fixing himself a coffee and looking for milk (looked to me like he was making an au lait considering how much milk was going into his cup) and his lady friend was looking for something to eat.
"I can't find anything I want to eat," says the lady.
"Well, we aren't going out after we get there so you better find something," he grouchily responds.
"Nothing here looks good to me right now. I don't know why you have to talk to me like that!"
I was just thinking, "Dude, you are TOTALLY going out after you get there. And you know it. Also, I love both of you so much right now because dear god did I miss hearing that accent." New Yorkers!! :)

I finally got a driving break around just north of Ft. Pierce. Not a minute too soon, I was starting to fall asleep at the wheel. I have a hard time sleeping in cars, but it was nice not to have to worry about concentrating on the road. My mom finished the drive home, and we arrived in one piece. THEN WE WENT TO PUBLIX!!!!

I missed Publix so much. My veggie sandwich was delicious. The pastries from the bakery were delicious. We made guacamole and had chips and it was delicious. I was so happy to be back in the arms of Publix again. I wish we had one out here. They got an Aldi in WPB, too. That seemed pretty exciting. I didn't go in, because I can only give my grocery store love to Publix. PUBLIX.

Tuesday through Friday

I took J to the beach. We went to Palm Beach island. I miss the ocean, but not the sand. I got in the water, though. It was a little chilly, but warmed up nicely after a while. The ocean was rough, I think the Atlantic is mad at me for moving away, kept throwing me out of the water. Jerk. J picked a bunch of shells from around where we sat. I watched the clouds rolling out, boats out on the horizon, and a couple taking wedding pictures. I missed Florida for a minute while we were out there. I missed my memories of Heather and me sitting on the wall eating Taco Bell while we listened to the surf. Watching families play in the sand and water. Little kids building sand castles with their buckets or burying their siblings under all the sand. It made me think of a picture of me taken around the age of five or six, after losing all my hair to head lice, wearing a bikini on my chubby little body, but looking like I was having the time of my fucking life.

I got a little melancholy sitting there.

For New Year's Eve we went to Delray Beach for "First Night". We spent most of the evening (after sitting in traffic and then finally finding a parking space) sitting at a cafe that had amazing americanos and delicious pizza. Seriously, that shit was good.

We spent $35 on two shots of decent scotch and two beers. Yeah. $35 PLUS TIP. Ugh.

Went back to the cafe with the $5 beers. :)

Sat outside of a vape store that had hired a saxophone player for the evening. He was a really nice guy. Offered us some tequila. We chatted about the northeast, the south, drugs, alcohol, skiing, travel, and music. A friend of his showed up and became his singer for the evening. An Uber driver appeared (this became a theme by the end of the night, I got to watch this happen a lot) and couldn't find his fare. He asked the singer to announce that he was there. Melinda, Melinda, he sang, your Uber is here! You ate too many tacos! Come meet your driver! Yeah, that guy was pretty well into that bottle of tequila, too. By the end of the night, I think saxophone and J were best friends. He gave J his phone number and said if we ever wanted to hang out and smoke weed, give him a call. Yeah, he was pretty drunk at this point.

While J finished his beer after the fireworks, I sat and watched groups of drunken people wander around trying to find their Uber drivers. Lots of people on cell phones, "No, I'm across from the pizza place on sixth. Sixth. SIXTH. PIZZA. ACROSS THE STREET." Siiiiiigh. You know, I don't miss being a drunken idiot. I cringe when I think about how ridiculous I've been in the past with people while I was really intoxicated. More melancholy.

I finally got to sleep in a bit on New Year's Day. We found a nice place to have lunch, got back and packed up our things. We stopped at Wal-Mart on the way to the airport because J needed to return the cell phone he bought. I got to listen to a couple of the employees talk about a possible customer complaint issue. Ahhh, I miss the drama of Florida. We stopped at Publix to get something to eat. There wasn't going to be anything served on the plane because we were taking off too late for food service. PUBLIX. I bought a bunch of cloth bags so that I have Publix with me even though I'm not there.

stop judging me

The flight back was full. Every seat was full. One girl got bounced off the flight because she was freaking out in her seat. She was afraid of heights. But she had to get to L.A. quickly. Yeah. That sucks. I wonder if she worked for ISIS. There was TSA before we got on the flight, you know, in case their thorough search BEFORE we got to the gate didn't catch stuff. Really? I was asked if I was flying alone, I motioned to J that he and I were together. They let us go through. Hmmmmmm, wonder if it had to do with that girl.

Uneventful flight, I got stuck with a middle seat, but thankfully, the other two row mates were smaller, so I wasn't cramping them and vice versa. I was so happy when we landed. I wasn't looking forward to the drive home, but I was ready to be home. J convinced me to stay in Phoenix for the night. I really felt it was a waste of money, but fine, whatever. We stayed at a kind of scary, but it looked like they were trying to make it not scary, motel. The bed was comfy, but the comforter had cigarette burns and there was only a washcloth in the bathroom. No towels. Just one sad washcloth.

I think that's it about the vacation. Yaaay!