Friday, July 14, 2006

Sharks, balls, and scooters in the Sunshine State

We started out on our trip to Florida kind of last minute. We weren't on the road until after 7pm Friday night. We stopped in South Ga beyond Savannah for the night. We talked up the hotel for a good while to Jake, who's not a fan of sleeping in strange places. We checked in and went to our room and Jake deemed it no good. "I don't like it. I don't like it Mom." in his tiny little 3 year old voice. He didn't like the room or the bed or my bed either. Going to sleep was going to be a challenge and here it was already after midnight. Finally I was thinking about what was different about the hotel bed vs his bed at home and I got up and asked him if he liked the bedspread. "No, Shanny, I don't like it." So I took the offending bedspread and threw it in the closet. Jake then announced "I like this bed Mom." and went to sleep. Three cheers for Aunt Shanny the hero!

The next morning we got a phone call stating that we couldn't see Pappy until after 4pm so we should take our time getting there. We had breakfast (free at the hotel) and hit the road. We started seeing these GINORMOUS billboards for the Florida Welcome Center featuring a 13 foot alligator and a Great White Shark! Well, that was all Jake needed to hear. We pulled over as soon as we found the exit for the Florida Welcome Center and we excitedly looked for the sign. It was a GAS STATION. Granted, it had a plethora of tacky shell gifts, free orange juice, and a Subway, but it was a gas station no less. We went in hoping maybe the owner had giant tanks inside housing the gator and the Great! White! Shark! but no. They were stuffed! Tricksters!

Ah well, at least they had clean restrooms. Back on the road we went. Where we spotted a truck with a giant set of balls hanging from it. Why, why, why do people do this? Boys, we know you have balls. We may not want to look at them, but we know they are there. No need to cast them in silver and hang them from your automobile.

Somewhere along the road south we spotted another GINORMOUS billboard. This one for a Mega! Bead! Emporium! This has to be for real right? With time to spare we hopped off the highway and found the Bead! Emporium! In a strip mall, taking up a very tiny section of the strip mall. Tricked again! They did have a nice assortment of vintage beads so I picked up a few (look for new designs soon at Bellatini!). Then we stopped for lunch and hit the road again. Here's a hint for you Florida travelers: I4 that cuts across the state Atlantic side to Gulf coast is packed to the gills with tourists from end of May through Labor Day. I had forgotten this important fact. Every family in the Union was on that road headed to either Universal or Disney. It took us over an hour to go from one end of Orlando to the next. I decided right then and there that any trips we take to Disney with Ling Ling will occur in the fall or winter when she has breaks from school. Why any family would want to sit in traffic then stand in line with the entire population of the USA for a 40 second ride during the hottest time of the year in the hottest part of the hottest state is beyond me.

We finally made it to my hometown and were allowed to visit with Pappy. My aunt and cousin were there and we had dinner with them and my Nanny. We were allowed 2 ten minute visits with Pappy each. I made sure to use my minutes wisely and tell him everything I wanted to say. Mainly that I love him. Then it was time to go to my dad's.

It has been at least 15 years since I've spent a significant stretch of time in my hometown and it has grown by leaps and bounds. One thing that hasn't changed is the daily rain storms. So during a deluge Sara and I were trying to navigate new roads as well as old to get to my dad's new house. He married a couple years ago and moved into his wife's home, and we'd never been there. I was on the phone with Mimi (his wife) while she guided us into the neighborhood. As we approached her street she said "Ok, when you turn on to our street you'll see your dad out in his wheelchair." Okaaaaay. I thought she meant a traditional wheelchair maybe out on the porch (he had just been released from the hospital the day before after knee replacement surgery). We pulled onto the street and there, some 30 yards in front of us, was our father- shaved head Dr. Evil/Uncle Fester looking thing spinning around IN THE STREET on his motor chair (think Rascal or hoveround) waving and yelling at the wrong car! He didn't know which car we'd be driving and he'd gotten confused- think how the driver of that car was feeling! By now it had slowed to a drizzle of rain so at least he wasn't getting soaked. Sara and I were laughing so hard we had to slow to a stop. If it hadn't still been raining some I'd have taken a picture. He let the wrong car continue on their way and let us pull in the driveway. We unpacked and settled in for a couple hours of visiting and reminiscing then it was time for bed.
Day 2 of our Sunshine State adventure & photos tomorrow....

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