Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Florida Dispatches - 03

Wednesday morning, May 20. Cooked breakfast at the resort and enjoyed a leisurely start to our day. Felix and I rise first and enjoy coffee over our laptops. He also watches Fox News throughout the day. Somedays the Today Show too. For me, since I am without a radio here to deliver Morning Edition. Then, ESPN to take the edge off the harsh facts of our world. Suicide bombings through the middle east are dissolved by A-Rod's recent success at the plate. Imminent bankruptcy from Chrysler and GM quelled with the Lakers-Nuggets series. We also check the weather, for better or worse.

Our kitchenette and in-room laundry amenities are receiving much attention. We cook breakfast here mostly. Eggs, oatmeal, cold cereal, toast, and Georgia peaches. For lunch we made BLT's with the fresh tomatoes purchased at a pecan farm in Georgia. Carmen made fajitas one night for dinner with Vadalia onions (also from Georgia). There was leftover Pollo Tropical and Giordano's earlier in the week. Mostly, it's nice to be able to schedule and prepare meals as we would at home. Restaurants will eventually become tired. The laundry is running every day. In retrospect we could have packed less clothing, but we were not guaranteed a washer/dryer either. Still, it's a welcome luxury.

Our first Waffle House experience happened the next day. Everyone enjoyed their breakfast but I enjoyed the atmosphere more. For starters, each Waffle House looks the same. Same reddish-brown rectangle-shaped building. Same boxy yellow sign. Same booth and counter place settings. Same juke box parked in the center of the windows. Also, the wait staff is oddly similar looking between locations (at least this is true with Lake Buena Vista, FL and Eastridge, TN). We are seated on the side counter, which faces nothing in particular. The kitchen is to our left. The register to our right. A stainless steel Bunn coffee maker sits opposite me and the waitress never allows our coffee mugs to go three sips below the brim. The chocolate chip waffles are a hit with Carmen and Natalie. Nancy gets a strawberry one. Pecan for me. I also try the chicken biscuit and find it delicious with pickles and Tabasco. The juke box is authentically dated and features chunky stained buttons, chrome trim, and an awful laser beam patterning on its side panels. One play for 25-cents and Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" fills the dining area. Grits taste better over country music. I needed an artifact to take home from this experience and settled on a Waffle House coffee mug to be had for six dollars.

Following breakfast there is a break in the storm clouds and we decide to get the kids in the pool. Last chance. The kiddie pool saticfies and is complete with water noodles, beach ball and floatation devices. Jake gets fussy before too long and Carmen puts him down for a nap. Nat and I stay to wade around the pool before returning to the resort for her nap. Carmen delivers her parents to the train station to catch an afternoon train bound for West Palm Beach. For the comfort of everyone we will take the car with luggage therein and meet at Abuela e Abuelo's (grandma & grandpa) house. Everything takes longer. The packing. The gas station. The outlet mall to make a last exchange. The Sonic drive-in for a late lunch and fruit slushes. We miss the half-price "Happy Hour" on our drinks.

Florida's 91 Turnpike is a long and barren four-lanes beginning off 1-75 northwest of Orlando. It runs southeast to the Atlantic coast and then due south on to Miami. This landscape is the real Florida free of resorts, vacationing, and high priced real estate. We pass countless inland lakes, orange groves, and open terrain. The Sunshine State is a fierce wilderness of conifers and palm trees growing out of the sandy ground and swaying in the humid breeze. To be abandoned out here is to be in a serious situation. I recall an episode of "Man Versus Wild" where Bear Grylls is dropped in the Florida Everglades filled with alligators, sawgrass and a host of other dangers. This is our scenery for the next two hours. We pass Fort Pierce. Port St. Lucie. Jupiter. These cities are closer to the ocean and offer more to look at. Some have minor league baseball teams as evidence by the stadium lights where the Hammerheads (Jupiter) or Mets (Port St. Lucie) play. Jupiter is also our exit from 91 back onto I-4. We pay the toll and arrive arrive in West Palm Beach twenty minutes later.

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