Wanna Get Away?

My wife and I just returned from vacation.  Though we love roadtrips, this time we flew Southwest Airlines from Missouri to Florida.  And I’m glad we did.  Winter Storm Gia would have hindered our drive to Florida and Winter Storm Jayden would have hindered our drive back to Missouri.

Though Southwest is not a “bargain” airline, I like the fact that the initial price is the final price, even if you need to make changes to your itinerary.

When I was younger and needed to book a flight, my decision on which airline to fly was based on two factors:

  1.  Is the plane going where we want to go? and
  2.  Is it the cheapest fare?

Then the airlines started adding fees to the initial cost when you arrived at the airport if you wanted special treatment.  So what started out as the cheapest might end up costing more if you needed what the airlines decided were “frills”.

Like, say, for example you wanted to bring luggage.

The last time I bought cheap tickets there was a disclaimer that the tickets could not, under any conditions, be changed and I was a fool if I expected any money back if something unforeseen came up and I needed to change or cancel my plans.  As it turned out, the tickets COULD be changed at no cost.  Just not by me.  When I went on-line to confirm the tickets the day before our flight, an extra city and 3 additional hours of travel time had been added to the itinerary I had locked in six months earlier.

Then I got “educated” at check-in about extra charges.  That went something like this:

Check-in person:  Good morning!

Me:  (Stifling a yawn while putting two pieces of luggage on the metal table in front of me)  Hello.

Check-in person (with an incredulous look on his face): You want to bring LUGGAGE?

Me:  Yes.

Check-in person:  That’s an extra $25 for the first bag and $40 for the second bag = EACH WAY.

Me; HUH?

Check-in person:  Would you like to upgrade to first class for only $312 more each way?

Me:  No

Check-in person:  Would you like a little extra leg room for only $29 each way?

Me:  No

Check-in person:  Would you like to be able to wiggle your toes for only $5 more each way?

Me:  I guess I’ll be ok for a few hours.

Check-in person:  Would you like restroom access?

Me:  Well, yeah.

Check-in person:  Fluids only are $5.  Solids are $12.  For only $15 we are offering unlimited fluid and solid disposal, plus complimentary toilet paper.  AND – we will waive the normal $2 environmental impact fee.

Me:  OK, I’ll take two unlimited specials.

Chcck-in person:  Would you like a sandwich for only $10?

Me:  My wife and I will split one.

Check-in person:  Condiments for only $3?

Me:  Nah, my wife’s passed that stage.

Check-in person:  Would you like priority seating on a life raft in the unlikely event of a water landing?  Only $10 for one or $17.95 for two.

Me:  I’ll take one.  My wife can float on her back for hours.

(Note: This may not be word for word since my head was starting to spin from making this many decisions prior to 8 am.)

So it was that for only $50 more per person than the non-stop, all-inclusive flight from Southwest, my wife and I were on our way through “SECURITY”.  There, because my wife’s titanium knees kept setting off the metal detector, she was escorted to a small, private room where a female TSA employee “patted her down”.   From what my wife described, this required about the same level of intimacy it took me to the third night of our honeymoon to achieve.

But at least we were cleared to get on the plane!

Which went something like this:

Gate person:  Thank you for flying with Untied Airlines.  We’d like to begin the boarding process by seating our Executive Sky Alliance PLATINUM members.  Please follow this red carpet please.

Ok. Now, would all Executive Sky Alliance Gold members  please board.

And now, all Executive Sky Alliance Silver members.

And finally, (after a few more passenger-grades of increasingly less value), will all Executive Sky Alliance TARPAPER members please hustle onto the plane?

AND PLEASE . . . Be careful not to step on the red carpet!

Though I seriously considered upgrading our passenger status from TARPAPER to VINYL for our next vacation,  I switched airlines instead.  I have found that Southwest rarely starts out cheaper, but the price I book is normally the price I pay.

I also signed up for TSA Pre-Certification.  Now, after undergoing an extensive background check and paying $85 for 5 years, my wife and I get to remain fully clothed while passing through airport security.

It’s a small price to pay.

Even though – at our age –  one might think they’d be willing to pay US to keep our clothes on.

 

Be Nice

IMG_2662
Meeting New People & Making Friends on Vacation

It wasn’t the best 24 hours of our vacation in Fort Lauderdale.

My wife had developed an earache and a sore throat.  We abandoned our tourist agenda and headed for nearby Broward Medical and Urgent Care.   My wife was seen promptly by Dr. Chau Nguyen and she walked out of the office clutching two prescriptions..  One prescription we were able to fill immediately at a nearby Walgreens.  The next would take overnight.

And then some.

When we went to pick up the prescription the next day it wasn’t ready for two reasons:

First, we hadn’t paid (or been asked to pay) in advance.  And,

Second, they didn’t have the ingredients.  Would “after 2 the NEXT day” be ok?  It wasn’t, so they transferred the prescription to another nearby pharmacy in their chain and told us it would be ready in two hours.

I suggested a little sun might be good idea so we headed for a fast food chicken place I remembered to pick up food for an impromptu picnic at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park.  After a longer drive than I remembered it to be, we came to the chicken place.  It was closed for remodeling.  Nevertheless, a person was patiently waiting in the drive-thru lane for someone to take her order.

Next door was a Burger King.  Not our first choice, but it was convenient and didn’t appear to be busy.  Only one car ahead of us in the drive-thru.  Even so, it took awhile before it was our turn.  And then it took quite awhile longer before they took our order.

I ignored my better judgement and waited.Burger King

We placed our order and pulled around the corner to find two cars waiting for their food ahead of us.  By the time we got to the window, there was a pickup truck  and a car waiting behind us.

“Be right with you!” said the lady working the window cheerfully.

And we waited some more.

Then the honking began.

First, I thought it was the guy in the pickup behind us.  The honking continued.  If anyone has any suggestions about how to hurry when waiting for a very simple order at a drive-thru window I would be interested.  The honking continued until a woman two cars behind us had had enough.  She veered out of line, pulled alongside of us, and hollered “What the f*** is taking so long?”

This was a woman in a hurry for a whopper.

The window clerk politely hollered back “We are slammed and doing the best we can!” to which the impatient whopper-craver hollered another rude comment.  Use your imagination.

The drive-thru attendant then hollered “Have a blessed day!”  as the honking woman beside us accelerated out of the parking lot.

Whew!  That’s a big departure from the normal “Would you like fries with that?” drive-thru dialogue.

Thru the window came our bag of food.  I thanked the lady and off we headed to our picnic site.

On the way we encountered a work zone traffic jam.  As we slowed, an SUV suddenly swerved into our lane in front of us causing me to slow much more abruptly.  Prominently displayed on the back window of the SUV was a sticker that said “BE NICE”.

Nearing Birch State Park, my wife got an email.  Her prescription was ready.  Things were looking up.  We found a picnic table alongside the Intracoastal Waterway which borders the park on the west. and had our  hard-earned, not exactly hot by then, lunch.  Soaking up the sun, we watched boats pass, some of which cost more than many people would earn in a lifetime.

IMG_2628
A beautiful spot for a picnic at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale\

Feeling refreshed after a meal, some sunshine, and the absence of any high-volume arguments, we headed to the pharmacy to pick up my wife’s prescription.

“Be ready in 10 minutes!” the attendant said.

“But we got an email saying it was ready” I responded.

“It was wrong” said the attendant.  “Come back in 10 minutes.”

With the wisdom displayed on the back window of a crappy driver I nearly rear-ended running through my mind, I pulled around, parked in the warm sunshine, and cooled my jets.

“Be Nice!”

It sounds a lot easier than it is some times.

Be nice

 

 

And the Answer is: Bolt, Lime & Bird

carnac the magnificent
Johnny Carson as “Carnac the Magnificent”

Back when late night comedians specialized in comedy rather than political commentary, the incomparable Johnny Carson frequently portrayed “Carnac the Magnificent”.  Carnac, a mystic from the East, was able to determine the answers to written questions that had been “hermetically sealed inside a mayonnaise jar kept on Funk & Wagnall’s porch for security purposes”.  An example:

Carnac the Magnificent:  The answer is ‘Sis, Boom, Bah”!

Ed McMahon (unscrewing the lid from a mayonnaise jar and removing a sealed envelope):

And the question is “What sound does an exploding sheep make?”

In the title to this blog, the answer is “Bolt, Lime & Bird”.

The question is “What are three things that might run over you on Fort Lauderdale sidewalks?

Bolt, Lime and Bird are electric scooter brands scattered around downtown Fort Lauderdale (& beach) sidewalks since last November.  Lime official reported that 14,000 different riders covered nearly 48,000 miles in just the first 3 weeks the scooters were available.

electric scooters
Electric scooters for rent along Hwy A1A at the Fort Lauderdale Beach

While some scooter riders use the bike lanes, many others preferred the already busy sidewalks.  Scooters have a 15 mph maximum speed and make very little noise, so unless you can run a 4 minute mile you better get used to being startled when these scooters zip around you.  One idiot we encountered came at us full speed hollering “OH SHI*************!!!! as if he had lost control only to swerve around us at the last second.

Ha! Ha! (DIPSTICK!)

We encountered entire families on scooters, as well as an older child ferrying a younger child along the crowded streets and sidewalks.

In our car we passed a guy in full business attire -suit & tie – riding a scooter, presumably to work or to an appointment.

 

My favorite was when my wife and I approached an intersection just as a young woman wearing a thong rode by us on a scooter and stopped for a red light.  Her booteus maximus was as unencumbered as the day she was born.   I am sorry I didn’t have time to take a picture.  You will just have to take my word for it.

Or my wife’s.

Or perhaps that of the lady with a Bronx accent standing beside us staring in wide-eyed amazement who exclaimed “SHE’S GOING TO CAUSE SOMEONE TO RUN INTO A TREE!”

On the positive side, it did seem to make the time pass faster while we were waiting for the light to change.

Lifestyles of the Cheap and Frugal

Our Summer Vacation – Day 7

Lady Chateau yacht rental $875 per hr
Yacht Rental Option One – $875 per hour

If you would like to sample the “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” but have a budget more suited to “Lifestyles of the Cheap & Frugal”, I have discovered just the answer when visiting Fort Lauderdale.

The Intracoastal Waterway is a great way to legally take a peek into the living rooms of multi-million dollar homes in Fort Lauderdale.  Of course, most of the inhabitants are so wealthy they are out-of-town staying at one of their other multi-million dollar homes. To tour the Intracoastal Waterway, the first thing you need is a boat.  In our case, a boat that would  hold at least 9 people.

Option 1 was to rent a fully stocked yacht for $875 per hour.

That option was quickly discarded.

Option 2 was more in our price range:  Only $28 per person, $23 for age 65+,  $14 for kids, and free for kids that could pass for under 5.  For only $172, our party of 9 received All Day Unlimited Passes for an entertaining, unlimited on-and-off privileges, round-trip cruise of the Intracoastal Waterway on the fleet of Fort Lauderdale Water Taxis.

water-taxi-pick-up-at
Yacht Rental Option Two – $172 per Day!  BINGO!!

In addition to a relaxing, entertaining cruise complete with narrated history, educational facts, and gossip, we could also get off and tour different locales on foot.

This tour will make you appreciate the cost of living in Missouri.

The property taxes on one home we passed were $50,000 per month.  If you own a yacht and want to anchor it at an Intracoastal Waterway marina, the cost, depending on season, is $5 to $15 per foot, per night.  That means the 300-foot, $250,000,000 yacht Steve Wynn bought for his wife for her birthday could cost close to $4,000 just to dock for one night.

Homes and lots on the Intracoastal Waterway come at a premium.  Per our guide, one guy bought a home for $25 mil.  He then bought the house next door, apparently a fixer-upper, for $7 mil,  He then had it demolished so his dogs would have a place to play.

Our grandkids were fascinated looking at the large iguanas sunning themselves on the sea walls along the waterway.  As we exited our taxi to visit the Galleria Mall, the guide on the taxi told us confidentially that the Iguanas love to eat the flower buds on the surrounding bushes.

As we were waiting to reboard the taxi after boosting the net sales of the Galleria Mall, my son tossed a flower bud in the direction of a large iguana eyeing us from a seawall.  Like a flash, the formerly lounging iguana devoured the bud.  At first, one lady thought we had thrown a plastic straw to the iguana. Before a fight broke out, we educated her on the culinary preferences of the large lizards, whereupon she also began throwing flower buds to the lounging lizards.

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As the Flower Bud supply depleted, it appeared this iguana might be considering sampling either my grandson’s flip flop or his toes.

After working up an appetite feeding flower buds to iguanas, we walked 2 blocks to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

A great place to eat inspired by one of my favorite movies of all time.

Then it was back to Boca Raton for a twilight walk by the sea.

As my ten-year old grandson likes to say, “Well, this has certainly been quite a day!”

And that's all I got to say about that

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