Things are a bit tense at the hotel.
I got up and headed out to the van to get my coffee mug. As I rubbed my eyes and staggered down the hall, an ominous silhouette came into focus at the exit to the parking lot.
|It's the ugliest duck in the universe. And I think he wants to eat me.|
I crept closer, keenly aware of its relentless stare. When I reached the door, I paused. Did I dare risk an encounter with this duck? After all, I just wanted a coffee mug.
But it was my coffee mug.
And it makes me happy to use it when I'm traveling.
I WILL get that mug. Freaky-looking duck be damned!
I slowly pushed the door open and stepped, barefoot into the parking lot. The duck, in a brilliant strategic move, spun and waddled away across the parking lot, leaving behind a booby trap to try to foil my trip into the parking lot.
|Nice try, duck.|
Clever though it was, the trap was easily avoided and I grabbed my mug from the van and headed back inside, because nothing tastes as good as a hot cup of crappy hotel coffee when it's already 96 degrees and 237% humidity.
The duck had already resumed a defensive position while I was rooting around for my mug.
|We shall meet again, duck. We shall meet again...|
I skillfully avoided a confrontation this time by using another entrance, but I sense that this duck and I have unfinished business.
We dropped Tori off at school last night. She slept in her dorm and is scheduled to have orientation activities from 10-10 today.
So what do we do?
We go to the beach.
But first, we go to a big, horrible box store to buy all the things that Tori swore she would not need for school. Things we had at home because we bought them for Alex at a big box store, when he swore he would not need them for school.
A lamp. An extension cord. Coat hangers.
All piled up on our dining room table, 1,500 miles away.
Because she would definitely not need them.
Despite my incessant whining about how much I hate shopping, somehow we managed to survive the ordeal.
Now we should go to the beach, which I like a bit less than I like shopping at big box stores.
|Can you guess which direction the beach is?|
|How about now?|
The weather decided that we should come up with some alternate plans today. So, while I was spared an afternoon baking on the molten sand and avoiding man-eating sharks, I was trapped in a hotel room which, on a scale of Shopping to Beach, I rate as Awful.
We made a stealth run to Tori's dorm to deliver the items we had bought at the store. While we were there, Alex and I grabbed her bike from the outdoor bike rack/lightning rod and tossed it into Squanket.
Somehow, during the drive down, she had gotten a flat tire.
We made a run to a bike shop and grabbed a new tube.
|In-room bike repair!|
|Maybe we could start a business of mobile bike repair.|
|Alex says, "No."|
We managed to use up 4 or 5 minutes repairing Tori's bike and still the rain hadn't stopped.
In fact, if anything, it was picking up.
|The storm drain in the hotel parking lot looks like Godzilla is about to emerge. Honestly, that would be awesome.|
|Of course, it might have something to do with the "high pressure jetting" happening next door at the Wawa.|
|Because that little fountain...|
|isn't supposed to be there.|
The rain continued, but Kerri soon tired of my incessant whining about being stuck in a hotel room and she offered to take us for a drive, because we had obviously not spent enough time driving over the last several days.
"Yay!" I squealed, clapping my hands. "Can we go to an Adult Sup..."
We slipped out the door.
The duck was waiting.
|Should we tip him? I have no idea.|
Here is what Fort Lauderdale is really like:
|A duck decoy bobbing in a storm canal. Maybe I can use this to distract the duck at the hotel.|
|I guess if your lock is broken, this is one solution. Not a good one, but a solution.|
|Kerri would not let me use her phone to "1-800-TellRobert" for my chance to collect $750k. I was going to fake a duck-related injury.|
|The skies cleared and the sun came out!|
Rain, in Florida, does not cool the air like it might in normal places with weather that isn't trying to kill you all the time. Rain, in Florida, injects more humidity into the air and then things get lively.
Without the threat of being killed by lightning, we decided to risk a trip to the beach.
|The sand is SOOOOO hot.|
|Sea turtle eggs!|
We walked up and down the beach for a while and then decided that the beach would be more fun if we could actually get in the water.
It had been storming when we left the hotel an hour ago so we didn't bring sunblock, towels, suits, or shark-repellent. All obvious necessities for surviving for any length of time on a Florida Death-Beach™.
Back to the hotel.
|The duck was still waiting. Not today, ducky. Not today.|
We changed into bathing suits, lathered up with SPF 900 Sweater-In-A-Bottle Sunblock, grabbed our towels, and headed back to the beach, a mere 8 miles away.
That 8 mile drive took, conservatively, 40 minutes because of all the people driving around in their Taz trucks.
By the time we got back to the beach, the sky was black, the rain was pouring down, and the thunder echoed like the very laughter of the earth, mocking our inability to go to the beach.
As we sat in the parking lot, which, on the bright side, had plenty of spots available because of the weather, Tori texted us and said she had a free hour or so. Would we like to get together?
Of course we would!
It was, by this time, rush hour, so the normal density of traffic had quadrupled and the 9 mile drive to Tori's dorm took nearly an hour.
And, in that time, the rain stopped and the skies cleared.
Oh, Florida, you zany prankster.
We picked Tori up and headed to our hotel to enjoy some time bobbing around in the parking lot pool.
Tori was introduced to my new friend, the duck. She named him Leonard and it seemed appropriate. he's definitely a Leonard.
Tori had to go back to campus for more orientation fun and frivolity so we dropped her off and headed off on a quest.
A quest that I had been secretly planning for months.
A quest for a delicious, real Cuban sandwich.
I have read about these sandwiches. Mostly in books about Dexter, the serial killer, which, now that I write it, doesn't seem like the best place to get tips on eating food, but what can you do? They sound amazing.
A quick google search gave us the name of an authentic Cuban restaurant that served these sandwiches. the reviews didn't mention anything about serial killers, so that was a bonus, too!
We fought bravely through the traffic and then wandered aimlessly around the outdoor shopping plaza where the restaurant was alleged to be. just as we were about to give up all hope and resign ourselves to a Five Guys or some other horrid something or other, Alex spotted it!
|Tasty sangria? Check.|
|Alex's yummy meal with 3 different kids of rice because he refuses to try any new food ever? Check.|
|Kerri's delicious chicken and rice? Check.|
|A delicious Cuban sandwich? Nope.|
There are only two possible explanations for the barely adequate Cuban sandwich I got:
1. It was just a lousy sandwich.
2. A fictional serial killer mislead me about how delicious they are.
I was simply unable to believe that Dexter would deceive me about how tasty these sandwiches are. So, despite the fact that everything else we ordered was fantastic, I decided that they simply didn't know how to make a proper Cuban sandwich here at this Cuban restaurant, owned and operated by actual Cuban.
There could be no other explanation. And right then and there, I made it my one mission on Earth to find a delicious Cuban sandwich.
Maybe Leonard has some ideas.