We woke up somewhere. It's all starting to blur.
Tallahassee. That's where we are.
Tallahassee at a hotel. And the hotel has crappy, free coffee, but no free crappy breakfast. You have to pay for the crappy hotel breakfast here.
I staggered to the lobby for a cup of coffee and took it to the outdoor patio so I could escape the incessant horror of morning TV that every hotel is legally obligated to blast at us as we try to enjoy our crappy, free coffee.
I sat down on a seat with my coffee and my book.
|Gratuitous photo of my butt. It appears to have rained last night.|
After hopping back up out of the soaking wet seat, I went back into the hotel, turned off the TV, blasting Fox news at me, and settled in for a cup of coffee and a bit of reading. My damp shorts reminded me that we desperately needed to do some laundry. The good news is that this hotel did have a guest laundry facility. The bad news is that they didn't have any laundry detergent available.
I turned my socks inside out for the second time and we set off for Pensacola.
We stopped for gas before getting on the highway and Kerri sent Alex in to the gas station on a mysterious mission as I pumped gas.
He came out, staggering under the weight of three brightly colored cardboard boxes, each about the size of a manhole cover.
"Cinnabon!" he announced brightly.
If you have never experienced a Cinnabon cinnamon bun from a gas station in Florida, let me summarize the experience for you:
This is technically the vacation part of our trip. Tori has been safely delivered to school. She's settled in and things are good. Now we have a few days to relax at a hotel in Pensacola, floating in the lazy river, eating chicken wings, and drinking beverages that stress the umbrella motif.
|I'm sure this will clear up before we get to Pensacola.|
|The weather report says that it's only an 88% chance of thunderstorms. It will clear up.|
|This plane at the rest stop looks beautiful against the backdrop of killer thunderstorms.|
The weather toyed with our emotions for the entire 4 hour drive, but it had at least stopped raining when we arrived at Pensacola Beach.
|Purple Flag = Dangerous Marine Life|
|Maybe we can get in a quick dip before the hurricane?|
In fact, the weather did clear up surprisingly quickly. We got our things into the hotel room and raced out to enjoy some beach time before it started raining again.
The hotel is right on the ocean, with a long, wooden boardwalk that connects the pool area with the white sand of the beach. The sand was clean and soft. The ocean, while very rough, was delightfully warm.
As a native New Englander, I am used to ocean water that actively wants to kill you. It is generally cold to the point of actual pain. The only way to enjoy the water is to power through the pain until you are numb. Then you may enjoy your insensate time in the water.
Not so in Florida. The water is warm and inviting. You can actually walk right in without fear of hypothermia. Alex and I did so. We raced into the water and flopped about in the waves: diving, splashing, and frolicking.
Yes. We frolicked.
And then I asked Alex, "Do you feel like you're getting stung by bees or something?"
"I do, Father" Alex replied. "That is a brilliant observation. I do feel as though I am being stung by something and I think it would behoove us to exit the water and inspect our bodies."
And that's when we saw all the angry, red welts from the jellyfish stings covering our bodies.
No, I don't have any pictures, you freak.
Alex ran up to the room to shower and I hopped in the pool and ordered a medicinal Rum Runner because it seemed like the best option available at the time.
Alex was in the room for a long time.
Kerri and I bobbed around in the pool while I bravely took my medicine and tried to recover. "That might explain the purple flag, warning of dangerous marine life," Kerri suggested helpfully.
When Alex did join us again, we said that he had looked up jellyfish stings online and saw that the treatment included NEVER rinsing the stings in fresh water, which only makes it worse.
Now I know.
It didn't mention the effect that Rum Runners have on multiple jellyfish stings, but I can attest that it didn't make them any worse. I'll be submitting a report about my research and my findings to The New England Journal of Medicine soon. History will thank me, I'm sure.
We ordered wings and fries to share by the pool, because it also seemed like that might help alleviate some of the stinging, but when we got the bill ($35 for wings and French fries), the stinging seemed to intensify somehow. Right near my wallet.
We went to a local grocery store and got food for breakfasts and lunches, because nothing says vacation get-away like grocery shopping.
Or doing laundry.
So, naturally, after grocery shopping, we found a laundromat. Kerri and Alex dropped me off with bags of dirty laundry and a pocketful of quarters while they went back to the hotel to put groceries away.
Do we know how to party, or what?
At the laundromat, I was greeted by a gentleman with a can of Bud Light, who warmly welcomed me to the party. I was the only person at the entire laundromat without an open beer and, while I was embarrassed by this social faux-pas on my part, the other guests were cheerful and welcoming.
As I loaded my laundry in the machine, the man who had greeted me, and whom I was now thinking of as the Mayor of the Laundromat stood in the doorway and opened his arms wide. "We got a good looking crowd here, tonight," he announced before staggering toward the dryers. "Hey," he hissed toward me. "When you're ready to dry, use this one. It's a good, hot one."
I thanked him for his helpful advice and stepped outside to admire the evening.
|The air was very, very damp.|
|The Mayor and I discussed the weather briefly. We decided that there's nothing you can do about it. Because we are deep philosophers.|
Ten or thirty hours later, Kerri finally pulled into the parking lot and collected me. I bade a fond, tearful farewell to my new friends. The mayor welcomed me back any time. I thanked him and climbed into the van with our clean, rain-soaked laundry.
Back at the hotel, Kerri and I slipped out for a quick swim in the warm night rain. We bobbed along in the lazy river as the rain petered out and the sky gradually cleared. One star, and then another, peeked out and shone down on us as we gently floated around and around and around.