We were back in the air, bound for Ft. Lauderdale by 13:02. The good news in all of this is we were still in first class. Our lunch was wonderful:
Curried beef with roti and dhal
Roll and butter
Bowl of fruit
We landed in Ft. Lauderdale at 16:36.
Leaving immigration and customs, we went to the Caribbean Airlines ticket counter. We asked for a voucher for a hotel room. We added that we were going to go to American Airlines and try to get out that evening to Colorado. The Caribbean Airlines agent suggested we try. If we were not successful, then the wheelchair attendant could return us to the Caribbean counter to get the voucher. We agreed to that proposal.
The wheelchair attendant took us to the American Airlines counter. Once there we found out the only flight available was to Colorado Springs, but it would cost us an additional $1,600. That proved to us that the best option was to return to the Caribbean counter to get a voucher. We waited for nearly 15 minutes for the wheelchair attendant to return. When we did not see him, we thought he might have abandoned us as an earlier attendant had done. We began to walk back when we finally saw him. He helped us back to the Caribbean counter.
We shared with him that the American Airlines agent said the cheapest way to travel to Colorado was through Miami. That meant we needed a different voucher from Caribbean, one that would take us to Miami by taxi, as well as providing a meal and a hotel room. We arrived at the Caribbean counter just as they were closing. One of the agents voided the earlier voucher and reissued one for Miami. We took that voucher and our luggage out to the taxi cue.
Our randomly selected taxi for the 40-minute drive to Miami was an older model Crown Victoria. I was skeptical that our luggage would fit. Leslie and I each had two large suitcases and a carry-on. The driver was able to get everything in the trunk except one of the large cases and one of the carry-ons. He stashed those in the right front seat.
When the driver got back in the taxi, we told him from the rear seat that we had a voucher from Caribbean Airlines to take us to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport and Convention Center. He did not seem very happy at that news. I could not tell if his sour attitude was due to the voucher or the fact that he was not exactly sure where the hotel was located. Regardless, an $80 ride later and we were at the hotel. Once our bags were unloaded, the driver took the voucher with the hotel address and left.
A porter came out of the hotel to gather our luggage as we made our way to the check-in counter. I told the receptionist we were there on a voucher from Caribbean Airlines. He took the two remaining coupons from me. He looked them over and remarked there was not a voucher for a hotel room; they were just the meal and transportation vouchers. That is when I discovered the driver had taken the wrong coupon. Of course, the taxi was nowhere in sight. The receptionist told us not to worry. He would call Caribbean and get the matter straightened out. While waiting, I thought about the rather unhappy taxi driver. I was confident he would be even less amused with his evening side trip when he found out he had the wrong voucher. I hope he did receive his fare.
It was approaching 20:00. Leslie stepped aside to call American Airlines while I continued to wait to check-in. Ultimately, the receptionist came back and said everything was OK. Once I had the key, I went up to the room with the luggage, leaving Leslie in the lobby on the phone. She was still on the phone when I returned. It was shortly after 21:00 when she achieved success in our quest to get home. Our new routing was to Colorado Springs via DFW.
We had a glass of wine, a late dinner, and then retired for the remainder of the night.
On the morning of July 2, as on so many of our travel days, we began early; as in 03:00. We boarded our Dallas-bound flight at 06:00 and we were in the air shortly before 07:00. A couple of hours later we were on the ground at the DFW airport. We only had about 45 minutes to make our connection to Colorado Springs. That turned out to be plenty of time for two reasons; first, the next gate was reasonably close to our arrival gate, and second, we had to wait for the delayed flight crew for our next flight. Once the flight crew arrived, we boarded without any further incident.
The aisle of the airplane.A little more than 90 minutes after boarding, we landed at the Colorado Springs Airport. Unfortunately, we sat on the taxiway for nearly 30 minutes, waiting to taxi to our gate. There was construction underway at the airport. Because of that, there was not a taxiway open to the terminal. We had to wait for other planes to land and takeoff. Once the runway was clear, we used the runway to taxi to the arrival gate. Our trip, door-to-door, was nearly 37 hours.
Today was Daytona day. We had an absolute blast in spite of the weather conditions. We arrived at the boardwalk area at about 09:40. It was somewhat overcast with a little bit of mist from time to time.
The first order of business was a restroom break followed by hot cocoa and coffee. While we were still drinking our hot drinks, we walked into the t-shirt shop that was next door. That gave us all an opportunity to stock up on tourist junk.
With our purchases in tow, we left the t-shirt shop and headed out onto the beach. The sand was amazingly compact. It is no wonder they used to race cars on the beach. We walked north along the beach for maybe 3/4 of a mile. Now and then, the ocean water would reach our feet. It was some frigid water. We were collecting shells as we walked; however, there did not seem to be as many shells on the Atlantic side as there were on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida.
It was at this point we all discussed the unique opportunities we had been afforded; dipping our toes in the Atlantic at Florida and dipping our toes on the other side of the Atlantic while we were in Spain.
We turned back to the south, continuing to look for shells as we walked. Hillary is planning to do something with them when she gets home. We continued under the pier that leads to Joe’s Crab Shack. It was in that vicinity we came across a man fishing. He was about mid-thigh deep in the ocean, casting out periodically. There was also an egret in that area looking for its next meal.
Another couple of hundred yards beyond the pier was the Ocean Deck Restaurant and Beach Club. We decided to stop in for lunch. The people at the t-shirt store we initially visited had recommended this restaurant. It turned out to be an enjoyable recommendation.
Leslie, Hillary and I all started with a Landshark beer. I had never heard of nor had one before. Served with a slice of lime, it reminded me of a Corona.
We began our lunch with a half-pound of Gulf shrimp. It had some Caribbean sauce in which it had been marinated and cooked, served with melted butter and regular cocktail sauce. It was the best tasting shrimp I have ever had.
Leslie ordered fish and chips, savoring every bite. Hillary ordered a mahi-mahi sandwich. She liked it so much she devoured it and was done eating well before any of us. Tyler ordered a Monte Cristo, his first-ever. He thought he had died and gone to heaven. He ate every single bite. I ordered a chicken breast sandwich marinated in a spicy Caribbean sauce. It had a little heat, but it was good. I am sure everything tasted better because we were sitting right at the beach. While we were there, the sun came out for a whopping 18 minutes.
When we left the beach, we headed to the Daytona International Speedway. I had always wanted to take a tour there. We opted for the well done and enjoyable 30-minute tour. We boarded a tram and visited several sites on the property, including the victory lane. For a family that has been watching NASCAR for decades, this was quite a treat. One of the speedway personnel there took our photo in victory lane. It was hard to believe my grandfather, Millard Clothier, had been racing in the Daytona area in the early 1950s.
Years ago I had taken a tour of Talladega Motor Speedway. During that tour, we got to ride one lap around the track. I remember the banking in the corners was amazingly steep. I was hoping for a similar experience at Daytona. Unfortunately the day we were there, some go-kart race was in progress. Regardless, the tour was fascinating.
At the end of the tour, we got to see Jimmy Johnson’s winning car from February 2013. Every driver that races at Daytona must sign an agreement that if they win, they must leave the winning car on display at the speedway for the next year. That can be particularly bittersweet for the drivers. They have a vehicle with which they have won on a superspeedway. The race the following weekend is at Talladega, another superspeedway. The drivers would like to take the winning vehicle to the next speedway in hopes of winning there too. Unfortunately, their agreement negates that possibility.
The body of Jimmy Johnson’s car was not in perfect condition! However, in the world of racing, that does not matter. The cosmetics of the vehicle could be easily reshaped, but the motor, chassis, etc. could be an up-and-coming competitor at the Talladega race.
After leaving that area of the tour, we were allowed to watch some of the race at the fence. It was near the end of one of the seating areas. We stood at the wall and watched the go-karts zipping by us. The tram driver had told us during the drive that the go-karts could reach speeds of up to 170 miles per hour. That is very fast for laying on one’s back and speeding around the track.
The drive back home on I-4 was a bit of a nightmare. When we got into the “amusement park area” of Orlando, the four westbound lanes became a parking lot. As the traffic was choking down, I asked Leslie for the rental car company map. I took a quick look and determined we could bypass most of the traffic by taking the next exit, the Florida Turnpike. We had already had quite a bit of experience with the toll booths on some of our other trips. The first exit off the turnpike, the one we needed to take to get back to the condo, had a sign that indicated it did not accept cash. I assumed that meant we could use a credit card. Unfortunately, there was no way to make a payment. The ramp was only for some pre-paid card. I can only hope we do not end up with some $200 love-note from Florida, thanking me for using their turnpike…
Even after all of the traveling tribulations, we made it home safely.
For our last day in Florida, December 30, we decided to hang out at the condo. We packed and lounged. Nothing inspiring happened.
Dinner found us at a nearby restaurant, Chuy’s Mexican Food. I started with a Pacifico beer. Our waitress served us some warm, paper-thin chips and salsa to go with our drinks. They reminded me of the chips we used to get at Papasitas in Dallas, Texas. I am sure part of the reason I was so enamored is because this is the first Mexican food restaurant I have eaten at in forever.
I ordered a combination platter. There was a taco, two chicken enchiladas, two cheese enchiladas, some rice, and beans. It was way off my diet, but it was sooo good! I did not leave a single scrap on my plate. The server told us all of their food is made fresh daily. That includes their salsa and their tortillas. I would go back!
On the morning of December 31, we all made our way to the airport to get our separate flights. Once Leslie and I got to Miami, we ended up at a restaurant in the food court overlooking the tarmac. We enjoyed our last U. S. meal before going home.
When we initially checked in at the Caribbean Airlines counter, they made a specific point that the plane would begin boarding at 14:00. We were at the gate 20 or 30-minutes prior. At 14:00 we could tell we were back on Caribbean time. The gate agents did not even appear until 14:30.
Our flight to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago was uneventful.
On our flight from Port of Spain to Georgetown, we once again lucked out. We did not have to get off of the plan in Port of Spain. We waited while the crew did some restocking and then boarded the new passengers.
We arrived in Guyana at about 21:30, some 15 minutes early. Unfortunately, our luggage did not come. We hope to be reunited with our bags tomorrow. That was quite frustrating, in part because of all of the souvenirs we had purchased.
At 23:00, we were home. We tried to get on the internet but discovered it was not working for some reason. That was just one more disappointment. Oh well.
At midnight it sounded like a war zone. Many of the people in our neighborhood lit and launched fireworks. Many of them were the types that shoot up into the sky, explode, and then shower colorful sparks. That activity continued for nearly one hour. Oh well.
We had a wonderful time today. We decided to drive to the small town of Anna Maria, Florida. We wanted to see my Aunt Karen and Uncle John. We were to meet them at The Sandbar Restaurant at noon. We arrived in town around 10:00. We did that on purpose so we would have a little bit of time to look around.
After we scouted out the location of the restaurant, we went back to the main street. We stopped in at Ginny’s & Jane E’s Bakery, Cafe & Gift Store. We went in for our obligatory cup of coffee. It was by far one of the most eclectic coffee shops I have been in ever. It was a coffee shop plopped in an antique store. There was hardly one inch of unoccupied space in the entire shop.
Since we were actually in Florida on one of our R&R trips from Georgetown, Guyana, we just had to buy a painting we saw that said, “Rest & Relax the Soul.” It seemed so appropriate.
Ginny’s and Jane E’s Bakery, Cafe & Gift Store was really hopping.
After our coffee and walking through the cafe, we went into a few other local gift shops.
When we were finished shopping, we went back to the Sandbar Restaurant parking lot. Since the restaurant was not yet open, we walked around the restaurant and out onto the beach. Our route took us between the restaurant and an event area. They were setting up for a wedding. Leslie and I thought it would be a beautiful place to get married.
Tyler and Hillary spent time wading in the Gulf of Mexico, searching for seashells. They said the water was very warm in comparison to the slightly gray, chilly day.
Out the west side of The Sandbar Restaurant is the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.
Close to noon, we met Aunt Karen and Uncle John in the restaurant. We had a wonderful lunch. I had blackened grouper soft-shell tacos; they were terrific! It was very nice to enjoy a Bloody Mary, a great lunch, and spend time catching up.
In the Gulf was a dredge. John told us they had been dredging for quite some time. They were pumping the sand to beaches to replace sand that had eroded after storms.
Looking out the window during our lunch, we noticed people setting up for another wedding. We also saw some of the wedding party arriving for photographs. That prompted us to tell Karen of the other wedding we had seen being set up on the other side of the restaurant. She said it is such a beautiful island that they frequently have weddings on the beach.
After lunch, we hopped back into our rental van and headed back to Kissimmee. The traffic was a little heavy, but we got back in about two hours.
Today Leslie, Hillary, Tyler and I decided to go to the Orlando Museum of Art. Once again, we had to battle traffic on I-4. Many of the locals refer to it as the I-4 parking lot.
When we finally made our destination, we were one of the first in the museum. Unfortunately, their policy does not allow the taking of any photographs in the galleries. Instead, I was able to find photos of some of my favorite pieces online.
In our opinion, the museum was not as good as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
The entry to the Orlando Museum of Art.
The museum did have a couple of pieces from our favorite glassblower, Dale Chihuly.