Exploring the World

Gail and I love to travel. We love to explore new places, new cultures, new environments. Our travel to-do list is so long we probably won’t have time to visit all the places we want to see. But it won’t be for lack of trying. We have friends in almost every region in the US. Alaska, Michigan, Utah, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, New York, New Mexico, and Montana, among others. Our international list includes  several places in Europe, South and Central America, Asia, Australia, and Africa. Did I miss any? Oh yes, Antarctica. I wouldn’t even mind going there. Usually when you travel things don’t go exactly as planned, sometimes by no fault of your own, or on the other hand, it can be ALL your fault. Sometimes you have to come home and sleep in your own bed for a few nights before you can appreciate the madness you experienced a few days earlier. If you think I’m leading up to something, you’re right. I’ll tell you a little story. When we left Seattle to go on a cruise, we flew to Ft. Lauderdale. We arrived in Florida on Saturday evening, a day before our cruise left, on Sunday. I reserved a hotel for the night, so we could have more time to get to the cruise port (which is in Miami) in the morning, instead of trying to get there on the same day we flew in. So we caught a cab at the airport (the first time I’ve ever paid for a cab, and only the second time ever setting foot in one) and had him drive us to our hotel. Fifteen minutes, 8 miles, and $25 later, we got to the hotel. We grabbed our bags, 2 for Gail and 1 for me, and, after being buzzed into the lobby, went inside. The guy at the desk asked for my confirmation number. I gave it to him. He tells me my reservation isn’t until next week. Dear Jim. I got our two hotels mixed up. Now it’s 9 pm, and we need to be 25 miles south in Miami. I have no idea what to do. The hotel guy suggests the bus. So we walk outside and down the block to a bus stop. I ask a man sitting on the bus stop bench if we could get to Miami by taking the bus on this route. He doesn’t know. So when the bus pulls up, I poke my head inside and ask the driver if we can get to Miami on his bus. He tries explaining to us, while in the meantime, 30 passengers stare at us like we’re albino giraffes wearing turtlenecks. Finally he tells us to take the #10 bus behind him to the transfer station. So we get on the next bus. Gail finds a seat among all of the fine patrons of the Ft. Lauderdale metro bus, while I take 20 minutes asking the driver how much the fare is ($1.25), if I can use a credit card (no), if I get change back (no), and how the heck are we going to get to Miami (I’m getting there, be patient). I pull out a few dollar bills from the pocket on my backpack, proceeding to drop $40 on the bus floor. I’m telling you, I could feel 30 sets of eyes on me, 29 of them with some degree of evil intentions behind them. Look, Jimmy, a idiota tooreest carring muney. I put the money back in my pocket and sit down. I get out my phone to look at a map. Apparently, I found out later, when I took my phone out of my pocket, my $40 fell out too. We rode the bus to the transfer station, and the driver got off and explained to us how we could get to Miami. At this point, the wind was blowing a torrential rain sideways into the transfer station and getting us wet, and the sky was shattered with constant lightning and thunder. At least it wasn’t cold. Finally we hopped another bus that would take us to a commuter train station, which would take us to Miami International Airport. So after the bus ride to the train station, we went to buy tickets for the train. I had no idea what I needed to buy, so I asked a couple sitting in the corner next to the vending machines. Luckily, the girl knew exactly what to do, and helped buy our tickets ($20). The couple was very friendly, and we chatted with them for 10 minutes before the girl had to leave. I checked the train schedule and there was one more train for the night coming in an hour and a half at 10:06 pm. During the process of waiting for the train and trying to figure out our next step, we noticed another young couple wandering around the platform and we eventually started talking with them. It turns out their night was about like ours. The got a flat tire in a rental car, then got a speeding ticket, and somehow ended up at the train station with us. The train finally came, and all four of us got on. An hour later, we arrived at our stop (the last one on the line), hopped on an airport shuttle bus, and rode to the airport. Finally, we caught another cab, this time to the correct hotel. As we’re en route, I’m watching our route on my phone, noticing our driver is taking the scenic route. What the heck, why not…This cab ride was $35. So after 2 cabs, 4 buses, a train and about a hundred bucks, we flopped into our hotel room at midnight. Attempts at humor fell flat that night, but we’re able to laugh about it now…

Soooo…where to next?


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