We went to work that day, and I met Terry at the Burbank Airport. We had a quick dinner in the airport restaurant, and went to the gate to wait for our flight:
The woman at the check-in counter gave me a momentary fright. My longtime readers will remember that Grinnell is actually my middle name; my full name, as it appears on my driver's license, is Charles Grinnell Almy. Well, this woman was telling me that the TSA might give me a problem, because my ticket said Grinnell Almy, and so didn't have the exact same name as my driver's license. But when we got to the security line, although the TSA agent did take a second look at my ID, she waved me through with no problem.
As we waited, we saw a young boy, maybe 12 years old or so, get off a flight, and apparently the person who was supposed to meet him hadn't shown up yet. The kid waited behind the desk while the airline people made an announcement over the PA system, but when we boarded our flight, he was still there waiting. I hope he got where he was going OK.
Although we were going to Florida, we had to get there via Seattle. That's right, Seattle - we were flying on Alaska Airlines, and that's their hub. On Alaska, you can't get from L.A. to Florida directly. So it was a long flight.
Remember how nice it used to be to fly? Remember how they used to pamper us, make us feel like we were special by paying our money to go on a "journey," as my sister-in-law Katherine says? Well, not any more! Sorry, but I had to go there! I just don't want people to forget the good old days! At any rate, on the way to Seattle, there was a woman who went on and on and on and on! Grinnell swears he couldn't hear what she was saying, but maybe it's my rehab mentality, I don't know. She was talking about her children, and how her husband had tried to take them away. Grinnell was busy with his crossword puzzles. Ah, what bliss it was to get off of that plane!
We had about an hour and a half layover in Seattle, so of course we looked for a place to take Trooper out. On previous trips, we've had to go outside to do this, and then of course go back through security to get back in. At the Seattle airport, though, we discovered that they have a dedicated dog relief room! It's a small room, with a bare floor, a trash barrel and a supply of pick up bags, and a big hose to hose down the floor periodically. Very cool.
They had the pee mats, but, of course, since Trooper is used to going on pavement, he avoided them! It's a great idea, but I was a little nervous, not wanting to step on the pee mats myself!
And then we caught a red-eye to Orlando. Now, on previous cross-country flights, I've always had trouble getting any sleep. This time, I finally got smart and bought one of those semi-circular travel pillows that curves around your neck and supports your head. It worked wonderfully. On a 5-1/2 hour flight, I managed to get over three good hours of sleep.
While preparing to leave, a man asked if his cane was in the way. Grinnell pointed out that "it was that kind of cane." I turned around and was rather sociable. He was a guy that started talking with another couple, the husband of which was also visually impaired. This guy got the royal treatment from the time he stepped on the plane until he got off. You know how it is with some people! Treated like royalty! "Sir, do you want this? Can I help you with that?" Me? I guess I look mean, or they thought my husband was going to help me with everything. Just to be sort of a pain, and a snot, I went to the bathroom myself, sans guide dog, or whatever. Unfortunately, I left my cane at home. But I was nice to him.
As we flew into Florida in the early morning, I was struck by how much of Florida is under water:
Florida is a very flat state - the highest point in the state is only 345 feet above sea level. And that high point is up at the northern end of the state - the southern part of the state is essentially one big swamp.
Our first stop was at Disney World - for breakfast. In addition to its theme parks, Disney World has several resort hotels, and one of them, the Polynesian resort, has a restaurant called the Kona Cafe, which features French toast stuffed with bananas. It's called Tonga Toast. Terry and I went there on our last trip to Florida, about 18 years ago, and enjoyed it very much. Since we were in the neighborhood, we grabbed this opportunity to go again. Here's a link to the recipe.
This trip was in three parts - two nights in Fort Lauderdale, the cruise, and two nights in Orlando. We chose to fly in to Orlando, even though we were going to Fort Lauderdale first, so we wouldn't have a long drive back to the airport when we were getting ready to leave. So after breakfast, we drove down to Fort Lauderdale. That is, I drove, while Terry napped. Let's take a look at where we were, courtesy of Google Maps:
We checked into our hotel - a Ramada Inn, clean and comfortable, but nothing special. It did have a nice pool and a tiki bar (those are ubiquitous in Florida):
I was also amused by a sign I saw at the back of the pool deck. You've probably seen this kind of sign before - a stack of arrows pointing in different directions, indicating the location of various things. Frequently, you see the arrows labelled with the names of world cities, and the mileages to those cities from your current location. This one just points out the locations of the hotel's amenities - except for one arrow with the name of a city on it:
Syracuse? Of all the cities of the world, why Syracuse? Mind you, I have nothing against Syracuse. I'm sure it's a wonderful place. And both of my parents went to school there. Still.... Syracuse?
We got cleaned up, rested a while, and went out for dinner. There's a restaurant called Legal Seafood, which has several locations on the east coast - we first encountered it in Boston. When we discovered that there was a location in Florida, not far from where we were staying, we decided to go there for dinner:
I recommend it - the food is delicious!
And then we went back to the hotel and went to bed. It had been a long day.