One day not too long ago I was wasting time, looking at stuff on the internet. In that way it was a day not unlike today and many, many others... until I stumbled onto Virgin America's flight reservation page. My first thought was, "This was not the kind of 'virgin' I had in mind! Stupid interweb!" But seriously, folks, virgin is a funny name for an airline... Anyway, once there, I found that I could fly from San Francisco (SFO) to Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) for $212 total, tax included! This was an offer I could not refuse, so I called up the parents and the trip was set. Del Boca Vista, here I come!
I arrived to FLL safe, sound, and tired, but happy to see my mom and dad and happy to be whisked off to breakfast at their favorite local deli. We all ate well and then it was clearly nap time. I slept for a good 5 or 6 hours and when I woke up the first thing we had to do was take a hack saw to the legs of a table in order to make it 3 inches shorter and better for my mom (who is shor.. uh, petite) to sit at. My dad had been dying to saw and/or burn something with me since he found out I was coming.. we are dudes, this is what we do. Check him out in his Devil's Lake, ND souvenir t-shirt, hack-sawing to town!
When we weren't sawing stuff, we watched lots of Pawn Stars on TV, made rye bread, went to the gazebo on the water behind their community, and saw Avatar again... this time in full-on Imax 3-D, baby! Blew my parents' minds. Mom and I also went to the mall and it struck me that I wasn't sure if the mall or it's clientele were more dead. You see, the economy sucks and people in Florida are old. Funny!
After a few days we drove to Tampa, where the rest of the family lives. Along the way is 'Alligator Alley', a stretch of I-75 that goes east-west through the Everglades. My mom said she saw actual alligators beside the road.. Florida is kind of a strange place. My visit was a surprise to everyone in Tampa.. My aunt Arlie says she suspected I was coming, but I think we still got her pretty good. In Tampa I saw all my family, took some walks, had some dinners, and chomped on some see-gars with my Grandpa. He worked at Cuesta-Rey cigars for over 30 years and still smokes and/or chews on two cigars a day.. and he's 88, so something must be working. We also had a poker night.. and, you know, I am always up for a poker game! Below is the story of that night in pictures.. notice the high roller buy-in.
After I lost my shirt (about 75 cents) in poker it was time to drive back to South Florida. We all went to the beach one more time and then it was time to go before I knew it. I hadn't even gotten the chance to wreck a Cadillac or get the condo board to impeach my dad. Oh well, next time I'll bring a Wizard organizer and an astronaut pen and we'll stay on schedule. These are all Seinfeld references, in case you're lost. They make me laugh.
After saying goodbye to my parents I waited in the airport for boarding time.. and waited.. and waited.. and waited some more. My flight was delayed three hours due to inclement weather in SFO. So, to kill time, I had some sliders and a beer at the in-terminal Chili's. While I ate, a lady approached my table looking a little bewildered. She asked, "Is that a burger? 'Cause I don't want chili... They serve things besides chili?" I assured her it was indeed a burger and, yes, they actually serve lots of things besides chili - in fact, I don't know if they serve chili at all. She then asked how the burger tasted, "Is it as good as McDonald's?" she asked. "Even better," I said, actually lying twice in the space of two words. Oh Florida, I'll miss thee and thy wacky peoples.
I did bring back a taste of Florida to San Francisco, though.. A bag of fresh key limes. I was determined to make Danie and Jesse a key lime pie.. to the right is the result of my effort. Look at me, breaking out the pastry bag and the garnish.. fancy! It tasted as good as it looked (if I do say so myself) and it reminded me of home. Florida will always be in my genes.