Tonight we spend another night in Homestead, Florida. Frank’s new hubs have been ordered from Sportsmobile. They are slated for arrival tomorrow morning, at which time Armstrong Ford will move like lightening to get them installed and get us out of here. We’ve become like family and just like family sometimes can be, they’ll be glad to see us leave.
We’ve spent the last two nights shuttling between our hotel room at the Floridian and the Starbucks across the street. Though not luxurious with its orange and green tropical motif, the Floridian has all the required attributes for a hotel: stone’s throw from a Starbucks, easy walking distance to groceries, fridge in the room, kitty corner to the Ford shop, and cheap. After bleeding money for 2 weeks, cheap is very welcome.
We’re ready to head south. Tomorrow the temperatures continue their slow creep towards 70 degrees. It’s not a moment too soon. This morning I went to turn on the heat in the room.
“What’s that smell?” Tim asked.
A trickle of smoke came out of the heater as 5 years of unburned dust smoldered in the rarely used unit. The trickle built momentum. We decided that though it was probably fine – just some dust – we didn’t have a fire extinguisher if things got out of hand, so we better turn it off.
Instead we continue our southern Florida experience in sweatshirts and jeans, hoping for some good news tomorrow. I see our luck turning!
Tonight on our last night in South Beach, we reflect on the moments of this unusual but hilarious, chilly vacation. Frank’s still in the shop and in the meantime we’ve traveled to South Beach Miami in a UHaul Cargo van for an unexpected 4 day detour from our stay in the Keys. We all packed for traditional Southern Florida weather, so this week was all about adaptability as the temperature plunged to damp 30’s at night and brisk 50’s – 60’s during the day.
Here we share our highlights:
Steelers Win! And what a game it was. The pregame tailgate was about 65% Steeler fans and their momentum carried the team. Other than Green Bay, I am not sure you will ever see such a loyal fan base. Even die-hard Miami fans had never seen their stadium taken over like they did on Sunday.
Delano Hotel. Just 6 blocks down from our humble Carlton, towers the Delano, Madonna’s inspired South Beach icon. We’ve all been to nice properties, but as Keri and I walked through filmy curtains to elbow out Georgio Armani models to get our 7$ Coronas at the bar, this was very very different.
Beach Paths and Palm Trees. Even as Arctic winds blazed across the sand, the beauty of this place shines through. Tim and Jimmie were disappointed that the famed bathing bikini beauties stayed inside, but there was no doubt that the beaches, architecture and physiques of South Beach are incredible.
Avatar in 3D. Okay, this isn’t a Miami exclusive experience, but what an experience that movie is. We donned our snazzy 3D glasses and sat back for the best use of a half billion dollars since the Bear Stearns bailout. Obama only wishes his money went so far. We all went to bed exhausted after feeling like we’d run miles through Pandora’s jungles.
Tomorrow, we’ll sadly drop Jimmie and Keri at the Miami Airport and then return to Homestead where Frank sits waiting for his new hubs. Hopefully Friday we’ll be on the road again, we’ve had a great time in South Beach, but it will be good to be reunited with our home once more.
Since the Ball dropped on America, our lives have become more and more surreal.
After our Black Eyed Pea Breakfast, we packed up and went to the beach. The weather report called for rain, but the sun was sparkling and the temperature in the 70’s. It was cool for the locals but just right for us thick blooded Rocky Mountain folk.
We spent the entire afternoon with good music and sunshine, watching the kite boarders off in the distance. Clouds rolled in at about 3 so we went back to camp for showers. By the time we’d pulled in, the sprinkles began. 15 minutes later we were drenched with rain. Tim and I took shelter in our tent as the water pooled up around the sides. The deluge ended about an hour later and we emerged to a beautiful sunset. We cleaned ourselves up and cabbed back to town for fish sandwiches at BO’s Fish Wagon and hilarious entertainment at Captain Tony’s, Florida’s oldest Bar. Here Buffett got his start. Hemingway, John Kennedy, and Pacino have all graced its dingy doors. It’s a mecca to not be missed.
Saturday morning Tim and I woke up early with a plan. Today we hoped to pick up fixed Frank in Homestead and then find a place to give Jimmie and Keri their surprise Christmas present. We packed up camp, visited the US’s Southernmost Point and were on the road by 9 heading to Miami.
After traffic jams all the way up the Keys, we arrived back to Armstrong Ford. Frank’s hubs were getting remachined and were on the way back to dealer as we arrived. Time was ticking. The rental car had to be returned by 3 if Frank was going to be ready. But if the hubs didn’t work, we had to keep the car through the weekend. It was 2:45 pm when the hubs arrived. All the mechanics gathered around to look at the work and agreed these were going to work. Tim hopped in the car and returned the car to Enterprise just as Enterprise closed up for the weekend. Keri and I went to the grocery store to restock our supplies for Frank.
As we stood in line for the checkout, I noticed my phone had 8 messages. DON’T BUY ANYTHING, Jimmie Shell said. The hubs didn’t work. The bolts were slightly offset and Frank’s wheels still didn’t fit. Now we had no place to stay, no car, and nobody in Homestead was open.
We needed a little morale lift for the troops so Tim unveiled Jimmie and Keri’s Christmas present. We had 4 tickets for Sunday’s Steelers/Miami game at Landshark Stadium. We had to get north.
It was time to get even craftier. With no rental car places open on Saturday, we took the next best thing. A UHaul Cargo Van. We loaded up everything we’d need for a tailgate and made a reservation for South Beach Miami and got on the road.
South Beach on a Saturday is rocking. After checking into the Carlton Hotel, we hit the streets to explore. We settled into a pizzeria on the corner of Empasado and Washington and people watched, ate delicious thin crust pizzas and toasted to Frank’s substitute and good friends.
Despite our plans being turned upside down, our Florida posse has bounced back. Now we sit in the parking lot of Landshark Stadium with our $19.95 a day UHaul cargo van celebrating the Steelers. We’ll need more New Year’s luck for Frank on Monday, but today we are enjoying a beautiful day in Miami!