Day 17 & 18 Florida 2017

Yes. Rain. Since the kids arrived on Monday, we’ve had rain. Apparently the Floridian were desperate for it, as its not rained in a while, but that doesn’t help me, or the thousands of visitors arriving every day to “The Sunshine State”. Not the “Pissing down from Dawn til Dusk State”, but the Sunshine State.

Some of those visitors are the kids, Georgia and Sam, and Georgia’s mate Hannah, who came in on Monday. We’d gone to pick them up at the airport, with a top tip that we can park for free at the Alamo Car Rental place, as we’ve hired a car with them. Easier said than done…i ended up going into a taxi only lane, without a pass to open the barrier. Had to turn around. Then into the arrivals area, where there’s no parking, and eventually into a parking area, where there’s no spaces until you get up to the top level of the car park. And remember, its raining. And its a dollar for every 20 minutes.

We waited and waited in arrivals…turned out Sam had forgotten to fill in just one form. Just one form. As we waited, we later found out that Sam had been taken into a side room labelled “CIA – No One Returns”. That form, ladies and gentleman, thanks to a Sam oversight, cost $542. Its a form that lets the US Government know that you’ve not been convicted of espionage in the last 40 years. That’s why they pulled Sam to one side to check….he’s got Watt Tyler written all over him….

Eventually, after 2 hours of waiting, they appeared through the arrivals gate. And so, we’re all in Florida. Back to the car, and back to the house. Thanks to the delay, we were lucky enough to catch rush hour, and were able to sit in traffic for quite some time before getting there. Quick BBQ and our guests were soon flagging… not before a slight excursion to the local Wal-Mart, just to show Hannah the size of the place….

We’re back on drivers again, aren’t we? Yep. As we pull into the place, we’re faced with a football pitch size car park, and all the spaces will safely take a double decker, with room for a circus parade to pass down the side without brushing the mirrors. And yet, the woman in the Prius in front, insists on blocking the whole lane so she can get the space that’s close to the store, so she doesn’t have to walk an extra 10 foot. She’s sat there waiting for the car in front of her, who’s reversing lights are on, to reverse out of their space so she can have it. Even though there’s a space just a few yards past it. Still she waited. The car reversed, slowly, making sure it didn’t hit Canada, and after an age, drove off. The Prius stayed still, as if to prove a point that, even though she’d made me and the rest of Florida wait to get past, she needed to do her make up and text her mates before taking up her position. Eventually, she parked. Frustrated, I did the only thing that us Brits do in such a situation…I tutted loudly, and gave a short blast on my horn. “Oh well done! Now she’s going to find us and “key” our car'”. “Nik, she’s driving a Prius…if she does find our car she’ll key it with broccoli”. I parked the car, had a game of Monopoly, on line, and then went to the shop. She was still in her car…….

Tuesday was spend mooching really. Nothing exciting. A bit of shopping, the obligatory trip to Hooters, and back for a game of “Coopers Cards” (see previous blogs) and a few beers. Usual safe and relaxing day in Florida….

Yesterday, the ladies, complete with Wal-Mart coral patterned sun visors, went to Sea World, whilst me and Sam went to have a game of golf. Now, whatever your views about Sea World, its there. It exists. It’s in direct competition with the other parks in the area, Disney, Universal etc, and its been knocked and blasted left right and centre due to the treatment of it’s Orca’s. I’m on the fence….

Yes, I’m all for animal welfare, and i agree that cruelty to animals should be stopped. Doesn’t stop me eating chicken or beef, most of which is farmed for my food. Doesn’t stop me watching my Japanese TV, and remember Japan has the worst record for the killing of whales and dolphins. Doesn’t stop me wearing leather shoes….you get the idea. And yet one film produced and released by a proven animal activist seems to have brought Sea World to its knees. Yes, trainers have been injured and killed. Even one is too many, and there is an argument to say that keeping them is such small confines is cruel, and should be stopped. I agree. But no one mentions the immense conservation work they’re doing as an organisation. No one mentions the millions of dollars they donate to projects around the world helping to research nature and find out more about things we don’t understand. No one mentions that Disney has the worst manager – employee relationship in America, with the highest rate of depression in employees in business ever. Yet Sea World gets it. All because of one film. And because of the way we all want to be. Or all want to seem to be. What we want others to think we’re like. We’d all watch Blackfish and shed a tear, and argue that places like this should be shut down, as cruel prisons for poor innocent whales and dolphins. Yet, if Sea World released a film stating how positive their work is, how close the relationship between trainers and animals is, and how much work they are putting into the environment to make the world a better place, you’d dismiss it as crass propaganda. No, you’d dismiss it in your diesel truck, whilst at a drive through McDonalds, helping them serve their billionth burger, and wiping the ketchup off your chin with one of the 30 napkins they give you. All hail McDonalds, Disney, Chinese Steel and Coca Cola, but damn you Sea World….

It does, however, contain two of the three best roller coasters in central Florida, in Mako and Manta. (The other, undisputed best ride, I think you’ll agree, is Spiderman, even though Universal admitted that they did unnecessary research on spiders in order to get the ride just right)

Anyway, whilst they were there, me and our Sam were getting soaked to the skin on the golf course. I wasn’t going to leave though, as I’d paid $20 for my golf and cart, and, as it was so bad, we were the only ones on the course. Well, us and a few wild animals, cranes, turtles, and alligators. It was so wet I even saw a manatee on the 5th green….not sure its the safest place to be in a thunder and lightening storm: under a tree, holding a golf club, with metal shoe spikes earthing me……

I’m 50 tomorrow. Not sure I’ve spent a birthday at home since the crazy trip to Florida for my 40th, which seems like nearly 10 years ago now. Don’t feel any different. Perhaps a bit more retired. Not bothered about theme parks anymore….fast rides are a thing of the past. Quite happy just to relax and do nothing. Trouble is, people don’t see that. If i sit and do nothing, I’m seen as “being in a mood” or “Grumpy”. I’m not grumpy, I’m actually quite happy chillin’. I’m sitting here, writing my blog, which I’m aware is fast turning into a rant, drinking a vanilla coffee, watching the sunrise, by the pool, but being quiet. I’m not miserable, I’m actually really really happy.

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