Days 1-2 Florida


Oh what fun we had in Boynton Beach


Welcome to the first two days of our Florida vacation. If you are just looking for our cruise review of Solstice, please click the Solstice link in the menu bar above.

If, on the other hand, you want to follow along with the escapades of Jim, Kathleen, Bob, Judy, Mike and Carol (the original Martini Mates) then by all means read on.

After arriving in Orlando on Monday afternoon, we rented a car and set out on a short drive to our evening’s destination, Cape Canaveral. We had originally thought about driving all the way to Boynton Beach as soon as we got in but with stopping for dinner that would mean we would arrive at Mike and Carol’s right around midnight and with Mike working the next day, we thought better of that idea. Plus, there was a scheduled 9:35 Atlas rocket launch from the Cape and I was thrilled at the idea that I might be able to get pictures of it. Sadly, it later turned out that the shuttle launch originally scheduled for early in the first week of March had been pushed back and that meant that the Atlas launch had also been pushed back.

A note about the rental car process. We rented from Thrifty. They are off-site in Orlando. Not a big deal. What did tick me off though was that when I had originally made the reservation, there had been no destination charge. You are charged a destination charge when you do a one-way rental as we were to Orlando. There had not been a destination charge because we were dropping the car (a mini-van) in Fort Lauderdale during the cruise and then picking it back up and taking it back to Orlando. Due to a four hour change in our arrival time, I had to change the reservation. When I did (change it by four hours) they added in the destination charge of $100. That’s bait and switch to me and really ticked me off.

Another word of warning. On our return to Orlando a the end of the trip we needed to fill up the car before returning it. The gas stations throughout Florida were charging anywhere from $1.95 to $2.05 a gallon for regular. But the gas station across the street from the Thrifty and Hertz car rental return lots charges $4.00 a gallon. What an incredible rip off! Be warned.

My unhappiness with Thrifty was curbed a little by Camillo who took care of us in their Orlando location. He was extremely friendly, very helpful and when we got to our first van and discovered that it had a very small bench seat where Judy and Kathleen would be sitting a whole bunch, he flopped us into a better van with bucket seat-Captain’s Chairs in back. A much better situation.

The drive from Orlando to Canaveral takes about an hour and we had Garmin Nuvvi to get us there. That’s the name of the lovely lady in my GPS that I love and Bob has grown to hate. He is much less forgiving of her small foibles that I am. He really hates it when she recalculates.

Our hotel was the Radisson “Resort at the Port” which is aptly named as it is the closest hotel to the cruise port in Port Canaveral. We weren’t sailing out of there but we did get to see our first cruise ship of the season--always an event even it it was a NCL ship.

Here’s my quick take on the hotel. Might stay there again. Pluses included a decent bed (supposed to be a Sleep Number bed but it was broken), an excellent and moderately priced breakfast buffet and good service. On the downside, we were in a second floor unit and the hotel has no elevator. Not a big deal but the stairs are tiny and the bags were big as we did not want to leave anything overnight in the van. And when we first entered our room, it was pretty obvious that no one had been inside for awhile as it had a very musty, stale smell. Luckily the smell did dissipate and we got a good night’s sleep.

In Canaveral we were met by Bob’s brother Pete and his lovely bride Wanda. They live in Ontario but spend time each winter in South Carolina. Knowing we would be in Florida, they drove down to meet us. Kathleen and I really liked them (as we have loved every member of Bob and Judy’s family we have ever met) and we had a great time together. The first night they had already eaten so they walked with us to a neighboring Thai restaurant where we had an excellent meal then back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

Kathleen and I are ashamed to admit that we did not check the clock in the room to make sure it had been reset for daylight savings time (which had changed the previous Sunday morning) so we woke up at what we thought was 6:40 to meet the rest of the gang for breakfast at 8:00. After turning on the TV I remarked to Kathleen that the Today show must be on earlier in Florida as it was already well underway. Suddenly we both realized what had happened and that it was actually 7:50 and not 6:50. For us, who pride ourselves on our punctuality, this should have been an omen that we were going to have a very different kind of day. And this (on Tuesday morning) was also the last time we slept more than two hours consecutively until Wednesday night.

We had an excellent breakfast at the hotel. They have a nice buffet that features made-to-order omelets, Starbucks coffee and really, really good OJ. Then it was adios to Pete and Wanda (who would meet us in two days in Key West) and the start of our trek down Florida A1A to Boynton Beach. It was a beautiful day and we drove for about two hours and then stopped for a walk and a bathroom break at Sebastian Beach, a very pretty little beach and fishing area as well as a fishing museum. Really. Dead fish. Not.

After a half hour or so of photo ops (pelicans, dolphins, boats, fishermen, birds and more) we were back in the car to continue our drive south. Our next stop was lunch in a nice little cafe on the border of Sewell and Stuart, Florida.

After lunch we were back  on the road through the lovely homes of Palm Beach, West Palm Beach and finally to Boynton Beach and the home of our friends, Mike and Carol. Carol was there to greet us and get us settled. Mike arrived from work an hour or so later and Carol started prepping what looked to be an outstanding Tex-Mex meal to celebrate Judy’s birthday. We (everyone but Carol who was making dinner) were sitting on the patio when we heard Carol call for Mike and a few minutes later for me. Seems she had cut her finger on a can lid and wanted Mike to assist her medically and me to assist in the culinary department. After our nurse Judy assessed Carol’s finger, a trip to the Urgent Care facility was indicated. Two hours and two stitches later dinner was served with a lovely birthday cake to follow. And even though we had to wait, a great time was had by all. We all retired for bed around 10:30 assuming that next day we would be off to Key West.

But the night was to be much more eventful than expected. Kathleen and I were sleeping in the front bedroom that looks out onto the street and at about 1:30 am we heard a car stop. It woke me so I looked out the window and was surprised to see paramedics in an ambulance. Our first thought (once I woke Kathleen) was that an elder neighbor of Mike and Carol’s was ill. But then we heard Mike’s voice directing them inside. We then guessed that maybe Carol had had a reaction to the medication they had given her for her finger but that was not the case. When we got dressed and got into the living room we found that it was the healthiest nut amongst us, the birthday girl herself, Judy  who we later learned had woken with a racing pulse and irregular heart beat and what would later develop into quite a rash on her arms. Not knowing what it was, we were off to the emergency room with Bob going with Judy in the ambulance and Mike following in his car and Kathleen and I in the van.

Judy was treated and it was eventually decided she was having an allergic reaction to something. I sent MIke and Kathleen back to the house (as Mike had to work the next day and Kathleen needs her sleep) and I waited with Bob until they released Judy about 5:30 am. They dropped me back at Mike and Carol’s and not wanting to take a chance that she was allergic to their cats, they found a hotel for the rest of their stay. So around 6:00 am on March 18, I finally fell into bed and concluded a very long first day of vacation.

Click here to read about our trip to Key West.


Pertinent Info:
Day 1-2