The first item of note happened as I was packing for my trip Thursday morning. I found my Garmin 310xt dead. It wouldn't power on even after hitting all the magic reset buttons. I got on the phone with Garmin and they tried to troubleshoot it a while before they declared it a lost cause. Of course, it was no longer under warranty so they asked me to send it back and they would repair or replace it with a refurb for a more than nominal fee. The good news was that I restole the 305 that my daughter stole from me so I wasn't going to race naked. The bad news is that Garmin already had my credit card info on file. The rest of packing was uneventful.
The flight from Long Island to Tampa was less than stellar. The weather was bad with storms the whole way. The flight was delayed slightly on take off and took longer than expected since we had to "go around some of the bigger storms." There was an infant screaming a few rows behind me for most of the flight but kids can't help themselves in certain conditions especially if they aren't feeling right - the mother was mortified and I felt a little sorry for her having been in that place when my kids were younger. What really got under my skin, though, was a group of people of indeterminate age between 60 and 200 that yapped the whole time while climbing OVER the seats. I probably blew it when I offered to help them put their bags in the overhead to make them stop arguing: "you can't lift the luggage since you just had an operation." "yes, I can," "nooooo, can't," "yes, I can," "Myrtle (who was 4'10") you put it up there,"I can't either but don't let him," "blah, blah, blah," etc. I offered to do it for them hoping that they would stop. That didn't work as I got thank yous for 10 minutes since, you know, he had an operation. Then they kept yapping. They didn't shut up the whole trip rambling about nothing. Loudly. "Can you believe they give you a free magazine? Mine has the crossword filled out already. You should ask for another magazine. Oh, stewardess? Can I have another magazine? How about a bag of nuts? If you get nuts, I want nuts too....anyone else want more nuts?" I asked my wife to shoot me if I ever turned into one of those people. She didn't know what I meant because she spent the flight with my noise cancelling headphones on watching an ipad movie. She also realized that my tolerance prior to racing almost disappears and said that they weren't that bad. At the end of the flight one of my new buddies commented how great the flight was. I said nothing but somehow involuntarily rolled my eyes (hey, it happens). Then they attacked (as a pack of 6) asking why I didn't think the flight was great. I answered that the flight took off late, landed late, was rough, and was generally too loud. They thought a moment (thinking the loud was the kid screaming not them) and then said, "You are right. maybe it wasn't a great flight. Myrtle, it wasn't a great flight. Why did you think it was a great flight?" and went on to their next mindless topic as I tried to run away as quickly as possible to the rental car counter.
There wasn't a long line at the counter. We got to the car and found that I got the official vehicle for old people in the state of Florida: a Mercury Grand Marquis. My wife commented that she didn't think that made them any more. I wonder if the old buddies were upset that I got the last one or the rental clerk gave it to me as a favor since maybe I am starting to look like a geezer having turned 50 earlier this year. The feature that stood out to me was that this car had no center console so you can fit three people across the front. Really.
We left the airport and no cars were on the highway so we made good time from Tampa to St. Pete. When we got to the hotel, I unloaded the car and walked through the door seeing no line at the counter thinking that the tide was changing and this would be smooth. At that exact point, every fire alarm in the hotel went off. They started evacuating the hotel. The fire department showed up and I realized my car was parked right in front since I was still unloading. I moved it out into the street. No one could find a fire and after about 45 minutes of waiting they were finally able to check me in at 1:30AM.
The hotel offered to waive the parking fee of $12/day due to the inconvenience and I graciously accepted their offer. Originally I wanted to swim on Friday morning at the same time as my wave was expected to go off (7:13). Since it was now approaching 2am my wife and I decided to not set an alarm and sleep in. This was a wise choice.
Stay tuned for the next part!