Take a moment for that to sink in. It was a phrase that I heard several times during the later part of our 10 day trip in Florida. We started out with our arrival in Orlando where we reunited with, “The Crib,” our 38 foot Motor Home. We spent two nights in Kissimmee then started south.
We don’t enjoy the Orlando area like most folks do. There were, many a day, when the kids were growing up, where we would arrive and hit the soccer field, gymnastics or dancing stadiums. Wide World of Sports Complex, knew us well, back in those days. We would always take in the rides and adventures of Disney, but now, we just like the flat paved sideways to run on and the many restaurants in the area.
The KOA campsite, there, is one of the finest, we have seen and it is within walking or biking distance of all that we needed. The people are friendly and the prices for just about everything were reasonable. The temperatures were pleasant and for Catherine there were plenty of pets to pet.
This was to be a very low key trip for us to relax and take in some more sun. Since we don’t have a home, we have to live somewhere, so this 10 day trip is just as good as any other. From Kissimmee, we headed for someplace I have never heard of but they have a nice KOA, so they say, so why not. That being Fort Pierce, Florida. It is located on the east coast and I referred to it as a sleepy little town. We did not see many youngsters out on their bikes or running along the roads, but they do have a bike night and Jazz and Blues night, in the historic part of town. We did not stay long enough for bike night, but the Jazz and Blues was a hoot.
Every Tuesday night, it is held in the old theater and when we arrived at 7:15 pm, they put the sold out sign up, right after we entered. Place probably held 200 folks and there was a section where the walkers were stored. The first half was innocent enough with an occasional joke between sets. The second half, after the raffle, was a brand new experience for me.
That was the open mic section, where a list of folks, from the audience, came up to join the band, in song, or would replace one of them. They played various instruments and the band member replaced would join the audience. They were mostly very good but, I must admit, it did crack me up to see some of them struggle, to make it to the stage, and then hit some great licks on the drums, organ, saxophone, etc. We did not stay for the end since it was getting late and we had rode our bikes the three miles from the KOA.
There was plenty to do to keep us busy during the day and some very nice restaurants that were full at 4pm, because of happy hour, in the nearby area. The Grocery store right next door, so all was good. There was also a very nice park we ran to and took a brake along the beach. Another day we rode our bikes to the beach and walked along watching the thrill seekers, on their sail boards, riding the wind churned waves. The wind would take them out and then assist them as they rode the waves back to shore. This is when Catherine, mentioned to me, if we ever settled down, she wanted to be near a beach.
There were some nice condos in the area and the Naval Seal museum was also near by. On our way back to the KOA we stopped at Sharky’s for a snack and beer. I had to try their world famous,Tony’s Clam Chowder, and it was worthy of the name just like Captain Tony’s saloon was in Key West. Obviously for different reasons.
5 days seemed to fly by and now it was time to put, “The Crib,” away for an undetermined amount of time. I use a site called sparespace.com and there you can find storage space for motorhomes or boats all over the country. They are all very secure, and usually a storage unit that has some adjacent land that they fill up to augment their income.
First we had to get a rental car so we could continue our trip further south and then west for the next 4 days. Next stop was West Palm beach for one night then it was across Alligator Alley for Bonita Springs.
I Had not spent any time in West Palm Beach before but had heard much about it. We had to have our picture taken by the Trump Tower but that picture is not meant to leave my camera roll. No politics here but survice it to say, I am not a HUGE fan of his. We ran to the center of town for dinner and drinks and walked the 3 miles back to the hotel since we did find a pretty nice Whiskey bar for the drinks part.
Only spent one night there but it is differently on my list to return. Not sure about prices for food since we acted like old folks and made sure we eat and drank during happy hour. I understand that this is a pretty pricey part of the country and it was reflected in the price of a typical Marriott Courtyard Hotel.
From there we crossed Alligator Alley for the west coast of Florida. It is highway 75 North but that section we were on actually goes west. The road is straight as an arrow but no Alligators were spotted this time across. There we met up with two of our new best friends, Bob and Barb. They winter in Bonita Springs and we met them on our Panama Canal Cruise back in December. This is where I learned the term, “we are suppose to be here.”
This came across as a very optimistic way of looking at things. Barb used it often and my first occasion was when we were looking for a parking space at the nearby outdoor concert. The place was packed but we did not have any problem finding a parking spot and she said, “We are suppose to be here.” Another time was when a parking spot opened up in front of the finest Grocery/Delicatessen in the world. I am not exaggerating. It had everything and I could live off their food for the rest of my life. If you did not feel like cooking, some items were already prepared and it even had an adjacent Italian Restaurant called De Romo’s Gourmet Market and Restaurant.
I took that phrase to heart in relationship to our various travels. In retrospect, this is what we are suppose to be doing. With all that is going on, in the world, you really can’t put off until tomorrow anymore. We both really enjoyed our visits to Brussels and Istanbul, last year, but now we would never return. We were suppose to be there, when we were there. This month I heard of the passing of two UPS pilots that were both my age. They put up the good fight with Cancer but neither of them won. I am sure they both had big plans for their retirements. Life is entirely too short so we are doing our best to do as much as we can in the undetermined time, we have left on this earth.
In my last blog, Please Share: Someone, you may know, with Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s, there I wrote about seeing as much of the world as we could. I strongly feel that each place we visit and experience it is as if we are suppose to be here or better still there.
We had a nice visit with them and the weather was perfect for the day out on their boat. Catherine fell in love with their dog, Coco. She was the calmest dog I had ever been around but strangely, would only lay down, on her terms. Usually when she was off by herself.
I decided that I enjoy being on boats but actually driving one is not my cup of tea. When the kids were younger we would go for long weekend trips, on house boats but thinking back, that was a lot of work. The rules of the water seemed a bit arbitrary. There are some but many folks just go from point A to B in a straight line and try not to hit someone while doing so.
I guess maybe it was my 37 years of flying airplanes that made it hard for me to grasp that concept. Yes, in many cases, we did the same but at the same time not following the rules usually does not turn out well.
Catherine’s daughter and family were also spending the week in Bonita Springs so this trip was well coordinated so we could spend time with them while they were there. A day at the beach was planned since the house they had rented was only a few miles away. Turns out there is an KOA right on the beach up near Fort Myers so we might have to bring, “The Crib” across the Alley to check it out.
The next day we were off for ATL to get ready for the next trip. This one was way out of the ordinary even by our standards. Two blogs ago I wrote about why someone would go to Tele Aviv to run a half marathon well we topped that. This time we were off to Mexico City to run another half marathon but this time it did not start until 6:30pm.
I must say I was very apprehensive about this race. The altitude of Mexico City is 7500 feet above sea level. They are not noted for their air quality and you throw in some humidity and that makes for a bad combination. This was a Rock and Roll series race and they usually put on great races.
I did have flash backs to when they did their first marathon in Phoenix, many years ago, and it did not go well. They could not get the roads closed so we had to wait about an hour to start the race. By then the temperatures were in the 80’s and I do not run well in heat. I just don’t sweat enough.
Turns out this was their first time doing Mexico City. I heard the first time they did Las Vegas at night it was a mess. People actually got lost on the course. We arrived 3 days before the race to help acclimate ourselves to the altitude. I have done overnights in cities that were 8 and 9 thousand feet and usually can’t sleep very well. Wake up gasping for air.
I had that problem the first night but no problems after that. We walked the 3 miles each way to the expo and at a pretty fast pace, it went well. The next day we took a tour of the Teotihuacan Pyramids which required a lot of steps to get to the top of the Sun Pyramid. It was an all day trip which required a lot of walking so I felt like we were ready for the Sunday night run. It is a must see tour. We had a little mishap when they could not find the bus driver but it was worth the 90 minute late start.
I really did not know what to expect. The day prior to our arrival they had a smog alert so I was watching the weather very closely. I will say it turned to be near perfect conditions. It could have been 5 degrees warmer but I was dressed appropriately and I rather be a bit cold than hot.
We started and finished at their horse race track and the infield was set up for a concert for the locals and the racers. They also had bands out on the course. It was strange to see fans out on the course paying more attention to the bands then to us going by. The even had food trucks/carts along the course, by the bands, in case the fans got hungry.
They did a perfect job routing the race. We were mostly on wide, well lit, streets and went by some of the most spectacular monuments and fountains. The down town skyscrapers were all lit up and got to see the majestic JW Marriott Hotel competing for views with the full moon.
The staff at the hotel make us feel like family. I will include my Trip Advisor review below.
You feel like family
We sold our house and have been Nomads since the end of 2014. We only stay at Marriott brand hotels when we stay in a hotel and The JW Marriott staff made us feel like family. The staff here are was so friendly and attentive. It started when we walked in the door and after 5 nights here we will hate to leave. David, the attendant at the Executive Lounge was the best. He made wine recommendations and saw after our every need.
We were sitting in the lobby for a few minutes and Mario Roemero, manager on duty, came up and asked if we needed anything. He gave us his card and told us if we ever needed anything to let him know. We got that same warm feeling from everyone we came in contact with at the hotel.
We came to town for the local Roll and Roll Half Marathon that was taking place the night of March 20th and after we arrived back at the hotel the staff had a table set up with fruit, water and gatorade with a sign saying Mission Accomplished. That was an extra special sight after running the race.
There is so much to see in Mexico City so we will have to come back and when we do we will be sure to stay at the JW Marriott, Mexico City.
The hotel was across the street from the cities major concert venue and the night before the race we noticed the place was set up for a red carpet event. We went to see what was going on and turns out they were having a premier of the Superman VS Batman movie. Ben Affleck and the rest of the cast got out their Limo’s to the cheering crowd and walked the red carpet to the viewing area. Next door to it was a military complex that had the largest flag I have every seen. Some estimates were that the pole itself was 500 feet tall.
Once again we started near the back of the pack and it came in handy the last 4 miles of the race. That part were on closed sections of the highway and by then people were walking up and down the long on ramps. There we were able to pass one after the other and get a get since of motivation from each of them. Two miles out you could see and hear the band off in the distance and the infield was packed.
We worked our way closer and closer, bit by bit, and near the end we ran right in front of the band and between them and the fans. The were screaming and singing to the music and gave us a great lift for the last 1/2 mile. We ran the back stretch of the race track on packed dirt and was able to have a very strong finish.
All said and done it was about the same time we typically do a half marathon in but I was amazed I never got into oxygen debt or get any cramps. We use the galloway method of running our races now. 3 minute run and 1 minute walk. We each wear a timer that vibrates at those intervals but this time I set them to 2:30 run and 1:30 walk to compensate for the altitude. I also set my watch 30 seconds per mile slower pace but that was not needed.
Our plan was to do a pub crawl back from the finish but it was now a bit too cold for that so we were able to catch a cab for the 2 mile trip back to the hotel. It actually was about 5 miles by cab since Mexico City has a strange traffic patterns, around the city. A lot of one way streets. It did not help that our cabbie did not speak any English and did not know where the JW marriott was or where the street it was on was located. That was a first, but I gave him turn by turn using my phone with hand signals.
Our final night we did get in our pub crawl and ended up putting in another 7 miles around town. This was another one of those times when we really were not ready to leave. The same thing happened when we were in Tele Aviv. The people here were so very friendly and actually went out of their way to help. When we left with our bags every staff member, at the hotel, stopped what they were doing to say goodbye.
The place is not perfect. It is the second largest city in the world and we only scratched the service of all there is to see. Glad we missed the smog alert. I understand they only allow vehicles with odd or even last number on their tags depending on the day of the week.
Everybody is trying to make a buck. I have never seen so many food carts on the side of the road, next to buildings and even being pushed or pedaled down the street. It was a bit depressing to see ladies on the side of the road with their kid or kids with a cup in their hand. We have seen this before in our travels and have found it helpful to keep a pocket full of change to hand out as we passed them. It seemed to help me mentally to feel that I was helping out.
Two things that were a bit usual was the bus and taxi system. They do have Uber but I chose not to use them. None of the taxis have meters and they seem to pull the fare out of thin air. I don’t feel that I was overcharged and in fact the price charged from the airport was a lot less than the hotel had listed as the usual fare. They are usually spot on. Also when catching a cab from the hotel a sedan would pull up to take us where we wanted to go.
When we checked out of the hotel I was asked if we needed a taxi to the airport and was offered to pay them a fixed fare, which I did. That was great since I always try to us up all the local currency so that helped me figure out what was needed for the trip back to the airport. Also there was a discount for cash.
Traffic can be bad in Mexico City but what they did for the busses, I had never seen before. They had lanes that were bus only and you could not get into those lanes due to barricades. So as the traffic was moving at a snails pace, they were using the middle lanes in either direction moving at normal speed. That means the doors were on the left and they only stopped at platforms that were 3 feet above ground level. Needles to say they were packed.
We are now starting our decent for MIA. Using American Airlines, for this trip, since we had $400 dollar vouchers each from us volunteering last year to take a later flight on them so the price of, Zero Dollars, was the perfect price for this trip. I got a survey from them about our trip outbound and the comment I made is that they do a good job but the employees don’t seem to have pride in working for them. Maybe they are still having some pains over the merger with USAIR.
The next two trips are domestic and no races are involved. The first is to Bloomington to celebrates Catherine’s grandson, Aaron, 5th birthday. The second one is a bachelor party for my middle child, Shawn. He is getting married in May so this should be fun. I will probably skip over those two events and pick this blog back up on our next three trips.
The first one to Playa del Carmen, for a week, which is just south of Cancun and then the Boston Marathon. I will explain how I managed to get into that at that time. As a celebration for completion of that marathon we are going to Acapulco for a week.
Life is the art of drawing without an eraser. — John W. Gardner
Only forward for us.