Monday 3rd October
It won’t be too shocking to you to hear that Louise didn’t really sleep too well. She was up most of the night and I rose at my now regular time of around 6am.
We watched a bit of TV for a while and then got up, got ready and finished packing. I nipped down to Fuel again and got some coffee and breakfast. I had some overnight oats which I suspect are one of those things that are portrayed as healthy but probably have more calories in them than a Christmas dinner.
I had a look at our hotel bill on our TV and it was completely unfathomable. I am a man of moderate intelligence but the endless litany of debits and credits just made no sense whatsoever. I was in no mood to be picking over it, so I just clicked “Checkout” and thought any issues could be dealt with later.
We were out of the room a whole five minutes before the 11am deadline. By the time we arrived in the lobby I had already realised that I had left our keycard in the room and now had no means by which to get us out of the car park. So I had to go to reception and tell them this tale that they no doubt hear about 112 times a day.
Once in the car with all the luggage, with my freshly issued key card between my lips, I was delighted to see the barrier just rise automatically making my ten-minute wait in the queue at reception all the more worthwhile.
Of course, we needed an extra case as we couldn’t fit everything into the two we came with, so our first stop was Premium Outlet Malls to find one. We quickly found the Samsonite shop and discovered that the Premium in Premium Outlet Malls stands for the prices. $199 lighter, we left with an unremarkable averagely-sized case. Again, shopping around for a cheaper option was not something either of us felt like doing today.
Back at the car, we shoved the extra stuff currently loose in our trunk/boot into the case.
Our pre-airport meal was to be another visit to the Nachos capital of the world, the Cheesecake Factory. On the way, I stopped to fill the car up and a real sign of the economic times saw a $50 pre-payment not fill the tank from just under half full.
The place was empty but it was barely noon on a Monday.
Having learned our lesson on the last visit, we were just going to have some Nachos today, and possibly a slither of cheesecake too. We would play it by ear!
Isn’t that a magnificent sight? These were again all kinds of awesome and we cleared the lot.
With our return to the UK now imminent and a good deal of upset and unpleasantness in our immediate future, we battled on and got some cheesecake down us.
Mine was called an Old Basque for reasons that escaped me.
Louise had the Banana Cream Pie one. Can anyone say that without hearing Fozzy’s voice?
It was 1.15 now and having failed to fill the tank up on the first attempt, I stopped again for fuel and put another $10 in. The needle still didn’t look to be all the way to the top but that would have to do.
There was nothing left to do now and no time left to do it, so we headed for the airport. We arrived at 1.40 and returned the car with no fuss in car return B. I remembered to drop off the toll pass thing in one of the bins provided and we now had a bit of an adventure getting to the very newly opened Terminal C.
There’s a sign for Terminal C which says you can take the monorail and it will take five minutes or you can walk there in twenty. Unless you are running sub-four-minute miles this is nonsense. It is bloody miles to Terminal C. Even when you get off the monorail there was an enormous trek up and down multiple levels to get to the check-in area. I’m sure all this will improve over time but it was a real faff.
We waited about twenty minutes for check-in to open and we were headed home in Business Class. Aer Lingus invited me to bid for an upgrade before we left the UK and I did, bidding the lowest amount they would permit and we got it. We endured a large family group with many children making a load of noise as we waited. They were those parents who speak to their kids in a way that makes it clear they want everyone around to hear, and know what fun parents they are and how “entertaining” their kids are. Many of the party had those entirely amusing pink Stetsons on that you may see on a Blackpool hen do. Sure, I can be a snob when I want to be.
My tolerance for other people’s kids can be low at the best of times. Right now, it was not abundant.
Anyway, soon enough a camp man with an impressive tan opened up our check-in and we got a glimpse into what it is like to travel like wealthy people. I liked it. He really looked after us. He had a passing resemblance to Emperor Ming (ask your elderly relatives).
Security was empty and we were through to the new terminal. Most of it, not quite open.
I got changed into UK clothing in a loo before we checked into the Business Class lounge. That too was a bit makeshift, but we got free drinks and some seats in a quieter area behind some curtains.
To top the trip off we’d been hearing from Rebecca that Freddie was in the hospital! So we chatted to her to get updates and crossed our fingers that by the time we landed all would be better. In the weeks to come, he would be back in the hospital to undergo a scheduled operation to remove his tonsils as they were the root cause of an endless stream of infections and illnesses. Touch wood, he has been fine since!
We boarded at 5.30.
There was fizzy stuff and juice as we sat down and overall the experience was a good one. The food was a clear step up from the economy stuff. We had a very acceptable bit of steak.
The seat was able to go all the way down pretty much but neither of us managed much sleep as it just wasn’t that comfy, but that is churlish as the comfort levels compared to these night flights in economy was obviously much better.
The flight went pretty quickly thanks to a tail-wind and I have no clue what happened next as my notes finish there.
To say this was an odd trip would be an understatement. It was the first time Louise and I had been on our own and I have to say I really enjoyed the more relaxed, easier to plan and decide what to do element of that. Of course, I also enjoy the large family group trips too. They each have their merits. It was also just nice to have time for just us two.
Clearly though the trip was over-shadowed by firstly the hurricane and the now, in the context of later events, seemingly inconsequential disruption that brought upon us. Throughout the trip, we had the over-arching worry at all times about Mary and her respite care and of course, the worst happened so close to the end of the trip. Having cared for her at home for nine months prior to the trip, it was heartbreaking to lose her whilst away for just two weeks.
We returned home to arrangement-making, putting affairs in order and generally sorting stuff out for Mary. We weren’t to know that within two months my Dad would pass too. He had been a long-time prostate cancer sufferer and the bloody thing got him after 13 years, helped by Covid and a fall that meant he had to have a hip operation. He never came out of the hospital following that operation and his decline was shockingly quick. We are all still trying to process what we’ve been through this year.
It was that rapid decline of my Dad added to Mary’s passing that inspired us to return to Florida so quickly after this trip. We were very much in a “F*ck it, we have to do it whilst we are young and fit enough” mood, driven by what we had seen with our respective parents.
So almost immediately after getting this trip written up, we go again, this time with Emily along for the ride(s). Hopefully, we can enjoy a less stressful trip with no weather disruption and without the concern around Mary’s care and condition on our minds.
If you’ve not had more than enough already, it’ll be here for you to endure soon enough.
Till the next time…..