03 June 2010

First half of Florida Vacation


- Headed out at o'dark thirty for the wilds of Mississippi

- Stopped at several places along the way, checking the girls regularly, they seem to be settling quickly

- stopped for subway at New Iberia, friendly people and adequately staffed ... Regular huge lunchtime crowd

- BH walked the girls and we drew a small crowd, I always forget how much attention the girls garner

- reached Biloxi fairly early and checked into the La Quinta on  957 Cedar Lake Road, fairly clean but on the third floor and right next to the elevator; walk down stairs to back area and poop pick up area ... the exterior door does not have a lock ... is not that illegal?  Calling all criminals and homeless entities, freebies at La Quinta.

- on the ride down, some lady is on the elevator and immediately leans forward to pet Delta, she's surprised when she gets barked at; both girls are huddled next to Bill and "obviously" uncomfortable ... when a dog is scared, ignore it and leave it alone

- eat at Grains of Montana pizzeria, delicious pizza AND fresh smoothies that don't come premixed AND a lovely dog patio (probably an exterior dining establishment to most, a dog hangout to those of us with furkids).  The girls were very well behaved.

- another o'dark thirty departure ... crappy La Quinta breakfast.  At least the girls got an egg and a strip of bacon.

- I ate leftover pizza, mm tastey

- more stops with the girls

- reach "Si Como No" on Flagler Beach later in day, right on A1A

- The girls say, "Oh my goodness, there are other dogs here!  I'm going to bark and snap because they scare me!"  "Arf, arf, arf, go away, I do not want to be friends because I am a brat!"  And that is the extent of friend making the girls have deigned to pursue.

- Luckily the house dog, EuBear, is a great big lovable fellow who does not take the girls' antics to heart.  Whew.

- Si Como No is a perfect vacation spot for us.  We walked around the property and down to the beach where we terrified the girls with the biggest bathtub they have ever seen!

- South of St. Augustine and north of Daytona, Flagler is a sleepy tourist destination at most.  There seem to be a lot of transplanted locals which makes for a more laid back atmosphere.

- Dinner was pizza at the local Carmine Celery pizza shop.  Awesome shop with doggy seating outside.  Great crust.  Okay, so the chef overshot the halfway point with cheese by about an inch.  It was still a huge pizza with plenty of leftovers.  The girls liked it too.

- Back to our room for a walk along the beach at late dusk.  No wonder beach babes have such sculpted back sides, it really is like walking on quicksand, every step took us back halfway.  I was exhausted after a quarter mile.  The girls did much better. 

- The beach is not a soft sandy beach.  The shells that make up the beach have not been pulverized to that point.  So you do have to take some care along the beach, though even my thin skin got away without any damage.  It was much easier to walk barefoot than Keened.  (The KEENs that began self restricting before the trip.  The soles began coming off my flipflops.  Bill glued them for me, and they are fine.   They have been in fresh water a dozen times, but most of their life has been spent in the bottom of my closet.  I am not impressed with the quality of their glue.) 

- Back to the room for a shower and a last outside break for the girls.  I swear I will not sleep because the fridge is a little noisy and the road noise is very obvious through the open windows.  Oblivion within 30 minutes of head hitting pillow.  :)

- All humans and pups slept through the night.

- Awaken to a beautiful day and clear skies.  We spend all day sacked out in and around the room.  It is still comfortable in the room with the windows open.

- Granola and an apple for breakfast.

- Pizza and a banana for lunch.  While settled on the porch with lunch a thirsty little lizard joins us.  He/she comes to drink the condensation from the cup of fruitjuice.  Unfortunately we spooked him away with the camera so I do not know if we got any decent pics.

- Wile away the hours sleeping, watching TV, and playing on the iPad.

-  I go out to chat with our host Marti, and she is busy enough that settling our account would be better tomorrow.  And since she does not need our room for tomorrow, we are welcome to stay as late as we want.  When is the last time you heard that!

- Dinner once again at Carmine Celery, where the noisy individuals and smokers drive us away from the little outdoors dining establishment.

- Flagler beaches are pretty steep.  A great running workout for the girls and me.  It is so nice and quiet with the sound of the surf.

- Our duplex neighbor has two Collies, one is a Husky mix and the other is full blood.  They are very sweet and easy going.  Why aren't your girls as excited to see us as we are to see them?  "Sorry pups, I'm a bad dog mom."  Time to figure this dog park stuff out.

-  Our eastern neighbors are having party in the tiki hut outside.  I think the alcohol is getting a little loud, but they do knock off sometime around 10:30 pm.

- Sleep in to 7:30.

- Granola and banana for breakfast.

- Talk to our Collie buddy as we prep for departure.

- Left over pizza for lunch.

- Check out around noon and take A1A south.

Good Points about SCN
- Location, cross the road to the coarse sand beach.
- Room set up is fairly efficient with a microwave and a refrigerator.
- Awesome porch area.  Great for relaxing and eating.  We spent one entire afternoon here.
- Very relaxed atmosphere.  You are not bothered by housekeeping.

Bad points about SCN
- Very relaxed atmosphere.  If we had a question we needed to ask it when the proprietor/ess were around.
- They do not have up to date knowledge of the area.  A recommended restaurant had gone through two owner and name changes.  This could be due to their impending retirement and concentration on a big move and financial environment, etc.
-A lot of visitors do not leash their dogs, which is only a problem when their dogs feel free to wander up to your aggressive dog.
- There are no compact fluorescent lights in the room, and many of the incandescent lights are unscrewed.  Bill says he did this in his old condo all the time.  The lights were far too bright.

- Daytona looks like a nightmare of tourists and condos, yuck.  There are also a lot of "No Dog" signs at the beach stairs in Daytona.

- Florida is not very dog friendly.  Considering that it probably has more coastline and beaches that any other state in the contiguous US, I find this surprising.  Apparently they do not need the extra dollars that dog owners would bring on vacation with them.

- We pass a swamp boat/air boat on hwy 1.  Males vs. Females: Bill, "How many cylinders were on that thing?  Three or six?"  Kira, "I do not know. I was paying attention to the seating arrangement.  Seats three, there is a bench for two in front and a tall single in the middle."

It catches up a bit later and Bill confirms six cylinders in a boxer/helicopter engine arrangement.

- Bill goes in to get our Oceanside room, and I'm prepping for a nasty smoke filled habitat that you would not make that horrid relative of yours sleep in.  But wouldn't you know it has a lovely view with no discernible scent and the area is spacious.

- The girls still can not get settled in the elevator, ten stories is a long ride for them.

- Panera for dinner.  While they have doggy seating in front, Bill wants to eat in our private dinning retreat, complete with oceanview.  I give in, after all, how often will we find ourselves in a room such as this? 

- We wander the area with the girls and check out the pool and surrounding land.  Girls are getting a lot of attention and some guy that I will assume was very drunk stopped me and would not break off.  "No I'm not surprised there is greyhound racing nearby, but I do not particularly approve of the industry anyway.  So I really do not have anything constructive to say to the light in your eyes because you have another gambling option."  Ick!

-  My evening shower reveals a sun rash on my upper chest.  It is itchy and keeps me from sleeping well.

- Wake up late after finally having fallen back to sleep.  Bill has taken care of the girls all morning while I snoozed away.

- Chest still itchy.  Better stay away from rays today.

-  Need to email my Melbourne buddy and tell her I'm a stones throw away from Melbourne Beach in Melbourne ... Florida.

- Lunch is Panera sandwiches from yesterday and then off for the great snorkel search.  See we have equipment from ... well ... I guess Hawaii was about fourteen years ago.  So my fins disintegrated in the meantime, as did Bill's mask and booties.  We needed to update some of our equipment.

So we visit Sea Scuba, with is apparently run by an old curmudgeon.  The man yanked a mask out of Bill's hands and Bill decided that would not be the place to buy.

On to Dixie Dive, nice place, with neato equipment.  The prices seem reasonable and they have a mask and fins that Bill likes. 

On to Hatts Dive Shop where they carry an equipment list similar to Sea Scuba (and better prices, by the way).  But it just is not quite the quality and ambiance that Bill is looking for.  Back to Dixie Dive.

I am now the proud new owner of a pair of Tusa fins and Bill has a new mask by Aqua Lung and we both have new snorkels ... our old ones are not dead, but it would make snorkeling difficult should they break down during the Keys portion of our trip.

- Dinner was planned for a local vegan restaurant I found on happycow website, alas they are not open on Sundays or Mondays.  Hence a second venue needed to be chosen and a quick search unearthed Banzai Sushi & Thai Restaurant.

BSTR is delicious.  I got a veggie sushi dinner and Bill got a cornucopia of sushi sides, including octopus ... I really enjoyed octopus sushi back when I ate meat.  I did not drool while watching Bill devour his arm bits, but I may have sighed in reminiscence.

We got Banzai take out and ate in our private ocean view dining room.  I'll take back all the snarky comments I have made to Bill about the sushi and (fill in the Asian food of your choice here) fusion restaurants we've passed over the last couple of days.  Banzai was a great meal and the owners were very helpful and knowledgeable.

- We have had rain all day, from drizzle to downpours (difficult to drive in) and they gave us a wonderful surprise after dinner ... a complete rainbow visible from our balcony.  I got completely inadequate pictures off the railing.  Beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

- Take our new toys, ahem equipment, down to the pool to test them out ... all are go.  
-  Guess it is not snorkel problems after all.  I've never learned how to properly clear a snorkel after a dive.  I've sucked in a bunch of sea water, and pool water for that matter, into my lungs.  Makes it kinda hard to breath.

Bill keeps telling me that I will figure it out.  But he always says that ...

Maybe he is right though.  Rise to the surface, blow really hard, and hope your inhale is dry.  It is working so far.        

- Up for packing. 

- Take everything to the truck.

- When we return to our room, the door is open, even though a "do not disturb" sign is hanging from the handle.  This door is heavy and slams shut when wide open.  But it catches on the metal plate if shut slowly.  I have had to pull it shut after the dogs go out. 

I am unhappy housekeeping broke the sanctity of our room.  I realize people leave the sign behind, but we had not even turned in our keys yet.  Additionally, leaving the door open was incredibly foolish.  Anyone could have walked in and stolen what we had yet to take to the truck.  We were eager to be on our way after that experience.

Good points of hotel:
- Great view
- Plenty of towels
- Nice room
- There really are not a lot of set dog rules.

Bad points of hotel
- There really are not a lot of set dog rules.  Do not go into food and drink areas.  That is about it.  What about the bar in the pool area?  What about the loungers in the pool area?  We went around and on both and no one called foul.  But maybe that is the point.  If you are responsible with your dogs, they can go anywhere.  If you are not responsible, the management can kick you out.
- No fridge or microwave.
- Need to clean and fix up the external hotel, it is a bit of a criminal attractant at the moment.
- They need to stop feeding feral cats on the property.  I wonder how much damage those cats do to turtles?
- They have no signage that tells dog owners the beach is off limits to dogs.  We knew because we did a lot of research, but I bet most people do not know that Brevard County fines you $500 per incident ... if you are caught.  We saw a lot of unleashed dogs on the beach.
- The in room lighting is incredibly low level.  There simply was not enough light to apply makeup, even in the living room with exterior light coming on through sliding glass doors.
- Poorly operating door to rooms.  Dangerous if let go at apex of swing due slamming shut from weight, and unable to close without assistance if closed from a short swing.
- Hilton talks about the lovely amenities they will have waiting for your pup.  There are none. 
- The hotel computer printout is way off and Bill addresses the situation before checkout.  They fix it and we take one last stroll through the compound before heading off "the Keys way".  Several days later, I check the credit card bill.  They have charged all those removed bill charges, again, to our credit card without approval and after we took care of this issue the first time!  Grrr.  Another long phone call to Hilton where it us not their fault.  It is the "computer's" fault.  Does this mean the extra charges are going to show up a third time?

- Head out and pick up flea repellent from Indialantic Emergency Vet, nice guy.  Especially since I left all flea meds at home.  And found three fleas on Skyla yesterday.

- We attempt to stop at Walton Rocks Beach, which is an off leash dog park, but the GPS cannot find the address and the phone cannot pull up directions.  Needless to say, we never found it.

We finally stop at another park (right across the street from a park that does not even allow dogs) where we snack a bit and coax the girls into drinking some water. 

- At one of the turnpike stops, there is a sensor activated stream of water for windshield cleaning.  Every love bug in Florida is swarming right now, and vehicles and most especially windshields are covered in bug bits.

They are even coming into the car on humans and animals.  Bill had trouble getting rid of one group, he finally handed them to me and said, "Please send this couple on their way."

-  Bill is starting to grumble about food, so I start mentioning names as we approach, it is do much easier for a passenger to pick up things than a driver.  He ignores me.

-  We are nearing Homestead, the last major city before the long drive to the Keys, and Bill requests that I find a specific gas station.  So I set the GPS unit humming.  And I direct him to the closest station I can find.  Which ends up being behind us a bit.  However, we miss the right turn off and the GPS reroutes us through busiest part of town and all the munchkins being released from their school jails.  "Freedom, freedom, free at last!"

And the station is closed and Bill is irritated.  Saying he ran into the very same thing in Michigan.  Old data.

He also says this detour has not been worth it. 

Well, by this time I'm tired of being ignored and stop mentioning chain stores as we pass. 

We stop at the "wrong" station to buy gasoline and head out to the Keys.  Bill turns to me and says, " How can you not be starving?  When you are hungry you throw a fit!". And he is right.  I get really headachy ... or at least I used to when my blood sugar fell too far. 

I turned to him and said, "I ate dates at the stop and I had a chocolate nut bar back in the car."

To which Bill replies, "You are married to a nut bar!"

And I continue, "Furthermore, I have mentioned chain after chain of restaurants and you have ignored everything I said.  So I do not know what you want!"

"I was hoping for a Quizno's," Bill turns great big puppy dog eyes to me.

Argggg.  We passed one, on the correct side of the road a mile and a half ago.  But I had stopped speaking by then.  And, of course, we were too far to turn back now.

So I get to listen as Bill gets hungrier and hungrier on our long trek to Mordor, I mean the Keys.

Husbands, tell your wives what you want.  When we get irritated, you do not get what you want and you have to put up with an irritated wife.  We all lose on that one.

- Stop at a Subway finally.  He chows down and starts to feel better.  My metabolic menace, uh husband, has lost 20 to 30 pounds since we married.  And I stressed to him that he does not have the reserves that he used to, and needs to watch his food intake regularity more closely.          


M. Imbelecio Delatorre said...

hi, kira.

please , i want to know things about your sun allergy. how many time it took to you to get well? i have a rash in my neck very similar to yours... but since many weeks ago. comes again and again. i thought it was a sun alergy, but i dont know...

thanks. best wishes from Europe.

Kira said...


In general, my sun allergy rashes last from 2 weeks to a couple months, gradually fading. And it usually depends on where I have developed the rash.

My chest heals within 2/3 weeks (and it can be very itchy the first couple of days), but if the rash is on my legs ... a least a month (and no itchiness).

If your neck keeps getting re-exposed, you may re-develop a sun-rash over and over. From what I have read, the rashes tend to get less severe as the summer moves along. It is the winter that takes away the tolerance we build up.

Being in the deep south, I don't spend much time outside in the depths of the summer. This year, I only developed a rash on my legs.

Also, I found I needed to use a physical sun block (Titanium dioxide and/or Zinc oxide) to stop rash development, as chemical sunscreens do not keep me from developing a rash (regardless of their SPF value).

Good luck, and keep me posted.