Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Adventures of Dustin & Sara - Key West (Part 1 - The Fort Lauderdale leg)

11/9/11 - Also known as the day that two 11's sandwiched 9. But, that was no reason to hop on a plane and go on a vacation, no, the 9th of November was Sara's birthday, and that folks is why we were hopping on a plane to go to Florida. Well, it was a good reason to get the hell out of Wisconsin in November at least.

The day started as any normal Wednesday does for any normal couple, with me giving Sara some diamond earrings, packing our bags, and heading to the airport, normal. (You're damn right I'm going to tell you that's what I got her, you should all know, I'm wonderful.)

Moving on, I would like to send a big thank you to Tracy, Sara's longtime friend for driving from Kenosha to take us to the airport. That was very nice. Though, I do not apologize for manually opening and shutting your fancy back door of your SUV. One, the automatic open/shut goes far too slow for me, and two, I'm not used to fancy things...I'm just a lowly commoner. Ok fine, I'm sorry.

Rainy Milwaukee = Bad
The airport was quite dead, we quickly got our tickets, got to security, gave the TSA operator a sexy show of blurred nakedness, and then....well shit, we had a lot of time to kill. Thankfully, there was a restaurant, which appeared to have a nice, breakfast diner feel to it, Johnny Rockets, so we went there for some foodstuffs.  Now, I wish I could report having a great breakfast, but, it was your typical "shit in an airport".  Next time, I'll know better than to stray from the Alterra breakfast burrito. Oh looky looky, it's about time to board.

We flew Southwest Airlines, and if you paid attention, then you'll have read that we got our tickets whilst at the airport. Apparently, a big no-no if you fly Southwest. See, Southwest has the world's stupidest boarding procedure.  It's first come-first serve. Which sounds great in theory, but often leads to people not being able to sit next to each other. Well, thankfully, we were able to score two seats next to each other still, way in the back. Southwest has great employees and great prices, but seriously Southwest, change your boarding procedures!

The flight, as most flights are, was fairly uneventful. There was some heavy turbulence over Indiana, which I found to be no surprise since I've recently made Indiana a nemesis of mine.  Otherwise, we just fiddled on my tablet for a bit, read Sky Mall and made fun of the stupid gizmos, slept, etc... We made a stop at Tampa, where we were able to move up to the front of the plane, and then we took off and landed in Fort Lauderdale. There was this nice family, with very well behaved children who we talked to for a little bit. It turns out they were also going to be making the drive to Key West for a family member's wedding, so it was nice to know that we weren't the only ones crazy enough to make the long drive through the keys.  Also, I will note, flying over the everglades is sort of creepy, just miles of untouched nothingness. It did remind me though of how much I distrust alligators, ancient ornery assholes is what they are to me. Another thing I distrust, the ocean and ocean life (foreshadowing?)!

As we stand waiting for our luggage, there's this group of, well rednecks is the best way to describe them, yet they had an aura of wealth about them. They were loud, annoying and quite rude working their way through crowds grabbing their luggage. I also assume they had some money by this one dude's girlfriend...let's just say she didn't have a lot of realness about her. I hate to stereotype, but I'm assuming money is what keeps this girl with this guy (she was also rude and annoying, so maybe they were just a match made in everyone else's hell). But, it's the airport luggage claim, I'm sure they won't be seen again. I mention this, because it's odd to see rich rednecks (more foreshadowing?).

Studly Car
Rental car time. Two items of note here. One, Budget needs to stop using Dot Matrix printers....good fucking god. It broke, and took about 15 minutes to fix.  Second, we end up with a Nissan Versa Hatchback. Suddenly, I  regret not upgrading to the Mustang the lady at the desk was trying to push on me. It's the kind of vehicle where I expected 25 clowns to pile out of. I'll stop there, since Sara seemed to like it. I'm driving a hatchback, in south Florida, where hot cars are the norm. But, as Sara reminded me, it gets good gas mileage, and all we really need it for is getting to the Keys and back. I calm down, but am irritated that there is no center console, or arm rest. This becomes a larger issue later.

We were only staying in Fort Lauderdale for one night, and that one night was Sara's birthday, so I wanted it to be nice and chose a hotel accordingly. As we pulled up to the Hilton Beach Front Resort, I remember that nice hotels equal being served, to which I'm not comfortable with. Immediately, the valet asks for my name, then another valet worker asks my name....then I have to give my name to the guy working in the valet booth. THEN, the bellhop comes out, and I have to give my name again. I'm getting irritated as well as confused as to what proper etiquette is. Ok, we're inside and I check in, then another bellhop comes to me, and I swear another person had said "enjoy your stay Mr & Mrs Thompson" (I had Sara's name listed as an additional guest). Now, I'm following the bellhop, he pushes the elevator button for us, opens our door for us, puts our luggage down for us, even asks if the temperature of the damn room is acceptable....because as guests, we're not allowed to do anything for ourselves. I don't like this, maybe I'm just a bumpkin for middle of nowhere Wisconsin, but even if I become hugely wealthy, I'll never like this. He does warn us about the step onto the balcony, a warning we both fail to heed multiple times (You had to step over about a 6 inch metal hurricane flood protector thing, stubbed toe city). Anyways, I realize that while I have cash, it's in Andrew Jackson form, not George the poor guy got $2 in crumpled up bar cash. I assume that's not a good tip, so for that sir, I apologize and feel bad! But, I quickly stop feeling bad after he left, and I throw on some shorts and we prepare for some dranks on the beach!

Drinks at Kahunas
We walk down to Beach Place, which to those who aren't familiar, is just a collection of bars and restaurants located on the beach. It was warm, which was nice, but it was very windy, no storm or anything, just, windy. We stop at a place called Big Kahunas, I think it's a chain, but, whatever, it had an outdoor balcony overlooking the ocean, and I was able to get a treat that I can't get in Wisconsin, a Yuengling. Does anyone have a bad word to say about Yuengling? If so, I question their judgment on all things life related. .... Moving on....we left after just a couple of beers, because we had to get ready for something far more important, steak dinner!

A couple weeks prior to leaving, Sara said if there was one night we do a fancy dinner, it was for her birthday.  So, we investigated possible places of fine dining, and we both agreed we wanted to go to Shula's On The Beach. A fine steak venue with a view of the ocean, it was perfect, and personally, I can't argue with what Coach Shula says I should eat. So, we made reservations.

Back to the hotel room, where I was disappointed that the staff, who made sure to do everything for us, failed to put champagne and chocolate covered strawberries in the room like they were supposed to. So, I called, and then they came, and I laugh since on the envelope it stated "Mr & Mrs Butteris", I jokingly tell Sara that I feel better now that this mistake corrects their earlier mistake.  We put everything in the fridge though, and we start to make ourselves look all fancy. Sara puts on a black dress, and naturally, looks amazing....putting my look to shame, which consisted of wearing what I usually wear on a night out, just with a sport coat, but we look good damn it.

Sexy People with Sexy Martinis
We take the short walk to Shula's, they have our reservations, but say we can dine inside, as the outside seating is a really long wait.  I was obviously slightly upset, because we had put that we wanted to sit outside. Sara reminded me that the reservation never guaranteed us outside, so I felt a little bad for getting slightly firm at the hostess, and I said we would just wait at the bar. A few drinks would be fun, and would pass the time. We each order up a martini, w/ blue cheese olives of course and it's delicious, fantastic, wonderful! Sara orders hers dirty, and she swears they put the perfect amount of olive juice in it. We talk about just getting an appetizer while we wait, but then the hostess comes to us, and lets us know our table is ready. We had only waited, 10-15 minutes tops. So, a giant kudos to Shula's. I wasn't mad, we were having fun, prepared to wait, and they still came through for us.

We are seated, and quickly our waiter and his waiter-in-training are welcoming us. We're set for drinks for now, but decided we wanted a dozen oysters to start with. I usually go with just lemon on mine, but Sara loves the fresh horseradish and I feel like I should let that be known. Main course, we both go surf & turf and order a bottle of nice wine. A feast of steak, lobster, bearnaise sauce, butter sauce, and mashed potatoes became just a blissful haze as we devour what is surely one of the best meals in both of our lives. As the haze lifts, we realize that there's no way we can finish, so we take our leftovers with us, figuring it may make a great drunk meal later.  High praise to you Coach, for your fine, fine dining experience. That meal was equivalent to a 17-0 perfect season, all in my stomach.

Ok, enough food porn. We head back to our hotel to change back into "drinking on the beach" clothes. For me, this meant loose shorts, which is great for my now expanded waist. We first pop our champagne and eat our strawberries and just sit on the balcony watching the lit street and rolling ocean. We're happy just sitting there, but soon, the champagne is gone, and we realize there is trouble. We have no booze, and it's after 9!

Well, problem solved, only in Wisconsin, where they try to keep us from killing ourselves from alcohol poisoning do they often stop sales at 9:00.  We make a walk down to a liquor store, near beach place again. We decide we don't want to go to any bars though, just grab some beer and head back. We have a long day ahead of us in the morning. So, we just grab a 12 pack.  Sara asks if we can drink legally on the streets.  The guy working the counter assured us that while it isn't, isn't enforced.  I apparently put my pussy pants on, because I'm not entirely sold on this.  So, he offers us up tiny paper bags to conceal our cans. Now, I'm sold!

Fort Lauderdale Beach at Night
We take our opened cans into the world. Our first stop though...the beach.  We find a quiet spot, sit in the sand, and tip back. It was a near full moon and the street lights behind us also provided plenty of light to see the ocean rhythmically crash the shore. One of those, perfect type of moment scenarios. Us, the waves, the moon, some was nice.  But, we go back to the hotel, drink for a little longer, and decide that it's best to call it a night. The real vacation doesn't start until after our long haul to Key West. We estimate a near 4 hour drive.

Good night Sara, good night Sara's birthday, good night Fort Lauderdale, good night part 1 of this blog.

Stay tuned for drunken nights and a harrowing adventure at sea!

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