Friday, June 15, 2012

Florida, Thursday, day 1…

So after a couple of days back in VA at Kami’s house, i started the trip down to Florida. Kami took me to DCA airport around 11am for my 2pm flight. Id got booked a cheap Jet blue flight to get down to Ft Lauderdale, $49inc taxes one way! I had a car rental booked for when i arrived and i booked a couple of cheap hotels on Hotwire for while i was down there.

Unlike any previous tours I’ve done, this one has been a little different. I’ve normally got everything planned out down to the last second, which shows I’m gonna se, where I’m gonna stay, how long I’m gonna be there etc however this time around I’ve just been picking shows here and there and leaving plans till the last minute. Its worked out ok but I’m not as keen on doing this as i like to know where I’m going and what I’m doing in advance. It was in Chicago that Brett had asked me if i was doing the Florida shows to which i replied “ i don't think so, no” the next morning while laying in bed at Wendy’s house i looked at flights and thought how could i not go! Over the next couple of days i had everything booked.

Its Friday AM as I’m typing this and Kami is on her way to Seoul and Tokyo with her dad for two weeks, so me coming down here to Florida seemed to make sense.

As i got off the plane i could feel the heat hit me, reminded me of arriving in Phoenix but it was a lot more humid here but it felt good! I took the shuttle bus to the car rental site and headed to the Alamo desk. Took all of 2 minutes and i was out in the parking garage picking which car i wanted.

A couple of days ago id got a call on my cell phone at 3am in the morning, it was my bank in the UK, they had seen some “unusual activity” on my debit card and wanted to check the transactions with me. They read out this long list of transactions that i didn't recognise AT ALL, $10 to Yahoo, another $10 to Yahoo and another $10 to Yahoo, $140 to some online clothing company and another $200 to some clothing company. I had ordered something online from India a few weeks ago and the guy from the bank on the phone said a couple of the transactions were Indian based, he said its a common thing and people wait a few weeks before trying to use the card details, they then make a couple of small transactions to make sure they go through ok and then when they do they hit the card big!! Anyway my bank had picked up on this as i had told them i was away in the US for a week weeks. This didn't cause much of a problem apart from the fact i was worried that i needed said card to pick up the rental car. It wasnt a problem at all and i gave them a different card.

As i walked over to the compact cars the first one i saw was one of the new Fiat 500 bubble cars, i was ever so tempted to pick this one just for a laugh and see what they were like, however, i was also driving a friend up to Orlando on Saturday so thought it best i picked something with a little more room! The one i did pick certainly has “character” to it, it has what looks like a face at the front!

My rental car a Chevy HHR                   102` at 6:30pm

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I took out my trusty Tom tom, hit the address for the Holiday Inn next to the venue and started the 15 mile drive north  in the beautiful sunshine.I haven’t had a rental car or even done a road trip this whole tour yet and the second i set out on the road it just reminded me of the driving i was doing on the 2010 tour. Id been at this exact place in 2010 and also been down here for the Dark Side shows in 2007.I got some great Deja Vu feelings and something about driving around on the wide highways in the sunshine just felt right, it felt like i was actually “on tour” again.

I have a couple of friends down here, my friend Ralph who i saw a few 2007 and 2010 shows with and my friend Kenny who used to live in Woodbridge VA but had moved down here earlier this year. Kenny  was a friend of Kami’s sisters Kim, she had introduced me to him a couple of years ago when he took Kim and i jet skiing while i was at Kami’s house one time. he’s a greta guy and i let him know a few days ago i would be down in his area and he said to call him when i got down here. Ralph is another great guy, him and i spent time together at some Wall shows, i stayed at his house for a few nights a couple of years ago and i was looking forward to seeing him for dinner before the show.

Another guy, Michael had e mailed me last week too, we had met in Vegas in 2010 and he offered me a ride from Ft Lauderdale to Orlando if i needed one, he was intending to rent a car and do the drive, i explained the situation about my debit card being hacked and said if i wasn't able to pick up the rental car for some reason i would take him up on the offer, i also said that if i was able to pick up the rental car he was more than welcome to ride up with me to Orlando and save himself some money renting a car! After a couple of e mails last night letting him know i had the car, we are both riding up in my car on Saturday.

I messaged Kenny after getting to my hotel, he asked where  wanted to go and i said anywhere where there’s girls (I’m joking Kami darling:) , drink and food! He suggested Hooters as it was right on the beach and there were a few bars around the area we could walk to if we wanted. We arrange to drop my car off somewhere near by and go in in his car so we only had to pay for one lot of parking. I put Hooters into my GPS and headed out of the hotel.

My hotel room view (inc floating bedside lamps!)

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I found a Walgreens about 2 miles from Hooters, i called Kenny and two minutes later he arrived in the parking lot. As i called him i told him i was just going through the Henry Kinney Tunnel, he then told me this was the only tunnel in the whole state of Florida! originally there was a draw bridge there and due to the amount of Yachts going through it there were constant traffic jams so they had to come up with something that everyone else had been doing for years, build a tunnel! Before id got to the Walgreens i drove past Martin Luther King Blvd, this brought back a memory of when i was in Savannah in 2010 with Greg Hampton, we spent a night in Savannah and driving to our hotel we went across Martin Luther King Blvd, Greg commented to me that whenever you are near or on that named street in the USA its an area you don't want to hang around! i looked around as i drove across it, it was indeed a sketchy looking area!

We parked up just down the street from Hooters and walked along the side of the beach. The area was full of restaurants and bars, it was a great place just to go and eat and sit and look out over the ocean and people watch.


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On the way to Hooters Kenny had taken me along a street called Las Olas Blvd, this was an upmarket street full of high class boutiques, restaurants and bars, the Ferraris, Bentleys and other expensive cars that lined the streets told you what sort of area this was. We then saw some of the HUGE yachts parked in the waterways along this street, I’m going to go back there today to take a few pictures and have a wander around so will save this for another blog post tomorrow but there's a couple of pics i took out of the car window below just to show you the size of the yachts. Remember, these are not parked in a marina but at the bottom of peoples homes!

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We sat down at the bar at Hooters, id only ever been in one Hooters before and that was in Santa Monica and to be honest i wasn't impressed at all, the wings i had took over 40 minutes to arrive and they tasted like crap! As we sat at the bar Kenny realised his good friends girlfriend was working tonight as the bartender. She took our drinks order and i ordered ten wings, mild and coated. I was dying for a Long Island Iced Tea but had to remember i had to pick my car up and drive back to the hotel too! within 5 minutes the wings also arrived and they were fantastic! totally different to the experience in Santa Monica.

Video of Hooters

View from Hooters over the ocean         View from the bar.

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Kenny and i sat and watched the basketball game that was on the TV, drank a few drinks and i chomped away on my wings.We spoke to Kim on the phone while we were at the bar, she had picked up a cold and wasn't feeling too good.  After a couple of hours the wind began to get up outside and you could feel the air change and within minutes it was lightening all over outside over the ocean, it looked fantastic! Id never seen lightening like it, Kenny explained how the weather here always shows thunderstorms for every day of the week and confirmed this to me by showing me the weather on his iphone app, it did indeed say thunder everyday for the next 7 days. He said as true as this is its usually at night and through the night when this happens and its back to sunshine in the morning and during the day, i wouldn't complain one bit at that!

We had three hours on the car in the lot and had to get back to it by 10:40, at 10:15 we got the check from the bar and paid and left, the rain had stopped and we made it back to the car before the ticket expired, even walking back to the car it was amazing to watch the lightening out over the ocean, a mixture of both fork and sheet lightening lit up the cargo ships docked over night out there. Kenny dropped me at the Walgreens parking lot to get my car, we said our goodbyes and i drove back up to my hotel, i had a great night and it was great to see you again Kenny.


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