Last Day – the Full Version

Right, we’re just crossing the coast and heading out over the Atlantic for our 7hr 19min flight back home. After the brief taster I gave you while waiting to board, I’ll try and put a bit more detail about the last day of the trip on record. There won’t be any photos, at least not in the first draft of this page, as I have yet to download them to the laptop.

Here we go…

Pretty much as you’ll expect if you’ve read any of the last few day’s diaries, Nick was up and about early. I was briefly up soon after as he returned to the room and found his key wouldn’t work, so I rose, zombie-like, to let him in. Half and hour or so later I gave up and slowly came around. Having abluted (I think I’ve just invented a word), I joined Nick in the lounge to snack on a muffin and take on some caffeine. After a while we returned to the room to finish our respective packing, Nick taking the wise precaution to use two bags. I managed to get everything in my single bag and it was fairly snug, to say the least. It turned out mine was 24.5kg and Nick’s were 22.5kg and a trifling 8kg.

The leisurely theme continued and about 11ish we checked out and set off. First brief call was to take some daylight photos of Bokampers, the bar from last night, before joining the I-595 eastwards to the coast near Fort Lauderdale airport where we joined the coast road, Route A1A. Before reaching the condominium capital of the United States – the town of Hollywood and onwards to Miami Beach – I found a parking area and dropped 25c in a meter to gives is 15 minutes to wander out onto the beach. I ceremoniously dipped my toe (shoe!) in the Atlantic and took a few snaps. It is another blisteringly hot day, the hottest of the trip with temperatures forecast in the high 80s. Quite a few sun worshipers were out on the beach, but we both remarked that it must get an awful lot busier at weekends and into the “season”.

Back in the car and through Hollywood with the aim of the Diplomat Mall, chosen pretty much at random. We had a short delay was a drawbridge on the Intra Coastal Waterway was raised in front of us, and once we reached the Diplomat Mall we kept moving as none of the shops appealed. Nick wanted a CVS Pharmacy and Siri kindly took us to one nearby on US-1. While he was seeking out what he wanted, I used the Apple Store yardstick to find a better mall; the Aventura Mall about five miles to the south fitting the bill.

Once there and parked in the shade of the Nordstom Garage we quickly determined it was another very up-scale mall; Brieteling, Ferrari and a Japanese clothing chain neither of us had heard of being worthy of note. I set up camp in Starbucks while Nick went and looked around, meeting up a bit later in the Apple Store. It was lunch time so we hit the food court; both of us had a burger, mine from “Five Guys” and Nick going to Charley’s, 

Back to the car and Nick was on a quest for a particular baseball cap for a mate at work. First try was a Target. While he was seeking his quarry, I Facetimed Kay and we had the odd experience of her guiding me around the aisles in search of the confectionery she wanted bringing home! Nick has no joy, so the next stop was a Sports Authority we’d seen back near the Aventura Mall. Still no joy though.

We decided that we would head to another huge mall that Nick knew from previous visits at Dural; the Dolphin Mall. It was a 30 mile drive, but it took us out toward the airport anyway, so seemed like a good plan. All went reasonably well on the trip until we got within the twilight zone that is the ten mile radius of the airport. The traffic got stupid busy on the freeway we were on and we were in danger of getting suckered into one of Florida’s cashless tolls. As we’d declined the Sun Pass option on the car (we would have been paying a flat rate even for the days we were a hundred miles or so from the nearest toll booth), if we found ourselves in that position we would get pinged for a huge admin charge by the rental company. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to pay tolls, we simply couldn’t, so we elected to exit the freeway onto local roads. That’s were the stress really started.

Nose-to-tail traffic, endless red lights which seemed to take upwards of four or five minutes to go through a sequence and an eternity going nowhere. Eventually we made it into reasonably clear traffic and got to the mall. As billed, it was pretty big. I went for another coffee then wandered around in a full circuit. I got some last minute bits which I was able to squeeze into my bag when we regrouped and got back to the car.

It was time to head for the airport, with the vital element of filling up with petrol within a few miles of the airport. I’d picked a route which was straightforward enough and free from tolls. The first petrol station we saw was on the opposite side of the road, and on the naive assumption there’d be plenty on outside of the road, I chose not to make the turn across traffic. There was one on our side a bit further on but there was a double right-turn only lane onto the Interstate between us and them, so getting into it (and out again) would have been nigh on impossible by the time we saw it. Then, suddenly, we were in the airport – just as millions of drivers were trying to get out. Siri was no real help as — as on the first night — the real road layout and the maps bear little resemblance. We did three circuits, getting stuck in traffic each time and simply could;t get out. It was like the Twilight Zone and I was getting really stressed.

Eventually, after a ‘suicide squeeze’ that didn’t endear me to at least two other drivers, we got out of the endless loop and — after another lengthy sit in traffic — managed to get to a gas statin and filled up. Retracing our steps wasn’t too awful, despite a wrong turn (my bad!) thrown in for good measure. By around 17:30 we were turning into the car rental lot – inevitably past a gas station! End mileage was 630 for the trip.

Check-in and security were smooth enough and before too long we were waiting at the gate with half an hour or so for boarding.

 

Later….

Not a great deal to say about the flight: Push back at 20:10, wheels-up at 20:30, 272 passengers and 14 crew on Cosmic Girl. Meal was beef pot roast. I didn’t watch any films other than the Red Sox World Series 2013 film on my laptop; from a dvd I’d bought on the trip. Nick was fast asleep before I’d finished it and I then had a bit of sleep before being woken by the cabin crew serving breakfast 90 minutes out.

After a few circuits in the Ockham stack near Gatwick we landed from the east – with an intermittent view of central London through the cloud – getting on the ground at 09:00. All went well in the airport and we were on the M25 by 09:45. With a fuel stop at Leicester Forest East, we were at Nick’s a smudge after Noon, which is where I type this.

 

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