After getting used to coming home to a quiet apartment and spending my evenings with only my TV and the odd glass of wine as entertainment, it was a welcome relief to have ma-Kelly come down to spend the weekend with me in Fort Lauderdale. That alone got me through a week of technical training at work that had my brain completely fried and had me wondering why the heck I’d ever been hired in the first place. Here I was thinking I was out of college and done with formal learning, and now I’m being completely re-educated, complete with classroom instruction and eventual examinations. On the plus side, I’m getting paid for it!
Kelly drove down Friday night, bringing with her a slew of trashy British magazines that Mark had sent her from London. We pretty much spent the night flipping through, laughing at and making catty comments about unfortunate C-list celebrities. Not unlike many evenings spent together in Acton! To round out the night of British-ness we watched a movie Mark had also sent over—a dodgy DVD he’d probably bought from a guy in a trench coat on the Tube, called Football Factory. However dodgy it was, it at least was in a multiregional format so it worked in my DVD player. It was actually a pretty good movie! I needed subtitles for part of it, but other than that we had a good time watching it and learning even more about the passions and motivations of Englishmen…namely violence, sex and alcohol. Oh yeah, and football.
Saturday was meant to be a day at the beach, but the weather turned grey and gross early on. We ended up leaving our bathing suits at home, but we still made it the beach anyway. We drove down to Miami for the day and had lunch at one of the sidewalk cafes in South Beach. We walked across the street to the beach, took a quick picture with a man in a see-through white spandex bathing suit in the background, and then left to do some shopping (window shopping in my case).
Because the weather had put a damper on our beach plans, we decided to make a trip a little further south to visit a place we’d learned about in the god-awful honors Tourism Studies class we’d taken together at UCF—the Coral Castle. It was built by this tiny little 100-pound Latvian man in the early half of the 20th century out of coral…but nobody knows how (dum dum dum). It’s said this guy knew the secret to how the Egyptians built the pyramids because he was able to quarry massive amounts of coral and move it all by himself to build this really elaborate and beautiful open-air castle. He built it for a woman he loved back in Latvia, and when he finished it he invited her to come join him…but she shot him down. Awww. After he died the press asked her if she’d fly over to see the castle he’d spent his life building for her, and she still said no. Burn!
On the way to Homestead to see the castle we got stuck in traffic for the second time that day, which was a bit of a nightmare. But at least I was able to find these guys who can help me with all my future home remodelation needs.
When we got to the castle it was a lot smaller than I thought it would be. I never would’ve thought when I was sitting in class, struggling to stay awake, that I’d ever actually see it in person. It was really cool to visit, however, even though it was a bit steep at $9.75 a pop to get in. Especially as the original admission gate was still standing, teasing us with its ‘10¢ Admission’ sign.
Inside the walls everything was made out of coral—tables, chairs, loungers, the bathtub, a stove and the living area. There were palm trees and beautiful flowers all over the place. But besides the heartbreaking story behind the place and the shroud of architectural mystery, the coolest things about the Coral Castle were the lizards.
I know, I know…I said I would drop the lizard thread, but I can’t help it! I can’t help being amazed at both the size and the sheer number of lizards down here! We must’ve seen a couple dozen, and they were all huge! Our tourist excursion quickly segued into a lizard finding expedition. We were literally running around trying to take pictures of them before they scuttled off over the coral walls and under palmetto bushes. There were green ones, black ones and a few pretty ones with black bodies and white heads and tails. They really do get bigger the further south you go…my little gecko has nothing on these guys! It’s like a pet shop run amok with lizards running loose everywhere and I love it! We particularly liked the foot-long jumping lizard that sailed past our heads as we attempted to chase it down for a close-up. Stay tuned for further lizard-related news…it’s bound to be just a matter of time.
After an evening of lounging around my apartment, we prettied ourselves up and went out Saturday night to the Riverfront in downtown Fort Lauderdale. I had expected it to be mostly bars with not a lot of places to dance, with mostly thirty-something clientele, but I was pleasantly surprised when we got out of the taxi and the entire street was flooded with people our age and good music was coming from every direction. There were bars and clubs everywhere, lining the entire street, and it made me wonder how we possibly could have missed them as we drove along during the daytime. There were so many people walking around that it was like a huge street party—with a number of bar and club options to rival New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, but with a less hedonistic atmosphere more similar to Las Ramblas in Barcelona.
It turned out to be a really good night out…one of the best in fact! I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been out, because Cinco de Mayo had been a partial flub and our most recent attempts at going out in London had turned out a wash. The clubs were all really classy and beautiful, with really good music to boot in most cases. This one club, China White, was the most gorgeously decorated place I’d ever been to, but with drinks at $10 we didn’t stay long. One club had a massive poster of Dennis Rodman outside with scary long fingernails and a ‘coming soon’ warning across the bottom that I made Kelly pose with. And I thought his career couldn’t dip any further after his stint in the Big Brother house (and the UK one at that).
I don’t know how late clubs stay open here, but at about 2:15 we called it quits and headed home so we could make it up later that same morning in time for the England v. Ecuador game. We drove to Davie to the Waxy O’Connor’s pub off of A1A to watch the game. It was a disgusting rainy day, but the place was packed by kick-off at 11:00. The first half wasn’t very good, which made it kind of boring for us since half the reason we’d gone to the pub was to have the English fans entertain us with raucous cheering and a few rounds of God Save the Queen. At halftime the rain had metamorphosed into a full on thunderstorm and the satellite feed was lost to the TV. Rather than sit around with crossed fingers, hoping it would be restored and risking a recurrence of the England/France Euro 2004 game when the satellite feed was lost for a few minutes during which France had stolen the lead and went on to win the game, we ran through the downpour to my car and went home to watch the second half on reliable, high-def cable TV. England went on to win and the game was saved from the weather. Now that the US has crashed out of the competition, England better not let us down!
I’d been waiting for Sunday ever since I went to the pub last weekend to watch the US/Italy game and discovered they did a Sunday roast dinner. I was worried it might not be that good since my manager at work had told me the food he had there wasn’t that great. I think his dislike didn’t have anything to do with the quality of the food, but more the content, considering he’d had beans on toast, because Kelly and I loved what we had yesterday! I am so stoked that it’s right down the road! I think it may have also convinced Kel to come down and visit me fairly often.
Before we left to go to the pub we’d noticed that the brake lights on my car were on even though nobody was in the car. It was just the latest in the list of expensive complaints about my car, and I quickly made myself sick worrying about how I was going to get it repaired without having any backup transportation and how much it was going to cost. When I got back in my car to leave the pub I noticed a little blue plastic disc on the floor of my car. I’d noticed it earlier that morning, but it isn’t all that uncommon for bits to drop off under the steering column, as scary as that sounds, so I hadn’t thought much of it. I maneuvered myself under the dash and looked around a bit and fiddled with things until I realized the blue disc had fallen off the brake machinery, which was the reason my brake lights wouldn’t turn off. I depressed the brake, slipped it back into place and the lights immediately went off. It won’t stick on its own, so every time I drive it I have to wedge myself upside down in the driver’s seat to stick it back in place. I either need to get some super glue or a wad of chewing gum to sort that out…and soon. It doesn’t look too professional to have my head jammed to the floorboard and my feet counterbalancing in the air in the parking garage at work! Definitely no skirts for me until that’s sorted!
Kelly had to drive back up to Orlando yesterday and now it feels way too quiet in my apartment again. It was just like old times having her back…and it makes it that much harder being down here without anyone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing fine, but there are good times and bad times, as with anything else I suppose. But there certainly are more good times when she’s around. I think we’re going to rack up a bunch of miles between us over the next year! And then after that it might be frequent flier miles, but we’ll do what we have to do. It’s already looking like I’ll be driving up either this weekend or next for another Kelly fix. At least one of my long-distance relationships is going to work out! FYI, Kelly…best friendships are forever and are un-breakupable. You’re stuck with me and my universal foreign accent. Aye aye aye!
Tags: beach, England, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, lizards, London, Miami, Riverfront, South Beach, Travel, World Cup