The Great Vacation of 2006, which will actually take place in 2007, got underway yesterday. You know it’s going to be a good vacation when it takes an entire day to get it going, right?
Things started out well – Shawn took the dog to her new extended-stay kennel in an undisclosed location (it’s actually on the base where he works, so for the next two weeks, Gaia will be safer than anyone I know) while I packed. Fourteen day’s worth of clothes made it into one ginormous bag. I got the bag, which is about two-thirds the size of a steamer trunk, from Hudson Trail Outfitters for my trip to Cambodia. Once packed, we headed to the airport just as the city was getting ready for Gerald Ford’s state funeral. It’s amazing how nice D.C. can look when they clean it up for a dead president.
Speaking of dead presidents, National Airport (which I, like many people in D.C., refuse to call “Reagan National”) was a mob scene. Not because of the number of people catching flights, but because we were on a non-stop flight to Miami. For the uninitiated, this means a couple of things: First, American Airlines routinely oversells its non-stops to Miami, which means no less than 15 people will camp out at the desk, alternatively bitching and moaning to the gate agents in an attempt to get on the flight. Yesterday was no exception, except that everyone was in pretty good spirits.
Also, as one would expect, the flights to Miami tend to attract a lot of inexperienced passengers in the form of families since Miami is the major East Coast hub to Latin America. So in addition to the stand-by campers, you have people rushing the gate to board who speak little to no English. And inevitably, there will be one very sweet little old lady in a wheelchair who is bound for somewhere tropical. Yesterday, she was going to Santiago in the Dominican Republic, and she had the kindest but most tired eyes I’ve ever seen. She reminded me of Grandma.
So we arrive in Miami without incident and manage to make our way through the airport, which seems to have been in the same state of stalled renovations since I first flew to MIA in the mid-1990s. Shawn makes a phone call to the company we rented an ocean-front condo through, and the voice mail is full. Ordinarily, not a big deal, except that we had to speak with someone at the number in order to get the key for the condo.
Long story short, the people we rented from are crooks, I think. They came up with all sorts of excuses, including the likely ones: “We tried to call you,” except that they had the digits mixed up in the phone number; “We tried to e-mail you,” except that they used an e-mail address that didn’t exist; and so on. Everything eventually worked out in that we have a place to sleep in a “hotel” that’s one step up from being a gay youth hostel. It’s not beach-front, but alley-front (one of those South Beach alleys with big un-maintained palm trees running down the middle of it). And the bed doesn’t have what could legally be called a mattress. It’s more of a box spring with a sheet of plywood on top. But it’s clean. And there are locks on the door. What else could we ask for? 😉
So begins the Great Vacation of 2007. In three days, we’ll set sail for Panama. Nothing in the world is more relaxing than a Royal Caribbean cruise. Even if things got off to an unexpected start, I know we’ve got sunny days and smooth seas ahead.
Tonight we’re having an Insanely Expensive New Year’s Eve Dinner at a restaurant that claims to be one of Paris Hilton’s favorites. No celebrity sightings yet, though we did run into some friends from D.C. last night at a club called Twist.