Day One: Invasion: Friday
Couldn’t have arrived in Florida with finer omens. We landed 20 minutes sooner than predicted (Favorable conditions), the flight was only ¾ full (with NO screaming brat immediately in front or behind) and the weather was clear and bright (albeit searing).
The lady at the car rental counter and I just happened to share a birthdate. That, coupled with Angie and my politeness and charm yielded us a degree of good fortune. Immediately sought out by a charismatic gent in the garage, we were escorted past the rows of Sentras and butt-ugly Chrysler 200s and presented with a very handsome and classy 2012, gunmetal gray metallic Camry, just washed. Oh yes, my new garage pal, Greg was tipped well.
With my trusty Magellan GPS hooked up, we never set a wheel wrong. The car feels as big as my Buick and soaked up highway miles like a dream. I need a name for this temporary steed. We bonded quickly.
Florida drivers are relatively courteous. No doubt a surprise to couple trained in the take-no-prisoners New England school. This may have something to do with a State Trooper positioned every ten miles, but whatever, I like the end result.
Other than a swarm of bugs that had my trusty (and still unnamed) chariot covered in a gooey glaze of deceased insect parts, the ride was straight and true with my lovely wife hoppin’ and boppin’ to classic rock, pouring from the unnamed Camry’s impressive sound system. A quick stop at a gas station for bottled water and a serious windshield squeegee cleared most of the carnage. A brief but substantial rain squall took care of the rest.
Since we were both excited to see the place, the view, the layout (Ok, we wanted the use of a private bathroom), we headed straight to Jensen beach.
There, the story got better.
The place, a corner unit with an ocean-facing deck that can house a couple shuffleboard courts, came complete with a dining set and a pair of lounge chairs. I am writing this journal from the table now, soaking in the sound of surf and enjoying the morning breeze. Too bad if you’re jealous, this is our vacation/honeymoon.
Tasteful and roomy inside as well, I can’t imagine a better place to stay for the week. ‘Condo’ doesn’t seem to do it justice, not with a wonderful Bose wave sound system (already well-used) and three giant televisions (that I have yet to even turn on). They may have to ply me out of this place with a SWAT team by next Friday.
Regardless, the palace did not come equipped with food, necessitating a supply run and sustenance. I’d stupidly not eaten anything other than a blueberry muffin 12 hours earlier and was ready to gnaw my own arm off. This, coupled with the lack of vacation/honeymoon beverages, desperately needed to be addressed. This late lunch (NE Seafood – what the hell was I thinking?) was underwhelming but the good nature of everyone outweighed the overdone haddock.
Since we are familiar with the place, a 'super' WalMart cut down the shopping for items. I was forced to remind my significant other that we are situated on the sixth floor of the complex, so the services of Sherpa’s may be needed. She looked at me and smiled, her expression saying “did you think I just brought you along for your charming company?”
We made to the room in one trip. My arms are now five feet long but there is beer in the fridge.
After unpacking, unwinding and unthinking, we started to explore our beachside surroundings. Nothing disappointed. That water is warm and the beach is long and awaits a pleasant walk.
But first things first. My lovely bride had gone 3 whole days without pizza by eight pm and was showing visible signs of cheese deprivation. Out of concern for her well-being, we walked the quarter mile to a small pizzeria with the obvious name of Surfside Pizzeria Bar and Grill. Two pizza snobs would normally approach a place like this with some trepidation, but only one of us was operating at optimal non-pizza starved efficiency.
Looks and expectations can often be wrong, as was the case here.
The bartended and part-owner, a charismatic type named Bill, takes an admirable pride in his pizza and Italian food prowess. As well he should. It turns out Bill is a displaced New Yorker, a land where a pizza slight can get you killed. Regardless, the locals seem more interested with less swarthy fare, seeking gravy covered items poised next to mounds of mashed potatoes.
Bill is about to have the spotlight of two serious pizza aficionados cast upon him. He matches our steely gaze, takes our ingredient combination order (which he admitted had never heard before) and, in the nature of an Italian gunslinger, came out shooting.
In the end, it was two NH snobs that had blinked. We ordered green olives, broccoli, sausage and bacon, FOOLISHLY omitting the one item that would have made this pie perfect – onions. The barkeep gunslinger was generous in victory, however. Then, as if an otherwise delightful pizza wasn’t enough, he sunk the hooks deep.
This man, 1500 miles away from his native turf, surrounded by chicken fried steak enthusiasts, had – homemade cannoli. Again the steely gaze came. Again he smiled knowingly and headed off to the kitchen. Again, out perceptions were shattered. They were very good (3rd best I ever had) and Bill has two big fans now.
In palatial surrounding, relaxed, stuffed, comfy and knowing that very acceptable pizza is available close by, our long delayed honeymoon had so far been a raging success.
That brings me back to the deck, soaking in copious UV rays and wondering what today holds in store.
I can hardly wait…