25/4/17 – From one extreme to another

We were woken up at five by what had to be the coaties making a real racket outside. Suddenly not so cute! We were up so early that we had to wait a few hours for breakfast to even open. Safe to say that’ll be the only time this happens all holiday. It was totally worth it though. We thought the buffet selection in Gran Canaria was big, but that was nothing compared to this. I ended up with a crazy mix of chicken taco, cheese quesadilla, two different kinds of nacho mix, Cajun potatoes, bacon and sausage. Fresh frozen watermelon juice on the side, followed by pineapple juice and then a chocolate muffin. Now this is what I call a breakfast.

After eating, we popped back up to the room to sun cream up and then caught the bus down to the beach. They have another Riu Lupita there that is obviously linked to us, so free drinks and food all round! Sat out on the beach for a little while and did some reading. Most beautiful beach I’ve ever been on – the sea was the most spectacular shade of turquoise. It was incredibly hot though and unrelenting without a breeze. Not good when you can’t even go into the sea to cool off, like me. Luckily, there was more beach area behind that surrounded a swimming pool. Much better. So I moved back up there, where there was also more of a breeze.

Sitting further back put me closer to the bar too, which is always a bonus. I had a quick lemonade to cool down and was soon back up there for a margarita instead. Sooo good to sit on the beach with. Would you believe it was more refreshing than the lemonade? Carried on reading, broken by another margarita and a dip in the pool, which was lush. Everyone else moved up to join me after an hour or so and then we soon broke for lunch. Pork, steak and chicken fajitas, chips and that wonderful oily rice I love so much that s many countries do, but can never get it at home. Team all of that with a Melonball cocktail and you’ve got a pretty damn good lunch.

Back down to our little poolside beach for another three margaritas (what? I’m on holiday), more reading and another dip in the pool. The CD playing from the speakers was mostly a lot f bad covers of great songs, bar Fall Out Boy’s MJ cover, but we did hear a Spanish version of Bohemian Rhapsody, which was hilarious as it sings “madre, oooooh”. Madre is what we always call Mom, so the humour was strong with us. We eventually left the beach around half four and got the bus back up to the hotel. I jumped straight in our wonderful walk-in shower.

After showering, I wrote a couple of pages and listened to my movie soundtrack playlist, then conceded to drying my hair and starting to get ready. That was when disaster struck. I’d only straightened about a third of my hair when the lights started flickering and my straighteners started beeping like crazy. I tried them in another plug, as well as another adaptor, and the exact same thing happened. The voltage on my straighteners was far too high for the mains – something I’ve never had happen in any country ever. I went down to reception to see if they had some kind of converter for the coltage or even a communal pair of straighteners I could borrow, but no such luck. Needless to say, I had a bit of a meltdown. Anyone who knows me knows how freaking insecure I am, particularly over my hair. I’d give up my phone before I’d give up my straighteners. But there was nothing I could do. I had to just continue getting ready and go out with my stupid big hair. Not a happy bunny.

We went to a different restaurant for tea. This one was in the same hall as breakfast and all served buffet style. I had nachos with habanero sauce, pulled spicy chicken, mash with bacon bits and more of that lovely rice. My earlier tizzy had given me a really bad head, so I abstained from anymore alcohol. We sat down to watch the nightly show, which was basically a lot of dancers in frilly outfits. I was suddenly so worn out, I could barely keep my eyes open. Maybe because of being up at five, but probably again because of my having a meltdown.

So I went to bed before anyone else, which only ever happens when I have work early. Having real insecure moments just makes me totally spiral downwards, so here’s hoping I’ll feel better after a good sleep.

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This is how you do mornings.

24/4/17 – Hola, Mexico!

It’s been quite a few months, but we’re finally back on the road. Just after five AM get-up to get ready and have a very childish breakfast o the last jelly pot in the fridge and the remainder of an Easter egg. No Izzy to say bye to today – we already dropped her off at the kennels yesterday, as it’s the first time we’re all going away as a family for a while. Had the trademark chatty taxi driver on the way to the airport. We were able to get there a little later, as we’d dropped the cases off last night for the early check-in.

Security was a ball-ache, because it was busy and there were a lot of old people who couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of using every machine available. We purposely started picking queues with less old people to avoid the same problem. No time for my usual Burger King breakfast (childish one will have to do) because our gate number was already on the board. Quickly popped into Boots for some drinks and shock horror, they had no Red Bull. Cue running round to WHSmith instead for a giant Red Bull and some Powerade too. Good WHSmith.

We had a good ten-hour flight ahead of us to get to Mexico, so I was disappointed to learn that Thomson are nowhere near as good with the long haul flights as ones like Delta and Air France. More leg room, sure, but what happened to the special Netflix-like super collection of movies and TV shows? There were probably about fifteen movies and a very small selection of TV shows – a lot of them only having one episode on there. Que le point? There were also many noisy babies and stupid small kids on board. I cry.

However, not long after we’d taken off, I did realise something mildly exciting. Andy West, former newsreader and my favourite from last summer’s Big Brother (the only time I watched religiously) was sat right across the aisle from me. This obviously entailed a lot of sneaky peeks on my part and Mom even sneaking some photos of him. Then it later turned out, when I heard him talk, that it wasn’t him after all. So he has a twin out there and Mom took pictures of some random guy. Hilarious. I read a couple of chapters of my new Anita Blake book, did a bit of writing and watched Keeping Up With the Joneses from the poor selection. Kinda meh movie, but at least yay for Gal Gadot.

I had an orange juice from the trolley people when they came round, then quickly learnt that was a bad move, as I could have had alcohol instead. Stupid orange juice. We then had our main meal a few hours in. Bread roll, cheese and crackers, a portable roast chicken dinner, a little fancy chocolate truffle and a chocolate orange ganache. All very lovely – devoured everything apart from the carrot and broccoli that came with the chicken. I also had some rosé wine with the meal. I don’t like wine, but it was free alcohol. Took me a good long effort to get through it though.

When the drinks trolley came back round, I was all set to have a Magners until a guy opposite had a Red Bull. Obviously I had to take advantage of free Red Bull, because when does that ever happen? (Apart from when we visited Emi in Bulgaria, seeing as she actually works at Red Bull). It didn’t matter that I’d already had a giant one. I at least hadn’t been able to have much of my Powerade, because it had weirdly gone off and tasted well funny. Bad WHSmith. I watched an episode of Psych, read a few more chapters of Anita Blake and started rewatching Clannad for the billionth time, only getting three episodes in, because I mostly wanted to concentrate on writing for the majority of the flight. I’ve never been on holiday during a NaNoWriMo the event before, so this is a new challenge for me to try and make it on time. Not helped by the fact that I’m already over four thousand words behind because of holiday prep and days out to both London and Nottingham this month.

I did manage to get a good nine pages done though. Besides my body reminding me when I got hungry, I’d have said the flight crazily blitzed by. Nobody else seemed to agree with me. However, I did get very stressed when I got hungry, because we were told they’d be bringing a snack round for everyone and the air hostesses started hanging out teeny packets that had legit only twelve jelly beans in them. Thankfully, it turned out this was just a pre-snack and not what they’d been talking about. Phew! The real snack turned out to be a little creamy cheese and onion roll and a fresh scone with jam and clotted cream. Now that is a proper snack!

Thanks to writing, I really didn’t feel it had been all that long. My ears were excruciating when we landed though, so I was still glad to get off the plane. Even more so when all that heat his us, yay. Getting through customs and baggage claim didn’t take too long. They had a bit of a design flaw with the rickety, narrow luggage carousel, which kept tipping random bags off the side when they went round the corner, so that you couldn’t get to them without a bit of climbing involved. I had fun just walking along to our coach. Oh my god, Mexican men. I am in a special kind of heaven. We had about an hour transfer on the coach as we were the first drop-off. The landscape was very Greece meets America. We decided we liked Mexican billboards, which are quite extravagant with big 3D models.

We arrived at the Riu Lupita and were greeted by a Mexican rep, who had four glasses waiting for us of a (sadly) non-alcoholic cocktail called Congo. Very refreshing and well needed after all the travel. We were told about the local coaties that roam around the resort before we were shown to our rooms. Coaties are like lemurs mixed with raccoons, only much cuter. Our rooms are beautiful with a huge walk-in shower, a fully stocked fridge (that gets re-filled every other day) and our own freaking optics of vodka, tequila, rum and gin – all free! We unpacked and spotted a lot of coaties from our balcony. They really are cute and apparently pretty friendly; just regarded as more of a pest, because they’ll eat scraps and they’ll get into your rooms if you leave the balcony doors open.

We had our first drinks in the room – vodka and lemonade for me; seriously strong vodka too – and then went for an explore around the complex. It’s huge and so pretty. We found two different swimming pools, the bar and two of the restaurants. There were more coaties just wandering around, but not being a bther. Clearly like how Greece are with dogs and cats. Kel made me get in a hammock for shits and giggles, then we found some capybaras roaming around too. So cute! We went back to fetch the oldies, then had to take them on a little tour round what we’d just found before going to the bar for our first drinks. The drink ingredients weren’t listed in English, so I had fun utilising my GCSE level Spanish (i.e. remembering more than I thought!) I had a Blue Ocean for my first drink. Pineapple-y and nice and strong. They pineapple is seriously juicy too. And we all know how much I love pineapple.

We went to the Mexican restaurant for tea, because it just had to be done. My god, this really is a Toni special kind of heaven. The starters and puddings are all buffet style and you just order your main before you start picking. I was ready to try everything. Chilli con carne, refried beans, vegetable quesadillas, beef taco rolls, mini enchiladas, beef tostadas and nachos with goat’s cheese and their special habanero sauce, which nearly took the inside of my mouth out. Glad I only put a dribble of it on my nachos! For my main, I had marinated steak. The sides were strange – more enchiladas in a weird cinnamon-y sauce and what had to be plantains, which I discovered last year that I definitely don’t like – but the steak itself was freaking perfect. I wouldn’t even let anyone else have a taste.

By the time we’d eaten, the tiredness was really setting in, so we decided to forego more drinks and call it a night. I finished writing the page I’d been working on back in the room, totalled up my word count and was in bed by nine. Seeing as it would have been three in the morning our time and I’d been up for twenty-two hours by this point, I figured it was pretty good going to start us off.

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Now this is what I’ve always dreamed of seeing in my hotel room…

29/9/16 – All good things

Final get-up of the trip. Was a little earlier today, since w wanted to make the most of the pool whilst we could. The forecast is… sunny, yay. Got into my bikini, put together my beach bag and down to the pool we went. We found ourselves some sunbeds in the sun and we were well away. It was blisteringly hot.I started off reading and ended up finishing my Kelley Armstrong book, so I then switched to lying on my front so that I could tan my back. Had to take short breaks to go and stand in the shallow end to cool down every now and then.

When the sun disappeared behind the very big hotel, we figured we’d be best to go back to the room. We Skyped Kel, all showered in procession and got the rest of our stuff packed up. We moved everything downstairs and got a shuttle service to the airport. The first thing we wanted once we’d got through customs was food. Went to some little take-out restaurant place. I had what was supposedly Jamaican jerk chicken breast with rice and plantains. It definitely wasn’t jerk anything. Just a grilled chicken breast with a bit of sauce on it. I’m still not entirely sure what plantains are, other than that they’re not nice. It was filling enough though.

After that, we went to check out duty free. Always a good place for restocking our alcohol cupboard and Miami airport didn’t fail us. I got a big, fat 1.75L bottle of Smirnoff for only twenty-three dollars. Sometimes you’re hard pressed to get even a litre for that amount at home. They also had the fancy Belvedere stuff for only thirty-three dollars – again, cheaper than at home. Since I’d never tried it before, I decided to get a pink grapefruit bottle as a birthday present to myself for next week. We also got a refill on Cointreau, since we get through quite a lot of that when we do cocktail nights in.

We went to a little bar afterwards for mimosas, then I ran to grab some drinks from one of the shops before we had to board. Fabby in-flight entertainment once again. I’d watched half of Elvis and Nixon before we’d even taken off. Charming film, though they really couldn’t have got an uglier Elvis. At least Evan Peters kept it up on the eye candy front. Following the same actor theme, once we were up in the air, I decided to rewatch X-Men Apocalypse. I then got distracted by a spectacular electrical storm that we were flying by and managed to get some good photos through the window.

Food then came during X-Men. I forget how weird Air France food is. Bread roll, fine; wheatgerm and shiitake mushroom rice salad, eh; chicken and rice, ropey; apple sauce, okay; chocolate brownie thing, okay. Even the cheese was really weird. I remember Air France being better for the snacks, so maybe we’ll have to wait for that. The one upside was that I got a glass of champagne with my meal, so I guess I can’t complain too much. Unsurprisingly, I felt a little tired after the food and champers, so I decided to go with a movie I knew well, since it meant I wouldn’t have to concentrate too much.

That meant opting for Princess and the Frog, which instead succeeded in waking me up, as it made me want to have a singalong. Like any Disney, it also has its super sad moments. I already felt super emotional about leaving America behind and if I didn’t shed a tear over Princess and the Frog, then I definitely did over Big Hero 6, which I saved till last and watched afterwards. I have a definite love-hate relationship with that movie, very much like with Clannad. Serious adoration for it, but it still breaks my heart every time. Fuck you, Disney. I switched to writing after that and did another couple of flash fictions.

We landed in Paris after the eight hour flight and were now six hours ahead in time. These time zones really are so confusing, especially when you haven’t slept. The flight was then delayed half an hour. That always sucks worse when you’re coming home, because you have nothing to look forward to. By this point, all you want is to get home. Thankfully, the flight itself was only about an hour long. I listened to some music for a bit, watched some Psych and was so tired by that time, that I slept through on and off until landing. I kept doing that whole nodding dog thing, but at one point when I did it, we’d already landed. Guess it worked out to an extent. My ears are usually excruciating when landing, so I was glad I skipped that part.

Baggage claim and passport control were fairly simple and we were outside and in a taxi within twenty-five minutes. Thank god. It had been a long day, made worse by the fact that I’ve never been so depressed to come home. What with the fact that my closest friends don’t live so nearby – two of them technically living overseas – besides Kel and the dog, I really didn’t feel much reason to come back at all. My love affair with America is just far too great and seems to be getting stronger all the time. Maybe now it won’t be so much as saving for the next trip, but saving towards moving there on a more permanent basis. I need to hurry up and start getting my books published.

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Now that’s entertainment.

28/9/16 – KFC hunt, round two

Lazy start with another eleven o’clock check-out. Cue the slow get ready, get packed and whatever. We had an hour or so drive into downtown Miami. The satnav started playing up again – she must not like the oldies, because me and Kel never had this problem – so we stopped off at a Maccies to bum off the WiFi and use Google maps to figure out exactly where we needed to go. When we got back en route, the satnav decided to play nice again. Go figure. We wanted to get lunch first whilst we still had the car, so we pulled into a little strip mall that was only about five or ten minutes away.

There wasn’t a lot there in the way of eating, so we went into a Little Caesar’s, which we’d actually seen adverts for on the telly. It was a good choice. I had wings, which were okay. I like my wings dry and fried and whereas they weren’t covered in sauce, they were still a little sloppy from the marinade. But I also had their crazy bread bites, which were way better. Little garlicky dough balls topped with different cheeses and bacon. Now that is more my kind of food. We popped into a CVS over the road after and I restocked on Red Bull. Drove to our Best Western, as well as the final hotel, and unloaded everything. I then stayed in the room and read whilst the oldies took the car back to the Alamo. Bye, Harry.

We did have a pool at this place, but I hadn’t seen where it was and wasn’t sure how to get to it, as it was a huge hotel. By the time the oldies got back, it was closer to five and there wasn’t a whole lot of sun left, so it wasn’t really worth it.  carried on with my reading and then showered and got dressed to head back out in search of KFC. Hopefully, this round will be more successful, since we’re all still craving the real stuff. Since getting the car, we hadn’t done a whole lot of walking really, so it felt like quite a jaunt. Got to watch an electrical storm, as well as all the planes landing nearby on the way though.

We ate at the KFC, rather than risking the food going cold on the way back. This time, we made sure they gave us the proper chicken. They got it right and damn, it was good. They gave us biscuits as well. Now there’s a food that’s super tasty, but that sure as hell confused us the first time we had them. I mean firstly, they’re called biscuits and they’re absolutely not biscuits. Secondly, they’re actually scones, except they’re savoury. Weird or what? Still good though and would be even better slathered in butter.

The way felt even longer on the way back. Maybe because we were distinctly fatter. We had much drink to break out too, since we had to finish off everything that we had. That meant four bottles for me. No problem. The maids are gonna think we’re all serious lush-heads when they see our bin. Dad tried to put on the new season of American Horror Story, but I quickly made him change the channel as it wasn’t the first episode and I didn’t want any spoilers. The theme for the new season actually looks pretty good – hopefully a lot better than Hotel and without any Lady Gaga. Dad decided he was watching Thor instead, so I figured I was much better off with my iPod.

Watched more Psych, did some reading, played some Disney and had to do a serious packing spree of everything, bar what we’d need for tomorrow. Mom had asked if we could have a later check-out on the way back from the KFC, so at least we can spend a little time around the pool. Here’s hoping it’s sunny for our last day.

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This is what good fast food looks like. Can we have a Little Caesar’s in Birmingham please?

27/9/16 -Let’s go to the mall

Lazy start of reading, playing my Disney game and getting ready. We decided we’d go shopping first, since Mom wanted to go to a mall – I told her we could only go if she pronounced it right, rather than ‘mal’, like she kept calling it – and then we’d hit either the beach or the pool. We went to the Coral something or other mall. I really hate shopping. Mom wanted to look at clothes and homeware stuff, so I occupied myself by getting some more notebooks and also a pair of happy little pineapple earrings. Not a bad result, but I was still bored within the first twenty minutes.

When we came out, it was starting to rain, so we braved a dash to the car and then went off in search of food. We ended up in a place called Miller’s Ale House. I asked for an Orange Crush cocktail and gave the server my driving license when he asked for ID. He took it off to the manager, came back and said that they couldn’t serve me because it’s an out of country license. What the hell? My license is obviously not fake and it clearly shows my birth date on there, showing that I’m turning twenty-seven in a few weeks and am definitely long past the legal drinking age requirement of twenty-one. So even though I’m way old enough and provided legit ID like they asked, they still wouldn’t serve me. What bollocks. I grudgingly had to have pop instead. It kinda rubbed it in more that the pop was also called Orange Crush – it just wasn’t alcohol. Come on, guys. I got ID’ed at plenty of places and none of them cared that my license wasn’t American.

For food, I had garlic chicken zingers over a plate of fries loaded with cheese, bacon and spring onion. It wasn’t overly successful. They still managed to mess up my order and gave me blue cheese dressing instead of the ranch I asked for – yuck! I then managed to drop one of the zingers on the floor, which Mom found hilarious and wanted me to try kicking it underneath my chair at the people behind us. My mother, ladies and gentlemen. Clearly misbehaving.

After lunch, we drove a little way down the road and then stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts, because Mom was craving. I had a caramel apple croissant donut. Quite nice. A little like a mix between a donut and an apple turnover. Though I have to say I still prefer Krispy Kremes. It was still raining by this point, so our pool/beach plan was out the window. With nothing else to really do – other than finding another mall, which I definitely wasn’t feeling – we went back to the room for a while. More reading, more Disney game, a Red Bull and another episode of Psych, as well as Skyping Kel.

After an hour or so, it had finally stopped raining, so me and Mom decided to madly get into our swimwear and go down to the pool anyway. It was very cloudy and everything was wet, but it was still perfectly warm enough to sit out in my bikini, if a little pointless when there was no hope of sun. I watched more Psych and read more before it started getting late and we conceded we may as well just go back to the room. I hit the drinks early to compensate for the lack of sunbathing before we very slowly got ready to go out.

We went to a restaurant just round the back of the pizza place called the Parrot Lounge. Another place with a really nice bar. I had a Parrot Ocean Breeze, which was mango rum, blue curacao and orange and pineapple juice. Really nice, even if it looked physically like swamp water. I didn’t fancy much from the menu, so I went for the supreme nachos that are supposedly a starter. My god, it was definitely a good decision. They were friggin’ huge and topped with cheese, chilli, sour cream and jalapenos. The salsa came on the side, which suited me to a tee since I don’t like salsa all that much. Despite the fact that there doesn’t seem to be much around here, I definitely approve of the places we have found.

Came back to the room after for more drinks, more Impractical Jokers, more reading and more bed. Y’know, the usual. Even better as it was one of the particularly hilarious episodes of Jokers with the corn maze. Night all.

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I promise there’s nachos in there somewhere. And yes, I’m aware I mostly post photos of food.

26/9/16 – Bring on the pizza

Back to the more relaxed get-ups, since we didn’t have to check out till eleven. Slowly got ready and packed up before heading off to Fort Lauderdale. We’d gotten up and dressed a little late for breakfast, so we stopped off at a Taco Bell en route, as it was something I’d always wanted to try. Yet another disappointment, unfortunately. We all wanted a good nosey at the menu, since we’d never been there before, but we felt rushed because of the miserable cow behind the counter who clearly had no time of the day for tourists, as she was perfectly sweet to everyone else. Pretty sure that’s still racism. Stupid bitch.

I had a quesarito and a spicy potato taco from the savers menu. The quesarito was okay, but far too full of cheese sauce and got quite sickly. I had to pull all of the salad out of the potato taco and it wasn’t even a proper taco. It was just a tortilla shaped like one. I call bullshit. That is so not a taco, which is all I really wanted in the first place. Taco Bell experiment failed. Happily got back into the car to carry on and had a far more satisfying Red Bull.

Despite driving past where we’d already stayed in Miami, the drive up to Fort Lauderdale really didn’t feel that long. Only another hour or so from Taco Bell. We found our cute little apartment complex, Tropi Rock, which actually has its own pool for once. I most definitely favour pools over the sea. Something to do with the fact that I can actually get in the water at the pool, rather than just crisping up in the sun on the beach. We unpacked a bit, milled around a while and then headed out for a little wander around to see what’s about.

Apparently, not a lot. There was the beach, obviously, and it really was a beautiful beach. One thing you can’t flaw Florida on. It was also the first one we’d seen with protested turtle laying grounds. Lots of little triangles of sand were all roped off. We had a meander past some apartment complex and found that even above anywhere else we’d been to, Fort Lauderdale is absolutely lizard central. I even saw a huge one that was two feet long from head to tail. I thought it must have been an escaped pet as it was bright lime green and had a crest and a beard, but we saw more afterwards. Talk about exotic looking wildlife.

After the very hot walk that didn’t really enlighten us on much other than the lizard situation, we came back to the room for a longer while. I started reading my Kelley Armstrong book, showered (in the worst shower we’ve had so far) and downloaded a cool notes app for my phone that’s designed to look like a Death Note with the black pages and the same fonts and everything. Love it. That’ll do well for my writing notes. Got ready to then head back out in search of food. Mom had already researched it on her tablet, since there hadn’t seemed to really be anything around, so we were on the lookout for an Irish grill and bar called McShorley’s.

Unfortunately, this was another plan that didn’t quite work out. It had a truly lovely bar and atmosphere, but the barman Rob told us that they don’t serve food, although they’re happy for people to bring food in from the adjoining fast food places. Ah. We didn’t want to be rude and just walk out, so we all had a drink first. They actually had a few ciders – often quite a hard find in America – so I had a bottle of Magners. Mom had a pint of their draft cider, Woodchuck. It was actually really nice; so much so that I wished I hadn’t just gone for the one I was familiar with. Some guys then brought in a takeout pizza and sat at the bar with it, watching the American football. That just seemed like the best idea ever, but stingy Brits would never allow that back home.

We decided to follow their lead, so after we finished our drinks, we moved across the road to the pizza place, Primanti Brothers. I pretty much never fancy pizza as I’m not a pizza fan in the slightest, but the one the guys had got in the bar looked really good so for once, I was fancying. The smallest they did was a fourteen inch pizza – typical America – so I ordered one with sausage, ham, salami, onions and extra cheese. Oh my god. Best pizza I’ve ever had. Dad had two of the smaller slices since he’d only had a hot dog and I happily devoured the rest. Normally, I find pizza gets far too boring to eat that much in one sitting, but not this pizza. Serious hats off to the Primanti Brothers.

Since they hadn’t offered much in the way of alcohol, we went back to McShorley’s afterwards. I was delighted to have my own pint of Woodchuck this time. We moved into the side room, where they had a big fish tank, a pool table, darts, a few arcade games, checkers, giant Jenga and Connect 4, of all things. I played Dad at pool and almost beat him, but cocked up my last shot and ended up perfectly lining up the black ball for him. Boo. Him and Mom had a few games after that, whilst I entertained myself by making a tower out of the Jenga blocks and watching the tropical fish in the tank. They actually had one of those goofy yellow fish that looks like it has teeth, just like the one me and Kel were so amused by in San Antonio.

Came back for more drinks in the room afterwards. By this point, I’d moved onto Bud Straw-ber-rita Splash. Played with my Death Note app some more and then did what was becoming the usual wind-down of reading, playing Disney game and watching some Impractical Jokers. Larry!

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I could be talked into being a pizza fan after this. For size comparison, see the chair behind it.

25/9/16 – Rollin’ on the river

Up earlier this time in order to get the complimentary breakfast in and get to the Everglades fairly early. I was actually ready before anyone this time, so I did some reading before we went for breakfast. First place we’ve been to that actually has a waffle make, woo! Safe to say that went down a treat. We then headed off to the Everglades. I watched an episode of Psych on the way. We stopped off at a little information centre to figure out a bit more about what we wanted to do, since the Everglades is a seriously huge place.

When we actually got into the park, it was chucking it down. Feels like home when the weather’s that typical. We bought our ticket for the Stingray boat tour, which leaves from the bay, goes along the canal and out into the lakes. The shop backed right onto the dock. I saw the fin of a tarpin cut through the water a few times. It’s kinda freaky; they’re like mini sharks. Armed with my brolley, I wandered further down the dock to have a nosey in the bay to see if I could see anymore, looked sideways and had the shock of my life when I instead saw the head of a three-metre crocodile rising up out of the water and against the side of the dock. I mean whoa. Talk about scary. I kept my distance, because I’ve seen how high those things can push themselves out of the water. I was certainly ready to be back inside the shop if it looked even remotely like it was going to try and climb out.

The croc disappeared when the boat came back in to dock from its last trip, but we saw another couple swimming further down the bay before we got on the boat ourselves. Apparently, this is the only place where crocodiles and alligators share the same water. I’d seen plenty of alligators when I did a swamp tour the first time I went to Louisiana, so getting to see wild crocodiles was a new and interesting one. They’re also scarier looking than alligators. However, our biggest problem on the boat wasn’t the crocodiles, the alligators or the horrible giant banana spiders we saw underneath the bridge we drove through; it was the goddamn mosquitoes. The boat ride was certainly interesting, but I felt like I spent the whole time slapping bugs away.

We had our ride cut short by about twenty minutes when a big thunderstorm hit whilst we were out in the middle of the lake, so we had to turn around and come back. I was super hungry when we came back in to dock, but with the weather being so temperamental, we wanted to keep seeing stuff rather than sitting down for a proper lunch. Instead, lunch was a pink lemonade and a bag of Funyuns from the little shop. Whilst we were having a munch, we went over to the other side of the bay and got to watch some baby manatees surfacing and sticking their noises up out of the water, ahhh. I really love manatees and they’re actually not endangered anymore. Well done, world.

We had a wander around the park and tried to do one of the trails you can walk along to look for wildlife. However, it was super overgrown and you had to try and cut your own path – not only unappealing when you’re in shorts sandals and a low-cut top; there was also the possibility that there could be snakes and all sorts lurking in the grass (in America, a lot of their snakes are poisonous). And we’d barely got anywhere before we were getting fully eaten alive by the bugs. We hastily changed our mind on that idea and returned to the car to drive round to the other side of the park to find Shark Valley.

Unfortunately, that idea also fell through when the satnav went on another mad one. We drove a really roundabout way, didn’t find anything for ages, then realised that we’d somehow bypassed the entire park and were suddenly a lot closer back to our motel. Well, bloody hell, satnav. We didn’t really feel like trying again, so we hit the next Walmart we found to get more drinks and things. I found some cute little jester gloves that are blatantly Harley Quinn inspired and will go great with my costume.

Mom had had a taste for KFC for ages now. We knew there was one nearby and had planned to bring some into the room last night before we’d spotted the Applebees, so that was moved to our plan for tonight instead. However, like the Applebees, it was also disappointing. We asked for a regular twelve-piece bucket and when we got back to the motel, we realised the dopey server had given us boneless chicken strips. Still nice, but nowhere near as good as the proper Kentucky coated stuff and when that’s what you’re expecting, chicken strips are definitely disappointing. Homestead have really failed us in the food department.

At least the TV selection was more satisfying. Mom turned it on to find 22 Jump Street, so that had us occupied for the night. After that, we found more Impractical Jokers and I had a mad reading spree to finish off my Clive Cussler book. With more Seagrams on the go, of course. As nights in go, not half bad.

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Now this is what you call a holy crap moment.