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?

22/9/16 – Doing as the locals do

Got up semi-early to get ready and pack the last few things before leaving our nice Miami apartment. A friend of Lydia’s picked us up and took us to the Alamo to fetch our car and didn’t even want to charge us for the ride! We still tipped him, of course. Our car wasn’t ready yet, but the man behind the desk upgraded us to a bigger one free of charge to save us spending our vacation sitting in the Alamo. I do love Americans. There was also the Latino double of Oliver Hudson working on the desk. I genuinely thought it was really him (and that he’d super downgraded his career somehow) until I heard him speak.

Our car was a big Dodge Journey that I quickly dubbed Harry (Hazza if you’re feeling casual). It’s so good to have a car to just pile everything into, rather than having to lug around various bags and cases, particularly the box that’s filled with alcohol. Both the Alamo guy and our unofficial taxi driver commented on how it was the most important piece of luggage we were carrying. Not untrue. We only drove about an hour out of Miami before we had to stop off at a Burger King. Hunger is real, people, even if Burger King is pretty unsatisfying when you consider the wide variety of eating options here.

Back on the road again. Watched an episode of Psych and then we were distracted by a Walmart. Actually the first one we’ve seen. Finally got my big box of Seagrams, as well as more Red Bull, Sunny D, Milk Duds and a giant bag of popcorn. Then I discovered the clothes section and got very distracted indeed. I ended up picking out a stripy jumper dress of all things, but it was just too nice to pass up and as Mom pointed out, it was very me. Everyone knows black and red is my colour scheme. Even better, I also got various pairs of boxers with Deadpool, Batman and Wonder Woman on them. There were some lovely Harley Quinn ones, but sadly, they only had them in massive sizes.

By the time we were leaving, it was pouring with rain, so we had to wait it out a little before we were brave enough to make a run for it to the car. Thankfully, we didn’t have anymore distraction stops. I’d planned on using the driving time to write, but the drive was so nice that I ended up just watching through the window instead and taking the odd photo. Definitely some lovely views driving into the Keys. We booked into our very cute hotel in Key Largo and had a mill around in the room for a while. Had a little read and then Skyped Kel for a bit. I don’t think she’s enjoying hamster-sitting for Wilson, since he managed to get out of his ball. Yes, I named my hamster after a ball and yes, it’s ironic that he’s tried to make his grand escape from it on a few occasions.

Headed on out after that and had a little wander around the area. We walked down the waterfront first and found some lovely red and blue wrasse, stripy little Angelfish looking Sergeant Majors and some teeny, teeny jellyfish. We then went inwards and onto the street that ran parallel to the water. It was so freaking adorable. It was like being in a proper little fishing village, which I guess technically, we were. All of the houses were built up above the first storey with open patios underneath, besides the garages, clearly prepared for any potential flooding. They all looked really nice and cute though and everyone had their own unique mailboxes, like ones that were being held up by a manatee or alligator statue.

After exploring everything there pretty much was to explore – which really was only a little – we went to a restaurant called Sharkey’s, where we got to sit upstairs out on the balcony, overlooking the waterfront. Now this was just the most perfect night. I had a literal bucketful of a cocktail called Sharkbite Punch, which was mango and passionfruit rum, pineapple and orange juice and grenadine. To go with that, I decided to be adventurous and went with the beer battered fresh shrimp and sea fries. I’m really fussy with seafood and had to ask for them to be served without the tails on, so it was a brave step for me, but god, it was such a good choice. It was so fresh and so tasty and I felt so pleased that I’d chose to be adventurous. As well as the food and drink being delicious, there was a musician playing an acoustic set of great covers of songs I love like Three Doors Down, Oasis and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Then we even got to sit and watch an electrical storm out over the river where the lightning made the clouds light up pink and blue. Talk about the most incredible atmosphere. Everything was just perfect.

Suitably stuffed and with Mom certainly not wanting any more cocktails after our buckets, we headed back to the room. I had a few of my Mike’s Hard Lemonade and read, then planned to watch the rest of Sahara and then do some writing. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on which way you look at it – Dad discovered Impractical Jokers on the telly, so I had no choice but to watch that after only watching a little more of Sahara. Guess we’ll try again tomorrow.

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Now that’s entertainment.

27/10/13 – We’re going on a bear hunt

Got up super early so that we could get our next car and then make the most out of zoo times. Very quickly Skyped the oldies before leaving and even managed a speedy waffle too! The idiot driving the shuttle left early without us and tried to blame US for being late, though we were bang on time, and then he sent us off the wrong way for our Alamo pick-up (our guess was on purpose). We got a small choice of cars, including more Elvises and more Codys. I went for one of the Versas, primarily for the better fuel consumption. So we now have Elvis’s brother Klaus!

Having this picture taken then distracted me from locking the car… I realised a few hours later. Oops!

We then spent the rest of the day at San Diego zoo. The place is huge! Obviously we’ve seen a lot of the main animals at other places but we got to see gorillas, tigers, lions, etc. much more close up. We even got to see polar bears and hippos underwater, both of which were new experiences. Pandas were also new. And we even got to see bears! I’ve never seen bears before! Exactly three weeks too late. Typical. Funnily though, one of my favourites was a husky-lab cross called Miley. They use a buddy system where they pair big cats or wolves with domesticated dogs from a young age. So Miley shared the exhibit with her best friend, a cheetah! We also did a 4D Ice Age experience, where you watch clips of the film and they just turn all the special effects on you. I was sat at the front and pretty much got drowned in bubbles. It was rather amusing.

Smiley Miley – forget the exotic animals; I just want her!

This genuinely scared the bejeesus out of me. Princess Mononoke, anyone?

After the zoo we made a Walmart stop and then went back to the hotel. We were more interested in food by this point, so we swiftly headed back out to Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern. I had tomato bisque, then buttermilk fried chicken with garlic mash, along with some very lovely sangria. We had a joint Miranda recall over some of our favourite parts and both ended up crying through laughing just thinking about it! Simple minds, eh? Spent the rest of the night watching Big Bang Theory and drinking Hard Mike’s Cranberry Lemonade. Such fun!

After three weeks on the dot I finally got my belated birthday wish of seeing a bear!

18/10/13 – Antonio, nooooo!

Got up and got ready and packed in a very relaxed manner this morning, even though my stupid dreams still haven’t stopped. We even got to watch some South Park in between. We then got everything packed into the car and set off for San Antonio. It was just over an hour drive and I actually relaxed much more this time. Driving along the interstate is really simple, just a bit dull after a while. We were still ahead of check-in time so we went to the Japanese tea gardens first to kill some time. They were really lovely – they looked so old and authentic. There was a waterfall and several koi ponds, as well as lots of cute little paths and stone stairways.

Up for a game of Where’s Weirdo?

After checking into our hotel we headed back out to downtown San Antonio. Had a bit of a game with parking, but eventually managed to find a solution for it. We had a wander around, saw the Alamo, then went to the Rainforest Café for tea. We both had steak and chicken with garlic mash and Caribbean rice. The chicken was a bit weird, but everything else was lovely. We were also sat next to the tropical fish tank, which certainly kept us entertained. My favourite was a perpetually happy fish with goofy teeth – I genuinely laughed every time I looked at him. Kel reckoned it was like the nerdy, brace-y schoolkid fish in Finding Nemo.

We did a Walmart stop on the way home, which ended up taking longer than anticipated because Sam decided to play us up. Got some Seagrams and some more Kool-Aid though (the last six-pack didn’t even last me twenty-four hours). They also had the most awesome long Batman and Robin tees with attached capes! Sadly though they were only in kid’s sizes and Kel was sure that none would fit her. I was actually gutted – we could have been Batman and Robin on Halloween!

Came back to the room, had a few drinks, some popcorn and watched Friends and bits of Role Models. I discovered that the comedian we’d listened to in the van during the tour is actually in a show called King of Queens, which we also saw a bit of. And then to top everything else I learnt that James Roday was born, guess where? That’s right – San Antonio! Thank you for spawning a man of such comic genius and perfect hair.

My fine-finned friend – “oh my goshth, Nemo’s shwimming out to sthea!”