It was goodbye to the Keys and onwards back up north where we were heading for Miami Beach to continue our relaxation theme whilst in Florida. The journey was uneventful but as we arrived in Miami seeing all the boats and posh houses you could tell this was a rather affluent area. Sue started taking some pictures of the high rises as we entered Miami with her camera now that mine had met its demise. Soon it had run out of power, hers using AA batteries as opposed to my rechargeable so once we had found a place to park we purchased some new ones only to find once we had got to the beach the camera started playing up. We didn't guess immediately that it was the new batteries at fault as you don’t expect that and I was getting pretty peed off. After strolling along the beach for a while, a beach that I would have liked to have stayed longer as it had beautiful white sand and clear warm water and not being able to take pictures we decided to call it quits and head for our location at Miami Lakes
. Once we arrived we headed straight for the pool and stayed there for two hours just chilling out after the drama with camera number two. After a shower we headed out for some food and buy some more batteries to see if that was the cause and of course it was with the camera now back working and us relieved as we still had many photos to take before the end of this journey. Whilst out I looked in to a hairdressers, which looked closed and barely got 10 foot down the road when a young lady came rushing out to see if I wanted anything. I told her no it was fine and continued to walk, but got second thoughts as I needed a haircut and she had obviously made an effort to get my custom so I returned and had my haircut after bartering for a price.
9th May – Miami Lakes – Naples – 112 Miles – Comfort Inn & Suites
To get to Naples, which is on the West Coast we headed across the Everglades on route 41. Our first port of call was another Airboat ride to see how this differed from the previous one in New Orleans. It wasn’t much different except that this one only lasted only ½ hour and had another ½ talk about the wildlife. The Alligators here never swam to the boat like the last ones as the rangers were not allowed to feed them or they would receive very heavy fines
. We saw lots of fish and a few birds but not a lot on the whole. The wildlife talk was really weird as the ranger doing it chose to speak in a really silly voice, which wasn’t like his normal voice after we spoke to him at the end, it was most strange.
We left there and about 12 miles further down the road was Shark Valley, here we took a 2 hour tram ride around part of the everglades seeing far more than on the Air Boat ride. We also all got out at one stage and walked along a man-made water area they called Alligator Beach, here as we walked you could see the alligators heads pop out as we made vibrations on the ground, however all they do is just watch you and never seem to bother about us. One thing we have learned on this trip is that Alligators are much less aggressive than Crocodiles, you don’t get near Crocs. Another stop was at a observatory tower, once used to look out for fires but now just for guests as the fire watch is now done by computers. Along the route were many types of birds as well, unfortunately I can’t remember their names. Once finished we left the park to get to our hotel in Naples, noting further along the road quite a lot of smoke caused by a fire in the Everglades.
Yet again this hotel had a pool and a bar by the pool serving beer at half price so we took full advantage enjoying the last couple of hour’s sun
. I also had a good chat about sport with the guy’s in the bar, whilst Sue stayed by the pool.
10th May – Naples – Clearwater – 219 Miles – Travel Lodge Clearwater
Off again further north, but first we went to see what Naples had to offer, well a bit of it anyway. We chose to visit the beach area and pier. The part of Naples we saw was lovely, one of those places people with some money come to retire. The roads to the beach were lined with wonderful looking houses and lovely trees lining the roads. The beach had glorious white sand and the water was clear going out for a short distance. As we walked along the pier we noticed that anyone could fish there as the licence was paid by the local authorities and many were taking advantage of that. On the first part of the pier we could look over and see fish about 12 to 15 inches in length swimming about called Snoop, and it seemed weird that you could actually see the fish you were trying to catch. By all accounts though having chatted to a local, these fish are wise to it and don’t take the bait easily. There were also shoals of small fish all around and beyond the pier meaning that birds and other fish would come to feed. I questioned whether fish would bite with such an abundance of food around but they do it seems
. As we strolled along and back we also saw a Sea Turtle briefly, apparently a rare sight, a Dolphin very much in the mood for food and a Pelican much the same. We stayed for about an hour and enjoyed every minute but time was moving on and so we had to get away. I had planned to visit a few places on route but these never quite worked out so our next port of call was Venice Beach, you can see that we like our beaches and were following an Italian theme. Venice Beach wasn’t as nice as Naples but we stopped here for an hour or so having a swim and just lapping up some more of the hot sun available. It soon became far too hot to hang around for long so off we went again planning on visiting St Petersburg and Tampa if we had time. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for either as we got stuck in the traffic. We did go through Tampa to get to Clearwater and that was fun in its self with a maze of roads and lots of traffic whizzing all around us. Eventually we did make it but this was probably the most frantic journey to date with having to cross from one side of a highway to another within seconds on a couple of occasions to obtain the correct exits. Thanks to a pretty good Sat Nav we managed to do it though.
11th May – Clearwater - Orlando International Airport – New York – 105 Miles – Holiday Inn, Long island City – Manhattan View
Up early and away to drive the 105 miles to the airport so that we could drop the car back by 11:30 am at the latest. I left plenty of time as I did not want any problems regarding the traffic but as it happens we had a pretty straight through journey arriving with plenty of time to spare. Once there I let them know that I had gone through a toll and been unable to pay as the toll company no longer take cash, but just send the bill 30 days later to the owner
. The hire company state that they will charge extra administration fees for non-payment, which I wasn’t prepared to pay as I was notifying them. I was given a number to call to pay and on calling I was advised that I could pay for a card but would have to pay for the full time, 9 days at $7 a day. Considering that we only passed these tolls on the one day for a total of about $3 I wasn’t accepting that and suggested that I would pay for one day, which would cover it. They of course said that may have had more days but I told them I hadn’t so we couldn’t come to a solution. I was then asked to call the following day once my contract had been closed and try to find a solution. As yet I haven’t had time to contact them yet. The plane took off on time and after a brief stopover in Newport Mews we arrived in LaGuardia Airport around 6:10 pm. The journey however was not without its amusing moments with a couple creating that they had asked for window seats, suffered enormously with claustrophobia and if they didn’t have windows would have panic attacks. I also requested a window seat but all I got was a very large engine outside mine so not much better than the moaners. With the first part of the flight not being full they managed to get into some seats that had a window and were very pleased with themselves, however at the time I didn’t notice that several other had seemed to of moved around, probably to accommodate these two drama queens. The next part of the flight was fuller and people coming on wanted their seats that these two sat in
. One of the queens (and he was a queen, know what I mean) told the girls who now wanted their seats that it was too bad honey and that they would have to see a stewardess as they weren’t moving. Of course when push came to shove they had to as their boarding passes didn’t match. There was then a lot of shouting out at how they wanted refunds and that if he had a panic attack on the flight they would be responsible. Of course nothing of the sort happened and the flight was continued without any more fuss. On arrival in New York we took a yellow cab to our hotel, which was a short distance away and as it was late we decided to just have some food at the hotel and not venture out as there was not much in the local vicinity. Our room gives us a great view of what New York is like as on one side we have the over ground railway, in front looks old with street that don’t look to pleasant, although not dangerous and to our right is the sky line of Manhattan with the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building very prominent.
8th May – Marathon – Miami lakes – 134 Miles – La Quinta Inn & Suites Miami Lakes