Messing in Miami
We were going to make a weekend out of it. You know us; we don’t require much convincing to make a getaway out of something, even if it’s only a couple of hours away. So when author Taylor Fulks invited us to tag along with her to her award ceremony for the Reader’s Favorites down in Miami, the girls and I started looking at what all we could do while we were down there. Our nights were going to be filled, but that still left the days and if you subtracted the 45 minutes it took to make a five minute trip due to traffic, we still had plenty of time.
The week before I had told the girls what time I wanted to leave Friday in order to be there. As the time drew closer, I kept edging liftoff time closer and closer and soon it went from noon to eleven and then to how fast can we get out of here. At one point Char looked at me Thursday night and said, "Do you just want to get in the car and go?" I almost said yes, but we still had to get the 9 year-old to school that Friday morning. However, she arrives at school at 7:30, so we could be out of the house by 7:35. The girls just shook their head and we were scheduled to hit the road at ten that morning.
For some reason I have always thought Miami was four hours to the south of us. It was only three and that is stopping for lunch halfway between here and there. I was even nice enough to allow them to eat in the restaurant instead of while we were driving. I can be gracious sometimes. Stop laughing, it’s true.
We finally found our way to our hotel thanks to that annoying GPS lady on Sarah’s phone and to our surprise we arrived about two hours before check-in. We decided to go ahead and see if by chance our room was ready and we could unload the weekend baggage before hitting the road. By the looks of the parking lot, they weren’t busy.
To our surprise, we were checked-in, issued our keys, and told to enjoy our stay. We quickly grabbed a cart and stacked it to the top with our luggage and other goodies, such as my Jameson, and dumped it into our room. I returned the luggage cart, Char went for ice and Teri and Sarah emptied the bags. I don’t know if you do this or not, but we actually unpack, even if it’s just a one night stay. Everything is hung up and put into drawers. Pillows claim sleeping spots and chargers are plugged in. It’s a hotel, but for a couple of days, it’s home and we make it so.
Soon we were fighting the traffic on 386 as we made our way to Bayside Marketplace and our friends, Taylor Fulks and Margie Miklas. Like us, Margie had come down to Miami to support Taylor. The International Book Fair had a couple of streets blocked off, but we were able to soon find parking and were dodging cars as we crossed the street.
Bayside Marketplace is much like many of the other touristy spots we’ve been to lately. It resembles City Walk at Universal, John’s Pass in Madeira Beach, and Downtown Disney at, well, Disney. It has a host of specialty shops as well as the typical ones, restaurants, eateries, and bars. It’s also right on the bay, so we were able to sit and watch cruise ships go out and come in as well as other sailboats. It was a busy place, but if you found the right spot, it could be a very relaxing place as well.
We met up with Taylor and Margie, who had already spent most of the day together, and decided on an adult beverage and some chitchat. We found a small corner bar called the Other Daiquiri Bar, ordered a round of drinks and settled in.
We had met Margie once before at one of her book signings in Fort Pierce, but it was our first time to actually meet Taylor. We had all shared Twitter and Facebook, but had never met face-to-face. As it is meeting anyone you’ve conversed with online, it can be a bit nerve-wracking. You worry if their online persona matches up with their offline personality, because, let’s face it, people can be completely different than what you see online. In many cases I hope that’s true because some people I see online are whiny ass drama queens. Taylor, however, has always been supportive and sweet. She was that way offline as well. What you see on Facebook is what you get and that is always refreshing to find. We’ve always known Margie was a sweetheart and it was great to reconnect with her again.
We sat and talked for about two hours before we had to head back to our hotel and get ready for the writers’ Meet and Greet at the Residence Inn where the award ceremony was taking place. It was also rush hour on a Friday and traffic was bumper to bumper and backed up for several miles. I will never understand how traffic on an interstate with no traffic lights can get bogged down. Then again, I don’t understand why people haven’t learned the difference between the slow lane and the passing lane, either.
We were about thirty minutes late to the Meet and Greet, but as it wasn’t a structured event it wasn’t bad. I hate being late though. Ask the girls. Punctuality is a pet peeve of mine. If you say you’re going to be somewhere at a certain time, be there. Otherwise, you’re not being true to your word and you’re disrespecting other people’s time.
I’ll discuss the Meet and Greet in another post, but suffice it to say we had a great time and met some fantastic people. It was well worth the effort of going.
Afterwards, the six of us headed back over to Bayside Marketplace for dinner. It was about 9:30, so traffic wasn’t as bad, but still obnoxious. I had thought one street was a one way, so I went around a couple of cars to make my left hand turn from 11th to 2nd only to find out that it wasn’t and I was in the oncoming traffic. When you make a blunder like that all you can do is own it and pray no one rams into you. Luckily for us, no one did and we were soon back in our parking spot from earlier with time still on our parking meter ticket. That’s another post as well.
We ate at a small Italian restaurant and practically had the place to ourselves for awhile. A concert by Hillsong United, a contemporary Christian group, was playing in the Klipsch Ampitheater at the Marketplace and the music filtered in off the bay. The lights off the boats, the cool breeze off the water, and the company we were with made it a perfect night. We sat around the table, laughing and sharing stories as we sipped our cocktails and enjoyed our food.
As we crossed the street to get to the Marketplace, there was a large open field at the entrance. After dinner as we were heading back to the car, the field had been filled with large bronze statues of historic figures, such as Mother Theresa and Muhammad Ali, in combat boots and carrying guns. Michael Jackson even had dynamite strapped to his chest. The statues had not been there when we arrived.
As we stared, we noticed a police officer walking across the field staring at the statues and decided to ask what they were there for. He shrugged his shoulders. “They weren’t here an hour ago. I have no idea.” When we got back into the car, we Googled the event and discovered the exhibit was War to War by Iraqi sculptor, Ahmed Al-Bahrani. It was to run for the first half of December as a stand against war and gun violence by interacting conventional and unconventional symbols.. You have to love the internet and smart phones.
Back in the van, we began to make our way back to the hotels. An Eagles concert had just ended and traffic lights had gone into flashing yellow mode. At this point the intercity traffic scared me more than the interstate. Those with the yellow flashing lights were determined to go no matter what, which left those in the lanes with the red flashing lights frustrated and stuck. They were just as determined, however. People were inching out into oncoming traffic in a dangerous game of chicken. They were either going to be hit or allowed to cross, either way. Horns were blaring, pedestrians were weaving among the stalled cars, and tempers were short. There were a couple of officers directing traffic, but they were doing more harm than good. By the time we hit the interstate, drivers were tired of being boxed in and it was as if the green flag was waved at a NASCAR race. It was ridiculous!
As soon as we were back in our room, safe for the night, I poured a double of Jameson, kicked off my shoes and plopped on the bed, exhausted and my hands sore from clenching the steering wheel. I’m not sure I even finished my drink before I simply passed out. And that was just the first day!
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