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Sunday, December 19, 2004

Technicolor Yawns, Alligator Alley, etc.

All three of the kids, in varying degrees and symptoms, came down with a bad case of either "growling in the grass" or the trots.

Dee-lightful! Rachel had the mildest (thank God) symptoms of all of us--just a couple of hideously full--or overfull--diapers. I should edit that--"Mildest symptoms next to her apparently-Ebola-immune mother" would be more accurate. Heather's imperviousness to the diseases of the world continues to be a source of irritating wonder. Better her than me, though.

After all, even the littluns' dad got ill--and with remarkable projection and velocity--last Monday night. Apparently, it is Basic Epidemiology™ that being barfed on three times by a sick person greatly increases your chances of contracting their malady.


Of course, I became ill just before a morning flight to South Florida for business.

I had almost nothing to eat for three days, which, given my size, is probably a good thing. Fasting, penance and all that. That, and I don't enjoy hurling.

I flew in to Miami, and drove Alligator Alley over to Ft. Myers (flying directly into Fort Myers from Detroit is expensive enough to force the immediate default of your average Third World kleptocracy) for the necessary transactions and inquiries. Anyone who ever complains about Metro Detroit traffic has never left Michigan. Miami traffic at 2:30pm is something to be strenuously avoided, as I discovered. But once I cleared that, I found the section of I-75 that cuts through the northern Everglades/Cypress region to be hauntingly beautiful. And a little chilling, too. All that fencing is there for a reason--there are gators, indeed, in them there 'Glades. Just waiting for that extra-special, not-particularly-agile, clueless tourist from Up North...

Business was transacted, and I drove back Wednesday. Then, The Fun Began.

You see, I had to change my hotel reservation, and was advised that it was "the Days Inn close to Miami International Airport." [BTW, a salute to Miami IA--the loudspeakers played honest-to-God Christmas carols--Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Little Town of Bethlehem were two of the memorable ones.] I was given an address and phone number for the new hotel, and I drove quickly to Miami, watching an overcast sunset over the same Everglades. Then I discovered what "close to the airport" meant, as I headed increasingly into the downtown area.

A-ha! A Days Inn logo!

Ooookay--where the hell is the exit? Well, surely any exit will do. Right?

At least there were no gators. Several blocks of twisting around lights, finding seemingly parallel streets, and navigating further around a city I'd never been to in my life brought me to the front desk. Ah, yes--here's my reservation confirmation number.

"Sorry, sir, we don't even have a number close to that. That's odd."

Yes, it sure is...Um, isn't this the Days Inn closest to the airport? Off 11th Street?

"Oh, no--This is 12th Street. The other Days Inn, that's back off the expressway. Just go back on the 826 and head west. You can see it right from the expressway."

Oh, yay!

Five hours on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight.

Well, after wending my way around some badly advertised construction, even-more-badly-planned on-ramps and exits, I worked my way back to the 826 and started looking. No luck.

You see, while the expression "You can see it right from the expressway" was fully accurate and utterly true, the same also applies to Ursa Major. It doesn't mean that it's easy to see, much less that I have any ability to get there.

I took an exit, and tried the phone number.


Have you ever seen a steering wheel turned into a balloon animal? It's pretty cool, if hard to explain to the rental car company.

I tried a local, who advised me in an earnest and friendly, if not fully-reassuring way, to "take road to end, then right."

Well, why not? It was better than "seeing it from the expressway." Better yet: it worked. I pulled in, checked in, and crashed.

So I'm a little slow in getting re-started around here. Your patience, please.

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