After getting up FAR too early, I caught my flight just fine. Fortunately for me, it was cloudy most of the way down, so I didn't have to stay glued to the window - I was able to sleep a little.
The first step out of the airport in Orlando was like we've experienced a few places: a little like stepping into a sauna. Ok, that's a poor description, since it wasn't too hot or anything. It's just that, after coming from the very dry air of Calgary, stepping into the humid, fragrant air closer to the tropics is still a treat!
My time in Florida began a little poorly. I had rented a car from Alamo, and they appear to be taking over the car rental business. With all the car rental desks in the airport, the only one with a lineup was Alamo, and their lineup was RIDICULOUS! (Minor rant: why, even after providing all of your information in the reservation request, do places like car rentals and hotels still have to type into their keyboards for half an hour before giving you what your reserved?!?)
I eventually got through the lineup and went to get my car. I was happy because the cars were at the airport, and I didn't have to take a shuttle. However, that meant a long walk. Alamo just sends you into their parking lot to pick out a car. Well, when I got there, there were no cars left in the class I'd reserved. I made the trek back to the desk, and they told me to try the National cars (I guess they're connected). I made the trek again, and there was exactly one car left - a really boring looking white Cavalier. I took the car and made my way out of the parking lot. Once outside the parking lot, I plugged my laptop into the cigarette lighter so that I could use my GPS to navigate. Well, the cigarette lighter didn't work, and I didn't really want to spend all my time here looking at maps, so I turned around and went back. Now there were NO cars left, and two of us were looking for compact cars. The attendant had us wait while he tracked down cars. Eventually he came back with two set of keys. I got a beige Impala, and the other guy got a PT Cruiser. I tried to trade him, but he wouldn't go for it. :-( Oh, well, the Impala's not bad.
My first day of driving around Florida was actually a little less exciting than I'd anticipated. Being a prairie boy, I instinctively headed for the nearest coast, which from Orlando is Cape Canaveral. I decided not to go to the Kennedy Space Center, since I wanted to spend more time there than I had left that day, and I wanted to get to Miami so that I could start for Key West Thursday. I did, however, see it in the distance from one of the bridges I crossed. About the same time, I also saw a flock of flamingos flying over, and I knew I wasn't in Canada anymore! :-)
East of Orlando, on the coast, there are a number of long, skinny islands running parallel to the coast. I decided to drive down these on highway A1A. There were two things that were particularly noteworthy: the damage that remained from the last hurricane, and the storm shutters on all the apartment buildings. The hurricane damage wasn't necessarily huge, but it seemed to be everywhere. It was the kind of thing I couldn't really capture with a picture, but I did get a picture of apartment buildings with storm shutters (coming later).
The length of the islands alternated between opulent areas, with fancy homes on one side of the road and golf courses on the other, mixed with more run-down areas. It didn't really grab me all that much, and I didn't get much for pictures. It was nice enough, but not spectacular like, for example, the 17 Mile Drive in California.
I drove down A1A until after dark, and then headed back to the freeway to get to Miami. When I don't have a navigator beside me (thanks Sue! :-), a GPS certainly is a great help.
The rest of that day is relatively un-noteworthy, and I want to hit the road. I'm sitting in a hotel lobby typing this, and even though the weather outside looks miserable (raining and very windy), I still want to get out there.
Unfortunately, the ribs I injured last weekend are bothering me a little more. I still don't think it's anything serious (or that a doctor could fix - I understand they don't do much with cracked ribs), but if I were in Canada, I'd probably go get an X-ray just for confirmation. Oh, well, a little pain never hurt nobody! :-)