Hey Hubski, it’s about time I ge- drops the mic
“wwwrrrrryyyeeeEEEEEEEEEE!!” (feedback assaults your ears mercilessly)
…OK, let’s do this.
Day 1 - Wed., March 11:
We’ve both had exactly no sleep before our red-eye flight, wheels off the ground at 0530 local time. We’re busy people. Meet the travelers:
Wheels down in Orlando, where we pay absurd rates for a rental car. Always book in advance, especially if you’re too stupid to realize you’ll be visiting Florida during spring break (sigh).
We magically score what was probably the last room at the Motel 6 in downtown Cocoa Beach with a single phone call en route to the island. It’s still awfully early, so checking in is out of the question.
My fair lady asks the concierge what the best place is to eat on the beach, and we head for it, “Coconuts”. Shortly after 1100 Florida time, I snap this from our table:
The beach will never look like this for us again. Over the course of the next few hours, local leatherbacks trickle into the restaurant, while frats and sororities settle the shoreline. We did our part, and laid on the sand for a bit amongst them. I caught a quick nap, but then took a swim in the cold water to wake me up. By the time we left, it was like a scene out of a Van Wilder spring break flick.
So now we head to the hotel, and manage to get a room. Exhausted, we pass out for a few hours, wake up, eat, and pass back out.
Day 2 - Thur., March 12:
It’s launch day, 0700, and I’m up like a kid on Christmas morning.
We have a special launch pad tour lined up, and we meet up with a bunch of my coworkers in the parking lot of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex (KSCVC). If you thought you were going to get through a NASA-related post without acronyms, you were wrong.
We collect a friend of mine, and drive back to Orlando late that night, where he put us up in a room with him for the next three nights. Sweet deal!
Day 3 - Fri., March 13:
Wake up at 0900 because the three of us wanna do things.
Quick breakfast, then drive down the Orlando-Miami turnpike (more on this later) to “Wild Florida”.
[WARNING: LOUD VOLUME] Obligatory video of the airboat’s lateral movement.
I’m a little on the fence about whether or not I think supporting that place is a good idea, but it was pretty fun. Hard to gauge any ecological impact, but I figure that Florida is crawling with both humans and ‘gaterz, and there’s legislation in place to limit excessive hunting, so… maybe it’s OK? Condemnation acceptable here, but it’s now a somewhat successful cohabitation for ‘gaterz and humans.
We head back for Orlando around 1800, eat at a strip center Peruvian place for dinner (was excellent), grab some cheap beer, and watch shitty movies on the hotel TV until we fall asleep.
Day 4 - Sat., March 14:
Wake up at 0900 because we wanna do more things.
Driving out to Coca Beach, we stop at a Waffle House on the way. If you’ve never eaten at one but you’ve had the chance (and aren’t on a diet/vegan), shame on you. It’s a staple of the southern United States.
The three of us get to the beach mid-afternoon, and it’s shoulder to shoulder greek life. There are g-string bikini bottoms, beer pong games, and just a lot of skin in general. Again, we manage to infiltrate their ranks, and immerse ourselves in this movie scene.
Several hours of sunbathing, swimming in dangerous surf, jogging, and people-watching later, we head back to the city. My friend has yelp’d up places to eat, and we choose an artisan Italian pasta joint downtown (5 stars, and great gelato).
Back at the hotel, we order some drinks from the bar, roast marshmallows for s’mores on a gas-fired flame near the pool, and feed the tenants:
Day 5 - Sun., March 15:
Up early again, and we go to a local French café for breakfast, determined to dine like kings one last time.
After a quick session with the hotel dumbbells, with a few hours before our plane leaves, we lay on the poolside chaise lounges to soak up the last bit of Florida sun before banishment to more moderate climates.
Fly back home without a hitch, and I ease into work Monday morning in a victorious state of mind.
Now, a quick word on Orlando’s driving “situation”.
1. It is a disaster, not having a toll pass. Get a toll pass. Make sure you demand that your rental car company provide you with one. If all else fails, carry coin. If that fails, paper bills. Plastic is unforgivable.
2. Study the roads. Most of the ones worth being on are toll roads. Of special note: once you enter the Orlando-Miami turnpike, there is no leaving it. Shortly after hearing the GPS say “In 46 miles, exit right” when I missed my first exit (the only exit), I veered off the side of the road and took a dirt path labeled "KEEP OUT" to the local roads I knew existed via the map. I’m still unsure if I’ll be paying a $200 fine, but I salvaged at least an hour’s time.
3. No one actually knows how to drive. These people are in direct competition with Texans for the title of “worst automobile drivers”. Could have been due to a heavy tourist presence, but I got the idea that it wasn’t. It’s generally not like this anywhere up North. It's just one lovely treasure (HAHAHAH) of southern metropolis culture.
Also, yesterday it occurred to me that I have experienced four Spring Breaks this year; at Rice (Houston), here (for the “local” spring break), in Orlando/Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral, and then in Boulder. I just happened to hit them when I visited each place. Amazing March for me. :)
flagamuffin - my job is just making trip reports like this one. I’m making a nice sum of money with this post.
kleinbl00 - the reading material on airplanes was “A Confederacy of Dunces”. Thanks for recommending it, definitely enjoyed the experience.