Sunday, August 3, 2008

We're not in Kansas anymore...

Well, we're finally here in Florida.  After months of preparation and anticipation we finally made it back to where I served my mission in South Florida.  We are at the half-way mark now and wanted to post a few pictures to catch everyone up on our travels.

Here we are in the Twin Cities airport trying to get internet access so we could watch episodes of Lost while we were waiting 3 hours for our flight.  This picture depicts the frustration and anguish we felt for having to pay $10 for 24 hour access or $5 for 1 hour access to the airport's WiFi network.  We were too cheap to succumb to such outrageous rates and instead Karen read a book and I worked on some family pictures I took on Monday evening.

As part of our vacation package that we already paid for, we were given an economy sized rental car with unlimited mileage.  Little did they know that I knew the area like the back of my hand and that I would take advantage of the unlimited miles.  When we got to Alamo to pick up our rental car, the guy was very impressed by Karen's binder with all of our vacation information neatly organized and gave us a free upgrade to a mid-sized rental car.  We had pretty free reign on our choice of cars and the guy said that I should let the wife choose the car.  Leave it to Karen to choose (with some subliminal encouragement from me) the only Toyota Prius that was parked away in the corner.  We found the keys on the dashboard but were very puzzled for the next 5 minutes as we tried to find where the key was, where to put it in, how to turn the car on, and make it go.  We discovered that the key fob WAS the key that we inserted into a small slot, the big button that closely resembled a computer power button was how we turned it on, and the small joystick looking thing was the shifter that eventually put us in drive and sent us on our way.  We didn't feel too bad about our brief troubleshooting because several valets looked just as puzzled and took almost as long as we did to get things going.  Considering we are driving more of a computer than a car (just to prove my point, whenever you have any problems with it, just shutdown and restart.  All we're missing is the nice startup noise we get on our Macs.), we get excellent gas mileage.  55 mpg average on our last fill up.  And we've only made one on our 740 mile journey thus far. :^)  This picture is Karen looking confused with the key fob/Key thingy in front of the computer car.

In order to get such a good "deal" on our vacation package, we were roped into sitting through one of those presentations where they try their best to overcome all of your objections and get you to sign the dotted line on one of those exclusive time shares.  When we went to our presentation we were paired up with our own personal guide that was going to sit down with us for breakfast and then sell us a condo.  Seemed pretty straight forward.  As we were being seated for breakfast, the interrogation began.  It started off with an innocent, "So, where do you work?" and evolved to, "What do you mean when you say you're BOTH full-time students and you work part-time?", and finally escalated to, "Let's talk numbers here, how much do the two of you make every year?"  Our fully trained and licensed personal real estate agent/guide was reduced to a "Let me talk to my manager real quick to see if we can get you guys out of the presentation.  I mean, let's face it, you two could be my grandkids and you don't have the money for this anyways," within 5 minutes.  Once we got that awkward bit out of the way, we had a delightful breakfast with Janet.  She began asking about why we were in Florida which led to the discussion of my missionary work in Florida.  We had a very open discussion about religion and family  (Janet is a strong Catholic) and learned a lot from each other.  After saving about 2 hours of our morning, we decided to take a drive along the beach and stopped here at a public beach in West Palm Beach for a nice stroll along the sand.

Later that day we found some time to actually go swimming in the ocean.  This was taken at a beach in Hollywood (Florida).  Gosh, ocean water does NOT taste good.

This picture was taken in Tap Tap, a Haitian restaurant on South Beach.  Those of you who follow Wyclef Jean would recognize its name being incorporated in his songs.  I have wanted to go here for so long but never was able to go until this trip.  It was pouring down rain outside but we were undeterred.  We had some excellent Haitian cuisine and live music.  Karen ordered Griyot, which is a deep fried pork dish with Banann Peze (fried plantains) and Diri Kole (mixed rice and beans).  I ordered the Kabrit nan Sos (Goat Stew) which also came with Banann Peze and Diri Blan ak sos pwa nwa (white rice with black bean sauce).  The best thing was the Ji Papay (Papaya Juice).  You can see it on the table in front of me.  The way Haitians make it is with Carnation Milk, which may sound gross but it really makes it the best thing in the world.  We ordered two.

After a full day of visiting old friends from my mission, we headed up to Orlando.  Before leaving southern Florida we made a quick trip down to Ti Ayiti (Little Haiti) in Miami.  While on my mission I sent pictures taken here to Karen and we decided to recreate some of them here.  Karen looks way cuter next to the road sign than I ever did and she's even giving Churchill some lovin' too.  Who would ever thought a double decker bus could be found in Miami, Little Haiti no less.

After driving 3.5 hours from Miami to Orlando, we went to the Temple and had a great time there.  Pretty, huh?

Many of you may remember our trip to Chicago and my excitement in front of the Apple Store.  This doesn't even hold a candle to the excitement that Karen had for finding an IKEA in Orlando.  It was a pretty cool place that has space efficient stuff (Karen interjects: "And looks cute too!") for affordable prices.  Kansas better get one by the time we move into a real house!  Check out their stuff here.

Tomorrow we are going on our cruise to Nassau, Bahamas and will wrap up our trip on Wednesday.  We will post the other half of the pictures next week.  All I gotta say is, we love vacations!


shoeless joel said...

You'll definitely have to give us pointers when we go to Miami. You guys look like you're having a great time! Sorry we couldn't meet you in Orlando.

Becca said...

Looks like fun! We are going to Orlando for "Christmas" in October, so if you find some random cool place (that you can take a baby to) tell us.

Michelle said...

I remember Hollywood Beach! Dave and went to South Florida for our honeymoon, and took a cruise to Nassau, then went to Orlando and of course DisneyWorld!! We also got to see a rocket launch at the Kennedy Space Center. It was pretty sweet. But I loved Hollywood beach, I have good memories there. Go to the Space Center, it's AWESOME!

Amelia said...

Great pic's guys - I'm glad you had so much fun! I especially love the photo of Adam in the restaurant. Have you ever seen a happier guy? We miss you!