Tag Archives: Daytona 500

How to Render Your Husband Speechless, Again

Originally posted in WWN101 in 2012 this salacious tale seems worth repeating at this stage of our . . . . . our what? Confusion? Clarity? Travels? Decision to settle? Whatever.

After returning from the doctor’s office himself said to me, “The nurse told the doctor, ‘They’ve been right down to Key West and back. I wish I could do that,’ so I said to her you should change places with my wife.”

He sees this as proof enough that we should continue to travel, not settle down.

Of course she’d like to take a road trip to Key West. She’s working full time in wet Washington State.

I’ll bet he didn’t qualify the dream with the drawbacks. Would you give up your home, family and friends and emigrate to another country to satisfy your travel lust?  Would you give up free health care?  Could you survive in a tin box with your other half for years without coming to blows or calling a divorce lawyer?  Would you mind looking like a ragamuffin because your best clothes (probably moldy now) are in storage?

I appreciate the fact that I’ve seen 47 of the 50 states, something most Americans will never do. Of course I feel privileged to have seen most of the top National Parks.

And I hope himself has read this far before he’s blown a gasket and called me an ungrateful cow.

Just to confirm how right he is and how wrong I am – always worth a victory lap in his book – we had a memorable moment with Courtney in the course of our travels. As we approached a gaily decked out espresso hut the NASCAR bunting made me smile at the thought of our day at the Daytona 500.

Jimmy’s big day at the Daytona 500

Better still, after hearing, “I’ll be with you guys in a second,” a dark-haired leggy lovely appeared, dressed – I use that term loosely – in skimpy – that’s being generous – stop-light-yellow shorts and a NASCAR-emblazoned yellow top that had more fabric in the sleeves than the whole of the rest of the outfit.

As my mouth dropped open, she smiled brightly. “What can I get you guys?” I dared not look at Jimmy’s expression. Rather than place our order, what came out of my mouth was, “I like your outfit.”

“Oh, thanks. We were losing business to the bikini baristas so we thought we needed to make a change, but to something tasteful.” I really daren’t look at Jimmy then.  Her navel piercing and cleavage were particularly eye catching. I managed some sort of coffee order for myself, Jimmy stuttered out his tea order and whaddayaknow! the tea bags were on the bottom shelf.  Did I mention that her shorts were very brief?

“I like you guys’ accents. Where are you from?” I gave the concise Baltimore/England answer. “Awesome! Are you guys traveling?” I explained we’d been all around the country. “Awesome! Do you have family here?” I informed her that my brother lived up the road. “Awesome!” And a brother in Tennessee. “Cool!”  And children and grandchildren in England. And a brother-in-law in Wales.  “That is so cool!” And a daughter in Sydney. “That is an awesome excuse to travel.”

Score several points to Jimmy. Although I have to tell you he wasn’t counting points right at that moment.

“What’s with the NASCAR theme?” I asked.

“There’s a racetrack down the road. We thought it would bring in some business.”  Jimmy remained mute despite the motor racing reference, usually a favorite topic.

“Have you ever been to a NASCAR race?” I enquired, as the only one of her two customers capable of conversation.

“No. I’m from a little town called Elma. I’ve never traveled.”

“We went to the Daytona 500 in February.”

“AWESOME!” Well, I just had to agree with her. Had he been capable of the power of speech Jimmy would have agreed with anybody about anything right then.

You can stop looking for a picture of Courtney now. Sorry guys, there isn’t one.

More excitingly, Courtney had a cousin, equally skimpily dressed. We encountered her after our trailer wheel caught fire:

“Yer wus a fur!”

“What?” Jimmy bellowed.

“Yer wus a fur!”

“OUR WHEEL’S ON FIRE!!” I shrieked.

Read more of this post . . . 


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Are We Crazy for Loving Florida?

We were smitten with our first footfall on Florida soil. Okay, our second footfall. Our first footfall was in the company of a State Trooper.

Our first scheduled stop was in St. Augustine which had palm tree sunsets, Spanish architecture in warm tones of terracotta and cream, the ocean in jewel tones of sapphire, aquamarine and diamonds, strolling girls in strappy tops, an ancient fort, sunshine so bright it made you squint, wildlife displays and sultry air. It all breathed paradise to us.

We were thrilled to see the 250,000-seater speedway stadium at Daytona Beach if a little disappointed not to see the Daytona 500. 081108.081122 127 So we went back two years later to hear “Gentlemen, start your engines!”

100214daytona 090

The Kennedy Space Center kept our jaws on our chins for most of the tour – everything in extra, extra-large – rockets, rocket transporters, buildings. The stars alone on the U.S. flag painted on the side of the rocket-building building each measured six feet across.

Fort Lauderdale had been polished up for the nouveau riche. Its Riverwalk is manicured, not a palm frond out of place – like walking in a postcard. As we sat sipping beers in an Irish pub, cocooned within marine detritus as shabby chic decor, million dollar yachts glided up and down the canal, stopping traffic seemingly on a whim by causing the drawbridges to open, just so they could moor up elsewhere for the spoiled passengers to drink their margaritas. Miles of canals in the city provide slips for the yachts on the doorsteps of the Bentley-driving residents. Miles of wide soft sand beaches insulate the city from the Atlantic.

The art deco buildings of South Beach in Miami have a dreamy quality – geometric designs from a bygone era in yummy pastel colors float on a heat haze behind billowing palm fronds. This backdrop was peopled with stunning women (as well as the formerly stunning women who had visited the plastic surgeon just once too often) and gorgeous, slender boys all paired off together. The scene was completed with Ferraris, Maseratis, Rolls Royces and the ever-present soft sand and deep blue sea.

As we traveled down the east coast of Florida we had our first sight of many exotic animals – roseate spoonbills, armadillos, iguanas, wood storks, the elusive manatee, the venomous Portuguese man o’ war and crocodiles. Pelicans, great egrets, great blue herons, ibises and alligators became commonplace. The most exotic animal of all was a surfing dog.

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The Florida Keys, flung out to the southwest from the Florida mainland like skipping stones, drew us right down to Key West. It is 100 miles and a world away from the mainland. As we bounded along the causeways and bridges that connect the Keys, we drove right into the Caribbean. A stay at Long Key was blissful as we backed our trailer right up to the Atlantic and looked due east across the ocean from our bedroom window.081202LongKey 008 In the Everglades, I counted alligators – then cuddled one.081222FL 026Driving through the Everglades on the Tamiami Trail (pronounced tammy-amee, built in the 1920’s, Tampa to Miami) the alligators were lined up on the bank of the roadside canal.

I thoughtfully pointed out the alligators on the canal to my driver who couldn’t take his eyes off the narrow road, and when I tired of, “There’s another one!”, “And another one!” thought I would just count quietly until I got to 50, then I carried on counting to 100. It was too compulsive to give up but thought I might manage to stop after 150. Great egrets, great blue herons and possibly lions, tigers and bears were being overlooked as I obsessed over the ‘gators. Finally I tired of the children’s counting game after 165.

It is a personal best, and tell me – how many people do you know who have seen 165 alligators in one day?

Sarasota seduced us both, with it’s bookshops, bars and restaurants, opera, ballet and orchestra and more beautiful beaches – one in particular at Siesta Key where the sand was 99% finely ground quartz, always cool to the touch and said to have magical healing powers.090108destin 010 St. Petersburg has the most beautiful beach of all, we’re told – a beach so wondrous that it has been taken off the Most Beautiful Beaches register, or some such, as it won first place every year and made the competition boring. St. Petersburg also has the most tortuous road system where everyone else knew where they were going and drove so ferociously we weren’t able to get to “the most beautiful beach” to judge for ourselves.

Further north our trailer was nestled in a forest of live oaks; their gnarled limbs dripping with Spanish moss seemed to come straight out of a children’s fairy tale. The impression of the draping moss was cozy when the sun came out, but sinister when it clouded over and the evergreen trees and thick moss would blot out daylight altogether.

I thought that the squirrels were having a little game when the occasional acorn banged off the trailer roof. When the bombardment became more insistent, I realized that acorns dropped whenever the tiniest breeze rustled the treetops. We were strafed by acorns all night on our “tin” roof. It was funny at first.

Himself sweeping acorns off the slide roof after being under attack all night.
Himself sweeping acorns off the slide roof after being under attack all night.

We so want to fall in love with Florida but the humidity (we call it humdity – one of those funny typos) changed my hairstyle from straight and silky to Betty Boop. This is the humdity that is supposed to only be high in the summer but we found it insufferable and debilitating in December. My ever-present insect repellent, called Jimmy – mosquitoes never bite me, they prefer Jimmy’s flesh – had been driven demented with scratching.

Only his deep tan disguised the red bumps which on closer inspection looked like a nasty case of measles. In a frenzy, he scratched the tops off the bites, “OWWW!!!” then applied his insect “itch eraser.” The pain of ammonia on raw skin, “AARRGGHHH!!” interrupted the crazed raking of fingernails over his ankles, legs, arms and neck for a few seconds before the itch returned . . . . and kept him awake all night. “Get me out of Florida!!” was his refrain. Shame.

That was three years ago. Now we are like sun-dried raisins in arid Arizona and longing for Florida humidity.

You just can’t please some people.

Florida. Love it or hate it? What’s your opinion?

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