9/3/2012 – Greetings from the lower right-hand corner

After 6 weeks in Oregon, yesterday we got on the plane and headed to Tampa Florida.  We had a great time in Oregon.  Cody & Scott could not have been better hosts.  In spite of 6 weeks of close contact, I don’t think anyone ever got the “I sure wish this would hurry up and be over” feeling or vibe, and that’s saying a LOT!  The only drawback to Oregon was that my feet were cold from about 5 PM to maybe 10 AM every day.  Maybe I should have brought socks (perish the thought).  Lulu’s feet were cold all the time and she did wear socks.  And shoes!  Nevertheless, we had a fine time but, eventually it was time to go.

Yesterday’s flight was uneventful, thank goodness.  Two legs of about 3.5 hours each with a 1-hour layover in between.  Not bad at all.  We got to Tampa and took the shuttle to the off-site car rental agency we had reservations with.  When we arrived at the office of Advantage Car Rentals, we were surprised to see a lineup of people with luggage standing outside the office.  The office was a cramped little place with room for 2 agents and maybe 4 customers at a time, and that was pushing it.  There was a lot of grumbling out in the queue but Lulu and remained philosophical about it.  After all, everyone in that line was there because Advantage’s rates were the cheapest on the internet.  Gotta make up that cost somewhere.  But, really, I don’t think buying a couple of benches so we could have sat down would have broken the bank.  When we finally got inside we were in for our next little surprise: there weren’t any economy cars ready.  Oh, they graciously offered to upgrade us to a van or SUV for only $10 more per day but, since we planned to have the car for 8 days and intended to do some traveling, we didn’t need the extra expense of the rental or, more importantly, the gas.  We opted to wait until they got a car cleaned up.  “Shouldn’t be more than 20-30, maybe 45 minutes.”  Through it all, we remained cheerful and polite.  You learn these things dealing with bureaucracies in Mexico.  Maybe 20 minutes later they called our name and we got our car.  Don’t know if being polite helped but the couple in front of us, who were doing a lot of complaining, drove off in an up-priced van and the very unhappy lady who was ahead of us in line for an economy car, in spite of getting her car before us, was still sitting there when we drove off.  Not sure what happened there but she was really looking unhappy by then.

We found our fleabag Howard Johnson Express (once again opting for lowest price) and, after getting settled in, headed out to dinner.  Not sure what we wanted to eat, we just drove along the boulevard checking things out.  We finally narrowed it down to two places right across the parking lot from each other.  One was a Chinese place and the other was Tex-Mex.  We should have chosen the Chinese place, or, better yet, the Vietnamese place we passed 1/4 mile back.  But no, we chose the Tex-Mex place.  The menu leaned way more heavily toward the strictly Mex end of things rather than the Texas take on Mexican food.  The only thing that definitely had a Texas component was the “Lone Star Burger”.  We finally decided to get a couple of appetizer plates.  One was the “Botanas Plate” which had a couple of quesadillas, some flautas, something on a tortillas chip, guacamole, salsa, and (true Tex-Mex) cheese sauce.  We also ordered the plate that had chicken “tenders” dressed up like buffalo wings.  Now, before I go off, let me just say that the service was excellent.  Our waitress was quick and pleasant and kept our beers flowing and water glasses full.  That said, the food was incredibly mediocre.  Well, except  for the buffalo tenders which were just plain bad.  The sauce they used just did not work with those hunks of white meat.  Not sure what it was but no amount of what was supposed to be bleu cheese dressing could cover up the unpleasant taste.  The botanas plate, while not bad, could stand to pick up some flavor tips from oh, I don’t know, maybe Taco Bell?  Like I said, we should have gone to the Chinese place.

Back in our room with a half-rack of beer, we got ready to watch some TV.  Except there was no remote. You could turn the TV on or off without it but that was all.  No channel-changing, no volume adjustment.  I went down to the front desk and the manager said he’d be right up with a remote.  He and a night clerk trainee arrived a few minutes later and, after much messing around, had the remote programmed.  It seemed to work OK, so they left.  I turned the volume down a bit, changed channels and then looked on in amazement as the remote refused to do anything else.  Wouldn’t change channels, wouldn’t adjust the volume, wouldn’t turn the TV off, wouldn’t do anything!  The battery seemed to be OK as the little red light that tells you you’ve actually pushed a button kept coming on.  I called the front desk again.  Again the intrepid duo returned.  They brought another remote, programmed it, tested it and turned it over to me.  I ran it through its paces and discovered that everything seemed to work except the “channel down” button.  With over 50 channels available, it could be a long trip from channel 22 back to channel 21.  Well, I guess I could just press the 2 and 1 button but still.  After a bit more fiddling by the manager, all the buttons were finally working.  By now it was almost 11:00 PM.  But, to our west coast selves, it was only 8:00.  We proceeded to have a few beers while watching stuff we never get to see except in motels.  Things like “Mountain Men” and something about catching and tagging great white sharks in south Africa, and “One Car Too Far”.  It was finally lights-out at 2:00 AM ( a tame 11:00 PM to us).

Today we’ll drive over to my cousin Willie’s where we’ll stay tonight and get to visit with him and my aunt Nancy. Tomorrow it’s down to DMV to get our Florida driver’s licenses.  Then it’s a road trip to Key West and back.  Hopefully Key West won’t turn out to be Florida’s version of Cabo San Lucas.

By the way, I’ve heard through the grapevine that a few readers are concerned about how LE the three-legged cat fared.  I’m happy to say that she’s all better and doing fine.  She’s back to spending her days outside with her brother and sister and, other than looking a bit awkward at times, doesn’t seem overly hampered by the loss of a limb.



Here she is, chowing down with her brother, Paul.


About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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11 Responses to 9/3/2012 – Greetings from the lower right-hand corner

  1. bud elkin says:

    Hey, glad to see you finally made it to sunny Florida. As you know I have read all of your blog entries, and commented on a few. I wanted to let you know that since this is the first update since I don’t know when, I have lost some weight! Reading you’alls blogs with all the gastronomical escapades you two experience always make me want to eat! My wife and I have a free room in case you’all would like to stop by. You have my email address, so if you are interested in a free nights stay let me know. I live south of Tampa.

    • sryoder says:

      Don’t throw your old pants away yet, Bud. I’ll be back in writing- about-food shape again in the not-too distant future. Of course, after we get back to the boat you’ll have to endure a few weeks of working-on-the-boat blogs first. But, have no fear, we’ll get you fattened up again. Thanks for the offer of a room. We’re headed down to the Keys today and will return to my aunt’s in New Port Richey on Saturday where we’ll stay until we fly out on Monday. Now, if you had a free room in Key West…..

    • bud elkin says:

      As a writer of fiction, non-fiction, and many magazine articles, I can understand the diligence needed to keep a blog going. So, I extol your writing voice, which can make even the most mundane subjects interesting to the masses! I do enjoy hearing about boat fixes. I’m sure there are many people who will agree with me when I say that reading about boat life, boat experiences, and boat fixes are invaluable especially to us who are sailor ourselves. The door is always open if you’all need a place to visit!

  2. Tate says:

    Glad to hear from you guys. Hope the Floridian vacation goes well despite the nasty remote situation.

    PS. Most food in FL in my experience… stinks. If you have to eat there, try to go for seafood or classic American. But its all just blaaaaaaah.

    • sryoder says:

      But, Tate, your food standards are understandably high, being from LA. We did have some very good seafood last night. Little place in New Port Richey called Trinity Seafood. The lobster bisque, in particular, was amazing. The gumbo, not so much. It was OK but just OK. The fried Basa filets were excellent. Not overcooked like fried fish usually is. We have a few recommendations from friends about seafood places to hit on our trip down the keys. Wish us luck.

  3. s/v La Morena says:

    Your frustration with the remote, and disappointment with dinner, really indicate that you have been away from Mexico way too long! You need to re-learn that Latino shoulder-shrug, and slow down. And, yes, Key West is the equivalent of of Cabo San Lucas – maybe worse. But you need to do it at least once.

    • sryoder says:

      I wasn’t all that frustrated with the remote. It was actually kind of funny. But you’re right, we’ve been away from Mexico too long. However, you’d have been proud of us in how we handled the various hassles we encountered yesterday while trying to get our licenses. Took all day but it was nothing compared to getting our first FM3s. Pero, no hay problema.

      Headed to Key West today. Fortunately, it’s the ‘off’ season.

  4. have fun in the keys….let us know when you plan to be at the house so i can let leah know you will be picking up all your boxes.

  5. Jones says:

    Florida as a tax free state of residence instead of the much nearer Nevada?

    Why? I am very much curious as the the factors involved in your decision.

    • sryoder says:

      We chose Florida mainly because that is where our mail-forwarding company hails from. St. Brendan’s Isle is very cruiser-oriented. I’m sure there are similar outfits in Nevada and (even-closer) Washington, but we already knew about SBI and they got very positive reviews from cruisers. We’ve got our driver’s licenses now and are just about to head down to visit the Keys; something we wouldn’t have done if we’d used a different state for residency. Also got to visit my aunt and cousin in New Port Richey. And, our licenses don’t expire until 2020 so we don’t have to come back for 8 years unless we want to.

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