So lets recap.
MONDAY. Supposed to leave. Did not, as the flight was cancelled due to weather (somewhere). It was not bad in Dutch. I had already checked my golf clubs as baggage. I went to the counter and asked NOW WHAT? They said to call them next morning around 10 AM, and things would be worked out.. The airport does not open until 9:30 AM.
But Alaska Air was open, and I called. The best he could offer was getting me to Seattle. Then I would be in Seattle for at least a day, sitting. Waiting for something to open up. I took it. Any improvement, I take it. Reservations are always changing. Openings open. So I caught the 1:20 to Anchorage.
And when I was still in Dutch, I asked a friend behind the counter to work some magic to Tampa.
I wanted to see if SHE could find a connection. Holidays + Florida = Trubba. And she came through, where Alaska Airlines could not. She got me booked to arrive in Tampa Bay at 7:55 PM Wednesday. Plus she was able to get all window seats at the last second. A day and a half later than originally planned.
I tried to do better in route, but no sir.
Spent two hours in Anchorage.
I arrived in Seattle just in time for all restaurants to be closing. Like, right on the minute. So I got a pre-made stale turkey sandwich from a coffee shop. Hell, THEY were about to close. It was about 11PM locally.
I found my next gate and set up camp. I watched BBC / America until I was tired. Found a row of seats with NO sides, and stretched out. I read The New York Times and a great article on the anniversary of the big race to DISCOVER the South Pole. Amundsen and Scott.
I changed locations a couple of times, eventually trying to sleep where I normally cannot. I did get a few cat naps. Nothing lengthy, forget the REM.
Early flight to Dallas. Got some more sleep. Eventually some screaming babies ended THAT.
Dreary in Dallas. Rain and fog.
The next plane was late leaving, as the crew was late. After a 4 hour layover for me. We landed in Tampa around 8:30 local.
A long day got longer.
My golf clubs were a no show. I talked to the lady at American for some time. I gave up for then, and I went for the rental car. OOPS, needed a bit more insurance because it was Florida. Then I was gone. I left to drive about 45 minutes across Tampa to Indian Rocks Beach. My car was a Ford Focus. I go bare bones, just get me there. This was the FIRST rental I have gotten that had no cruise control...
Earlier, from Dallas, I had found a room in Indian Rocks Beach online. Thought it was a hotel, but it was a vacation time share. So I never checked in or out, officially. They front desk was only manned a few hours. Regular business, then done.
It was nice.
BO met me there to touch base. It was 10 PM. And we had early golf. So we said HI, and BYE. We would see each other in a few hours. I ordered some shrimp from CRABBY BILLS. Then I was up talking to AMERICAN until 1:30 AM.
Yet, I was perky and awake at 6:30 AM.
BO and I went to a nice golf course at a local resort. Would tell you where, but not sure of the spelling.
We hit a few practice balls, putted a few minutes, then we played 36 holes. I tried to rent a set of clubs, but they gave them to me for free, as well as provided used golf balls for me to use. Nice!
It was ugly. Eventually I got my swing together, and I hit a few good shots. Bo is a much better golfer than I. But I think I dragged him down with me to a degree. Golfers feed on the competition.
Or the lack of it. All I can confirm is that there were two WHIFFS and one DOUBLE HIT between the two of us.
We had a few beers after, then it was over.
During the round I made some calls about my clubs. I personally called Dutch Harbor and had someone confirm my clubs LEFT Dutch. There was that cancellation and change...
Then I heard back. The clubs were still there. Bad news for a golf vacationer. But they would send them out asap. I asked them to send them to Miami instead of Tampa Bay. I was now headed THERE. And the airline agreed. I had to make phone calls while I was golfing to get this all straight.
Next morning I left during rush hour in Tampa Bay. Friday. The highlight was the Sunshine Skyway on 275 south.
I saw a lot of flat Florida that could have been any of 20 states. The real disappointment was Lake Okechobee. I rode along the shore for many miles, but only caught a glimpse of the lake. I assume it was a manufactured fresh water lake, because there is a 20 foot dike holding the lake. Florida is so flat, there were no views over that dike. But one time I went over a high bridge that offered some nice views.
I found RON’S house in Boca Raton with no problem. He has 2 Dobermans that greeted me. They were very friendly for the rest of my visit. Ron and I had a lot to catch up on. We went out for a quick lunch. Later we went to a nice steak house where he treated me to a great dinner. Right on the beach.
Ron and Bo are both struggling with the current economy. They are both in real estate. Bo in retail, Ron in Commercial. Times are tough.
Last night, after Ron and I had dinner, I called American about my missing clubs. AGAIN, after many conversations, they were one conversation behind in the communications. They said they were in Tampa, but would be sent on to Miami. They even told me the time of landing in Miami.
8:55 Friday night.
Did not get a lot of sleep at Ron’s last night. We kept all the windows open. I slept on his couch, and I heard far off noises outside all night.
Saturday morning I called AMERICAN again. AGAIN I had to explain everything to the latest agent. They said they saw no proof it got to Miami. I felt it was there. So I decided to head for Miami.
I said BYE to Ron and went to the car. It did not start. DEAD. Unfortunately, there were no jumper cables around. Ron called AAA and they were there in 10 minutes. The car started right up.
But he ran a test and said the battery was bad, and may not restart again.
So I took the car to Miami International to turn in to the rental company, and I was going to get my clubs.
The rental car was very easy. They said no problem. All we have is SUV or bigger, but the price will remain the same. Mission accomplished. So now I got a Ford TANK.
Next I took the long walk to Baggage Claim. A tram and several long moving walkways. FINALLY I found the office. I had to wait while others fought the battle. When I was received, the guy had no clue, as he was a couple calls behind. He said the package was still in Tampa. But he got it together. Finally he says, just come on back and look. I go in the back room with him, and I spot it. A girl is working with it. She is trying to identify the bag. My name tag on the bag is now torn in half. She just had half of everything.
I had made a new name tag in Dutch, and the attendant put it on the bag. Where did it go?
THAT was the issue.
But I got my clubs.
And I got to Key West after another LONG day. I got a nice room at IBIS BAY and had a decent dinner of stone crab. I woke up early and headed to Key West Country Club. There was a steady stream of people going out, and I was about to head on and find somewhere else. But I went in to the pro shop and talked to the guy. Nobody was going out for awhile. Except ME!
It was nice. Played at a leisurely pace.
Then I was headed back north on Route 1. The keys were not quite what I expected. There were a couple long bridges, but most of the ride was on islands, with little views. It was still interesting. There were a lot more keys than I expected. Including COW KEY, and CUDJOE KEY. (No relation).
Later today I drove across the southern tip of the state on Route 41. Not the official Alligator Alley, but close enough. I saw signs regarding alligators and panthers. The weather was great, and there was some actual views to see on that drive. It looked like animal heaven, especially for birds.
So now I sit in Naples Park, in western Florida. Tomorrow I head north, but only after I check out a nice golf course I saw near here. I see winter weather moving in, and will remain in the warm areas for a few days.
Had no internet for last few days.