Wednesday, August 18th - Day 46 - Squidding

Orlando Travel Blog

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I left Anna Maria funbound for Saint Augustine with plans of seeing the old seaside fortress (saw the overhead satellite shots on google maps, really impressive structure!)... Wasn't exactly sure where I was going to stay.

I'd made reservations for Casa Yahalla Hostel, but immediately realized my first desire was Pirate Haus Hostel! Quickly I fired an email back to the confirmation email address; "My apologies, I do not wish to stay here any longer"

Moments later I receive a phonecall and my horrible motorolla droid doesn't ring, so I get a voicemail.

"Hey bud, why don't you wanna stay with us? We a crackhouse or something? If you can, give me a call and tell me what's up."

And the tone was very telling. This tool was personally offended. I could not believe the audacity! How unprofessional! To harrass a would-be or rather wouldn't-be client!

The phone call didn't get much better. He immediately jumped on the defensive and informed me that he was a 25 year marine vet and that he kept a SPOTLESS hostel. That wasn't the point, I simply had prioritized to stay at the other hostel and wanted to see if they had vacancy before commiting to his. Well apparently he was on good terms with the other guy and he'd make sure this was all sorted out with him or something to that effect. Great, now I couldn't go to either hostel. I kept my calm on the phone while explaining to this guy that his message was horribly inappropriate, and that you just don't do that, you take the news with a grain of salt. But I suppose the season's been tough on him? And he argued and insisted and argued that he had NEVER mentioned crackhouse. I still have the message on my phone. I listen to it when I need a laugh, and I play it at bars for groups of people who get a kick out of crazy people. It's becoming a real party favorite, lol!

So the next morning I call the guy at Pirate Haus and even though I used my middle name, at the use of my last name, he seemed to perk up, and the undertone was "yeesss... We've been expecting yooouuu...." like when James Bond meets the villian or something.

Crap, I can't stay there either! But I have to!!! It might be fun!! this will be interesting!!! 

However, as I traveled down I-4 seeing all the signs for Disney World, and Sea World, and Universal Studios, I knew what had to be done! I had to scrap Saint Augustine altogether and stay in Orlando!! 

I went to The Mcdonald's Entertainment Center, the largest in the world... Some of it really needed updating, like that old piano playing guy with the Moon for a face that I remember from commercials as a child, but overall, incredible experience... and a whole McCafe menu as well.

By the time I got settled in, it was already 6 and Universal Studios theme park shuts down at 8 or so. At $110 per ticket, it no longer seemed worth it. But I expected the nightlife in Orlando to be entertaining. And it was! Tuesday night, and there were still a handful of bars and pubs crammed with people!

While in search for a different venue, one where a guy can shake what his momma gave him, I came across not one but a handful of homeless men, all holding their own corner, all asking for money for food. I don't buy it, I don't care if they sound sincere, I don't give out money. "Are you really hungry?" I asked the fellow. He sounded legit. I went to the very next pizza to get him some. I was in a bit of a hurry, and the guys behind the counter found it hard to believe I was there just getting pizza for some one. "I don't know what kind, what's the cheapest? okay, cheese it is". 

It came with a roll, which I gave to the first homeless guy. He thanked me but tucked it away on the ledge. "You're supposed to eat that!" "I'm gonna save it..."

Didn't sound real to me. But whatever, the real objective was one slice of cheese pizza to one times homeless guy. 

Mission Accomplished. And he seemed genuinely grateful, unlike "roll-boy".

One place had quite a ruckus coming from inside. Lots of bass. The cover charge was STEEP.. but it must have been worth it right? You get what you pay for? 

Anyway, not that I'm a racist, not even remotely, but I am also not an idiot. Even though I get along with everybody.. mostly... I knew being the only white guy, and standing out at 6'4", it was looking exactly like something Steve Martin would have done in The Jerk... lol... So I left. And although I enjoy hip hop, I'm more about the top40 variety, and not the gangster rap type.

I met some Canadians at another place that was also jumping. Can't remember the name of the place, but it was a fantastic place!

Oh the ride to downtown was awesome. I was again, as always while IN TOWN, squidding... No suit, no helmet, just a pair of Orange tinted sunglasses to keep my precious eyeballs in tact. It was a real trip, every head light was orange every yellow light was orange, every green light was nearly orange, every red light was dark orange, it was a real hoot screaming down the street doing 65 in a 50 (115 in a 80).

Squidding today from De Land to Daytona to get my tires changed (12,000 kilometers have been put on these ones! WOW), I was doing only 140 or so, kmh... and it was a real workout just to keep my face taut, and from flapping in the wind like the old clips you see of guys in wind tunnels. The thought of my jowls jiggling violently made me laugh aloud and the second my mouth opened, air rushed in, making a mouthful of saliva spray down the left side of my face! God that made me laugh even harder, fortunately, I was all dried out.

On the way back, I had to go through the smallest amount of rain. Felt like bullets hitting my bald scalp and gentle face. Now I know why most squids still wear the helmet.

Oh, word to the wise, International House of Pancakes is not worthy of such a title. Not that great. Should probably be reduced to "Regional House of Pancakes", or maybe even "Rural House of Pancakes"... The picture of New York Cheese Pancakes looked so goddamn delicious!! What appeared before me was quite lacking. I will go back only one more time; to try the creem stuffed frenchtoast. and that will be all.

Tonight, I venture back into Orlando.

Part B - Day 48 - Faith in Humanity

Putting two blogs together because I didn't post before going on more adventures. But I need sleep so I'm gonna summarize which we all know I can't do very well!

Orlando, again, amazing. Went to a place down on Orange called Urban Flats, which serves italian influenced 'pizza' or 'flatbread' as well as a variety of emaculate salads. Get the Park Salad, walnuts and spinach and goat cheese... Orgy in your mouth time. Seriously.

Beside me sat a young couple with a girlfriend, a baby in a stroller, slumbering amidst the noise. A foil 'happy birthday' helium balloon tied to the canopy. It was the mother's birthday. Now I've been around a while and we all know that we appreciate nice things on our birthday and women ESPECIALLY appreciate being treated nice. So as soon as the mother and wife was away from the table I asked the husband and father "Hey, it's your wife's birthday?.. May I buy her a drink? I feel charitable... Okay what's she having..." 

Shortly thereafter, she returned, followed by her drink. She was ecstatic. Sort of a "I still got it" swagger going on. Even though of course, I meant nothing of the sort, but I knew it'd be a happy addition to her night. And it was. And I felt good.

Naturally she introduced me to all her friends who showed up 20 minutes later. That was not my plan, I swear, lol... And soon thereafter she began singing some sort of latin opera. Beautiful...

I left to explore the night further and met even more good characters. But not before having the last few pieces of my 'flatbread' boxed so that I could give it to a seemingly deserving homeless man outside. And I ran into the same fellow I gave a slice of 'za to the night previous! "Do you get your mail here, man?" he laughed. I gave him the pizza. He was grateful. And like at the end of a date when you depart, but you look back to see if they're looking, I looked back. Except obviously this was not the same thing. However, he was looking my way, chomping down on the gourmet pizza and smiling, giving me the thumbs up of approval. I was touched. I was touched that for a small period in some one else's life, I touched them.

The night was great, Orlando is a hoot. I'd love to go back. Oh, also met Cory Turnball, Australian Wakeboarding champ. The guy was a riot! Trying to wrassle up some american tail he was... Maybe too enthusiastically lol...

Today I ventured on to Jacksonville. I had the pleasure of meeting my host who had left me his home and all possessions to use and I quote "as your own"... Such generosity, incredible. I won't go into too much detail because he struck me as the modest type, but such a good guy... Again, so blessed by my experiences. I will do my best to repay him if ever desired in the future.

Was pulled over for speeding by a ghost car. Stupid me, I went by him at a normal pace and could have just examined the typical ghost car make and model. Even looking at the occupant would have been a dead giveaway. Anyway, Once I left him and the other two vehicles, I sped away at 90. Didn't even realize he was pursuing me til he was right behind me, lol! But he was a detective or something who wanted to avoid paperwork and went for the kilometers on the speedometer excuse and claimed he couldn't even run in my license. Well, perhaps not being highway patrol he couldn't.

I skipped Saint Augustine as I passed it on the highway, somewhat dissapointed. But the fortress is a few hundred years old, it will last a few more decades and I'll see it later, just like the Grand Canyon.

Grabbed a motel, my coffee host was busy with work problems, but suggested the bars in Jacksonville beach. The beach is actually 30 miles away, if not more. But my goodness, it puts to shame anything that might be happening in downtown.

If you're under 25, check out Ocean Club, not a bad scene, but not for me. My bartender whispered that The Ritz would be my thing. And let me tell you, it was. If you ever find yourself down this way, and you're seeking a nice pub type atmosphere, mid 20 to mid 30 people all having a great sociable time, this is the place. Not much in the way of dancing, but if you enjoy stimulating conversation, you can hear yourself think. Met some really good people here. Great night.

Later on though, going back to my motorcycle (squidded again..) I found that someone had not only stolen my brand new GPS, but also the mount for it (not to mention my $12 orange tinted glasses). 

I really want to try and remember all the good that has come on this journey, and I'm trying hard. But for someone to steal a navigational device? It's awful. I've had no problems until just now. Why couldn't they have just taken the GPS? Why tear the whole thing off? Probably cause they knew if the guy who owned the bike saw them, he'd tear them two new assholes and command they shit on the spot. Smart on their part. Cause they're right.

It's worth the $100 convenience to not have to carry all that crap around with me. But another $200? The budget is feeling tight.. but thank god I have money in the bank. I'll buy another one tomorrow and see about finding another RAM-Mount... Might be tricky.

Take care, ride safe.

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photo by: Reephboy