Similar to the entry I made this time last year, I wanted to give a recap of everything non-baseball (OK, a few things baseball) that I encountered in my 3rd annual road trip to Florida. The trip was very similar to my first trip to Florida; spend half the time hitting up baseball games and the other half with family – it was actually very nice to not be alone like I was last year.
So let’s kick things off and start the day-to-day recap with…
Friday, February 28, 2014:
An all-too-familiar sight in Minnesota this year as I went to pick up the rental car. This same system would end up following us through Iowa and make travel conditions less than optimal. Our actual trip started just after 7 pm and kept going through…
Saturday, March 1, 2014:
Tennessee greeted us in the late morning.
While Atlanta caused me to vomit half a burrito in the early afternoon.
Sometime well into the evening, the view once again went black, as we didn’t reach our hotel until 11 pm local time. That means it was about 27 hours of travel… GROSS. I don’t mind long road trips, in fact, I like them. But one straight shot AND 3 other people in the car? No, thanks.
Sunday, March 2, 2014:
With one full day lost to travel, waking up to a view like this made it not so terrible. We had changed our fortunes by about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, so the complaints seemed to evaporate.
The much shorter ride from Fort Myers to Port Charlotte in the morning was for the first of 4 straight games for me (and 3 for the rest of our party – my wife and her parents, photographed above). As you can tell, we met a crazy Rays fan, too.
My goal this trip was to not only catch baseballs (30 was realistic, and 40 was a pipe-dream); but I wanted to also see an alligator. I got excited when I saw a sign like this, but then got sad when it turned out to be a LIAR!
After the game we drove back to Fort Myers and hit up the beach for sunset. I will not speak, just let the photos do the talking.
Monday, March 3, 2014:
Another day, another game! I took, a nearly-identical photo last year, but this time there was not a cloud in the sky. While once inside…
I SAW MY FIRST ALLIGATOR!! My first ever “wild” gator came at a Twins game, how fitting?!
It’s quite easy to tell that I was about 1,700 miles from home; alligators, sunshine, people in shorts, baseball… all things that Minnesota didn’t have.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014:
The last game with the four-some was in Jupiter, Florida. During the game, our section won $10 gift cards to a restaurant and when we went to redeem them, we could not have been more surprised by their menu…
Being a new Vegan, it is always a shock to see stores/restaurants that cater to Vegans, especially when they have an entire section full of meat-alternatives, by a new favorite brand of ours, Gardein! I normally don’t pitch products, but try the “Crispy Chick’n Sliders“. They sell them at Target and they are AMAZING!!
My wife had the Gardein Chicken Rice Bowl…
…while I had the buffalo wings. The meal, with 2 drinks and an appetizer was under $15 after our gift cards. EXCELLENT!!
And then on the way back I scored a free Lemonade Slurpee and bought a Coke Slurpee. We do not have 7-Elevens in Minnesota, so I have to take advantage whenever I travel to a place that does.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014:
“Paul Day!!” Though I was not with my family for this game, I was not alone. Paul Kom was making his first ever trip to Spring Training, so of course I made sure to be there. We started at JetBlue Park and finished it off with a night game at Hammond Stadium.
In between the stadium switch, we stopped at a grocery store for snacks and drinks. It was at the grocery store that I found a car that I wanted to steal. It was a light blue Bentley convertible. Anyone have one they want to donate to me?
Being 9 hours early to the game at Hammond Stadium apparently gives you access to ANY part imaginable. This was a stark contrast to JetBlue, where (even though there was no game that day) they would not let me ten feet into the stadium to take a photo (or access my phone and take a photo themselves).
Behind the outfield wall both Paul and I found a dollar… true story.
And those were the snacks I picked up. Do not worry, even though one says “Crab”, they were both Vegan.
The game itself was rather bland. Paul and I did “alright”, but nothing memorable… Wait. I lied. We went nuts. Read our entries for more.
Thursday, March 6, 2014:
The last couple of years when in Florida, I have seen signs for “boiled peanuts” and have wanted to try them. The photo above is NOT a turd, but a Cajun boiled peanut. This little guy was spicy and oddly tasty. I don’t know that I’d buy many of these, but I’d try them again.
In addition to seeing my first alligator, I also saw my first (dead) jellyfish.
On this cloudy and cooler day we traveled to the beach (Daytona/New Smyrna area). In one trip we managed to hit up the Gulf and Atlantic sides. I think I prefer the warmth of the Gulf beaches more.
Friday, March 7, 2014:
Two years ago, when visiting my wife’s grandparents, we went to a spring area that is home to many manatees, given that the ocean temps are cool. That day we saw exactly ZERO manatees. This time, dozens. Another “first” when it comes to non-Minnesotan wildlife!
After the manatees and another stop at the beach, we visited a real Floridian flea market. I bought a single lemon for a dollar… it’s probably a good 2 pounds and the size of a baby’s head. I have a giant head and it’s still impressive next to me.
And in the evening we went out for a family dinner and saw Cracker. Jael’s uncle and his significant other came in that night, so there was a total of eight of us all in Florida, laughing at those we left behind in Minnesota/the Midwest…
Saturday, March 8, 2014:
But the joke was on us. We had to take off on a 24 hour trek back to the slightly less cold, but definitely frozen (in comparison) north.
We stopped in Metorpolis, IL and transformed into superheroes…
Sunday, March 9, 2014:
…our super powers being the ability to drive long distances and not fall asleep.
Isn’t Iowa soooo much prettier than Florida?
We arrived back home almost exactly 24 hours after we started, over 1,500 miles traveled from those we said goodbye to.