I had intended writing something new for ‘Monday Club’, but then realised it would mess up the running order of the five blogs I’m recycling from my old website about our holiday in Florida in 2011. I know, it’s all very complicated, isn’t it, and probably pointless, but I do like to keep things tidy. And yes, I do file my CDs in alphabetical order by artist surname… Anyhoo, that’s the explanation and here’s the blog:
WHAT I DID ON MY HOLIDAYS pt.2
The inability to ever admit to being wrong is a characteristic shared by all members of my immediate family, but I’m unique in being the only one who’s willing to acknowledge this (unless, of course, the observation is posed in such a way as to make that admission an admission of some sort of ‘wrongness’, in which case I will vehemently deny it). For the rest of my family the degree to which they manifest this characteristic is inversely proportionate to the degree to which they deny it – i.e. those least likely to acknowledge it are actually the worst offenders.
In terms of denial, the crown undoubtedly goes to my sister, Barbara, who, while genuinely being one of the most helpful and sensible members of the family (second only to myself *whistle*), is also the most obstinate and determined regarding her inherent ‘rightness’.*
Barbara, as I think I mentioned somewhere in m’blog earlier, and my nephew, Alex, were the other two in our party of four travelling to Florida, and Barbara it was who had downloaded a USA sat-nav app for her IPhone.
Now Barbara, it has to be said, is not the world’s most confident driver. She has an automatic only license, having never quite been able to cope with gears and steering at the same time, and has managed throughout her ten + years of driving history to have navigated everywhere she’s wanted to go without ever having to resort to driving on a motorway. She has driven the occasional stretch of dual carriageway, I believe, but very, very slowly in the inside lane with a full supply of valium loaded for easy access in the dashboard ashtray. As a passenger she has a tendency to scream and put her hand on the dashboard every time you brake, to squeal and grab the door handle every time you negotiate a bend, and to loudly announce the speed limit every time you pass a road sign regardless of the speed at which you might be travelling. Despite all of these considerations Barbara, by way of being the owner of said I-Phone and the only option other than the two non-driving autistic peeps in the back seat, was the designated ‘navigator’ charged with the task of giving me, the driver, directions.
The journey from the airport to the villa management company office from where we were to collect our keys was, on paper, estimated to be a 55-minute drive. With Barbara’s navigation, via her I-Phone sat-nav app, we managed to extend this to around five and a half hair-raising hours. Having never used – or even actually seen in use – a sat-nav before, I had absolutely no idea of their capabilities or how they worked, so when Barbara screamed (i.e.) ‘TURN LEFT – TURN LEFT – SHE’S TELLING YOU TO TURN LEFT NOW – TURN LEFT…’ I would endeavour to do so. Sometimes this would be impossible, demanding turns across up to six lanes of interstate traffic travelling in both directions into side roads that didn’t actually exist, but when this happened I would take the first opportunity to turn around and go back, only to be confounded by further directly contradictory screams that I now needed to ‘DO A U-EE – DO A U-EE – SHE’S TELLING YOU TO DO A U-EE’.
We eventually arrived at the place Barbara’s sat-nav had directed us to, and it turned out to be a ramshackle wooden shed perched on the end of a dock with a bait sign hanging in the window.
‘This can’t be the place’ I said.
‘Well it must be,’ said Barbara – it’s where the sat-nav sent us’.
At this point an old man in dungarees and a straw hat with a shotgun and a mouthful of chewin’ tabaccy wandered out of the shack and started taking pot-shots at a ‘beware of the alligators’ sign sticking out of the water. From inside the cabin I heard the sound of a picked banjo and a gruff, hick voice urging someone to ‘Squeak, piggy, squeak.’
I backed up to a safe distance and asked Barbara to double-check the sat-nav instructions she had tapped in… It was, if I recall, ‘Marsh Street, Florida’. I said that sounded a bit vague, to which she replied that it was the only address she had. With a bit of further questioning she admitted that this wasn’t the precise address she had been given but the best guess based on the list of options that had come up matching ‘Marsh’ and ‘Florida’. I asked if she had anything that might narrow it down a bit, she said ‘I think it might be in Kissimmee.’ Typing in that, we came up with an equally stupefying number of potential ‘hits’, covering the entire Kissimmee area. Barbara said it was the only address she had, and that it wasn’t her fault the company hadn’t sent the full details. She looked ready to explode when I suggested it might be worth having another look at the paperwork just in case, but sighed and reached for her handbag.
A few minutes later, after getting my reading glasses from my flight bag and perusing the paperwork, I had located the full address of ‘Marshington Lake Boulevard’ (or some such) – complete with house number, town, area and zip code, and with this programmed in by Barbara (the only one allowed to use her I-Phone) set off back in the direction we had just come from.
Even with the full address the sat-nav seemed determined to provide us with many a false lead, necessitating further six lane swervings and numerous ‘u-ees’. By the time we collected the keys it was too late to book in, my nerves were shot, I hated sat-nav and I-phones with a new level of intensity (before, my hatred was only based on anecdotal rather than firsthand experience), and we still had another half hour (with Barbara’s navigation, a further three hours) drive to our actual villa in Davenport.
The villa, when we got there after stopping off briefly to buy some quick cook pasta and stuff as it was now too late to consider eating out, was absolutely lovely; the pool, unheated, the perfect temperature for a late night dip. Unfortunately, the air con wasn’t working, so the average temperature inside the house was about 150 degrees, the only areas slightly cooler than this the master bedroom, bagsied by Barbara who ‘had to’ have her own en-suite, and the living room, both of which had ceiling fans. Even naked with no covers the other bedrooms would have seen us softly broiled by morning, so we boys camped on the living room sofas overnight…
And so, save for a couple of botty eruptions similar to those experienced during the flight over, passed the first day and night of our holiday…
* I will expand upon this at a further point in my Holiday Journal with what is undoubtedly the most definitive example of bloody-mindedness since some fundamentalist Christian nutter came up with the notion of God burying dinosaur bones just to confuse everyone. Look out for a post over the next few days detailing our trip to Blizzard Beach and the incredible disappearing toilet.