Thursday, October 23, 2008

Travel Diary - Wednesday, October 22nd

Wednesday already. Our family vacation has moved at a fast pace. Today was our day of rest between two forays to Disney. I listened to my mother in-law spew Republican rhetoric this morning. Skyler defended Barak Obama and I played mediator. Skyler grasped more than a few campaign issues and took Grandma to task for supporting the conservative agenda in spite of the facts as he understood them. I found a newspaper insert that summarized major campaign issues and the candidates stand on each. A very even handed primer for a youngster with an interest in the upcoming national election. I presented it to him in full view of Joyce and told him to read it to learn more about what each candidate stood for. Later, Mother Wise told my wife I was brainwashing my children with regard to the election! When I pressed on this, she claimed she was kidding, but it didn't come across that way. The tone of this morning's political discussion grew contentious and I requested a TV channel change to something other than Fox News. The TV is her constant companion from 6am to 10pm.

She flipped over to CNN and they played McClain's response to an opposition remark about Western Pennsylvania being full of rednecks and hillbillies. McClain blew his chance to exploit this gaffe when he replied something to the effect of "and I couldn't agree more". We all had a jolly good laugh. What timing. (Sue's parents are both from Harmony, in Western Pennsylvania).

The Jones family left Republican HQ and the in-laws for a trip to the beach. We borrowed their car and returned to same stretch of Reddington Shores beach on the gulf where we camped out Monday. The public parking lot is next to a small section of rocks, roped off from tourists by rope and wood post. There are tough waves there and riptides. We pitched our blankets and towels on one side and the rocky obstacles made a reliable landmark by which to judge the tide. Both of our visits this week coincided with low tide and the wet sands stretched out toward the water by an extra fifty feet, a nice bonus.

Leah found a starfish and a sand dollar. She kept the sand dollar. Skyler and I threw the Frisbee. No sand castles today. We stayed for two hours. I saw the IPod girl in the parking lot on our way out clutching her car keys. She did not fall victim to a robbery as I feared on Monday. Good for her.

Home for showers and a brief rest before we made dinner plans. Joyce heard from a friend about a new seafood restaurant in John's Pass and we decide to try it. All six of us piled into Mother Wise's Buick for the 20 minute drive. I drove. We departed early, 4:45pm, but I don't recall why. We passed a sign for a local steakhouse with an early bird special that started at 2pm. Good Christ!

John's Pass is a touristy boardwalkish area of tumbledown bay side shops, bars and restaurants. Joyce did not know the name of the new restaurant or its location, two facts she revealed as I idled around the small streets of the Pass area looking for parking places. We putted past T-shirt shops, ice cream vendors, poster emporiums, biker bars, and all kinds of fried fish purveyors. This is a tacky little enclave, even by Florida standards. We parked in the main public lot, threw a few quarters in the meter and decided to explore a new high-rise building on the southwest side of the main quad. The new restaurant turned out to be a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company franchise and we ambled in and parked ourselves at a cramped table in the hallway between two main dining areas. It's not everyday that you get to sit next to a movie still of Siobhan Fallon as the smoking bus driver from Forrest Gump. I kinda dug that.

The food wasn't bad. I had a shrimp stir-fry and a couple of Vodka tonics. The other entrees were presented well, the frier grease wasn't too dark on the kids' shrimp, and when there was a slight problem with my wife's fish, our waiter apologized and took it back to the kitchen for another look at the broiler. We traded movie trivia questions with him when he returned and his charm helped us overlook the undercooked fish. He brought the kids an extra dessert and for his efforts we left him a big tip. Sue and I left the tip and my father-in-law picked up the dinner tab. The in-laws are very generous that way, in spite of our political differences.

Back home to Pinellas Park for the first game of the World Series. The Rays lost but we didn't see the end. We hustled the kids to bed and shut off the set by 10:30pm. Tomorrow is another drive across state to Disney and Epcot Center.

I tried to close my eyes early but I couldn't stop reading Michael Palin's diaries from the 1970's. 1975 was a big year for Palin and the book devoted 78 pages to it. I turned out the reading light at 12:30am with an anticipated wake up call at 7am but it would not be a restful night.

No comments: