Part Two: Sunny (and Windy) Florida

        After crossing into Florida we stopped at the tourist bureau and grabbed a couple dozen booklets. While we were there the televisions were talking of potential storms hitting the east coast of Florida. Of course that is just where we were headed. We made it to lovely Flagler Beach around suppertime. We wiggled our toes in the sand and took a cool dip in the strong waves before tracking down another hotel for the night a little further down the coast.

        The next morning we headed to Daytona Beach to see what excitement was going on there. Last time it was Biketoberfest. This time it was some sort of cheerleaders convention. Nothing quite like seeing hordes or teenage girls all dressed up in skimpy costumes and wearing tons of gaudy eye makeup. Scary indeed. Still, we did stick around long enough to see a few of them perform their routines. What makes Flagler Beach so much better than Daytona Beach is that it hasn't become overly commercialized yet. Pretty bad when the beach is lined with chairs and umbrellas that you can rent.

        Down on the beach I made a mad dash into the water to get ducked. But as luck would have it my left leg went down in some underwater hole and I managed to twist my ankle. I still managed to go for a nice swim but by evening my ankle was quite swollen and I was hobbling around. After this and the bruised ribs, maybe I should just avoid Florida altogether. Wasn't a good day for the beach anyway, too cloudy and windy. So, off to Orlando we go...

        The more I travel, the more I realize how evil hotels are. Years ago there was a convenience store located next to the TUNS residence that had no prices on their products and the owner (who never stopped smiling) seemed to charge different prices depending on the time of day or how much he liked you. That's what the hotels seem to be like. They offer special walk-in coupons that give you great deals but they'll only honor them if they think they won't be able to rent them to people paying full price. The coupon might offer $50/night but when you walk in they'll say that the price is $100 instead. You can walk in and pay one price or go outside in your car, access their wireless with your laptop, and book the same room online for a cheaper price. At least campgrounds are fairly honest and consistent with their prices.

        The only exciting thing to come out of our search for cheap hotel rooms was seeing a mother duck and her nine little ducklings crossing one of the parking lots. We found a half decent place with a pool and internet connection in Kissimmee and enjoyed a bit of swimming. We also took in a round of mini golf at Bonanza Adventure Golf. Unfortunately, they seemed to have put more work into their adjoining gift shop than in the golf course. It was still fun, but a rather mediocre miniature golf course by Florida standards.

        After a few days of motel hopping we hoped to find a real worthwhile place to relax for a few days and enjoy some sun and swimming. The more we looked the more our acceptable price range rose. Before long it had crept up from $60 to $110. Of course since we are splitting the cost, it ends up being a pretty decent deal regardless. We finally found a great place at the Radisson Hotel in Kissimmee. Unfortunately, it would not be available until the weekend. So, we booked it in advance for three nights and then decided to spend the next couple days down in the Tampa area.

        The next morning we headed westwards for a couple of hours and began checking out the various beaches in the area of St. Petersburg and Clearwater (which we later learned is swarming with Scientologists). We decided to stop at Madeira Beach and go for a little swim and lie in the beautiful white sand. And who doesn't want to go swimming at a place that warns you about "underwater groins". No sharks, but there were a few people catching catfish just a short distance from where we were swimming. On the way to our hotel we saw a billboard that falls into the "only in America" category.

        We ended up spending two nights in Clearwater at a lovely little hotel by the airport. While outside by the pool we would occasionally see large planes roaring low overhead as they came in for a landing. Fortunately, the hotel was well insulated so that we never heard any of the noise from our rooms. We enjoyed some more miniature golf in the area. This time it was at Congo Adventure Mini Golf. A big improvement over the last one we were at.

        Lots of swimming and sunshine but soon it was off to Kissimmee again to check out (and into) the swanky Radisson Hotel...

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