Part Four: The Journey to Vistamar Villa
       In the morning I bid farewell to the Whale Watch Motel and headed southwards on the A1A. Fort Lauderdale is a four hour drive away, and likely much longer via the A1A, which I planned on taking instead of the interstate. So I figured I would take my time and stay overnight somewhere in between. Cocoa Beach caught my eye so I was searching for motels the night before. A place called Fawlty Towers seemed interesting. Near the beach, wireless internet, pool, decent price. But in my searches I came across a series of reviews on TripAdvisor. Some praised the place as being spotless, but a few said it was disgusting with bugs everywhere and mildew. I guess the review that finally turned me off was the one that mentioned how it was right next to an X-rated shop and had a whole bunch of scary looking bums hanging around the motel entrance. I've since learned to not take all the reviews so seriously. If I did that I would never stay anywhere because it seems as if there is always someone who had the worst possible experience at the best of places.

        The drive was fairly uneventful, though I kept passing signs that would say "Road Under Water". A rather disturbing thing to see when you are driving along near the ocean. However, I guess the signs should've said "Road Might Be Under Water" because I never encountered any problems. Once I reached Cocoa Beach I wandered about a bit but after not being able to see any decent places to stay I figured I would book a room somewhere safe - at the nearby Super 8. Unfortunately, I discovered too late that it was nowhere near the beach area. But, having found the place, I decided to stay there for the night. They had a nice pool, though I was the only one using it. Now that I had a room with a proper desk I decided to do some catching up on some work.

        I've noticed that since I stopped eating regularly at McDonalds I have a lot less gas. It's true! Every time I head out for supper I end up wasting a lot of gas driving around for half an hour or longer trying to find some worthwhile place to eat. This time I was in search of another buffet but, once again, never found it. I eventually settled on Chili's Restaurant. And what did I order? Chicken tenders. (Just couldn't find anything else.) And they seemed to have almost the same effect on me once again. However, I really enjoyed the side order of corn. I expected it to be a little bowl of corn but instead it was a very nasty cob of corn. I could've made a meal just out of that. It's left me with a strong desire to find some place that serves corn now. Back at the motel, it felt strange being "trapped" in my room for the rest of the night. At Flagler I felt pretty safe to head out along the beach at midnight. When I went to check in at this motel the lady at the front desk had to buzz me in the door. Not quite the sign of a secure neighorhood!

        The next morning I was barely awake and only half dressed when there came a knock at the door. I said hello several times but they kept knocking. Finally, she must have heard something because she said "Cleaning lady." I had forgotten to put the do not disturb sign on my door last night. I said "Can you come back later?" And she said "no". And I said the only thing one can say in such a situation: "No?" Then I heard her speak to someone else outside and they went on their way. Very peculiar.

        Checking out reviews of places in Fort Lauderdale, I was surprised that there were no reviews of The Peaceful Dove Inn, the place I planned on staying. I started checking out other places and couldn't help but laugh at some of the reviews. At one motel, the reviewer complained that the motel owner accused her of being a prostitute after seeing a male friend leave her room in the evening! Even the Whale Watch Motel was not immune to bad reviews. One person said their room was infested with fleas while another complained about all the trailer trash guests there.

        The next morning I set off once again with Fort Lauderdale as my planned destination. By late afternoon I finally make it to The Peaceful Dove Inn, only to find that I couldn't get in the door! I parked the car and looked around the place a bit. It seemed much smaller and grubbier than I had remembered it from the other year. But I figured I would stay at least one night. But when I tried to turn the rusty knob on the front door it would not open. There was a big dog sitting on the other side of the door and an older man sitting in a chair inside who seemed to be motioning to me to do something but I couldn't figure out whether he was telling me how to turn the knob, telling me to go around to the side, or telling me to go away. I went around to the side but there was no door there. I looked around a bit more, trying to find a way in. The guy inside kept watching me the whole time but never got out of his chair to help. Finally, I just had to admit defeat and sheepishly went back to my car and drove away.

        And somehow the silly situation left me feeling rather depressed. When I drove past the place later I noticed that there was a lit up OPEN sign that I had not seen before and the door was wide open. I suppose the owners had left for a bit and hadn't put up a sign to say they'd be back soon. I guess I could've gone back in but I had convinced myself that the place probably wasn't that great after all and I did not want to see that old fellow laughing at me as I came in. I pulled into the Holiday Inn parking lot and accessed their wireless to check out a few places. Foolishly convinced that any other place I just dropped into would would turn out just as disastrously, I ended up just booking a room at the Holiday Inn, figuring I could start fresh the next day. I ended up getting a bit of a discount because they were renovating the place. They had a very nice pool area but I was, as always, the only one swimming. Later on I set up my laptop at one of the poolside tables and caught up on a few things while I watched a bunch of guys hitting on the woman serving drinks over at the bar.

        I was back in my room working on the web site around midnight when the power flickered briefly. My laptop didn't care but the wireless died and didn't come back on. Come morning, the wireless was still dead. I finally decided to call the front desk about it, only to find that the phones were dead as well. Then, when I went to take a shower, I found that the bathroom light wasn't working and there was no hot water. So, after a cold and dark shower I decided to head down to the pool for a swim and go for a walk along the beach before I checked out. Of course I had to walk down four flights of stairs because the elevator was out. Afterwards, I needed to make two trips to lug all my stuff out to the car. Down the four flights of stairs I went. When I got to the bottom I realized I didn't have my car keys. Not wanting to just leave my bags unattented, I lugged them all the way back up to the fourth floor to get my keys. Only they weren't there. Where were they last? In my other pair of shorts. Where were they? Oh yes, in one of the bags I just carried all the way down and back up again. Not even 11am and it was already one of those days...

        As a final present for staying at the Holiday Inn, some bird had left a very generous gift of droppings all over my windshield. From the size of it, I'd say it must have been an ostrich. I decided it was time to track down another car wash. While I was searching for one it started to rain. Then it started to pour. I quickly stopped looking for a car wash, my car was clean!

        Before the wireless died the night before I was able to come up with a list of potential places to check out in the area. I started looking for a pay phone so that I could call Vistamar Villa. Then I remembered that I have a cell phone. So, I called them up and after finding out they had a room available for the night, off I went.

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