Friday, June 17, 2016

Toaster's Adventures in Florida! (Part 1)

Every year the Toaster family takes a trip and stays at some new locale in a time-share condo from a membership owned by TivoGirl’s grandmother. This year it was Anna Maria Island in Florida. For those who don’t know, Anna Maria Island is a very thin strip of an island on the Gulf coast between Tampa and Sarasota. The idea was to spend a week hanging out at the beach with some a few random destinations scattered throughout, such as museums or local shopping. It turned into an interesting trip filled with lots of good and a few negatives.

I’ll begin with the Detroit airport. I’m unsure of how this came about, but the Detroit airport is primarily a hub of airline giant Delta. In fact, there are two terminals. Usually when we fly, we go for the most cost effective way imaginable (which TivoGirl has down to a science of balancing various credit cards for rewards and airline miles). This means we fly Spirit a lot. A Spirit flight is about as barebones as you can get save hanging out in a cargo hold. No perks, no frills, just a cheaper flight.

This means we usually end up in the regular terminal from which most of the airlines fly. It’s a dreary old building with a smattering of fast food, coffee and those convenience store places happy to sell you the items you wanted to bring but weren’t allowed to take through security, at insane prices. It is clear to me that certain companies have used the tragedy of 9/11 and other random terrorist attempts as an excuse to make a serious profit. Case in point: bottled water. It’s so easy to verify that a drink is water. Vodka can be identified with little trouble, not that you can do much harm with that. If that’s an issue, allow only sealed bottled water through. But no, it’s easier just to force passengers to purchase a $3.75 bottle of water. Cashing in off tragedy… it’s the American way.

Getting back on topic, the regular terminal sucks. It’s a lot like LaGuardia in New York City. It’s old, drab and sad. However, we were flying Delta on the way down, so we were going to McNamara terminal. It was like fucking Shangri-la! After getting through security (super quickly I might add, though that might have more to do with Little Toaster; apparently plotting to blow yourself and a plane full of innocent people up is stressful enough without having a four-year-old in tow!) we were taken to an amazing place full of high end businesses. There was a bar with calming piano music playing, I shit you not! There was a Brooks Brothers and a Brookstone side by side! There was a Plum Market (a upscale organic and alternative grocery store) and a sushi bar! There was a tram! I didn’t even know there was a tram as Detroit airport! Most impressive, to me at least, McNamara has the only Chik-Fil-A that I know of in Michigan, beyond one on the campus of Oakland University. Needless to say, I took Chik-Fil-A on the flight with me.

The luxury didn’t end there, though! We were treated to free beverages and free snacks, something that I thought was extinct on flights. I got two bags of peanuts and a few cookies, the attendants didn’t care how many I took. Best of all, we got to pick from a number of recent movie releases to watch during the flight. I got to watch Deadpool. How cool is that?

We arrived in Tampa sometime after nine. We got a Volkswagen Jetta for our rental with Sirius radio added for free. I tuned it to Simply Sinatra. That plan was to stay the night in Tampa, go to Busch Gardens the next day and then head to the condo. So after picking up a few supplies at a Walmart, we got our hotel room for the night. It was nice, except it smelled of mold. Glad we only stayed there for the night.

Next Time: The Busch Gardens Death March

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