Pink left? Disney fan??
I hit the streets some mornings at 5:30am to get to the gym at a decent, non-busy hour.
This morning, I’m approaching the streetcar stop at Sherbourne and Carlton when I spy a young couple kissing in a doorway.
Only, they’re not just kissing.
He’s in a tailored suit. It looks good on him. He’s young and very… energetic. He’s all over her face like he’s just run out of Bath Salts. It’s like her face was a pumpkin pie and he had attended his first vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner. It was like he was a clean kitty and she was a dirty kitty…. you get it.
She… wasn’t pretty. I’m being kind. If you think I’m cruel, then I have no other way to say, politely, that she wasn’t attractive.
They were going at it like Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger in 9 1/2 Weeks but without the blinds.
At first glance I noticed all this, then my ex-catholic side kicked in and I averted my eyes. Then I looked back because… there it was in front of me anyway.
Her face was dirty. Like – coal miner dirty.
Now, it’s dark at 5:30am. She may have just been concealed in shadow, or she had actually come off a mining shift somewhere in Downtown Toronto. But she looked dirty.
I averted my eyes again.
In my head I imagined this is what the final scene in Casablanca would look like if filmed today.
After a breakfast of hot peaches and omelettes (oh my god, you guys!) we hit the road to drive into the Everglades. Naples old folk homes fade into outlet shopping malls fade into strip malls fade into construction into…
The road seem to just go for stretches at a time with the odd soft curve, while the trees and shrubs broke every so often to reveal huge expanses of swamp.
After a slight struggle with distances on our map we managed to find the Smallest Post Office in the US. As we drove in a sad minivan sped out of the lot. The only car in the lot, for that matter. When we got to the door a sign welcomed us saying the place was closed for a 2 hour lunch. Typical postal service.
Onward we drove, carefully looking for our next exciting destination: The Skunk Ape Research Center. Nestled in the deepest part of the Everglades is a campground that hosts a small museum dedicated to the mystery of the Skunk Ape – the Everglade’s own Sasquatch. Photos of foot castings and actual foot castings adorn one side of the gift shop, you know, as proof that there was a Skunk Ape. Yet as we looked at these wonders, we were easily distracted by a door out to an adjoining barn. A barn full of curiosity and wonder! Okay a barn full mostly of rescued exotic pets that were abandoned by idiots. And a couple gators.
For $5 we were able to get into the barn, have an amazing chat with the caretaker and take a ton of pictures. Two city boys with big cameras and wide eyes. The caretaker obviously loved his menagerie and was eager to place whatever creature we were discussing at the time somewhere on our bodies.
He would describe the animal and finish off with: “Would you like to hold him?”
To which both us City Boys would be polite and stall and errr and umm. He would cut us off at the knees and say louder “That is not an answer… WOULD YOU LIKE TO HOLD HIM?”
We would always respond “Yes.”
After spending way too much time there, I left realizing I had not asked one question about The Skunk Ape.
Shrug. The barn was 1000% better.
On to our next destination: The Shark Valley Visitor Center.
There are no sharks here (or at least we didn’t see any), but it is known for having a ton of aligators that lethargically sun themselves on bike paths. We eagerly rented two.
However, no one mentioned to us that this late in the day, this late in summer, there would be no aligators on the bike path (not my video, sadly). Though we did hear the hiss of one early on in the bike ride and *did* see one slithering away in the water a few yards away. Regardless, it was a pleasant afternoon 15 mile bike ride. I saw two grasshoppers having sex.
We motored on. At this point I could tell you all about the air boat ride we decided to take before hitting the other side of the Everglades, where the logo was the most misshapen ‘gator I’ve ever seen, where the collection of goons running the operation scared me a bit, where our co-riders were a bunch of yammering idiots, where we felt robbed of $80+ tax and saw only 2 gators, but why bother?
We were tired, so we motored to our next hotel: the Sea Dell Motel. Lovely. All low slung bungalows kept in decent shape, clean and orderly but with nothing older than the 70s. Night time decoration for the Sea Dell was magical Xmas lights along the eaves of the buildings. The pool was “chilled” and most welcome after a day of holding critters and sitting in that car.
We leave the Sea Chest hotel with its expansive bedroom and kitchenette (I love the word “kitchenette” – makes me think the fridge should be wearing a mini skirt) and we hit the road back to Weeki Watchee.
I’m glad we did.
It started to rain the moment we pulled in, but we were undeterred. We were here to see Mermaids, dammit! And so was half of the Bible Belt of central Florida apparently. We had some time to kill before the show so we decided to take a small boat tour of the spring run-off down to the ocean. While in line two families were discussing their past weekend which included a trip to Starbucks (they made it sound like they were visiting New York City for the first time) and the sermon one mother was giving another outside of Sunday church.
“Her beliefs are not MY beliefs because I believe in the GOSPEL!”
This went on for a while and I eventually stopped listening to the nattering.
Boat ride over, we headed to the Mermaid theatre.
It was spectacular.
It was the most surreal piece of theatre I’ve ever seen.
It was America times one thousand.
It was a cast of 5 kids in mermaid outfits (one doubled up with mermaid/creepy turtle costume) huffing air from garage tire hoses while they swam round and mouthed the words to songs that were one note off from Disney copyright.
It was unconsciously sexist. The opening number was about how mermaids would make horrible wives, men! Mermaids, we are told, do not cook or clean so just get use it and look at beauty. The choreography incorporated rump and breast shaking as a metaphor for celebration. There were no Mermen.
It was not to be missed.
SharkBoy and I just looked at each other when the lights came up and burst into laughter.
We got back into the car and booted it down the interstate to Bonita Springs. After checking into our 90% powerless hotel (a burnt out transformer next to the hotel means reduced room rate!) we headed over to Captiva Island and The Bubble Room Restaurant.
The Bubble Room is decorated as if Pee Wee Herman had a psychotic break. Slightly pricey but worth the visit. When we arrived the waiter (dressed in Bubble Scout uniform with a felt roast chicken on his head) sat us in the Honeymoon Nook. We were forced to sit side by site looking out over the restaurant for all to see – THAT WE WERE IN LOVE. awww! I had the Some Like it HOT HOT HOT shrimp (yes, they were) and SharkBoy had the Marilyn Mignon. After desert and drinks, it came to about $80.
We did a bit of a photo safari after dinner and came across a large scale Nautilus sub in the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea room, from the movie of the same name. The waiter said it was one of 3 left in the world. I touched it. It was like touching James Mason’s beard.
We drove back home along Captiva Island where the homes start in the $1M range. Beautiful. Just before hitting the hotel we found a tacky mini golf place and SharkBoy won by 2 strokes.
Sleep came fast.
Notice the details all along this thing! I think I’m having a heart attack. Oh… and wait for it… !!
Here’s the first day of our Oh! Manatee Tour for you to look at! Look!
As you may recall SharkBoy and I worked Andrew’s PWA Garage Sale (as well as the Fabulous BobaFuss, Doug, TK Butters, Kevin and many others) all day Saturday the night before, so we were very tired when the alarm went off at 3:30am.*
The flight down to Florida was uneventful but full at 6am, Sunday. The first two weeks of September are usually the best for seeing things in Florida with an unobstructed view of kids. But the flight was full of them, regardless. Thankfully they were as dead as we were – quiet flight!
We grabbed our rental car, a silver Dodge Avenger (I wanted a cape on it) and headed straight to Silver Springs. Sharkboy says (via the ever trustworthy internet) that this is where Creature of the Black Lagoon was filmed. When I posed a pic on Instagram, I got one person disputing that fact, even though the oldest tour guide in the history of mankind repeatedly showed us crystal clear spring water holes where the Creature menaced many a fair young maiden.
I also got to sit beside the Smelliest Feet Girl in all of Florida. Her mouth was pretty dirty too. “Look at that FUCKING turtle!!”
Back into the car where we spent the rest of the afternoon driving to Weeki Watchee – home of the “City of Mermaids”
So we got a little lost, the iPad/paper map wasn’t helping much and we decided to motor down to our first hotel without finding it.
On our ride to the hotel, we decided that an early start and return to Weeki Watchee would be a good idea, even if it meant losing out on seeing the Gloria Swanson Memorial Parking Lot. We were going to find that eventually finding the Mermaid city was going to be a highlight of the trip…
At this point we were starting to get an idea of how long the distances between our road side attractions were going to be. A lot. But we both like car trips so it wasn’t an issue, however we found ourselves planning the next day under the cover of whatever hotel’s wifi we had access too. It kind of killed our free spirited travel concept.
First hotel: The Sea Chest Motel in Treasure Island, Clearwater FL. I liked it! 50s swank meets sad end-of-season destitution with clean rooms, comfy beds and working AC. The partying over 50s that hung out by our window were a bit of a worry but they were respectful and clammed up at 10pm.
*Beeteedubs, the Garage sale netted in over $1900 woo!!
From @RealMattyMcBoy on Twitter, comes Cedric Delsaux, a photographer obsessed with inserting Star Wars icons into industrial pictures. Brilliant.
One more from FanExpo 2014
The non-trooper guy in this pic is Albin Johnson, creator of the 501st and all-round awesome guy. I feel honoured to be in this picture – they’re all incredible people.