Hotel Walls

January 23, 2000

I just finished reading a journal entry in which the writer mentions the "merits" of business travel and being left alone in a hotel room.

In a word, it sucks.

I suppose that thought was the underpinning of a quick day/night trip I took last November. I had just landed at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport and found that my travel agent had not confirmed my car reservation. I ended up wandering up and down the airport car rental counters looking for some type of reasonable "deal." I found a satisfactory rate at an off-airport location and proceeded to pick up my "intermediate sized" car.

Nice surprise. It was a brand spankin new black Mustang. Smiling, I rolled down all the windows and headed out of the parking lot. My immediate task was to find a hotel for the night. Since it was Monday night, and I had no appointments till Wed. morning, I had brought along my roller blades and had planned on spending the day on the Ft. Lauderdale boardwalk.

That was until I thought of the hotel walls.

I'm a night person. Eight thirty can often be just the beginning of another adventure. I paused at the exit of the parking lot and quickly ran a host of possibilities through the brain. The interstate was only blocks away and I was maybe 15 minutes from the beaches.

Brand new mustang, lots of horses under the hood, great tunes and an open road, or Hotel Walls - for hours?

I chose the road.

I turned left on the interstate, put the petal to the metal and said to myself, I wonder just how far south this road goes?

I drove and drove through open country, crossed lots of bridges and found the end of the road and the mile marker that shows a solitary number 1 on it.

In Key West.

It only took 3 and a half hours and I was in my hotel room a little after midnight. No walls to contend with this night, I was asleep in minutes.

The next day I was up and on the phone early, with great plans for a boat trip out to one of the reefs to dive. Slight problem, winds of 30 knots plus had been blowing for days and the water was so turbulent that all diving and snorkel trips had been canceled.

Disappointed, I made my way down to the harbor and inquired about chartering a sailboat for the day. All but one was booked, and although at another time I might have shelled out 500 bucks for a day trip, I needed to keep this within reason. Soon the Mustang and I were back on the street looking for something to do.

It didn't take long to find what I was looking for. There are little kiosks all over Key West which book various trips and I stopped to look at some brochures. One caught my eye - the caption said - "Danger Charter" and it showed a picture of a sailboat heeled over about 30 degrees in a big wind.

Big smile

Has this one left yet, I asked?


I pulled out the 60 bucks and headed off toward their boat.

We motored out of the Key West bay amongst the backdrop of racing engines as twenty or so cigarette boat offshore racers were warming up for time trials. Seems I picked a good day for a visit, for the Playboy offshore races were to begin the next day. The bay was alive with spray and thunder and wind and we six passengers and 2 crew quickly settled into a great sail.

We stopped about a mile or two off shore and broke out the sea kayaks. Nature lesson in hand we meandered among the mangroves, watched a nurse shark or two, manta rays and other sea life which darted through the shallows near the mangroves. The early afternoon brought a trip to a shallow reef and snorkeling, but I decided to lie on deck and take in the sun.

The sail back to shore brought the boat into full contact with the wind. No downwind sail this, but a full reach with both crew members having their hands full. The first time we tipped over more than 30 degrees, I laughed out loud, the other passengers grabbed for anything they could to hang on. I am sure some were convinced they were going to die.

The sail back into the harbor was brief but adventuresome, and I figured I got every penny worth of my fee, and then some.

The afternoon was off with a salad and a beer on the patio of the Hilton, as I watched the sun set.

The mustang and I made it back to Lauderdale about 11:00 pm, just in time to skip the hotel walls.

And although the card does not do the day justice, I include it here just in case you might want to go for a sail.