Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Always Sunny in Florida??

Before I lost my job, I had received a call from a telemarketer from Caribbean Cruise Vacations.  They're a timeshare company, and were offering three vacations for $278, plus a 2 night cruise to the Bahamas.  The deal wasn't a horrible one, and because I live in Illinois, by law I don't have to attend the timeshare sales pitch.  So, I bought the trips, because I love to travel, and I thought it would be cool to get away during the winter months, especially since the trips included Florida, Puerta Vallarta, Mexico and Vegas.

Well, fast forward to the second week of November, I got the news I was getting laid off from my job.  Most people would be pretty busted up over this news, but I actually saw it as an opportunity to pursue my dreams.  I know for a fact that I would have never walked away from my job on my own, and I think this was just what I needed to get the fire going.  I've digressed, I booked a flight for the Florida vacation, because my husband was travelling there on business, and it was a good opportunity for us to get away on the cheap, well, so I thought.

The trip started with me leaving on a flight at 7:20am, which was over booked by several seats.  I used the misfortune of those passengers needing to fly standby as my opportunity to make money, and volunteered my seat for $400.  However, the flight that I was scheduled to get on later in the day left with out me.  Why, you might ask?  I fell asleep, that's why, and woke up just as they had closed the bridge.  Of course, I was just sick to my stomach.  Nonetheless, I flew standby on another overbooked flight, and eventually met my husband in Ft. Lauderdale, and this my friends is where the rubber meets the road so to speak.

The vacation package I purchased, provided a rental car, meal vouchers for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as our hotel stay.  What they failed to mention is that you pay the taxes on EVERYTHING!  What's worse is the hotel that was free was a complete dump.

Now, don't get me wrong, my husband nor I are snobs. I mean, we were both in the military for Pete's sake, so we know what crappy living conditions are.  However, I stayed in barracks that offered a better quality atmosphere than this hotel.  First of all, it reeked as if the walls were painted with a concentrated solution of simply green.  My husband seems to think it was more of a pepto bismol stink.  Whatever the case, the stench stuck in your thoughts, and had the uncanny ability to clear your sinuses if you took a deep breath. 

Needless to say, we stayed at the hotel for one night only, and requested an upgrade to the Westin for an additional $40/night.  This is a little perk they don't volunteer to you, unless you make a stink.  Once we made it to the Westin, it was like the heavens had opened, and hand selected clouds for us to sit upon.  As soon as we walked through the lobby, I couldn't help but smile.  There wasn't the essence of stale cigarette smoke, nor were there peculiar looking people peppered around the lobby like underpaid stage actors.

The trip was a nice break from the frigid winter wonderland taking place in Chicago.  At 77 degrees, I really didn't have the right to complain, but I did.  It started with this catfish joint by the name of Dewey's Catfish.  To be fair, I have to say the catfish was outstanding.  However, there was little else to be desired.  I distinctly remember the restaurant having this odor that reminded me of a fishy tainted gerbil cage, and the floor was disgusting as well.  Quite frankly, had it not been for the fact that it was late at night, and the place was nearby, I am certain we would have walked right out.  Oh yeah, the conch wasn't too my liking, but my husband was okay with it, the collard greens were under seasoned, and the key lime pie was more like sweetened condensed milk pie. 

Moving on...The next night we went to Charlie's Crab House, which changed its name to the Chart Club, but had no indications of this change, which left us driving around for several minutes, until we found the number, and the host informed us that they're one in the same.  This place had a fantastic ambience, but the food was simply average.  In my opinion, it was definitely over priced, as my food left me feeling underwhelmed.  If you do happen to go, I will say that the crab legs were good, and so were the jalapeño cheese biscuits.  Outside of that, aaah, I would say pass.

For entertainment, we checked out the Alligator Park which was about an hour away.  This was probably one of the best things we did.  We took a boat ride out in the swamp, watched the snake show, as well as the feeding of the alligators.  If you have kids, it is a must do.  The cost was $42 for both of us.  We did call a place that was in Ft. Lauderdale, but they were charging $50/person!! If you're looking for adult fun, then Improve or Hard Rock Hotel is a must do, and they are both in the same location.

We don't gamble, nor do well with smoke so the Hard Rock Casino was out.  However, we did catch Ralphie Mae's (a comedian) show at the improv.  Both my husband and I find Ralphie funny on XM, but in person...  Well, I'm not easily offended, but he just wasn't funny to me.  He's no Bill Burr!  

Our Florida trip was a much needed vacation, but next time, I think we'll just book our own hotels.  Oh, we did end up going to hear the timeshare presentation, and we bought into it.  The amount of vacations we take it made sense, especially since I don't plan to go back to work.  The time share will cut our usual vacation costs by half. 

As for what I plan to do to make money, I am preparing to take the Illinois licensing exam for massage therapy, and plan to work as a therapist, while building an online dating profile writer business.  I know it sounds sooo random, but it's not.  I've been certified for over 5 years, but never bothered to get licensed, and who better to have someone write a dynamite dating profile, than someone who did the online dating thing, and met her husband of 3.5 years online? =)

It's amazing how exciting life becomes, when you aren't inundated with the business as usual daily nuances of the expected.  Every day is new and exciting, because I am now in control of my future.

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