Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Spirit Journey & Manatees - Part 1

Sean and I decided to take a vacation in the Florida Keys in February 1999. Sean’s eldest brother Phil, from Chicago had a time share condo on Estero Beach. Sean was going to go there by himself, stay a few days with his brother then I would fly down to meet them. From there we would borrow Phil’s caddy and drive to the Keys. That was the plan.

Before Sean left, he was having trouble with his Audi Quattro’s brakes and dropped it off at the local service station. He then took a cab to the airport to fly to Tampa to meet Phil so that we would only have one car at the airport for our drive home. I was supposed to pick up his car from the station when it was fixed.

The next day, I went to work. I called the service station and they said that what the car needed was this special German hydraulic brake fluid that was $25 per can and they had put it in. I could come and pick it up any time. But it had started to snow really hard that afternoon, so I just drove the 27 miles home from work on the unplowed slippery roads and was glad to get home in one piece. It was not that the roads were such a problem for me, but the other drivers were a hazard.

The next day, there was lots of snow, about 6 inches, but I made it into work and back alright. But, now I felt like I was coming down with something. I really had to pick up Sean’s car. So, when I got home, I bundled up in a turtle neck, sweater, long underwear, jeans, hiking socks and snow boots, ski hat, gloves and jacket, and trudged the 1.5 miles through the snow to the service station to get Sean’s car. The station was closed, but they had left the key under the floor mat. I drove it home, but by the time I got there the brakes were already squishy. I called Sean and told him about the brakes. He called his friend Eric and asked him to come over the next morning, Saturday, to check on the car.

Eric, an all around really good guy, came over and looked at the car while it was running and I pressed on the brakes and he said that he could see the fluid pouring out of a hole in the system (and at $25 per can that is so not good). The all wheel drive Audi would be out of the picture until after our trip.

I would be driving my VW Golf GTI 16 Valve to the airport.

It wouldn’t be too bad since I had put Blizzak tires (they have sipes!) on it and the car handled pretty well in the ice and snow.

I packed so that I would be ready to go on Sunday. It was strange to be packing my swimsuit (Sean had already taken my fins, snorkel and wet suit) all the summer stuff when there was snow outside, but, exciting too. I still really wasn’t feeling well but decided that I would recover better on the beach than here in the freezing cold.

The next day, Sunday, the roads were clearer. I drove the 50 miles to the airport without incident, parked in the long term lot, took the shuttle to the airport, grabbed my one carryon bag and boarded my non-stop flight to Tampa. We took off and as we reached cruising altitude my sinuses became really painful. I was in agony. I ordered hot water from the drinks cart and swallowed as much as possible. It was the congestion. My sinuses were packed solid. I also had a deep hacking cough from post nasal drip. As we landed I could not clear my ears and could hardly hear anything. Yeah, you would want to see me when I arrived in Tampa; sick as a dog.

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