PHOTO: Florida March Break Trip 2003 : THE CRAZY CANUCKS
Well, my friends, Jimbo has just returned from his annual sojourn to the Sunshine state. This yearly Snow bird trek to the South is part and parcel of my family’s spring ritual. In fact, in sixty years of life I’ve made at least 45 of these trips. I suspect that, totalled together, all of these weeks are equivalent to about a year and a half of my life. This makes me a two-percenter, my friends - two percent Floridian, that is
There were so many good things about this vacation that were worthy of blog material that I’d like to share several of them with you. Indeed, we’ll follow my adventures in a series of blogs, trying to maintain some semblance of chronological order.
So, here goes. Hope you enjoy the ride.
THE SNOWBIRD TREK: Everything you wanted to know About CRAZY CANUCKS but were afraid to ask!
Our destination in Florida is small retirement park known as the Saddlebag Resort. You can find it just a little Southeast of Lake Wales on Route 60. It is 1231 miles from our home. The fastest way to get there, of course, is to fly.
You see the price of flights from Canada during our March (Your Spring) Break is astronomical. The price for a return flight for my family of four from Toronto would have been close to $3000. Total return price of gas for a vehicle is about $400. Shared by two families that’s a $200 a pop. That’s practically chump change, friends.
BTW - My son, the fifteen year old skim boarder, flew out a week early for a cost of about $140. Lucky, kid!
But, not us, for we are locked into the March Break time period because my wife teaches and, of course, can’t take holidays whenever she wants.
So, we bite the bullet and drive. You might describe this ride as our own 24 hour race at La Mans or maybe you’re more familiar with the one at Sebring.
You see, we drive straight through the night for from 21 to 23 hours, only stopping to pee and take on loads of fuel. This is akin to surviving a trip in the space shuttle or the international Space Station. We are crammed in like sardines, exposed to hours of noxious emissions (flatulence), incessant whining from the kids, loaded down with luggage, including bags and miscellaneous debris at our feet and inflict massive sleep deprivation on the drivers.
Leaving at 4 pm means the two drivers are awake for at least 30 hours straight, resulting in bugged eyes and the emergence of frayed nerve induced personality disorders. Driving through the night, we traverse the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee and the long boring drive through Georgia in a NASCAR race for Vitamin D glory. Nothing can stand in our way.
We are the crazy Canucks and for one week in March we migrate to Florida in droves.
On this weekend you see more Canadian license plates on Interstate 75 than American. Each of us carries a pent up desire for sunshine, especially having experienced four straight months of dreary darkness and blowing snow. Our SDD (Sunshine Deficiency Disorder) induces withdrawal not unlike the cravings of a crack addict. We become both sun seekers and fun seekers; Snowbirds that are ready, willing and able to endure any hardship to get a pinch of spring.
In the past we’ve driven through snow storms (The Storm of the Century), skirted hurricanes, endured 11 hours straight of pounding rain and fog so thick you could drink it. My friends, this is a more significant invasion than when we burned down the White House during the War of 1812. (BTW - Sorry about that!)
WARNING: Do not get in our way. We take no prisoners. We are the Crazy Canucks.
So, my friends, now you know the premise that will drive all of these adventures.
The cast of characters are as follows.
THE DRIVERS: Jimbobalouie (Age 60) and his bud, Willy Boy (Age 49). You know enough about Jimbo through his many foibles and misadventures. Willy Boy is a Mennonite guy who gave up the horse and wagon to drive a UPS truck.
We’re like brothers and beer buddies through and through. We look forward to our daily lunches of hot cheese, salami and crackers, washed down by massive amounts of beer. We both behave like a shorter versions of Homer Simpson.
THE SHOPPERS: A secondary theme to this mission is the hunt for the “big deal”. Four ladies, shopaholics of the first kind, are ready to forage through the shopping malls and discount houses. They’ll leave the resort each day like a swarm of bees, seeking those sweet mark downs and red dot specials, their pockets bulging with at par greenbacks. The only thing that can draw them back is the lure of the midday sun. Jimbo and Willy Boy avoid them like the plague, lest they be eaten alive or thrown to the gators.
Sher: (Age 46) GRADE 2 TEACHER
My wife, the beautiful redhead, is the calm, cool and collected one among us. She is capable of smoothing things over and keeping the lid on when the rest of us are acting like cretins. Jimbo and Willy Boy have been known to misbehave. Blame it on the al-al-al-al-ca-hol, baby!
Kimmer: (Age 46) MANAGER MANULIFE
Sherrie’s cousin and Willy Boy’s wife. She is the type of women that replaces her wardrobe weekly. For her, shopping is an adrenaline driven contact sport. Money pours out of her wallet like shit through goose. Never touch her hair sprayed hair. It's so springy, if she fell, she'd bounce right back up.
K: (Age 17) 12th GRADE HIGHSCHOOL
Kimmer and Willy Boy’s daughter. This gal never says anything below ear bursting decibel level. She has inherited the shopping gene from her mother. She had to go shopping the week before the trip to get new items to wear while shopping in Florida. The clothes she buys and doesn’t wear she gives away to friends.
The Smurf: THIRD YEAR UNIVERSITY STUDENT
(Age 20) That’s my daughter. You know the one that recently fell out of the cab and cracked her cocoanut. Not much of a shopper since she went off to university and found that living on your own has expenses. She’s five feet nothing and has stubby little feet like a Hobbit. Her smile is like sunshine. She is a cute little blonde freaking pit bull.
THE SKIM BOARDER: BASKETBALL PHENOM: TENTH GRADE STUDENT
“JJ” (Age 16) Flew to Florida a week earlier to be with his buddies’ family in Cocoa Beach. Planned to buy a skim board and impress the ladies on the beach with his basketball player, chiselled physique. We’ll pick him up in Vero Beach a few days after we arrive. BTW - He is the reason for my current insanity. Fortunately they have pills for this.
So, the stage is set. You have the motivation, the mode of transportation and the cast of misfits.
In a few days I’ll post the second blog in this series which will include the following journal entries.
Life is a Highway (Not!)
Going Buggy in Kentucky
LET THE FUN BEGIN!