This vacation was different than usual: normally I go outside of cell range, and thus, I can’t share anything early.  This time, I had coverage the whole time, so if you follow me on twitter or fb, you got some sneak peaks!  That also provided a conundrum – how much to disconnect?  I finally had to just put my phone and tablet away in the Keys, for the most part, since I didn’t feel as relaxed as normal, but it was nice to be able to share some pics and thoughts!

Anyhoo, I digress.  Here’s the recap of the great FL trip of 2013!


It was a nice visit with Zliten’s parents, and we said goodbye to them as they dropped us off at the airport.  That was a little weird (they were here on vacation and they dropped US off), and the security line was so long that we got done just as our flight was boarding.  We had banked on lunch at the airport, and I would have done bad things in hunger, but I survived on some homemade jerky and ritz crackers.

It’s weird, we always take the BEST pictures in airports as we’re leaving for vacation.  I guess it’s because we’re extra happy?

The flight was uneventful, and we landed in Orlando, got our “mighty steed” (what a SCAM, I was quoted 300-something and ended up paying 600-something for the car, but since we needed it we just ate it, but anyhoo…), and drove the 45 minutes to Cocoa Beach.  It was gorgeous and green and lovely and warm and… totally flat.  No hills.  Great place for a marathon!

We hit up the first local looking place we could find, which happened to be the Sunset Cafe, and got sat facing the water and sunset.  Yay!  I had been craving a burger, so I got that, and because it was the first time I had eaten all day, we also got potato skins and a big beer.  I usually don’t indulge the week of the marathon but it was absolutely 100% necessary.  After we had dinner, we checked into the hotel and ended up on the first floor.  Of course, when we don’t have to deal with a bike and all the tri gear, we get the first floor room (but it was awesome and convenient, so I won’t knock it!).

What was also convenient was there was a grocery store right next to the hotel, so we loaded up on groceries.  I found the BEST chips, but I totally can’t remember what they are – they had flax seeds and brown rice and sea salt and it’s probably a good thing because I ate 2 bags!  We snacked on chips and hummus and veggies and made a salad and relaxed and passed out pretty early.


I slept TERRIBLY.  The beds didn’t seem that bad, but they were a little lumpy and I think it was a little bit nerves, and I tossed and turned a lot.  I woke up at 8 feeling bleh so I went back to bed for an hour and slept AWESOME so I felt better.  Gotta get my good “day before the day before” sleep.  We popped over to the gym and got a quick shakeout run on the ‘mill – 1.5 miles (.5 miles warmup, .5 at m-pace, .5 cooldown) and my ankle started feeling a little wonky after but I tried to ignore.

Once we got out of the car at packet pickup, my ankle started feeling worse, and thus my mental downward spiral that day.  We didn’t spend much time at the expo, but bought some biofreeze and an ornament.  I was going to splurge on a shirt but nothing really caught my eye as worth the money, so just the race shirt it was.  We went to a few stores to find a charger for Zliten, and I was, like, shooting mental daggers at him.  OMG, I have a broken ankle, I have to run a marathon tomorrow, and you want me to trek around to stores finding a stupid charger? *drama*

We went to an awesome place for lunch called the Discovery Beach Cafe, I ended up there because of the awesome yelp reviews.  When we walked in, it was totally dead and looked like a casino coffee shop.  I figured yelp had done me wrong, but they did not.  I had an amazing club sandwich and fries (only thing was – surprise – they but hardboiled egg on it… great for some, but not this egg hater… who puts egg on a club?) and had great service.

Then, we went to see Catching Fire (Hunger Games 2).  I really, really enjoyed it and it ended the same way I ended book 2 – MORE NOAW PLEASE!  It was a nice way to spend an afternoon off our feet.

We came back to the hotel, hit the hot tub, laid our stuff out, ate mac and cheese, and I convinced myself to conk out early.  By then, I was limping pretty bad and I figured the best way to have a shot at the marathon was to get as much healing sleep as possible.


I’ll refer you to here on the marathon itself, but after, we got back to the hotel and I knew we’d feel much better if we continued to move a bit, so we walked down to the pier a few blocks away, and I got a margarita, a salad, and fried shrimp and fries at the Atlantic Ocean Grill.  NOTE: I’m pretty sure Floridians eat the same type of fries at every meal, the thick cut seasoned fries, if I am to believe what I am served by restaurants.  We walked out to the end of the pier and had a beer out there at the Tiki Bar, but it was cloudy and windy and cool, so we walked back down and found another bar (Oh Shucks).

This one had a view of the beach and a very nice bartender, and corona light on tap (my favorite crappy beer), so we spent the afternoon there.  We met a very nice couple from 2 hours south (Port Lucie, if I remember correctly) who we started talking to when they sat next to us.  She had run the marathon and talked about her work in Haiti.  Always fun meeting random runners!

After sunset, we headed back to the hotel, hit the grocery store for more beer and probably one of the BEST turkey sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life (and I am a turkey sammich connoisseur, so that’s saying a lot). I ate the whole footlong, because, marathon, and went to sleep.


I slept kinda fitfully again because I was sore but I was getting used to it.  Oh well, only one more night on this bed!  Oddly enough, my ankle was just fine, but my right knee was complaining.  Oh well.  We got up at 9, hit up the hotel breakfast (froot loops, apples, english muffin with cream cheese and bacon today), and then headed out to Kennedy Space Center.  We were lucky to go on a Monday during off season that was cloudy and cool, so it was so dead!  Loved it!

Zliten is the space nut in the family, so it was cool to see him go all googly eyed at all the rockets.  I went googly eyed myself quite a few times because space stuff is awesome!

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We started with lunch.  NASA makes awesome salads!

Then, we took a guided tour of the rocket garden.  The tour guide was great and had been working with NASA for something like 30 years, so he had lots of stories.

We also took the bus tour (my marathon legs appreciated sitting) and saw cool things like the roads the crawlers used, some launch sites, and what I didn’t expect, a lot of cool wildlife!  I didn’t know that a whole lot of their land is a wildlife preserve.  We saw gators, a manatee, and a bald eagle or three from the bus window (sadly, the pictures didn’t turn out).  Also, there is a building (fittingly, it’s green), that makes all of it’s own power.  If only we could have this everywhere!

The tour dropped us off right by the Atlantis exhibit, so we waited in line for just a bit and then got to check out some movies.  Then, they shuffled us into another room, which had cool screen that surrounded you, and played another sweet movie on Atlantis.  Then, as the movie ended, the screen went translucent, and raised on the actual shuttle Atlantis RIGHT THERE!  It was breathtaking!  Great presentation!

We spent the next hour or so noodling around that exhibit, and Zliten found a very convenient restroom.

After, we hit up the rocket garden for a few more pictures.  The size of these things are just mind boggling.

Then hit the early space museum on the way out (though it was a quick visit, not as long as we would have liked), and then it was 4:45, they closed at 5, and there was supposed to be a LAUNCH that evening.

We booked it back to the hotel, hurried out to the beach facing the launch site, and got settled just as the sun was going down.  Then, Zliten checked the website.  Delayed until the next day.  Booo!

At that point, all I wanted out of life was veggies, and all my marathon inflammation agreed, so we passed up some other cool local choices for Ruby Tuesday, because I knew they had a salad bar.  It was kind of nice, anyway – I’ve never been to one, even though I know they’re a chain all over, so it was a new experience.  I ate two heaping plates of salad, and ordered the seafood trio (crab cake, shrimp, lobster tail) and broccoli and ate it all.  Marathon metabolism totally still in effect.

We had planned on maybe having a night out on the town that evening, but we were both not really into it, so instead of dresses and going out, we hit the hot tub and pajamafied ourselves and read.  Boring, maybe, but it was what was needed.  I crashed hard when I did, and it was very, very early.


Twelve mother fucking hours of largely uninterrupted sleep.  Booyah.  I felt like a new person.  Much less sore, my knee was still a little cranky, but overall, I didn’t feel like I was 70 years old anymore.

We hit up the breakfast one more time just as it was closing, and I had my typical english muffin and cream cheese, this time with sausage patties, and of course some cinnamon toast crunch.  Crappy cereal and breakfast carbs, I love you, but only on vacations.

We got checked out and on the road by about 10:30 for our drive to Key Largo.  It was largely uneventful, but I remember thinking that the highest hills in Florida are the garbage dumps (they’re right off the highway and yeah, kinda smelly).  Also, we cheered everytime we hit a toll, because we had been talked into purchasing the prepaid toll tag.  Even if we didn’t actually rack up 50$ in tolls, it was a win, because we got the grumpy of paying for tolls over with in the first 30 mins of vacation.

We ended up stopping in Boca Raton for lunch, at Dominic’s Italian Restaurant.  We almost left town because we couldn’t find anywhere to eat, and we were turning around to get back on the highway and found this place, and I’m glad we did.  Zliten got the lunch tortellini, which was a HUGE plate of cheese tortellini with meat sauce.  I’m scared to see what the dinner plate size was – this fed two people, easy.  Even with marathon metabolism, he ended up taking about 1/3 with us.  I had pasta fagoli soup, another salad (my body was still craving the veggies), and a slice of spinach pizza.  All of these things were wonderful, but the superstar of the day was the garlic rolls they brought us.  They made me briefly decide I was going to just live in Boca, and get fat on them, and live a happy life.

However, we had a Condo in Key Largo to get to, and we were over halfway, so back in the car we went.  We got excited to get to the end of mainland Florida and thought it would be epic to “drive over water”.  Turns out, there’s still a lot of land between the mainland and Key Largo.  It was cool, but I think to get that picture of just road and sea I was thinking of, we’d have to go further down the keys, maybe.

Either way, we rolled into town, drove down “the road”, found the Kawama Yacht Club, and settled into our condo for the day.

Just kidding!  We pretty much threw our stuff on the ground, found our swim suits, and headed out to the beach.

…and, this seems like a good time to take a break.  Part 2 coming shortly!