Apple and I just returned from our weekend vacation, which we spent at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort in Vero Beach, FL. Actually, we’re still there as I write this — it’s Saturday night, our final evening here, and I felt like writing an update to post when I get home. It’s mostly been a pretty smooth trip, and we’ve done all the stuff we wanted to — gone shopping; seen a movie; walked on the beach; ate dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant here on the east coast.
We left home on Friday and stopped at the Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise, FL. This is supposedly the biggest outlet mall in the state (and given the sprawling size of the place, I’m not going to argue), absolutely chock full of stores. In some cases, there are actually more than one of certain stores — FYE, for example. There’s a small FYE at one end of the mall, and at the other end, another, much bigger FYE. I don’t know why, exactly. Maybe because they figure the mall is so huge, some people aren’t going to make it from one end to the other. They might collapse somewhere in between like a dehydrated traveler lost in some desert.
Unfortunately, Apple wasn’t able to find anything she liked at the mall’s various stores. The fact that these were mainly all outlet stores probably contributed to the selection. I picked up the fourth season boxed set of Knight Rider DVDs as well as a book to read. I also spent a fair amount of time dodging really pushy folks who would chase after you with surveys or some such thing, trying to relieve you of your money, time or both.
We had dinner at the Grand Lux Café. The last time we were there, this restaurant had been a Cheesecake Factory. I’m not actually fond of the Cheesecake Factory…they built a new one in our hometown a year or so ago, and we’ve been there three or four times, but not once have we really enjoyed it. I doubt we’ll go back. The Grand Lux Café is owned by the same company, and its food, in my opinion, couldn’t be more dissimilar to the Cheesecake Factory. And I mean that in a good way. The meal was excellent. After dinner I ordered a piece of key lime pie for the road, and the thing was so huge I’m only just finishing it off tonight.
On Saturday we slept in, then stopped for lunch at Panera Bread on our way to the Indian River Mall. This time Apple had more success with her shopping, picking up some really cute tops. We saw Cars at the attached movie theater, then had dinner at the Siam Orchid Thai restaurant down the road. There was a really big and really annoying family there talking about sex organs and other topics that I doubt many people talk about over dinner. They were also bossing their kids something fierce. It was one of those families where the kids have to eat everything on their plate. That just bothers me, but I won’t go into that here. I don’t think people should be wasteful, but on the flipside I think some parents take the “clean plate” thing way too far. I mean, these people would not shut up about it.
Anyway, after that we headed back to the hotel, planning to take a walk on the beach as evening set in. It was right about then that we got the scare of our lives. Driving on a four-lane, one-way street through the heart of downtown Vero Beach, which is all intersections and winding roads, we started to slow down for a red light. I was in the lane second from the left, and in the leftmost lane — right next to us — was a really ancient, gold Toyota Corolla. The light turned green as we approached, so I put my foot on the gas with leisurely pressure, and as I started to enter the intersection I checked for traffic to the right and saw a red Jeep Cherokee coming full-tilt on the intersecting street!
Even as I floored the brakes I wondered to myself, Shit, did I just run a red light? Why’s this guy blowing through the intersection now?! While time seemed to slow to a crawl, I stole a quick glance at the traffic light overhead; sure enough, I had a full green. The anti-lock brakes pulsed and the pedal thrummed beneath my foot as our Mazda6 fought to stop in time. The Jeep was flying through the red light, headed straight for us in slow motion.
The ABS held fast and true. We stopped just in time, the Jeep flew past and struck the gold Corolla to our immediate left, which by this time was about half a car length ahead. The Corolla’s front bumper and fascia were shaved off, sending parts careening across the road. The Jeep’s driver side wheels left the pavement and the whole thing spun around counter-clockwise two or three times, bouncing crazily from one set of wheels to the other before finally coming to a stop facing the wrong way.
We pulled over, as did a black C6 Corvette from a few car lengths back that had seen the whole thing, and we made sure everyone involved was okay. The Corvette driver (who was a local) remarked that this particular intersection saw crashes quite often. On the street that the Jeep had been driving on, a few hundred yards down the road there’s another traffic light that runs out of sync with the one the accident occurred at. Corvette man said “The guy was probably looking down the road and saw a green light there, and subconsciously tuned out the closer one.”
The cops showed up about a minute later (“They’re usually even quicker,” said Corvette man, “given how often crashes happen here”), so, since we had escaped all damage, we resumed our drive back to the hotel — a little nervously, I don’t mind telling you!
Incidentally, the last time we were in Thailand, we brought home two Buddhist pendants, one for each of our cars, which are meant to watch over us and keep us safe. The one in the Mazda hangs from the rear-view mirror. If it played a part in saving us from disaster tonight, I am certainly thankful.
We had our walk on the beach as planned, and Saturday night (which is still in the future at the time of this writing, you understand) we’ll watch another episode of 24 and I’ll finish the rest of my key lime pie. We’re having breakfast at Shutters, the hotel’s casual restaurant, tomorrow morning – and then heading home around 11:00 a.m. It’s been a fun time this weekend, certainly a worthwhile getaway, and one that I think we’re both glad we got to take.
This coming week, I’ve got to put in some big-time hours on my last remaining side project. I’m also expecting to receive a paycheck from my previous employer, for whom I did about $1300 worth of work over the past month, on a project that just dragged on and on, interspersed with lengthy gaps during which I received no communication whatsoever. The guy I was working with is like that. He doesn’t answer your email, he sits on information for days or weeks before acting on it, and he’s a scatterbrain of the highest order. So, when I sent my invoice, I copied the CEO on it. Quoth Ripley, “It’s the only way to be sure.”
Supplemental: We made it back and I’m posting this as planned. We hit some torrential rain on the way home — over and over again, actually. The entire trip, it was rain / stop / rain / stop etc. Some of those squalls, particularly around West Palm Beach and several separate incidents on Alligator Alley, delivered the hardest rain I’ve driven in since I moved to Florida. Rain that slows you down to 40 MPH because you can’t see five yards in front of you, and the wipers can’t hope to keep up. People were pulling over, running with their hazards on, and all kinds of nutty stuff. One determined FHP officer decided to pull somebody over in the midst of all the mess, holding a rain slicker over his head as he marched up to the offending driver’s car. Guy must have really screwed up bigtime.
I’ve seen plenty enough rain for one day, thank you, but it looks like some of the big storms we drove through on the way here might be showing up at our door this evening, so I might have to endure it again. We’re picking up Chinese food for dinner and just chilling out tonight, and I may take the GTO out. The Mazda could use a rest after all it’s been through, and hey — the Goat’s already dirty. Welcome to Florida’s rainy season, yo.
As I mentioned, this’ll be a busy week for me so I’m not sure how much I’ll post. I imagine I’ll be slaving away during the holiday weekend as well so I can finish Phase 1 of this project I’ve got going on. It really bites, and I’d really like it to be done and gone. My sleep last night was irrevocably disturbed by a dream that the guy I’m doing the project for kept calling me and bitching me out on the phone. Add that to the “You know you’re working too much when…” file.