Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Surviving Spring Break and an Angel Named Michael

We should've taken it as a sign that our spring break was going to be interesting when we were told before our flight even took off that our back-up engine went out but not to worry, things would be just fine.

When we landed in Florida, the gate our plane drove to didn't have the right power source to compensate for our loss of the back-up engine so we lost all power.

We sat in the dark with no ability to open the door to leave.

Did I mention it was night time?

Every now and then the lights flickered on and off to keep the foreboding creepy atmosphere strong.

Workers from the outside were able to bust us out and we exited the plane in darkness.

Because of the loss of power issue, they couldn't retrieve our luggage for over an hour.

We didn't get to our condo until after midnight.

We were too tired to notice 
or care 
about all the screaming happening 
all night 
all around us.

Clearly we did not research well the condo we booked in Ft. Lauderdale.

Which is SO unlike us.

We usually over-research 
and even talk to friends in the area 
to get their input.

We were already leery of the condo being in a high rise.

We were on the 9th floor. I'm not so fond of the heights.

Too many people.

We aren't big into having to take 
an elevator to get to the beach.

We are more of a holler from the balcony to the pool and/or beach to let the girls know lunch is ready.

Because the balcony is one or two stories up.

As it turns out, there was a lot of hollering from balconies.

2 stories, 
8 stories 
and 9 stories up.

They hollered up to people above them, below them and across from them.

They hollered in the morning while we tried to eat breakfast.

They hollered in the afternoon.

They hollered most of the night.

This sounds like a frustrating Dr. Seuss story.

Apparently, we had booked a very popular college Spring Break destination condo/hotel.

Our condo owners promised us it was a spring break free area and required us to be over 26 to book, etc.

But no one else in the building stuck to that plan.

There were college kids EVERYWHERE.

Except for this bagpipe group that we met at breakfast.

And this parrot that just showed up in the midst of all the chaos.

We are around college kids all the time because we live in a college town.

This was different.

The decibel and energy level was  like one big college football game tailgate with the biggest rival.

All the time.

But it involved WAY less clothing.

And WAY more bad words.

We got well acquainted with the hotel security guards (there were two but later they brought in more) because we were constantly pointing out concerns.

While we were eating lunch one day the smoke alarms went off and we were asked to evacuate the building.

We actually did smell smoke.

We took the stairs down nine flights and got a lovely view of discarded beer cans, spilled drinks and one lonely banana peel.

The urine smell took our minds off 
the possibility of all our belongings 
going up in flames.

We were told it was just a piece of burnt toast and we could re-enter the building.

4,000 people were in line for the 3 elevators so back up the stairs we went.

We decided the stairs were safer and faster than taking our chances in an overpacked elevator so it became our way to get to and from the beach.

It was a great thigh workout.

As much as we loved hearing the guy holler over and over from the 4th floor balcony that he was in Miami (which he wasn't),

and as impressive as it was to hear all the University of Kentucky kids chanting 

Monte started looking for other places for us to move to.

We had also found out that our hotel was hosting a big St. Patrick's Day party which we were going to be there for.

We could not imagine the party ramping up a notch.

After many reports of full hotels and condos, Monte did a Google Maps search and started making calls to all the places as far north from our hotel as possible.

We called a place we stayed in two years ago and loved. They had a room for only 3 nights with one king size bed.

Monte tried to convince them Ellie wouldn't mind sleeping between us.

We were THAT desperate to leave.

They wouldn't have it.

Monte kept calling places.

Then a man named Michael answered the phone.

[Cue the harp music]

When Monte explained the whole situation, Michael said he had a condo available. Monte asked if there were any spring breakers there.

He said it was strictly a family friendly condo.

He said he had a place and it was available right away but that it might be hard to find because their sign had blown away during the hurricane and it had not been replaced yet.

Monte couldn't say we were on the way fast enough.

Still in our bathing suits and cover ups, we were packed up and in an Uber in less than an hour.

Our ears were still ringing from all the loud everything when we walked into the lobby of our new place.

Michael had kind eyes and the most soothing voice.

Monte was talking loud and fast and overly excited when Michael handed him a key and told him to "CALM DOWN" and take our bags to the room while he signed us in.

I heard the click clack of an old-fashioned credit card machine making an imprint of our card while we walked away and the banging of guns from a black and white western on the TV in the lobby.

I couldn't remember the last time we had real actual keys in a hotel, 
let alone a 1970s credit card machine with actual carbon paper!

Was that Uber really a time machine?

Did we accidentally sniff something wacky from 
the throng of screaming spring breakers?

We were hallucinating?

Was Michael an angel?

We landed on the last one.

Our new place was on the first floor, HUGE with a full kitchen, two full bathrooms and steps from the pool and beach.

Monte didn't even mind that it was across from a creepy cowboy clown swing set.

Even Creepy Cowboy Clown is welcoming us with open arms.


There were palm trees, iguanas,  a putting green, tennis court and shuffleboard.

Turns out, I'm really good at shuffleboard.

We didn't have to pay to get a chair on the beach. We just had to bring it back up when we were done with it.

We almost cried when we saw all the old people at the pool.

Ellie posted this.

Ellie found a binder with ALL THE RULES for the condo.


It was heaven.

It took us several hours on the beach before we could do what Michael asked and "CALM DOWN." 

It was so quiet we were afraid we were going to spoil it 
with our excitedness.

We were only 2 1/2 miles north of our hot mess but a complete world away.


When we walked through the lobby again later to get some dinner, Michael said he was so glad to see Monte wasn't so "FIRED UP" anymore.

And our first condo gave us our money back.

Praise God!

Later in the week we checked out rackets and tennis balls from Michael to play tennis.

Monte hit one ball into the parking lot of the high rise next door and one ball onto busy A1A.

Ellie's ball hit a car parked close to the fence and Monte standing right next to her.

Clearly, this isn't our sport, 
but we laughed a lot. 

Well, Ellie and I did.

Monte didn't like getting hit.

He went to search for all the missing balls.

Michael saw him and told him we were ON VACATION and not to spend it looking for lost tennis balls.

An angel!

We ate breakfast and lunch in our condo and usually ventured out for dinner. Uber drivers had trouble finding our place because the hurricane took the sign.

I later wondered if maybe no one could see this place but us 
and Uber drivers were just picking us up in an abandoned parking lot instead of paradise.

Every morning I was SO HAPPY it wasn't all a dream and we weren't waking up to the guy hollering that he was in Miami from his balcony.

In complete contrast, Monte overheard a little boy at the pool say to his mom that he knew God made him special because when he "tried to drown" he kept just floating to the top to get air.

Monte may or may not have teared up.

We saw this shopping one day.

Monte wanted me to get it but I couldn't. We had it WAY too good at Michael's place.

It was hard to leave Michael when the time came and we each wrote gushing reviews of his customer service.

The last words he said to us were "God bless you!"

I'm pretty sure the entire place evaporated 
as we pulled away.

We had to wait in line to check into our airline for over an hour and then our flight was delayed 4 1/2 hours.

Which was unfortunate since we gave Ellie a Dramamine 
anticipating we'd be boarding in 30 minutes.

An hour later I had a touch of a Weekend at Bernie's experience 
getting her to the bathroom.

How quickly paradise fades.


  1. Haha Karmen this post was BRILLIANT! Life is so wild and unexpected and I thoroughly enjoy being able to read and hear about the Hartranft journey. Definitely sounds like Michael was y'all's little gift from God in that moment!

  2. sounds like it all turned out well!! How lucky you were to find a new place to stay! Little angels like Michael show up when least expected!!

  3. Bless your heart. I am so glad it all worked out.

  4. One of our funnier travel stories happened in Florida, too, only we ended up spending the night in a Waffle House! It wasn't too funny at the time, but we've gotten a lot of mileage and laughs out of the story since then! Loved yours!

  5. What an experience. Good to see you have a good sense of humor about it. Thanks for sharing with the folks at heart and home.

  6. Sorry..I meant to say the folks at the Grace at Home linkup.


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