Saturday, April 18, 2015

Marathon Florida Vacation

Once again, just like the Key West trip Mary and I went back and forth if we should fly 08Romeo or fly commercial. With such cheap flights it's a push when it comes to fuel for our plane vs the ride along. We decided to fly commercial, no worries about weather, check in and check out, get on a plane and sleep. More on this sleep thought later.

Sunday 4/12/15

Mary and I dropped the pets off last night so we could sleep in this morning, then get a few things done before heading to Salisbury Airport, KSBY. We were already packed and ready to go so there was no stress.  I was thinking to myself we would be in the air already if we were flying 08Romeo. I loaded up the SUV and we headed out for breakfast. Our scheduled departure was around noon so we arrived at the airport around 10am. Salisbury is so easy, check the bags and take a seat while you wait for TSA to open. Once TSA opened we got in line like good little cattle and went through the metal detectors. Mary is always no problem, good to go.  Yours truly on the other hand, always gets the pat down because it just never stops beeping due to my total right hip. I know, stand on the footprints, arms extended palms up and lets give you a grope.  Actually the agent was very professional and he sent me on my way in short order.
The ride to Charlotte, KCLT was a DHC 8-300 Dash 8 painted in the new merger paint scheme for US Air/American. My first time in a Dash 8 and I have to say it was comfortable. Plenty of leg room and with the center arm rest stowed it was very comfortable for the shoulder to shoulder zone.  Then they started up, it was really loud, everything vibrated and I was not liking this. I forgot to bring my iPhone headset plugs and had no ear plugs.  I hoped it would quiet down in flight. We did have a service dog on board, his name was Parker. He was a very good boy, settled in and slept under the seat just as if his owner was stowing a carry on bag, except furry.
We taxied out and departed with no wait time, I sure don't miss the Philly conga line and sitting on the taxiway. The noise was very bad and the overheads vibrated. It was like sitting on and old riding mower with a bent blade and wearing a metal box over you to increase the sound and vibration.  Thankfully it was only an hour and forty-five minute flight.  There was no sleepy time on this flight.
Once on the ground at Charlotte we crossed terminals from  our arriving at E and made our way to the departing gate in C.  Easy walk with the people movers and always fun to people watch.  We had a two hour layover so we grabbed lunch and waited it out.
It was time to board so we each flashed the boarding pass and walked on the plane. The seating in the Embraer E175 was a bit tighter than the Dash 8.  Leg room was good and the noise was no where near as bad as the Dash. Our flight crew did a nice job getting us safely on the ground at Key West.  We're on vacation!!!
short final key west


Mary and I spent two days on the beach, broiled in the sun and slept more hours than one can imagine. After cooking the bodies all day on the beach we would come back to the room, shower, nap then get ready for dinner. We ate at the resorts main restaurant, Alma's for two nights and did room service two nights, all the food was fantastic!!
This guy was pretty Iguana?
Pelicans fly by

Wednesday 4/15/15

We decided to change things up a bit and use the rental car for a trip south to Key West.  It's a boring drive but the water view is beautiful along the way.  I enjoyed checking out the old bridge structures along our route, not much left but a skeleton of their past life.  I guess it was about an hour and twenty minute ride to and from.  We found a great parking space just off Duval street on Caroline street, a block and a half walk.
St. Peters
We decided to walk the east side and made our way to Southard St before crossing to the west side and heading back. We made our way back north stopping to take some pictures of St. Peters Church now with a better view. We continued on checking out shops and local hot spots. We decided on grabbing a few specials from Sloppy Joe's and decided to cool off at the bar while we waited for our food. We managed to snap a shot of ourselves on their web cam too!
Can you find us?
Mary bumped into her friend from work, what are the chances?
We headed back to Hawks Cay resort munching on fries and enjoying a cool drink. I made good time and Mary took a nap.  It was really warm and the humidity was taking its toll on us both.  I did find a McDonalds and made a quick stop for an ice cream sundae for each of us. Once back at the room we cleaned up and took a nap. This nap thing seems to be a common theme on this vacation and I'm liking it.
Boat channel to the Marina
We actually decided on Hawks Cay because it was away from everything and honestly there really isn't a wide selection of activities in Duck Key. I didn't feel like driving back to Marathon so we enjoyed our rest and relaxation.  This vacation was about R&R.  After dealing with the sale of the north house, the purchase of the beach house and my retirement we just wanted quiet down time.

Thursday- 4/16/15

Thursday was a carbon copy of Monday and Tuesday, Beach and R&R time. We enjoyed a fabulous baked lobster dinner at Alma's to close out the day. We packed everything up so we would be ready to go in the morning and just hunt out some breakfast eats.

Friday 4/17/15

Friday morning we headed out for a last breakfast at the resort.  Excellent food and service once again to close out our stay. I will say that the staff is excellent, very friendly and they really work hard.  Mary and I noticed that most of the staff works their morning shift then they are back for the afternoon evening shift. As busy as they were they always had a smile on their face and went out of their way to make conversation.

Most of the folks work as many double shifts as possible during the busy season since the off season is so slow. I give them a lot of credit, on their feet all day putting up with people and still have that smile and great attitude. As one of our waiters said "there's a price for living in paradise".

We loaded up the rental and pointed towards key west for the airport.  A nice drive with the a/c cranked up and the radio knocking out some oldies, good stuff!  We returned the rental then made our way back out to the parking garage to take an elevator up one floor to check in.  We already had our boarding passes printed out from Thursday afternoon at the resort, this would prove valuable later on.
Ok Mary goes through the regular doorway type scanner and I chose to blind some poor gal/guy in the back room as I walk into the full body scanner. Easy peasy right?  Sir, can you step over here please, I'll need to pat down your right leg and left ankle area.  Ah, ok have at it, I have a total right hip so I get that but no clue about the left ankle.  He does his thing and I'm cleared to proceed to the gate. We take the escalator down to the departure terminal and the place is packed with people. Our gate agent is asking for anyone to exchange their flight for a later flight for a $400 flight credit. We're not getting into this, we want to get on the plane.  The issue is strictly a weight and balance problem due to the heat/density altitude and short runway.

As we walk out to the plane we are told that if your carry on does not fit in the overhead or under your seat you will not be on the flight. I guess this worked because some folks got booted.  We were soon fired up and  ready to taxi out. The Embraer E175 was a quiet ride and Mary and I did nod off on the ride to Charlotte. 
Once we got off the plane we had a four hour layover, yes, four hours. Now all you pilot friends reading this know for a fact I was calculating my flight times, in my head, if we took our Sundowner.  My planned route would have been MTH-MLB-CHS-OXB.  We sat down for dinner at Dale Jr's, Whiskey River Wings and Beer.  I enjoyed a beef brisket and Mary had the grilled salmon, both dishes were excellent.
Lets get back to my flight plan...If we left at 8am from Marathon We would be in Melbourne around 10:30 fueled and back in the air by 11am at the latest, so 3 hours. From MLB we would launch for Charleston CHS and that would be another 3.5 to 4 hours.  So far we are theoretically sitting around 3pm.  Our last leg would be CHS to OXB so figure 4 hours. A quick calculation and a double check of my mickey watch says we would be on the ground at Ocean City around 7pm.  We didn't get off the ground at CLT until 8pm and didn't get into Salisbury SBY until 9:45.
We picked up our bags pretty quick and hustled out to the parking lot to get the bags in the SUV.  Drive time home was a half hour or so and we got home at 10:20. Even though I explained the time savings with the Sundowner my lovely Bride once again told me to go get a faster plane so we can do this ourselves even quicker. Sigh.....

1 comment:

Steve said...

Yours truly is the crazy person who rarely turns down the VDB voucher! :) I still haven't flown a Dash-8 but I agree that the larger RJs (E170/190 and CRJ -7/-9 series) are waaaay better than the cramped single-cabin 50-seaters.

One clear plus to going commercial, even with long layovers - you can consume an adult beverage before or enroute!

Looks like you guys had a real nice vacation. I've never been to Marathon or the Keys - definitely need to get down there some day.