Last Sunday while in Miami visiting her sister, Mae Lyne had a blood pressure drop, passed out and took a nasty fall. I drove to Miami Sunday night leaving here at 8:30 PM picked her up and brought her home. We go home about 5:30 AM. It is a 500 mile round trip. Problem was that we left her truck down there at her sister's. Yesterday, I retrieved her truck,
I am back safely from Havana (Miami). And was I definitely armed. Here is my saga.
I rented a car from Enterprise at the Orlando airport. Because it was going to be a one way drop, I had to rent it from the airport as opposed to the Enterprise vendor two miles from the house . That should have been my first clue. My second clue was when I asked about the passenger drop off they advertise on TV. That does not apply to airport locations.
My dad drove me to the airport because Mae Lyne had a doctors appointment. The signs for rental car return are well marked. There is not sign one for rental car pickup - unless you are on foot inside the terminal. So after a three mile lap around the airport, I decide to head into the turn in area. I told one of the worker bees what I needed and he led me to a place to park and pointed out where I needed to go to find the office. He explained that dad would need to meet me where I would exit with the rental car. Well in that huge parking garage, there was no way Dad was going to find his way out. And return areas are designed for incoming, not outgoing.
I went to the office and got my Toyota Corolla, checked it out, filled out the forms and gave my left arm as collateral. I told the girl who was checking the car out that I had to leave there and go get my dad and bring him here so that I could lead him out of the airport. She said I would not be able to drive his car into that area and the best thing to do was go drive his car to the Enterprise exit check station and park it just outside. So I walked back across the parking garage to where I had left Dad. He was already behind the wheel (I knew that was a mistake); so I slid in the passenger side.
I didn't know the way out either; but I knew where it had to be. So I began directing him and following the exit signs - which led to an exit that was closed off. He had to back up about thirty yards to get to another exit. Have you ever tried to help a deaf person back up? One who had recently fallen and could turn his head and body around easily? And in tight quarters?
Well, eventually we made it out to the narrow service road that snakes between the two terminal pods. I spotted the Enterprise exit and even found him a place to pull over where he wasn't blocking anything (too much, anyway). Off I went to the far end of the garage where my red Toyota was waiting. I drove it to exit booth and had my paper work checked. It was easier for me to cross the iron curtain from Germany into Poland back in the 70's that leave with a rental car!
I rolled the window down, waved and made sure he saw it was me. I waited until about ten cars went by so that I could be sure he was right behind me. Off we went through a twisting, turning service road running between buildings and service alleys. Fortunately it was pretty well marked. Dad would never have found his way out of there if he had not been following me. It would have been like Charlie on the MTA (Kingston Trio - probably way before your time. Check the song out on YouTube). We finally reached the the main road out of the airport, all five lanes of it. I got him in the left lane (I had previously told him that was the lane he needed to stay in until it became SR 436). I quickly pealed off to the right and exited onto SR 528 East toward Cape Canaveral.
I pulled over, called Mae Lyne to tell her I was Miami (Havana) bound, set up my GPS with the address on the paper work from Enterprise, and set sail. It had taken me an hour and ten minutes to pick up a prepaid rental car!! It was 10:10 AM. My goal was to be at the Miami airport by 13:30 (1:30 PM).
The trip down via I95 was fine. I made the 240 mile trip in three hours and 20 minutes. I stopped once to be pee and grab a Dr Pepper. Fortunately, I am fairly familiar with Miami and especially the area around the airport. I went right to the Enterprise place and arrived there at 13:21. They had moved... there was a big banner giving their new address. No big deal, I plugged into to the GPS and it was 1.5 miles away on the same road. I followed the GPS and got to the address - a huge, five story parking garage that takes up an entire block - and there was no entrance, just a wall. This is in the commercial area of the airport just north and east of the terminals. The street I was on was under destruction. Of course there were no signs.
It seems as all the rental companies have moved into this one building instead of the separate business locations they once had. After several laps, I parked Miami style right in the middle of the street with hazard flashers on and walked to the guard booth of the Hertz shops. The Cuban guard took pity on this old Gringo and told me how to get into the building across the street via an alley. I would still be looking for entrance if it were not for him. I wound my way through a series of alleys and starting seeing rental car return signs. Enterprise was on the first level. It is a neat arrangement. Each level has a separate ramp leading to it. I drove at least a half a mile through the garage and found the Enterprise check in station. Yea!! Got the car checked in with no problems. The Enterprise lady pointed out the rest rooms (I was in DIRE need) and told me the airport shuttles were on the fourth level.
My sister in law works at the airport and I wanted to see her. She gets off at work at 13:30; but she has to go to radiation therapy after work. She had told me how to take a Metro bus to her house where Mae Lyne's truck was. However, she was already gone as it was now 14:10. I got on the airport shuttle bus with no problem. The lady driver had no idea where the metro bus stops were at the airport. So I told her I would get off at her first stop in the terminal. BIG mistake, I should have ridden to the last one.
I exited, went in the terminal and followed the signs to baggage claim via the escalators knowing that ground transportation would be on that level - and I was right. I asked an airport cop busy directing traffic coming to pick up passengers where the metro bus stops were. She said "Honey, you have a long walk ahead of of you" and pointed in the general direction. Seems like there is a whole terminal for buses at the far end of the parking garage at the departures terminal. I had to walk all the way across the parking garage and then the full length of the terminal. It was South Florida hot and humid. Fortunately all I was carrying was a small duffel bag with my GPS, water, firearm, and paper work in it.
After a LONG hike, I finally found the bus terminal. There was Cuban directing the buses in and out and I told him the address I needed to get to and the number of the bus I needed. He again took pity on a Gringo and told me where it would pull in and gave me an alternate bus I could take, which ever bus came in first. The bus my sister in law told me about came in first and I climbed aboard and paid my $2.00. She only lives about six blocks from the airport property and I know that area, so I knew where to get off. At the right time, I pulled the bell cord and got off the bus right across the street from where Mae Lyne's truck was parked. Ah, finally.
It was now 15:10 (3:10 PM) and I was desperate to beat the Friday Miami rush hour. I unlocked, threw my duffel bag in, started the engine, rolled the windows down, fired up the a/c, and set up the GPS to navigate my way back to I95. I checked the gauges; guess what? Mae Lyne had not filled up after her trip down there. Why am I not surprised? OK, I have a little less than a quarter of a tank. I can make the 103rd street exit where there is a station on the corner with easy access back onto I95. I give her a call to let her know I am about to roll north and off I go.
Gas is not cheap in Miami, so I elected to put just enough in to get me to Cocoa where I knew gas was $0.12 per gallon cheaper. Off I went rolling north. Traffic was heavy but moving well. Rush hour was just beginning. The speed limit was 55 mph. I fell in behind a cop doing 70 mph and stayed with him to Ft Lauderdale. By now the speed limit had climbed to 65 mph.
Since I had no lunch, I decided to stop and eat around 17:00 (5:00 PM) in Ft Pierce. A quick meal at Cracker Barrel and I was on the road again. I refueled in Cocoa and took a needed pee break and headed west toward SR 528 and Orlando. I got home about 20:10 (8:10 PM). Not bad time considering two gas stops and a meal. Round trip was right at 500 miles.
If this ever happens again, I will report the truck stolen and let the cops retrieve it!!