Today was the last day of work, meetings booked for the morning and afternoon. Fortunately the host decided that he would prefer if we squeezed everything into the morning, so we stretched the morning session a little, meaning I was on my way by 1pm.
I had decided that if I got away early rather than driving directly to Orlando I would take a detour through the country, maybe through part of the Everglades.
So after work I headed West, into the country, nowhere particular in mind, just going West before turning North to avoid the huge roads. On the outskirts of the urban area driving through the edge of the Everglades I stumbled on a small outfit that does Air boat tours, and I went in to see if they were open. To my surprise I was told the next tour was in twenty minutes, so I booked my $20 seat.
The air boat set off, engines roaring, into the middle of nowhere, and after a few minutes we came to a stop and were told to look in a particular direction. After a few moments I spotted what we were supposed to be looking at - an alligator! It was about 9ft long, right by the boat, pretty cool, to be honest this is exactly what I was after for my "tourist" experience.
After that tour, I headed North through the smaller roads of the country. It was about 93 degrees (about 34 in Celsius) thankfully the air-con was working 100%, but that blistering temperature dropped quickly when clouds filled the sky, and the sky started to empty. It was one of the coolest storms I've seen for some time, rain so thick the wipers were no good, massive, clear fork lightening straight in front, and flooded roads.
This persisted for many miles, I was wondering if I would see rain in Orlando too, but all of a sudden the sky brightened, the road was dry instantly as I came out of the other side of the storm.
I made my way on up through the small roads and small towns, around Lake Okeechobee, before joining the turnpike toll road again at Cypress Creek.
The remaining hundred or so miles went by relatively quickly, bringing me to check in at the hotel at about 8pm, as predicted by my GPS system.
In the evening I decided to see if I could see any of the local features quickly and cheaply, so I took a drive, and ended up in the car park for Universal Studios' "City Walk" - which is a "City" - more like a normal town with a great pedestrian area. Ironically this manufactured "town" was the place that felt most normal to me, looked like a real town, albeit relatively small.
Pretty cool place, 10pm and still roasting, outdoor concert and hiving with people. It was a pretty cool experience. Then it was back to the hotel room where I caught up with the latest episode of 'Lost' using the abc.com online viewing service I am normally barred from because of my non-USA ip address.
All-in-all a great day!