Our Florida Trip Part Three
Dear diary...in the blink of an eye I can recall one particular day that stands out on our Florida trip, though because this was 1990 it's hard to recollect whether we were still staying on International Drive, or if we'd moved on to St Pete's along the coast.
It was a day that started out much like any other, the sun shining and the usual heat that had us hankering for the coolness of the air conditioned car, I presumed along with the many other holiday makers that were out for the day.
We'd made the decision to head out for the shopping mall first, having made an agreement before hand that the three of us would have one day doing what the other wanted, this day happened to be one of my choices.
Cruising along with all the time in the world, we had an appetite for adventure with blue sky and scenery matching my mood of wonder as to the day's events. Though things were about to take a drastic turn as time rolled on, I'd never seen weather change so dramatically within an hour. We'd heard earlier on the news that a storm was heading our way, but didn't think much of it at the time as storms were pretty frequent in Florida.
We'd got about half way to the mall when the wind suddenly picked up blowing a gale force in a matter of minutes, it then started to rain heavily and really forcefully like we'd never experienced before, I have to say that I was becoming quite panicky as the car began rocking with the strength of the gales. Hubby was able to keep control of the vehicle, but was glad when we finally arrived at the car park, of course he was resolved to get us there in one piece.
Turning the engine off we struggled to get the doors open with the wind's force, endeavoring to grapple with the handles for fear the doors would be taken off their hinges and blown away across the car park into the air. It was the closest I'd ever come to what felt like being in the middle of a tornado.
The effort to stay on ones feet was hard enough, without having to get the doors closed as we jammed them shut eventually. Holding on to each other for dear life in case we too blew away, we pushed on regardless feeling like those explorers fighting to reach the North Pole, which was how it seemed with the rain smashing against our bodies and faces, hardly able to make out the entrance to the mall through the storm.
As we finally entered shaking ourselves off, it was good to be inside where many other shoppers who also joined us in looking like drowned rats, were making their way up and down escalators, while others stared in shop windows and parted with money.
I found myself wandering into a sports shop, rooting through rails of tea shirts and shell suits which were all the rage back then. I also wanted to buy some new leotards as I'd been told that they were a lot cheaper to buy in the States than in England. It was so true and I had fun trying on the many different colors on offer, making the most of the prices. I also ended up buying a pink and blue shell suit which I have many fond memories of wearing back home. Also I bought some Reebok Trainers and ankle warmers that were cheaper here and felt so pleased with my purchases.
One thing I did find scary, was when my son wanted to go into the many amusement arcades. Back home they were quite innocent places, where we would give him some change at the seaside and he'd have fun on the machines, but here it was a different matter, as gangs assembled and looked quite menacing. Of course trying to explain this to my seven year old was difficult, as he started sulking because I wouldn't let him go in. There were armed police standing around outside which I found quite disturbing too, never having seen a gun in real life before. This was after all the early nineties, streets where I lived back in England were pretty safe, I don't ever recall seeing a policeman with a gun back then.
By the time we left the shopping mall the storm had passed, although it remained overcast but still very warm and humid which was perfect for what I had planned next. Our destination was the water park, where there was a lake which provided water skiing to anyone who was brave enough to take up the challenge, even beginners like me.
The car park was off an old dirt track and very basic, but none the less we knew we were heading in the right direction from the many signs along the way. Leaving the car and flip flopping across to the entrance, we paid our money and continued into a building where you could get changed, there were also some basic showers too. Hubby not liking the water just watched as me and my son made our way over to the main jetty to get geared up for our escapade.
Once the queues had died down, it was our turn and customary to have a short lesson before entering the lake to prepare you for the real thing, it all felt pretty straight forward in theory. As we plunged into the water, to my relief it was warm and welcoming. It did feel awkward though, with the front of our skies pointing out of the water, trying to listen carefully to the instructors voice. The swish – swash of ripples undulating around us, shifted our bodies to and fro with the rise and fall, beckoning us to be swayed this way and that. I think the instructor could sense my apprehension as he told me to be ready...it was now or never.
Taking a tight grip on the handle the boat began moving forward, slowly at first but then picking up speed. There was a huge surge and suddenly I felt myself being raised up, feeling like I was a bird about to take off, holding on for dear life. The tug on my arms felt like they were being pulled from their sockets, but even with the strain I was going to maintain my balance and embrace the experience knowing I'd never get another opportunity like this again.
Never had I been more determined than now. It felt like I was winging my way across the surface. Yes! Here I was actually water skiing, It felt invigorating like I was on top of the world.
Then! Sadly I made a mistake, deciding to take a glance to my side to see my proud son wrapped in a swathe of spray, a big grin on his face that told me he wasn't at all nervous but having the time of his life. The same however couldn't be said for me, my confidence subsided as it became unbearable to hold on any longer. Even as an Aerobics Instructor my arms were never my strong point, not at any time could I manage to do a full body press up...not even one. So here I was forced to let go, it all seemed to happen in slow motion as not only my body sunk, but my spirits too.
I dropped down below the surface with an indignant expression that my son had managed to stay up longer than me, I was so annoyed with myself at that moment. My instructor did try to reassure me but still I was irritated, I never liked giving up, but by now my arms were like jelly and so weak.
Managing to return to the jetty, watchful hubby informed me he'd managed to take a photo while I was up and water skiing, so I was grateful at least for that, but when we got the photos developed, it was a different story, because he'd accidentally used the same film as he'd used for other photos, so we were water skiing over the top of another scene. It certainly didn't deter from the memory though.
The next big ride was being pulled around by a speedboat in a small rubber dinghy, there was nothing like it and enough room for about two or three people. Now this was more like it, as we bounced up and down with the water jetting up and making waves, leaving us feeling euphoric, both me and my son were smiling and whooping for joy.
Soon it was all over. Getting back into our clothes, It was nice to sit down and relax after all the excitement, just chill out in the cafe and watch others water skiing. What a day this had been, for me it was a 1990 water sports paradise, to which we slept very well indeed that night with all that fresh air and excercise. Happy Days.