Sunday, 13 April 2014

Tsunami waves and shipping woes perfect end to Florida trip

I’ll miss a lot of things about Florida and Daytona Beach in particular. But I’ll miss the beach and the ocean most of all.

That’s where the J Man and I spent most of our time, playing in the surf and getting happily sunburned. We would make a game of wading into the crashing waves whilst holding our ground and our footing. Not always easy when the waves would break anywhere from three feet to six or even eight feet high.

I liked to turn my back on the waves (to show off and all) and there was one occasion on our final day when Jake, who had the full view of the oncoming tsunami, began warning me…”Daddy, Daddy, DADDY!” and I would pretend (showing off and all) not to hear him. And this wave – it must have crested eight feet high – slammed into me like, well, a wall of water. And drove me forward so hard my face scraped the sand below and I came up spitting salt water and sand, gasping for air and grinning like an idiot.

And Jake laughed so hard he had tears in his eyes. “I just wish I had that on YouTube.”

The view from our balcony
Good times. Good times.

I’ll miss the birds of Florida as well, especially the Brown Pelicans. We’d see them flying over the strip in squadrons as large as 40 – yes, we counted – and always soaring imperiously, without so much as a single flutter of their feathers. I used to think these majestic birds would be better off soaring a few hundred metres farther east (say, over the ocean where the fish are), but I guess they knew what they were doing.

I won’t miss the hassle getting my new-found beer over the border, though.

I had already learned that I couldn’t ship beer – or any liquid – via carry-on luggage. No problem. On the way back I carefully packed my beer (just 16 left as I kept drinking my purchases almost as fast as I purchased them) in a beer box, complete with beach towel and beach volleyball for added security.

“You can’t ship beer, sir,” was what my friendly Southwest Airline representative told me. “It might explode on the plane.”

I was this close to having my head explode upon hearing that tidbit of news but I stayed calm and asked the nice lady what she suggested I do. “They ship beer this way all over the world,” I ventured helpfully.

“Let me check with my supervisor.”

And then Cheryl was gone, leaving me sweating at the check-in counter. Good thing we had to drop off the rental car, forcing us to get to the Orlando Airport early.

And yet there were no broken
bottles. It was a beer miracle!
It seemed like an eternity, but some ten minutes later Cheryl returned with good news. Sort of.

“We don’t actually encourage people to ship beer but my supervisor okayed it, as long as each bottle is bubble-wrapped,” she said. “It’s five bucks a bottle.”

She must have seen the look on my face because she quickly added, “but seeing as you packed it so securely, I guess it’s okay.”

And she even provided the tape gun.

I was already worried about changing planes in Baltimore – double the chances of losing my luggage, and now I’m thinking of smashed bottles too. I’ve seen the way baggage handlers handle cargo, and now there’s double the odds of damage as well.

I think next time I’ll just drive.

That Beer O'clock thing

And now for a few more beers. I’m still working on a backlog, so I’ll start with Ruination IPA, an 8.2 per cent, 100-plus IBU hop monster from legendary California beer makers Stone Brewing, that is billed as a “liquid poem to the glory of the hop.” You can certainly taste both the IBUs AND the hops in this baby, which gives you a swift kick in the face with every sip. Powerful stuff.

I was less impressed with Torpedo, an IIPA from Sierra Nevada. Lovely copper colour with a nice head, the beer had a piney, slightly skunky aroma. It was certainly hoppy and a decent beer, but I actually prefer their pale ale.

Ruination Imperial IPA from Stone Brewing
I tried Day of the Dead IPA, from Mexico’s Cerveceria Mexicana Brewery, and this 6.8 per cent beer delivered some of its hoppy promise, although its slightly too-bitter aftertaste and pungent aroma detracted from its rating slightly.

One beer that did impress was Ranger IPA from New Belgium Brewery of Colorado. This 6.5 per cent Colorado IPA poured a deep golden colour and with its use of Simcoe, Cascade and Chinook hops, offered up grapefruit and floral notes. I bought a six of this beer – I found it at most Florida beer outlets – and it got better and better each time I drank it. Very nice.


In case you were wondering, my beer made it back to Buffalo Airport in one piece. Or 16 pieces, if you prefer. Which is damn good, ‘because there are some beers in my fridge that I STILL haven’t tried.


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