So there I was, sitting at the airport in Indy, listening to Jack Johnson, and watching people. It’s one of the things I do when I’m alone, bored, and surrounded by strangers. I wonder where they are in their lives; what journeys they’ve been on. Sometimes I make up stories about people. Just complete nonsensical things. Something to pass the time. Anyway, they called my boarding zone number and I headed towards the gate.
As I’m walking onto the plane, I’m wondering to myself, “Why don’t airlines board the planes from the back to the front as opposed to the front to the back. I mean, I understand the first class pompousness. But if I could afford first class, I’d want to board the plane absolutely last. That way I’m sitting on the plane for the least amount of time and I wouldn’t have to have all the other passenger’s butts hitting my elbow as they walk by clumsily with their carry-on luggage. Anyway, I find my seat; seat 26A. A window seat that Miss Chiara picked out for me (thanks Chiara!) I like sitting near the window because I get to look out at the world as we’re flying 30,000 feet above.
As I’m sitting there, looking out my window I can see there is still some frost on the wing. “That’ll be a little bit of a delay” I think to myself. The band Dispatch was playing on Pandora and I was just sitting there, listening to the song, waiting for this trip to get underway, when an older gentleman sat down next to me. His name was Phil and all he wanted to do was talk. He wanted to talk about the flight, the weather, basketball, and basically anything else that came to his mind. I tried being polite to him, but he just would not stop talking about his granddaughter who plays basketball at one of the Hamilton County schools. Hamilton Southeastern I believe. Anyway, he wouldn’t stop talking about how she was only a junior and she has already received scholarships to play basketball in college. So, I did what I had to do; I put my earphones back in and turned the music up a little bit more. He got the hint and started talking to the lady on his left.
They deiced the wings, which didn’t take too long. Maybe five minutes tops. And we were on our way to sunny Florida! The pilot said the weather was gorgeous and it was about 75 degrees. That sounds AMAZING. Except for the one little fact that I was leaving 30 degree Indiana weather and I was dressed for the Indiana weather. I was still rocking my CrossFit 180 hoodie and a pair of bluejeans. No biggie, I figured I’d just change as soon as I got to Raintree. Which, by the way, is my final destination. I guess I should have mentioned that earlier, huh?
Raintree is an RV resort in North Ft. Myers that is owned by Bill and Sandy Paddack; grandparents of my friend, Chiara. They invite me down to do some event photography for them occasionally. The Paddacks are some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met. They always make me feel right at home whenever I visit Raintree and they do everything they can to make my stay here a pleasant one.
Which brings me to this point in the story. I arrive at the airport in Ft. Myers and I was told that they dropped a car off for me to use during my stay at Raintree. Perfect! Chiara said that her uncle dropped it off in “Red 1 E”. So I get off the plane, pick up my baggage, and head out to the parking lot. There was only one problem; there was no “Red 1 E”. All of these parking garage signs were blue. So I went back into the airport and asked several employees if they knew where the car would be parked and I told them it was supposed to be in “Red 1 E”. Nobody knew where that was. So I text Chiara and asked her if she knew where it was. She had already told me everything she knew at that point and she said she would talk to her grandmother to see what was going on.
Some time later the car was still nowhere to be found. I finally asked a few more people inside the airport, employees, and they looked at me like I was speaking Russian to them. I ended up getting on one of the airport shuttles that was being driven by “Mark”. This fella was straight from Africa. His accent was so incredibly thick that I had no idea what he was saying to me. All I know is I asked him if he knew where “Red 1 E” was and he said a few things then shook his head emphatically in an affirmative manner. It was a last ditch effort, especially considering I had already walked the entire parking garage to no avail.
The shuttle cruised around the airport for a few minutes, picking up other passengers who were needing taken to their vehicles. The other passengers were giving “Mark” similar locations for their vehicles, so I felt a little more optimistic about this venture. After packing the shuttle full of people, we headed to a HUGE parking lot full of cars. What do I see off in the distance? Red signs on the light posts. This could be it! We were weaving our way around the lot where the blue signs were and every single passenger on the shuttle exited somewhere in the blue sign area. Once we were finished there, “Mark” said we were on our way to my car. At least I think that’s what he said in his thick Zimbabwe accent. We zoomed through the parking lot and headed straight for “Red 1 E”. I was completely relieved to see the silver Kia bearing Raintree license plates awaiting my arrival!!!
I got in the car, started it up, turned on the a/c, and loaded my stuff into the trunk. Bill and Sandy and Chiara’s uncle had thought of everything! The parking ticket was sitting on the passenger seat and in the glove box was an envelope with money for the ticket along with a note from Sandy explaining my temporary living arrangements. There was also a gate opener in there for me to have access to the Raintree property after hours. Things were looking great!
I left the parking lot at the airport and headed to the nearest Walmart. I had to pick up a few provisions before I arrived at Raintree. With my provisions in hand, I headed towards Tamiami Trail. Once I got to Raintree, I unloaded everything from the car, checked out the place I’m staying, changed into some shorts, and took a nap! I was beat from walking around the parking garage area at the airport – in the heat – while wearing bluejeans. I set my alarm for 5:45pm and went to sleep.
Once my alarm went off I headed down to the Raintree clubhouse to do some photography. They had a variety show tonight and I took several pictures. I’ll post more about my photography in another post and publish it at the end of my trip here. All in all it was a great day. Of course I can say that because, well, I’m in Florida and the weather here is amazing. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to get a one-way ticket here!