LAX – FLL, Ft. Lauderdale to Miami
The day started very early for us today, up at 4am, finish packing and out the door soon after 5am, drive around to the Hertz office, drop off the car, negotiate with the manager a US$200 discount on our car rental for nearly killing us during the “incident on the I-8” (see day 7), and then catching the Hertz shuttle bus around the LA International Airport (LAX).
After a shortish wait in line, we checked in for our American Airlines flight (our careful repacking of our bags the night before paying off, with them not complaining about our only very slightly overweight bags – limit on US domestic is 23kg/50lb per bag, much less than we used for our flight SYD-LAX). After checking in and having our bags bomb-tested by the TSA, we headed up to security, to be confronted by a line 50m long waiting to get through security.
Fortunately, the lines moved relatively quickly, and it only took 20 minutes or so to get through. When checking in, they were warning people that if you had not completed check in within 40 minutes of your departure time, you would not make your flight. According to the TSA website, during busy periods, the waiting time for security can be as high as one hour at LAX.
We got through with plenty of time (in the terminal by 6:55am, with boarding scheduled for 7:00am for a 7:25am departure) and we were able to buy some drinks and magazines for the flight. The flight was delayed by about 20 mins anyway, but it was nice to know that my careful planning that morning had paid off.
The flight from LAX-FLL was 4 hours and 45 minutes (I was squashed in to the middle seat on a 757, Leanne got the window seat), and was pleasantly uneventful. I managed to catch up on a lot of my reading.
We landed at Ft. Lauderdale just before 4pm, collected our bags, then caught the Hertz shuttle around to pick up our car.
Hertz had arranged a Ford Taurus for us, which we weren’t completely happy with (I don’t like the driving position), but they didn’t have any Camry’s with Neverlost navigation, so we decided to give the Taurus a go. After driving it towards the exit gate, I noticed the brakes shuddering a little, even at low speeds, and so got nervous about the car and took it right back to where we got it from.
I went back to the customer service counter again and explained that we were very nervous about our cars at the moment (after the “incident on the I-8”) and asked if they could possibly find us something else to drive.
The guy at the counter was very helpful, but the only car he could find for us that had Neverlost was a Lincoln Town Car (kind of like a Ford Fairlane, but even bigger and more luxurious … lots and lots of gadgets). Leanne wasn’t that happy with the car (way too big), but given it was all they had, we decided to take it. The problem was this was a long weekend here in the US, and they were very low on cars of any make.
We took the Town Car down the I-95, amazed at just how aggressive the Florida drivers were compared to those in LA – travelling at very high speeds, swapping lanes recklessly, nobody indicating, we had several near misses with people swerving across our lane. We were a bit nervous, since this was a new car for us, the controls were slightly different, and the car had such a different feel to what we were used to.
Fortunately our Neverlost navigation system allowed us to concentrate on the road and not on having to navigate our way along Florida’s confusing freeway system. Eventually we got down to Miami and found our way in to the Hyatt Regency, quite close to the junction of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay, in the Miami downtown region. It would have been nice to stay around Miami Beach, but given the IBM room rate at the Hyatt was so incredibly cheap, we decided it would make more sense to stay here.
We checked in, got our stuff to our room, ordered some room service and watched some TV while eating dinner, then went to bed early, exhausted after less than 4 hours sleep the previous night and the very busy day.