Saturday, January 4, 2014

Got Pho?

Monday kids get back in school and my wife is back in the classroom and she hasn't done much these past two weeks outside the daily chores. Sooo...time for a road trip I guess. Card Sound Road, ten miles dead straight from Alabama Jack's to Homestead.
My wife had to go to see her rheumatologist and because her treatment can rough her up a bit she needs a driver so I took a leave day and off we went. The dog always needs a break after two hours of watching me cut and thrust my way up Highway One, and McDonalds in Florida City has clean toilets some very decent mango smoothies and space for Cheyenne to stretch her legs.
With my wife getting shot up at the doctor's Cheyenne and I were off the leash for a good long walk. The thing about the way I walk my dog I usually end up in the least scenic spots in town. It's always been that way for me. When we sailed through Central America my wife and dogs saw every alley, industrial dump and back street with the best smells. So when I find myself crossing railroad tracks on a brisk winter morning, 64 degrees and breezy, I figure I must be trailing my damned dog....So it was:
So we ended up ducking out of the wind by checking out a very suburban subdivision, warm finally in the sun, street after empty street. Cheyenne was bored by the cleanliness and I was freaked out reading Wisconsinland with views of true blizzards. And even though it was on my pocket phone the tiny picture gave me a big chill. I know northerners like seasons and all that but feet of snow and sub zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures are no joke. Better a sleepy Miami suburb than snow shovels Up North.
I'm surprised more fog owners don't take their hounds on the road with them. I love having Cheyenne along and my wife gets great comfort when she travels alone with Pooh Bear. She does get bored sometimes after hours in the car but she is the most patient traveler most of the time. As she does at home, when we are on the road she gets me off my butt and out exploring. Too often of course we end up trolling tedious subdivisions, which is where America parks its motels... But listening to her snore at night makes La Quinta (the dog friendly chain with decent beds for people) sound like home.
My wife is one of life's explorers and to her goes the credit for figuring out the doctor's office is at the epicenter of eating and drinking. I had long wanted to try the national dish of Jamaica and it was around here that I got to taste it, Key West Diary: Ackee And Salt Fish. This time we stopped by the liquor store. My wife the shopper was entranced, wines, liquors and beers by the dozen, yes, but there was a well stocked deli too. I guess we'll be back.
It's an odd thing for a woman who chooses to live at the end of the road, but she perks up when she gets the rare chance to check out big city shopping but it's always practical stuff, store sales at Macy's, Nordstrom's Rack and Target and the Zcontainer Store and of course the new Miami Trader Joe's...I know them all by name but they leave me cold. As often as not I stay in the car with my Kindle. It's how I don't burn out shopping and my wife has her fun. I watched this kid bump his butt against my mirror twice as he loaded his mom's Heffalump SUV. I was going to wind down my window and point out that he might get lucky the third time and break it properly... I bit my tongue and all was well. Are you proud of me? Key West kids in my experience are really polite, despite what you hear people grumbling about them.
My wife's navigation skills have grown massively since we trained her to use the map program in her iPhone, but every now and again it lets us down. I had been grumbling about wanting Vietnamese pho for a while and so determined was she to have some we ended up downtown in Miami, a ratty place of boarded up stores, pigeon shit, shuffling lost souls and no sign whatsoever of Vietnamese soup. Thanks Apple GPS!
Vroom! We got on the freeway and headed north, me focused on driving and she fiddling with her phone looking for pho. Cheyenne was stretched out on the back seat snoring. The Lexus Lanes were wide open and our Sunpass was paid up. For a buck and a quarter I took the empty side of the freeway. The Sunpass is free, charges off your credit card and charges a lower toll than the cash or automatic license plate reader. Yet thousands sit in line on the free side. The toll seems low enough that it seems like a no brainer for people who live in South Florida and own a credit card. If you live in the Keys your main way out is on the toll road called Florida's Turnpike so the Sunpass is already in our car as we are frequent travelers as any blog reader knows.
Apple finally got on the job and led us to Pho Vi on the main drag in Hollywood, a Fort Lauderdale suburb. Hollywood Boulevard is filled with restaurants, Greek, Peruvian, French, and even Romanian our first choice and now closed, unhappily, but also and above all Vietnamese. Our appetizer was a spring roll, not brilliant, rather plain actually and crisply cold as though prepared ahead and chilled, but with peanut sauce and Srirachi hot sauce made edible.
My wife had a salad and she liked the grilled meat though the vegetables were bland. I had a big bowl of ten dollar pho and I liked it, so in the end all worked out. I like adding bits of lemongrass, sprouts, peppers and lime juice to spice up my soup bowl. The noodles were a bit clumped to start but I broke them up and I could not help but think that in Key West the noodle shop charges twice as much for less.
You can forgive a lot for a fifty percent price reduction, but there was nothing terrible to forgive, just a lack of love, of passion in the kitchen. Walking past a realtor's office we had another attack of the cheaps when we saw the price of a third floor condo, as small as our house, two pools and all the trimmings for $56,000. In Key West I saw an office in a commercial building for sale near the Green Parrot for the same price. I wonder how much Hollywood Police pays dispatchers? I banished the thought as unworthy.
Pools aren't in short supply in Hollywood Florida, it turns out as our hotel has one too. However it was 64 degrees so far too cold to even think of immersion. I have to say we left home with no proper plans which included forgetting to bring our cold weather gear. My wife yielded and stopped by a bargain store to get herself a purple wooly top to fight the arctic air sweeping South Florida. I felt I deserved the pain of suffering and decided to tough it out in my shirt sleeves. You've got to be tough if you're going to be stupid. I spent a fair bit of time thinking about my snug wind proof vest hanging snugly in my snug clothes closet in my snug home as I fought off the bitter winds.
Cheyenne liked it just fine and found it warm enough she needed to cool her heels, literally.
And after a long day on the road my hound did what she does best. For some reason she prefers the floor. Believe me she could be on the bed if she wanted. She chooses to reject me.
It's not a good road trip without a snoring dog at the end of the day.