TOUR TALES # 5
Miami. The land of beautiful people, apparently. I had been to Florida once on a family vacation when I was a boy, which concluded with my pale white Northerner’s skin roasted to a peeling, crimson hue. I remember my 7 year old self woefully crying out to the displeasure of many at Miami International Airport. I always look back at that memory with a strong fondness, as it was my first time on a plane and first time out of my country. There were a lot of firsts on that trip.
I never had given going back much thought as I matured into adulthood. It was when a dear friend of mine (who is now gone) invited me and my then-girlfriend (now wife) to go on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise with him that my interest in Florida rekindled. The deepest roots of my skin began to boil at the very thought of it.
We went through the motions and patiently waited through the first dreary months of our Canadian winter before setting off to those scorched, leathery lands. The hot humid night air made us sweat as we walked out of the airport and took a taxi to our hotel on South Beach. I had never set foot on or near South Beach so I was unprepared for that particular swathe of madness. Supercars, overpriced food and hotels (we got a deal, haha) and a white sand beach. The people there look like they were pulled straight from a reality TV show, as I am sure many actually are. Herds of passerby mounted atop Segways with gigantic fishbowl-sized yellow and blue drinks. I was beside myself with disbelief by the time we arrived at our hotel on Ocean Drive.
I’m not quite sure to this day what the problem was at this hotel, but they ominously declared to us that it was ‘the pipes’. We didn’t have a room. I’m not complaining though, as they immediately gave us a free upgrade to their sister hotel on the north side of South beach. What they upgraded us to was like a sultan’s palace compared to anything we saw on South Beach; saying that seems kind of weird considering the decadence of the former. It contained massive marble fountains, enameled trim on each doorway, gilded engravings in the floor stones, a private beach, a parking lot full of immensely expensive cars. All in all, it was ridiculous.
After spending a few hours drinking beer and eating pizza in our equally ridiculous, balconied room near the top of the hotel, we made our way back to Ocean Drive to meet up with the Scottish band Alestorm for dinner and for the 70000 Tons of Metal beach party (unofficial at that time). I don’t know why Alestorm is such a recurring theme in my life, as I have crossed paths with them unexpectedly many times and made dear friends of some of them. I’ll bet if Chris Bowes is reading this between guitar pro sessions he is probably rolling his eyes or deciding what design he’ll put on his next phone case.
Anyway, we met up with Alestorm at one of the restaurants and began into drinks and lunch. Chris and I quickly developed a bond over our mutual enjoyment of drinking and ridiculous elaborate drink orders. Taking the ‘special’ drink menu, we opted to traverse it alphabetically. And as with most receipts on Ocean Drive, ours was astronomic.
The hours rolled by almost instantaneously and the sun was beginning to set, which meant only one thing: beach party! Settling our massive drink bill, we stumbled across the street to where there were already hundreds of black-clad people partying by the shore. We spent the evening in increasingly blurry detail partying, singing and jumping in the waves with a lot of new friends, drinking whiskey and moonshine from inconspicuous vessels and talking about the ship boarding the next day.
I awoke in bed in what seemed an unfamiliar place.
I was covered in sand – head to toe. Sand was in my ears, in my matted hair, all over the bed a lay starfished on. I was still wearing my swimming shorts (a good sign).
Somehow, I had passed out on the beach near the end of the beach party. My now-wife and our buddy somehow managed to pull me from the beach, convince a taxi driver to have me as a passenger, locate my phone, clothes and wallet, get me past the almost princely sentinels at the hotel and get me in bed on our top floor hotel room. All of this occurred while I was mostly naked. I spent the next morning laying in the bathtub in cold water trying not to fall asleep and drown.
I have the best wife ever, and I really miss our friend Rob. Rest in peace, Rabba.
The moral of the story: No matter how big of an alcohol tolerance you think you have, you CANNOT keep up with members of a band called Alestorm. Moderation is key, kids.
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