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The Rest of My USA Trip

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I forgot to finish this series on my trip to the US in 2022 so I’ll just write the rest of the trip here hastily.

Cruise

We planned to cruise in December but Omicron prevented us from travelling. Thanks to flexible refund policies, we were able to rebook for this trip. After a bunch of confusion to do with vaccination policies that even the cruise line was confused about, we were ready to cruise to the Bahamas. Sadly, I would be sick as shit most of the time as if I secretly got COVID.

After getting some drinks, we headed for the busy cruise terminal where we passed through security and got on board. The first meal I got was a burger from Johnny Rockets, which is among the best burgers I’ve ever had. After a strange muster drill because of COVID, we set off to the Bahamas. Since I waited 2 years to finish writing this I don’t have much to say, especially given how sick I was, but I always enjoy going on cruises. Anyways, here’s a dulche de leche cupcake from the premium café which looks nicer than it tastes.

a cupcake topped with the dulce de leche cream with some syrup drizzle and white chocolate chips

Off to Idaho

I wish the Brightline service from Miami to Orlando was open, but it wasn’t so we had to take a bus to Orlando. We grabbed a snack at the pick up point where we thought we missed the bus. Thankfully, we had plenty of time. The bus came and I was pissed that the conductor didn’t care about the extra bags I paid $30 for. We got on board and headed off on an uneventful bus ride to Orlando. Not the most luxurious way to get to Orlando, but there was free Wi-Fi so I couldn’t complain.

We arrived in Orlando and grabbed some McDonalds before heading to our resort. We thought we would have a week with my sibling in Orlando but the school were late with giving us dates when we had already booked our flights and all. Given that, we got some Chinese food and went to bed for the early 5am flight.

We got our Uber Green (which was just a hybrid) and took the ride to the airport. Delta was kind enough to give us Clear which we definitley needed given how long the lines were. We didn’t check in and all, but it was a very brisk experience. After some breakfast, we boarded our uneventful flight to LA. LA airport was also extremly busy and despite being in California and the signs suggesting masking, very few people wore one. We got onto our next flight which was also uneventful except that we were told that we were at a 5G restricted airport. It’s kinda strange why 5G is such a big deal to flight equipment in the US when lots of countries have 5G and their airports are fine.

We met the college reps and left my sibling with the bus while we were driven by a staff member called Jordan to our hotel where we had Papa John’s and went to bed. The next day, we headed off to Boise for a church service where we met up with an old classmate of mine. We went to the same high school and spent a semester in college before she left. We went to lunch in an urbanist part of Boise where my old classmate told me how she managed to make a life in Boise. She used to be really depressed and when she moved colleges she was able to get better healthcare where it turns out she had a neurological issue. She even managed to get asylum since she it’s likley she wouldn’t manage without US healthcare (specifically the doctor).

a photo of a pedestrianized street with some colorful medium sized apartment buildings, tasty foliage, outdoor dining seating and a couple people walking

After that, we went to the mall before heading back to the hotel. The next day, we had to help my sibling unpack. My mom and I decided to walk to the campus which was just one straight line and we stopped by a really long train. My mom was sent some money and since every chain retailer in the US has a Western Union collection point, we stopped by a pharmacy to get the cash. Sadly that took forever and ultimatley didn’t work, although the one clerk noticed us walking down. We reached my siblings dorm and they had a lot of packages and unfortunatley for us it was a long trip from the mail center to the dorm. Eventually we got it done, but we now had to wait for our flight which was late at night. I chilled in the library before taking a walk to the cute downtown. I again tried to look for my mother’s needles and they actually had them, but they cost $95 a box.

I walked back by which time we had to head back to the airport. Jordan picked us us and we headed down. She suggested we get some dinner to which we opted for Chick-fil-a which makes some great sandwiches and frosted lemonade but is otherwise “mid” as the kids say. We got to the airport at which point our flight was cancelled. My mom was offered some cash to go on a later flight but didn’t take it since we probably wouldn’t get out. We boarded the flight where I tried to watch a film about a non-binary rock climber but that was boring so I opted to watch American Gangsta which was a lot more fun instead. Ironically, the rock climber film had a content warning but the far more explicit American Gangsta film (which even had uncensored nudity) didn’t even warn me.

We landed in Atlanta and given that we left late, there was little time to meet the connection. Thankfully, Delta booked us on the next flight to Orlando, which was also uneventful. We decided to buy some groceries and things for home before we headed back to the hotel.

Visiting NASA

The next day, we decided to head off to NASA all the way on Merrit Island. After the long drive, I was impressed with just how big everything was starting with the parking lot. One we were dropped off, we too the ride down to the Apollo Center, seeing the large assembly building along the way and after watching a short film, we got to see the massive Saturn V rocket and I was astounded by how big this thing was as it stretched 100m across the floor. The photo I took of it doesn’t even do it justice.

The massive Saturn V rocket stretching across the buildings floor stood on blue stands

I loved learning about the Apollo project and seeing all the work that went into making the whole thing possible. It came with a really cool show as well. Compare this shot at the Apollo show:

A wide shot featuring an astronaut standing on the moon between a large lunar landing module and an American flag with earth behind it.

To the picture I took when I went to the (incredibly fun) Science Museum that rooks rather morbid.

A rather stiff atronaut standing next to a tarped lunar module standing on gold foiled legs

After that, we headed back to learn about the Space Shuttle project. Again, this thing was big.

A picture of the space shuttle taken as if it’s flying towards the camera

All the excitement I had about NASA kinda died down as I decided to read criticisms of NASA and yeah, it’s not pretty—especially their safety culture and how big of a shit show the space shuttle was especially given the original concept vs what actually happened.

After that hiccup, I decided to try out the space shuttle launch simulation which was incredibly awesome. After that, we decided to head home passing through to get some Popeyes.

Finishing Up The Trip

We decided to relax and pack the next day before we headed to Miami on the Friday in the morning. We still had some credit with Southwest which was just enough to cover the flight from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale (which had drink service). Once we arrived, the hope was that we’d get a shuttle to go on Brightline to Miami but they didn’t have one so the tickets we bought went to waste. Thankfully, there was Tri-rail which not only had a free bus to the station, it was also a fifth of the price and went to the airport where we had to go anyway to catch the hotel’s shuttle.

As I paid for the shuttle, I got my change in coins in multiple currencies which looked the same as a quarter. Funniest one was the Cuban Peso used to be worth US$1 until they had to devalue it fueling it’s current crisis leading to the largest departure since the Mariel boatlift. It’s that bad.

I decided to go upstairs while my mom had to handle the many untethered suitcases. Oops 🤭. We got to the airport and waited for the hotel shuttle. We arrived, put our bags down and headed to Ross to get some last minute clothes shopping in. After that, we walked to Burger Fi which is the best fast food burger I’ve ever had, although it’s quite expensive. They even had the freestyle machine where you make your own soda flavor.

Heading Home

We went back to the hotel, slepts, woke up, headed to the shitty buffet and chilled a bit before we headed to the airport in the evening. It was in the morning, Google gave me a notification to say that the flight would be 8 hours late! More travel chaos! Thankfully, it wasn’t a big problem since out layover was 10 hours long anyway.

We eventually headed to the airport, checked in and waited at the Turkish Airlines lounge which was nice though the food was kinda average. They let us stay until midnight because of our delayed flight. Luckily for us, we got to fly on QSuite which is an incredible product to fly on for 14 hours transatlantic.

With great food and attentive staff, I’d fly this way all the time but it’s really expensive unless you try some points hacking or something. I also managed to get some good sleep on a flight which I’ve never managed to get ever!

On top of this, we took the exact same plane back to Zimbabwe and even the same seats. QSuite typically isn’t availible on this segment so I guess this is the only good equipment change. First world problem but the annoying part about flying business for 8 hours is that you can’t get proper sleep because the flight attendants wake you up at the time you asked for breakfast.

We landed uneventfully and thus ends a three week trip being the first time out of the US in 4 years along with the first trip since I lost my passport in Indonesia.