Expedition: House-Hunting In Miami
Knitting For Vinnie

Time For Some Fun... And A Little Retail Therapy

Snacks, Miami-style, seen at a local gas station convenience store

After our disappointment at the realtor's office Friday, we decided that we needed to branch out from the internet, regarding our home-hunting search. We'd stopped in several stores, both drug and grocery, to look for the Apartment Guide and similar resources, but we haven't found any. I told Rob we should go up to my alma mater, the University of Miami, and look for the campus newspaper. I knew that classified ads for rentals were placed there back in my college days, so I thought we might be successful with some leads that way.


When we got to UM, we parked near the UC (aka University Center, the school's student union), where I knew we'd find a paper and maybe some bulletin boards. The first thing out of Penelope (our Honda Odyssey), the kiddos wanted to chase around some Muscovy ducks that were visiting Lake Osceola. They were successful, as you can see from the photo, despite my protests.

So, I found The Hurricane, our student-run newspaper, but no ads of any kind. Since it's not quite summer rental time, I'm not completely surprised, but a little. However, we want to find something long-term instead of just a sub-lease for the summer, so it's probably for the best. Hindsight is 20-20, though. 

The kids wanted to see more of the campus, since they scarcely remembered our last visit there in 2007, and of course I was happy to oblige. We still had about 20 minutes left on the parking meter, so I showed them around the UC and Lake Osceola. Back in my day, most things were white with green and orange trim. I noted to Rob that everything has not only been upgraded, but changed to completely orange and green, with a wee bit of white trim. UM has gone full-on 'Canes décor, that's for sure!

After the UC and the lake, the kids wanted to see my dorm. I'd pointed out a couple others within view of the UC, so that piqued their interest. We drove over to Mahoney and Pearson residential colleges, the later being my dorm, and I pointed that out in addition to the dining hall where I took most of my meals. They loved it all, of course, and so did I. Ah, the memories... if we can afford it by the time the kids are in college, I'd love to continue the legacy with at least one of them. It costs a fortune, though, so who knows?


After the very brief tour of UM, I thought the kids would enjoy a ride on the city's MetroRail, the overhead subway that goes pretty much in a straight line from South Miami to Hialeah. I was right, of course, though I should have expected Jack to be scared of the high platform. He was terrified, cried, and clung to me for a while, even though he was excited to ride the train. 

After a little bit of quick math in my head, I figured out it would be cheaper to get Day Passes for each of us, rather than go the pay-as-you-ride route. $25 later... ouch! Prices sure have gone up in the last 15 years. (I can't believe I'm that old, either!)


Finally, Jack relaxed enough to let me take a picture with him and Rob. I think Rob looks so cute with his shaggy, very white beard... ♥ (My sister is not a fan, but she's not married to him, so pbbbh! It does tickle, though!)


We decided to take the Metro into Coconut Grove and walk the mile or so down to Coco Walk, one of my favorite hangouts back in college. It hasn't really changed at all! I thought the kids would enjoy playing the "right" songs on the jukebox at Johnny Rockets, remembering how the wait staff would get up on the counters and dance to "Respect" and other fun hits. Well, they still had a good time, but the jukeboxes are broken now, and the staff said they only dance when the place is full. Bah. It was nearly empty at that point. The kids donned their paper hats and Jack said, "We work here, Mom!" So cute.


Sophia and Chloë had grilled cheese sandwiches, Jack had the chicken fingers (well, really a bite of chicken and most of his fries, the stinker), Rob had a cheeseburger, and I ate my old standby, a tuna melt. Oh, and we got milkshakes for the kids, which they loved  - in no small part because the server spun the lid of the straw jar for them and made the straws spin out prettily! They're suckers for the little things, just like me.


After dinner, we decided to walk around Coco Walk for a while before heading back on the Metro. We found a fountain, and I had enough pennies for everyone to make a wish. Can't tell you what we wished for, but one person on Facebook guessed mine easily! Can you? ;)


Upstairs, I spotted some Britto luggage in a window and practically ran to go look at it. I haven't seen a Britto merch shop since we were in Charleston, and I do so love to look at it. The store sold Crocs, too, and Sophie fell in love with some Hello Kitty ones, along with a set of Hello Kitty Jibbitz that she just had to have. I debated for a while before deciding to get her some pink Crocs that she chose (the HK ones were too small for her piggies) and the Jibbitz, for her 8th birthday in two weeks. I might give them to her earlier, since the flip-flops I'd picked up for us girls at Walgreens are uncomfortable for her.

Anyway, the shopkeep at the Crocs store said there was another shop down below that sold a lot of Britto merchandise for cheaper than anywhere else he knew about. You know we ended up there, eventually, right?!


First, though, we kept looking around upstairs. We came across a Pan Am store (what's up with that?! Is that a thing, now?) that sold lots of vintage-y Pan Am merchandise. They also had some old Pan Am displays set up, including this one of an actual plane interior. Chloë posed, and I taught her to say, "Buh-bye. Buh-bye now." Remember those old SNL skits?

Jack found a paper glider set there he wanted, and it was only $5, so I was going to get it. Then he found a miniature replica of a real Pan Am plane, but it was $30 - I said No Way, José! Not after all the loot he'd just scored for his 10th birthday. He was so disappointed, he cried. And then, of course, the $5 gliders weren't good enough either, and I wasn't going to buy him something just to buy him something. I explained it to him, and he understood, but he was still moody for the rest of the night. I did find $5 handmade necklaces at a kiosk down below for each of the girls, so I told him he could spend the same amount, but he found nothing he liked. Later, he asked me if he could just add the $5 to the $26 he already had saved up (and let the movers pack, by accident); I found this to be entrepreneurial and accepted. He brightened when he realized that he'd have enough to buy the miniature replica when he got his money back!


Finally, we made our way to the shop that sells Britto merch on the cheap, Sparkle Plenty. Wow!! What a sight to behold. There was so much goodness in there, it's like I died and went to heaven. I decided that, to go with our Deep Night Romance giclée by Britto, we should stick with kissing fish only. There were several options, including an $80 picture frame (not now, thanks!), and an $18 luggage tag (also a nyet), but we went with these:


a cute little toothbrush holder that I plan to use to hold scissors, if they fit, or something else if they don't, on the computer desk, and this:


a fishy teapot that will look great in our future bright and cheery kitchen, no?

Awesome. We love you, Romero Britto!


At the counter in the same shop, while paying for our goods, I came across these packs of gum and had to snatch a photo. Silliness. There were more, but I couldn't them all in the shot, and these were funnier.


After the shop, Rob said it was time to go back to the hotel and tend to our kitties. I had asked several people if the Metro Day Passes I'd bought could also be used to ride the bus back to the station, but no one knew. Finally, I spotted an Information booth, so we strolled over there to ask. The three uniform attendants said, "YES!" in unison, so I gave them a double thumbs-up and said, "Right answer!" The kids were so not up to walking back, and we were all relieved. Woot!

Sophia found this guitar art standing up near the bus stop. She immediately had to start 'playing' it, Sophie-style. What fun!

We rode the bus back to the station, and then we got up to the platform to ride the station back. No sooner did we get there, though, before I started to convince Rob we had to go back down to the store across the street. I was DYING of thirst. Dying, I tell ya! I told him we'd get back in time for the train that was coming 17 minutes later (they run less frequently at night, and it was about 10 PM by that time). Well, guess what? We didn't! Oops.

So 20-some minutes later, we caught the next train and rode it back to the University station. Or so I thought. It completely skipped over our stop, and I looked up just in time to see the words "South Miami" flashing by as we approached the next station. Um, what?! No one at the next stop could understand why that would happen, but it did, so we had to get back on the Northbound train and ride back again. The kids weren't dismayed at all, thankfully, because I was dog-tired by that point and not up to another battle.

After we disembarked from the train a third time, we got over to Penelope and tried to start her up. Only, the battery was dead and the parking lot was now deserted. Greaaat. I told everyone to be quiet for five minutes, and I prayed. Then I tried the ignition again. Started RIGHT UP. Thank you, GOD!! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

We got back to the hotel, where all five of us promptly climbed into bed and fell asleep.

I can't tell you what happened most of Saturday, because I slept through, having come down with a bad cold, until nigh on 6 PM. I know Rob took the kids swimming at some point, but that's all I'm aware of. Now it's Easter, and I need to get the kids' baskets. It's 2:30 AM now, so I'll wait a couple more hours and then hit up a Walgreens for those and some newspapers. Surely there will be plenty of houses-for-rent ads in there, too.

So that's our adventures for now! I'll post more frequently than I have been in the past several months, now that we're here. Comment, sil vous plait.