In 2018, Heather and I visited Atlantic Beach (Jacksonville area) and Northeast Florida. We gave it a resounding, and slightly unexpected, big thumbs up. In 2019, we took a highly anticipated extended vacation to South Florida. We came away mildly disappointed with Miami and the Keys. The only logical next step was to see what the other poker rich section of Florida – Tampa – had to offer. So in the last week of February, we combined a work and fun (and poker!) excursion to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area for a Tampa Bay vacation. While there were things we really liked and others, not so much, most of all we are glad we didn’t decide to vacation in March this year.
My two favorite activities are traveling and playing poker. However, today I find myself unable to do (or even reliably plan for) either one. I feel fortunate that all of this craziness started pretty much the day that Paul and I were returning from our most recent poker trip to Tampa. I remember sitting in the Tampa airport on March 1st waiting for our flight when Paul turned to me and said “My mom says there are two cases in Tampa”. And that was the last time we have been farther than 30 minutes from our house. Our visit to Derby Lane the day before was the last time that either of us played live poker. Almost five months later it is pretty safe to say that I am an extremely frustrated traveler.
This month, in one fell swoop, we lost our two favorite activities: live poker and travel. Fortunately for us, we had just finished our latest poker journey. COVID-19 restrictions came mere days after we returned from a trip to Florida in which we visited five new poker rooms (Room reviews to come. So far we have shared our thoughts on Silks). In fact, we were sitting in the Tampa airport waiting for our flight home when we learned of the first coronavirus victim in the state of Florida. We also may have ignored our better selves and played one last tournament in New Hampshire before that state closed its poker rooms. Happily, we’re now two weeks out from that tournament with no ill-effects. Unless you count poker withdrawal.
It didn’t take long for the withdrawal set in. We watched with a mixture of horror and relief as first Connecticut, then Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and finally Las Vegas shut down all live poker rooms. Horror, of course, because – NO POKER! And relief, because we would have struggled to make the right decision, was poker still an option. Hopefully, we would have done the smart thing and stayed home. I’m glad that we didn’t have to find out. As Paul says, can you imagine an activity more conducive to spreading disease than live poker? I kind of never want to touch a chip again.
While we patiently await our poker pilgrimage, we try to explore new poker rooms and parts of the country whenever we can. Last winter we visited South Florida and Key West. This month we will be visiting the Tampa Bay area. And hopefully later this year we will have some time to check out the Philadelphia poker scene. We have perfected a system for identifying areas we would like to visit, researching them, and planning our poker vacation. So here we present the best way to plan a poker vacation. Read More
Heather’s mother recently treated us, along with Heather’s kids and brother, to a mid-summer cruising vacation. Originally, the main event was to be a two day stay in Havana, but a Presidential edict quashed that plan. Thus, our family Cuba excursion morphed into a day in Key West, a day at sea, and a day in Nassau, Bahamas. This was Paul’s second cruising vacation, while Heather is a relative long-term cruise veteran with a whopping four cruises under her life jacket.
We are now back from our cruise and have some thoughts:
Heather: Oh, thankfully that is over. I’m ready for a full human being detox. Jeezus, but those cruise lines can pack them in.
Paul: Eh, we were waited on hand-and-foot and never had to wash a dish for 5 days. I’ll take a few crowded elevators and faux Las Vegas shows in order not to touch a sponge for a week.
Heather: I think I’d rather wash dishes. But then, you tolerate people better than I do.
I also walked off that ship feeling like a goose that had been prepared for the slaughter. I think I gained five pounds in five days.