From my base in Miami, it was an infuriating drive to the other side of the coast where the Space Shuttle used to take off. Driving in California is wonderful, I love it. In Florida, it’s bad. Very bad. Not because of the roads but because of the awful radio stations. No hip hop, no Led Zeppelin stations, no nothing – just boring middle of the road garbage that made the four-hour trip very hard to endure!
I am beginning to seriously wonder how I used to get about with just a map. It was panic stations when I got into my hire car at the hotel – my charger would not work! Thankfully the hotel is next to a big shopping mall. Within 4 minutes and $9 the world was a better place.
I was so engrossed in attempting to find a decent radio station about three hours into my journey that I had forgotten about the fuel! Driving using cruise control at 72mph on the 70mph limit on the highway, I felt like I was doing 100 and that everyone was staring at me as I kept edging away from everyone. The 55mph stretches made my brain hurt, especially on 4 lane 18 mile stretches on a straight road as far as the eye could see. Suddenly I was alarmed to see a flashing red light and 23 miles left in the tank.
I could do nothing. Panic was not an option. I put the car at 52mph as this seemed to get the revs at their lowest, turned off the air conditioning and waited for a petrol station. Then waited, and waited. 32 miles, then 28, then 22 – when would I reach the next town!
Mile by mile I kept looking around at the landscape! How would people find me here. Suddenly, around a corner, a small town appeared. Pulling into a gas station I was soon exiting it and going to the next, a Shell. The auto pumps were too complicated. It was like finding the Holy Grail but not having the key. Eventually a very helpful attendant made an exception and charged my credit card direct. An ideal solution as I had no ZIP Code with my accounts being addressed in the UK.
With all the wars the US seem to have about oil, it was basically 50% of what I pay in the UK.
The event was what I had expected. I have covered the Gold Cup (North American championship) many times – American locals are not bothered – but the Hispanics are. The crowd was about 7,000 but if there was 1,000 Japanese, 4,000 Costa Ricans, the rest was made up of enthusiastic soccer fans wearing their country colours – Ecuador, Panama, Honduras to name a few.
My reason for attending this fixture was to fill my boots with pictures of Costa Rica before England play them in the FIFA World Cup.
I knew nothing of Costa Rica who whilst the rain fell in Miami before my departure, I spent sometime looking at who was who like Bryan Ruiz of Costa Rica.
I know the Japan players inside out! Japan wore their not so photogenic luminous yellow away kit.
For those not aware, the Raymond James Stadium is the home of the NFL team, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at one of the end zones is a huge Disney Land-like pirate ship.
A dream picture, but I could not pull it off for a Football Landscape classic.
Costa Rica went one up, but Japan came back strong and eventually won 3-1.
My favorite picture though no doubt was the first frame of the day. BaggyBird meeting some Japanese fans!
The drive back was better. I love my music but I found a radio show talking about nuclear fusion power – it was far better than the country music stations.
I arrived back to the hotel at 4am. I was not tired however so took to editing some of the pictures until it was 6am…. I had to be up and about by 0930h! My first match and I had driven over 560 miles and had done a good 14 hr day. I’m supposed to be taking it gently!