Bill and Cathy McArthur on the Road 2006: 1

  This is the first report of our winter travels for 2006 . January 1 found us in South Beach, FL to attend the Orange Bowl; the last time Bill was in Miami Beach was Thanksgiving 1960. See "Happy Holidays 2005" to see what events preceded this trip. We started a beautifully warm day with a light breakfast at the Aqua Hotel. Bill went for a jog on the beach and boardwalk and then dipped into the hotel's hot tub. Later on, we enjoyed a champagne brunch at the Front Porch restaurant on Ocean Drive - great food for moderate prices. We walked around South Beach after brunch, down to the inlet and around to bayside and through the marina. On the way back to the hotel, we signed up for a bus and boat tour of the city for the next day. We spent the late afternoon relaxing in the hotel's courtyard. In the evening, we walked up and down the pedestrian mall at Lincoln Road, reminiscent of the Ramblas in Barcelona. We ate a wonderful Cuban meal under the stars at the Lincoln Road restaurant. We retired early. On Tuesday, we took a good city tour on a bus and a better boat tour of the islands between Miami and Miami Beach. The weather was excellent for touring. When we returned, we took a long walk up the boardwalk to 45th Street and back. We ate an outstanding dinner at Grillfish Restaurant and then watched Ohio State overwhelm the overrated Notre Dame team in the Fiesta Bowl football game at the bar in Jerry's Deli. Bill had two cappuccinos and a Red Bull during the evening and was pretty jacked up on caffeine. Our room was surrounded by Penn State student rooms. We spent a long night listening to drunk students yelling, cursing, and puking. Bill tried to sleep with a pillow over his head, but the sounds still reached his ears. The only satisfaction was had by slamming our room door at 7:30 on Tuesday morning, hopefully hurting some hungover heads. After breakfast we took a long walk on the beach and around the south end of the island. We ate a good lunch at the News Cafe on Ocean Drive. We dressed in our game clothes and entered the pre-rush hour traffic at 2:30 PM, heading for Pro Player Stadium and the Orange Bowl. We parked in a fortunate location near Gate 3 of the stadium and headed to the Miller Lite Tailgate Party, an opportunity to spend $15 so that one could spend more money inside. We met with our son-in-law Phil and his father Don and discovered that the crowd was about 90% Penn State fans. At around 5:30 PM, we started to move toward our seats in the stadium; because of security pat-downs, it took almost an hour to arrive. Our seats were in a great location on the 15 yard line, but only 4 rows above the field. We could clearly see the activity on the Penn State bench. During the pregame activities, a team of Army skydivers jumped into the field and some jets thundered over. What can you say about a game that goes into 3 overtimes? It was fabulous. The Miami Herald estimated that 70% of the crowd were Penn State fans. It was strange for Bill to watch Florida State play for the first time since he attended FSU in the 1960-61 school year, when he was quite the enthusiastic fan of the Seminole football team. We had a great time cheering ourselves hoarse. The fans were all classy, PSU and FSU, and had lots of fun. The game wasn't over until 1:00 AM, way past our bedtime and that of the aged coaches of the two teams. It doesn't really matter which team won the game, it was just a great example of college football the way it should be played. Because of our great parking spot, we escaped the traffic jam pretty fast and were back in our hotel by 2:00 AM. We got to bed by 3:00 AM. At about 4:00 AM, the loud students arrived back. They were tired and stopped shouting after about a half hour. We made plenty of noise on Wednesday morning as we got ready to check out. We were on the road by 8:30 AM after a great stay in South Beach.

        Bill and Cathy