Boys & their Toys

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Where I stayed
Post Card Inn

Flag of United States  , Florida
Tuesday, April 10, 2012



Boys and Their toys

It's quite amazing how men covet... (now how can I put it nicely) their toys..... Drool lovingly over them..... give them their most amazing attention..... sometimes I would even think, more than the amount of time and money spent in the relationship with their spouse or partner.... and a for the detail.... they will go to the ends of the earth to get the detail not just right, but perfect........ . And just not to be labelled a sexist, I also have to include the ladies as well, because I’m sure they are just as enthralled..... with the toys as well ....... particularly as we saw.... in America. So now that I’ve tried setting the scene, I’ll continue. How about starting in Europe. Here, the toys are generally smaller......  and usually come in single colours.   In America however, everything has to be bigger.... better.... run faster..... run louder....... and also be in myriads of colours.

We went to a very historic building in London called The Alexandra Palace, (Allie Pally to the locals). It’s not exactly a palace in the true sense of the word, but is every bit as palatial in its decoration. Another fact about this building is that it was built on the highest point in London.
And as such was ideally suited to broadcast the world’s first public television pictures via absolutely huge aerials. Anyway, it was here we went to the 'Model Engineers Exhibition.’ Sitting around were all the old boys who had spent absolute ages in their sheds in the bottom of the garden pouring over, studying and tinkering with metals of all sorts of descriptions to form and forge them into a working model. Everything from aircraft to steam locomotives. Literally hundreds of hours spent in front of lathes, turning bits so that it would fit perfectly. And I might add to a perfect scale as well. Not only are they precision models, but are painted in authentic livery as well right down to the badges on the front. Just completely fantastic. Please click on the picture because it changes into a short video and a picture of this is worth a thousand words.  What some people will do to achieve  perfection. I was completely in awe at the skill and craftsmanship that went into every model being exhibited. Even to the plane nearly landing on the wall!

Leaving wintery England, headed for the sunnier climes of the USA and ended up driving down the Florida Keys stopping at Isla Morada which is about half way down. Booked a hotel from London  called ‘The Postcard Inn.’ Sounded good to me, but actually as a hotel had literally nothing to commend it AT ALL! A tiny sparsely furnished room!   Facing the car park!   No view whatsoever! Not even a restaurant! Now what do you think of that?? Well if you like fast/frozen food that has been quickly warmed up in a microwave you would just love it.
Only one word for the beach... non-existent. A nice looking beach bar, but nobody in it....so no atmosphere. So on the face of things, a bad choice.. and you’d be quite right. Now this was just not what we expected from this part of the world at all. The hotel was full and we could not change our room either. Now who in their right minds would come to a place like this?
I kept wondering... because it intrigued me. So the following morning went exploring and what an eye opener. We just could not believe what we were seeing. It was ‘THE POKER RUN’. Now to those of us who are uninitiated in this sort of thing, (and I am also one of them), let me explain what it is, because it’s so exciting just to be in the middle of it all.

This is where the really big... fast..... end very very expensive toys are. The poker run is where men, in very fast boats, and I mean very fast drive them down from Florida stopping at predetermined places where they pick a card from a pack, and after five stops, (picking five cards) end up at would you just guess.... yes..... the ‘Postcard Inn at Isla Morada!’ the cards are handed in to the judges, and the best ‘hand’ wins. All a bit of fun. And so it’s not the one who gets down first, but the best hand. We just could not believe our eyes at these eighty or so boats. All of them capable of speeds well over a hundred miles per hour. In fact, the bigger ones, (if I could call them that), had top speeds of between one hundred and fifty and one hundred
& seventy. This was the ‘Formula One’ of speed boats. And there we were, mingling and chit-chatting with the owners and their wives/partners, or just whoever the women were. If it were cars, this area would be called in the paddock. Don’t ask me why, but in F1, (Formula One) this is the correct term, and there I was thinking a paddock was just something where horses roamed aimlessly about. Definitely not this paddock though. It was all a buzz of excitement. They’d made their machines go as fast as they could from point to point collecting the cards, and the adrenaline (not to mention testosterone) was explosive. The roar of those mighty engines as they started up. The untying of each one from either the dock or jetty, and slowly, although you would just not believe it by the cacophony of thousands and thousands of horse power venting themselves through the tuned exhaust pipes as they slowly made their way out through the red and green marker bouys and into the channel leading out of the harbour. And slowly out till there were no more markers and then they were away and on their way back home. 

Now these were American toys. And what a marked difference! Comparing the British and American  toys is not really a fair thing to do. I mean the cost of one of the top boat was $
4.5 million. The most expensive model at ‘Ally Pally’ would probably not have cost even a hundredth of this figure. However, the micro engineering in England would probably have been far more precise than in these leviathans in front of us now. The paintwork on their hulls was simply stunning. And as for the smell of the 110 octane nitro fuel they were burning.. well it’s enough to send you into raptures. Another thought has just crossed my mind... and that is.... I wonder how much it would cost in this super high octane fuel just to get the boat away from the dock and to the beginning of the channel? I bet it’s a lot. Anyhow, one of the things that really impressed us was the way some owners took their bopats back home. And this I would not believe unless I saw it firsthand. The wide twin hulled vessels had their oils drained out of the engines...... pulled up onto trailers and secured ....... because these boats are so wide they would not normally be allowed on the roads...... the trailer hydraulically tilts lifting one side of the wide craft so that it moves from a horizontal plane to a near vertical one. By doing this, it simply slips into the customised trailer; and is driven home. Now what do you think of that! A boat on its side in a trailer being taken home? What will they think of next?

So, to end this chapter, there are such marked differences... and there is only ‘The Pond’ separating one set of boys from the other.
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