My fantasy of living in the Caribbean is coming true – for 3 months at least. We’re traveling to our heart home of Grenada and, for the first time, it will be more than just a couple of weeks. We think we’ve been coming to Grenada for 25 years. Not every year, but most years, and some years more than once when we were trying to launch our idea for a Villa resort (see the post The Original Dream ~ a Boutique Villa Resort in Grenada West Indies for more background).
After abandoning that dream, being in Grenada is more relaxing. Before it was lots of meetings – with our Lawyer, architects, the Government, construction manager, etc., etc., etc. Now it is just a few meetings to move our personal lives forward. Last year, we became Permanent Residents of Grenada and, hopefully, on this trip we will become Citizens and will maintain dual citizenship with the US and Grenada.
Packing for Grenada has always been a challenge. Luggage can’t weigh more than 50 lbs. and we’re only allowed 2 bags each before hefty charges are levied. This has marginally worked in the past with each bag at its weight limit, plus heavy, carry-on bags all filled with photography equipment, computers, presents for friends, as well as our personal items squished in. This year, being here longer, we need/want to bring more with us, plus we have Mick and his stuff.
Figuring out how to get Mick to Grenada was a real challenge. The openings to the cargo area in the airplanes that fly to Grenada are too small to take a crate large enough to hold Mick – we tried flights from both Miami and New York – no go. I tried looking at coming down by boat but couldn’t find anything workable – freighters no longer accept dogs. We even tried the option of flying to Barbados (on a larger plane) but couldn’t get Mick from Barbados to Grenada at a reasonable cost, plus we heard some horror stories of animals getting caught in quarantine there.
Finally, we worked out a way to have him accompany us on the plane and I upgraded our seats to Business Class bulkhead seats so he could lie at our feet and not spill onto the aisle. More on that adventure in another post.
We also had to figure out a 3 month storage option for the things we travel with in the US and a place to store our car. We definitely didn’t want to leave our car at the Miami airport for three months. Michael had a great idea to store everything in Venice (where they have car as well as regular storage because of the snowbirds) and we would loop back that way after Grenada, on our way to New Orleans – our next stop. Great idea. Next, we would need to rent a vehicle one way to get from Venice to Miami. We needed to rent a van because we had so much luggage, plus Mick. All doable, but lots of planning, logistics and coordination. In the end, it looked something like this for a Thursday departure from Venice –
Monday – pack for Grenada,
Tuesday – pack up our house items and pick up a local truck from the storage facility (leaving our car there),
Wednesday – load the truck with help from a local man, drive to the storage facility, load everything into the storage space, return the truck, pick up our car, and clean the house
Thursday – final cleaning, pick up rental van to take us to Miami, drive back to house and pack van with all our Grenada bags, drive the car and van to the storage place to put final items in our unit, leave our car, give Mick a quick dog park run and head to Miami.
PHEW! Usually, we leave a day between packing the storage unit and leaving to allow for more leisurely cleaning and final organization, but after we had everything scheduled and planned, we decided to leave on Thursday, a day early. We wanted to see an outdoor Chihuly exhibit near Miami in both daylight and at night and the exhibit was only open in the evening on Thursday night, so things were a bit rushed. Plus, I had a really bad head cold so I wasn’t fully feeling well. Fortunately, we’ve now got packing/storage down to a science and we were still able to get everything done and get on the road in time to see the Chihuly exhibit so Michael could take pictures in the late afternoon light as well as after it got dark.
Another thing we did to prepare for this trip that ended up being brilliant was signing up for TSA Pre-check which assigns you a known traveler number and allows you to bypass the regular security line and procedures at the airport because they have already checked you out – including fingerprinting you during the application process. I had been getting this perk for free the past couple of years because of my previous business travel but it is hit or miss and when it was a miss at La Guardia airport and, horrors – I had to wait in a long line, take off my shoes, pull out my liquids and my electronics after being spoiled by the luxury of fast security pass throughs, I knew I wanted this perk, guaranteed, every time I fly. Michael wasn’t thinking he’d sign up since he travels so infrequently now, but thinking about bypassing the security hassle in Miami when we also had Mick was too good to pass up. TSA Precheck is a wonderful option that is $85 for a five-year clearance and it made all the difference when we were in Miami. If you travel with any frequency, check it out. You can pre enroll online and make an appointment to finalize paperwork and to get your picture taken – the appointment takes about 15 minutes if you pre enroll. Very Cool!
We also needed to find a pet friendly hotel near the Miami airport for Thursday and Friday night and schedule a Venice hotel for our return. This has been our most intricate logistical move to date. We ended up staying at the Sofitel – Miami airport, a completely lovely hotel that was very accommodating. Fortunately, they were running a weekend special so it was also affordable. On our way back, we will stay at the Holiday Inn in Venice. The Holiday Inn hotel chain has upgraded their facilities nicely in the last few years and they are a great, pet friendly option. We’ve stayed at their other locations and have been very satisfied.
We had a good reminder to always be ready early in case of a problem when we both went out early on Saturday – Michael to mail a package back to Venice storage of things we needed for our 2 days in Miami but didn’t have weight allowance to take with us to Grenada and me to walk Mick. Evidently someone tried to access our room which had an electronic lock and double locked itself when they made multiple attempts to enter. I came back first and my key wouldn’t work. I thought my key was deactivated because it was our last morning and it was 11:30 AM. We had asked for a late checkout at 1:00 PM and I thought it was just a timing issue. After going back downstairs and getting new passkeys made – twice, I knew we had a bigger problem – one that we found out was more complicated than we expected. The bellhop’s master key didn’t work and engineering’s magical override gadget didn’t work either. They eventually had to disassemble the whole lock to get us in. We had plenty of time – we were all packed and were catching the 1:30 airport shuttle, but I could easily imagine the stress if we were pressed for time as the engineer tried to hurry through the long process of disassembling the lock mechanism. Good planning averted a potential disaster – Thank you Michael for always wanting to be ready early! Clearly, the adventure was beginning.