Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Friday, October 18, 2013
Sunday, September 22, 2013
It's days like these that I feel pretty lucky. With a combined totally of 8 hours of sleep between the two of us over the last 24 hrs, I woke up to S surprising me with a mostly Paleo friendly coffee, and a pair of shoes. Throwing them on, still in his old Navy sweat pants and a tank top, I followed him out to his car because he had something to show me. We drove the mile down the road to the marina. This unaltered photo is what we saw through the trees. He had seen it in his way in and wanted to share it with me. Just one of the many reasons I love my life.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Though Disney World wasn't our first destination, I was still up at the crack of dawn. While S slept in, I ducked out of the room to explore the hotel.
The Fitness room was busy, which was encouraging! On my way out, I spotted a flock of wild turkeys in the courtyard! Apparently a morning jogger was also surprised to see them. We both stood there, taking photos from opposite ends and giggling at the surprise.
The hotel only had a few choices of places for breakfast. I found the busiest place was a small coffee stand, which sold yogurt, muffins, and other assorted pastries.
I picked up a Chai Soy Latte for S, a mocha for myself, and a blueberry muffin to split. I took my time strolling back to the room, but S was still out cold. Leaving breakfast on a table for him, I took my Acer outside and worked on getting it up and running. It had been problematic before the trip but I was hopeful that we could get it working - at least for the time being. For now, some getaway time was far more valuable than a piece of technological equipment.
It was a beautiful morning, as I ate my breakfast on the porch and watched the world wake up. The I encountered several of our neighbors getting a last minute cell phone chat in before beginning their day. It was an incredibly peaceful way to start the trip - which isn't actually my usual Florida speed. By this point any other trip, I'd be on my way to an amazing character breakfast somewhere in the parks. Instead, I was out on the porch, sipping my mocha and praying my computer would boot up and cooperate. Since it wasn't, I had brought my back up method - the same travel journal I've been keeping since S and I first met face-to-face. I jotted a few notes to calm the restlessness desperately trying to keep the 5-year-old in me from bouncing up and down on the bed and waking up S while chanting, "We're here! We're on Vacation!"
By the time he awoke, he had no interest in the chia tea, so I finished that off as we headed off of Shades of Green property and over to the Polynesian resort. I'd gotten a tip before we left that it's better to catch resort transportation there than from Shades of Green, as busses run more frequently. I don't know why, but I was surprised to find that the resort theming was even all over the trash cans! Obviously we'd entered Disney's version of Polynesia...
So our Downtown Disney visit started in a way every single one of our Disney World visits has started - a meal at the T Rex Café!
We snacked on some salads and appetizers and enjoyed some adult beverages before we headed into the shopping mecca to browse, and hit up one of S's requests - the Ghiradelli Chocolate Store. We got a mint and chip dark chocolate sundae to split and sat down to watch some high school choirs finish their performances.
After a long day getting some miles in by strolling from one end of Downtown Disney to the other and back again, we settled back into the hotel for some R&R.
This is a MUCH slower pace than I'm used to taking on trips. I'm used to going all out, full force, suck the marrow out of each moment, but ya know what? There is something to be said for stopping to smell the roses... or in my case, the whipped cream...
Saturday, June 22, 2013
We raced through a quick breakfast of yogurt and mochas from a coffee stand and made it just in the nick of time to our shuttle. Shades of Green has a small shuttle, requiring reservations 1 day in advance, that costs about $10/person. It's the cheapest way of getting from here to there, and it was nice to not have to drive during any part of our vacation. (I'm notorious for losing my rental car in parking lots!)
We raced through their downtown area, lined with shops, eateries, and concert venues, and straight to the front gate where we activated our tickets. S was free (thanks to a generous military promotion going on) and I got a discount. Our first destination was mapped out - Islands of Adventure and Harry Potter! I was really interested in the 'Sinbad' style entry way, with its towering lighthouse, tropical themed shops, and small carts for food and drinks. I was later disappointed to discover that the themeing didn't carry over into the food and drink offered. We rushed through and followed the crowd to the highly anticipated Harry Potter area.
|The 'on vacation' beard'|
As for the Harry Potter area, the ride itself felt as if it was unfinished or already out of date. While there were a few genuinely creepy moments, I can easily say the best part of the ride was the entertainment in while you were in line. On the upside, as curvy as I am, I was concerned I wouldn't be able to ride. They have pretty strict dimensions for riders and bottom heavy riders like me don't fit in well. I'm happy to report, I fit in just fine.
|Yeah... you never get to get this close to the dragon. Boo hiss.|
The one really annoying thing about Universal is that you can't take your bag on any ride. Actually, that's not the annoying part. The annoying part is that it's rarely posted that you need to check your bag at a locker before entering the line and most employees don't bother to tell you when you enter...So there we were, nearly at the front of the line, when an employee says, "Oh, you'll have to go back through the line to the begining and check your bag at the locker and get back in line to ride." Ugh. By this time I was a little motion sick anyway, and supremely annoyed, so I opted to explore the town of Hogsmead rather than make S get BACK in line and start over...Yes, the lockers are free for about the duration of the line, which is nice, but the hassle of waiting in line and then waiting again with the mass of people that just exited the ride to gain access to your locker... it's just a pain and a waste of valuable vacation time.
Anyway, in my exploration, I stumbled across a drink called Pumpkin Juice! Sounds delicious, right? I snatch up a bottle of it right away. It was already a hot and humid Florida day, so it sounded like just the right treat to share when S got off the roller coaster.
It was so sweet, we only had about 2 sips each and then had to throw it away. I was pretty disappointed. It sounded so refreshing! If anything, I expected it to be watery! Not Sweet! Pumpkin and apple juice... but it might as well have been concentrate from both juices. It was sickly sweet (which didn't help my stomach issues at all). After that experience, we skipped on the infamous ButterBeer all together. The line was REALLY long and the drinks were expensive. I'd already heard rumors that it was incredibly sweet - and already wasted $7 on a drink that we threw away - so we moved on to explore other areas of the park instead.
This was probably the best themed area of Islands of Adventure, next to Harry Potter. It reminded me a bit of pieces of Disney Animal Kingdom. We were both really looking forward to this ride. This time, we figured we should check our bag first, just because we knew you got really wet on this one!
It turned out to be great fun, and we got on it in the nick of time! One common complaint about Universal is that the rides break down on a regular basis. Upon riding the shuttle home, we heard from our fellow passengers that nearly every attraction we enjoyed broke down as soon as we go off of it! Crazy!
|Second Row - 2 seats on the right|
The view from the Visitor's Center is of the observation platform for the big drop on the Jurassic Park ride. Check out that splash!
We hopped in a (long) line to ride The Hulk next. It was a great ride, and, though the line say 45 minutes, it was well over an hour and a half. What made the line more annoying was that the 15 screens placed around the attractions que area all played the same, 5 minute cartoon loop over and over and over.... you get the picture. I suspect THIS is why they sell beer in the park - because it keeps the general population sedate in the Florida heat. The ride was fun, but not worth the line, and the hassle of getting our bag from the locker afterwards...
In strolling through the "comic book" themed area of Islands of Adventure, we were able to run into a few costumed characters. The Green Goblin was the most memorable. Unlike Disney's costumed characters, this fellow was allowed to talk (and spook) little kids. It must have made being in a mask and slim fitting costume more fun.
At that point we walked over into the other park (Universal Studios - the park which rushed Disney MGM Studios into opening earlier than expected). We were already dragging a little bit. This park was lovely to walk around. I think I could have had fun just strolling around and soaking in the hollywood-that-we-all-hope-wished-actually-existed atmosphere. We got to check out Terminator 3D (which was fun, but dated), The Simpsons (fun, but I was so nauseated, and the motion simulator was in a stifflingly muggy room that smelled like baby burps - so not helpful to the nausea thing...) and Men in Black.
|Men in Black Attraction|
|In line for The Amazing Spider Man|
We returned to meet our shuttle and headed back to Shades of Green before the sun had set. The shuttle ride proved very enlightening. Our fellow passengers complained of closed attractions, long lines, and the inconsistent bag checking policies as well. Oddly enough, our of the seven other passengers, only one was planning on returning.
We spent the evening at arcade area in Shades of Green playing some air hockey and getting some R&R. S caught up with a few friends about the latest and greatest Playstation strides (PS4 was announced on this day) and I got in a quick work out.
With that day behind us, the next day lead to a new hotel and a very wet adventure!
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
This was the 2nd day of training back to back and we knew we were testing our metal by doing it on the way to the airport, but I was determined not to let a little thing like a cross-country vacation set us back!
S picked us up a protein shake to split since we were running a tad behind, and we headed off to find where we were supposed to park our car. Using a great deal we found on Groupon, we parked the car for less than shuttle fare for 2 people! It gave us much more flexibility and avoided the nightmare that was our last trip (where I had scheduled the shuttle for the wrong day... oops). We found it with very little difficulty and within an hour, we were checked in and through security. Taking turns sitting with the bags, we took turns getting hot drinks and breakfasty munchies before boarding the plane.
We boarded our US Airways flight and that is when the trip took a serious turn for the slow...
We were delayed at the gate and in our seats for nearly 2 hours.
If we hadn't opted to hit a hard core work out in the morning, this wouldn't have been too much of a problem, aside from making us overdue for our connecting flight.
But sitting still for an extra 2 hours isn't pleasant when you're muscles are trying to recover. It's a great recipe for tight muscles and pain. While the workout was worth it, this was not helpful...
Needless to say, we are not a fan of US Airways. Not because of the delay. Delays happen. But it's because the airline and their staff made no effort at all to make people more comfortable. Also, the airline was aware there would be a delay, but opted to board the plane anyway, instead of taking care of the problem before trapping people in their seats, in a hot, crowded plane that was going nowhere.
Lucky for us, about 10 other people on our plane were trying to make the same connection. Instead of an hour and 40 minutes of layover, they did end up holding the plane for 15 minutes so those of us with connections could make it. Thank God for small miracles!
After a very long day, we finally touched down in Orlando right about on time.
But the delays didn't end there. We had reserved a shuttle online through Mears... well, the ticket counter we were supposed to check in at was closed for the night (despite quite a few people with reservations for late night transport). After another 40 minutes of waiting around (and working with a very confused driver who was called in last minute), we ended up arriving to our hotel, Shades of Green, well after midnight.
The hotel staff couldn't have been more sweet and receptive. It was the best part of our evening in Orlando. Having skipped several meals, we dug into our park snack supply. Cliff bars and Star Wars fruit snacks saw us through as we boarded the shuttle. Since it was well into the wee hours of the morning, we ended up stopping for granola bars and cookies from a vending machine on the way to the room.
The rooms at Shades of Green are LARGE. We had a standard sized room, and it was larger than any of our rooms during our Disney World stay - even at the deluxe Animal Kingdom Lodge! While there was no real Disney theming to be found, it was a really nice hotel and we just couldn't beat the price. I would equate it to a really nice Sheraton.
It didn't take long for us to pass out. We had ambitiously planned our next day to be a day at Universal Studios, but S made a very good case for taking a down-day the next day. I gave in without much of a fight.
He's taught me to slow down a bit, which is probably healthy for me.
On to Day 2! Relaxing and exploring...