Wednesday, June 29, 2011

...It was all started by added moisture... (day seven)

Got up bright and early, as usual...

Which reminds me. Every day Diane got up at 5 a.m. and walked for an hour. So that was my usually-designated getting ready time. I'm pretty sure my knee or some other walking component on my body would have bit the dust had I added that to all the other walking. On the other hand, as I've said, my knee seemed to weather all of it just fine, and my feet would have too if I'd worn a hiking-type sandal. All told, my feet survived better than they ever did a Timp hike.
Diane returned the car to a nearby (for her) hotel, and we had breakfast at IHOP, just down the street. Then we floated on the lazy river and swam in the pool. Well, Diane swam and I paddled. The lazy river has little water cannons strategically placed and we both got zapped on a few rounds before figuring out where they were hidden/aiming.
The lazy river
One of the pools backed by the lazy river

Had arranged the day before for my shuttle ride to the airport, at 2:40. We had talked about going to Seaworld that last day but it didn't open until 9 a.m. and the main attraction - Shamu the killer whale show didn't start until 1 p.m. By this time I was down to sandals only (not designed for extensive walking) relative to deep forming blisters (which never opened up because I didn't put a shoe against them) and since we'd both seen it we elected to pass and enjoy the hotel amenities.
This hotel is the nicest one I've ever stayed in, I must say. Since it was the hotel for Diane's convention and she would continue on in the same room for another 12 days, they let us have the convention rate, about $90 a night taxes included.

After the pool I got ready, packed up, and then wandered around taking more pictures.
The convention center

Our room was on the 11th floor,
and this is the balcony end,
looking up from one of the pools.

View of the pool from the top floor balcony.

Y mountain

The whole thing was an unforgettable experience and I'm grateful to Diane for inviting me.

G mountain

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

...It was all started by a Sunday drive... (day six)

Last thing we did day five on our way back to the hotel from Universal Studios was stop at the grocery store for our Sunday breakfast and snacks. Hit the road for De Bary where we attended church with a family that moved there from Diane's neighborhood and our ward. Drove past the Orlando temple on the way, the gates were locked however so we didn't get to stroll the grounds or read our scriptures on a bench.

(Spanish moss growing on the trees)

Which got us to De Bary early so we drove on and walked around a state park called Ponce De Leon Springs, an old sugar mill turned into a pancake house and pool. We were told we'd have a two hour wait if we were there for breakfast so it's apparently a very popular place. It was an official roadside attraction beginning in the early thirties and ended with the opening of Disney World in 1971.

There was a sign in the gardens at the Polynesian which described the fact that a palm tree can become host to other plants which will then eventually kill off the palm tree.

The Richards family had us to dinner after church, which was especially nice of them add to the picture the fact that their air conditioning went out the night before. They put up several fans and we all survived and enjoyed visiting with them.

Then we drove to the coast, Daytona Beach, and on down on Highway One to Cocoa Beach when it was time to head back because we ran out of daylight. We never saw the official ocean, mostly because I didn't study the map carefully enough – we could have cut across the intracoastal waterway at Daytona Beach instead of turning down Highway One. But then we would have probably missed this:

Monday, June 27, 2011

... It was all started by a movie... (day five)

Had the rental car people come pick us up at 7:45 a.m., drive us to the rental building, Diane drove us to the Hilton where her FBLA convention would be (after I left), checked in, had the bags sent to the room, and headed for Universal Studios. (Diane kindly became the designated driver so we could save twenty bucks. wink*wink)
I really liked U.S. mostly because for a fee we fast-passed everything, but Diane did point out that Disney was "family friendlier" in that though their fast-passing was per attraction and added more walking, at least it was "free". It was nice to do less standing, but we didn't get out of so-doing entirely.
(Note the adult triplets on the right.)

The roller coasters are unbelievable. The red one in the background was very high and the other one was very fast.
The red one is called the Rip Ride Rockit, has an onboard soundtrack, the vertical lift is 167 feet, and it hits 65 mph.
This one is called the Incedible Hulk and it accelerates from zero to 40 mph in two seconds flat, top speed 67, and has two subterranean trenches. It made a roaring noise as the cars flew by. No ... as you might have guessed, we didn't ride either one.
Some of the other rides we went on: Disaster! (makes a movie of you on a train that crashes), E.T. Adventure, Jaws (Amity boat ride), Shrek, Twister (what it's like to be in one), A Tribute to Lucille Ball.... At the beginning, they gave you a short synopsis which made the attraction understandable even if you hadn't seen the movie.
Spider-man was way fun, in the neighboring Islands of Adventure, and an eye-closer for part of it. You ride a tilt-a-whirl through the building and you seem to climb a lot and then the windows speed by as you "drop." I think it was an optical illusion but then that was the mostly closed eyes part. It was also 3-D, as were many of the rides.
This is where we ate lunch, the Hard Rock Cafe. Enjoyed the music, the hamburger was delicious, and the service was extra friendly.
This is where we got completely soaked, Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges. After, once again, falling at the end, it ended near restrooms and they had these round things you could climb inside and pay $5 to dry you off. We chose to retain our cooling moisture.

Visited this "temple" where Poseidon wars it out
with the evil Lord Darkenon.
Our third wetness ride, an 85-foot plunge after escaping from T-Rex.
No, we didn't do the Potter thing either. Even the kiddie ride looked scary. We did walk through it, of course, and it was packed. One of Diane's CES administrators asked her to get him a deck of Potter character cards there, which was – how shall I say this – darkly amusing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

...It was all started by a mouse... (day four)

Friday was our last day at Disney and we spent it back at Epcot, then took the boat to Hollywood Studios.

The main event at Epcot other than previously mentioned, was Soarin’, taking a hang glider tour of California, where not only do you see it as if you’re really doing it, it also feels like it (the chair lifts you up and turns with the movie). I actually kept my eyes open through most of it and really liked it.

(Near the entrance to Hollywood Studios.)

At Echo Lake the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular was highly entertaining (jumped of buildings and even flipped a jeep) but it was extra H-O-T and I was exhausted so as we sat there and watched for half an hour, I poured water over myself, and felt better.

At Streets of America we skipped everything except lunch at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, where we had a fancy mixed greens salad with fruits and Gorgonzola cheese for less than $6, and could have been totally satisfied with that, but figuring from the price it must be a side salad we also split brick-oven grilled chicken flatbread with sun-dried tomato pesto, Pancetta, Asiago and fresh chives. It was our favorite meal of the week.

We had no desire to indulge in the above
but saw a number of people who did.

Skipped Animation Courtyard, but on Sunset Boulevard we watched Beauty and the Beast live on stage while a storm blew through. Sunset Boulevard is where they have the Tower of Terror which may be famous but we had no desire to ride it.

We skipped Pixar Place, but saw both attractions at Mickey Avenue – Journey into Narnia and an exhibit/film about Walt Disney.

This was the night Disney closed early. We spent some time in the pool and then packed up in preparation for an early morning check-out.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

...It was all started by a mouse... (day three)

This day we spent all of it in Magic Kingdom.
Took a raft ride over to Tom Sawyer's island.
The gears inside the mill creak to the tune of
"Down by the Old Mill Stream."
We worked up the courage to get on this ride:
Closed our eyes for this part:
We also went through the Swiss Family Treehouse,
Pirates of the Caribbean (sailing through the Spanish Main),
the haunted mansion, Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, and others.

Had a late lunch on Main Street at Tony's Town Square Restaurant,
very posh, and refreshingly cold (AC).
Mickey and Minnie in the Electric Parade:
Pete's Dragon and the full moon:
Though I took a lot of pictures of the fireworks finale,
it was as we made our way back to city hall
which was where we were told lost and found was.
This was the biggest crowd of all we dealt with.
Diane "Key to the World" dropped out of her bag –
the card that gets you through the turnstiles,
into your room, and any charges you incur at restaurants or stores.
It doesn't say the name of your resort (so no worries there),
and they also use your fingerprint at the turnstiles,
but it could have been used by anyone at restaurants and stores.
It hadn't been turned in, but it hadn't been used by anyone else either,
they voided it and gave her a new one on the spot.
(Good thing city hall doesn't keep usual business hours!) :-)

It was a blessing in disguise
(though Diane might not agree) in that,
by the outdoor benches to the side of city hall,
white gardenias were in full bloom.
Which reminded me of my favorite fragrance in Hawaii.
We also enjoyed our favorite treat of all earlier that day,
in the Adventureland section of Magic Kingdom.
Dole whipped ice cream at Aloha Isle,
and we both picked pineapple.
Worth the whole walk, just for that!