Remember these two goobers? Yeah, well their 25th anniversary adventure continued. YAY!! So much fun.
When we left St. Augustine it was a gorgeous day, sunny and breezy and just a little crispness in the air. So instead of just jumping on the highway, we drove along the coast admiring the water and the beaches and the homes on stilts. Yup. All along the Atlantic coast, the houses with direct water views were mostly built up, at least one story before you arrived at any actual house. Through a whimsical lens (that would be mine) the homes appeared to be ladies wearing very short skirts over tall skinny legs. teehee. Eventually though, the coastline fell away as we moved inland.
We cruised right along with no issues until we approached Orlando. The closer we got, the heavier the traffic became. And not just lots of traffic but lots of aggressive and rude traffic. And roadwork. Can't forget that added bonus attraction of lots and lots of roadwork. Sigh. It's a good thing Tim was driving because I would have just lost my mind entirely. Still, eventually we arrived at the second part of our destination. Universal!
Now as you may (or may not recall) the last time we visited Universal was when our friends the Minocks asked us to meet them there when they were visiting Florida earlier this year. And Tim and I realized, at that time, that it had been at least 15 years since we had been to Universal. Probably longer. And we had a wonderful time. But we only visited one of universal's parks. Still had one park to check out so why not this trip. We were driving right by it anyway.
We didn't even bother to check in to our hotel. Straight to the park. At my request our first stop was the Harry Potter part. There was this train ride y'see. I had heard that the train ride takes you from one park to the other and it was utterly Potter. Had to do it! It was great fun. The "train station" looked exactly like the one in the films, complete with luggage and carts and owls in cages. There was loading platform 9 and 3/4 just as it ought to be and train compartments that at least appeared to be actual train compartments! Then when we arrived at our stop, we stepped off the train into the snow capped village of Hogsmeade and saw Hogswart School ahead in the distance. The village itself was quite crowded when we arrived so we moved on intending to return later.
We ambled along til the crowds thinned a bit and found ourselves in Jurrasic Park. Well that was unexpected. We neglected to do any advance research at all about this park so everything was a surprise to us. So we were sort of flying by the seats of our britches. We had no idea what any ride was or how the different areas were themed. Didn't matter. Once we arrived in the dinosaur rich area of Jurrasic Park, I decided that we needed to find an actual ride that we could both enjoy.
I carefully read the warning signs as we passed. Anything that said anything about possible dizziness or rough lurching about I declined politely. I assured Tim that he could go right ahead and enjoy any ride he wished and I would be happy to poke around the shops while I waited for him but he wanted me to come with him on at least a few rides...so ladies choice. Great :) Finally I saw a ride thats biggest warning was that we might get wet. Well I've been wet before and survived to tell the tale so I chose that ride. As the short line moved forward I saw more and more people wearing those plastic ponchos and I realized that it wasn't so much that we MIGHT get wet but more that we WOULD get wet. " Ok" I said to myself, "I can deal with this". I correctly guessed that it was a sort of flume ride. I have been on flume rides before. A little up and a little down and a little splash and it's all good.
Some how we were directed to the front row. Oh dear. At first it was fine. The ride moved sluggishly through water dodging animatronic dinos of various sorts and there were indeed a few tiny ups, downs and splashes. No big deal. Until ..........
The up was very up. It felt like we were going to continue our slow vertical climb forever. And my brain kept saying cruelly to me, "What goes up must come down!". We hovered on the brink of down for a few precious seconds. Just long enough for me to gulp and squeeze my eyes as shut as they could possibly be before we hurtled earthward at an alarming speed for another eternity. Well it felt like a very long time. I'm sure it was a matter of seconds but they were some of the longest seconds of my life. The splash when it came was epic. I was wet to the very marrow of my bones.
I am rather proud of myself for going on this ride. I do not regret it for a moment. I am dripdry so a little water didn't hurt me a bit. And I am not a complainer so I said nothing negative and merely wrung the water out of my hair and shivered a little bit trying to warm up. But it did confirm a few things I already suspected about myself. First and foremost, I am NOT a thrill seeker. It's just not a part of who I am. I never need to do this again. And second, I'm not too old to try new things. Hurrah for that knowledge.
We continued on through Skull Island and Toon Lagoon all the way to Marvel Super Hero Island where Tim went on the Spiderman ride which he said was a lot of fun. While he got to play super hero I did exactly as I said I would and wandered through the area shops admiring this'n'that and having a different kind of good time.
Somehow we found ourselves in a Dr. Seuss themed area. Seuss Landing I think it was called? We actually did a few rides in there even though they were technically "kiddie" rides. Hey, we are just big kids! But there was zero wait time and I do love that in a ride. It was very Christmassy and quirky in it's holiday decorations and it was fun to revisit all the childhood memories of The Cat in the Hat, and Horton Hears a Who to say nothing of Sam I Am and his Green Eggs and Ham.
The temperature continued to drop during our visit that day and as we moved along to The Lost Continent, it was beginning to rain on and off. So after our last ride, Poseidon's Fury, which was our longest wait of the day, we decided to call it done. After all, we planned to return the next day and enjoy everything we missed this time 'round.
Of course the next day dawned dark and gloomy and very windy and pouring rain. Just absolute torrential rain. We sat in the lobby of our hotel eating our complimentary breakfast and checking out the window and the weather apps on our phones debating what we should do. Finally, the TV in the lobby had "breaking weather news" with reports of flooding and tornado activity. Decision made. We would just mosey on homeward.
So we packed up our stuff, checked out, loaded the car and headed off into the storm. I suspect that our initial thought was that since we were heading both south and west, we would be driving out of the storm. And perhaps we did drive out of that particular storm. But we only drove directly into others. Lots of others. One after the other after the other.
Tim had the car radio set for a Christmas Music Station. 'Tis the season eh? That way we could sing along. I had the lovely heated car seats on my side up as high as it would go to keep me warm. I got drenched again getting in the car so my long term goal was to dry off. My short term goal was to stay as warm as possible while waiting to dry off. I LOVED those heated seats. Mostly because it wasn't just the actual seat that warmed up. It was also the back of the seat. Yummmmmy!
We found out how far reaching the storm was when either the radio station or one of our cell phones went off with emergency alerts and red alerts roughly every 15 minutes. ALL THE WAY HOME! It was an exciting ride. Felt like I was still in the park on another wild'n'crazy thrill ride. And a water ride at that. Each time that we had to stop for me to dash through to a potty stop (I had eaten something the night before that didn't agree with me. For awhile, it was a very slow drive home. Literally exit to exit. All I can say is that Tim has the patience of a saint!) I was once again head to toe wet through from wind driven rain.
But we sang along with the music between alerts and with cautious confidence and really good driving techniques, Tim managed to get us all the way home. We ran through the rain again from car to house and got soaked all over again but at least this time we were safely cozy in our own house once more. We do love to travel but Dorothy was right. There's no place like home.
It was a GRAND adventure! We had a wonderful time the likes of which we will never forget. Some of it was planned. Some of it not so much. Which is kind of what helps to create a perfect and memorable vacation.
And now here it is, Christmas Eve Day. The Jolly Old Fellow in the red suit will park his reindeer on our roof and since we don't have a fireplace, I suppose he will have to come in through a window. But I fully anticipate his visit tonight.
I hope you find everything you hoped for under your tree this year and a few nice surprises that you didn't expect. Enjoy your Christmas Day however you choose to spend it. I'll be back the 26th. Hope to see you here and to learn all about how you spent your holiday!
"And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, Happy Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!"
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.