These two goobers went on vacation last week!~
We had such a great time! Each and every day was something new, something fun, something surprising and there is just so much to tell you that I think it may take all of this week to cover it! Hope you don't mind. This will be my blog report on, "What we did on our autumn vacation".
Here we go:
Last Monday we loaded the car and headed east. We decided on a car trip because we wanted a vacation that was a stress free a possible and friends, air travel has become a giant ball of stress these days.
Between delayed and cancelled flights which can be a problem with connecting flights, having to arrive an hour early, either paying for a weeks worth of parking or arranging (and paying) for transportation to and from the airport, standing in one doggone line after another, TSA (enough said there), waiting endlessly for your flight(s), cramming yourself into a frankly ridiculously small seats for the duration, air turbulence/screaming babies/unpleasant strangers-seatmates and then waiting waiting waiting for luggage to hopefully arrive on the other end, either dealing with securing a rental car and then navigating through unfamiliar streets to your destination or finding other transportation and finally finally finally arriving at your hotel.....well by the time we get where we are going, we are exhausted. No Thank You! We decided that, at least this time 'round, we were going to do a driving trip to a destination that was only a matter of a few hours away.
So we went to Orlando. Orlando? What? Are we crazy? (yes we are) And not only were we going merely to Orlando but we drove back roads nearly the entire way. Central Florida, once you are off the massive interstates, is actually quite beautiful. Seemingly endless miles of farms and ranches, lakes and charming little towns with unusual names like: Ona, Duette, Wimauma, Myakka City and Wauchula.
We drove through endless acres of citrus groves :
And saw barns and tractors and all sorts of other pieces of farm equipment to say nothing of the many bee gums, goats, cows, circus people, horses.....wait! Back up a second. Circus people? Yuppers. We saw quite a few entrance signs which indicated that the owners were retired circus folks. Although the trapeze setups in the yard were kind of a give-away too. Unexpected but awesome.
Most of the farms and ranches had big signs with the Name of the place: Smith Farms, River Ranch, DelMonte...yup THE Del Monte. So this is where they live eh? That was fun to see. And occasionally a really surprising sign like:
At one time, apparently, that was the entrance to the Cactus Ranch Petting Zoo. Now it's all overgrown and the dirt road is chained off. I wonder what sorts of critters were available for petting? Alligators? Armadillos?
There was also a turn-off sign for the "Cracker Trail Museum" which was so tempting to check out. What on earth? Turns out that the Florida Crackers refers to the old Florida Cowboys of the 1700's through the mid-1900's. "Crackers" refers to the cracking sound of the whips that helped to drive horses and cows forward. These Florida Crackers helped to settle and establish central Florida. There is an annual festival in Homeland Florida in their honour, 'The Cracker Storyteller Festival" which has my name written all over it! Made a mental note for the future about that.
One of the larger towns we drove through was Winter Haven. It was so swiss cheesed with Lakes that I was speechless....at least for a little while. And then I saw a sign for, "The Green Swamp - The Heart of Florida" and for some reason that totally cracked me up for the next mile or so.
I'm always surprised at how quickly we go from 'civilization' to wilderness here in Florida. One minute, it's all McDonalds and Walmarts as far as the eye can see and then the next minute it's farms and ranches and apparently Green Swamps, and then nothing but decades old Oaks and palms and greenery so thick you absolutely cannot see beyond the first layer so there is nothing but mystery beyond. And then around the next bend is the turn off for Celebration Florida.
We had heard of Celebration before and were intrigued to of course, we checked it out. That's one of the things about a car trip. There is no real schedule. You arrive when you arrive and side trips are, if not a necessity, certainly a lovely bonus. Celebration Florida was a bonus for sure.
It was, without a moments hesitation, the prettiest town I've ever seen. It was perfect. And I mean that sincerely. The people were very nice, the homes were lovely, charming and beautifully, perfectly kept up. There were picturesque parks and adorable shops and sweet little surprises around every turn. And it absolutely felt as if I were inside Disney Land.
If you've never heard of it, the Disney-esque feeling of it shouldn't come as a surprise because it was founded by Disney. It is a master-planned community right next to Disney World that is just shy of creepy in it's perfection. Naturally, we parked the car and got out to walk around for a bit.
The homes, even the condos, were gorgeous and of all different styles, colours and sizes, the shops were adorable and the cookie I had from the bakery was, naturally, perfect. There was, I swear, not a blade of grass was out of place. Beautiful, but just not natural. Charming but it didn't feel quite real. I kept expecting Mickey to step around the next corner.
That said, as we walked past the beautiful Celebration Hotel, Tim said that he was temped to book a room there the next time we decide to brave any Disney parks.
So anyway, cookie eaten, town perused, we motored on to Orlando (or is it Kissimee? I can never remember) checked into our lovely comfy wonderful suite and, since it was past dinner time, found ourselves at Tony Roma's for dinner. The big surprise there was the appetizer. Tim ordered Jalapenos Poppers. It turned out to be jalapeno's stuffed with spicy chicken! Totally unlike any poppers I've ever seen but Tim said that they were Excellent!
Totally stuffed, we wandered around the area a little bit to get our bearings and made a broad and very changeable plan for rest of our week.
Thus endeth Day One of our Autumn Vacation!
Stay tuned for the rest of our adventure!
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.