We wake up in Florida on the morning of day eight.
Savannah portion of the adventure is over, and we have some more
time in Ocala with Ellen and Richard before wrapping this trip
up with some time in Orlando with the Mouse.
it all starts with a very low-key day.
eight – Friday, October 5, 2012
has problems with Richard.
that needs to be rephrased or explained.)
Richard and Ellen go out to eat, and they are considering where
to go, there are certain suggestions she knows won’t earn her
many easy agreements.
should be pointed out that we are not talking about anything that
is at all different than something you or I would do in response
to a suggestion. This is nothing more than a couple expressing
likes and dislikes, and then coming up with a mutually agreed
you don’t like ice cream. (Well that’s just silly. Of course
you like ice cream. Stay with me though.) If I suggest skipping
a true meal and creating a sundae bar for dinner, chances are…
if you didn’t like ice cream… you won’t be that enthusiastic about
Richard’s case though, during our visit, Ellen is using Terry
and I for support (and trying to rig the vote in her favor). See…
on a regular date night for the two of them, Richard isn’t normally
that excited by Chinese or Mexican food. It becomes a tie, and
they end up agreeing on something else, like… for the sake of
an example… Italian. Ellen knows Terry and I love Chinese food.
She also knows that Terry’s response when I suggest a Mexican
restaurant is similar to what she gets from Richard (and that
she can try to swing my vote in her favor since this is also an
opportunity for me). So before we leave, she is loading up her
daily suggestions with Chinese and Mexican restaurants… trying
to get her cravings satisfied while she has a chance to win the
in the trip this tactic got her Chinese food for lunch. Today…
we’re heading to Guadalajara!
in fairness… I did not ask Ellen and Richard if they have been
back since our visit. But… the Happy Hour drink offerings were
outstanding at Guadalajara, and the food
was pretty darn good. Everything was amazingly reasonable as far
as prices, and we all enjoyed our meals. In fact, had we gone
earlier in our visit, we would have returned… might have even
taken up residency in a corner to play some cards, while continuously
ordering drinks and appetizers.
our afternoon, while we’re out we make a quick stop at Hobby Lobby
and Kirkland’s. (Quick stop… at Hobby Lobby… yeah… who am I kidding?)
Lobby… you have been introduced to that place by me before, and
I do want to tell you that I like it. Even when Terry is in there
wiping out our savings, I can always manage to wander around and
find plenty of things to keep my interest. I’m a fan of the place.
also noted though that Terry tends to fill our luggage very quickly
on trips, so Hobby Lobby followed by Kirkland’s… another place
where we always manage to find great items… well, considering
what we’ve already done on this trip, we’re not far away from
me needing to either add a bag for the return home or begin arranging
to ship a few boxes.
wandering wraps up with a stop at the Renaissance Room… a consignment
dinner… and it is a GREAT one.
and Ellen have been kicking around the meatloaf from Mrs. Wilkes’,
and that’s on the menu. Also planned are a summer squash casserole
we saw while watching the Food Network during this visit, and…
I cannot stress how amazingly wonderful this is going to be… Ellen’s
Key Lime Meringue Pie. Toss in some glasses of Malibu and pineapple
and you have an absolutely perfect evening.
nine – Saturday, October 6, 2012
few years ago, Ellen and Richard introduced us to Lakeridge
in Clermont, Florida, Lakeridge was a stop for us first during
the 2010 Florida trip that also included Mike and Louise. It has
continued to be a place on our list of possibilities for each
trip since then.
weekend they are having live music and a car show.
walk around, look over the cars, and make our way to a picnic
table in the corner. While eating some food and listening to a
band, we decide that playing a few hands of cards might be nice…
and since, naturally, we forgot to bring any cards with us for
this afternoon jaunt, I head inside the gift store to see if they
carry any. It’s a bit pricey, but I return with three decks of
wine-themed cards. Terry decides that’s not nearly enough for
the Hand and Foot version of Canasta we’re now playing and, price
be darned, heads back in to purchase two more decks.
record shows Bob and Ellen taking the game… on a really great
home, we begin discussing some different things, and end up spotting
a sign for the Russell Stover outlet store. Ellen says she knows
right where it is… and off we go.
we walk inside, things are ok in general. It’s not an amazingly
discounted location considering what we were expecting… but they
have samples… and a few specials… and basically the complete line
of Russell Stover offerings as opposed to, say, the selections
you might find in the limited shelf space of your local retailer.
then Terry spots it.
been gearing up for the next craft fair and holidays. (Visit the
Designs web site folks!) And Russell Stover
is offering some of their outdated holiday-themed boxes… which
just happens to include a little stuffed bear. Terry doesn’t care
about the box of chocolates… but the discount means she would
be getting the chocolates AND the bear ornament for about 47-cents
each. She buys 20 -- that’s 20… two-zero… twenty -- boxes.
get back in the car and she apologizes to me, saying she knows
that it means more stuff to pack. I chuckle, say I’m going to
regret mentioning it, and then offer that she should have bought
“Why did you say that?’
they’re perfect. You could attach wings or a small musical instrument
or whatever and have an entire line of Christmas ornaments out
of them. For that price, you could give them away as a ‘spend
$20 and get this free ornament with your purchase’ item and
still be way ahead on it. You should have bought about 50 boxes.”
You’re right. Do you mean that? Yeah. You’re right.” (Add look
of sorrow with the saddest eyes you could ever imagine.) “Could
we go back?”
more boxes of chocolates later… literally fifty boxes
in several cases in the back of the car… we hit the road again.
Richard… who rarely eats chocolate, and I mean rarely as in it
needs to be a special occasion because he prefers fruits and seldom
goes for candy at all… is laughing at Ellen as Terry explains
that she’s planning to leave at least twenty boxes of chocolates
with them because of the needs of packing.
get home to a treat. Leftovers! (Oh yes… more meat loaf! What
an awesome trip!)
ten – Sunday, October 7, 2012
getting ready to make our final move of the trip… Orlando… Disney.
got reservations at the brand new Disney World resort, Art of
Animation. The section we’ll be staying in… for The Little Mermaid…
has literally only been open for a few weeks.
as if that wasn’t enough… we have plans to catch up with two dear
friends, Donna and Joe.
we have a few hours left with the dynamic duo… Ellen and Richard.
packing our bags -- and I’m stunned, but Terry has managed to
make everything fit (It should be noted that there is a pile of
boxes, containing chocolates, on a table in Ellen’s kitchen.)
-- we get in the car and make a decision… Five Guys!
haven’t been to a Five Guys yet on this trip, and it’s a real
treat. We’re smiling and laughing and eating peanuts and having
a grand old time.
hit the highway and make a decision to head to our room first.
We’re planning on taking Ellen and Richard to dinner in Orlando.
They aren’t staying too late with us, but they’d like to see the
new resort… and having just eaten a good lunch we have some time
to look around.
to the representative that checks us in… and I am killing myself
for not having her name, because she was incredible… the resort
has only been open about three weeks. I ask her what we need to
know, since being so new there really isn’t much out there about
it. She gives us a few pointers (like the evening outdoor movie),
and then tells us that no matter what we do we need to get into
the Big Blue Pool and hear the characters and music underwater.
tried it -- more coming soon on that -- and had been told you
could hear characters talking to each other. We did not hear the
characters… just music… still pretty cool.)
head out to our room, and it is a bit of a hike. Fortunately,
Ellen and Richard are there to drive us over to it today, but
over the next few days we are going to find out this is one huge
room is fantastic.
disclaimers up front… this is one of Disney’s value-resort efforts.
You need to understand that. Why? Well… it doesn’t have high-end
dining options as a part of it. (We ate at the cafeteria one night,
which was fine but nothing memorable.) Every room is more or less
set up with families in mind, and as such we had a door for an
adjoining room. Ours did have a king-sized bed (no doubt there
were two full or queen size beds in the other room). And some
of the decorations are nice, and custom creations, but likely
not something that cost Disney a ton of money for each request
of a special mirror, artwork, or characters to hang on the wall
when the order was made to get them for several hundred rooms.
(Heck… we even liked the shower curtain, which triggered a thought
motivating me to check something… and, sure enough there it was
for sale in the gift shop. In fact… funny story…)
were at the Big Blue Pool (later on this very day) and I was looking
at one of the Nemo buildings. It just so happened that where I
was looking there was an entire floor-by-floor set of rooms with
their curtains drawn back. And from my vantage point, on the walls
of the room, in the same place in each room, I could see the same
character hanging on the wall. (I seem to recall it was a depiction
of a fish created by the school of fish from the movie.)
of that is bad… but it’s not the Grand Floridian or some luxury
resort. In other words, expectations should be checked a bit.
folks… this is Disney. And Disney takes a back seat to
no one when it comes to giving 100% to anything they do. This
might very well be set up and designed as a “value” resort. That
doesn’t stop it from having incredible character statues and displays
throughout the property. (The section for Cars was unreal and
stunning… and this was after seeing the dazzling courtyard for
The Little Mermaid (that also included a pool), amazing courtyard
for The Lion King, and unreal design of the Finding Nemo section.
I also found myself saying “mine… mine… mine…” during our walk
from our room to the main building, and you would have too.) They
have a movie night set up in one of the courtyards (The Lion King
area), showing a Disney movie each evening after sunset.
you want to see what I mean, just open up your favorite search
engine and use the option for images. Type in Disney – Art – Animation
– (in this place pick an option out of Cars, Nemo, Lion King and
Little Mermaid) – Room. When you see the results that come up,
you will likely understand.)
back to our visit.
dropping off our bags and checking out the room, we decide to
take a little walk around the resort. We head out to the pool
area in the Little Mermaid section, and to say it’s incredible
really doesn’t capture it. Giant figures of Ariel, Ursula and
Triton are part of each wing. The small details… all of the character
statues, painting, and even items along the walkways are just
this sense of capturing the moment works in all of the areas.
If your kid has seen the movie forty-bazillion times, and is going
to pester you about that one scene, I can just about guarantee
you there will be some type of nod to the characters and scenery
from it in each themed section. You keep starting to put your
camera away only to find you need it again.
get to the gift shop… and yeah, today I’m regretting that I don’t
own a “mine… mine… mine…” seagull coffee mug. Like most Disney
gift shops, there are many of the items you might expect to find
in just about every store around the vast Disney World property
-- T-shirts and snow globes and Mickey Ears, oh my! -- along with
some offerings distinctively designed for the place where you
are and unlikely to be found elsewhere. For a hotel gift area,
this one is very well stocked with a large variety.
recall about fifteen years ago I bought a stuffed Eeyore with
a pith helmet and outfitted for a safari. Got it in the Animal
Kingdom, at a shop out near Kilimanjaro Safaris. I don’t believe
I have ever seen that Eeyore in any other store. It was themed
for the Animal Kingdom, and it was purchased in the Animal Kingdom.
And while so many Disney items can be bought in many locations…
my treasured Tinkerbell “mornings aren’t magical” coffee mug is
in virtually all the stores… there are often some items you pass
up at your own risk if you don’t plan to return to that shop.)
and I agree to come back later, and the four of us get in the
car. We’re heading to what is becoming a tradition for us in Orlando.
in 1997, Terry and I found a Japanese Steakhouse out on Irlo Bronson.
It was called Yoji’s… we made it a part of our trips, as I remember,
in both 1997 and 1999, though it has long been closed. So in 2005,
we decided to give Kobe’s a shot… and Terry, Ellen, my sister
Kris and I had a fabulous time.
Ellen and I returned in 2010 with Richard, Mike and Louise. And
today, the four of us are headed back for another visit.
arrived as the doors open… and there are drink specials available.
We can’t help ourselves… panda and kitten ceramic specialty drink
mugs… we’re hooked. Dinner is awesome… Terry and I have our picture
taken when Ellen responds to the “are you celebrating anything
today” question by saying it’s our anniversary. (She was a couple
of weeks early… but hey, let’s celebrate!)
again… if you find yourself on Irlo Bronson, and you want dinner,
Japanese Steakhouse is a fantastic option.
get back to the resort… “and now it’s time to say goodbye” as
the song goes. We’re saying goodnight and goodbye to Ellen and
Richard… with a special stress on the chorus of “C you really
soon… Y, because we like you” for them.
they depart and head back to Mia and Sam, Terry and I get ready
to visit the Big Blue Pool.
pool itself is a fine example of Disney cool. With a play area
adjacent to it, water-based and Nemo-themed, the setting is designed
for families and specifically to entertain kids. (Yeah… of all
potential problem? Well… it was fine while we were there… but
considering the size of the Art of Animation resort, I could easily
see this pool being packed to the point of unbearable on a scorching
hot Florida day.
Terry and I… we’re here for a brief visit. We want to swim for
maybe a half-hour or so, and we are looking forward to hearing
the underwater entertainment. And sure enough… place your head
underwater… there it is. Music. I have been told (and seen it
noted) that Nemo characters can be heard speaking with each other,
but Terry and I never heard that. We heard music.
head back to the room to settle in for a quiet night. Some television…
some reading… and getting ready for the last stretch of the trip
are in Orlando… we are at Disney… we have tickets for the Halloween
party… we are going to catch up with Donna and Joe… and…
morning the quest for Tonga Toast begins!
~ ~ ~
a refresher, in case you’ve landed here as a starting point and
really need some background, there have been two travel diary
entries so far for this trip…
Around Florida – Days One, Two and Three
to Savannah – Days One, Two, Three and Four