I must regretfully write that our trip has come to its end. We are at Grammy and Grampy’s house for dinner and the night, thanks you guys. Yes, I know I missed my post last night, I will incorporate it in to this one, though, you really didn’t miss much.
Monday morning I posted a great picture of my breakfast at the beach, awesome. After everyone else got up we spent an hour or so before a storm rolled in though we also had to check out by 11. We said our goodbyes to GGMA and GGPA and drove up the eastern coast to fill the gas tank and our bellies in St. Augustine. If you happen to be going through there and need a fill up, Casa Maria’s will do the trick. Before days end we made our way up near Atlanta to be nearer to The Center for Puppetry Arts.
Tuesday morning we checked out of the EconoLodge and made our way to Atlanta. We had a fun time first finding then riding on the MARTA. After a short walk, we made it to the Center. This is a great show for the kids and for the parents. The kids love it because its one of their stories acted out by puppets right in front of them; the parents, at least Crystal and I, like it because they add sounds and extra dialogue to the story from the book. After the show the puppeteers unmask themselves and explain how they move and use the puppets during the show, very good idea for the older kids who understand that it’s not a tv show and something extra is going on. If we were closer wed definitely get a season pass and make it back to some other shows. On our way back home to middle Tennessee I stopped just before the border to get some peaches because you get the best from where it grows best and nothing beats Georgia peaches.
We’re back home to Tennessee and none of us are ready to be back. I have learned that the next time we get a beach vacation we will not spend it driving the whole time. Although driving was fun, it turned out to be more expensive and time consuming than I thought it would be. Choosing a single hotel and staying there and spending our time at the beach or pool will be a much better use of time and money.
Pensacola Beach, Clearwater Beach, and Daytona Beach are the main beaches we visited and I can’t recommend them enough. The EconoLodge at Daytona was great; great price for being directly on the beach and clean, updated rooms. We only visited Pensacola and Clearwater beaches for a short time so no recommends for hotels in those areas, but the beaches themselves deserve to be visited. Hopefully in the future we’ll get the chance to return and I’ll get a recommend for you. Another thing I hope we get another chance to try is Aunt Catfish’s On The River in Daytona Beach. We tried to get dinner there on Sunday night but the wait was an hour and forty five minutes! Recommends on food from the trip include Casa Maria’s which I’ve already mentioned, Earl of Sandwich, and Sloppy Joes.
Sariah says her favorite part was finding shells; she’s come home with a bag full of them and either a tooth or nail.Crystal’s favorite part was Clearwater because the beach was clean and the waves were negligible. My favorite part was staying at a hotel on the beach, not having to get up and drive to and from the beach. Potentially our next trip could be staying at a hotel on the beach at Clearwater and spend the dusk and dawn searching for shells; the best of all three.
This experience has been great, and I am glad to have spent so much good times with my family in the beautiful locations we visited. I hope that you have been entertained reading about our escapades the last week or so and keep up with me for more info on the family. See ya!
Cumulative Punch Bug Leaderboard (last two days)
The .5 wasn’t half a bug, though I’d like to see that, it was a bug that crystal and I got pretty much the same time.
This morning GGMA and I had a conversation about an article in the paper covering the over usage of the word awesome. The article urged us to think about the true meaning of the word; inspiring awe. I have in my life used the word, like many of us do, to describe my dinner, my experience at a store, or even my day when someone asks ‘how’ve you been?” I didn’t really understand the importance of the correct usage until we arrived here at the beach this afternoon.
Our arrival at the beach has, luckily, coincided with my finishing Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins. This book spends a portion of each chapter explaining the myths from around the world concerning natural phenomena. Where rainbows come from, what causes earthquakes, and how we were created are all touched on in this book but I don’t think he touched on the grace and power the ocean.
I have been to the beach many times in my life, but this is the first trip after coming to terms with ‘life, the universe, and everything’. Sitting here I can understand how the ancients attributed the power and majesty of the oceans to Poseidon, or Neptune if you prefer the roman pantheon. Looking up at the wonders of the universe seeing the infinite space stretching out above and around us is awe inspiring. Feeling the power of the water and the ability of the waves to form and calm in mere minutes can lead you believe there is an intelligence behind it, but if we look closely and examine the actual causes we find reason and science far better explain how these things occur.
Crystal, Sariah, and I had fun earlier today playing in the surf and sand. We built a sand castle, as best we could, but it was promptly destroyed by the smallest of waves. After searching for shells and possibly picking up every single one on our stretch of beach, Sariah was ready to head to lunch, cool off in the room for a while, and return later to check out the hotel pool. GGMA and GGPA hung out by the pool with us and GGPA even took a dip and helped Sariah overcome her fear of jumping off the side of the pool. GGPA says he doesn’t like to speak in public because of his stutter but I’ll tell you now, with all the strangers he spoke with today on the boardwalk and at the pool, it’s just an excuse he uses. These two are another set of awe inspiring people in my life.
I vow to restrain my use of the word awesome to those items that are truly awe inspiring and I hope you will too. I know I will still use the word but that is only because my life is, as everyone’s is, full of inspiring events and people; we need only concentrate on the correct ones.
Punch Bug Leaderboard
Captain Bob thank you for making our trip to Silver Springs worthwhile, well at least close to.
We took a glass bottom boat ride today with Captain Bob. He explained the history and geography of the silver springs area. The park itself was kind of sad. In its hay day it was nice and well worth the entry fee; it has a lush history with famous concerts and more than a few movies, most notably The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The boat ride was fun and I’d advise everyone to go on one, but your chances for the Silver Springs trip is fading. The Silver Springs park is going to be handed over to the state of Florida in September and turned into a state park so, I presume, no more boat rides.
Other than Silver Springs we have had a day at home, the food has been much better than anything we’ve eaten so far on our trip, thank you GGMA!
Punch Bug Leaderboard
Well it was dry except for the waterpark, underwater mermaids, and all the rain but we didn’t get to swim any today. We’ve finally arrived at GGMA and PA! Ocala, FL it’s good to see ya.
Weeki Wachee was the big item for today and it did not disappoint. The mermaids were pretty good acting out Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. The best part of the show was most likely not planned; a turtle in the water was constantly trying to get close to the performers and actually bumped into them a couple of times. I loved seeing all of the kids using their minds being skeptics, constantly asking if they were real and where their legs were and why they needed air if they were mermaids. Being a skeptic is ingrained in us and we need to keep that in our kids for a better future. The park was cool, walking around with us were peacock and peahens. The waterpark that is connected was closed off and on because of nearby storms, so no pool time today. Lunch was great at Perkins, apparently a local restaurant chain, wish we had some up north; the food was good, service was good, and the baked sweets looked yummy.
A funny thing from last night, we were watching AFV and one of the final movies was a wedding scene with the pastor’s cell phone ringing in the middle of the service, he answers a call from god, haha yeah I know but the best part is that the pastor I recognized the instant he said hello on the phone….Kent Hovind. Another story? Well, ok.
Remember those Heavens Gate folks, yeah Nikes and Kool-aid. Story is that they bought a telescope to look for their spaceship behind Hale-Bop but were unable to find it….what did they do; use that lack of evidence to turn from their beliefs? Nope they returned it stating it didn’t work correctly. Insane right? I think this is a good story for everyone, if you hold a belief and find direct counter evidence for that belief you need to let go of that belief, there is no reason to hold on.
Yet another great day with my ladies. Got up late this morning and had to leave the Hilton Garden Inn. We didn’t make it to Weeki Wachee so our plans have been adjusted. WW is tomorrow, GGs tomorrow night, and another day at the beach.
Before leaving Orlando we visited the most unique McDonalds in the world, I think. This is not like any MickeyDs you’ve ever been to; it has the regular menu and a play place but it also has an arcade and sells pizza, pastas, waffles, panini, and the like….insane. Sorry to say I didn’t have a great experience with the lady who took our order being rude when I asked for no lettuce on my breakfast sandwich and an unexpected spread only croissant. Crystal, however, had a good Belgian Waffle with strawberries and whipped cream, and of course Sariah picked at a sausage biscuit and had fun in the arcade and play place. On our way out we hit up the Bass Pro Shop Orlando; Sariah got a new mermaid doll and a net to take to the beach to catch fish or crabs, I got some fun Christmas gifts for some of you guys, and Crystal wouldn’t let us leave without some fudge (pretty good idea though I think).
Since we changed our plans for GGs and Weeki Wachee we had an extra night to stay somewhere and some time that we could easily fill with some beach time so we drove over towards Weeki Wachee to be closer for when we go. We’re now bunkered down in the HoJo in Port Richie and just got back from the beach. We drove down to Clearwater Beach and it was well worth the drive. Sariah got in and was loved swimming and looking for shells. I’m so glad she likes the beach, I was worried that she wouldn’t want to go in and we’d have to stay on the beach the whole time.
Looking forward to seeing the mermaids tomorrow but more so for GGMA and PA!
Punch Bug Leaderboard
No, not O’Charley’s, the Browns; Madey, Mickey, Jay, and Angela! We had such a great time with these old library friends today. We all met up at Downtown Disney and strolled, shopped, and ate. Madey and Sariah were quite excited to see each other, as were the adults, but Mickey could have cared less; good ole Mickey. I haven’t talked with J much before but I like him; he got two small references I made that I doubted anyone would get (one about Family Guy and the other about Julian Smith), I knew at least my wife wouldn’t but I like to think passers-by hear and appreciate them.
Downtown Disney is great. We were able to spend a few hours walking around and didn’t have to pay admission or anything. We walked through the largest Disney store, in the world I think. Sariah actually did come out with a set of 10 princess dolls but for only $30! Score! We would have spent a few dollars at the Giradelli store if it hadn’t had a line out the door, better luck next time ladies.
We ate at Earl of Sandwich, it was great and actually cost less than our lunch at Denny’s. I had the Cannonballer (meatball sub), Crystal had the Caprese’, and Sariah stuck with her old favorite of Mac and Cheese. The mac is pretty darn good but still comes in second to Panera’s.
At The sandwich shop is a splash pad or interactive fountain the kids can play in, and of course, Madey and Sariah had to get all in. They both came out SOAKED and exhausted.
Depending on the weather we may have to change our Weeki Wachi plans but I hope they hold out. Excited to get to see GGMA and GGPA soon, Ocala here we come, soon.
Punch Bug Leaderboard
Mommy…..ZERO! Aww tough luck 🙂
Second day down, almost completely in the car; about 450 miles. We decided to make a detour when we set out this morning and added Panama City Beach, FL to the itinerary. Had a great time at the beach even though we didn’t go into the water to swim. We just took our shoes off and were only going to go ankle deep, but a wave got Sariah and she fell in so she played while mommy and I stayed out further.
On the long trip to Orlando we saw the Google Maps Car! Pretty cool to see that. We are now set up in the Hilton Garden Inn, pretty nice but I, nor Crystal, would suggest going to the restaurant in the lobby. The prices were nice but I’ve had better fish and chips from the hospital that I work at. Looking forward to not having to drive much tomorrow and possibly seeing some friends.
Punch Bug Leaderboard
Alrighty one leg of our trip done. We’ve bunkered down at the HoJo in Dothan, AL finishing just about 440 miles today. Sariah is doing so good! Thank yous out again to my Mom (Granna) for the car but I have a couple of additions this time; Grammy and Grampy are cat sitting and we’ve borrowed their portable DVD player and GPS.
We got to see my Dad (Poppy) and Aunt Jamie and Uncle Mike. It’s always great to see family and its been awhile for these three, wish we didn’t live so far from them.
Punch Bug Leaderboard
Been a long day but having fun because we got to swim today!
This is it, the beginning of our road trip through 4 states, Tennessee/Alabama/Florida/Georgia, seeing family and friends, and having a great time together this summer. I plan to blog as much as I can but I warn you now that I will not take time away from the family or fun just to blog a bit. Pictures and videos will be made available on our website but the coolest and best will be right here. A big thank you goes to my mom who traded cars with us so we could save a couple bucks on gas, THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU!
We are all so excited, Sariah especially, because it has been so long since we’ve seen some of the family and friends we are going to see and since we’ve been to the beach. I have many fun activities planned but we also have lots of free time included for anything that comes up and we decide we want to try out. Check back to see our daily “punch bug” count, miles traveled, places visited, etc.
Funny story since you’re here: I was watching the Travel Channel the other day, a show about Orlando Attractions, I thought it would be fun to watch and potentially get an idea or two for stuff to do. Of course they mention Disney and they mention that its a bit expensive and could cost over $100 for a family of four to get in….WHAT!? How out of date is this show? Before, however, I can be completely outraged at the inaccuracy of this show they mention Discovery Cove. They state that it is an experience of a lifetime but well worth the ~$170…wow, that one’s out of date too. Disney is more than $90 dollars per person per day…Discovery Cove is $400! This show had to have been more than 10 years out of date. Needless to say I turned the channel.
Thanks for reading and check back for updates and our reviews of the locations we visit.
With the upcoming road trip we have been trying to find items to entertain Sariah during her time in the car. Thanks to Pinterest we may have found something worthwile. Sariah loves playing I Spy so I have found a container version. Below are the steps I used to make our bottles, I made two that contained the same items to ‘spy’ so that two people could play and not have to use the same one or risk missing something while we’re driving. We got our inserts at Hobby Lobby and only spent about $20, our bottles were sparkling water from Walmart $1 each.
To make the rice filler for our bottles: Pour white dry rice into your bottles to measure how much you will need. Pour a cup of the alcohol and one color of food coloring into a glass or metal bowl (this is important…if you use plastic you will have to buy new bowls). Pour out the rice from your bottle into the bowl and mix together fully. To intensify the color you can leave the color/alcohol/rice in the bowl for an hour or so and continue to mix every so often, though I didn’t see any need to do that. Pour out the rice on paper towel lined pan. Flatten out to as thin a layer as possible to ensure drying. Allow to dry for at least 12 hours. Make sure it is dry before you put it in the bottle with your inserts or your inserts will dye too.
Make sure you place the inserts into your bottles first! Its easier to pour the rice in after the inserts than the other way round. We had plenty of items left over after making our two bottles. Perhaps I’ll make more to sell.
To get the dried colored rice into the bottles I used a measuring cup (about two cups of rice for our bottles) and a funnel. Pour slowly and carefully or your kitchen too will be littered with pink and blue rice.
Our finished project. Sariah, Crystal, and I had a great time making these. They didn’t cost much and we had left over supplies so have fun and I hope you guys try this out!