Monday, April 20, 2009

Florida.....take four (part one)

Is this inviting or what????

The summer of 2004 we took a family vacation to Canada and lived on a house boat for a week; we had a wonderful time. I will blog about our Canadian adventures another time.

The summer of 2005 we didn't take a vacation so by the summer of 2006 the beaches of Florida were calling our names and we could smell the salty air.

I called sweet Estelle (lady who rents us her condo) and kept my fingers crossed hoping our condo would still be available. The last time we waited two years in-between Florida visits we lost our condo, and we really wanted to stay in the same place.

Estelle was happy to hear from us and assured us our condo was available for the week we had requested. Vacation planning officially had begun.

In 2002, when our transmission failed, we called Discovery Cove to try to make reservations to swim with the dolphins. They informed us we had to make reservations at least 6 months in advance. So, I looked into Discovery Cove for our visit in 2006... it was pretty expensive... especially if you purchased the dolphin swim package (which is the only reason we would visit). I did some research and found a really cool "surprise" outing that cost less than half the amount of Discovery Cove and I thought it was much better. We also made plans to visit Sea World again too.

We drove straight through to Orlando...

.... and spent the night in a hotel so we could go to Sea World the next morning. The hotel was a night mare. We walked into our room and we first noticed a hole punched in the wall.. not a good first impression. The room had some kind of mildew odor to it, the floor was wet in the closet, not to mention when we pulled out the sofa couch we found a dirty sock in it. This was a hotel within walking distance of Sea World... it had good ratings and I certainly had expected better. I walked down to the front desk and asked if we could have a different room.... it smelled dirty and disgusting. They moved us to a different room and it at least smelled better and appeared to be clean but we didn't have a working phone .... back down to the front desk I went. The maintenance man showed up a little later with a new phone. Finally we could rest...

We were so tired after our long drive so we snuggled in to watch some TV and get a good night sleep for our day at Sea World the next morning. We didn't get much sleep because people were yelling and running up and down the hall all night slamming their doors. I called down to the front desk (again) to see if they could quiet things down a bit,( they loved us at this point... you could tell by the tone in their voice). It did quiet down after my little phone call and we (or shall I say I... Greg and the kids could sleep through anything) finally got some sleep.

After my friend Linda heard about our experience she called the hotel and got all our money refunded.... she really knows how to work the system to get great service everywhere she goes... she knows all the inside stuff. She also told me to pick up 4 Pepsi cans and we would get a nice discount on our admission to Sea World. Not sure where she got her information... but sure enough we showed up with 4 empty Pepsi cans and received our discount.

We woke the next morning to a free breakfast (which surprisingly was pretty good). Next stop.... Sea World.

I think we spent more money on dead fish than we did on admission, where is the Pepsi can deal for dead fish??? Feeding the sea lions and the sting rays was the best!

Isn't he adorable??? This is my favorite picture from Sea World.

We loved the new Believe show with Shamu and learned the new "chant" for Shamu... he seemed to love it.

Me.... wishing I could be in the show.

Sea World never ceases to please us... it was a great day and we were excited to get to our condo.
After a 90 minute drive we arrived at our little home away from home on Ormond Beach. It truly felt like we were home when we walked through the door.

One of the first things that had to be done once we were settled into the condo is dress the little statue lady next to the TV. You can kinda see her in the above picture. The kids didn't like her being "naked" so they took some toilet paper and made her a top....

You can also see in this picture where we glued her arm (just under her elbow) after Nick accidentally knocked her off her tiny table the year prior. Nick likes to leave his "mark" in each condo we stay in. Our first condo he left a finger mark in the gel candle on the coffee table and now the naked statue lady has a glued arm.

I love also looking at the rust on the beach chair behind the lady statue.... it only means salt water is close by. :)

We quickly did all the necessities of grocery shopping and unpacking so we could head to the beach.

Nick.... doing one of his favorite things on the beach.... making sand balls.

Leslie is stalking a crab in this picture... he is down in his hole and she sat very still for a very long time waiting for him to come out.

Catch a wave.....

We found some little creatures.... we didn't know what they were at first but later learned they were sand fleas. I thought they were rather large to be a flea..... fisherman love to use them as bait.
Les found A LOT of them...

Our little spot on the beach...

The next day we visited Daytona Beach......

Crabby Joe's.....

Greg in his "Florida" shirt. :)

Nick feeding the birds...


Miniature golf at Congo River Falls...

Superman ice cream...

Not something you see at Lake Erie....

Back to St. Augustine too.... the phrase "been there done that" doesn't apply to us in Florida.

We ate at Santa Maria's again too..... and fed the fish.

Lots of fish......

What???? We can't lure them in with food and then hook them???

Yep.... did Ripleys again too.....

This guy gets me every time we visit... he looks so real.

I like this guy too.... he always makes my kids look little no matter how old they are. :)

I think this is the best part of Ripley's Believe it or not. It is a two way mirror and on the other side there is a sign challenging you to do all these funky things with your tongue. What you
DON'T know is on the flip side there are people watching you make funny faces. You don't realize this until you are almost done walking through the whole place..... then you see the back side of the mirror and watch everyone else make funny faces.... we stood there for the longest time laughing. I know somewhere out there someone has me doing this exact same thing on their family videos.... possibly on their blog. :)


On August 1st we had our "big" surprise day. It was by far the best experience I have ever had in Florida. I don't want to rush through it, and I seriously have to do something else other than blog today,..... so I will blog about it tomorrow in Florida.... take four (part 2).

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