On the plus side, Florida was teh kool! We didn't get to do everything we planned for (no tigers- my reputation precedes me, methinks- and Nick and I missed out on Medieval Times), but we had reasonably good weather and I got to watch lots of sandpipers scurry around on the beach, so it was all good. We stayed near New Smyrna Beach at the same condo we had two years ago- with the same balcony on which Nick proposed to me as the sun came up on our 1-year anniversary. ^_^
The trip's cast of characters:
- Yours truly
- Jeff, Nick's buddy
- Alison, Jeff's girlfriend
- Hobbes, my and Nick's stuffed animal tiger kitten
- Misty, Nick's 2002 Firehawk
Friday- Started out late in the evening. You can tell you're going south when the Shoneys, Chevrons, IHOPs, and Waffle Houses start popping up. And you can tell you've left Pennsylvania when the roads become drivable. Literally, at the West Virginia border, it's like *BUMPbumpbumpBUMPBUMP-smooooooooth*.
Saturday- Arrived safe and sound at 1:23 PM, after driving through the night. Total trip time: 13 hours, 23 minutes. We were quite proud of ourselves. Anyway, we got pizza and groceries and I went to bed at 5:00. I can't sleep too well in the car and was awake and more or less alert the whole way down.
Sunday- Nick's second-oldest brother and his wife came to visit us. They're my favorite future in-laws so I was happy to see them. =) We played frisbee and football on the beach, but I didn't stay out too long, being the vampire I am when it comes to sunlight. We had a nice lunch and dinner together.
Monday- Watched Phone Booth (good movie), then went to the Daytona boardwalk in the evening. Except for a really cool moonrise (blood-red and appeared almost as big as the sun on the horizon), it wasn't all that great. Daytona's overrated if you ask me. We played skee-ball at an arcade and spotted a sign for a Sapporo steakhouse that had a really cute mascot, whom I refer to as Chibi Sushi Man. Should've gotten a picture but I wasn't farsighted enough.
Tuesday- This time, we drove to see Nick's brother and sister-in-law at their home in central Florida. We were told the drive was only an hour long, but it ended up taking two, so we were a tad cranky by the time we got there. Hungry too. Nick's brother directed us to a Cracker Barrel, but it turned out that it was training employees and wasn't open to the public yet, so we wound up at... Denny's. My mom once saw a standup comedian who claimed, "You don't go to Denny's. You end up at Denny's." Damn straight. And I ended up with hair-laden pancakes so I didn't have much of a lunch. After that, we bowled four games at a really nice alley. Smoking in public places is prohibited in Florida, which is great. Our clothes and hair didn't wind up smelling like ass and moldy cigar afterward. Anyway, I've never bowled over 100 (quit laughing) and, during one game, was at 93 with a frame to go. Of course, I was dumb enough to look at my score and notice this before I stepped up to the lane with my pretty pink 8-pounder, so in typical Me fashion, I choked and finished my game with two gutters in a row. Bleh. After bowling, we toured the neighborhood where Nick's brother is building a house (gorgeous) and had dinner at a place called Dead River Vic's. We fed some turtles and I tried alligator for the first time. I wasn't too impressed and goddamnit, the Steve Irwin fan in me felt guilty afterward.
Wednesday- I think this was the day I broke the dishwasher and made a mess of suds and water all over the kitchen floor. But after that, the high point of my trip: Kennedy Space Center!! No discount for us Planetary Society members, but oh well. It's too bad it's only open for eight hours a day, because that's not enough time to do everything that place has to offer. We missed out on the launchpad tours and an IMAX movie, but we did catch a 3D movie about the ISS (International Space Station) and saw most of the exhibits, including two featuring the MERs (Mars Exploration Rovers) that are on their way to the Red Planet as I babble. One of the life-size model MERs was built entirely out of Legos (the Lego Corporation has been a big part of the mission. You can go here to read the diaries of the two Lego "astrobots" that are traveling with MERs Spirit and Opportunity. Seriously, go, it's cute). I bought astronaut ice cream and all kinds of fun NASA stuff. This was also supposed to be the day when the Perseid meteor shower peaked, but our condo doesn't face Perseus and I wasn't about to go out on the beach at night because I fear the noseeums. Oh well, we had a spectacular view of Mars.
Thursday- Nick and I bummed around in the condo and the beach/pool as Jeff and Alison drove to Orlando to visit Blizzard Beach and Medieval Times. I didn't want to go because I'm a dork and don't like waterparks, and wouldn't put up with one even though it meant finishing the day at MT. Oh well, it was nice to have some down time. It never really occurred to me before how many hours of the day Lifetime devotes to The Golden Girls and The Nanny.
Friday- The weather wasn't all that great, so Nick and I went to Flagler Avenue to check out the stores there. This place is much nicer than Daytona's boardwalk, IMHO. I found these cute little handblown glass Bluebirds of Happiness there, and since they were made in the town of my birth (Fayetteville, Arkansas) and I love the movie K-PAX, I got a couple. Later, we all got together for a nice dinner out, and rented and watched Spaceballs since Alison had never seen it before. Keep firing, Assholes!
Saturday- Headed to Flagler after checking out so Jeff and Alison could have a look around. Nick bought a really neat shirt that colors out in the sun and glows in the dark to boot. We visited one store that had wee little baby turtles for sale. They were unbelievably cute and I was tempted to get four of them and scout around for a sewer laden with mutagen, but I figured they wouldn't like the long-ass car ride. We started for home around 11 AM. We were bottlenecked by an accident at one point, and geenio-boy Jeff missed an exit and we drove 40-odd miles in the wrong direction at another. But at least we had a couple of cool "driving buddies" (you know, the cars who keep up with you for long stretches of highway and follow as you weave around slowpokes who insist on squatting in the fast lane) and we spotted another red '02 Firehawk that was just like Misty, but without the stripes, fog lamp covers, and windshield banner. Hobbes sat in my lap and was a good boy.
Sunday- Arrived home at 3 AM. It was all we could do to stay awake while driving (and in my case, not to bitch at everyone).
All in all, it was a great vacation, and I'm already looking forward to going back sometime and revisiting the space center and Medieval Times. I dropped off my film to be developed and will hopefully have a pic or two to post in here sometime later in the week. =)
While we were gone, the telescope motor arm came back all nice and repaired! We assembled the 'scope and took it out last night to get a look at Mars. It resolves into a pale orange disc- not too big, but definitely a lot larger than the pinpoints of stars around it. Very cool. At one point, I also caught something bright flashing briefly in the corner of my eye. I dismissed it as a firefly, until a bit later on, when Nick called out that he'd seen a meteor. Sure enough, a few minutes later, I spotted one too! A short, bright little streak in the sky. After that I began searching for them in earnest, but didn't catch sight of any more. I guess they're harder to find when you're actually looking for them, hehe. ;P
Here's a nifty distraction: Tha Shizzolator!