Summer fun

Trip Start May 30, 2013
Trip End Nov 25, 2013

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Where I stayed
Rosen Plaza Hotel / Holiday inn

Flag of United States  , Florida
Friday, August 9, 2013

6 HOURS TO ORLANDO...........
A 6am wake up call from David, and we were on our way by 7.15am, after a very nice breakfast that we had enjoyed each morning, included in our motel cost for our 4 nights in Charleston.
With a lovely sunny morning and clear blue sky, we cleared the early morning traffic and soon were out on the I95 motorway, with cruise control set to 70mph. Travelling long distances is not an arduous task - nice wide roads, usually 3 lanes to choose the speed you want to travel at, (slow lane on the right, average speed in the centre and flat out on the left)…..and plenty to see as the miles whizz by. On entering each State there are Welcome Centres, where one can use their facilities, purchase a few snack items, and get a free map of the State you are entering. Today as we entered Florida, we found  a picnic table in the shade on which to lay our picnic lunch, collected our free map, and enjoyed a rest from the journey.
We did break our day’s travel  at Daytona Beach - to check out the accommodation included in our package deal for 3 nights next week , which we move back to after our 5 nights in Orlando. Back to front really, BUT we were not allowed to use the Daytona section of the Travel package first, so involves a bit of backtracking.
Now sometimes in life, we “get a bouquet”….and we are enjoying one of those moments.  
  i.e  I was given a travel package by a dear friend and member of Fairview Golf club ,
(where I worked in the golf shop). She (Gusta) said to me “you’re going to Florida?…...would you like a holiday I purchased, and can’t use”…..    what an offer!!!! So here we are in the luxury Rosen Plaza Hotel, on International Boulevard , Orlando; 5 nights accommodation and G & me only have to attend a ‘sales presentation’ for 3 hours . While our children (David and Erin ) , get to play.  
LATER………We did manage to ‘escape’ from the sales Presentation after 2 hours - and after their welcoming pitch and colourful ‘heart strings pulling’ videos, we convinced our salesman we already had the best deal for holidays ,with our home exchange arrangements, and we were allowed to leave.
So facts on Orlando - you already know it is the home of Walt Disney -Animal Kingdom, Hollywood studios, downtown Disney, Epcot, Walt Disney world speedway, and Disney’ s water parks. The local population is only 250,000 but swells to 51 million visitors yearly. Beginning as a cattle Ranch in the 1800’s , it is mostly flat with a few sand hills. Obviously the Palm trees and immaculate gardens are kept lush by plenty of watering and lots of humidity rainfall. Underground  limestone caves are located throughout the area and are often responsible for the formation of sink holes...whole buildings just disappear!! .
The trolley bus stop is right outside our Hotel door and allows us to leave the car in the carpark. With over 40 stops along the Universal boulevard, the trolleys are mostly full with tourists and their large shopping bags, leaving the numerous Outlet malls. At 25 cents a ride for seniors, it makes for a cheap mode of transport. Eating places are EVERYWHERE , and it is very obvious to us, that the Americans we have seen so far, do not take diet very seriously - definitely a lot of much larger bodies than what we have been used to seeing in France and Spain.
Lunchtime today and the heavens opened…..this is a daily occurrence and we have been lucky over the past 3 days to escape with only a little rain. So into the car for a little drive - we found our way into downtown Orlando; The rain had stopped and we enjoyed  a restfull spot , centre city, with the absence of visitors and just the locals walking the large lake area with their dogs, babies and buggies. No theme parks located here.!! What a lovely green space in the middle of a business area - The lake Eola was loaded with fish and there were varieties of turtles, (the normal ones and some very large with hedgehog like noses.) black swans and very vicious white swans!!! (standing guard on the path, waiting for us to pass).On leaving the lake, we did stop by a ‘Frank and Stein’ Sports bar, with 41 different beers on tap ,and enjoyed an hour in the cool ,with 6 different action large screens showing the latest tennis, golf, motorsport , crosscountry bikes and basketball- hard to know whether to watch Tiger win his golf final, or the motor cross. A huge selection  of games and cards to  play also available -  seems like a good idea to escape the heat of the day or inclement weather.
 The next day G & D wanted to visit the Kennedy Space Centre , so of they went for the day on a 45 minute drive out to the coast. E & I decided the excitement would just be TOO much for us (about on the par with Hydro dams), so we stayed back for a girls day out. Shopping in the morning, back to our hotel room for lunch (a Kiwi sandwich with tomato, ham and onion)….then an afternoon around the pool.
Garry’s blurb on the Kennedy Space Centre- 
 A fleet of 44 air-conditioned buses move you around the 140,000 acres of NASA’S home.
We first had thought the $50 US$ entrance fee a little steep, but after a very enjoyable and informative full day out, realised that it was  a very worthwhile day out. Starting with a bus tour with only 2 stops, taking in the LC39 Observation Gantry and the Apollo/Saturn Visitor centre, scheduled to take 2 hours but we struggled to get around and take it all in under 3 and a half hours. The full size Apollo rocket including its command module, the moon landing shuttle and the moon buggie. So much information and huge and enthralling exhibits. Then after a quick bite of lunch, into the Imax theatre for the Space station 3D movie showing the space station that the USA ,in conjunction with several other countries including Russia ,Canada ,and Italy is building in space at the moment. It was so amazing you could almost feel yourself floating in space looking down at the world below  with the 3D glasses on. Then on to the newly opened Atlantis centre, where we were shown another surround movie aboard the Atlantis space shuttle, taking crew and provisions and new components  to keep on building and extending the space station. The climax being a still shot of the shuttle on an angle on its way back to earth………the lights went out and the huge screen went up and there behind it was the shuttle itself in another huge hall hanging from the roof, with its cargo doors wide open.  Still with scorch marks from its last re entry into earths atmosphere  over the front. We could easily have spent another full day there as we did not see at least another 6-7 exhibits and shows. In my opinion, a must see complex, showing how much the Americans have achieved in space since the 1960s and how much they are continuing to achieve, with the help of other countries today. For an overview check out .
Wednesday - and we have moved on from Orlando, driving eastwards  to Daytona Beach.
The package Gusta gifted me also included 3 nights in Daytona, and although it has involved driving back out to the East Coast of Florida, we felt the seaside hotel/resort was well worth coming back to. A 7th floor room with a view, over the pool and out over the ocean - the only effort involves G & me attending another “sell Presentation” in the morning….again we will take along a homechange card, and show our trump card at the opportune time.
The daily thunderstorms of Orlando have disappeared - and the days at the Oceanside are HOT, sunny and clear. The sales pitch is behind us and this afternoon we have had along walk along the beach - Daytona stretches for 27 miles and you can drive along select areas of more than 23 miles. There are also the Turtle nests along the beach and the little fenced areas surrounding the nests to protect them , with the lights facing the beach in a dimmed state over the nesting season from beginning of May till end of August.
A fitting climax to G & D’s Space shuttle day, was a scheduled launch last evening at 8.30pm from  Cape Canaveral of an unmanned Delta 4 rocket taking up a military communications satellite  ….We set off walking along the beach , so  we would be in a prime spot to watch . Sure enough, 25 minutes after sunset there was a huge red glow and “there she’s goes”!!! what a wonderful opportunity to have  to watch this giant bird take off into outer space.

Our last day here today , on Erin's birthday...last part of our journey to our base in Florida.
Grandies - will see you tomorrow.

A 4 hour drive and we will be in 12384 Mellon Ave, Port Charlotte, Florida with family.







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lynne on

Please give Erin a big hug and a very happy birthday.from Ron,Lynne,Alan and Judith. Hope you can fit it in with all the adventures you are doing. Sounds great for all of you.Still warm during the day and trying to get the place in order before we leave here on the 20th. Enjoy your days,
Love US XXXX 4

Glenna Gray on

It sounds like your holiday "gift" package was a real treat (except for the sales pitch).
Daytona is a beautiful beach and has so many nice seafood restaurants. I can almost see the surfers and smell the suntan lotion!

I am glad that you and Erin are keeping the trip organized. Fun stuff ... it is a blessing to be retired!!!

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