Prologue - Christmas in Florida December 19-27

Trip Start Jan 10, 2012
Trip End Jan 16, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Since I was spending Christmas in Orlando with my niece and family, I
decided to drive down for Christmas, and then left my truck at my
pre-cruise hotel in Tampa and flew home for 2 weeks, driving back home
after the cruise. Among other things, this entailed packing for the
cruise 3 weeks early so I had only a carryon for my flights home and back.
I left home December 19. The traffic on I95 was the best I‚€™ve ever seen
it at this time of the year with essentially no delays, even going
around the Washington area. I was on the road about 8 hours Monday,
stopping at Florence, South Carolina, about the midpoint of the trip.
The second day I made an extended lunch stop in Savannah and reached my
hotel in Ocoee, FL early Tuesday evening.
Wednesday was a quiet day at home. My niece, Amanda, and her husband
Chris were both finishing up last minute work. Chris‚€™ mom has joined
them and gramma takes care of the kids when Chris and Amanda are
working. The kids are Adam, 8 and his sister Emily 6. My brother Roger
and his friend Adrienne were there as well.
On Thursday Roger, Adrienne, Adam, Emily, and I all went off to the
Kennedy Space Center. As part of the tour we visited the Vehicle
Assembly Building. This massive structure was originally built for the
Apollo moon project, and was subsequently used to prepare the spaceshuttle for launch.  The building has always been closed to the public while associated with an active space program but has recently been made available for limited tours after the shuttle’s retirement.  The size of the building is really impressive but it is a somewhat plain warehouse style structure on the inside.  One of the shuttles (Endeavor I think) is being prepared there for display in a museum.  Another highlight of the tour was visiting the original Apollo launch command center.

Friday was primarily a shopping day.  In the afternoon Adam and Emily accompanied me and Roger to the store to help us choose their gifts.

Saturday Roger and I went to the cemetery in Lakeland where our parents are buried.  They moved to Lakeland in 1969.  Our father passed away in 1976 but mom remained there until moving to a retirement village in Kissimmee in 1991.  She died in 2001.  In the evening we attended Christmas Eve services at Windermere Union Church in their neighborhood.

Christmas was a very pleasant but quiet day at home.  Roger and Adrienne returned to Des Moines December 26 and the rest of us had a quiet day at home, followed by dinner at the Olive Garden.  Tuesday morning I drove to the Country Inn and Suites in Tampa and was driven to the airport for my late afternoon flight back to BWI.

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