The title of this post is kind of backward but it just sounded better to me to say "Vacation Recap and Happy Birthday" instead of "Happy Birthday and Vacation Recap" I guess it doesn't really matter though does it?
Anyway, the happy birthday is to my lovely husband Tom who is now finally the same age as me. See, I'm 28 days older than him which he likes to remind me on quite the regular basis. So I suck it up for those 28 long days until finally we are the same age again.
I wish I had more to say about his birthday, but he's a very low-key kind of guy. We're having yellow cake with chocolate frosting tonight and seeing Iron Man 3 over the weekend.
As for the vacation recap, I'd think it's about time, right? So, lets start at the beginning. Tuesday: Our flight left for Fort Myers at 8:20 AM which requires getting to the airport around 6 AM. This included my first experience with long term parking and bus drivers who don't care that you are literally standing right behind them as they pull to the stop and then just drive off. Assholes. Luckily there is a bus every 10 minutes. The flight to Florida was pretty uneventful. We did forget to check in until late Monday, which is a huge no-no if you're flying Southwest and would actually like to sit with your traveling companions. We were all close together though.
We arrived in the lovely state of Florida to some slight confusion. While I have nothing against the elderly, it was quite shocking to exit the plane and find ourselves in a sea of them. We were, no lie, the only people under the age of 75 until we reached the baggage claim area, which was also uneventful. As was picking up the rental car (Toyota Corolla). My aunt only lives 10 minutes from the airport, so also, nothing exciting there.
I'm pretty sure we were just generally lazy the first day that we arrived. We went to dinner at Doc Ford's Beach House, which was recommended by some of my internet peoples (yes I call them that. No, I do not have a cult.) The shrimp and grits was absolutely incredible. Like clean your plate and debate on licking it type of incredible. As we were waking up before the sun the next day, we retired early.
Wednesday: Somewhere in the 4 am hour, we awoke and got ready for our 3+ hour journey to Universal Studios. I think we maybe should have checked the settings on the GPS since we took an incredibly rural route. As in, stopping for farm equipment. And school buses on a major highway. However, it did provide me with this accidental picture, which is quite pretty.
Finally, we arrived at Universal Studios were I (smartly) made the decision to pay an extra $5 for preferred parking. We were much closer to those moving walkway things that get you to the park that if we had not paid for it. If you know anything about me, you'll know that first up was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The first ride that we got on was the 3-D Roller Coaster through the castle because there was already a 30 minute wait. Most of this time was spent walking through the castle and seeing the talking pictures and even getting some information from Harry, Ron and Hermione.
You can hardly see it, but the pic above has "Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" carved into the two columns before you enter the castle. The roller coaster was by far the best thing we did that day. It is not a ride for kids at all and is actually kind of scary. There are dementors, spiders and dragons. But it's just incredible. Like squeal out loud incredible. I could easily have just rode it over and over again so I could remember every second of it, but there were other things to do.
Like drink butterbeer. Butterbeer is incredible. My friend Kayleigh told me that she expected a full and immediate report with pictures as soon as I had tried it. Butterbeer comes in two varieties, a soda like version and a slushee version. The only way I can describe these cups of incredible would be to say its the most delicious cream soda you've ever had topped with a faintly butterscotch flavored whipped cream.
After drinking our butterbeer, we got on Flight of the Hippogriff which is just one of the other roller coasters there. It was a lot of fun, but didn't come with any good opportunities for pictures unfortunately.
Either did the Dragon's Challenge which was the biggest roller coast in the WWOHP section. I still don't know how some people ended up on the other colored dragon, but I will tell you standing in line for this roller coaster is more than worth the time. Its longer than most and just well, incredible. I realize I'm going to use that word a lot in these posts. However, be warned that you will stumble around like a drunk person after getting off this ride. You're pretty dizzy and disoriented in an awesome type of way.
After the rides in WWOHP were complete, we purchased wands (Hermione for me, Dumbledore for Tom) and then went into Zonko's and Honeydukes. I purchased the every flavor jelly beans from Honeydukes.
Finally we decided to head on over to the other attractions at the Islands of Adventure. Next stop was...
Which was definitely my second favorite section of the park, even if it was geared toward children. We still got on almost all of the rides in that section and stopped in this store...
Where I may have squealed multiple times and wanted to purchase everything in the store. Instead, Tom and I settled for each purchasing a Grinch shirt, a picture frame and a magnet. It was around 12:30 so we decided to head on over to the Meet the Characters Show in hopes that all of the people with small children who would usually see it, were eating lunch.
Which is exactly what happened. We watched the show with all of the characters and then came the most amazing time of ALL...where you get to meet the characters!
At first the Grinch didn't want to take a picture with me. Please note my incredulous face. However, he decided to suck it up when Tom came over.
I won't lie. This combined with WWOHP totally made my day. For good measure, we took a picture with The Lorax as well.
And finally, it was time to find something to eat. We chose burgers and fries from a Captain America cafe. Tom and my cousin Rishelle got on the Hulk roller coaster. I didn't want to chance it after eating. Then we headed over to the other portion of the park, the original Universal Studios.
There we got on the Despicable Me 3-D Ride which was really, really cool. We followed that up with the Shrek 3D, the Disaster ride, the Twister Ride and finally the Men in Black ride where I was quite proud of my 54,000 score on alien killing. Of course Tom got something like 160,000. Whatever.
And we ended off our day at Universal by stopping by to visit Spongebob.
I highly do NOT recommend trying to see both parks in one day. It is just completely exhausting. I'm pretty sure we walked over 5 miles in 85+ degree heat. Not pleasant. Not one bit.
I also purchased an It's So Fluffy! t-shirt from Despicable Me since it reminds us of the Itty cat.
Dinner was had with my internet friends and to be completely honest, I feel like a complete asshole. I was so exhausted by that point, I hardly even remember meeting anyone and then I bailed immediately after we got the check since Tom was also past exhaustion.
Thank God we made the decision to get a hotel right near the park. I have no idea how we could have even possibly drove the 3 hours back to my aunts house that night.
Thursday: we pretty much did nothing but drive back to my aunts. I think we may have hung out at the pool after that. It was just an exhausting day.
Friday: we returned the rental car and then went to Sanibel Island to hang out at the beach and get some seashells since that's what the area is known for. I found some really pretty ones, I just need to figure out what to do with them.
Saturday and Sunday: we hung out by the pool, I made dinner one night, we had steamed crabs another night. I got a bit of sunburn.
Monday: our last day was kind of bittersweet. I wanted to come home and see the kitties and get away from the humidity, but I also had no interest in returning to temperatures in the 50's. We did some shopping at the strip mall while my aunt and uncle ran some errands. This resulted in me purchasing 3 pairs of capri's. Which isn't a bad thing, I don't have any currently. We went to Doc's Beach House for dinner but needed to stop along the way to get a picture of this sign.
Not sure what they were thinking when they named the store, but we all amused our facebook friends by sharing the picture on there. Dinner was pretty tasty and we headed back to the house for an early evening since our flight the next morning was at 6 am.
Tuesday: So, the Fort Myers airport doesn't even open until 4 AM. We got there a little before that. Then we found that security doesn't open until 4:30 AM and not even all of the stores in the concourse are open that early. However, we made it through all of that (sans air conditioning because maybe they don't turn that on in the morning either?) and got onto our 6 AM flight, where approximately 40 minutes later we hit the worst turbulence I've ever experienced.
Many, many moons ago when I was a kid, my father and I went to visit his brother in Georgia and I was told (later on) we experienced some pretty severe turbulence on the way home. Not wanting to scare me, my dad told me it was normal. Which I think came in handy.
I'm not scared to fly to begin with, but I can see how turbulence like this will turn people off of it. Personally, I prefer a few bumps every now and then just to break up the monotony of not feeling like you're even moving. It just makes it easier for me to picture that I'm on a bus and not in a plane in the sky. Anyway, the pilot came on and said "We're about to go through an unpleasant bit of weather here and it could be bumpy. Please ensure your seatbelt is secured and your chair is in the upright position."
Then we bumped around for a bit and hit a patch where I was actually lifted from my seat and got that weightless feeling in my stomach that you do on a roller coaster. Surprisingly, no one panicked. It was all over in about a minute or two and the pilot came back on and said "so folks, this is why we tell you to wear your seatbelts."
It woke Tom up and severely freaked out my cousin, but to be honest, I thought it was kind of fun. Not for a second did I think anything serious would happen to us. The rest of the flight was uneventful and we arrived in chilly, rainy Baltimore at 8:30 AM.
And that dear friends, was a recap of my vacation. When we got home the kitties were more than happy to see us again and while Tom napped I washed clothes and ran to pick up the essentials at the grocery store.