Monday, May 2, 2016

Three Days and Three Theme Parks - Our Mini Vacation

The time for our mini vacation to Florida started at 5am on Saturday and all was going well and it looked like we'd be leaving a few minutes early but then our flight out of Seattle was delayed an hour. We arrived in Orlando at 5pm and luckily the rental car was really easy to pick up so it took us no time to get out of the airport and on our way to the hotel. Before heading to the hotel Don wanted to find the area that used to be the naval training base where he was stationed and we found it - some buildings are still there but it's been turned in houses and lots of parks so then we headed to the hotel to check in. It turns out the hotel was just a couple miles the other side of Disney and recently opened in February so at night you could see some of the fireworks which was cool. The other amazing thing was no thunderstorms the entire time we were there which has never happened before.

On Sunday, day one, we went to Universal Studios and Island adventure.  Island adventure was a blast.  Loved the Jurassic world water ride and then we moved on to Hogsmeade where we rode the rides, we had lunch at the Three Broomsticks complete with a butter beer (sweet butterscotch cream soda), and then moved into Dr. Seuss land.  We didn't take the train to the other park though the wait time was an hour. After making our way through the Island Adventures areas we decided to walk over to Universal Studios which takes about 15 minutes. I really wanted to ride the minion ride and even though it was a long wait time it was worth it.  It was such a fun ride. We also went to King's Cross and took pictures with the night bus.  I wish Don had taken some video of the interaction because the shrunken head was hilarious.  It was getting close to closing time so we watched the parade from a park area within the park and then walked back to the city walk, bought a couple shirts and left for dinner.
 Island of Adventure Harry Potter World

Butter Beer - a sweet Butterscotch Cream soda
 It indeed leaves a mustache

 Great themed area for the kids

Monday was Epcot, which is having the flower show right now.  I really didn't know what to expect at Epcot outside the Themed food areas.  We really enjoyed it and the best ride was by far the Test Track. It was a nice leisurely day and we followed it up with a trip to Medieval Times for dinner.
The couple on the left of us was actually from Seattle which was cool and then a couple with their kids came in a bit late and were from Upstate New York.  I had a blast talking, laughing, and cheering with her and her 9 year daughter.  We had a blast!
 Morning arrival
Couldn't resist Lady and the Tramp pics 
 Bought some teas I've never seen in stores here
 Piglet and Eeyore Topiary
 The match was over and our Knight lost but we had a blast!

Tuesday we left Orlando and drove to Tampa to Busch Gardens, another park I wasn't sure what to expect outside lots of roller coasters.  I knew when I bought the tickets ahead of time they had Giraffes, Zebras, Antelope that you could pay extra to go out and feed but what we didn't know was it's actually a conservation zoo for animals from Africa and Southeast Asia.  Loved it! Favorite ride of the day was Cheetah Run.  We finished out the day with the river rapids ride and of course we ended up under the waterfall so we were thoroughly drenched! We walked around trying to dry out before getting back in the car to find an Italian restaurant we'd looked up while planning in the park where to eat dinner in Tampa.  Amazing dinner! We seriously loved the ambiance, food, server, and owner who does all the cooking. They really made us feel like family so if you're in Tampa and want great food try La Terrazza.  It is in the historic district and so worth the drive. We drove back to Orlando feeling completely satisfied and tired from the day.
 Loved this recycled art of a cat and dog

He followed me everywhere I moved - I think he loved the bright blue case on my phone
 Only one set of tigers were out but hard to photograph 

 Feeding the birds fresh apple chunks

We took the train around the park and the Zebras started running after us

We had planned on driving to Daytona on Wednesday to kill some time before our flight but with the work week traffic it was going to be an almost 2 hour drive there and back so we scrapped that and I found an alternative in Orlando.  We visited the Botanical Gardens instead and that was amazing.  I've never seen so many huge oak trees or that many roses in one place. It was a huge garden and was a great way to fill the last day in Florida. I also like that the food grown is donated to charity, they have a vegetable and herb garden along with a ton of citrus trees.  We then went to the airport and bonus our flight was going to land about an hour early.  Huge Bonus because it usually takes 6 to 7 hours to fly home from the east coast and it only took 5 meaning we got home early enough on our late flight to unpack and relax a bit before bed.

 One of the oaks with a large vine coexisting together
 The arid area was filled with varying cactus blooms
 One of the largest rose gardens I've seen
I liked the colorful foliage
Thursday was an early day since our social worker was coming out to start the home study renewal, which is due by June and includes her coming out to the house.  She told us she's retiring in December and that kinda bummed me out.  She has been so great the last 3 1/2 years with doing our Home Study and checking in on us to see how we're doing that I hope we adopt before she retires so she can see the baby and us as parents in the post placement visits.

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