Florida vacation recap

There were a loooooot of pictures to go through and a looooot of activities to recap from spring break, so out of courtesy to my readers and their assumed short attention spans, I will try to be as quick and concise as possible with this recap.

We left for Kissimmee/Orlando, Florida right at 10 p.m. on Monday night. We made a quick detour at Starbucks for some caffeine, and then we were on our way!

After a rather uneventful trip that consisted of lots of reading and fitful naps in the backseat, we arrived at Westgate Resorts around 2 or 3 p.m. on Tuesday. We unloaded our stuff, jovially ran around our villa to celebrate our arrival, and then showered and prepped for a night out.

I'm not sure what the elephants had to do with anything.

Since Clayton and I are spoiled, married brats, we got the master suit.

However, I wasn't a huge fan of the full-length mirrors surrounding
the shower and tub in our room (First world problems, am I right?).
Every time I cleaned myself it was like, "So that's what I look like naked from THAT angle."

The living area and kitchen.

The outside of our building. Just one out of literally hundreds on the property.

A really cruddy, dark image of part of the resort.

The duck family I ran by every morning. Ducks look weird in Florida.

We ate our first dinner at Universal CityWalk, a food and entertainment venue just outside of Universal Studios and the Islands of Adventure theme park. We dined at Bob Marley's where we all quickly learned that yucca fries are as bland as they are disgusting and that Clayton's face turns bright red when he unwittingly consumes spicy food.

Tired, but happy.
Thanks, Clayton.

That's better. And totally adorable.

Wednesday morning we were up early to explore Universal Studios, but we got to the theme park much later than anticipated because the toilet in my mom and sister's bathroom decided it no longer had the will to live and threw up toilet water all over the floor.

Outside Universal Studios!

I don't know why I look like I'm praying.

Universal Studios, though awesome in its own right, didn't feature quite as many rides or attractions as we had hoped, but it was still a fun experience (mostly because you could openly walk around with beer). The Revenge of the Mummy indoor roller coaster is probably one of the greatest things that's ever happened to me (and I've even been to space camp!), and I faced one of my biggest fears when I stepped into the Twister simulator and watched a mini tornado swirl and twirl 10 feet in front of my face.

I have to admit, I was really, really looking forward to the Jaws attraction, though the idea of a giant mechanical shark attacking my boat terrified me to the point of sweating (no joke). The Jaws movies emotionally scarred me when my best friend and I stupidly stayed awake all night to watch them at a 7th grade slumber party, but my curiosity outweighed my fear. So I was actually a weird combination of both disappointed and relieved when we learned that the ride was shut down in January of 2012 (probably because people repeatedly wet their pants and hosing off the boat was becoming a nuisance).

But I made the best of the situation.

Posing where the Jaws ride used to be.

Oh yeah, there was also a candy shop there with cupcakes as big as your face. Of course I bought one, what a silly question.

Chocolate cupcake with peanut butter icing.  FOODGASMIC.

Is it sad that this is one of my most favorite pictures of me ever?

I can't remember what we did on Wednesday evening, but I think we went to Margaritaville in Universal CityWalk for drinks and an appetizer. I haven't had a margarita in well over a year (Small fact: I only drink them frozen, not on the rocks) and after a long day of walking outside in the sun, it was extremely refreshing.

Thursday morning my Grandmother, a Florida resident, made the trip to our villa with one of my aunts in tow and spent the day with us. I haven't seen my grandma since I was a wee sprout, so it was really, really nice to have some face-to-face time with her. Not to mention, my mom and her sister are a riot together and it was fun to see a closeness that mirrors my relationship with my own sister. The 6 of us lunched at Joe's Crab Shack and our waiter was the spitting image of Ed Helm.


First outtake, and an instant classic. I love my Grandma's face.

That's better, though no one is looking at the same camera. 

The group with Ed Helm.

That night, after we bid my grandma and aunt farewell, we ventured over to Downtown Disney to explore their souvenir shops and get our Disney character fix. As I mentioned in Friday's post, Downtown Disney's World of Disney Store was my playground and I was beside myself with euphoria as I pursued their merchandise.

After feeling deciding I was unsatisfied with their selection of stuffed animals, I settled on a Toy Story Vinylmation figurine and announced to my family that I was now officially collecting them.

I was going to caption this with "Woody makes me happy", but then I thought better of it.

Friday was Clayton's and my "couple day" while my mom and sister ran off to Islands of Adventure to fulfill Ashley's dream of visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Atlanta Braves have spring training in Orlando every year at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, and Clay and I bought tickets to their game against the Mets that afternoon.

Clayton refused to be the pictures with me, so I look like a vain narcissist in all of these photos.

Cute commemorative baseball beer cups!

A gorgeous day!

It just struck me how large my sunglasses are.

The Braves put up a good fight and their starting line-up was impressive, but they put in their B-squad during the 6th inning and we lost by 3 runs. However, Clayton and I weren't disheartened because we got to sit in the sunshine and consume stadium franks while we watched America's favorite pastime. And perhaps we had a little bit TOO much fun in the sunshine because I left the game with a wicked sunburn on the back of my neck and was literally a redneck for the remainder of our vacation.

I really don't think I've ever seen my husband quite as content as when he's sitting at a ball field. After the game (and after we'd abandoned all hope that any of the players would come back to the field for a signing), we made our way to home plate and enjoyed a few quiet moments sitting behind the Braves' dugout, soaking in the atmosphere. I think Clayton could have sat there all day.

The dugout. I debated laying on it until the players agreed to come sign autographs.

The gift shop totally had an Atlanta Braves Disney Vinlymation ... and the collection grows!

After the game, we drove back to the villa and took a much-needed 2.5 hour nap before getting back in the car to pick up my mom and sister from Islands of Adventure. I don't think I've ever seen my sister quite as happy than she was at the end of the day when she hopped in our waiting car and showed me her new, authentic magic wand.

Okay, that's a lie. I have seen her happier and that was the very next day when we went to Sea World and she saw manatees up-close and personal.

My sister has been an avid collector of manatee stuffed animals since she was a kid and being able to see her precious sea cows only inches away was overwhelming for her. While I still hold true to my belief that manatees look like big, fat guys with glandular problems, I was excited for her.

Hefty buggers, aren't they?

I wanted to capture Ashley as close to the manatees as possible, but they didn't show up in the photo.
She just looks liked she's posing with a pond full of Romaine lettuce.

Y'all know that I'm a HUGE animal lover, so spending a day at Sea World was right up my ally. We caught Shamu's show (although I know it's not even the original Shamu anymore. It's like, what, Shamu XXI?) and both my sister and I shamefully admitted to one another that the experience gave us goosebumps and brought tears to our eyes. No joke. A whale temporarily beaching himself on the side of the pool and twirling like a break dancer made me cry from pure, uninhibited jubilance. I was seriously ready to quit my job and take up whale training.

When you consider how much a whale weighs,
jumping this high out of the water is nothing short of impressive.

A pretty good-lookin' family, if I do say so myself.

They wouldn't put the whales there if they didn't WANT you to ride them.

This is definitely my phone's wallpaper right now.

We also go to feed fresh fish to sea lions which was positively adorable ...  until I got attacked by a bird in the process. Later in the day, after I recovered from the shock and tragedy of THAT experience, I got to pet a sting ray. I've touched both a dolphin and a shark, and that left me to assume that a sting ray would have the same rubbery texture (because all 3 of those animals are gray and that's the kind of logic I use every day). Nope. Sting rays feel like something mucky and slimy that you would step on (and ultimately die from) when wading through the Amazon river. I was not a fan.

How cute is this little guy? The sea lions would look at your so expectantly,
willing you to toss them fish with those big, puppy-dog eyes.

But there wasn't a single squid or octopus in that entire place, so Sea World was doubly amazing for me.

As I mentioned in Friday's post, the week we spent in Florida wasn't among the warmest, but temperatures did reach the 80s on our very last day. We didn't get any time in the pool (I bought a new swimsuit for nothing!), but we got plenty of sunshine and I did come back to Indiana with a tan (mostly from our time at Sea World. So glad I wore a tank top that day!).

We woke up bright and early on Sunday morning (5:30 a.m. to be exact) to pack up our stuff and hit the road for Indiana. The trip home took about 17 hours because we stopped for breakfast and hit some pretty nasty traffic near Atlanta. I finished The Murder's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers (I have mixed feelings about the book) and was completely unsuccessful at trying to sleep in the car. By midnight I felt like my eyes were bugging out of my head.

Thought we were sad to see our vacation come to an end, we were all very, very glad to be at home and back to our doggies. I think each of us took turns mentioning how much we missed our fur babies every single day of the trip.

Looking back on the trip, I realized that this was the first family vacation we've had together in over 9 years. I haven't traveled with my mom and sister since we went to Wyoming the summer after my senior year of high school. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to spend so much time with them and share a lot of laughs.

^^Okay, recapping that took forever. I need a nap after writing all of that. 

How was your spring break? Did you go anywhere fun? Did you stay at home? Or is spring break a foreign concept to you now that you are a joyless, working adult?


  1. I definitely laughed out loud right now, sitting at work, but I assumed sting rays would be rubbery too!

    And I came to work over spring break - boo!!

  2. I love this post! It was like reliving the vacation all over!

  3. Spring break, what is that? I don't understand why all businesses, especially in Indiana, don't close down for a week so that we can all head to Florida. Especially this "spring" with our frigid temps and snow coming!
    I am the world's biggest sting ray fan, and we can no longer be friends. Sorry!
    All I could think about during your recap of dinner with your aunt and grandmother is how many women Clay was with at that time. I bet he needed that baseball game and some testosterone after all of the estrogen from that meal!
    Glad you guys had a great time. We should all catch an Indian's game this summer!

    1. Sting rays are very, very cool little creatures ... just so long as I do NOT have to pet them. They have the cutest, dopiest grin and always look happy. I am not a sting ray hater, we can remain friends. ha ha!

      I agree--all adults deserve a spring break vacation too, even if it's just hanging out at home!

      Yeah, we all kept making comments about how Clay was buried in a sea of women all week. The baseball game definitely helped ... as did the beer. :)

  4. First, I'm incredibly jealous of your vacation because it looks wonderful. Second, your photo captions are superb.

    Also, I agree with Kim. Everyone in the world should have a spring break as well as the time between Christmas and New Years. Just sayin.

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