Saturday, February 4, 2017

Feb. 4, 2017---off to Orlando!!!!

Many years ago---the year 2002, to be exact---Dad met me in Orlando for a combined vacation and 3 days of my work's winter meetings.  I had picked up a cheap week at Orange Lake Resort off RCI for $99 for the week in a 2 bedroom golf villa in the West Village.  One of the days while I was at the meetings, Dad went to the timeshare presentation and actually bought into it.  He bought a fixed week---5th week of the year---in a 2 bedroom golf unit like what we were staying in, only his unit was located right by the West pool area and between 2 lakes and a golf course.  It is a great location and a beautiful, HUGE, resort.  I really enjoyed meeting Dad there every year---him coming from Oregon and me from St. Louis.  Unfortunately we only got to do that for about 5 years before he died.  As executor of his will, I asked my sister and brother if they wanted to join me as owners of the week and they said yes.  We didn't manage it too well for the first 4 or 5 years---only went about 2 times.  Then we decided to divide it as if we each owned the week every 3rd year.  So this was Ken's and my "first" week under our new management.  Anyway----Ken and I decided it was time to go back and see what's changed in our absence.   So I found really cheap airfare---$47@ way ATL-MCO / person and reserved a car for $149/week.  We were all set---------until President Trump thought it was a good idea to more highly vet people from terrorist hotbeds and block 7 countries from traveling here for 90 days while a new vetting process was established.  Apparently, a lot of people don't care if terrorists immigrate here and have been protesting that every since---along with everything else Trump is trying to do.  So to avoid all the protesters at the airports, we decided just to drive.   I don't understand why they don't want more vetting, but I don't understand a lot of what people do these days!  But it turned out to be a great decision to drive!  It allowed us to make a couple side trips on our way there and back.
Being a Saturday, we were able to cruise on down I-85/75 right through downtown Atlanta without any delays.  Wish it was always that easy to get around here!!!
Here we were actually going under the famous "spaghetti junction"  where I-285 meets I-85.  This is just a few of the overpasses.  it really is pretty impressive.
Entering the city.

The famous Varsity cafe in downtown Atlanta---which we still haven't been to.
 some more of the city.
 and more
 I don't know if I've ever seen this many contrails in one place.   Obviously we were close to the ATL airport. Guess the air traffic controllers are pretty busy here.
Somewhere in Southern Georgia, we went past this sign----love it!  I picture a bunch of college students taking Go Fish classes.
 Lots of orchards in Southern Georgia---pecans?  peaches?
 lots of lazy cows, too.
and cotton fields
 When we stopped for gas, the station had a special sale--- 6 beers for $9.99, mix and match.  I'm not a big drinker, but enjoy trying different beers, especially IPAs.   With the Atlanta Falcons playing the Patriots in the Super Bowl this weekend, I decided to splurge and get a 6 pack in case I needed a drink during the game. 
 have no idea what these plants are, but they were colorful.
 Florida's new welcome sign---------
 lots of horses in northern Florida---lucky guy!
and some happy cows.
 yep, we're in Florida---not a hill in sight.
 an occasional church
 more lucky horses
 A couple years ago I had gone to a place about 1 1/2 hours NE of Orange Lake called Silver Springs with a Disney friend, so I  asked Ken if he wanted to check it out on our way.  He agreed, so we turned our travel day into a tourist day.  I wasn't sure what it would be like now since I knew the "theme park" had closed and it was now a State Park.
 Turned out to be really nice.  There were a few changes, like it was $2/person to enter now instead of the $20/person and you paid something like $12 for the boat rides now, which were included in the price before. But we just walked around so didn't pay the extra $24.  Might have done the ride if it was sunny so that the incredible blue water showed better, but it was very overcast.  It was nice just being able to stretch our legs and walk around for awhile.  Even saw a few birds---like this ibis and anhinga.
 This park is centered around a large artesian spring.
 Here is one of the glass bottom boats coming into the little docking area.
 This is the shops area by the dock.  When Coni and I were here, it was deserted.  Now it was bustling with an ice cream shop, gift shop, and more.
 a couple of the boats docked.
 When the sun is shining, this area is a stunning blue.
 the shops again.
 They do have a new boardwalk in the park now so we took a walk along it.
 Looked like a great park to rent a kayak and paddle around a bit!

 a couple of the residents there.
 Love the big old trees.
 Love this bent palm tree, complete with cormorant resting on it.
 more of the new boardwalk.
 lots and lots of tall trees throughout the park.
 and interesting low ground cover
 another view of one of the rivers.
 After a couple hours, it was time to hit the road again. 
 We witnessed sunset from the road.

Finally reached U.S. Route 192 about 8 pm and got checked in to Orange Lake Resort soon after that.  Checked into Dad's condo a few minutes later.  By now it was time for dinner so we headed to Miller's Ale House.  I was  surprised to find a new one so close to the resort!  Great addition!  In fact there were a ton of new restaurants near the resort since we were last there!
It was a long day, but I actually found the ride and Silver Springs detour rather enjoyable.  Great start to another fun vacation.

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