Weekend Visitors

October 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Oh, how we love having visitors! This weekend it was my college friend Tori and her boyfriend Josh. Our fun began on Friday with Legoland, about an hour and a half drive from here. Liam kept us all entertained in the car: “Does Josh want an M&M? (No) Does mommy want an M&M? (No) Do I want an M&M? (Daddy: No) Yes I do!!”

Then it was on to Lego madness! James stayed with Liam while the rest of us rode the big coasters. My favorite was the wooden Dinosaur coaster, though none of them were that thrilling. Liam went on a little train ride with James, and we all went on a little boat ride to cool off. It’s still so hot here, even in October!

After lunch we took a stroll through the botanical garden, which was part of the original Cypress Gardens park from 75 years ago. A most impressive old banyan tree stood in the center of the gardens. My favorite part of the park was Miniland USA, an entire village of famous landmarks constructed entirely of legos. You can see I mostly took pictures of those.

The day proved hot and long, so we decided to continue on to Clearwater for a couple hours at the beach. We hit the beach at the perfect time to get a good parking spot and see the sunset. It was cloudy, so not as impressive as Siesta Key. But the sand and surf are always nice on the gulf side, and we had a nice time in the water. For dinner we took our friends to what has become our favorite dinner spot in Clearwater, Columbia Restaurant, for some delish Cuban fare. A mid-evening downpour left us thankful our seating outside was furthest from the water.

Saturday we got a sitter so all of the grownups could enjoy a day at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. We rode all of the big rides. My favorite hands down was The Hulk, which surprised us all with a short trip up a hill and then a sudden launch from inside the tunnel. Whee, indeed. By the time we’d made it around to the Harry Potter side, the Forbidden Journey broomstick ride with its circling seats and video screens left me a bit woozy. But it was still fun. Then we decided to hit the Dragon Challenge before lunch. I wish I hadn’t. But everyone else enjoyed it. Perhaps I’ll try that one first next time.

Butterbeers at the Three Broomsticks were delish, as were the Cornish Pasties. Tori and Josh both bought wands from Ollivanders. Tori picked out Ginny Weasley’s beautiful wand, and of course Josh had to get Dumbledore’s Elderwand.

As the afternoon wore on, we decided it was time to get wet. So on to the thrilling Jurassic Park ride, and the only ride I got to try last time. And while we were at it, we gave the Dudley Do Right log ride a try. Um, not so great. Don’t get me wrong, it was actually quite fun. But it was also quite wet, and with the sun going down, we were getting kind of cold. Who’s idea was this, anyways?! Oh, right. Mine. Josh escaped most of the wetness by sitting in the back…until the very end when a malicious bystander paid a dollar to hose us down as we passed under the pedestrian bridge. I was in the front…and the last to dry off. More on that later.

We headed to dinner at the Hard Rock Café, and after enjoying my burger but not enjoying my moist predicament, I broke down and bought a sweatshirt. A white one. More on that later, too.

Then we sent James home to relieve the babysitter while Tori, Josh and I headed to Halloween Horror Nights. We paid extra to attend this event, and it was a total bust. We stood in line for hours and only saw two haunted houses. The line for the Walking Dead house was almost two hours, and as we stood there playing word games (Six Degrees of celebrity separation kept us busy), I realized my butt was finally dry. Huzzah! But both houses took less than 5 minutes to walk through…hardly worth the time in line. There were other events there, too – a Penn and Teller show and a Bill & Ted show, but after standing in all those lines, we were ready to go home by midnight. The only redeeming quality from this evening were the random walking zombies and vampires that were scaring the crowds as they walked through the park. Because of my nifty new white sweatshirt, I got the brunt of it. Hilarious!

We finished our whirlwind weekend at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival on Sunday. James stayed home with Liam while the rest of us partook. And partake we did! My favorites were the shrimp tacos at the Mexico booth and the Mongolian beef at the Chinese booth, which was also “taco-esque.” Japan gave us the most bang for our buck. While Canada stiffed us with a thimbleful of ice wine for $5, we received a healthy pour of Sake and a huge spicy Tuna roll from the Japan booth. We stayed for the fireworks, which were spectacular! James and I plan to come back at least a couple more times while the festival is running, and I can’t wait. So much good food, and only so much room in my tummy!    

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