Monday, August 27, 2012

Oh, the Unpacking You'll Do!

We spent a whirlwind week in Central Florida, the lightening capital of the world, on vacation last week. Daily rain showers aside, we had a fantastic time. It was great to let my mind relax and not worry about writing, home chores, pets and any number of other things I tend to fret about on a daily basis.

Was my mind actually uncluttered? At times, definitely. That's what the ideal vacation is supposed to do for each of us, after all. Still, I'm not sure I've ever experienced it before. 

Our yearly week-long vacations usually consist of camping, which, if you're a camper, you know is no kind of vacation for parents. You have to pack everything but the kitchen sink, typically don't have access to laundry facilities and have to be constantly on guard when you have small children near a campfire.

This trip was a breath of fresh air after years of camping adventures!

We stayed in a lovely condo with a washer, drier, and kitchen. We came home with most of our laundry already clean and ready for the closet.

Lizards are everywhere in Florida! The boys loved them!

Packing was simple. We needed clothes, food and enough toys to keep the boys occupied in the car for the 20-hour drive. I always swore I'd never have a portable DVD player in the car, but I made an exception for this. I bought one that the boys used in turn. It was my four year old that ended up using it the most since he was the one with ants in his pants from sitting in the car for so long. The rest of us listened to Harry Potter books on tape. We made it through The Goblet of Fire, The Half-Blood Prince, and part way through The Deathly Hallows.

We visited Universal Orlando and the Islands of Adventure. If you've never been, I highly recommend it. The 3-D rides, including the Hogwarts ride, are amazing. And, my little guy was in awe of all the superheroes walking around.
Who doesn't love Captain America?

We went to Cocoa Beach for fun in the sun and surf.
Cocoa Beach was gorgeous and we practically had the place to ourselves.

We went to LegoLand in Winter Haven.
The Lego Merry-Go-Round

I have to say that LegoLand is the most beautifully landscaped place we saw in Florida. The Lego folks bought The Cypress Gardens, which used to be the most popular amusement park in Florida through the 1950s and 60s. It struggled for a variety of reasons through the 1990s and early 2000s. When Lego bought it, it was ready for a major overhaul to help it compete with the bigger Florida amusements parks. They've updated it and continue to rehab the older sections of the tropical garden, which is simply stunning.
Banyan Tree, Cypress Gardens, Florida

We'd never heard of Banyan trees before. We followed the signs and made our way around the paths to find out what the fuss was all about. When we rounded the corner and saw it, it took our breath away. Even our little four-year-old son was in awe. There's nothing like this in New York! The picture really doesn't do it justice.

The drive home was the low point of the trip. Instead of splitting it into three days, like we did on the way down, we did it in two. What should have taken just a little over 12 hours to get from Kissimmee to Fredericksburg, VA ended up taking over 14. When we hit I-95 in the northern part of North Carolina, traffic slowed to a crawl and stayed that way until we made it to our hotel. The kids were great through it all and held up really well, probably better than the adults!

As much fun as our vacation was, we were thrilled to pull into our driveway yesterday. Our sweet dog, Maggie, was happy to see us and we all enjoyed a good night's sleep in our own beds.

Now, on to the unpacking!  


  1. Oh my goodness! We were close to you. Legoland is a half an hour away.

  2. Wow, what a great vacation! HP, gardens, ocean, and Legos?! Nice.

  3. It was a great vacation! Thanks everyone!