A Girl Should Be Two Things: Classy & Fabulous. - Coco Chanel


Saturday, May 7, 2011


I know I have already posted a little about Florida (Harry Potter World & Epcot & a little about the Gators) but I wanted to post a summary of the trip. Which means you are in for a long post. :o) Ready? Okay.

First of all, this was my first time to Florida. My Uncle and Aunt live there in Titusville and have told me many times that I am welcome to come visit whenever I want. For a long time I was trying to find a friend that would go with me. I asked one of my very good friends, Kirsten. I honestly thought it was a long shot because she is married... and usually married people just can't take off and go on vacation with their single friends. How could I forget that her husband, Dallas, was awesome and would let her go. So we bought our tickets like a month and a half previous to our departure and started planning. I am actually glad that I waited until now to go to Florida because Harry Potter World has been open for less than a year. If I had gone previous years... I would have missed Harry Potter World and that would have been a big shame since that was one of the highlights of the trip for me.

Day 1. We flew in Thursday evening and then spent the night chatting with my Uncle and Aunt, getting a tour of the house, watching the awesome fire flies in their backyard (I wish we had those Utah, they are so magical) and Kirsten and I spent the rest of the night in our room catching up on life since we had not seen each other in 6 months we were pretty excited. When we went to our guest room, we each had a little welcome package from my Aunt and Uncle with chocolate and beautiful cards and stationary and a candle. Are they not the cutest? Sweetest thing ever. We certainly felt welcomed and at home.

Day 2 (Friday) was spent in Orlando at Universal Studios.  Since Harry Potter World is still very new, they have to regulate the crowd, so you are given a time when you can go in. As soon as you are in you can stay as long as you want, but as soon as you leave you can't go back. While we waited we explored Seuss Landing and Jurassic Park. Both very fun. We were both not used to the heat and humidity so we even found a little place in Camp Jurassic (for the kids) where it was shaded and by the water and not crowded and we just hung out and talked for like an hour. We both thought it was so great. That is how you know we are getting old. ha ha. But then we got into Harry Potter World and spent a Quality 8 hours there. After seeing everything we wanted to see, we went to the downtown part of Universal (kind of like downtown Disney) and we ate outside at this Italian restaurant and had the most amazing pizza while we listened to this rockin live band. We were loving life. It was awesome.

Day 3 (Saturday) we are already so tired. I slept in. After my Uncle and Aunt got back from their choir practice they were wonderful tour guides and took us about an hour away to "Blue Springs" which is a Manatee Reservoir. Sadly the Manatee's are only there in the winter... so we didn't see any. It was so beautiful there though. Kirsten and I couldn't get over all the hanging moss on the trees. It was so beautiful. With the hanging moss and the fire flies... we definitely felt like we were in the south! It was my first time to the south so I was loving it. It made me want to eat some Jambalaya though. We walked up the path at Blue Springs. This is where we spotted our first Florida Alligator (which was VERY exciting). After walking the path we rented a couple of tubes and Kirsten and my Aunt Janet went down the spring in the tubes and me and my Uncle Gary snorkeled down... which I LOVED.

 I got to see this crater at the top of the springs and then was swimming with these BIG long fish down the spring. So fun. Also very refreshing from the heat. Oh and my Aunt and Uncle brought along an underwater camera so that I could continue to take pictures while I was snorkeling.

After spending the afternoon at Blue Springs, we met up with a couple of my Uncle and Aunt's very good friends from church, Tom & Olga. Not only did we get a great meal at Cracker Barrel, but we also got entertainment. Tom & Olga are both VERY funny. They had us laughing throughout our entire meal. Tom is referred to as Tom the Gatorman. Why? Because he catches Gators for fun. Not just Gators but all kinds of critters. To see how animated and excited he gets about it... he reminded me a lot of Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) except Tom has a southern accent instead of an Australian accent. Great story teller. We could have listened to them all night. I think my favorite thing that Tom would say is that he calls his wife his Tweedy Bird. I thought that was so cute. Hearing him talk about rocks was pretty funny too. He loves rocks.

Day 4 (Easter Sunday) We got up and went to church with my Uncle and Aunt. They are in the choir at New Life Christian Fellowship church. It was so fun to watch them in the choir. The music was awesome. The Choir is backed up by a small orchestra and they have a screen up with pictures and the words displayed so that the audience can sing along too. It was a neat experience to go to a different church. We went back to the house and had lunch with my Uncle, Aunt and Olga (who was also in the choir) and then Kirsten and I were off to the Space Center. My Uncle actually works for NASA (I know, cool right?) so he hooked us up with some tickets. He was so awesome to do that for us. We had a great time at the Space Center. It was really educational for me. I can't tell you how much I knew about NASA and our mission's we have taken to space. We got to hear a lecture from a real astronaut that went up into space and we watched this awesome and beautiful 3D film. Our favorite thing we did while we were there though was the rocket simulator. They actually created a ride that makes you feel like you are launching into space in a rocket. You go into a little room and buckle into these seats, they lean the room all the way back and then the room vibrates... its pretty cool. Tom the Gatorman drives the Space Center tour bus... I had gotten his number the night before so we could try and get on his bus. We didn't end up making it on his bus, but he did come and meet us at the gift shop and told us all the things we needed to do while we were there. He was very helpful. Tom & Olga are such great people. I can't see why My Uncle and Aunt are such good friends with them. We then came home and had Easter Dinner with Uncle Gary and Aunt Janet and spent the evening relaxing.

Day 5 (Monday) we drove back to Orlando to go to Disney World. Epcot to be exact. Another reason I am glad we went when we did because we got to experience Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival which was only amazing. I have wanted to go to Epcot for many years, so it was fun to finally go.

Day 6 (Tuesday) we said and sad goodbye to My Uncle and Aunt and drove back to Orlando. Not straight to the airport.... we wanted to experience Gatorland first. We were so glad we did too. That place is fun and beautiful. Another awesome reason to visit in April... there are thousands of birds that go there to nest and lay their eggs. Why? Because with a lot of Alligators, what critters are going to mess with their eggs in the trees? Its genius really. So we got to see a lot of Gators AND a lot of beautiful birds AND their nests AND some of the little hatching's. It was pretty awesome. Even without the birds... there is lots of entertainment. We first went to the Gator wrestling show where we got our picture on top of a Gator. This is when we first talked to a couple of the guys that run the place and pretty much do all of the shows. One of the guys asked me where I was from and I said California. Every time he saw me around the park after that he would remember me and call me Cali. I thought it was awesome. He ended up running the train ride too.  There was also a Gator jumping race... you would see the Gators jump out of the water for food. They also had a live animal show... they would take critters our of boxes and have people in the audience hold them. They had a petting Zoo (which we didn't go to) and I saw my first White Alligator. There are lots of things to do at Gatorland. We spent about 4 hours there and then drove to the airport where we sadly parted ways to go to our different airlines.

I am so glad that Kirsten experienced this trip with me. Not only is she a good friend but she is a great travel buddy that is so polite and an easy person to talk to and get along with. It was so great to be able to spend a whole week with her after not seeing her for 6 months. Love her to pieces.

I am also very thankful to my Uncle Gary and Aunt Janet. They were so sweet not only to invite me out to come visit, but then to make us feel so welcome and at home and picking us up from the airport and getting us tickets to the Space Center, feeding us and being great tour guides and taking us to Blue Springs. I could go on and on. They are great. I love them and am happy to call them family. Thanks to all for a really amazing trip. :o)


Lori said...

Sounds like a great trip Tracy!

Abby Wright said...

Who's huge white house is that? I LOVE IT!!

Kristy said...

Wowsers. That was a long post. :) Glad you had fun in Florida and that you got to see everything.

Lynette Mills said...

I know what I missed after your trip report..

Dallas and Kirsten said...

Tracy!! What a fun post! I felt like I was experiencing our trip all over again :) I love the pics of Tom and Olga! I tried to explain them to Dallas, but I couldn't do them justice. Thanks for making the trip so special. I sure do love you and am so grateful to have you in my life!

Jennica said...

Gatorland looks a lot like Jurassic Park. I am glad that they didn't come out and eat you.

Janet said...

Tracy it was so fun to read about all the activities you did that we didn't hear about. So glad you were able to see the nesting birds at Gatorland as well.

Kayleigh said...

Such a fun trip!! How do you afford all of these vacations? Do you just plan in advance and the tickets are cheap? I am just wishing I could travel more - especially since my quest for finding a husband isn't exactly taking off... haha, why not?!

jamie hixon said...

You know who's cute? You are. The picture of you with your goody bag and the picture where you are "getting eaten" on the aligator teeth are super cute.
I would not have tubed in the river because I am afraid of alligators. And those long old fish look yucky.
That sounds like an epic trip! Seriously, you can really pack a lot of stuff into a little amount of time!