July 12, 2008

We. Are. HERE.

First off - We are in Florida!!
Secondly - The plane was GREAT!!! I didn't want to land LOL

Ok here's a recap of the day....

I slept pretty well last night considering. I got the couch which was awesome. I love the parent's couch. It's huge, soft, you sink right in. One of the cats came by once in a while and dozed with me. Well, in between pawing me going.....pet me pet me...
We went to breakfast after we got up. It was great!
Afterward we split up, I went with dad & step mom, my brother went on his own to get a few last minute things. We went to Walmart so I could grab a new set of rechargeables for the cameras, some sandals (which are really really nice and comfier than my sneakers) that I wanted not only for the beach but for going through security at the airport easier, some shorts, shirts, etc.
Then we met back at the house and changed into our vacation gear, made sure everything was packed right for security and loaded up the pilot to go to the airport. Right as we were leaving I realized I forgot sunscreen from Walmart so I called the step mom from the parking lot and she had some, so I had to run back into the house for it. Can't go without it!
On the drive to the airport dad and my brother talked about their past plane experiences and made jokes and things to ease my anxiety about it. Dad kept saying..... I wanna go on vacation!! Stow me in the luggage!!
We got to the airport and grabbed our stuff. My brother gave me these big pink shaped things to put on my bag and suitcase so I would find them easier after landing. Was good idea. Then we made our way into the airport. We roamed around a while in the non secure area so Dad could hang out with us. We visited some of the stores and Dad sprung for Starbucks for us. I got a small so I wouldn't have to pee like crazy later. Usually I get a Venti but not today.
Then we finally said our goodbyes, did the hugs, took some pics, then got our tickets and ID's out and headed through security.

There was pretty much no line which was great. After eyeballing us against our ID's and all, we got on to the next part. We handed over our checked bags which were tagged and taken for scanning. Then we took our sandals, electronics, phones and carry-ons and put them in bins that went through a conveyor to be screened. Then we went through the detector and that was fine.
Then, lucky me, I got the ENTIRE first airport experience. I got randomly picked for a pat down in a little glass room. Go figure....
I had to do the arms out thing and all. The lady was very nice and explained everything very well, cautiously.... and I told her it was fine, I had no problem with it, and she smiled and relaxed and did what she needed to. I'd imagine they get some really crabby ass people when they do that, but I was enjoying going through the entire security process so, it wasn't an issue at all.
I even waved to my brother who was cracking up that I was in there. He'd made it through the regular route and was waiting with our stuff for me. I wish he could have taken a picture for me!
Then we wound our way around to where our gate was and sat down and chatted and waited. There was a big window right next to us so we could see that our plane was ah, not there.......and not there......
Finally they announced that we were delayed two hours as the plane that was ours was taken for another route, so they were waiting for another to get in. *sigh*
It was pretty crowded by then as everyone for the flight was camped out there, so we roamed around to other terminals for something to do. My brother called our hotel to make sure there was no issue with when we got in with us being delayed, they said all was good. So we then found a shop and got some gum for the flight.
Then we said, well fuck it, lets get a drink! So we went to a little bar where we found a portion of our fellow passengers waiting as well. We shared a thing of supreme nachos and each got a drink. I got a fantastic strawberry daiquiri, my brother got a beer. By the time we finished our drinks we were getting bored and silly, making retarded jokes and things like we do....
Before we knew it, it was almost time so we went back to our area.
We were excited to see a plane filling the window when we returned and passed a few mins getting pics of us in front of it and hey! I saw my checked bag go up the ramp, highlighted by that big hot pink letter on it :) Was hard to miss.
Then we boarded. They went back to front to make it easier. We were on the right side, just before middle, and I got the window seat. My brother planned it that way since it was my first flight and he just knew I'd love the view.
He laughed because as soon as we sat down i was already putting the belt on. I was like....WHAT.
That was definitely when I was most nervous!! Excited and thrilled, but in the words of a good friend........scared shitless. You bet I was.
Now, I'm one of those people who loves to park by the airport and just watch planes take off and land so I knew the runways well from the viewing area. I was so excited to see we were taking off from my favorite runway that starts like 6 blocks from my apartment :)
As we started down the runway I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, but only for a few seconds. As soon as I felt us start to lift I immediately opened them and looked out the window. I saw the view I'd seen so many times from videos on youtube. But it was all real! I was thrilled!!
And up we went. Over familiar suburbs and parks, bumpy like a road, yet floaty like a rollercoaster. I chewed the gum I'd bought earlier to help my ears pop. I learned that trick years ago when I visited the Arch in St. Louis. It helps a lot. So does swallowing a lot. Wasn't bad at all.
It was fascinating seeing cities, countryside, rivers still swollen from all the rains we'd had, expressways with their on and off ramps and little bitty matchbox cars and trucks driving them.
We decided not to buy the meal plan they had but we both got soda and the wonderful chocolate cookies served hot on the flight. I even took a picture of them. They were as good as many told me they would be.
After a while we started to see more clouds. I was aware that there were storms in the middle of the country and was looking forward to possibly seeing a few nice tall cumulonimbus clouds.
I was NOT dissapointed there either. It was just fascinating. We did a lot of dodging to get around them but had a great view of those tall towers. Saw some lightning going on in them as well. We had our belts on most of the flight as there was turbulence from the storms but it wasn't anything awful at all. Was a bit like a ride actually.
As we got closer to Florida the cloud deck started to clear again and I realized the ground wasn't ground at all, but water. I was amazed and had to smile. The sun was getting lower in the sky, and was casting a gorgeous light over the waters of the Gulf Of Mexico. I took TONS of pictures. And, I just stared. It was indescribably beautiful.....
Eventually we started a pretty hard bank towards the east. I knew if I was seeing the Gulf that we'd been way west of the planned route due to dodging the storms. I LOVE when they bank the plane. I watched the Florida coastline come into view underneath us and went.....WOW. I about YANKED my brother out of his seat pulling him towards the window going.....LOOK! The coast!!
Then we started our descent which I admit, was my favorite part of the flight. You are still way up there yet they slow way down in the air. You kinda go....whoooo. I fought back a compulsion to put my arms in the air :)
Then the belt light went on, and the turn off electronics light went on and down we came. Florida is wonderful by air. Land and water meshes together, green landscape and blue waters everywhere. And more and more we saw subdivisions new and old. Some straight block styles and others winding and turning every which way around pockets of waterway.
Then we were low enough to see things in yards, cars in details and then, the runway was coming up under and and we had a very nice soft TAP and we were back on the ground. Officially starting our vacation yet ending a wonderful and breathtaking ride....
We unbuckled, got our carry-ons and headed out. Legs weren't even wobbly. I was rarin' to see this new state and all it had to offer.
We made our way down to wait for our checked luggage. Was easy to spot with the letter on it. We got our stuff and made our way to a very long bus curbside area. The rental company has their own buses which take you right to the company to get your car. Was great.
We did have some issues when we got their. We paid a lot more than our quote, and had to pay cash instead of using dad's card as planned. We left with the car, tired and stressed, but still thankful we were on vacation. We'd had to pay cash, much of our spending and food money, so it was a bit of a worry, but we were taking it in stride.
We used the map we were given by the rental guy to find our way to our resort hotel at Universal. When we got there we were like.....WOW. Even at night it was gorgeous.
We made our way into the marble filled hotel and got our room keys and passes for the parks and made our way to our room. We were surprised by how pretty and fancy the room was. We'd sure gotten a HELL of a deal. Take Universal's package deal....it is VERY good.
After depositing our luggage we changed and went down for a drink.
We were shocked by the prices, so we planned how to deal with what money we had. Over wine and a strawberry basil mojito we laid it all out, figured out how to budget what we had. In the end we decided that we would resort to eating fast food, which to me WAS a vacation from my strict south beach dieting for months. So I wasn't dejected by the plan at all!
Finally we made our way back to the room to get ready to crash.
It has been a fantastic day and I am just exhausted. One from the adventure of it all........and two because I am a third shifter trying to adjust to a first shift schedule for vacation.
Hopefully I'll sleep all night. I sure FEEL like I could.
Later.

July 7, 2008

13/365


Cocoa: What the %$@! is going on!?

...she couldn't figure out WHAT was going on when the printer started pulling a piece of paper in to print.

July 6, 2008

Lori & Flowers


One of the things I loved about hanging out with Lori, was our ability to always be drawn to flowers. We'd pull over on the side of the road at times just to inspect a pretty one or five :)
A few of the really good floral pictures I've posted on Flickr the last two years were taken in her yard. She truly was a fan of all things nature related.

July 5, 2008

.Fragile


I received this from an artist who paints boxes and puts something inspirational on them based on your characteristics. Then he mails it to you :)