Camaro

Sunday Link Party!

by Jamie Sanford on October 11, 2010

(Part 2 of 2)

Thursday (9-23) was another early morning, as we got up to head to Florida’s east coast. We got into the yellow muscle car and made our first stop at Cracker Barrel, a road trip staple. After some hashbrown casserole, fried apples, bacon, coffee, more shopping, etc, we got back in the car and headed to Kennedy Space Center.

Having not been there for probably 20 years, I didn’t remember anything about KSC. Will was really excited to go since he loves things of this nature. We arrived and booked ourselves into the more in-depth of the tour options, which takes you closer to the shuttle launch pad. Afterwards, we walked around the Exploration Space exhibit, which was really enjoyable and interesting. We then went to get in line for the bus tour and then spent the next 2 hours driving around the KSC complex, seeing all of the administration buildings, the vehicle assembly building, and the shuttle launch pad where the Space Shuttle Discovery will launch from on November 1 – the next-to-last shuttle launch before the program is shut down. We got great views of the launch pad and the VAB and were then dropped off at the Apollo/Saturn-V Center. You get to experience a launch from inside the control room, which was great, and then you walk into a giant space with a Saturn V Rocket staring you in the face.  Also in that building are a moon rock that you can touch, the Apollo Treasures Gallery, an astronaut transport vehicle, and more.  We walked around for a bit, had a late lunch, did some shopping and then took the bus back to the main KSC area.

We went on the Shuttle Launch Experience ride, which was way cooler than I expected. It’s a simulator of the first 2 minutes or so of a shuttle launch, complete with g-forces and whatnot. It was great.  We flew out of there and then were very close to closing time.  We crossed over to the Rocket Garden, a very cool area of the complex.  I didn’t stay as long as Will, I went back to check out the gift shop situation while he was taking more pictures. He eventually found me and we headed back to Orlando.

Some photos from our trip to KSC. Click on the image to visit the full set on Flickr.

We used Ted (my trusty GPS) to locate a Publix before we went back to the hotel. Side note:  If I am in Florida, I try to eat the following 3 things that I do not get here in New Jersey:

I worked for Publix in high school and I really don’t know many people that don’t react the same way I do when “Publix subs” are mentioned.  I can get amazing and authentic subs here in New Jersey, but there is something about the Publix bread etc that just makes for a delicious sub.  We have a Chick-Fil-A that isn’t too far from my house, but it is in the mall and therefore doesn’t really count.  Steak ‘n Shake came into my life in college, and since I started taking Will there, we both love getting a burger and a shake. I really enjoy it because we have fun going to our standard eating locations while we are on trips together. It really is about the little things.

Friday was set for Harry Potter time! We met up with my sister and nephews at Universal Islands of Adventure.  We immediately went on the Hulk roller coaster, which was amazing – love the 0 to 60 in 3 seconds burst at the beginning. After that, we walked around and skipped Dr. Seuss Land and The Lost Continent to head straight to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Anyone who enjoys the Potter-verse at all should make a trip to see this.  It is like walking into the movies, which I absolutely love. There are shops from the books/movies and butterbeer and I got a wand at Ollivander’s and Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey is one of the greatest rides I’ve ever been on, it was so well done and we were all about going on more than once.  The only downside is that it was crazy hot, but that ended up being sort of remedied later in the day.  After spending the biggest portion of the day in the world of HP, and having a fantastic lunch at The Three Broomsticks, we moved on to go on the Jurassic Park ride.  I skipped round 1, leaving it to Will and my older nephew Phil to do that while I sat with my sister and watched my younger nephew Steven climb a rock wall.  They came back and Will said that he wanted to go again and that it was fun so I should go too.  Naturally, as soon as we were stuck underneath a big black safety bar, the rain started.  A lot.  We were soaked by the time the ride got to the exciting part that was indoors.  The rest of the day was spent working our way through the rest of the park, riding the Spider Man ride (which we all enjoyed together) and all having fun in the arcade on Superhero Island.  We parted ways and headed back to the crazy sexy yellow sportscar to drive the 2 hours back to my parents’ house.

Photos from Islands of Adventure. Click the image for the whole set of photos on Flickr.


So after some heinous traffic (and some more Steak ‘n Shake on the road), we made it back to Mom and Dad’s house.  My brother and his girlfriend was there, and soon enough, we got into some dramatic competition while playing Sequence.  This competition continued all weekend with the girls eventually emerging victorious.

The rest of the weekend was a bit calmer.  On Saturday, we slept in, and then I went out with my mom to get manicures and pedicures.  I picked my current favorite nail polish for both my hands and feet, Catch Me In Your Net by OPI.  We had a great time together and my nails looked great.  This was all in preparation for a dinner that was 10 years in the making. No, seriously. I have been telling my husband about Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa for the 10 years that we’ve been together, and we finally managed to schedule a reservation while we were in town.  Sorry vegetarians, but this is the best steak I’ve ever had. The whole meal is an experience though, the meal is incredibly drawn out, it’s fabulous.  After finishing the meal, you take a tour of the kitchen and the wine cellar (which contains the largest private collection of wine the world), and then you head upstairs to the Harry Waugh Dessert Room.  During this particular visit, Mom and Dad had coffee while Will and I ordered Bananas Foster for 2, Will had an armagnac and I had a glass of sauternes that was older than me. It was great.

Sunday was our last full day in Florida, and we spent it with family, watching my nephew’s confirmation, and then ending up back at my parents’ house, playing more Sequence. We flew back the next day, which brings me to the end of this massive recap.

Next week, the real link party returns.

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Catching up with gifts from my vacation.

by Jamie Sanford on October 8, 2010

I have slacked off this week everyone, and I know it.  Apologies.

Instead of writing 5 separate make-up posts, I’m going to write one big one.

First up, my nail color of the week. I actually just wrote a review of this polish on Lipgloss & Laptops, and had my nails done with this polish when I got a mani/pedi with my mom. Catch Me In Your Net by OPI is available for $4.98 on Amazon.


Next up is inspired by the smaller geodes I bought from Dinosaur World for my nephews. This is an amazing cathedral geode, and it is $318.


Next up! Jonny Almonds in the cone-shaped bag. I bought a bag of the original cinnamon-flavored almonds at Cracker Barrel and they are delicious. You can buy them in bulk from Jonny Almonds directly. You can get 7 bags (you can pick multiple flavors) for $20.93.


On Friday, we went to Universal Islands of Adventure to visit Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle. I bought a magic wand in Ollivander’s! However, they don’t sell them online.  You can get this great replica of Harry’s wand from The Noble Collection though, for $35.

Finally, and this is a big one. The 2011 Chevy Camaro. I rented one for the week and it was super fun.

The Camaro is available starting at $22,680, but the yellow is a special color and so starts at $26,005.

I will count this as being caught up for the week.  Please someone suggest a theme for next week!

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Sunday Link Party!

by Jamie Sanford on October 4, 2010

(Part 1 of 2)

We arrived at TPA on Tuesday, September 21. We got our luggage then headed over to the Budget Rent-A-Car desk, where we acquired a super hot 2011 Chevrolet Camaro, in YELLOW. I immediately posted a photo on Facebook.

It only had 5 miles on it when I got in!

Yeah, it was fun. I had to try really hard not to speed, throughout the week I used a lot of cruise control.

The rest of Tuesday was pretty uneventful – hung out with the family, had dinner, and got to see my nephew Cooper, the Boston Terrier.

We got up bright and early on Wednesday, with the intention of viewing the Airstream Ranch and then heading to Gatorland. We stopped for some Chick-Fil-A, and then made our way toward the Airstream Ranch, off of I-4.  We were greeted really warmly by the people at the airstream sales place, they even gave us an access map to get closer to the Airstream Ranch.  We drove back there in our not-at-all conspicuous YELLOW SPORTS CAR and proceeded to sort of get yelled at by someone who lives across the street from where we were parked. There was also a sign that said “beware of alligator” but come on, I grew up in Florida! Alligators aren’t just walking around in fields, they are in water or are just warming up in the sun, NEAR the water, about 99% of the time.  I knew that the implication of an attacking alligator was ridiculous, but after being yelled at we decided to just leave.

Airstream Ranch @ I-4

From Soupstance on Flickr. This is the Airstream Ranch!

Not 10 minutes later we saw the big fiberglass dinosaur on the side of the road, indicating our arrival at Dinosaur World.  Naturally, we stopped and went inside.  It was brutally hot and humid, but we paid the money to get in anyway.

DSC00210 copy
Let me just say, the gift shop was more exciting than the dinosaurs.  I did get cool geodes for my nephews and magnets for my house and my mom’s house.  We were in the dinosaur area for maybe an hour, it was easy to be quick as we were almost the only people there.  (Travel tip – if you like the heat and want to go to Florida, go during the 3rd week of September. Everything is so empty and there aren’t really too many lines or crowds at all.)

Here are some pictures from Dinosaur World. The dinosaurs looked like they had been created in the 1950s. My favorites were the ones with human-looking arms. (Click on the image for access to the full set on Flickr,)


Once we got through Dinosaur World, we hopped back on the Interstate, allegedly headed to Gatorland, where I wanted to see the white alligators that they have obtained since we were last there a few years ago.  That thought left Will’s head as soon as we saw the plane on the side of the interstate advertising that we were approaching Fantasy of Flight. Will has pilots in his family, so soon enough, we were pulling in to the not-full parking lot and walking in to the building.

Oh! I forgot to mention that we managed to get to Florida just in time to experience love bug insanity. This is something I had blocked out of my memory of living in Florida for 15 years.  These bugs show up like twice a year en masse and are everywhere.  They were all over the front of the beautiful yellow sports car, lives ended senselessly because they just don’t understand what “70MPH speed limit” means. They were also all over everything else, everywhere.  Luckily, they don’t bite, they are just a nuisance that you have to swat away.

Lovebug I

Photo by William.

Anyway. We paid the admission fee for Fantasy of Flight, and soon were immersed in war! This entire place was so much cooler than I expected – I seriously would recommend it to almost anyone. We walked through this entire war recreation thing, including a B-17 that we got to walk through while hearing the sounds of war! (Bonus here again for going in September, we were in this area of the museum all by ourselves, which made for easy picture-taking and is always just more fun.)

After we left the war, we came out into a giant hangar with tons of planes, all refurbished and apparently having full flight capacity. We walked around for a bit inside the hangar, taking lots of photos, also finding a kids area where we got to try out simulators where we both controlled a hot air balloon and went hang-gliding.  I sucked at both, so naturally, Will did both with finesse and ease.  Whatever.

We went on the sort of backstage tour of Fantasy of Flight next, which was great as there were a total of 4 people on the tour. We rode around the whole complex, learned more about Kermit Weeks, who has an awesome name and a big love for airplanes.  Here’s a selection of my photos from our time there. (Click on the image for access to the whole set on Flickr.)


When we returned from the tour, it was almost time for Fantasy of Flight to close, so we obtained more magnets and headed back to the car.  I had started texting with my college roommate Katie, and we planned some dinner at a restaurant in Orlando called Cafe Tu Tu Tango.  We started heading that way and realized that our hotel, the Doubletree Castle, was behind the restaurant, a great coincidence since Katie didn’t know where we were staying when she suggested it.

We checked in, were handed warm cookies that seemed to appear out of nowhere, and got right up to our room. I booked the Doubletree Castle for 2 reasons. The first being that it was a mile from our Friday destination and the second being that hotels.com had a hot deal for $60 a night.  (One more thing to chalk up to September tourist adventures in Florida.)

After a quick change we drove around to the restaurant, and since we were early, settled in for a cocktail. Shortly thereafter Katie arrived with her husband Todd and their gorgeous daughter Olivia.  We secured a table and settled in for some drinks and some tapas.  Cafe Tu Tu Tango was a fun restaurant, you are surrounded by original art that is all for sale, there are artists is the center of the restaurant creating art while you watch (including this crazy/awesome dude called The Egg Man who had a big chicken on his head), and the food was yummy.  The only downside was that our service was slow. Over 10 minutes to get a draft beer? Come on.

Luckily, things don’t seem to matter so much when the conversation is moving along.  We were entertained throughout the meal by little Olivia, who was hilarious and so cute.  We finished dinner and said our goodbyes, and Will and I headed onto I-drive to find something to do before heading back to go to bed.  Well, when you drive past Ripley’s Believe It! Or Not Odditorium, you turn that hot yellow car around and go back.  I only took a few photos in the museum, mostly we were just having fun and I took a bunch of pictures of Tiny Edward with my phone.


So we spent a while walking around in there, laughing a lot, sitting in giant chairs and looking at chariots carved out of jade, and eventually made our way to the weird tunnel that made me feel a little bit like it was Friday at Feathers. We toured the gift shop and made it back to the hotel.

Part 2 of vacation adventures will be next week’s link party!

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