May 21, 2011

Vacation Megapost

Aren't we sweet? Haha- Well, for our 10th anniversary this year, Dax planned a vacation for just the two of us. The kids stayed with Nana a couple of days and then Grandma drove into town to take over. Meanwhile, our final destination was a surprise to me! Our first stop was Atlanta. Then we headed to the next gate where I waited for our vacation city to pop up on the board.

This is where we went on our honeymoon, so we were able to revisit some of our favorite places and explore some new ones!

Dax plays Angry Birds. We had tons of waiting time at the airports both to and from Orlando.
I've decided to begin reading my grandmother's collection of classics, so I had Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi.

After checking in, we took a taxi to Universal Studios where we revisited Emeril's restaurant for dinner. Here, I'm telling Dax to turn the camera. Guess I was a little late.

The poor waiter (one of our 6 waiters) took 4 or 5 pictures, but the flash was stubborn : )
After dinner, we wandered around the stores, then decided a movie would be nice. We saw THOR, and laughed during a lot of it, but it was pretty fun.

The next morning, we hit the parks early. Islands of Adventure was first.

We fast-walked along with all the other folks in line straight to the Harry Potter section.
(Harry Potter fans only will most likely understand the next few photos). It's Hogsmeade!
It absolutely felt like you were there. They did a great job.

Just beyond, was Hogwarts castle. This is an extremely zoomed in picture. Every detail was great!

To get to the main ride, we waited in line in the herbology classroom.

Inside the castle, there were lots of other fun places. Entrance to Dumbledore's office.

Plenty of hallways of talking portraits. Yes, they talked and moved around! Salazar Slytherin was arguing with someone when we passed by.

Dumbledore's office. The had lifelike holograms of the characters talking to us, but they didn't show up in pictures. Of course there were ton of other rooms, a talking sorting hat, and all the other good stuff. All in all the whole thing seemed so real. The castle is a lot creepier to actually walk around in than it seems in the movies. The ride was excellent, too. We were chased by a dragon while we followed Harry on a broomstick. We even got to play Quidditch!

Back in the street, we perused the shops from the movie.

Honeydukes- with the most expensive candy you could ever find.

Butterbeer! Much more affordable and very tasty- like a sweet cream soda.

The owlery.

Lots of fun things like this were hidden around, and they all worked. : )

Olivander's wands. They sold each character's wand.

Good bye!

Onto Jurassic Park, where I quickly became prey.

Jurassic Park also lends itself to several "clever" word plays.

Definitely liked this hat on Dax. Won't he be the sweetest old man wearing one of these?

This whole pose struck me as funny. Watch out!!

Who knows what other dangers lurk in those woods....

I'm sharing this extremely flattering picture with you to show how wet we got on the next ride.
We rode one of those tube adventures and it seemed the water got the two of us over the other riders every time. Pay $5 to dry off in an an electric dryer? No thanks, we opted for the 4 hour long sun-drying system.

Dax headed to the top to squirt unsuspecting riders below.

Haha!! Then I couldn't find him, but I heard bells ringing. He'd found a nice little place to happily make some noise.

Lots of opportunities for goofy pictures. Obviously I didn't gauge my stance quite right, but it's supposed to look like the dog is sweeping me off my feet.

Dax did way better, but my computer refuses to rotate this picture.

We saw a few characters here and there. Spiderman was very stoic atop his cycle.

This is for my dad, who told me about "planking."

The new Simpsons ride was a lot of fun. It was of course very clever in poking fun at all things to do with theme parks, but also very smart in the way they designed the ride.

Caught red-handed. We also headed over to the regular Universal park and enjoyed the indoor Mummy rollercoaster and the very old-fashioned JAWS, which made us laugh the whole time.

After resting at the hotel for awhile, we walked to Uno's for some Chicago-style pizza.

And hit a Walgreens for some supplies on the way back. Sunscreen was 16 bucks at the parks! I was also in desperate need of a hat. : )

The next morning we decided to rent a car and venture to St. Augustine about 2 hours north.
We ended up with this awesome truck!

This is for my mom, who thinks I always take pictures with my ears sticking out.

I never realized this place had so much history. This is the original wall separating the military stronghold from the rest of town- originally settled as a Spanish colony.

The oldest schoolhouse in the country. With a mannequin teacher in the top window.

They had a tiny Greek Orthodox church in the middle of town with lots of interesting history about the early settlements posted along the walls.

Saints' relics, including Sts. Anthony, Peter, and Paul.

We chose cute little hot dog place for lunch. My relish looked radioactive!

Next we toured a Spanish colonial town. Here was the inside of an early house. Dax pointed out how fancy the parents' bed was, while the kids got little sacks on the floor.

I like this idea for the modern kitchen. A floating shelf would offer lots of convenience, actually.

Mr. Woodworker told us he was making a "kit fiddle," a practice instrument music teachers would carry around.

Mr. Blacksmith showed us how to make nails. I've seen these kinds of demonstrations before, but this was the first time I understood everything.

Mr. Militia told us all about preparing for the battle of 1740 with the English "scoundrels." This guy was really great and was very entertaining for the kids in the group. I now know all about the the flint-lock musket. Do you?

Next we walked over to the Castillo de San Marcos. This military fort was completed in 1695, and I'll spare you all the historical details, but they are super interesting, one being that this fort was never taken in battle. See the tiny lady having a private picnic? I guess this site is good for that kind of thing, too.

"Keep off cannons."

Soldiers quarters while they were on duty. Comfy.

18th century graffiti. This is in Spanish, but the info says it's such gibberish no one can decipher it.

I would not recommend sneaking into any of the windows unless you want spikes in your foot.

When the English eventually came along, they made some ammendments, namely bunkbeds, and a lowered ceiling for what equaled a second story in each room. I really like the shelving on the beds. Very handy.

Dax sticks his head in a latrine.

From the top of the fort.

Inside the courtyard.

I learned a lot about forts on this vacation.

Since I am weaponless, I must fend off the seige by jumping on the attackers "Lord of the Rings" style.

Out of commission.

We wandered back to town and finally found Ponce de Leon's statue, which was much tinier than expected! haha We were too lazy and old to walk across town to the Fountain of Youth... which probably would have done us some good.

Next up was a relaxing boat tour. St. Augustine is located in a little inlet, so we could see the Atlantic Ocean from the boat. There's always something about seeing the ocean that makes me sigh a contented sigh and feel overwhelmed at the same time.

This lighthouse was very pretty- the second tallest in the state (or country). I couldn't hear the announcer too well.

We saw a little family of dolphins! They told us the calf had just been born the day before. This is the closest clear picture my camera would take.

We docked next to a pirate ship. Arrg.

We walked around town a bit more, and I thought this fence was especially intimidating.

A relaxing evening at the hotel and tons of airport hours later, we were back home safe and sound.

And brought our munchkins a little gift from Dr. Seuss world : )
Thanks to Dax for the millionth time for organizing such a great trip for us. I seriously didn't have to lift a finger the entire time. He took care of everything and we really enjoyed each other- just like we always do, but this time distraction and responsibility free! Thank you also to Nana and Grandma for making it possible. I sound like I just won an award or something, but I feel like I definitely won nonetheless!