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beach, outside

the big chill / the happiest place on earth

inspirational artwork
posing with the worst painting in the place: susan lucci as the madonna in bloom?


Thursday. Orlando.
Arrive at the airport and take the fully little train to the poorly signed baggage area to wait and wati for Jenna and Steve's suitcases to finally appear on the little tram. By the time they show up and we've found Jennifer and Nate, it's almost time for Aaron's plane to arrive; so we just stand around in the baggage claim area for another twenty minutes watching the arrivals board, catching up, sending text messages.

Because Florida is Always Busy, we've ended up with the last mini-van in all of Tampa as our deluxe transportation solution for the weekend. Going out to the parking garage to find it, even an hour before midnight Orlando is still warm and humid. A sign of the heat wave to come.

On the flight, I skipped buying one of the boxes of snacks; so by the time we were sprawled out on the condo's outrageous green pleather sectional sofa it was necessary to secure some food. The resort's designated pizza establishment long closed, we called another chain. The driver, Pepito, was not allowed on the premises due to some sort of turf war and I had to seek him out at the edge of the complex. For a while, this meant standing near the gate house, practically in the street, while other cars passed by with credentials. Through gentle interrogation of the guard, I learned that I was in the wrong place.

Mystery solved and food secured, we ate pizza, drank fuzzy beverages, waited for Rhiannon, and stayed awake late talking about nothing.

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Friday. Orlando.

After a leisurely morning, we negotiated about an appropriate chain restaurant for lunch. Internet searching, GPS navigation, telephone directory flipping ensued and we were soon off to lunch at the Macaroni Grill, which kind of smelled like a barn. Several other guests wore sparkly streamers and ribbons in their hair. Our food was o.k., and people with extras took them home in bossy containers.

We also learned that Walgreen's is a premium location for stocking up on tourist merchandise. Alligator themed knickknacks, fur hooded Tinkerbell sweatshirts, giant stuffed tigers are all there for the taking.

Back at home, we spent the afternoon on the screened-in deck playing Settlers of Catan while the sun made its attack. By the time I'd won the game, it was hotter than Calcutta out there and we were all ready for some shade.

The closest that we came to enjoying Central Florida's World Class Attractions and Theme Parks was an evening visit to Downtown Disney, which is sort of a fictionalized version of an actual neighborhood. That is, a neighborhood populated entirely by big-box retail and restaurants, concert venues, an island of nightlife. The most fascinating part about Downtown Disney was the convergence of disparate characters assembled there: families with children, punks going to the house of blues, overdressed underagers heading for nightclubs, casual strollers, fancy diners, muscle-shirted bikers.

After having dinner with our pal Wolfgang, we were able to resist the allure of the dance club with the rotating floor in favor of going home, ordering beer, and playing some exciting rounds of Mille Bournes, the french driving game.

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Saturday. Orlando.

Over breakfast, we watched as a resort employee lured guests to the mini-golf course by donning a hula skirt and a lei. She convinced a few to try for a hole in one while wearing a grass skirt, but that was the extent of the event.

This was the day that Jennifer and Nate had to be tempted into buying a time-share. While they were being sold on the idea of vacation property investment, Rhiannon and I made a trip to the very poorly organized Winn-Dixie to procure dinner supplies. We did not encounter a smiling dog, just aisle upon aisle of confusing shelves.

Back at home, an painfully dull six person game of Mille Bourne in which Jennifer and I were repeatedly stalled by gas shortages. Later, we ventured poolside to avoid the sun while Jenna and Steve soaked it up. Rhiannon prepared a delicious Mexican fiesta for us to enjoy while watching the World Series. Even though we purchased Tiger beer for the occasion, it didn't help Detroit. Soon we shifted our focus to settling Catan as they lost on the large, washed out television.

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Sunday. Orlando.

Breakfast at Waffle House for maximum southern authenticity. A trip to Bargain World for laughing at awful souvenir opportunities, Scenic drives to and from the airport, with walks around an outlet mall for good measure. Missed attraction: a manmade lake where it is possible to waterski from a network of cables, strung tow-rope style, above the water.

Comments

i really do miss waffle house
Christmas morning, 2000: breakfast in a Wafflehouse, no-where mid-Alabama.

I remember it like it was yesterday.
i'm surprised they haven't tried to take over more of the country.

scattered, smothered, covered

would a greasier, dirtier denny's do well out here?

sure, we have beth's, but it's more of a local institution. i'm not sure a chain would be as well-received... though krispy kreme seems to be doing okay :) 2am grits now!

Re: scattered, smothered, covered

maybe you're right. people seem to like their greasy spoons with a healthy dose of indie kitch.