This time, Mel contributes to the blog as well. See her entries in italics 😉
So I guess it’s my turn to contribute to the blog, although Colin and I have a job-sharing thing going: he’s blogging and I will convert the blog and all the bits and pieces of memorabilia we are collecting during the trip into a scrap book afterwards.
This morning, we checked out of the hotel, made a short stop-over at the Everglades National Park Visitor center to stock some postcards (see scrap book above), got two more fruit smoothies at Robert’s… and a postcard and off we were.
What came next is not covered on postcards, though. I decided that I wanted to see the backcountry of Florida by taking US Hwy 27 up north to Orlando. This highway goes north smack in the middle of the peninsula aka Florida. There are no sights, no touristy stops, no nothing mentioned in the travel guides and now we know why. First you drive through miles and miles of Everglades sawgrass plains. You practically feel the alligators lurking right and left in there. By the way, I have to admit to a big misconception on my side: I actually thought we would see alligators lurking everywhere, and not just lurking. I though there would be so many that you have to be careful not to step on one or drive one over while traveling… well, not so. For all those gator-phobics (like Colin at the beginning): Florida is safe… stay close to big tourist sites, avoid any national parks and boat trips lead by park rangers or naturalist and you are quite safe to spend your time in Florida without ever seeing one. Ok, then you’ve missed some cool stuff, but at least you had an alligator-free vacation.
Back to our trip up north. Around Lake Okeechobee – that’s where the Everglades get their water from – the not-alligator-infested saw grass plains made way to … well… some other grass. Looked like a mixture from grass, bamboo and rice… and it took Colin and me the better part of an hour to figure out what it was: sugar cane. We entered Florida’s farming belt and while in Virginia, they grow turkey for Thanksgiving, in Florida they produce sugar. Pretty boring to look at, but you could see the big sugar factories everywhere and the smoke coming out of those chimneys was pretty disturbing. And the yellow road warning signs… beware of fog smoke… what’s that supposed to mean???
North of Lake Okeechobee, we struck a second farming belt: orange trees. Now, that’s something to see. It’s end of November, we have snow in Germany and here we pass through miles of orange farms – not to mention that I’ve never seen an orange tree in full fruit before in my life. I was sooo tempted to just stop and smell the oranges…
Right after we passed the cities of Frostproof and West Frostproof (no, I am not joking – now take this as cute addresses… "yes, I live in Frostproof, FL 12345"), we entered an area covered with hundreds of little lakes and quite some nice houses around them. And RV parks – at least as many as lakes in that area … now I know where all those snowbirding seniors are keeping their gigantic RVs in the winter. And we were getting close to Orlando – back in civilisation. We checked into our new hotel – Colin made an excellent choice and upgraded us into a room in the "tower" – 18th floor and city view. After a short nap, we went to Disney downtown and here’s where I let Colin continue his job of blogging. In case you should wonder about his spelling for the next two days: he regressed to a big-eyed 10-year old the second he saw his first Mickey, and different from the alligators: you cannot avoid Mickeys when in Orlando.
Back to the ten-year-old, although I actually see me as a tall twelve, actually a thirteen, but, hey, what does it matter. 😉
It’s amazing, even though totally commercialized. Too bad we came too late for Pleasure Island, but them’s the breaks I reckon, eh? Seriously though, Downtown Disney was fun, we had a rather good dinner at The House Of Blues, a welcome change music-wise, and took a stroll around. I have to admit that I started purchasing Disney Goods, but out of necessity. Here I am, unsuspecting tourist that I am, in Florida to boot, dressed in jeans, sneakers, t-shirt and short-sleeved shirt over it. And all of a sudden (well, not quite THAT sudden, there was a bit of a forewarning called sundown) the sun was gone…and it got nippy. Actually, it was cold! So I did the natural thing and got myself something to wear. The hotel was a few yards too far away…so I went for a Vintage Mickey sweater jacket. Nothing fancy there, just warm and comfy…and actually rather decent looking. Mel will probably go back for some of the christmas baubles (we’ll hopefully figure out how to transport them back to Germany in one piece…) and a Kermit bag. If it weren’t a frog, I’d get jealous, but ever since I know her, she had a weak spot for t hat amphibian…
Anyhow, back to the hotel it is, we want an early start for the Magic Kingdom.
More news tomorrow!