Florida 2018: Day 8 - Orlando


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Florida 2018: [Day 1: Murfreesboro] [Day 2: Merritt Island] [Day 3: Riviera Beach] [Day 4: Key Largo] [Day 5: Key Largo] [Day 6: Key West] [Day 7: Dry Tortugas] [Day 8: Orlando] [Day 9: Columbia] [Day 10: Cincinnati]

Friday, July 27, 2018: We got our van out of the public garage and left Westwinds Inn before dawn.
So long, Key West!
We had enjoyed great weather during our visit, but the weather report showed that the rain might be moving in after we left.
We got to enjoy the sunrise as we made our way back northeast along the Overseas Highway.
We were old pros at this ice vending machine thing, so we loaded up our coolers again. Best invention ever.
While the sun was breaking through partly cloudy skies in the direction we were heading, ...
... there were thunderstorms brewing over the ocean.
Back on Key Largo, we finally took a photo of the thing we called the hurricane-proof tower. It served as an easily visible landmark even when we were on the boat in John Pennekamp State Park. No hurricane will ever blow this mighty tower over.
Noooooo! This bridge is the portal to the regular world and we didn't want to leave the Keys behind.
But leave we must, because we have much more to see and do.
Ever since a Top Golf went up right outside Tom's work office window, we are compelled to photograph them every time we see one.
We went past a Carnival Cruises building. You know how every time you hear about a drunken cruise ship passenger, it's pretty much always on a Carnival cruise? The poor people who work here probably have to deal with crap like that on a regular basis.
We grabbed some McDonald's for a late breakfast just before heading inland to the land of no fast food.
Near South Bay stands the abandoned shell of Gatorland, which was so interesting that we had to go back and drive by it again for a photo. In the 1960s, it used to look like this. Read more about it on this site.
We saw some crop dusters flying by and then saw an airport where more were parked.
We stopped along the edge of Lake Okeechobee at Canal Point Recreation Area.
We had a little visitor on the windshield for a few minutes before moving on.
We passed banana trees ...
... and fields of sugar cane.
We saw the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam ...
... and the St. Lucie Canal that leads away from it.
In this photo, you can see the rim canal running alongside the edge of the lake.
We passed this freshly-born colt who was still a little unsure of how his legs worked.
Debbie was committed to find a photo that featured cows, herons, and palm trees, and finally got one. You don't see a combination like this back in Wisconsin, that's for sure.
In case we were still unsure if all those long silver fish in the water were barracudas, this oversized barracuda statue convinced us.
We passed a ranch of some sort that had camels and zebras, but no photographic proof exists, nor have we been able to figure out what it was.
We passed the not-so-thriving metropolis of Yeehaw Junction.
It has clearly seen better days.
We got back on the tollroad and used our shiny Sunpass which still hadn't charged any tolls yet. We later learned that they had well over a hundred million transactions backlogged, so their vendor was in big trouble.
The rest stops on the tollway are quite lovely.
We made it to Walt Disney World shortly before 3:00 PM, ...
... and headed straight to the gorgeous Disney Springs Orange Garage.
In we go, past the Splitsville bowling alley, ...
... turning right at the AMC Disney Springs 24 theater.
We had to stop at the Candy Cauldron ...
... to peer into the window at the elaborately-decorated candy apples.
The Star Wars Galactic Outpost offered a make-your-own-light-saber station.
It was filled with the most enticing Star Wars LEGO models, but Tom's head was not turned.
We passed the Coca-Cola Store with a promise to return later.
We were heading to D-Luxe Burgers for dinner, ...
... so we could eat on their outdoor terrace (shown on the left here), ...
... and have this view. Our friends Brian and Ann had both posted photos from this location in the previous month, so we added a Disney Springs stop to our vacation itinerary just to take in this scenery.
We placed our tracker on the center of our table as instructed, and moments later, our s'mores shake was brought to us.
It was joined moments later by fries and burgers. Yum!
Ann told us to check out the Ganachery so we looked down this street first, ...
... then turned around and found it this way instead.
There it is!
Some girls had just purchased a Disney-themed s'more and were photographing it next to the ad for it outside the store.
The store was filled with many adorable Disney-themed chocolate pops ...
... and the prettiest little chocolates you've ever seen, but with overstuffed bellies and another hour of heat ahead of us, we didn't dare buy anything.
We crossed a bridge that separates the suspiciously clear water of the almost-real-looking springs area from the dark water of the nearby lagoon.
We went to the Coca-Cola Store and headed up to the Rooftop Beverage Bar. We intended to have a sampler tray of international flavors, but we were much too full to do it.
Instead, we looked around for a moment, ...
... and checked out the view.
We took the ramp that circles the outside of the building from the third floor to the second. The wallpaper along the walls was fantastic.
Enjoy it with us.
At previous World of Coca-Cola stores we've visited, sometimes there is a single commemorative bottle you can either buy or receive as part of a tour. The gift shop on the second floor had a huge display of collectible 2016, 2017, and 2018 red bottles, ...
... plus this overwhelming display of other designs. Debbie managed to not lose her mind and just bought a single Orlando bottle, plus a piece of Coca-Cola cake.
We continued to take the ramp down to the first floor, ...
... marveling at even more cool Coca-Cola-themed wallpaper.
We passed a huge Disney building marked, "Casting," which is a pretty great way of renaming HR.
As we approached our hotel, the rain started up. In other words, when we no longer needed it to be sunny, it wasn't. Our weather luck is absolutely amazing.
We were staying at the Renaissance Resort Orlando SeaWorld, which is right across the way from SeaWorld, as the name implies.
We had booked a room for free using airline miles, and then were surprised with an upgrade to this huge suite.
The only strange thing about it is that the king size bed was a Murphy bed, which means that it can be folded up into the wall and hidden, so it had a bit of a hide-a-bed feel to it. The room was clearly more geared toward use as a corporate hospitality suite or meeting room.
After being in a tiny Key West hotel room the size of a closet, it was nice to have lots of room to spread out.
Here's the interior of the huge building.
A cocktail reception was being held in the atrium. The three-piece band was playing Disney songs, since it's Orlando, after all.
The skies cleared up but we had already decided not to ever leave our suite.
Tom's work laptop had died the night before, so he took advantage of the downtime to work on restoring it. Besides, it isn't a Bundlings vacation without at least one photo of Tom having to work. Traditions are important.
Pretty sunset.
Instead of another meal, we snacked in our room and opened the piece of Coca-Cola cake we had purchased earlier.
After dark, a thunderstorm rolled in so Debbie got out the camera.
Nailed it! Lucky timing produced this shot.

Finally, Debbie took the very last dose of her shingles medication. After taking two pills three times a day for ten days, it was good to finally be done. Her shingles rash was clearing up nicely by now but we'll spare you another photo of it.

Day 9 >


Florida 2018: [Day 1: Murfreesboro] [Day 2: Merritt Island] [Day 3: Riviera Beach] [Day 4: Key Largo] [Day 5: Key Largo] [Day 6: Key West] [Day 7: Dry Tortugas] [Day 8: Orlando] [Day 9: Columbia] [Day 10: Cincinnati]

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