Friday, March 16, 2012

Birthday Vacation: Part One (DeLand, FL via Amtrak)

Hey there!

The next few posts are going to walk you through my experience for my Birthday vacation. I thought about doing one big post, but I knew it would turn into a novel and overwhelm the reader (and me too!)

So, here is part one (Amtrak train from Raleigh, NC to DeLand, FL)...

I did TONS of research when it came to how I was going to get down to Cape Canaveral, FL for the cruise. My flight home was taken care of, so the hard part was figuring out how to save as much money as possible. I found amazing prices via Amtrak (just $67 one way from Raleigh, NC to DeLand, FL), and it would be an overnight trip, so I was hoping to take some Nyquil and sleep the whole trip.

So, I got my ticket, found a friend to drive me to Raleigh and got all packed!!

Raleigh, NC to DeLand (which can be pronounced "d-land" or "da-land," but never how I was saying it. Sigh. Northerners...



This is a passport. You need one for a cruise (or at least a passport card).

I had to go through a lot to get my passport in enough time to get the cruise approved (because I was a guest of a crew member, I had to submit my passport number for a background check 4 weeks in advance!!), I was very careful not to lose it. I kept it sitting out in the open, kept very careful track of it, and made sure the day I was leaving that it was sitting on the table with everything I was putting in my bag.

As we were getting ready to leave, my brain kept saying, "You're forgetting something." So, I decided to be reasonable and NOT ignore it, since forgetting anything important would mean that part or all of my trip would be negatively affected.

I stopped. I thought. I panicked.

My friggin' passport.

I couldn't remember packing it. I knew I didn't put it in my bag, my suitcase, my wallet, my pocket. I didn't move it. But, it wasn't on the table anymore. I had about 10 minutes of freaking out, and then my friend delivered me with good news. She found it stuck between two books, hiding mischievously. Basically, that allowed me to be able to breathe again and wipe panic-induced tears that were starting to form.

So, we were off. Pretty much just a straight shot to the train station. The train was delayed a few hours, so after about 3.5 hours at the station and a 13 hour train ride, I arrive in DeLand, FL. Greeted by my wonderful Uncle.

I thought this would be a good series to begin on this trip. I was correct. GREAT READ!!!

Nothing says, "Welcome to Florida" like a giant freaking palm tree. I love Palm fronds!

This is my Uncle Dale and his parrot, Tommy Bahama. This man is just about as cool as it gets :)

We grabbed lunch and headed to Blue Springs State Park. Not just any State Park that I have experienced in Ohio or even Virginia. What's so special about this park for someone like me? Freaking Manatees.

Oh, but how cool it would be to swim with an animal that is nicknamed "The Sea Cow!!" (Don't worry.... I behaved!)

Yes. I have never. Never. NEVER seen any form of a manatee other than on TV before that moment. Phrases that came out of my mouth: "OMG!" "He came up to breathe!" "LOOK! There's another one!" "I want one to take home!" "They're spooning!" "They're holding fins while they swim!" There was also an unintelligible sound that involved random vowels. "EEEIIIIIIIUUUUUAAAAAAOOOOO!" is probably accurate.

You can't see it very well, but these two manatees are courting. I noticed they were spooning (see above comments), then they started swimming while "holding" fins. Oh. My. Word. How adorable! I was smitten.

Loved it!

See the baby? I flipped my schniz when I saw that little thing. Miniatures of anything are always adorable... Always.

I guess this park was the grounds for an old plantation. Love the double porch! Reminds me so much of Forest Gump. :) (I know that at least half of you just had your favorite Forest Gump quote just go through your head. Don't deny it!)

My uncle and his family didn't realize my birthday was the very next day (I neither promoted it to them nor expected any kind of celebration from them), so when it came up, my uncle whipped out a nice cold bottle of Patron from the freezer and we all (my uncle, my aunt and her friend) did "birthday shots." Patron. Is. Lethal. Ohmigosh! It was so strong. I was good after one shot, and everyone else was too.

Cute little shot glasses for our Patron to take temporary residence in, courtesy Jackie Roberts.

The next morning, I went for a run at the gym in the hotel and had breakfast by the lake (which lasted about 4 minutes, because two geese decided I was too close to something important to them. I'm guess there was a nest, based on their aggression, but I hadn't seen anything. P.S. They were UGLY!!

1.53 miles: not my best run, but it was early and stiff from 13 hours of traveling the day before.

This was where "The Goose Attack" happened.
That nasty thing got about 2 feet from me before I realized he wasn't coming over just to say, "What's up?"

Then..... we drove down to Port Canaveral for..... the.... CRUISE!!!! (Can you tell it was exciting??)

.....Birthday Vacation: Part Two (Port Canaveral via Aunt Jackie) coming next......

1 comment:

  1. woohoo! yay for traveling (any style!)

    can't wait for the rest :)