Throwback Thursday - Vacation

Winter Break, February 2014
     I'm trying something new...  I realized last week with the kids being on "Winter Break" and the temperatures here in Michigan being well below freeeeeezzzzing that it was this time last year we planned a last minute "road trip" down to Florida to get away from what was an even more terrible winter!!  Perhaps even more shocking was that I realized I had never even preserved that memory on this old blog!!!  That, and many others!!!  So, I'm going to try to do some catching up with some "Throwback Thursday" posts!!! 
     Last year we had record snowfalls here in Michigan...  So, we literally planned a trip in less than two weeks and headed south to get-a-way!!!  (Don't hate me, remember this year we were here with the -25F, and it's not that fun!  For now, let's just look at these pictures and pretend...)
     We didn't want to drive too far south, so we aimed for the Orlando area.  However, the immediate Orlando area was quite booked as most people make plans way in advance if going to Orlando or Disney.  So, we settled on a nice house we found in Davenport, Florida which was just close enough to plenty of things, including all of the attractions in the Orlando area.  I believe we stayed in this golf community we stayed at called Providence and it was very nice. We were lucky to find it last minute and at a decent price.  Experience has shown us that with our family of five, particularly grown teenagers, it is much better to rent a condo or house with a pool.  If you shop around, you can often get a better price per night than many hotels and we feel we save some money by eating breakfast and a few meals at home.
     We left very early in the morning and spent our first night in Georgia and then drove through the next morning.  We had just missed, by 24 hours, a huge winter storm that went all the way down to Georgia.  We saw the aftermath of trees down and stranded cars on our way down I-75 South.  We were lucky that for the most part, our trip was smooth sailing.
     Finally crossing into the Florida state line and stopping at the first rest area is always exciting...  That's right - we're tourists!!!

     I can never resist a shot of the palm trees -- even if they are at a rest area.  After leaving the huge amounts of snow, I don't know if they've ever looked as good as they did on this trip.

     Once we reached our house we were pretty happy with it!!  Although it was not the nicest house we ever stayed at, it was very nice and especially considering our last minute planning.  Last year, this is how I spent President's Day...poolside!!

     We are "Disney people" and although this was not designed to be a "Disney" trip, we could not resist taking advantage of some of the Disney experiences.  One night, we made a dinner reservation at the Polynesian Resort followed by some relaxing and fireworks outside.  It was very nice and the extra tropical atmosphere was more than welcome!! 

     While the girls and I hung out by the pool several days, the boys took advantage of the golf course that was within the community where we stayed. 

I love my little golfer guy....

But I don't know if I would have been as relaxed by the pool if I knew this guy was watching  their golf game -- yikes!!!!

     After a couple of days, we had to get our Disney side on...  We would only be spending one day at a Disney park and decided that Epcot was our park of choice!  I feel it has a good mix of rides, shopping, cultures, restaurants and shows and although we like all of the parks, everyone was happy with Epcot!!  Entering the Disney gates never gets old!! 

     I hate to admit this, but one of our favorite stops is always "Club Cool" with its free samples of Coca Cola flavors from around the world.  The kids have loved taste testing them, mixing, and quenching their thirst from the hot Florida sunshine since they were little kids (and we like it, too)!!!  Have you done this before?  I feel like some people don't know about it and if they did it would be much more crowded.

Being out and about and kids at least pretending to get along is a good thing!!

     It was nice to not have any particularly strict agenda since we have seen most everything before.  At one point, we were even able to let the kids do some exploring on their own!!  That part was new and exciting!  We did most of the big attractions, Spaceship Earth, Soarin', Test Track, Ellen's Energy Adventure, The Seas,  Also the Maelstrom in Norway -- which I understand is closed now in order to make way for a much bigger "Frozen" attraction that has taken everyone by "storm" for the past year or more.
     Of course, we also realized we had to at least one meet and greet with our main mouse, Mickey.  A rare family picture (complete with my lovely hair sticking out because I just took it down for the pic...nice!).

     We had dinner reservations in "Germany" -- a family favorite of ours!!  We love the show and the music and the dancing and we really enjoyed the whole experience.  (By the way, I love saying "meet you in Germany", or see you in Italy at 8 pm...  Disney brings out the kid in us all!!)


     Afterwards, we had a bit of time to kill before the World Showcase fireworks show.  Some of us chose to browse around the gift shops and try on some things... 

     Another evening was spent at Cape Canaveral where we witnessed our first ever live rocket launch which you can read about here.  We viewed from a local park where several others also gathered to witness the launch.  There were several delays in the liftoff time which we monitored by their website on our phones.  It was a bit frustrating and there was a moment where we thought they were going to have to postpone the launch, but then we finally saw it and it was well worth the wait.  Very cool!!
     The kids always love some of the different restaurants down "South", such as CiCi's Pizza and Sweet Tomatoes.  Megan, the ice cream lover, also insisted on having this picture as a keepsake... 

      We returned to a driveway full of snow and thick ice along with several more weeks of the longest Winter ever!!!  So thankful we were able to get a break by our last minute vacation to The Sunshine State which never seems to disappoint this family!!!!!