So I took my laptop to Florida with me on vacation with every intention of blogging my way through the state. I mean how hard could it be to tote it along with a 4.5 month old puppy and all the puppy gear? I had 1.5 bags and my laptop backpack. Shug had a crate, a baby gate, and 2 bags. I’ve raised a high maintenance pup! LOL
For my Tweets of the trip, click HERE.
So where to start? Last week was frantic and as my last post indicated, I was hitting a wall. The only thing that was keeping me going was the fact that I knew as of Thursday night, I would be on vacation. Of course a zillion things came up at the very last minute so I was stuck in the office till after 6:30 at night. Shug and I didn’t make it down to Peachtree City till after 9:30 and I promptly realized I hadn’t brought his vaccination records with me for the puppy kennel in Disney World! Thank GOD my Vet has a 24 hour staffer and she faxed us a copy. Crisis averted! We were on the road by 8:00 a.m. the next morning. Shug immediately proved what a good little car rider he was. I had purchased an Easy Rider pet harness for him so he had his own little seat belt and cuddled up on his pet bed in the back seat behind Dad while he drove. Nary a bark or wimper out of him the entire trip! We stopped in Perry, Georgia at Priester’s Pecans because we seem to always stop there on road trips. I immediately thought of Miss YankeeSouth because thats "our place" on road trips. Lets just say that this particular Priesters was NOT up to the standards of the one south of Auburn off of 1-85 in Alabama and leave it at that (yes, I did send an email to their corporate headquarters – it was THAT bad).
We arrived in Ocklawaha at Gator Maw’s house around 2:30 p.m. Its like stepping back in time in Ocklawaha. I know things have changed over time…but a lot of things feel like they are in a time warp and if you squint, its the little community from the 1950′s that is still most famous for being where Ma Barker and her son were finally caught and killed by the FBI. All the houses Mom’s friends grew up in have different people living in them now, which saddens me, but Gator Maw’s house is the same. The thing that stinks is that years ago, the person who bought the lake front property from her blocked off access to the lake. We used to walk down every morning and swim in the lake. I have wonderful childhood memories of my cousins and I swimming in Lake Weir at Gator Maw’s house. My cousin K10 :::dubbed::: stepped on a mussel once and I still remember that awful sight. Anyway, it was very sad to be able to SEE the lake in the distance and not be able to go down to the dock. My summers in Ocklawaha and Leesburg with my family were a HUGE part of my teenage years (you can take the girl out of the country, but not the country out of the girl!). There’s a part of my heart that stays there and I’m instantly at home when I arrive. We visited with Gator Maw for a little while and she got to know Shug while we set up his puppy tent. K10 arrived with her two gorgeous kiddos and after about 30 minutes of the "We don’t remember our cousin? Aunt? What exactly ARE you?" game, we were all getting along like a house afire. Shug instantly fell in love with the kids and that was all she wrote. We went to my Aunt’s house for dinner (bestest barbeque chicken ever, as always!) and Shug played and played and PLAYED with their pointer, Dixie when the kids weren’t taking him for walks. Then K10 took me down to the Villages so we could people watch. What are the Villages, you ask? Why, they are the world’s largest retirement community. Its like Disney for retired people!!! Wait, why does the name ring a bell? Well, its also the home of one of the biggest outbreaks of STDs in US history. Hollah at the retired people! Get your swerve on. So we cruised around for a bit, but sadly the only people out were teenagers. No blog fodder. The next day we had rain so we couldn’t swim as planned. We toodled around and took the kids out for ice cream and then my Aunt and Cousin surprised me with a lovely birthday dinner (kabobs, a favorite!) and a homemade carrot cake. (Shug gleefully ate the run away carrot pieces while K10 made the cake from scratch!)
Sunday morning we packed up and headed to Melbourne to visit with The Colonel and Gator Gran. We had looked up dog parks online and The Colonel took us to the nearest one. When we arrived it was a MUD PIT. The dogs weren’t playing, they were mud wrestling. Oh HAYL naw! It was an easy decision. We packed up and headed back to the house, much to Shug’s dismay. We had a lovely dinner (shell spaghetti, Gator Dad’s FAVORITE) and then Shug and I headed back to the hotel. I was eagerly looking forward to watching "True Blood" on tv because hotels always have free HBO if they have premium channels. Only this hotel DIDN’T! Wah! After shaking my fists in futile rage while Shug sat looking at me trying to figure out what THIS new hand signal meant, we went to bed early. The next day we were chilling at the house after lunch and I noticed that Shug’s entire belly was inflamed and covered in bites. Gator Mom counted over 50+ of them on him (where we could see) and he was scratching like crazy. Something had either been eating my puppy or he’d rubbed up against something that he had a NASTY reaction to. So one bath in oatmeal soap (yes, I packed it – nyah nyah to all you haters who think we overpack – I was PREPARED) and a children’s benadryl hidden in peanut butter later and Shug was no longer scratching like a maniac. Gator Mom and I did note that he wasn’t sleepy at all, rather the benadryl seemed to make him even more perky. We were just glad that he seemed to be reacting well to the meds. If he’d gotten worse we’d have been in the car on the way home.
Tuesday the 21st was my BIRTHDAY. We arrived in Disney a little before lunch and dropped Shug off at the Ft. Wilderness Best Friends Puppy Kennel. We were staying just 5 minutes away at the Port Orleans French Quarter resort (not up to Disney standards – disappointing!) and after freshening up we headed to Epcot and the PUB CRAWL! I insisted we go on "Soarin" first because I knew it would be the longest wait at the park and I also knew I wouldn’t be up for riding ANYTHING after a few countries on the crawl. After almost an hour and a half wait, we got on the ride and it was awesome. Gator Dad even loved it, and he was grumpy about the wait. After that it was lunch and then the crawl. Gator Momma had done her research and informed us we should do the countries in reverse, starting with Canada. My memories of Canada as a kid were that it was boring, there were rocks and a waterfall, and by the time we got there my feet were aching. Well, now there was BEER and live music. Dad and I had a frosty beverage while Gator Momma hydrated and then we were off to the next stop – the English Pub. Dad and I had Shandies and Gator Momma had an appletini (You GO girl!). Next up was France where Gator Mom and I enjoyed frozen Grand Marnier and Grey Goose Citron slushes. Mmmm, tasty! We were stunned to see that Morocco was serving alcohol and skipped it since we’d assumed we wouldn’t be able to drink there (hello, its a Muslim country?!). We cruised on through the USA and didn’t stop. There are only so many times we can sit through the 30 minutes of the talking heads… Then we arrived in Italy and I immediately thought of Girlyfriend. There was a full wine bar and I had a glass of Prosecco in her honor. Then we sat at the cafe and watched the street performers while they played out "Romeo and Edna" (which, if memory serves…I have seen before. An oldie but goodie.). We strolled on to Germany where Dad and I discovered we had to order our beer outside. The restaurant didn’t have a bar and to order just beer required you sit outdoors. At this point I was barely able to finish my beverage. Our final stop was Mexico and I HAD to have a margarita in honor of Chexican. Dad and I jumped on the 3 Amigos boat ride (still lame) while Mom guarded the drinks. A few silly pictures posted on facebook later, we wrapped up and cruised across the lake on a water taxi to France in time to catch the end of a musical show (a tribute to the Supremes…which made me think that I liked the "Dreamgirls" version better) and then we were off to dinner at the highest rated restaurant in Epcot, Bistro de Paris in France. We requested a view of the fireworks from the table because its the 30th anniversary of my 3rd birthday. When I was 3, Mom and Dad took me to Disney for my birthday and I thought the fireworks were for me. So it was sentimental and slightly hilarious. Dinner was SUPERB. We went with the prefixe option. A lovely bottle of white wine, Mom and I both had the escargot in a parsley cream sauce. A lovely taste of scallop floating on a mousse (fantastic) and of course fresh bread and butter. Dad and I had the pork tenderloin stuffed with deliciousness (there were truffles involved) and Mom had the salmon. The fireworks went off promptly at 9:00 and Mom and Dad were convinced there was a major malfunction because the center platform, which we had a clear view of since we were on the 2nd floor right at the window, appeared to be on fire with giant fireballs. I claimed it was just part of the show – BOOM pyrotechnics. They were very smart and held off serving dessert until after the show. Finally, we finished dinner with the trifecta of desserts. Mom and Dad each had the Creme Brulee, Rice Pudding, and Flan combo while I had the Molten Chocolate Hazelnut cake (it was like a Ferrero Rocher in cake form! My favorite chocolate candies!) with Gelato and Pots de Creme. It was utterly decadent. We left the park thrilled with the lovely day and ready for sleep!
We packed up and headed home to Peachtree City. Shug got to play in "his" yard for a day and the next day Mom and I had lunch with a friend of hers and then went to see "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince". It was very good and very true to the books. I got home last night and spent the evening unpacking and doing laundry. Shug is now back in his routine and currently asleep at my feet. I had planned to take him to the dog park today but he’s been sleeping all day. I think he’s still worn out from the excitement of our trip. Besides, he has a BIG day ahead of him tomorrow. Puppy classes in the morning and then Auburn Sis and Mr. ECU are hosting my birthday soiree with the assistance of Girlyfriend and Singin’ Girl. Its going to be a casual barbeque (which is more my style!) and about 15 or so people are coming (also my style!). I’m so lucky to be blessed with such good friends and since its at Auburn Sis’ house, Shug can come and play with her dogs. Gator Mom, Gator Dad, and NYC Bro are coming too! NYC Bro arrives from New York tomorrow morning. I’m assuming Chick-Fil-A will be immediately consumed. I can’t wait to see him. He’s still one of my best friends and my favorite person in the world so it sucks not getting to see him as much as I’m used to.
Ok, off to do MORE laundry!
ps – How great was this week’s "True Blood"? I caught it last night – God bless Tivo! WHOOT!! Mary-Ann in the Gran getup? CREEPY!