Florida – September 2011

Day 15 – rest day

Monday 3rd October

Today was all about catching up with friends and family. With no theme parks scheduled for today, we anticipated a slow start to the day but for whatever reason, my body clock roused me into consciousness by around 08:00, at which time Sandy and the kids were already up and about. I did my level best to try to continue to sleep but my body was having nothing of it and I eventually got out of bed some 20 minutes later.

Sandy wanted to explore what K-Mart had to offer today, as this was one of the major shopping chains that we hadn’t yet visited since arriving. We packed the kids into the car and set out towards our favourite breakfast haunt. This being the South, the people here are usually quite religious. Judging by the crowd at the Waffle House this morning, we must have arrived after the churches had released their congregations already. Despite the longer than usual wait for a table, the food was just as delicious and everyone ate well.

Our SatNav took us to the nearest K-Mart store, which turned out to be just over 10 miles away but still on highway 192. Just about every other conceivable store can be found somewhere on highway 192 so it was no surprise that we’d find a K-Mart here also. I did my best to keep the kids occupied for as long as possible so as to allow Sandy the freedom to shop at her leisure. We spent a good hour there and everyone picked up something. We picked up some toys for the kids (intended as Christmas presents for this coming Christmas) and a few clothing items. It’s difficult to find T-shirts for me in Australia that I find are long enough but they had a rack-full here that were on clearance. After the further 30% discount that was rung up at the till, they came in at just $2.09 each. Realising just how much of a bargain this was, I went around again and filled my cart with whatever they had left. I think I ended up with 18 T-shirts altogether.

It was about 14:00 by the time we were in the car and on our way back to the house when we got a call from Shane letting us know that he’d arrived and was now at the house. I’d previously given him the code to get in and he and his friend, Lisa, had already made themselves at home. I haven’t seen Shane for around 10 years, although we’ve chatted by phone and over the Internet a few times in recent years, and so it was good to see him again and catch up. He and Lisa had just driven for 16 hours to get here. They are visiting us here in Florida to meet not only with us but also with Louise & Chris, who should be here in a couple of days. They’ll spend a couple of days here at the house before moving into the hotel where Louise & Chris will be staying and tagging along with them for a few days

We spent a couple of hours catching up with Shane whilst sitting out by the pool when Anna called to let us know that she, Marc and their Son Anthony were on their way from Tampa to visit for the evening. It was really great seeing them all again. Marc is a really good friend and we’ve been lucky enough to see him & Anna on every trip back to Florida since we left.

Anthony and the kids enjoyed some prime time in the pool. This wasn’t initially intended on the part of Anthony, who made his debut into the pool via an accidental slip. As he was already wet, he stayed in and we put the kids in with him to have a bit of fun.

By around 18:00, we set out for dinner and trawled 192 until we stumbled into a Ruby Tuesday’s, which then became our dining destination. It was a lovely meal and all the better for the fantastic company. The kids were clearly getting tired, as the now predictable slow deterioration of our ability to keep them sitting still bore out. We stayed for dessert and all headed back to the house for an hour or so to watch the football game on TV and to just generally chill out. Between us all, we put the various games in the garage to very good use and the kids got a real thrill out of all the attention they were receiving.

It was around 22:00 before Mac & Anna headed back onto the road for their hour and a half trip back to Tampa. It was absolutely fantastic catching up with them and we will miss them dearly.

It was very shortly thereafter that everyone else was off to bed. Shane and Lisa will, I’m sure, sleep long and soundly in light of the fact that they have been up for over 30 hours. They won’t join us at the theme parks tomorrow. We plan to visit Universal Studios in the morning and Universal Islands of Adventure in the afternoon. Tomorrow will, I’ve no doubt, be a long day as a result.