Forever Young

The real Fountain of Youth is a small spring, This little fall is in a garden in Indiana

The real Fountain of Youth is a small spring, This little fall is in a garden in Indiana

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt today is: If there were a real Fountain of Youth, would you drink the water?

 

I just couldn’t help respond because I have been to the Fountain of Youth, I did drink the water and it was horrible. The Fountain of youth is in Saint Augustine, Florida in the Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. This is a beautiful park full of gardens, peafowl, culture and history. I went back in 2008 and unfortunately, this is one the folders that’s been lost. We’re going back in March 2016 and I’ll post my photos then as part of the “Spotlight on Florida” series.

If you get to northeast Florida make this park a priority destination. Drink the water. It’s horrible, tastes like sulfur. How many can actually say they’ve drank from the Fountain of Youth. And it’s not so much that you live forever but that you lived through drinking it. You can even buy it to bring home.

The water may not make you younger but time walking through the gardens may make you feel younger.

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Spotlight on a Florida Christmas: SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

I’ve been going to SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration for years, even before Kai. It’s our must do Christmas activity every year. Here’s a highlight of what you’ll experience.

Here we have several shows: Santa’s Fireside Feast Dinner Show, O Wondrous Night and Shamu Christmas Miracles. (click each picture for full description)

Time to take a break, do some shopping or sit and relax with a nice cup of Crème de Menthe Hot Coco (my favorite) and some seasonal goodies in the Christmas Market. While you’re there enjoy dancing Christmas lights in the Sea of Trees show, listen to whimsical singers having fun with carols and get your photo taken with the local wildlife.

My favorite is Winter Wonderland on Ice – even though this is my first time to see it all. You need to arrive an hour and a half before the show starts to get a good seat. Years past I was always stuck behind some big piece of concrete or some big head. We got there early, fought with a very active three-year old, and watched the show from wonderful seats. This year they had a great opening act, an amazing acrobat.

What else is there? There’s a miniature train display so large it wouldn’t fit in my home. There’s the Polar Express Experience, a simulator based on the Christmas movie. I’ve been several times but not these past two years. I don’t feel right going without Kai, it’s one of his two favorite movies and he does watch it year round. Hopefully next year he’ll meet the height requirement. Oh, and yes there is snop.

Other activities include Elmo’s Christmas Wish and the Holly Jolly Railway at Shamu’s Happy Harbor. I haven’t been to these…maybe next year.

Finally we come to the end of the night with Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountain Finale. Best viewing is from the Christmas Village.

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HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS

 

 

Spotlight on a Florida Christmas: Signs of the Times

Orlando like any other town prides itself in Christmas decorations and like any tourist area our businesses like to attract visitors with their holiday signs. I offer you a small sampling of holiday signs close to my home. All are on or near touristy “I-Drive” except The Holy Land Experience which is nearer to downtown.

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If you’ll notice many of these hotels are named “Rosen” and these are not all that line International (“I”) Drive. Rosen hotels seem to dominate this landscape.

Here are a few just off “I” Drive. The two Marriott’s are across the street from each other. Not much competition there.

If you enjoy driving around to see Christmas lights and decorations like we do here are a few ideas of places of visit in central Florida.

Spotlight on a Florida Christmas: Let it Snop, Let is Snop, Let it Snop

IMG_20141205_203608Now Snowing…

Florida just got an inch of the fluffy white stuff. What’s Christmas without snow? We here in Florida have an answer for that…snop. That fluffy white stuff comes down in gobs of soapy bubbles. Be careful though, the soapy snow is just as slippery as the real thing. One good thing, we don’t have to trade in our flip-flops for snow boots.

Now Snowing is just one of central Florida’s “snowing” events and can be enjoyed nightly at Celebration’s Town Center.

There is plenty to do here at Celebration’s celebration. There are strolling carolers, lots of food, photo ops with Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides, and the Celebration Express.

There is a skating rink. Ok, fooled ya again. It’s not real ice. I don’t know what it is or what those skate looking things are on their feet but they are skating, somewhat.

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And of course there’s the snow snop falling nightly at 6, 7, 8 and 9pm. Too bad our weather people aren’t that accurate.

Children waiting eagerly for the first snow fall.

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Then the snop storm begins…

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Here’s a fun fact for you to chew on…how can you tell a Floridian from a Northerner?

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IMG_20141205_210542If you’ll notice the couple on the right they’re wearing winter coats and just watching the child play. Now look at the mom and kids to the left. Yup, they’re northerners, short sleeves and posing for a photo. Ok, so this is a little simplified but it’s so very common. And what was I wearing? Considering temps were in the upper 60s, I word long sleeves, a sweater and as always flip-flops – is there anything else? Some day I’ll invest in real shoes – – just not today.

Spotlight on a Florida Christmas: Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Every Thanksgiving weekend Busch Gardens Tampa transforms into a quaint Christmas village. Christmas decorations, entertainment, music, activities, light shows and special Christmas food is everywhere.

Take a ride on the on the Christmas Town Express and enjoy a traditional Christmas carol sing-a-long.

Take a trip to the North Pole and visit Santa and Mrs. Claus at their home. Then later have dinner with Mrs. Claus at her family feast.

Enjoy the various displays such as this nativity scene and the beautiful angel. While she looks like a statue she’s actually a live lady, giving out hugs to all the children passing by.

Take a stroll through Christmas Town and enjoy some tasty treats such as freshly baked cookies, flavored coffees, hot chocolates and wine, specialty sandwiches and some elf food (caramel and chocolate popcorn). You can design your own cupcake and bring home a unique nutcracker or other holiday decoration.

Other activities and shows include: Elf Academy, Elmo’s Christmas Wish, Christmas Time Terrace Tree Show, Madagascar Live! Operation: Christmas Vacation, Christmas on Ice, Carol of the Bells light show, Hallelujah Showcase (local choirs), Christmas Celebration, Christmas from the Heart (gospel music).

Christmas Town is open Friday’s to Sunday’s and all of Christmas week until December 31st. This year the cost is included in the regular park admission.

Spotlight on Florida: The Pumpkin Patch

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Sunday we took a trip to find the “Great Pumpkin”. We didn’t find him but we did find a great place to take kids to pick out their own Halloween pumpkin. Because Kai is so young this was our first year but I’m sure this will become a family tradition. He could pick any pumpkin he could carry and I expect each year his pumpkin will get bigger.

If your family will be in Orlando this month go have some fun picking out a pumpkin or two. The Pumpkin Patch is located at the Central Parkway Baptist Church on Central Florida Parkway in southwest Orlando, close to I-Drive and SeaWorld. Check out their information page for days and hours of operation.  There will also be a fall festival on October 24th from 6-9pm with games, activities and food.

Spotlight on Florida: Hurricane Charley

Ten years ago Florida experienced four major hurricane: Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jean. I seem to be a magnet for hurricanes when I’m on vacation. In August of 2004 my family took off to visit family in Florida. When we encountered the beautiful, big waves from tropical storm Bonnie I thought “here I go once again enjoying a hurricane”.

By the time we arrived at my nieces the next day she said “you got your wish for a hurricane.”

I said “I know. We just came through Bonnie.”

She replied “No! There’s another coming and it’s bigger.”

I didn’t think too much about it. Most of the storms I’d encountered were a category 1 or 2 but within a few days my hurricane chasing spirit changed. We expected a category 2 hurricane to make landfall 70 miles north in Tampa. Two hours before Charley hit the forecast changed. It was upgraded to a category 4 and landfall would now be Port Charlotte, the city where we were staying.

I’d experienced a category 2 hurricane in 1991, Hurricane Bob. The destruction was bad but nothing like what I saw with Charley. We weren’t prepared: roads were closed, shelters full, and supplies gone. We hurriedly did as much as we can to secure the home. in the end we only lost the contents of one room. But that’s wasn’t the case elsewhere in the city.

Tornadoes ripped away homes, businesses and stores. We are such geographic creatures. I remember people calling radio stations trying to find their homes. There was so much destruction, so many landmarks gone, people couldn’t find their way home from the shelters. Our electric was out for a week and we were the lucky ones.

I don’t chase hurricanes anymore but I did move to Florida. Maybe since I’m a resident and not a tourist my hurricane days are over. My family has been here since 2006 and there’s been no major storm yet. Got any wood to knock on? It’s still early as September has had the greatest number of storms in Florida.

Spotlight on Florida: The Shell Factory

The Shell Factory in North Fort Myers, Florida is more than just a shop. You may want to plan a day there.

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So what else can you do besides shop? There’s the Soaring Eagle Zip Line, A Fun Park with bumper boats, water balloon wars, miniature golf, and arcades, and the Nature Park and botanical gardens and petting zoo. After you’ve worked up an appetite with all that fun get a bite at the Soaring Eagle Café or a nice meal at Captain Fishbones.

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Ready to shop now? The Shell Factory has a large store with beautiful shells, coral, gifts, and a year round Christmas section. Want more shopping? Check out their flea market.

Visit the Shell Factory online to learn more.

Spotlight on Florida: Cheetah Run

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Cheetah Run Animal Encounter, Busch Gardens Tampa

Spotlight on Florida: Aquatica

This is one of our favorite places. I love the wave pool and Roa’s Rapids, a lazy river. This isn’t the lazy river you float along in an inner tube. Roa’s Rapids is a little more challenging with waterfalls, geysers and of course rapids. We also like the more gentler lazy river – Loggerhead Lane. There are two wave pools Big Surf Shores and Cutback Cove. We prefer Cutback Cove as it’s a little more adventurous. I just wish they’d let us use boggy boards. Finally, Kai enjoys Kata’s Kookaburra Cove, a play area just for the little ones.

I know, you don’t see photos of Roa’s Rapids. Maybe one day I’ll remember to bring my water camera.