2/5/17 – Just a hunk-a hunk-a burning love

This time, we had a trauma just from getting up. The oldies knocked on for us for breakfast, but Kel hadn’t even got up, so they went on without us. When she did get up, she spotted something above the balcony doors, but we couldn’t figure out what it was. Whilst she was then getting changed in the bathroom, the thing suddenly an across the ceiling and I could see exactly what it was. It was a huge red spider, albeit one that had been through the wars as it only had five legs. The less legs didn’t make it any less scary. When it’s big enough for you to count how many legs from a distance and your eye sight is as bad as mine, it’s definitely cause to be scared. We had to wait for it to run enough down the wall so that we could reach it. Kel hit it with her flip flop (after turning into Lee Evans on the windup) and I then attacked it with hair spray to make sure it was dead. We make a good team.

We were suitably traumatised when we went down to breakfast and had to just sit for a little while with the oldies first, after filling them in. General breakfast stuff, as usual. We went back to the room afterwards for sun creaming and had another inspect of the smush on the floor, just to be sure. The crazy hot was on again, so I took to sunbathing on the sunbeds in the pool again. Still a bit hard on the ribs, but I was determined to get my back more tanned and this seemed like the most chill way to do it without melting. I finished off my Kinsey Millhone book and wrote another short story, as I’d already done one in the room before Kel got up and enlightened me on the spider trauma. They’re a real nice break away from big projects sometimes.

We went for lunch for the general stuffs and finally, finally, the mash was back to its amazingly creamy, whipped self. The holiday suddenly went from being all about the rice to all about the mash. After lunch, I popped back up to the room to get a new book. Next up was one of Kelley Armstrong’s ones. The first in the series was awful, but since I’d already been bought quite a few, I decided to try a couple more. Glad I did, because the follow-ups are far better. Kelley clearly improved a lot after the first flop. Went back down to the punishing heat, dodging in and out of the shade to start with before eventually just settling down in the sun, utilising the frozen margaritas to keep cool. Even wrote a little more of my main NaNoWriMo project before coming back to the room. Not bored with it yet!

Watched a bit of Clannad before shower time and then that was when I realised how sunburnt I was. I’d been wearing factor thirty all holiday and then just a fifteen on my back, since that didn’t see the sun whilst I was writing. Only I forgot I was still on fifteen when I decided to tan my back. I succeeded a little too much – I burnt the backs of my legs from the bottom, right up and onto my bum cheeks. This is Jesus getting me back for laughing at Mel when she burnt her bum in Greece. So sad. Needless to say I slathered in aftersun until I was literally slimy. Lovely.

We decided to go to the Mexican restaurant when we came down, since they had space available. They didn’t seem to mind about the sittings. Had the same taco roll, nachos, refried beans and beef tostadas as before. You really can’t beat authentic Mexican food. Followed that with chicken in green mole sauce. Green mole sauce turned out to taste very much like coriander and nothing else. It was quite nice though, even though I’m not usually a fan. Just in small doses. Not the huge dollops they piled on my chicken, most of which got pushed aside.

We spotted Daria, Danielle and Gelisa in the bar, so we decided to sit with them for a while for a catch up, since we hadn’t really seen them around the last several days. They’d been at the water park all day. We got the cocktails in and added one another on Facebook in time for the entertainment to start, because that’s what you do in the modern age. We had an Elvis show tonight, which I’d obviously been excited about, but it turned out to be a disappointment. The Elvis was only okay and although he did some of the classics, he also did some really odd song choices, like Bossa Nova. They had dancers on stage again and whereas last night, nobody could take their eyes off the Michael Jackson, this time, we all just watched the dancers. Says it all really. I think this Elvis was ready to put out to pasture. I was probably also a teeny bit more critical, because God, it hurt to sit down. Even more to get back up. Plastic seat cushions that stick to you really aren’t nice on burnt bottoms.

Came back up to the room after the usual JC wind down, this time accompanied by one hell of an aftersun application. I later learnt that I’d burnt some of the front of my legs too. Looks like I’ve gotta sleep on my side tonight and not move at all. One thing is for certain and that’s that I’m not wearing any shorts to sleep in tonight. Bottoms up!


Capybara chilling in the shade. Which is what I should have done.

20/10/13 – The changeover

Was that my first night without any annoying dream encounters? Or did I just not remember because Elvis and Russell Brand happened to be in it? Anyway, we packed up again to move on, but got a little waylaid watching some crazy chibi-like Teen Titans show. It was hilarious! Before heading out to our next destination we went to Boern to visit the ‘cave without a name’. It was never named because it was deemed too beautiful to go by one name. And it really was. All of the different formations were seriously mind-blowing, and the cave was unbelievably dark when our guide Damon shut the lights out. It was incredibly quiet too, though it was peaceful rather than eerie. I could have happily had a kip in there! We saw some bats and some cave frogs in there (oh, and on the drive down I nearly took out a suicidal deer!)

Apparently people have their weddings here. I totally get it.

We were then heading out to Corpus Christi after when disaster struck – my first ever flat tyre. Either American roads are seriously hardcore or their tyres just aren’t. Thankfully though the solution turned out to be really simple. We rang our assistance line and they had someone out to us and got the tyre changed within half an hour. Would never have happened that fast in England! We then had to go back to the airport in San Antonio to get the whole car swapped, since the tiny tyre they fitted was only a temporary replacement. So we had to bid farewell to crippled Elvis and his automail, and say hello to Cody – our new Hyundai Accent. It did mean that we went from a quarter of a tank to a full new one though. Win!

The moment where Elvis got crippled. Sorry for driving too hard, Elvis!

The drive to Corpus Christi was long, roughly three hours. I was definitely relieved by the time it was over, not to mention starving! We ordered in some fried chicken whilst watching John Tucker Must Die. I forgot how hot the brother is. After that we watched some of Holes and aww’ed over lickle Dulé Hill! Semi-early night, ready for the next move.

And introducing Cody!

18/10/13 – Antonio, nooooo!

Got up and got ready and packed in a very relaxed manner this morning, even though my stupid dreams still haven’t stopped. We even got to watch some South Park in between. We then got everything packed into the car and set off for San Antonio. It was just over an hour drive and I actually relaxed much more this time. Driving along the interstate is really simple, just a bit dull after a while. We were still ahead of check-in time so we went to the Japanese tea gardens first to kill some time. They were really lovely – they looked so old and authentic. There was a waterfall and several koi ponds, as well as lots of cute little paths and stone stairways.

Up for a game of Where’s Weirdo?

After checking into our hotel we headed back out to downtown San Antonio. Had a bit of a game with parking, but eventually managed to find a solution for it. We had a wander around, saw the Alamo, then went to the Rainforest Café for tea. We both had steak and chicken with garlic mash and Caribbean rice. The chicken was a bit weird, but everything else was lovely. We were also sat next to the tropical fish tank, which certainly kept us entertained. My favourite was a perpetually happy fish with goofy teeth – I genuinely laughed every time I looked at him. Kel reckoned it was like the nerdy, brace-y schoolkid fish in Finding Nemo.

We did a Walmart stop on the way home, which ended up taking longer than anticipated because Sam decided to play us up. Got some Seagrams and some more Kool-Aid though (the last six-pack didn’t even last me twenty-four hours). They also had the most awesome long Batman and Robin tees with attached capes! Sadly though they were only in kid’s sizes and Kel was sure that none would fit her. I was actually gutted – we could have been Batman and Robin on Halloween!

Came back to the room, had a few drinks, some popcorn and watched Friends and bits of Role Models. I discovered that the comedian we’d listened to in the van during the tour is actually in a show called King of Queens, which we also saw a bit of. And then to top everything else I learnt that James Roday was born, guess where? That’s right – San Antonio! Thank you for spawning a man of such comic genius and perfect hair.

My fine-finned friend – “oh my goshth, Nemo’s shwimming out to sthea!”


17/10/13 – Forget everything you know

Bit more of a relaxed wake-up today, though I still made sure we had time for breakfast. I had a waffle (which got drowned in syrup when the top came off the bottle), sausage and scrambled eggs. Felt very fat afterwards but it was totally better than last night! We got packed up, checked out and got the shuttle back to the airport to pick up our car. It’s a black Nissan Versa. Still trying to think of a name for him (I’m hovering over Elvis). Not only do I have the whole driving on the other side of the road thing, it’s a lot bigger than what I’d used to driving AND I also have to get used to the whole no clutch or gearbox fandango. It took me forever to actually get it into drive!

Come on then Elvis, break me into this American way of driving!

The first part of the day was iffy and I felt very uncomfortable. I felt like I was trying to watch a million things at once. We stopped at a Walmart for some drinks and snacks (I got a six-pack of blue Kool-Aid, two thirds of which is now gone) and a Radio Shack to get a cheap emergency phone and a satnav. Samantha is much more articulate than Dirty Debby. It’s very sad. Though once we had her we were able to find our hotel no problem. We munched on some popcorn whilst we Skyped Mom and Dad and then later ordered and ate takeout pizza and buffalo wings whilst Skyping Sid.

We then headed into the main stretch of Austin. We went to Congress Bridge first, which is famous for sheltering one and a half million bats who all go out on the hunt every day at dusk. They clearly waited for us too, because we’d only just got down there when they all chose to venture out. It really was an unbelievable sight (and quite an unbelievable smell too!) After most of the bats had sodded off we went down onto Sixth Street, the city’s main hub. We had a wander up and down and then went into Bat Bar for a drink. Because it was called Bat Bar. Since I was driving and America has a zero alcohol tolerance, I had to settle for a can of Red Bull. Oh sorry, did I say settle? We all know how energy drinks are never settling. There was a live musician playing, who was actually amazing. It was just a shame that the bar was so empty and he wasn’t getting the huge audience that he blatantly deserved.

Though we went back to the hotel afterwards and had a chilled night, we still went to bed quite late. Kel watched Magic Mike and I created a new original character. Good times all round! (Though more geeky and less naked men involved on my part. Oh well).

The sights tonight involved a couple of supercars and more than a million bats. Call me Bruce Wayne.

28/9/13 – Exploring Orlando

Had a little bit of a later get-up today and even got to make the most of the free continental breakfast (yay!) This is much more interesting than it is in the UK – I had mini sausages, a mini omelette, some French toast/pancake thing with maple syrup and jam, a cinnamon bun and cocktail cranberry juice. Yum yum. The others had already headed off to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Me, Kel and An went to explore Winter Park.

I had no idea what to expect, but it turned out to be a really cool day. Winter Park was actually a very nice little town of sorts. Had a little wander up and down the main street first and grabbed a drink in Starbucks. We then went exploring round the campus of the Cornell Rollins College. It really was an incredible place – it all backed right up onto the lake! Why don’t we get anything like that?! People had signed their names into the bamboo by the lake, so we did the same and added Trek America to it. We had a brief look round the Fine Arts Museum too. Wasn’t really my thing, like most art places, but I did find a display of watch keys and stopwatches that I really liked. Actually inspired me to try and buy some watch keys and cogs and things online and see what kind of steampunk jewellery/accessories I can make!

We had lunch at Firehouse Subs. Mine was so good – turkey, bacon, cheese and a creamy pepper sauce. One of the staff called Trevor was asking me where I was from in England and then about the football of all things (I’m not exactly the best person to ask). But he was cute and reminded me of Todd Haberkorn so I was happy with that and agreed that yes, if he came to play football in the UK he might get stabbed by an angry football fan. We then spent a long time in the sweet shop after that. I got an Elvis energy drink that says “All Shook Up” (brilliant!) and some Wonka bottle caps that supposedly taste like the pop they represent. If that’s true then I’m never trying root beer – it tasted like a hospital smell!

From there An wanted to check out a different art museum. Me and Kel weren’t fussed, so we agreed to meet her later on. We had some homemade ice cream from one place, which was lovely. We also freaked out two of the servers with our unintentional-speaking-in-unison that we sometimes do. The neighbourhood was actually dog central too! It seemed to be the done thing for everyone to take their dogs out and about, which we obviously thought was great. Made me miss Star and Izzy though. I got some writing done before rain threatened and we ran to hide under the bandstand.

Nothing came of the rain so we sat in the park instead. Watched the squirrels, a lovely giant Great Dane, and a random man on a unicycle! We saw a couple of freight trains go past too. The one was huge and we wished we’d counted how many carriages there were – it had to be around eighty! I read a good chunk of Pacific Vortex and Kel did some puzzles and finished up her blog before An came back to meet us. We had another little natter then went to our meeting place to find Derek. We were all a little early to pick up the others, so we went for a drink in a little café. Me and Derek wanted to check out this little bookstore, but it was closed. Typical. He said he’d help me hunt one down elsewhere though – likely in New Orleans or DC.

After fetching everyone else we went to grab some Mexican food. I had a yummy cheese quesadilla. Derek also gave us a better rundown on the itinerary for the tour. We showered and started packing up when we got back to the hotel – preparing to move onto the next place tomorrow!

Making our mark in Winter Park. I’m a poet and I… no, I’m really not