Aaaand we're back, with part deux of Crystal's florida vay-cay-shun. I left off on Monday evening--after our walk around Downtown Disney, we killed some time before a dinner show that my mom got tickets to. She and my dad got $75 just for going to a breakfast at the hotel and listening to some guys timeshare spiel for an hour. Not bad. So we used some of the money to get tickets to this "Arabian Nights" dinner show in downtown Orlando. The pre-show (yeah, we weren't real sure what that was supposed to be) started at 7:30, so we drove around for awhile, and ended up in Celebration, Florida. Yes, Celebration. It's a city, you know. The darn creepiest city I've ever been to in my entire life. I felt like I had stepped straight into "The Stepford Wives" or something. It's owned by Disney, and I can't even begin to tell you how many Farenheit 451 and 1984 visions I had as we drove through the town. Everything looks different, only...exactly the same. It's as though we were on a ride at Disney, and I half expected the townspeople to open their doors and start preforming some choreographed musical. Not a thing was out of place--no laundry hanging in backyards, no rakes or brooms on front porches--everything was "perfect." Celebration even has its own school, hospital, and college (which has a tuition rate of $31,000 a year!). After awhile we started getting so creeped out that we had to leave. I can't believe people actually pay hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars to live there. ::shudders::

So after that interesting experience, we headed over to our Arabian Nights dinner show--a far contrast from the uniformly varying colors and buildings in Disney's robot community. After a short wait in line, we were ushered inside a huge arena-type building for some free "pre-show" drinks and, well, the pre-show: a tall dark haired woman who did about six different belly-dances. Mostly to Shakira. I admit, it was rather entertaining, but mainly because she balanced swords on her head...and there were a lot of drunk people. Especialy the fifty year old woman who felt compelled to tie her shirttails together (showcasing her chubby, leathery-tan belly) and imitate the "arabian" pre-show girl. Now THAT was funny.

I won't go into to much detail about to show, except to say that it was very cheesy, and needlessly patriotic in almost ever scene. It was Arabian, for goodness sakes--how they managed to work in Broadway, the Wild West, and a beach theme, I have no idea. They used lots of horses, though, and that was fun to watch--you have to respect a thirty year old guy who can do eight backflips on a horse that's circling around a ring. Even if he is wearing a velvet pantsuit.

The dinner wasn't bad, but we left during the grand finale (which involved fireworks, red white and blue confettie, and a horrible version of "The Star Spangled Banner) so we could beat the traffic. Darn.

Tuesday was spent at Universal Studios, which was a lot of fun. The weather was a little shaky, but thankfully it stayed clear for most of the day. I got to watch the Blues Brothers show (dang, those guys were good), ride on Twister, Earthquake, Jaws (at night, of course), Back to the Future, Return of the Mummy, and Men In Black. Some of the rides were definitely edging towards the cheesy side, but for the most part they were really good. I admit I'm a bigger fan of straight-up roller coasters (helloooo Cedar Point), but this was a lot of fun. I really liked the Back to the Future ride and the Mummy. And of course Jaws is always a classic.

Oh, and I got funnel cake with ice cream and chocolate sauce on it. Mmm yes.

We got to bed fairly early that night, since we left the next morning for St. Augustine. It felt like a longer drive than it was, since of course I was very ready to be there. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, which is further from the beach than I would've liked (about twenty minutes), but seeing as how two nights were free (thank you Dad for travelling a lot!), it was pretty durn good. We ate subs for lunch and then headed into town.

I dropped my parents off on St. George street to look around in the shops, and Phil and I went to visit Shannon and Allison. It's funny, because it was the first time I really hung out with then when Caleb wasn't there, and I didn't know if it would be awkward or not. But you know what, it was so much fun, and it was the best time I've had talking to them! It makes me sad that we live so far away, because I know we'd get along so well if I lived in their area. Ah well. It's good to know that we'll always be in touch, and who knows--maybe someday we'll all end up in the same place (now that would be fun).

They had to leave becuase they were flying to Chicago to meet Nikki, so Phil and i met back up with my parents and we all took a tour of Flagler. Even though it was my second time and we had the same tour guide as before, it was still fun. I love the architecture and all the history in Flagler's main building, it's so gorgeous.
We walked around and I showed the some of the art galleries, and then we went back to the hotel. I was killing time until Caleb arrived (he was supposed to come around 11 or so that night)--and then I get a phone call that his truck is still in the shop and no one can take him to St. Auggie until the next day. So I was quite bummed. But I went swimming in the pool and that helped a little.

We got up pretty early the next day, got ready for the beach...and around 10am I find out Caleb isn't going to be able to come until 9 that night because his mom has to do a women's Bible study before she can take him. He was really frustrated, because we were supposed to have a lot more time to hang out.

I was thisclose to driving to Branford myself to get him, but he wouldn't let me "leave my family vacation" just to bring him over. Which, okay, he has a point. But it was hard to enjoy the beach knowing that he should be there too.

We did rent a surfboard, which was nice...I'll never get tired of floating in the water, even when the waves are small. I read a lot, and we stayed at the beach most of the day. We ate dinner at this great little place called the South Beach Grill, about twenty minutes from Cafe Eleven. The food was so good, and we had a really funny waiter. After dinner my dad decided that we should go for a drive on the beach, since there was a ramp out there and everything. It was interesting...we drove by these people shooting off fireworks and almost got hit twice.

Finally, around 10pm I get a phone call from Caleb. They had the van packed and ready to go at 7:30, he turned the key--and it didn't start. The van battery was dead. So he was on his way to Lake City (45 minutes from their house) to get a new battery. At 10. Meaning there was no way they could get to St. Augustine until at least one, and that was too late for his mom and Nanny (whose house they were going to stay at). Needless to say, I was pretty upset--he felt so bad and it seemed like everything was working against him getting there. But they were going to leave at 6 the next morning, so I sucked it up and went to bed.

And, thank you Jesus, at 8:30 on Friday I met Caleb in the lobby of our hotel. I couldn't have been more glad to see him if I tried. We went over to Pap-pap's and drove his Jeep to the beach, where we met my family. I went surfing a bunch (the waves were better) and laid around talking to Caleb and getting burnt (which of course I didn't discover until later). We ate dinner with my family at Creekside Dinery, where this cool band that sounded like a more rock-and-roll version of Nicklecreek played. They even did "Wild Horses"  by the Stones for some couple! It was great!

Afterwards we all went over to Nanny's and hung out with her and Miss Kathy and Josh and my family. They got along really well, which is a relief (though not an un-expected one). Nanny loved my dad and was real impressed that he fixed her broken chair and the problem with her vcr. My dad rocks.

I stayed up until 2 am that night with Caleb, just hanging out at Pap-pap's and talking on the beach. It was so nice, although I got zero sleep since I got up Saturday morning at 4am. Yeah, we left pretty early. Saying goodbye to Caleb was no fun, but it was better knowing I'd see him again in less than 3 weeks.

We stopped in Atlanta for lunch, where we met my friend katie and her friend jordan. We ate at this cool cafeteria style place called "Eats," where they had some amazing lemon-pepper chicken. She also gave us a tour of the place where she's doing her internship--it's so cool! They have a theatre and a firepole and enough macs to outfit an army. I love graphic design.

The drive back was long. I finished another book and drove and slept and listened to cds. We hit some nasty traffic in Cinncinatti around 9, but finally ended up back in Detroit around 2am. Yeah, my bed felt real nice.


So there you have it. Florida was a lot of fun, and my family and caleb's family got along (yay!) and it was great seeing everyone again. I can't wait to be there again.


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