Saturday, May 15, 2010

A chronology of travels

Summertime, with its bright skies and beckoning weather quickly becomes a season packed with travel and adventure. This year’s summer season has certainly begun with a bang (with a nod to my more technically minded readers I acknowledge that summer has yet to begin, and that we haven’t even yet reached memorial day weekend). That being said, the sunburn currently covering my shoulders and chest clearly screams summer has arrived and I think I will listen that voice. Due to my laziness I will be forced to write this chronology somewhat out of order as I haven’t gotten around to writing about some of the earlier adventures of the season. Therefore it isn't really a chronology so i don't know why i titled it as so. Anyways, I will begin by covering my current trip to Florida in this post. In the following post I will return to a retroactive report of the California trip and then be able to give my comparison of the left and right coasts.

Florida has been a place of discovery and adventure. Anytime you travel with your whole family, dynamic relationships in full force, some sort of adventure, for better or for worse is sure to follow. In this case, I must say that the dynamics of family travel were for the better. With Jessie and I being at college most of the way across the country from home, and with Jessie leaving for San Diego for her 1 ½ year mission in a week and a half, the timing was right for a little family vaca time.

As with any good trip, the fun begins with the stress of getting ready and getting there. What this led to was Emily packing her own carry-on bag, complete with a tube of toothpaste which weighed in at 5.7 oz, 2.7 oz over the legal limit. This of course led to her getting pulled aside by the TSA officials running the x-ray scan machines. However, it turns out that these guys have more bark than bite and allowed her through with the toothpaste, a very reassuring thought since we are officially at threat level orange. As seen from the picture below, Emily did not find the experience entertaining.

After getting to our hotel, a newly built vacation property featuring 2 master sweets and 2 bedrooms and 3 full baths, the first order of business was to go swimming. This was a nice switchup from the cold gray and rainy weather that was plaguing northern Virginia at the time of our departure.

Then it was back to the condo for some good old fashion family fun. I must’ve really been on that night because look how I make them laugh. I even got my dad to wave in the back.

The next day we woke up and headed straight to the magic kingdom of Disney world. My mom had donated many of her hours writing encouraging noted to cancer patients in order to secure us free tickets to Disney World as honorary voluntears. Disney is so magic that they can change the spelling of words. My mom was so proud of her accomplishment that she boastfully wore a badge declaring to be one of these voluntears, while the rest of us chose not to wear the buttons, as to do so would to be hypocritical seeing that we shamefully did none of the work required to get the tickets.

Notice the badge on mother.

Once inside the kingdom (which operates autonomously from the United States of America as its own sovereignty), we quickly took notice of the capital building, where presumably all the important decisions for the small kingdom are made, I’m with the advisory of many fairy-tale characters. It also houses a restaurant. We, as any good tourist in a foreign country would, posed for a picture in front of the castle.

This by the way is what should have happened to Emily at the airport.

After being touristy for a brief moment, we got down to business catching word about a local hangout called The Laughing Place located at Splash Mountain. We rode little log boats there, along the way going over a 50 foot waterfall. I wasn’t joking about this being an adventure. We ended up going on this ride 3 times throughout the day, each time practicing our poses for the plunge camera, finally getting a good pose on the last ride. It was all of us flexing our biceps. Not to brag, but the group ahead of us was very complimentary about my physique. Hopefully I’ll be able to get an electronic copy of the photo to post on here.

We also managed to be part of a Disney dance party. I broke out a few moves rarely seen outside of area 51, and consider myself to be one of the fan favorites. There wasn’t much of a reaction, but you could tell that was because most people were in awe of how I can use my body. Sorry about the camera work, my mom’s working on it ;-)

One part of the day that must be discussed is the character parade, one part in particular. Towards the end of the show, Belle, the French beauty who I’m sure gave up a promising career as a model in order to read books from the library and help her dad invent machines, came by with a hideous beast animal. Clearly she isn’t really into this beast-dude as the following events testify. As she rode by, Belle looked right into my eyes, smiled, and waved as I stood, arms crossed, simply observing the sights before me. Then my sister leaned over and said “Belle just waved right at you!” “I know.” I replied, nonchalantly. I then looked back at Belle, who was still checking me out, smiled and waved. She smiled even bigger, waved again and rode off out of life, but not out of my heart. She will always have a place there.

The day continued on without much excitement, aside from a chance encounter with Katherine Nelson, which was awesome and I had no idea would even be in the same state as I, much less exiting the Tomorrowland speedway at the same time as I did. The sun began to set and the magic began to unfold as crowds gathered around the traffic circle in front of Cinderella’s castle. In true Disney style, we would be treated to fireworks above the castle in an event that really can only be described as magical. It was one of those moments that, as a romantic, makes you want to fall in love and live happily ever after. It is just a perfect ending to a day, an ending that could only take place in world ruled by fairy tales.

The next morning we awoke and headed off on an adventure of discovery. In fact we were headed to a place called discovery cove, so I was fairly confident that some sort of discovering would take place. When we arrived, my suspicions were confirmed as we were issued ID tags complete with our photos, and a not identifying me as one over the age of 21, an important fact seeing as the place was all-inclusive and this would grant me access to the bars. The lady issuing our tags said that it had my name on it mostly in case I drank too much and couldn’t remember who I was, the staff could figure it out. As tempted as I was, I am pleased to announce that such an event did not occur. Along with the ID tags, we were issued our own neoprene vests, and snorkel set. With the place being all inclusive, you got to keep the snorkel as a souvenir!

Here I am demonstrating good snorkel form, does the rest of the fam.

One thing that immediately caught my eye was that there was one lady there with a ton of kids being followed by cameras. Turns out great minds think alike, and so do my parents and Kate Gosselin. They both decided to go to discovery cove on the same day. I took some time trying to get in the background of their shots and flex my muscles. I do not yet know if I was successful or not. Here we are in front of the camera crew.

Probably the most exciting aspect of Discovery cove is the opportunity to swim with a dolphin. This is something that I have actually tried to do on multiple occasions (the most recent occurring on the aforementioned California trip) but never with any success. Wild dolphins are simply too fast for me to catch in the ocean. However, at discovery cove the quarters are much smaller than in the ocean, plus the dolphins obey what certain people say to them, so you don’t have to try to catch them. We got to swim with two dolphins. The first was named Coral, the second named Rascal. Apparently Rascal has the hots for Coral. I’m guessing this picture makes him pretty jealous.

Yeah that’s right. To use the words of Katie Perry, I kissed a dolphin and I liked it. I also rode the dolphin (I say rode but it was more like dragged by). It was really cool, but after going to Seaworld the next day and seeing what kind of stuff the dolphins there are capable of, I feel like I kinda was cheated on the experience.

After kissing dolphins, i guess it just gets some people in the mood, snorkel gear and all...Aside from dolphins and unlimited soft pretzels, I fed a stingray (probably the same one that took out the crocodile hunter) and snorkeled in a coral reef. That was something else. I’ll tell you what, there are some weird looking fish out there. And Manta Rays are huge. It’s a weird feeling when they zoom by you. Discovery cove is also responsible for the sunburn that is making this plane ride so uncomfortable. It’s always been a lifelong goal of mine to get a tan, and I’m afraid I’m still to check that one off the bucket list. It seems I’m either red or white, and no in betweens.

On a side note, we went out to eat at Outback steakhouse for dinner. You would expect your server to have an Australian accent there, but no, our waitress had the accent of a southern belle. Can I just say how irresistible that is? Obviously I was able to resist, but I didn’t want to.

Friday was our last full day in Florida, and at times it seemed like it would be my last day ever. We went to Seaworld, but it might as well have been Hades, it was so darn hot! Unbeknownst to me before this trip, Seaworld, aside from hosting world famous dolphin and whale shows, also houses one of the coolest roller coasters I’ve had the privilege to ride. It’s called the manta. Watch the video. You are cruising through the whole thing essentially lying on your stomach. It’s a sensation I’ve never felt before and one that I would recommend to all.

After cooking for most of the day (which doesn’t feel good on top of a sunburn (I had on multiple layers of moisturizer and spf 50 sunscreen)) and watching some awesome animals do incredible things, we couldn’t take it anymore and retired to the condo early for a little family movie night. We decided to go with the classic On the Road to Morocco, starring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. It’s one of the movies we grew up on, a Livingston family favorite, which made it perfect for this last hurrah for Jessie before she heads off.

Well now i'm laying in what used to be my futon back in younger days, thinking about all that's transpired over the past week. Sometimes it just feels good to get away from everything that just hangs over you. The escape, the relaxing, or the stress that hits you in a different way on vacation is so refreshing. However, the time has come to get back to provo, to real life and see what lies ahead next.


J.M. said...

Love it Greg. I am vicariously living a life of pure awesomeness through you. Thank you for being awesome. Oh, and I am so jealous I didn't get to kiss a dolphin!!! You've one upped us, I'm not sure how we can top that.....

Melissa said...

Thanks for helping to make it such a great trip! We sure miss you... love YOU!