Thursday, June 14, 2007

3 VIPS in Orlando

Here's the background on this trip. My best friend, Christi, and her husband (who live in Phoenix) scored some plane ticket vouchers due to a mishap on their honeymoon. Christi called me and told me they were going to use them to come visit us. I was pretty excited since none of my friends from school have ventured this far east (scratch that, south). So Christi and I spent a week or 2 looking at times, dates, etc, trying to find the best weekend for them to come. Then, I get a voice mail from her saying, "Surprise! We booked our flight. We're going to go to Orlando. We found some great flight days/times, and figured that's close enough where you can just drive, right?" Yeah, not quite. 7 hours one way? Ha! So after some annoyance, my sweet hubby said it'd be ok if I flew down to play with them (he couldn't miss class and we for sure couldn't afford 2 plane tickets, anyway). So, thanks to the new Spirit airlines and my great deal, I booked a flight and started planning a weekend trip.Day 1: Christi and Ryan arrived late on May 31st, and my flight got in on the 1st at 11:30 AM. The perfect time to swing by a friend of a friend's house to pick up the greatest deal of all time. $50/each for passes to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, plus VIP passes. If you were wondering what a VIP pass means, it means you don't have to wait in a single line. That's right. You have a personal escort to the front of every ride. Basically the passes were the greatest thing ever.
Christi and Ryan on the Hulk. The first ride of the trip, and when we realized how sweet the passes turned out to be. Happy day.Christi, me and Horton Hears a Who

After riding Jaws, and being rained on by Tropical Storm BarryDay 2: We stayed at the Disney All Star Sports Resort. Here's a breakdown of the room: decor circa 1960, teeny bathroom, no hairdryer, worst bed I've ever slept on in my life. Sounds like a blast, eh? Well it turned out to be worth it when Lon, the manager, hooked us up with free Park Hoppers for our troubles. Thanks Lon! After checking out of the hotel, we hit up the south's finest dining (for Christi and Ryan's first time), where we saw some Orlando Magic players and enjoyed some more typical Waffle House patrons (ie crazy old man who was talking to himself). After breakfast, we did some shopping and drove over to Tampa. Chris and Ryan were headed to a Kenny Chesney concert that night, and I relaxed with a classic. Day 3: Christi couldn't go to Florida without seeing the beach, so we drove over to Clearwater Beach before heading back to the parks.
Waiting in our first line, at Animal Kingdom. It took FOREVER!
The ride I shouldn't have gone looks tame, I know, but I didn't know it went backwards!
After the best meal of all time at the Rainforest Cafe. Things that made it the best meal? The air conditioning and being able to sit. Those together were priceless.
After lunch we headed over to Epcot, per Ryan's request. I'd never been, and it was pretty chill. Interesting, but definitely not somewhere I'd rush back to.
Ryan, scary troll, me
Christi and Ryan with some bears in Canada
Winding down, with a view of the different countries behind us. My flight was at 9:30, so we headed out to the airport soon after this picture was taken. All in all, it was such a great weekend. I was so happy to see Christi...just like old times :) It would've been perfect if Mark had been there. Next time he will be. When we go to visit them. In Vegas.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Memorial Weekend

This is somewhat belated but, sorry, I've been busy. Over Memorial Day weekend, Mark, our friends Candice and Michael Cormican, and I went down to stay with my family. It was a weekend of relaxing, food and fun. We left right after Mark got done with his Friday classes and got to my sister's place for dinner around 6ish. She made us some delicious twice-baked potatoes and pork. Yummy. The highlight (of the entire weekend) was when I walked in the door and Emma said hi to me before Mark. That has never happened before. And Maddalyn remembered us, which was exciting as well. After dinner, we headed to my parent's, about 30 mins away. Of course my mom welcomed us with some great cookies, and we just chatted with the fam for a few hours. Correction, Candice and I chatted; Michael and Mark quickly found the X-Box in my brother's room and were there most of the night.Saturday morning we were up bright and early, ready to head to the beach. My mom made us a fantastic breakfast and we headed off to the Crab Trap around 10. Although a gigantic pipe covered most of the beach (which my dad later told me was pumping sand back to the shore, trying to make up for all of the hurricanes), we had a great time. Candice and I probably could've stayed all day, but Michael's fair skin couldn't last longer than 3-4 hours. After the beach, we did a little shopping and then headed out to my favorite restaurant for dinner. Dinner was amazing, as always, and followed by our favorite dessert.Sunday we went to church (which is much more amusing with 2 toddlers) and celebrated Maddalyn's 2nd birthday. We ate food for about 50 and took long naps. A great day.Monday was spent at the beach again, this time with almost the entire Pearce/Gouker clan. The red flag conditions didn't sway anyone from entering the water, and the weather was perfect. We probably could've stayed much longer, but unfortunately we had to return to jobs/school. The drive home that evening was pretty uneventful, although I do have to give Mark a shout-out for the fastest commute time ever. All in all, a great weekend.