September 12, 2011

Summer Vacation Part V

The last day we were in Orlando, we ditched the Mouse (one evening was enough) and looked for something more "authentic" to do. Yes kids, this is what happens when Mommy is a history geek. We figured we would cruise to downtown Kissimmee and check out their historic Main Street district, and on the way there we saw one of those brown Florida Heritage markers... SCORE! Let's go that way! It took us to the very quaint (although CLOSED for that particular day) Osceola County Pioneer Village. This beautiful piece of land with huge, old oak trees had a collection of little buildings from the 1800s that represented the old Florida Cracker lifestyle as well as the beginnings of the citrus industry in Florida. The guest book said they were closed for that day, but that visitors were still welcome to walk around. Price of Attraction: Free. Number of other Visitors we had to deal with: None. Letting your kids roam free and experience on their own terms a piece of history? Priceless.
The front porch of the main house.

Notice the cracker house from the 1800s is now ADA accessible!

Olivia learns about doing laundry the old fashioned way.

Cracker Cow Camp

Julia checks out the tools of the trade for a Florida Cracker (which, by the way, is the term used for a pioneer Florida Cattleman, or cowboy)

The little school house

Peeking through the window of the main house

Historic downtown Kissimmee

Some new infill in the historic Main Street, and I think it was rather well done.

I just love historic downtowns. They are so charming and inviting. Makes you want to hang out a while with the locals.

Brick pavers. Nice planters. Decorative trash cans. Shade trees on the street and sidewalks that aren't cracked. How come a little place like Kissimmee "gets" it?? Back home... well, let me not start talking trash about back home. But if Kissimmee can do it....
Look! Tree planting treatments that are attractive! What a concept!! I will have to show you what we've done with our trees in downtown Miami in a future post for you to understand my frustration.

And here's Olivia hangin' with said "Local."

We ended the day with a trip over to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, where you can see the animals right out the back of the hotel. We had a really good meal at their restaurant inside.

The back of the Lodge
Julia spots the animals

September 11, 2011

Remembering 9-11

There were a lot of shows on today about 9-11. A lot of images I've seen a million times. I feel pain, and loss, though I was so fortunate not to have any immediate family or friends killed that day. I can't wrap my head around the number of people that have been affected; not just those that died that day in and subsequent days, but those loved ones that were left behind, and the first responders who have deadly health issues resulting from their heroic efforts. But I found this video online about the concept and the creation of the Memorial. I think its beautiful, and am really glad that they ended up choosing the element of water to be an integral part of the design. The life giving force, always flowing, is a beautiful gesture. The memorial is called "Reflecting Absence," and the two pools will be the largest man-made waterfalls in the country. It is not lost onto me that it flows down into a pool in the footprint of the actual building, and then drops down again into a black hole. Reflective. Poignant. Perfect.

September 6, 2011

We interrupt this broadcast....

There is one last day of our summer vacation to show you... but before I do that, you've got to see this video of Olivia and Julia singing Lady GaGa.

September 3, 2011

Summer Vacation Part IV

Here it is, the moment they have been waiting for the entire trip!  Or at least Olivia was, since Julia did not yet know Land of the Mouse. Oh yes folks, Disney World. We have reached the Promise Land. It was an interesting time, taking them to the big D. No major problems, and only one humongous toxic blow-out that gave Julia this incredible aroma all day long. (More on that later.)

I am convinced that taking very small children to the Park all day long is suicidal, at best, so we arrived at Disney late afternoon, after their naps, and plowed through until the park kicked us out at 11 pm. One of the smartest things we did all evening happened just before 9 pm. Everyone in the park was heading towards the castle to see the Fireworks, and we headed in the complete opposite direction. No line to Haunted Mansion. No line to Splash Mountain. Pirates of the Caribbean THREE times! SCORE!
Gator girls ready to take on the Mouse

Mommy's favorite ride, and one that I won't be able to go on this time around. Ah, the things you do for your children.... sigh.....

We love that Aku (Uncle) Scott now works for the Mouse!

And the heavens parted, and the Angels sang......  At last! Cinderella's Castle, in all her glory. Of course, Olivia wanted to go knock on her door to tell her what mean step-sisters she had.

A particularly colorful section of Main Street. I always found it fascinating how they designed the second stories of Main Street to be smaller in scale so that the buildings gave the illusion of being taller than they actually were.

You did not crop your children out of this photo! You mean the children fighting over the bag of popcorn? OH. YES. I. DID.

I still miss the original Eastern Airlines ride "If You Had Wings" and the original "Carousel of Progress" in Tomorrowland.

If we had stayed on the People Mover all day long, they would have been just as happy. One of their favorite rides!

Olivia got her driver's license! Notice the naked baby in the background. It was in the Speedway's Grandstands that she had major toxic blowout and I had to run her through the crowds, holding her up and away from me, to get her back to the stroller to change. We had to purchase all new clothing for her. Mom derserves her own vacation after this.

Notice she has no shoes because they also got the toxic treatment. Julia really could have cared less. More teacup action!

Olivia loves all things Jack Sparrow, so we hit this ride quite a few times.

Getting near the end of the night. Daddy got to go on Splash Mountain and we got Julia her first set of ears.

The proper way to end any trip to the Mouse.

September 1, 2011

Summer Vacation Part III

Shame on you if you travel to Orlando regularly to visit the Mouse but you've never adventured to Harry P. Leu Gardens! Set on nearly 50 acres, the property features the historic homestead known as the Mizell-Leu House, the original part of which was constructed in 1888 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Gardens is actually a collection of several different gardens and plant collections, and has an extensive and rare collection of camellias. Amazing, beautiful, and still a chore with two small children. Nevertheless, I will always try to make it a stop in future trips to the big O.
View from the Visitor's Center
I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to eat the plants
The Vegetable Garden
Julia checks out the Butterfly Garden

The Mizell-Leu House
The Rose Garden
I guess we'll call it a day....