We got a little bit of a late start to the day today, due largely to the fact that we spent the morning preparing for the remainder of the week. Once we finally got ourselves out and about after a tasty and nutritious breakfast of pop tarts, which were the only thing we could get at the little “grocery” store next to Ruby Tuesday the night before, our first stop of the morning was to pick up our attraction tickets that I had preordered. That went off fairly smoothly once we drove through a large swath of Kissimmee and Orlando to get to them.
Have I mentioned how much I love driving on highways in other states where no one knows the rules of the road and where the signs point in seemingly conflicting directions? Well, I do love it. It’s exciting. And it gives me something to be angry about so that I can forget how much I hate the airlines.
Anyway, that was just an aside. The rest of our story is not so much about anger as you might guess. I must note that all of the driveways here in Kissimmee have deep pockets where they intersect with the road. On Tuesday night, not knowing this, I nearly bottomed out the car as I went into the parking lot for our villa. This appears to be a drainage ditch type of setup, with the bottom of the driveway set further down to aid the travels of the water. Anyway, my point in bringing this up now was that once we finally found the ticket place nestled into a shopping center that didn’t include the ticket place’s name on the big sign out front (it had a different name for the ticket place), I pulled into the parking lot to find some silly little speed bumps. The entrances to the parking lots are much more effective at deterring an inappropriate speed than these speed bumps are, that’s for sure.
Anyway, our next stop was to go to the grocery store to get a week’s worth of food, beverages and snacks. We drove nearly nine miles each way to get to the ticket place and found nothing that even appeared to be a grocery store in the sense that we think of grocery stores back in New Jersey. So, we found a WalMart SuperCenter, just down the road from our hotel and went there.
I had never been in a WalMart SuperCenter before. It was interesting to think that I could buy pretty much anything I wanted in a one stop shopping type of experience. One thing we decided to do for our upcoming flight home was to get some Dramamine or Bonine or whatever it is called for The Boy so that he would maybe feel less sick, so I went off to find that in the “regular” WalMart section’s pharmacy. It took a while, but I eventually found it. I also found SeaBands, which were the thing that got my wife through her pregnancy and the lousy nausea that came with it. I picked up a pair for Nick. As I was backing away, my wandering eyes found that product that we had seen many, many advertisements for but had never actually seen in a store and I heard angels playing harps and singing as I reached out toward the green and blue boxes.
Advertisement section, part 1:
HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead. HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead. HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead. HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead.
OK, so I found some HeadOn. It probably helped that I had a headache at the time. So, like a schoolboy I picked some up (one package of regular strength and one package of migraine strength) and brought it excitedly back to the cart. I was hoping the headache would just go away but I was also looking forward to trying it out and judging for myself as to whether or not it would work.
End of Advertisement section part 1.
So, we finished shopping which included purchase of a pair of sunglasses for The Girl, who has two or three pairs of sunglasses at home along with the one pair that came down to Florida with us in a carry-on bag and was broken despite not being in a checked bag that got flipped over and flung roughly when we checked it in Newark Airport (see yesterday’s rant) Pricing was similar to what we pay at home, so it only hurt a lot, but whatever, we’ve got to eat.
Back into the car we trekked the couple of miles back to the villa and unloaded. Then we made a quick lunch and decided to head out to SeaWorld for the day.
Ah, SeaWorld. Fish, dolphins, whales, stingrays, penguins… all kinds of wonderful animals that we could gawk at and stare at and point at and even bribe to let us touch them for a few seconds with a couple of smelly dead fish dangled above their heads. What’s not to love?
We got to SeaWorld around noon or so and headed in for our magical journey. Our first stop was the sea turtles at Turtle Point, where we saw several kinds of giant turtles, along with a couple of birds, hanging out in the hot sun. A helpful man, Brandon I think his name was, got on the speaker to tell us some facts about the turtles. I was the peanut gallery for him as he asked whether we had seen the second most popular attraction after the turtles, the killer whales. I said, “There are killer whales here? Hmmm. I hadn’t heard that.” He didn’t believe me. Anyway, he told us all of the reasons that turtles are better than killer whales. Turtles can hold their breaths longer. Turtles can go into deeper water. Turtles can have hundreds of babies at a time while the killer whales can have one or maybe two. Baby killer whales are dependent on their parents for a long time while the baby turtles are expected to fend for themselves right away.
I was left wondering if maybe turtles were better than people, too, much like I am sure that dogs are better than people.
Anyway, from the dolphins, we decided to head to Shamu stadium. This, of course, was on the other side of the park. So, we headed across the park, stopping at the dolphin nursery for a while to see the baby dolphins swimming and playing. We headed out again, toward Shamu Stadium, crossing a long wooden bridge to the section where Shamu would be. As we headed out onto the bridge, the sky darkened and the wind whipped up. In the distance, lightning was flashing. Thunder rolled all around us. The wind was strong enough to rock the bridge a little. We took pictures of the storm clouds, the flags that were frozen in a fully stretched out position and we continued walking toward the Stadium.
Just as we reached Shamu Stadium, the skies opened up and it poured. Thunder, lightning, wind… water everywhere. We assumed it was just the passing thunderstorm that Florida is famous for. But, it continued on and on. Eventually, it was time for Shamu’s show and we wandered in, with my kids and me sitting in the Soak Zone since the rain didn’t quite get us wet enough.
Eventually they came out and said the show was delayed for the weather as Anheuser-Busch policy states that the animals should not perform if there is lightning within 3 miles of the venue. Fine. I’m glad that a beer company has some sense about safety and protecting the animals. So, we waited and eventually the show started.
It started with a little video about how proud we are of the military and their efforts around the world. That was nice. Then the guy came out and had our current and former military folks stand, along with any military folks from Britain or our other partners and allies in the world. It was nice, but it felt a little forced to me. At least no one booed. I always am afraid that some idiot will boo when the military is honored.
Anyway, with the formalities out of the way, the show started. The animals, of course, were beautiful and elegant and wonderful. The show, though, was thoroughly cheeseball and disappointing. It was the story of a boy who had a dream, a dream of riding the seas with the killer whales. There was a video showing him carving out the tail fin of the killer whale he apparently saw when he used a little row boat to paddle out into the ocean one day. The show, titled “Believe”, was about how it is always important to believe that your dreams can, in fact, come true. Nice. They had several people come out and talk about how important it is to believe in your dreams. Nice. Where are the animals, though? That’s who I want to see! If I want poetic waxing about dreams, I can look in my own writing or I can vent about it for all to hear on the internet. They eventually got around to having us do some kind of weird hand jive dance-y thing (the whole audience stunk at it) and Shamu came out and did his wonderful things, though less than I recall from previous visits. The animals did their funny tricks to splash the audience, but they never reached us. So, either the Spalsh Zone has been enlarged significantly or they just didn’t splash as much. Sigh. The kids were disappointed and that disappointed me because I had built up the Shamu show as being wonderful. Too much cheese and people talking, I concluded.
So, we wandered out and headed into Shamu’s Happy Harbor, a happy place for the kids to play. There was the plastic Shamu that kids could pose on or around for the obligatory pictures. Our kids lined up with the other kids that were waiting there in the drizzle and we waited for them to get out for their turn. After what felt like forever, they made it to the front of the line. Suddenly, some family, I think they were from Mexico, came in and climbed in through the exit, jumping onto the Shamu statues before our kids could do so. Now, the fact that they were from Mexico has nothing to do with anything, other than I don’t think the mom could understand me trying to explain to her in English that there was a line. She didn’t realize I could understand her Spanish (she was at least politely ignoring me). They took like 50 pictures, but their kids really didn’t seem to want to cooperate. Finally they left (some through the exit by which they had come in, some by the entrance) and our kids got their turn. We took two pictures and let the next group go on. I wish everyone was as nice, considerate and humble as we are.
Next up was the Sea Carousel and the kids got to ride on a couple of squids. Most everything else in the Happy Harbor was closed, though, due to the weather. So, we wandered out toward the Wild Arctic exhibit, to find that it had a long, long line. We decided to skip the long lines and headed back across the park to see the Manatees.
The Manatees were wonderful, according to my wife, and boring, according to the kids. I tend to side with my wife on this one. We watched them float around and swim around a little. All of the manatees at Sea World were rescued after being injured by boats or whatever, some stupid human activity. We wanted to go to the underwater viewing area, but it was closed, due to the weather (flooded from all the rain). We looked at the alligators, and they looked back at us. Essentially, they were sitting there, piled upon one another, doing nothing. Exciting. Really.
From the manatees we trekked out to the penguin encounter, where we watched some penguins swimming around, other’s standing upright. It is winter in the Antarctic, so they had the lights down to simulate winter for the penguins. It was hard to see, but still kind of neat.
By this point, we had had enough. We were wet, it was still raining, it was still thundering, we were hungry. So we left and came back to the villa.
Advertisement section, part 2
HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead. HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead. HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead.
So, I applied the HeadOn, directly to my forehead and a few minutes later the headache I had had all day started to feel better a little bit. The HeadOn seems to be a little bit like a colorless, odorless Ben-gay type of thing. It heats up on the skin and either works by increasing bloodflow there or by distracting you from the headache as you think about the heating action. Either way, I was impressed, if not 100% convinced that it would work all the time. The headache was lessened a good deal after Tylenol hadn’t touched it all day. So, there’s my near endorsement – HeadOn is worth another try on another headache.
End Advertisement, part 2.
We ended the day by watching the end of “Night at the Museum”, which I had never seen before (we had started it in the morning). Not a bad movie, albeit a bit cheesy. It was neat to see a former president sliced in half, only to be mended by Sacagawea and her skilled, elegant use of melted wax. Awesome.
We went to bed a little while later, to the sound of the screaming gang/thugs/happy children at the pool despite the rain and occasional thunder.