Monday, December 31, 2012


*Sherlock shoots the wall*
John: "What on Earth are you doing?!" 
Sherlock: "Bored." 
John: "...what?" 
Sherlock: "Bored!" 
*He shoots the wall*
Sherlock: "Bored!" 
*He shoots the wall again* 
Sherlock: "Bored! I don't know what's gotten into the criminal classes, good job I'm not one of them." 
John: "So you take it out on the wall?" 
Sherlock: "Oh, the wall had it coming." 

Sunday, December 30, 2012


"What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Orlando tripologue

For our 5th wedding anniversary, we decided to head up for a quick trip to Orlando. About 228 miles away, it's about 3 hours by car or approximately 2 hours by hovercraft. We took the car.

There was an honest to goodness cold snap while we visited, where it actually got down to 46 degrees at one point. The locals probably thought it was like the dawn of the ice age. We felt it was admirably brisk for a state perpetually bathed in sunshine, where most days this month have been about 85 degrees.

Originally we were going to go to visit the Gaylord Palms hotel to see all the Christmas decorations. We lived a mile or so away from the Gaylord Texan back in Dallas and I thought the Orlando version would be worth a trip. But then we got there and saw International Drive.

International Drive was awesome. It's like the Las Vegas strip of Orlando. Everything is BIG and BRIGHT, and it's all just a ton of fun places and restaurants and huge gift shops. The pictures we took didn't turn out too well (taken at night from our car) but here are some from Google:

This is 'Wonder Works," a cool upside-down building. Apparently there are fun science exhibits inside, but it sounds like it's mostly for older kids. Maybe next year, or later...

The Orlando convention center. It was very slick.

When we saw all the fun things to do we jettisoned our plans for the Gaylord and instead hit up a swanky steakhouse we found:

It's true. It had been years since either of us had been (there are no Sizzlers in Texas) and the instant flash of a piece of Utah had us braking hard for some tasty salar bar and inexpensive steak goodness. It was a big hit-Maddie in particular loved it. Maddie stopped eating food several months ago and has been surviving ever since on oxygen molecules and the occasional Crystal Light. But when she saw the buffet at Sizzler, she piled up her plate with mashed potatoes, goldfish, pudding, and 'smarshals' (marshmallows) and told Jan, "This is a lot of tasty things to eat!"

After dinner we thought that we could maybe still make it to the Gaylord, but then I drove by Pirate Adventure Golf, an incredible looking mini golf course, and cancelled the rest of the evening right there on the spot. We later would find out this is rated the #1 mini golf course in the entire state. It was definitely one of the best we've ever been to. Very high production-it was very well maintained, it had some extremely creative holes, it had a full course of 36 holes, and at the end they even had a grab bag for Maddie. Class act the whole way!

It was done up like a Spanish pirate villa kind of thing.

Hard to see here but this is like a big pirate galley. There's a big cool throne in there carved with piratey things on it.

At first Maddie was nonplussed.

Hey, go stand over there.

The view leading up to the entry.

The prisoner.

Another view of the surroundings.

It went up into a very (for Florida) tall mountain thing.

The waterfall hole.

Mads even had her own kid sized club.

Another cool hole.

And another.

Further up on top of the mountain, above one of the waterfalls.

Very top.

This was inside an awesome jail cell cave hole.

Another view of the cave hole.

The next day we were ready for Disney World, but when we woke up we found that it was in the low 50s so we stopped and bought Emme a sweat shirt. Where she was born in TX and moved to FL in her  short little life so far, she's never needed any remotely warm clothing. 

Disney World makes you either take the monorail or a ferry across to the Magic Kingdom part of the park, which is the traditional Disneyland-ish part. The other lands are like Epcot and an Animal one and stuff like that. 

The kids were cold on the ferry, but Maddie had some slightly intrigued eyes peeking out.

We arrived and the place was deserted...for about 2 hours. Then all of humanity descended on it.

The haunted mansion (at left) and a new section (at right) where you can see Rapunzel's tower, which is still under construction. The new part doesn't look like a ride-it looks more like a restaurant or one of the pointless but insanely popular for some reason 'character encounter' things where you can wait in line for 2 hours to get an autograph from a girl from drama class that is basically a full time Mall Santa.

A very nervous smile from Maddie on the tea cups.

Emme thought the whole thing was a blast. Here she is just being happy to be here. This was the Jungle Cruise.

Me and the kids in front of the Cinderella Castle, which is much bigger than it seems.

The haunted mansion-still not a great angle. There are better angles. Maybe next trip!

Pirates! This looks awesome at night-some excellent lighting. My angle on the picture cut off the skeleton pirate up in the crow's nest above the sign. 

Ever since the Johnny Depp pirate movies, they've redone Pirates of the Caribbean to edit Johnny Depp into it. It's changed, and in my opinion, somewhat ruined the fun retro vibe it had going on, and is now a lot like the Simpsons episode where Homer voiced an animated dog named Poochie, and suggested to the show's producers, "Whenever Poochie's not onscreen, all the other characters should be asking, "Where's Poochie?"

That's a lot like how Pirates is now. Almost  every line of dialogue is 'something something Captain Jack Sparrow!' Even with periphery characters that have nothing to do but stand there wearing a hat. "Arr, that Captain Jack Sparrow. Arrrrr."

The main event of the day in terms of time spent was going to the new Fantasyland. In it, there was a Beauty and the Beast ride that had a 55 minute wait time. Since everything up to that point had been like a 5-minute wait time, I thought this one must be spectacular. But after 10 minutes or so and the line not moving whatsoever, I started to have my doubts. Still, we stayed on, hoping that the ride would be incredible.

Here's the line, about 40 minutes in.

Maddie was somehow still in a good mood after 50 minutes.

Instead, when we got in, we found it was a dreaded character encounter complete waste of time where they have kids act out the parts of characters from the movie and then they all get a free book mark and get a picture taken with the Beauty girl from Beauty and the Beast. Maddie, of course, stuck her head in the sand and hoped she would disappear. So it was really just me and Jan watching the lame thing. We will never get that time back. Ever.

This is "Gaston's" something or other. It's a restaurant. It's a big mountain and there's a tiny castle on it that they probably think you'll think is quite far away. But it's not. There's a cool waterfall on it that makes it seem more interesting than it actually is.

Next up was a new Little Mermaid ride, and that was MUCH better. It was an actual ride, for starters, so that was already 1000% better. But they've also done a really good job with it. 

This was the castle thing on the outside. There are waterfalls and lagoons in and all around it where you line up. Very watery and cool.

Eventually in the line you get into some caves where some cool things are located.

Within some of the little windows are some cool little hologram CGI crabs that interact with you and can like wave back at you if you wave at them and stuff. Pretty neat.

The little crab guys.

Maddie liked the crabs, but the line moved so quickly we didn't get to see them very much.

In Fantasyland there is a huge ride under construction that says it will be ready in 2014. It's a big mountain rollercoaster ride like Splash Mountain and big Thunder Mountain Railroad and looks like it's  going to be a Seven Dwarves mine ride. It looks like it will be a big draw.

Jan and the kids.

On a break. They spent much of the day like this. The high was 'only' 58, which to us is actually vaguely cold now.

 The big Christmas Party thing they were going to have was all sold out, but was going to be very expensive so it was for the best. But we were disappointed that we wouldn't get to see everything lit up. But to our surprise, they lit everything up around 6:15 pm or so, 45 mins before the park closed!

The castle was extremely nice. This was meant to look like ice, and it really did. They had it programmed so it glimmered.

Main Street. It was all decked out.

The very pretty Christmas Tree at the front of the park that got lit up very nicely at night. Those strands on it are made of popcorn that is about 20" tall each.

We made it back to the hotel and had a night of coughing kids to get through. Actually we were all coughing, and the coldish weather didn't help too much. But the next day (today, actually-boy it's been a long day!) we got up and drove up the road to visit the Orlando temple, which was just 5 miles away or so. It was huge-built in 1994 before the temples started to get somewhat smaller. And it was in an extremely nice part of town, which is really saying something because pretty much all of Orlando is the 'nice part of town.'

The very nice (and pretty big) nativity they had set up.

All things said, it was a great little trip-just the right amount of time, and really pretty affordable. It was really something to just drive over to Disney World. Who knew in our lives that that would ever be an option? Not me. We've been very blessed to have a lot of fun adventures and to come out of them safely. 

On to the next.