At the end of December, we boarded the dog, packed up the car and drove to Florida. That was the week where the temperatures were below zero in the Chicago-Milwaukee areas. Unfortunately, we did not get very far on our first night because there was a snow storm and the roads were scary. The weather was clear the rest of the way and we made it to Orlando on New Year's Eve. We thought about hitting Universal Studios for New Year's Eve but we were a bit road wary and had a nice dinner at a Joe's Crab Shack then hung out in the hotel's game room for a while.
On New Year's Day, we went to Universal Studios. The weather was rainy and in the 50s but we didn't let that stop us. We had a great time, except when we were standing in long lines for rides. The park was packed.
I am a big fan of the Harry Potter books and movies, so the highlight of Universal Studios for me was Diagon Alley. It is a pretty incredible recreation. The only low light was the huge crowds and the enormous wait for the Gringots ride. I bought my son a wand and he had a great time casting spells.
Outside of Diagon Alley, The Men in Black ride was fun. We got to shoot aliens. The boy had the highest score. The Simpson's area was awesome. We hung out a Moe's Tavern and the Quickee Mart. The Simpson's ride was amazing. It is one of those virtual reality rides where you are flying around Springfield. The Transformers ride was fun, as well, though we waited forever to get on that thing.
On January 2nd, we went to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure theme park. It was terribly cold, in the 40s and rainy. We waited a long time to have our photo taken with a dinosaur in the Jurrasic Park Island. The Islands of Adventure has more Harry Potter stuff including an amazing recreation of Hogsmeade Village. Again, there were mass crowds. The boy brought his wand and was able to cast more spells. We waited two hours to go on the Hogwarts ride, which was awesome. If the ride would have been a little longer, it would have been worth the wait. I felt it ended too quickly. Again, it was one of those virtual reality rides and we were flying through the Quiddich Match and evading dementors.
The Cat in the Hat ride reminded me of Disney's "It's a Small World." The line was not to bad and the ride was geared towards little kids. Most of the rides had crazy long lines so we skipped them. With the cold and rain, there wasn't much of a line for the water ride. This was the best water ride, I have ever been on. It had a really steep drop where we got drenched. Unfortunately, we were really cold afterwards.
After two days of theme parks, we had enough and drove south to West Palm Beach to hang out with my folks. The weather was still cold. We had a nice dinner on January 3rd at the newest restaurant at Lake Worth Beach. So I have been coming to this area for the last 40 years and it is my home away from home. The beach area hasn't changed much in that time. The only real difference is they reconfigured the beach-front road so that you have to drive through the parking lot. It used to be an actual road. Also, back in the 1970s, there was a rock n' roll radio station next to the beach that ran an ongoing beach party. I miss those days.
The cold and rain brought some crazy high waves and the surfers were out en masse. We had a nice time on January 4th watching all the surfers. We spent most of our time in West Palm Beach/Lake Worth hitting thrift stores. I found a 2006 Super Bowl T-shirt for a buck. I bought a bunch of used CDs and a Rolling Stones vinyl record.
We took to the road on January 5th and had an easy ride home. I was back at work on January 7th. Turns out the weather in West Palm Beach for the week of the 7th was 70s and 80s. Oh well, we still had a nice time.
I would have liked to hit some card shows on the trip but the wife and kids were against it. I also apologize for not visiting with the many people I know down in Florida. I was focused on my family this trip. Next time!
As for local card shows, I'm setting up at Gonzaga tomorrow (February 11), weather permitting. I'll be in Orland on February 18 then back at the Four Points Sheraton in Milwaukee on March 3. I broke out the '74 baseball binder last weekend at the Four Points Sheraton. I'll have 1978 Topps football tomorrow. Come on out!