Date: Tue, 4 Apr 95 13:24:31 PDT
Subject: Dave's Trip to Florida
Status: RO

Hi, Folks!

Sorry about the form letter, but you know, something as important and valuable
as Dave's interpretations of Florida just has to be distributed this way.  :)

Anyway, I just returned from about a week in Florida with my family.

For starters, I would just like to point out, for those of you who
believed Florida to be a big beach with a few palm trees and such, you are
in for a big surprise.  Florida is basically a big swamp, with a few nodules
of dry land sticking out on which people live.  There are also land depressions
which form lakes.  Lots and LOTS of lakes.  More lakes than you could possibly
imagine, even if you were afflicted with some weird disorder which made you
imagine lakes all the time.

One would think that "the Sunshine State" has left a little something out
of it's name.  Hmm... What could it be that would fill all those lakes...
Could it be >rain<, maybe?!?!  Or maybe there's just a lot of dew.  :)

Having said all that, I would like to point out that we had really nice weather
during our trip.  It was sunny and warm, and only mildly humid.  All in all,
very comfortable!  That is, up until near the end of the vacation when it
started thunderstorming, and the weather services were having thunderstorm
warnings and a tornado watch for our area.  Other than that, the weather was
really great!  :)

Well, let me start off by saying how my vacations typically start (and this
was no exception).  They typically start with me forgetting all about the
fact that I'm going to be gone for a week and then running around like crazy
trying to get everything done in order to go on vacation.  This ensures that
I'm so tired by the time my vacation rolls around that I really NEED the
vacation, hence justifying my previous decision to go on vacation even though
I didn't need one at the time of the decision.  :)
The other little drawback of this system is that I typically spend the entire
night up without sleep the night before I go on vacation.  This typically makes
me susceptable to catching a cold.  Which, since I've always been a person
to uphold long held, time honored traditions, is what I did this time, too.  :)

Fortunately, the hotel staff kept the kleenex supply full, and so I was able
to enjoy my vacation which I just realized I have already written a whole page
and have said nothing about yet.  :)  Ooooooo, the suspense is building!

So, having stayed up all night, I was very tired and hoped that for the first
leg of my flight (to Salt Lake City) I would not have anyone sitting behind
me on the plane so that I could stretch my seatback all the way back and rest.
Well, one out of two ain't bad...  It was true that there was nobody sitting
behind me on the plane.  That's primarily because there wasn't any plane
behind me as I was sitting at the back of it.  As such, the seat was up against
a bulkhead and wouldn't lean back.  Ah, well.  It was a short leg.

For the second part of the flight (from Salt Lake to Orlando) I was also sitting
at the back of the plane.  This time, my family had joined in the festivities
(flying from Washington) and so when I leaned forward and just lay my chest on
my lap to rest, my brother could explain to all the concerned passers by who
wanted to know if I was all right that I was in fact, all right and I was just
weird.  :)

Anyway, I still haven't talked much about the actual vacation part of the
vacation.  So here we really begin the vacation part, I promise.  :)
Our first full day was spent visiting Epcot Center at the big Disney Complex.
Epcot is it's own park, however, requiring it's own admission fee and such.
It has two main themes.  Science & Nature stuff on one side of the park, and
countries of the world stuff on the other.  Apparently, we went at a good time
of year because there really weren't any lines and we were able to rush through
the whole park and catch pretty much everything in one day.
There were "infotainment" rides on the history and future of communications
(sponsored by AT&T), imagination (sponsored by Kodak), underseas worlds
(sponsored by United Technologies), energy (sponsored by Exxon),
The world of motion (sponsored by General Motors), the Land
(sponsored by... well, you get the idea... :) and more!  Most things had a
ride through well done displays with cool lighting and effects and animatronics
or what have you, or little movies or both.  The Land exhibit had a big
hydroponic garden that was actually doing some research on how to grow crops
without soil.  It was kind of weird seeing squash hanging around growing from
a conveyour belt driven clamp system.  :)  I was a little disappointed Hewlett
Packard didn't have an exhibit displaying something like, "The Inkjet Nozzle
and You: Your Colorful Future (An Interactive DocuDrama)" or something like
that.  But I suppose we don't have as big an image problem as Exxon or GM to
justify that kind of expense.  =)  All kidding aside, the rides were actually
very good, and were different from the types of stuff you would find at
Disneyland proper.

The exhibits from the countries around the world were very good also.  Some
had movies (France had a big 180 degree view theatre, China and Canada had
bigger 360 degree movie theatres) some had rides (Norway had a big action
log floom ride and Mexico had a boat ride) done much in the same fashion as
the Sci rides on the other half of Epcot.  Some countries had displays of
beautiful historic artifacts and such (China and Japan come to mind here).
Oh, and of course, all had gift shops and snack bars.  :)

Well, you'd think after all that there just wouldn't be much left to see
in Florida.  Well, you'd be wrong.  There's LOTS more tourist activities,
and we haven't even begun to talk about the poisonous snakes and alligators yet!

Having said that, maybe I will take a moment to point out that I'd see these
warning signs by the swampy areas near the roads with little tiny print on them.
So, you had to walk up to the sign to read that it said, "WARNING: this area
infested with dangerous poisonous snakes.  Keep Out. "  Grrreat!  Thanks for
the warning in teeny-tiny eyestrain-o-vision so that I made sure to come into
the area so you could tell me to keep out of it!  :)

Anyway, we saw the World's largest Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando which is shaped
like the body of a big guitar.  The other feature is the guitar neck which
features the world's largest Cafe Waiting Line extending down the whole neck.

We saw Homosassa Springs, which is a wildlife park set up over on the gulf
side to show Native Florida Wildlife in a Native Florida Wildlife Setting.
Except for the poisonous snakes.  Those were in their proper setting behind
six inches of plexiglass.  :)  They had some manitees there!  For those of
you who haven't seen a manitee, they look like a big flat oval with a flipper
on one end and a tiny head on the other.  Add two more tiny flippers near
the head and you've basically got it.  Either that or you're picturing a
pinball machine in which case you've really missed the general idea.
(For what they really look like, look at this photo :)
They were there because they like to float around near the surface and move
slowly.  This kind of radical behavior tends to get them run over by boats.
Most of the creatures at the park had been injured in the wild.  They would
either be released if they got well enough or just taken care of if they didn't.

We also saw historic St. Augustine which is the oldest city in the US. It was
founded around 1750 by the Spanish, and kept getting attacked and ransacked,
so the clever Spanish took 12 years and built a fort out of Coquina which
is basically conglomerated shells in a stone like form.  (as opposed to 
limestone which is metamorphized shells).  The notable feature of this type
of stone is it is very soft and is only found in a couple places in the world.
This made a very good fort material since the incoming cannonballs could not
crack the walls, they would just stick there.  Then the Spanish would go
out and pry the balls out and shoot them back.  Pretty clever, those Spanish.

We also saw SpacePort USA, the Kennedy Space (Visitor's) Center.  We saw
rockets, we saw a shuttle, we saw big boosters and I got my picture taken
while shaking hands with a guy in a space suit.  (How's that for the
quintessential tourist activity?!  :)

We also went to a big China exhibit.  I can't quite remember the name.  It
was "Grand China", or "Glorious China", or "Ohmygosh 74 Acres of China Exhibits"
or something catchy like that.  What they had done was to hire a team of
artists to painstakingly recreate several dozen of your favorite Chinese
monuments in reduced scale.  So they had pagodas and palaces in 1/7 or 1/15
scale and a Great Wall which extended across pretty much the whole park.
Everything was done little teeny tiny brick by brick or wooden piece by wooden
piece and they really did a nice job.  I personally was hoping for a little
more historical information with my viewing.  They didn't really give
more than little blurbs with all that amazing artistry.  Still, it was
pretty impressive.

Well, that's about it.  Of course, there's always more to tell but I have to
balance the length of this against other considerations such as other things I
have to do and how much my friends can stand to hear before their brains melt
and they start drooling on their nice, clean clothing.  You know, that type of
thing.  :)

-Dave (the Vacationator)