There’s something about getting away from the norm, from home, from the daily hustle and bustle. There’s also something about getting outdoors, absorbing vitamin D from sun rays, and taking in the sounds and sights of all sources not associated with a box-of-a-building.
You can call it a vacation, a getaway, or whatever you want. The most important thing is that you take one.
I spent July 4th with friends and for the first time in years I was not hosting, cooking, or organizing a thing. At first it was awkward, but eventually I got the hang of it. I got to chill out and just have fun.
I went to one friend’s house where we ate, drank and merrily watched her husband and his friends light stadium-quality fireworks in the cul-de-sac on their street.
I was at first nervous because I used to live in the same subdivision for 7 years, and no one risked lighting fireworks or firecrackers—because of the huge trees and close proximity of the houses. But my friend’s house is next to a few vacant lots so there’s more space, and since it had just finished raining, the grass and trees were still wet. It was an amazing sight to see. I felt like a little child as I found myself saying “ooh” and “aah” and “wow” every few moments.
After spending quality time there I drove around the corner and spent several hours with one of my other friend’s, and her husband. We had a great time catching up while also learning a lot about each other. It’s amazing what you can learn when you share.
I left their home at almost 2am and was grateful that I didn’t have to drive and that my destination wasn’t as far as my home. I had a big plans for the next day and I needed to get my beauty rest.
On July 5th I opened my eyes and smiled at the thought of my reality—I was about to hit the road and get away from Hotlanta, and I couldn’t wait.
We spent four days and three nights in Orlando, enjoying the sun, splashing in the pouring rain, prancing through Sea World, taking in the action at Aquatica, and laughing at a dinner show.
The rain kept trying to get in the way of our trip, but I just shrugged my shoulders and told myself I would just adapt and overcome—which I did.
I mean how could I complain?
It was my first time in Orlando, I had never been to any of the places we were visiting, we were staying at a beautiful resort with a view that stopped me in my tracks and a bed that made me melt, and all of this was only roughly a one-hour flight or 6-hour drive away from Atlanta. It was all a blessing and I wasn’t going to waste a precious moment complaining about the weather or missed opportunities. I was determined to make the most of each day, and we did.
Just Get Wet
I will say that on July 6th, when I found myself having to choose between walking into a full-blown thunderstorm while leaving the grocery store, or standing inside and waiting for it to pass, I looked down at my sundress (that covered my swim suit) and flip flops, and I smiled and giggled as I walked boldly into the rain.
We were soaked by the time we got into my SUV. I mean soaked. I looked like I had jumped into a pool. Nothing on me was dry or even damp. I was dripping water everywhere. It was hilarious. I laughed for several minutes as I dried off in the SUV, and found myself giggling as we drove on to our next destination, with my hair dripping water all over the place.
Sea World & Aquatica
I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted at Sea World and Aquatica—but at least I got to go and take in the sounds and sights. We were disappointed that Shamu was away at another park as the Orlando park staff prepared for a seasonal show to be featured there for several weeks. We really wanted to see Shamu, but we got over it.
I was in awe of the shark exhibit and the restaurant that was attached, allowing you to see the sharks swimming while you dined.
We also got to ride Mako, the new rollercoaster at Sea World. It’s exhilarating. I found myself screaming “oh shhhh” with each drop and flip (mindful that two seats over was a child with her mother). I was surprised I kept my eyes opened the entire time. I’m also glad that it’s not a long ride or I would’ve probably lost my cookies halfway through. I was hungry and dehydrated (but didn’t know it), and it was humid (at 8:30pm). A bad mix that almost messed up my night. But it quickly turned itself around once I got some electrolytes in me.
We watched the laser and fireworks show at 9pm and once again I was transfixed. Thank goodness one of us had a phone that could capture the beauty and excitement—and I can say, it wasn’t my beloved phone that did the capturing.
After the fireworks show we dipped into a chocolate shop and treated ourselves to some of the yummiest fudge I’ve had in years—one bar of chocolate and one bar of chocolate with walnuts. I nibbled on that fudge until I took the last bite two days ago (yep, it took me roughly three days to finish savoring it). It was pure bliss.
It was also exciting because we were given two tickets to return to Sea World on July 8th. How cool was that?
The Aquatica waterpark on Saturday was jam-packed. It had been raining on and off that day so it was humid and hot. It was also the perfect environment to people-watch, as you find people from all over the globe trekking through amusement parks and waterparks in Florida.
You wouldn’t expect to get a good burger at a waterpark but guess what? We did. It was huge and we got them for free. Yes, free. It made the cheeseburger taste even better.
An added treat to the experience was watching the mammals that they had creatively positioned throughout the park. Imagine zooming through an enclosed slide and witness these two cuties:
Saturday night we spent laughing and chatting away with complete strangers at a dinner show. I’m so glad that the tickets we purchased had us seated at a long dining table with several people. We got to meet and learn about them, and vice versa, all while being entertained by a group of awesome actors. I would definitely return to check them out again.
And here’s some randomness for you…
I’m still puzzled as to why I can travel throughout most of the 50 US states and find a 7-Eleven, except in the state of Georgia. Stop hating on 7-Eleven, Georgia, it’s a national fixture—embrace it. They’re all over Florida (and almost every other state). Being different, in this instance, does not make you special Georgia. I’m just saying!
Something cool I finally got to see in person, was an Amazon locker. I’ve heard of them and saw one pictured online—but I finally got to see one up close over the weekend. It’s a cool concept. Especially if you’re traveling and don’t want to risk your packages being stolen from your home. It’s also a cool idea if you’re trying to surprise someone with a gift and you don’t want to risk the gift arriving home before you can intercept and hide it.
As my time in Orlando drew to the end I had to pause and reflect over the four days that I spent in a city that I’ve never been to before, in a beautiful resort with great amenities (I especially liked their fitness center) and a gorgeous view from my suite.
As I stated earlier, this was an absolute blessing. There are thousands of people around the world who wish for an opportunity like that, and there I was enjoying the experience. I’m grateful for each moment.
My week started off awkward as I attempted to celebrate my late father’s birthday, missing him and wishing he were here—and my week ended with me smiling at the fact that I finally made it to Orlando, and now living much closer to Florida than when we lived in California, I would be able to return with my nephew Logan and our family—to fulfill my dad’s dream of taking us there for a vacation. That moment is becoming more of a reality as I plan in my mind the details. I’m excited.
I’m grateful for the breathtaking moments that I experienced over five days, and even the twist and turn moments (that could derail a trip) because each moment I spent being present and with someone I love, value, appreciate and respect—and who loves, values, appreciates, and respects me. Can it get any better than that? To me, my week and weekend were priceless.
I pray to always cherish those memories. I look forward to building and capturing more moments and memories along this great journey we call “life”.
Don’t put off even a day of bliss to ‘plan’ for a more convenient time in the future. The future in your same body is not promised, so you should seize the moments as they come. I’m ready for my next adventure—whether it be big or small—I plan on making it feel bold and beautiful!
What are your plans for this weekend? This summer?