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Florida Trip Report…..Day One-Day Three

Well hello friends, I haven’t written a “trip report” out of Disney World, or Florida for that matter, in quite some time. Living there the past 10 years, you don’t really feel the need too unless you are an updates type of blog. But since I live in the great state of WI right now, taking care of my parents and living a much less chaotic life here, I thought I would share with you how my trip went. Enjoy!

Countdown at zero!!!
A bumper sticker we bought on Disney Property back in 1995 and Craig brought it for our trip 🙂

Craig and I headed out at around 3:30 a.m. on February 19th, a Saturday morning. We prefer to drive as it is cheaper, we feel safer in our own space, and honestly we have a great time chatting on the way to and from Florida. Now, after this trip, we may start flying again for the sake of time and convenience, but none the less, we still had a great drive. Our first “Snow Squall” in Appleton the night before we left…of course, right? That was a first for us LOL. Blowing snow across these large areas of open fields as we traversed the highways in WI was not fun at all, especially in the dark, but we made it safely to the “Oasis” in Illinois. For those that don’t know what that is, it’s a rest area that they built over the highway that not only we stopped at with our kids when they were little, but I did with my parents as a child as well. A staple of Midwest traveling in these here parts. We managed to get to Jasper, TN day one…about 12 hour drive in total for the day plus some extra for traffic, rest stops, and gas.

Chicago Oasis
Hanging at the Chicago Oasis
On the road again… The Relocated Tourists
The sun goes down in Jasper, TN…. our stop for the night.

The next day after getting through Atlanta, which we call the Beast because of the heavy traffic, we arrived at the FL state line. THIS was an amazing feeling!! We were so PUMPED to be back in our other home, and we played the tourist very well. You have to get your pic by the FLORIDA sign, grab your free orange juice, and then walk around and look at all the sights in the Welcome Center. Personally, and Craig can tell you this, I just stood outside by the Jeep and smiled into the sunshine. IT FELT SO GOOD after the winter we have had in WI… how can we bottle this??? We rolled into Ocala that Sunday night, choosing here instead of Orlando because it was the only area we could find closest that had a decently priced hotel for one night. Our original plan was to stay in Georgia on the second day, but we were just too dang excited to get to Florida, and that was close enough after another 10 hour day of driving. I always look for a hotel right off the highway, near gas and food, so I don’t have to go searching after a long drive- so there’s my advice when you go looking for your next overnight. It just makes things so much more stress free.

Super happy to be at the Florida/Georgia border…. at the FL Welcome Center.
A tradition, I loved hugging a Palm tree on my Florida trips, before living there the last 10 years.
FREE Orange Juice at the Florida Welcome Center- another tradition!

A beautiful Florida morning, 53 degrees when we stepped out into the sunshine…shorts on and boy did I feel alive. Hand in hand, we were like kids on Christmas morning, we couldn’t wait to unwrap our week of goodies and just spend some quality, uninterrupted time together.  We had breakfast at “Cracker Barrel” to kick things off, and then headed off to Orlando. (Does anyone else order the “Uncle Herschel” breakfast and think of “Walking Dead?” No, just me? LOL

A wonderful Florida morning in Ocala, breakfast was delicious at Cracker Barrel.

It was now Monday, February 21st, and unbenounced to me, it was “President’s Day Week.” Now, I know better- this one is on me. I do believe the Calendar Gods messed with all of us and made it much later this year, as I remember it being near my mother-in-law’s birthday which is the 12th, and not the 21st.  For some odd reason, I think one part of the Country gets the entire week off from school- we never did here in WI growing up, so this was very foreign to me and easy to forget when planning. So, with that being said, the minute we figured it out, we both smiled and said “Meh, let’s just ride what we can, do what we can, deal with the crowds, and just enjoy our time together.”  Yes, we are lucky to be able to do this because we have been on most of the rides there 10x over, so for us to miss them is no big deal, but for someone’s first time to Disney this week…I would have been completely annoyed and angered by the crowds, the new Lightening Lane, the stupid Genie, and the nickel and diming on top of your already expensive tickets. But more on that later.

We are the best of friends, and the silliest of road trippers together.

Today we had planned to just drive our old neighborhoods, reminisce about the decade we lived there, and then check-in to “Melia” with some shopping and Disney Springs and dinner at “Mori Moto” after to round out the day.  First, the drive to our last lived home in Florida was definitely not the feels we expected…we were glad we didn’t live there anymore.  You see, for us, this corner of FL made us feel hostage in our own home. We were between 27 and 4, two of the most dangerous and busy highways in Central Florida, so we never felt at ease driving in and out of our subdivision. I can drive anywhere here in WI and never feel anxious or nervous, but every time I left my home from that area, it was like I was holding my breath until I got to my destination. Happy to see our home again, but zero feelings of wanting to live there again. It was definitely unexpected and weird. But once we got a taste of calmer living, driving, and a lot more peaceful existence here in WI again, even though it doesn’t have my Parks or lots of what is going on, the smaller things are very BIG things when it comes to day to day.

Winter Garden- Summer Lake Area- behind Magic Kingdom

We then drove over to Winter Garden, where we’d like to live someday, maybe retirement, maybe never- after this trip, we just don’t know now. As much as love the manicured gardens, the palm trees are near perfect, the sunny weather…I am not a fan of so much more that surrounds said paradise, or the politics. It gave us a LOT to think about, but for now, we are satisfied with staying here near family and vacationing to Florida when we start to miss it again. (And I have to say, being a tourist again and not a resident KICKED ASS!!!)

Before I left for my big road trip last June, Craig and I had a conversation on a certain bench in this area that was very special to us. We went and revisited that area.

After our check-in at “Melia” which is located in Celebration, we headed over to Springs for some shopping and dining. It felt so good to walk around, hand in hand again with Craig, and just get giddy over the new merch, ears I had to buy for the 50th, a Baymax sweatshirt for Emily, and the long search for my “Woody Wheels.” So, yeah, I love the licorice wheels they had and they sold them in Woody packaging. Well, Disney done did my dirty and got rid of them….the nerve!! LOL But keep on reading my week’s travels, I do get lucky somewhere else!

Melia Orlando Resort….Celebration, FL
Our King Size Bed Suite at Melia Orlando
Our 5th Floor View at Melia Orlando
Heading under the infamous “Walt Disney World” arch on World Drive on our way to Disney Springs.
One of the most romantic nights we have ever had at DIsney Springs together
It may not be HOME anymore, but it will always be “a home” to us.

“Mori-Moto” was just as excellent as I remember, even more I feel. We had a 5:30 reservation but wound-up walking by a half hour early and I decided to check-in “just in case” a table was open then. We weren’t really thinking much of it, and as we walked away, I got a text our table was ready- score!! We requested a table on the patio, located on the second floor. IT. WAS. PERFECT. I had dined here before with Craig and the kids, and we were in the dining room downstairs, but the patio was so nice with the warm weather, the sun starting to set, and my guy across from me…just amazing.  I had eaten here with a former acquaintance in the past,and they had us shoved up against the glass doors on the second floor on a small table of two, I hated feeling so cramped especially with company I didn’t like, so definitely look around the Restaurant and don’t be afraid to sit somewhere that is comfortable for you- you spend a lot to eat here so it isn’t a lot to ask. The ribs are the specialty here, Craig had Orange Chicken and I ordered a half rack of the ribs with Tuna Spicey Rolls. It was delicious.

Morimoto at Disney Springs in Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Craig at our table on the second-floor patio at Morimoto….private and peaceful. LOVED IT!
Hidden Mickey with my Morimoto dishes because that’s just what you do LOL
Spicey Tuna Roll…Craig said it was delicious!
My half-rack of ribs and Craig’s Orange Chicken….I would eat this every day if I could.
A view of Disney Springs from the Morimoto Patio
A view of “Homecoming” and “Planet Hollywood” from the 2nd floor patio at Morimoto at Disney Springs.

We finished our romantic evening off with a walk near the water on the West side, watching the hot air balloon, the crazy boat/car drive through the water, the fireworks from one of the Parks, and just enjoying the chat about our plans.

The boardwalk area of DIsney Springs with Sarasota Springs Resort across the water.
Such a beautiful night, perfect temps with the perfect company 🙂

Great day, great night, tune in tomorrow for the next day which is MAGIC KINGDOM!!!!!!

Thank you for your kindness and support!

I work hard at bringing the spirit of adventure for the purpose of inspiring travel all around the Country. Thank you for stopping by and have a day FILLED with Kindness!!!

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