What I Did on my Christmas Vacation

So this last Christmas of 2004, I packed up the girls and spousal unit, and went (not too far) south to Florida on a pilgrimage to the land of Mouse, Disney World.

Several things of note. For anyone lucky enough to be living or just passing through the DeLand area Northeast of Orlando, tucked into the corner of I-4 and I-95, there is a truly wonderful barbecue joint called Brians. ‘Nuff said.

What really inspired this little write-up though are two thoughts I had while doing the touristy things available. On the second day there, rather than go back to Disney for two days in a row, we relaxed a bit and went to look at the manatees at Blue Springs. In colder weather (which it was unseasonably cold that day, for Florida), the manatees tend to cluster around the springs because the water is still relatively warm, having come out of a deep, approximately ninety foot wide crack in the ground. Since they hang out there so often, it’s a state park, complete with board walkways, rangers, a designated swimming area, information plaques, and playground.

If you’ve ever had someone tell you that manatees look like swimming potatoes, they do. They also have a rather cute quality without being as offensive as, say, a hello-kitty character. I’d post photos but they wouldn’t do the beasties justice. I know I’d seen photos but you get a whole new appreciation when you see them move, in person.

You also know you’re a hard-core SF geek when you look at the scenery around you and think, “Hey, it’s just like that story.” The park had a walkway along the river, elevated above the ground and winding between the palms, with plaques, rails, and dire warnings to stay on the path so as not to damage plant life. I looked up this wooden path, shoving past tropical trees, seemingly hovering above the ground at times near and far, and I couldn’t help but think of Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder.”

The other really geeky moment I had was my first exposure to a Segway in the Epcot parking lot on my third day there. Sure it has two wheels, but upon seeing one and the way it moved, and more to the point, didn’t when unoccupied, I suddenly felt a need to reread the Heinlein classic “The Roads Must Roll.” For those who don’t remember, the repair crews for the ‘roads’ get around on little gyroscopically stabilized unicycles.

Epcot was fun (I highly recommend the Mission Mars ride…), and so was the Magic Kingdom. All in all it was grand fun.

As an update, my wife and I got a huge chuckle out of the setup for the Mission Mars ride. Each crewmember is assigned certain duties, and my wife ended up in the engineer’s seat. We soon discover that her duties consisted of putting us all to bed via “hypersleep”…

And here I thought we went to Disney to get away from real life….

Update – I’m not going to edit and erase what was said, but guys, be very, VERY careful in how to you refer to your wife, even when you’re joking.

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