An anniversary of sorts and Spring Break!

It’s hard to believe that today marks the one year anniversary when my current employer offered me the job I now hold. 365 days of the earth revolving around the sun and here I am, a resident of Oklahoma, working in job I really do love. Though I still am unable to say I love where I live, I’m praying my job will continue to be enough to keep me here for at least another year or two.

With my job come perks, like having time off for spring break! The plan of traveling to Florida with my parents over my spring break began to take shape when I was home for Christmas and I’m pleased at how well our plan came together. As a family we had not been to Orlando since Christmas of 1994, I personally had not been to Florida since the summer of 2000, and we had not taken a family vacation together since 2004. Therefore, we were long overdue on some quality family time together. Although gas prices have been astronomical, driving was still cheaper than flying, so I made the almost five hour drive from Oklahoma to Missouri, we loaded up mom & dad’s car, and it was Florida or bust.

Firstly, the weather was gorgeous the entire time we were in Florida. No rain but plenty of sunshine and palm trees. Thank you, Jesus!

Upon arriving to Florida we met up with some cousins who live north of Orlando and attended a weigh-in for a Bassmasters professional fishing tournament in Tavares (dad was especially excited about this!). Our cousins kindly had us spend the night and attend church with them during that leg of our trip.

Our first touristy stop in Orlando was to visit Universal Studios Islands of Adventure and experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! This wasn’t exactly mom’s & dad’s cup of tea, but they agreed to go with me. How kind is that? Due to the thousands of people also having the same idea we did, it took us being at the park several hours before we were able to enter the Harry Potter area. There were still way too many people crammed into this portion of the park, which made it difficult to really get the full Hogsmeade/Hogwarts experience, but it was extremely well done. And to think it all came from one woman’s imagination!

Hogwarts

Hogwarts Castle, which includes the ride “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.”

While standing in line for over an hour I met a fellow librarian from the Boston area. We enjoyed discussing HP, other good YA literature, and strangely enough, were dressed quite similarly. Part of the adventure is weaving your way throughout the castle before you actually get on the ride, making it one of the best standing-in-line experiences-at-a-theme-park you could ever hope for.

Before leaving, I had dad snap a photo of me at the entrance to Harry Potter world with my souvenirs and butter beer in hand!

HP world

I’m now on a quest to re-read all the books before HP 7 Pt. II hits theatres in July.

Also included on our theme park journey was Epcot Center the following day.

Epcot

Seventeen years have elapsed since I last visited Disney, so when I saw how many of the same rides and attractions I enjoyed as an adolescent were still in operation, it brought me down a long-forgotten path of memories (Journey to Imagination with Figment, Captain EO, The Land). While the attractions have been updated to reflect the changing times, it was neat to see how the innovation, imagination, creativity, and wholesomeness of Epcot continue to create memories and inspire another generation.

Perhaps the key motivation in taking this trip was catching a Cardinals spring training ballgame in Lakeland at the Detroit Tigers stadium.

Cardinals game

Since their retirement mom & dad have been to a couple of spring training games in Jupiter (the Cardinals home field) and other “away” cities, but the appeal of attending the Cards-Tigers game was the closer proximity to Orlando. Dad ordered tickets for us and the cousins back in January, in the shade no less, and I enjoyed keeping score (as a detail oriented librarian is want to do). We were thrilled that key players were on the roster on gameday: Carpenter on the hill, Yadi behind the plate, and Albert on 1st. In the 4th inning the Cardinals were already ahead, but with the bases loaded and Albert up to the plate, we were hoping for some magic. And…he delivered with a grand slam that increased the lead by four more runs.

Albert grand slam

Final score 9-4 Redbirds! We came and went as happy St. Louis Cardinals fans.

The final leg of our Florida journey took us to Clearwater to visit my Uncle Charles, have dinner at his pizza parlor with he and other friends/family, and then stay in a lovely hotel right on the Gulf. We wish we could have spent more time there since we don’t get to see him all that often, but hope to return again soon.

Clearwater

A pre-sunrise photo of the Gulf at low tide, taken from the back door of our hotel room.

A full two days of driving were ahead of us as we left Clearwater en route for Missouri once again. My dad did the majority of the driving but did allow me to take the wheel for several hours here and there throughout the long drive through Alabama. We never got completely lost, but discovered how unhelpful our GPS was when we really needed to find a location we didn’t see on the atlas or have printed from Mapquest. And yet, it was a rewarding trip for us all, where many family memories were made to last a lifetime. These I carry in my heart as I return to my calling, resting in the knowledge that these will sustain me until the next family vacation.

And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road (emphasis added), when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.~ Deuteronomy 6: 6-7 (NLT)

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