Home Button Places Button Theme Park Button Other Stuff Button Video Button Wallpaper Button

Keane and PiC's December 2009 Florida Trip Report, Part 6


Christmas is just a little bit different in Florida...
Who: Me (Keane). PiC (Partner In Crime). And a cast of thousands.
What: 2009 Winter Vacation.
Where: Florida. Kidani Village, Disney World; and Inn at the Beach, Venice Island.
When: Dec 2 through Dec 13.
Why: Because we *like* you. Em. Oh. You. Ess. Eee.


All disclaimers in Part 1 still applies...

I have a problem with sunset and/or seascape panoramics. I'll revisit them and do a better job at a later date...


Dec 11. Gulf Beaches

Snack on bagel/cream cheese in lobby and come up with a plan. We're going to drive around the island, see the sights. Not a difficult plan, but at least we have a plan...

We take a leisurely drive to Casey's Pass, an entrance to the intercoastal waterway that makes Venice an island. We walk to the end, and it's windy and cool, creating a wind chill. At least it's not sand.

Casey's Pass, Venice Island
200912FL_1305P11084 200912FL_1303P11084 200912FL_1306P11084 200912FL_1308P11084 200912FL_1310P11085 200912FL_1311P11085 200912FL_1312P11085 200912FL_1313P11085 200912FL_1314P11085 200912FL_13151327P11085 200912FL_1328P11085 200912FL_1330P11090 200912FL_1332P11090 200912FL_1335P11090
Back to Top

PiC now wants to go to Siesta Key, one of her first choices before settling on Venice. We take some local streets off the island, and there are some pretty nice places up here. Up US-41 until we get to the sign that says turn here for Siesta Key. I take US-41 every day I go to work. :-)

We drive down to the key, and wow, this place is just stupid. All the buildings are mostly condos or hotels or rental units which have very little facing to the street, but stretch from the road all the way to the beach. On both sides of the Key. And it's all private, so there's no access to the beaches by us mere mortals. We get to the public site, and the lot is empty. And it's a big lot. I like this area now, but I'd probably hate it during tourist season. Whenever that is.

The beaches are white here, like Marco Island. Unlike Venice, which is just a few miles South. The sand is way different than the Lake Michigan sand I'm used to. I don't really care for the tracks the machinery leaves when they manicure the beach, but the sand is compacted, and it's easy to walk on.

Siesta Key
200912FL_1365P11100 200912FL_1366P11100 200912FL_1336P11093 200912FL_1338P11094 200912FL_1339P11094 200912FL_1342P11094 200912FL_1343P11094 200912FL_1344P11094 200912FL_1346P11094 200912FL_1347P11094 200912FL_1349P11095 200912FL_1351P11095 200912FL_1352P11095 200912FL_1353P11095 200912FL_1354P11095 200912FL_1355P11095 200912FL_1356P11095 200912FL_1357P11095 200912FL_1358P11100 200912FL_1359P11100 200912FL_1360P11100 200912FL_1361P11100 200912FL_1362P11100 200912FL_1363P11100 200912FL_1364P11100 200912FL_1369P11101
Back to Top

On the way back, we drive US-41 in Venice, rather than taking US-41 (Business) to see what's there. Every store you can think of. Even ones you can't. US-41 has been like that for every mile we've been on it down here.

We decide to eat at this Irish place that we passed yesterday, who claimed to have NY style corned beef. Okay, I'm not dumb enough to believe that after lunch at the BBQ place, right? So I have the corned beef sandwich, which didn't have bad corned beef, but do they really put cole slaw and Russian dressing on fake, loaf style rye bread in New York? I think not.

We have the afternoon, and PiC wants to go hunting for shark's teeth. We go to the front desk, which has the wire-basket-on-a-bent-piece-of-conduit strainer free for the guests use, and PiC asks where the best place is. Caspersen Beach. Venice isn't good, because they replenish the beach. Caspersen is relatively untouched. I am skeptical.

Yet on the first drag of the Gulf, PiC comes up with a tooth. I'll be. She gives it to me, and I don't know what to do with it, so I finish the coffee I got in the lobby and use it as a booty cup.

PiC was doing all the scooping until a wave got me. I hate these water rides. A shoe full of water makes me take off my shoes and socks. Okay, so I'm standing ankle deep in the water in December with a strainer device looking for shark's teeth. If I were doing this at home, they'd already have to amputate frozen feet and y'all be calling me stumpy. I'm still available for adoption...

In a couple of hours, we've come up with 19 teeth, only 15 were complete. Largest we found was about an inch.

Caspersen Beach
200912FL_1401P11135 200912FL_13761383P11122 200912FL_1375P11122 200912FL_1384P11122 200912FL_1385P11123 200912FL_1386P11123 200912FL_1387P11123 200912FL_1388P11123 200912FL_1389P11131 200912FL_1390P11131 200912FL_1392P11131 200912FL_1393P11132 200912FL_1395P11132 200912FL_1396P11132 200912FL_1400P11133 200912FL_1402P11135
Back to Top

Did the ol' hair dryer in the shoe trick. Worked nicely. We now have enough sea shells to start our own beach.

Rested/cleaned up for dinner, and went out to the Venice Fishing Pier. Took a walk out to the end of the pier and back, and waited around for the sunset. We had dinner at Sharkys, a bar/restaurant on the beach. Drinks were only okay, but the food's quality and quantity were very good. Their Christmas Tree is decorated with flip-flops. What more could you ask for?

Venice Fishing Pier, Venice Island
200912FL_1407P11160 200912FL_1463P11163 200912FL_1411P11160 200912FL_1412P11160 200912FL_1413P11161 200912FL_14161428P11161 200912FL_1430P11161 200912FL_14331435P11161 200912FL_1437P11161 200912FL_1440P11161 200912FL_1441P11161 200912FL_1446P11162 200912FL_1448P11162 200912FL_1449P11162 200912FL_1450P11162 200912FL_1454P11162 200912FL_1456P11163 200912FL_1459P11163 200912FL_1462P11163 200912FL_1464P11163 200912FL_14671470P11163 200912FL_1472P11163 200912FL_1473P11163 200912FL_1475P11163 200912FL_1481P11170 200912FL_1482P11170
Back to Top

As our last acts as tourists, we stop and look at the light topiaries they have in front of City Hall. Disney doesn't have anything to worry about.

Venice Island
200912FL_1485P11174 200912FL_1488P11174 200912FL_1492P11175 200912FL_1495P11175 200912FL_1497P11175 200912FL_1499P11175 200912FL_1500P11175 200912FL_1502P11175 200912FL_1505P11175 200912FL_1507P11175 200912FL_1509P11175 200912FL_1511P11175 200912FL_1513P11175 200912FL_1515P11175 200912FL_1516P11175 200912FL_1519P11180 200912FL_1525P11180 200912FL_1538P11180
Back to Top

Our last day in Florida. And the best day we're going to have, is tomorrow, the day we leave...

Back to Top

Dec 12. Going back home.

It's a beautiful morning. I wouldn't mind staying a couple more days, but PiC has to be in the office on Monday. So we're off! A donut and some coffee to go in the lobby, and check out. Up US-41 to I-75, and it's back on the road...

View from the room
200912FL_15411546P12062 200912FL_1547P12062
Back to Top

It starts to rain around Ocala, AND IT NEVER STOPS RAINING, ALL THE WAY TO CHATTANOOGA. I am very disappointed. I do make it through Atlanta in record time, but we got a late start and won't stop at the Varsity, though I point it out to PiC as we drive by. The place will always have good memories for me...

I stop at a Quality Inn, for no other reason that it has outdoor corridors, and I can get a room on the first floor, and not have to carry my luggage more than 15 feet. It's kind of a ratty room, nothing really wrong, just showing it's age. I guess there's a reason I stay at Best Westerns more these days...

We go to a local BBQ place, and it's closed. The hours on the door says it should be open, but it's not, and we have to settle for either a Chinese buffet, McDonalds, or Mexican in Tennessee again. It's Mexican, and it's not too bad, better than the place in Nashville, anyway.

Ah, well, a day of disappointments.
Back to Top

Dec 13. Last day.

We're on the road kinda late, 7:15am. It rains on and off until we hit Indiana. There's ice from the weeping rocks in the mountains. As a final insult, the coffee offered at the rest areas is Nesc... Nesca... well, you know.

On the Road Home
200912FL_1563P13080 200912FL_1564P13080 200912FL_1565P13080 200912FL_1567P13094
Back to Top

There are a couple of major accidents, one in Louisville, one further into Kentucky. Hit Gary, Indiana about 3:45pm, and the steel mills are pumping out smoke. The Bears (who lose like the miserable curs they are) game has been over for an hour now, and there's still some residual traffic on I-94. Smoque BBQ is on the way to PiC's house, so we stop in and my faith in slow cooked/hardwood smoked BBQ is reaffirmed. Drop off PiC at about 5:45, go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for Mom, and I'm home by 6:30pm.

On the Road Home
200912FL_1568P13110 200912FL_1569P13114 200912FL_1573P13122 200912FL_1574P13122 200912FL_1575P13122 200912FL_1576P13122 200912FL_1580P13122 200912FL_1582P13122 200912FL_1584P13122 200912FL_1585P13122 200912FL_1587P13155 200912FL_1588P13182 200912FL_1590P13183
Back to Top

11 days, 11.5 hours, 2789.3 miles. And my annual pass expires today.

Back to Top

Final thoughts.

Too short. That's all I can say. I could have used another 3 days just at WDW alone, and a nice sunset from the balcony of my room over the gulf would have been welcome. When you slow down and enjoy your stay, you do less than you'd planned.

But that's okay. I've often said I do more Disneyworld Resort Vacations now than I do Disneyworld Park Vacations. I don't need to be in the parks every day. One day, I'll probably do a two-week vacation with the aim of going on or seeing *every* attraction in all four parks, but until then I'll just relax and just enjoy being in the Magic that is Disneyworld.

The thought that I went down to WDW as a cancer survivor, is sooooo much better than going down to Disneyworld as a last visit, something I had to contemplate back in April and May. I guess that's why I had to do this trip, the urgency to do this trip. Knowing I'm just visiting, and that I'll be back. To thank everyone that supported me through my ordeal, and to meet some of those who made life during chemotherapy just a bit more bearable. Thanks everyone. Even those of you who couldn't make it this year.

The best parts of this trip may very well have been those meets, where virtual friendships turn into real ones, where names and monikers turn into real people. Nice meeting all of you, from Atlanta to Cape May. Of course you're also competing with Wishes and TSMM (and I'm sure Illuminations, had I seen it) on the bestest meter... Fantasmic was pretty much up there too. :-)

What would I change about the trip? Very little. Maybe dress a little warmer Saturday night. Maybe not eating at the Irish place in Venice. Other than that, it was a perfect trip, with it's imperfections and all. The weather *could* have been better, but no matter how bad the weather was, it was still better than what I'd have had in Chicago. If I would have noticed PiC didn't have the gingerbread, we may have found it, and she wouldn't feel bad about losing it.

Venice was fun. A decent hotel, decent food, and decent scenery. And I actually found a few shark's teeth. I'm used to looking over a body of water large enough that you can't see the other side, but we just don't have the same beaches in Chicago. I'd stay there again...

My bad post-Disney Karma? A cracked exhaust pipe, someplace between Chattanooga and Chicago. A minor fender-bender, which took a little paint off my car. And PiC had her flooded office. I understand it was pretty bad.

Pic probably doesn't know it yet, but I'm giving this trip to her for Christmas, for taking me to all my tests and chemo sessions this year. Well, most anyway. But I'm still charging her $20 for taking her suitcase with me!

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Back to Top

End December 2009 Trip Report - Part 6.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 3a Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

  • 08/24/2012 - Updated to v3
  • 12/30/2012 - Update to v3.1
  • 08/31/2014 - Update to v3.2