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

Index

Christmastime!
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.

<disclaimer>

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...

</disclaimer>

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

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

(sigh)
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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!

Keane
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End December 2009 Trip Report - Part 6.

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

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