A Month in Central Florida

Apr 3, 2009 | Blog, Travel

Josh and I just got home from spending a month in Florida. Josh was working at a number of the Spring Training games across the state. We stayed with his family, and got to spend some good quality time with them. It was a good time.

As I have been asked by several people to post pictures of our upcoming Round the World trip as we travel, I will try to start now by uploading the pictures from my last trip. I may even get around to loading some photos from my trip to Seattle, too.

Shopping

Most days Josh went to a baseball or basketball game, and I worked in the dining room on various graphic design projects. Josh’s mom and I would go different places some days. I must say that I have finally been to the Prime Outlet Mall, which I had never been to at all when I lived in Florida. It was a very cool mall, with lots of stores, and some good deals too. I only bought some gifts for my sisters in the Disney store (which had all of the 2008 Disney World left-overs at good prices).

For shopping, I prefer some of the second hand stores that Donna has found. I bought some shorts, a shirt, and a pair of pants at great prices at a couple of good thrift stores. One I highly recommend is Dechoes, where I bought some shorts and pants. They have more trendy clothes, and everything I wanted was $6.99 or less.

Activities

One of the few days when both Josh and his dad were not working (these days were rare, as they were both freelancing different sports events) we went to The Holy Land Experience. The Holy Land Experience has a number of different areas, there are several stages where reenactments of different Bible stories take place. We missed some of them, but we caught the Messiah one, and the Passion and Resurrection. The reenactments were very well done, and I was impressed. In fact, they even made me cry. It is so easy to picture how it took place, when you can see the Jesus and the Pharisees and the Roman soldiers just inches away from you.

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holyland_028holyland_034They had a large recreation of Herod’s Temple, the temple that was in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. They also had a miniature model of Jerusalem. We heard most of an explanation about the model from one of the staff members, who was very knowledgeable and interesting to listen to.

holyland_013One of the very best parts is the Scriptorium. Inside, there are a number of very rare manuscripts and copies of the Bible. They do a walking tour through the building, showing the faith and dedication throughout the centuries that has brought us the Bible today. It is a very informative and powerful presentation. I felt very thankful for the sacrifices that Martin Luther and Gutenberg and Tyndale and all the rest. It was well worth the time to go through, and only took about 45 minutes, I believe.

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Another day, we went Miniature Golfing. Josh beat us all, but it was a very fun golf course, and they had baby alligators out front because no trip to Florida is complete without seeing a gator, and it’s a lot easier to take care of baby gators than fully grown gaters.

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Most of the time though, our daily outing was walking Timbit and Holly through the golf course after hours. They both enjoyed chasing after the golf balls. It was very peaceful to go out there at the end of every day, walking through the beautifully manicured lawn, and the tall Florida grasses. There are a lot of birds that have moved into the Sorrento Springs neighborhood, now that the trees are taller. In fact, one day I was walking and a golden eagle flew over my head, not very high at all! It was beautiful, but smaller than I expected.

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I wanted to go to the beach, but several days when we planned to go, something else came up. Josh’s mom and I finally went one day to Ormond Beach. We took our dogs with us, which turned out to be a bad idea. They probably weren’t really allowed to be there, but beyond that, neither of them liked the ocean at all. I took Timbit out to it and made sure he got wet, but he gave me some good scratches and a couple of bruises to show for it.

We did have fun, nonetheless, we just would have enjoyed it more if our dogs weren’t tangling us up and getting upset about being there.

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Other notable activities were going to Pig on the Pond in Clermont, which is a fair/BBQ competition on the lake of Clermont. We had friends who were running a stand, which we visited, and we ate some BBQ, and watches some people from the Lord’s Gym break phone books in half and bench 650 lbs. Impressive and fun.

We also visited the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. We went to see Cherish perform with the Pop Shop, which is a group of teenagers who sing and dance to popular songs at various venues and learn how to perform better through lessons. She did several shows during our time in Florida, and they were all enjoyable to watch. The Art Festival was also very fun. It was real art: paintings and photography and sculptures. It was a lot of fun to walk through, with some very impressive pieces. I was surprised because usually the art festivals consist of handicrafts and bags, not acrylic and watercolor paintings. It was a great show.

Eating

I have several favorite restaurants to eat at while in Florida. Josh and I usually can hit most of them during our trips, and this one especially since we were there for so long.

Gater Joe’s

This is off the beaten track. I usually go here with Leslie, my old roommate. We love getting out of the cites and eating right on the water. Gater Joe’s is built on the shore of a lake, and has dining areas on a dock that is built out into the water. As you eat you can watch the flocks of birds swimming and flying around you, and you may see people boating right up to the restaurant. One day we even saw a pontoon plane land and the pilot get a bite to eat at Joe’s.

Leslie loves the fried fish and chips, and I have tried a lot of the menu. Gater Joe’s features such Floridian dishes as gater tail and frog legs (I’ve tried both). This trip I tried their Cajun Blackened Chicken, with rice and black eyed peas. It was very good.

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Crispers

This is a perennial favorite of mine. Their specialty is salads just like I like them – with lots of different flavors! My absolute favorite is the Summer Salad: with turkey, gorgonzola cheese, mandarin oranges, strawberries, and suger crusted walnuts, there’s a lot of fun and flavor. I was also pleased to see that Crispers had stopped serving the horrible stuff they called tea, and started brewing it fresh. Now I’m even happier with them. One thing did change though, I loved their parmesian flatbread, but it’s gone from the menu now.

Sweet Tomatoes

This is a buffet salad bar restaurant. They are in other states than Florida, but I haven’t been to them anywhere else. In California, they are called Souplantation. You walk in and are able to go through a salad bar that includes several specialty salads, as well as any other salad bar topping you would think of. Then, once you pay and are inside, there is a soup bar, and bread bar, and a dessert and fruit bar. There are so many choices, everyone can find something that is perfect for them.

Mount Dora Pizza

This is one of Josh’s favorites. We usually go here with Papa. They have pizza, but also many other italian dishes. Josh always gets the baked spaghetti. Don’t forget to try the garlic rolls! Yum.

Vincent’s Italian Restaurant

This restaurant is owned by the same people who own Mount Dora Pizza. A lot of the same menu items, but this is a nicer sit-down restaurant. They have some different higher-end menu items, and I had a very delicious Italian Wedding Soup and a Tiramisu this last time.

The Garden Gate Tea Room

This is a new one on the list. I went here, finally, with Donna one day. It is a converted house, packed with tables covered in lace, and decorated with antiques and tea cups and flowers and more lace. The atmosphere is very feminine, as were most of their clientelle. There were several gentlemen there when we went though, and I wouldn’t let a little lace stand in the way of trying their food.

I had the chicken salad, and it was delicious. It was served with a variety of fruit (including blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries), mini muffins, and a dollop of real whipped cream, topped with an eatable flower. Really, it was so delicious I left nothing on my plate. I can’t wait to go back.

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Charlotte Glaze

Hi, I’m Charlotte!

As a mom, writer, and illustrator with a background in preschool education, I’m dedicated to creating picture books that inspire and empower young children. Join me on an unforgettable adventure where imagination knows no bounds, as we journey together through the pages of storytelling magic!