The next day, we had to move from one place to another, so spent the morning checking out and checking in. We intended to spend the afternoon at Kennedy Space Center, but it took nearly three hours to find it (should've taken 40 minutes - oops!). By the time we got out there, the tours had finished for the day, so we went shopping at the local Outlet Mall instead. We went to KSC the next day. I was surprised to find the boys didn't really enjoy it overmuch - I thought they'd find it really interesting. I found the movie about the Hubble telescope fascinating, at least... Next morning we headed out to IHOP for breakfast. I had the special red velvet pancakes, as recommended by our waitress Angelina. I'm glad I listened to her, because they were the BEST. PANCAKES. EVAAAAAAAR!!!
Mmmmmm, yummy!!! (I have since found a recipe online, and fully intend to give them a go over the weekend - fingers crossed!) After breakfast we went on a hunt for a couple of local yarn stores. I had a list of half a dozen that were within an hour's drive from where we were staying, but as it was Sunday, only two were open :-( The first we visited was Sip & Knit in Maitland, where I bought this yarn:
Shenanigans 'Long & Strong Sampson' sock yarn, specially dyed for Sip & Knit (I think the colourway is called Daffney Gillfin, it's a little hard to read the writing); one skein of Araucania Ranco Solid sock yarn; one Schoppel Wolle Zauberball.
The other store we visited was KNIT! in Longwood, and they just happened to be hosting a sock knitting class. I met a few of the ladies - a couple of them were fellow ravelers - and I even got one of them to hold my SM round three sock-in-progress for a quick pic:
While I was there, I bought a sweater-lot (six skeins) of some of my favourite yarn - Malabrigo Rios in Teal Feather. I couldn't resist the price! Only US$13.60 a skein!! I think it will become a hoodie, or maybe a comfy cardi... That afternoon we went on a swamp tour via airboat, courtesy of Wild Willy's Airboat Tours. Got to check out some of the local gators. That was a fun ride! And we got to meet Sergio and Cricket, the little baby gators:
T wouldn't touch them, but he thoroughly enjoyed the airboat ride, as did X:
There was some other neat wildlife in the area, including some crazy weird birds that ran across the water. It looked hilarious! Here's X checking out one of the bigger alligators in the area. He found something funny, I can't remember what it was...
We had a good afternoon, and the folks were friendly - good southern people. On our way home I got to do something else on my wishlist - visit Walmart!! What sealed the deal was our airboat pilot telling me that you could buy guns off the rack there. I had to see for myself! All I found was a locked cabinet full of ammunition though - I assume they're not entirely crazy, and actually lock the guns away somewhere safe. At least I hope they do...
Saw some other weird stuff there, like giant one kilo bags of cereal:
Pre-cooked bacon strips (ewwww!!):
And the American housewives' secret to the perfect pie:
Pre-made pie crust and filling-in-a-can!! Cheaters ;-) Oh, and I couldn't possibly imagine buying my meat like this:
It doesn't seem right to me. But I guess it's just what you're used to... We were all very pleased to find 'real' bread in the bakery section, and purchased a loaf still warm from the oven. We devoured it within five minutes! 'Twas good. We had a relatively early night (by our holiday standards at least), and the next day, we were off to Universal!!
By far the best day in my opinion - we went to Islands of Adventure and rode on the Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster (which was awesome), Doctor Doom's Fear Fall (gotta love that zero gravity) after which we met the 'real' Doctor Doom:
And the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman (very well done), as well as a few tamer rides for T.
Oh, and dad, I met a few of your friends - The Phantom, and that guy that used to drive your tractor:
But the best part? Oh, the VERY BEST part was going to see this:
Gah! All those muggles ruining my picture of Hogsmeade...
Squee! The Three Broomsticks!!
I bought butterbeer (delicious, but very sickening), and pumpkin juice (apparently it's good - X had some), and every flavour beans, and a chocolate frog... I did not, however, buy extendable ears or U-No-Poo:
It was fun to browse the shelves though. We had a look in Ollivanders, but it was so packed full of muggles and wizards, you could hardly move, so we carried on to the rides. The Dragon Challenge was utterly fantastic (even Deane said it was by far the best ride out of all the ones we'd been on), but I couldn't decide if that, or the Forbidden Journey was better. They were both amazing. Sadly, my family wouldn't allow me to stay there all day, so we carried on through the rest of the park.
Towards the end of the day, Deane and X went on Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges ride and got completely drenched from head to toe. Ten minutes in the people dryer (yes, they have those!!)
Popeye's Chicken on the way home (totally unrelated ;-P).
For our final theme park day, we went to the other side of Universal Studios. It was much quieter over that side, which was a nice change from the craziness of Harry Potter World. The best ride by far on this side of the park was the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. After climbing for what felt like ages, there was a huge 17 storey drop. Freakin' amazing, and oh so fun! It was such a cool ride :-) The Revenge of the Mummy was pretty awesome too. The kids met a few 'celebrities' like Shrek, Sponge Bob and Homer Simpson:
And Deane and X did a bit of alley-way wall climbing:
We went and watched Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue, which the boys enjoyed, although they had no idea who Beetlejuice was (don't worry, we remedied that when we got home - they watched the movie. T thought it was hilarious).
All in all it was a pretty quiet day, that we ended by having dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp. I had a yummy pear and raspberry salad with chargrilled chicken, salad greens and pecans. Mmmm, it was good. Deane, of course, had shrimp. X shared with him - that boy likes his seafood!
The next day was the day to pack up and ship out! We went for a little paddleboat ride around the lake at the resort we were staying at before checking out, and met a couple of turtles on our travels. It was hot and sunny though, and pedalling was hard work, so we didn't stay out for long. We headed off to the airport and waited for our flights home. Between Orlando and LA, I finished the foot of my sock, then had to tuck it away until we got home (couldn't graft the toe without a darning needle! Wish I still had my plastic one - it broke). From LA to Auckland I watched a couple of good movies (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and My Week With Marilyn), didn't sleep at all, but thankfully Deane and the boys did.
Oh, it was so good to get home! The first thing I did was have a shower. The second thing? Have a cup of tea and some marmite on toast :-) And there ends our tale of travels. Next post? Knitting!! See you then ;-)