Monday, February 23, 2015

A Vacation in Winter ~ Our Trip to Florida Part II

Perhaps nothing will bring out the differences in people than traveling together.  I happen to strongly believe that you truly never know a person until you take a trip together.  Before my husband and I married, we took a road trip during December to Utah together.  I wasn't sure we would get married after that trip. Our differences always show up when we travel.  After over twenty years of marriage, we now travel together quite well because we have learned to include those parts of travel that we both enjoy into the trips we take.

Jim is the planner when it comes to travel.  He wants a plan.  He likes to follow the plan.
I'd just soon show up in a place that looks interesting and explore.

I like to camp.
Jim loves to stay in fancy hotels.
Ok, he was right all along on this.  Fancy hotels are nice.

Jim is a destination traveler.  He wants to take the fastest route with his GPS leading the way.
I like to explore by reading maps to lead me off the beaten track.

Jim loves staying in big cities.
I want to visit the country.

You get the idea.  We are different.  That is a good thing.  We try to do together what both of us enjoy individually.  When we went to Florida, Jim only scheduled the first two days.  He left the rest up to me.  I didn't get my homework completely done.  I did go to AAA and picked tour books and maps (gotta have maps) and sat down with Jim to make a list of things we might like to do while in the Orlando area.  We forgot to bring the tour books, the list, the maps.  How did I go on vacation and forget to take a map?

So, here is what we did on the three days that I was in charge of a plan:

Jim doesn't especially care for beaches.
I love beaches.

Clearwater Beach

I specified that we visit at least one beach.  I had hoped to visit both sides of the peninsula that is Florida.  I didn't care which side we visited first, but I was thrilled when it was suggested by my husband that we visit the Gulf of Mexico side of state.  Jim's daughter has spent a lot of time in Clearwater, Florida because of her triathlon experiences.  She highly recommended we visit the beach at Clearwater.  

Using the GPS, because we had no map, we headed towards our destination in our rental car on our third day in Florida.  I must say that I was a bit of nervous wreak on the highways of Florida.  Jim did an excellent job of getting us where we were going, and I tried not to backseat drive because honestly, I was just grateful not to be driving.  He drove us right to the place that was recommended for lunch.  The local favorite, grouper, is wasted on me.  I'm just not a fan of it, but at least we had the experience.  After lunch, we headed to the beach.  On our way, I stopped into the local chamber of commerce for a map.  They had no maps of Florida.  What?

The beach was awesome!  I'll be honest with you, dear readers, when I think of Florida, I just think of beach life.  That is why I wanted to go to Florida.  I wanted some beach time.

When I had my head injury in 2011, the physiatrist I went to told me I just needed to go find a beach somewhere and dig my toes in the sand for about six weeks.  He said, "Nothing would be better for you than digging your toes in the sand and keeping them there until your injury heals."  Of course few of us have the luxury of extended toe in the sand time, so when I get a bit of it, I make the most of it.

Walking barefootin the sand is the perfect exfoliator for winter weary, dry heels, and and it also soothed my aching instep.  I love walking on the seashore.  The water was cold, but oh so refreshing.

Even if the weather is a bit cool, you just can beat lounging on the beach.

Mount Dora

On our fourth day in Florida, it was really quite cool, and we didn't really know what to do.  (We'd forgotten that list and the tourist guide.)  We remembered that we might like to go to Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando.  Jim kept calling it Ebola Park.  We made our way downtown on those terrible highways that I hated, parked the car by the park, and wondered what to do next.  Jim suggested we go to botanical garden that he thought was close by.  I love botanical gardens, so we thought we'd check out the exact location on our iPhones while we warmed up at a coffee shop.  A Starbucks was just a block away, so off we went.  Jim found us a table where a couple was sitting.  They asked us to join them.  Soon Jim was telling them stories of being a principal and about working at the Apple Store.  We had a great conversation with the young man.  He is a realtor in Orlando, and talked to us about the real estate market in Florida.  Just as the couple was leaving, the woman told us we should really visit Mount Dora.  She said it was not that far away, and she said we would love it.

We took her up on her suggestion and off we went to see Mount Dora.  All we knew was that it was a "quaint little town with lots of antique shops."  The drive to our destination was great.  We saw orange groves, and wonderful country homes along our route. When we drove into town, I was somewhat reminded of Baker City, Oregon, because it seemed like we were going back in time.  The homes, the streets, the shops, were all reminiscent of the 1950's or 1960's.  We explored many of the shops and walked down to Lake Dora which is just a few blocks form the shopping area.  We got to Lake Dora too late to schedule a boat ride around the lake during the day.  We could have taken a sunset tour, but we wanted to eat and get back to Orlando before it got too late in the evening.

After shopping and walking around town,  it was suddenly late afternoon.   We decided we'd better find a place to eat.  As we wondered around checking out restaurants, I saw an intriguing spot at the end of the street.  A beautiful historic inn painted with bright yellow paint didn't need the double "Welcome" signs in front to convince me that this was a spot I wanted to know more about.

We passed a smaller yellow building that was a gift shop as we headed towards the larger building featuring a large veranda.  I saw the sign in front, The Lakeside Inn, and knew I had found a treasure. Listed on National Register of Historic Places, this inn opened in 1883.  Jim and I walked up the front steps and into the main lobby of the inn.

By the time we got here, we were running out of options for an early dinner.  It was Friday night of Valentine's Day Weekend.  Places that weren't booked did not appeal to us.  "Do you think we can possibly get a reservation for dinner here tonight," I ask Jim.  "I doubt it," he says.  "It's my treat.  I'm buying you an early Valentine's dinner here tonight," I said as I walked towards the tavern that I could see off to my left.  I basically begged that we could have a reservation for 5:00.  It was 4:30.  The young man knew that they would be busy that night because there was a large group staying in the inn.  So far most of the group was still having drinks on the veranda.  They hadn't thought about dinner yet.  I got us a table for two for 5:00.  

Jim settled himself into a rocker on the veranda to wait for dinner while I went off to take some photos.

As I said, there was a large group staying at the inn.  They belonged to an old cars club.  Their arrival only added to ambiance.

Don't you just love this place?

When 5:00 arrived, we went into Tremain's Tavern, located inside the inn, for our dinner.  We both had their blackened red snapper.  The dinner was absolutely fabulous.  We enjoyed the food and the experience so much.  I wished we were not tied to our room in Orlando so we could have stayed here at least one night.  Sadly, all good things must come to an end, so we left our idyllic Florida inn and headed back to the resort where we were staying.  

Jim asked if I would like to watch the sunset from shores of lake before we left the area.  It was Valentine's Day Weekend after all.  We found the perfect spot.  Armed with my camera, I was excited to practice taking sunset shots.

I love the light just before the sun sets.  This scene is so peaceful.

 We found our perfect romantic spot to end the day.

Flocks of birds set out for the horizon at setting of the sun.  This one seems alone on his journey.

Walking back to the car, the light fading, I observed these birds still on their perches.  They also seem to wish to linger in this spot just a bit longer.    

This day we had begun our journey with no real destination in mind.  This day could not have been more perfectly planned if we had tried to do so.  It was a serendipitous kind of day.  We met strangers who told us where Starbucks was.  There we met strangers who led us to Mount Dora.  There, we happened on this wonderful inn where we ate a fabulous meal on a night when reservations were hard to come by.  

As a couple, we have too few days that end with us watching the sun set in western sky.  But this day, we took the time to end the day with a romantic stroll along the shore of a lovely lake.  Who could have planned a better Valentine's Day Weekend experience?  

Cast in a golden glow, this day ended perfectly.  


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Sally,

What a perfect day this was.

Sometimes, serendipity is the best planner of all, and so it seems to have been for your Valentine's Day experience. This surely is something which you will remember for all time.

We do find that it is best to keep an open mind when travelling since one can discover some true treasures that way. The main tourist destinations are just that for a reason but leaving the tourist trail and making a new adventure is so appealing and, more often than not, hugely successful.

A Quiet Corner said...

A great time away...we are so looking forward to our trip to Aruba soon! I love your chairs...:)JP

DJan said...

I really enjoyed reading your post about this visit to Florida, Sally. And your pictures are really wonderful. Thanks! :-)

Olga Hebert said...

Mike and I traveled well long as i did not expect to ever see a city from any perspective other than a beltway.

I went with Mike a few times to an antique motorcycle meet in Eustis, FL. I snuck away once and spent the day in Mt. Dora while he went about talking shop at the meet. Your pictures of the sunset are so pretty, and very romantic indeed!

Jeanie said...

Great pictures in this post, Sally. I'm with you on travelling without too much planning, but give me a nice hotel at the end of the day instead of a tent. :)

dkzody said...

Those photos are absolutely swoon-worthy. The light, the water, the colors, the scenery. Oh my.

As for differences, Terry has always said that if you are both alike, one of you isn't necessary. He and I are so different, but we have always been great at traveling together. We don't take things very seriously, and we always get lost. It's just the Zody way. We laugh and joke about it all the time. We are always asking for directions and help when we travel.

Betsy Adams said...

Sounds awesome: Beach, Sunset and delicious dinner!!! WOW--perfect Valentine's celebration for you two... Glad you had such an incredibly wonderful day...That is my kind of day for sure!!!

Yes, we are all different. Luckily, George and I have many of the same interests --and we work hard to please each other... SO--most of the time, our vacations together are terrific...

We are 'schedulers'---scheduling most everything ahead of time. I don't like maps anymore --so we are very happy with the GPS. However, ours will also take us the 'shortest' routes ---through the country when we have time... IF we are in a hurry, we take the 'fastest' routes (which are usually interstates).

We hate crowds and big cities... So the best vacations we take are usually in the country --or somewhere during the 'off-seasons'... Example: our Valentine's Trip this year was the 12th and 13th ---instead of the 14th (which was on the weekend)... Crazy Us.


Kay said...

Your photos are just so fabulous, Sally and your vacation sounds wonderful. We still haven't been to Florida! Jim and Art would be good traveling partners except that we don't care for beaches and big cities all that much and stay in very moderately priced hotels.

Arkansas Patti said...

You and I could travel quite well together. Like your lack of plan.
So glad you got to see Mt.Dora. It is a hidden treasure in Florida. It really is a delightful little town and I loved the old cars to add to the atmosphere.
There was once a movie made there in the 80's called Honky Tonk Freeway. They painted the whole town a Pepto Bismol pink. I think Beau Bridges was in it. So glad to see the pink is gone.

Jeanie said...

I just love a day like that -- sort of unplanned, just a bit of a guide. Your photos remind me of sunsets I took at Clearwater decades ago -- what a great spot. Yours are simply beautiful!

I think I would have enjoyed your days here far more than Disney. And as my personal motto goes, "Fully expect the Universe to cooperate." It did -- and boy, what a remarkable, fabulous time! Makes me smile to see you so happy!

Barb said...

Sally, You are making me yearn for sunset at a beach. I am like you when traveling and Bob is like Jim. I must say that I do depend on him for planning. This spring, we've decided to "wing it" and go on a trip spur of the moment. It will be interesting! Your photos of the dusk and sunset are gorgeous. Perfectly romantic!

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

What beautiful pictures, Sally! I'm so glad you got to have some beach time at long last! And that Inn just looked wonderful!

Elizabeth Cutter said...

You two are so dear. No wonder people gravitate to you, invite you to join them at their tables, and give you great tourist advice! I loved the sunset picture with the birds.

Linda Reeder said...

I enjoyed reading this post and seeing your photos.
Tom and I travel well together. We both like to plan ahead, but those plans lots of countryside exploring. Cities are for seeing historical sites, but the countryside is where we see how folks really live.

Lin Floyd said...

how fun and perfect day together. love your sunset photos...

Terra said...

The historic yellow inn looks like the perfect spot for an early Valentine's dinner. I like places with large porches and the classic cars added to the ambiance of a trip back in time.

Maggie May said...

Between the two of you, you have visited some lovely places and have found a way that suits your different likes and requirements.
Life would be so dull if we were all the same.
Your photos were really lovely. Especially the sunsets!
Maggie x

Isabelle said...

That sounds really lovely, though I smiled at the thought of something built in 1883 being historic! Here, historic is more 1553 or 1353 or possibly much older...

troutbirder said...

What a great post, Sally And the pictures, wow! I too like the wing it style of

Relyn Lawson said...

Such beautiful sunset images! Thank you, my friend, for your encouragement to keep blogging. I've decided to stick with it. At least for now. Trying... Glad we are doing this together - side by side. ;^)

Perpetua said...

This is my kind of holiday day, Sally. Having no head for Disney rides, I would have chosen beach and historic inns and lakeside walks at sunset every time. :-) I'm so glad you had this perfect serendipitous experience.

Terri Tiffany said...

The world is so small! I have a photo too of those two benches--I'll share that this week. How fun that you visited my favorite town. My daughter's wedding reception was scheduled at that inn and then they called and cancelled as it was mother's day weekend. I've eaten there before for meetings. COuldn't get my husband to stay there as he prefers new. Not me, I love the character. Our home was twenty miles from there in Clermont. Great sunset photos!!