Recap: Sunshine State, Part 1

HOWDY, STRANGERS! As promised, here's a breezy recap of our recent trip to Florida's Orlando and Cape Canaveral areas. In the pics above, we're in Paradise Cove, where we set out on a pontoon boat for Banana River, with its huge population of manatees and dolphins. Banana River is kind of a misnomer, as it's more of a lagoon with a mix of sea and fresh water, connected to both the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean.

Our guide was hilarious, and not in a funny ha-ha way. Funny in a "Is there a can of Four Loko in that paper bag?" way. Funny in a "I can see at least three rusted hunting knives on this boat" way. Funny in a "I swear I have a boating license and have been a captain for over five years but I lost it and I'm having trouble getting them to issue me a new one, officer" way.

Despite those finer points, we had a magical time, watching crabs swim their funny swim, spotting dolphins frolicking at sunset, and even getting to spend awhile petting some extra-friendly manatees and watching them play in a quiet little inlet. That was on the 4th day of our trip! We rented a brand new black Mustang convertible to get from Orlando to Cocoa Beach (it was only like $10 more per day, so why the hell not) and discovered that my hair can take it like a champ (see above).


The days before were spent getting settled in Orlando (the Peabody was VERY interesting given the fact that there was some sort of massive Beauty (hair and make-up) convention happening across the street, as well as a big lesbian weekend called Girls In Wonderland). It was deliciously hot and sunny during our entire trip, we ate lots of tasty Cuban food and drank lots of rum, people were delightful and friendly everywhere we went, and there seemed to always be something for everyone (families, young folks wanting to party, fancy grown-up stuff, gay stuff, swanky stuff, outdoorsy stuff, cheesy stuff).

We went to the Universal Studios Island of Adventure, which houses the incredible brand new Harry Potter theme park (lots of pics on that below), but also many other theme parks with epic water rides, and we spent a good amount of time riding those until we were soaked to the bone and laughing so hard our tummies hurt. M bought a hat that is basically a T-Rex head, which she enjoys wearing at inappropriate times. We spent our last day in Orlando relaxing poolside - so easy to do when there are three big pools with full beverage and food service; one with magical waterfalls, one with a 20-ft. waterslide and one huge, zero entry, freeform pool.

M's favorite part of the whole vacation, she says, are all the times I towed her around the big pool on her floatie while she sipped bourbon. Of course.

Below, you'll find a sampling of photos that probably fail to do the Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios any justice, but one tries. First things first: It's beautiful. I mean, the detail is exquisite, it truly is. It's terribly odd walking into a snowy old town when it's 90 degrees out, but we were so lucky that it wasn't crowded at all. The characters who wander about made the petite squeal with delight (and thirteen year olds rarely do that if it isn't Justin Bieber in the flesh, you know), and I feel like, although we got to spend plenty of time there, there are even more nuanced details and nooks and crannies to discover the second and third times round the park.

We almost wished it had been more crowded so that we had more time waiting in lines to soak in all of the splendor and little things! The rides were great, too. The main ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, through Hogwarts, was mind-blowing, and I do not say that lightly. M & I desperately wished for a behind-the-scenes look at the ride, she and I could scarcely tell what on earth was going on during the ride, but I do recollect that I, as a grown woman who doesn't fright easily, was covering my eyes and screaming bloody murder and had my heart racing most of the time! It was a blast.

The other BFD ride is Dragon Challenge, an inverted coaster where, at one point, you rush straight into the path of the opposing team's coaster! We didn't go back to ride for the other team, but I bet it would have been lots of fun - it's two different but similar rides in one, really. The famous Butterbeer was tasty but even the petite couldn't drink an entire one on her own - so sweet and thick! Like root beer and butterscotch, blended into a frothy treat.

M's dino-cap. My souvenirs consisted of the braided leather "nudie girl" bracelet you see here, as well as the nude + peach fishtail braided leather bracelet. They go perfectly with my Asos pony watch! Yay. Well, I hope y'all enjoyed this recap - next up is Cocoa Beach, my surfing lesson and the Kennedy Space Center!



PS. DISCLAIMER: We totally went to the big headliner party for Girls In Wonderland at the House of Blues in Disney World. Even though we would never go to a party like that here at home (mega-sponsored, mega-celesbians, mega-$32pp cover charge), it felt wrong to skip it when in Rome. It took a good 30 minutes or so for our thick, snotty SF veneer to fade, but it did and we had a great time amid the crazy, super young, happy Floridian lesbians. We made friends. They gave us their neon glow-light bracelets. A go-go dancer with N3RD LIFE tattooed on her torso flirted with us. I gave her lots of money and she pulled my hair. HOW NICE.

Photo courtesy of the official GIW Facebook page (not our N3RD LIFE dancer, but still)