The Old Town Trolley Tours in St. Augustine, FL, 2021

During the weekend of April 24-25th, 2021, Craig and I headed to St. Augustine for a relaxing weekend of good eats, fun shopping, and just something different. Besides Disney, this area makes our top 5 sites to see in Florida. There is so much to see and do, and there just isn’t a bad place to eat. If you love the quaint feel of walking down a street lined with buildings, no cars, and just that sense of relaxation as you peruse the windows of every store, this is the place for you. Well, at least St. George Street is.  Because there is SO MUCH to see and do, you need at least 2-3 days to see it all. Or repeated visits, like we do.  On this visit, we went to the Visitors Center to ask about any tours. When we have been to a lot of it already, it’s fun to shake it up and do something different. Also, side note, the PARKING GARAGE at the Visitors Center is a GREAT way to park for the day! It is right by everything except the Lighthouse and the outer lines of St. Augustine. It’s $15 to park there for the day, but they will charge you again for the same day if you to need to come back so just know that. If you are looking for FREE Parking, there is at the Castillo and the Old Jail.

Once you leave the garage, the Visitors Center is right there and is great pit stop as well as a tourists dream to see what there is all to experience. So here is where we started on this trip, and signed up with the “Old Town Trolley Tours” which has MANY packages. The packages include many of the tourist hot spots, which they roll into one ticket price which includes the trolley transportation the entire day and then the second day is also free.  They pick up and drop off all over town, so you can get off and on as you please, wearing their sticker so they know who has paid for the trolley. We chose the $71 package which included Ripley’s Before it or Not Museum along with the Old Jail, General Store, and History Museum. We figured we wanted the Trolley Tour and we were going to check out Ripley’s, so we might as well get the package. Now, they sell you a $5 Guidebook because it gives you more detailed info about your tour. BUT I have to say, the free coupon guide and the small guide map, is PLENTY enough unless you need to details. Yes, I bought it for this post. LOL Oh and side note, most of us don’t save the guide maps past the day we use them. If you want them for a reference, or even for that day, take a pic of them with your phone so you have a copy.

So we headed out across the street, Ripley’s is literally right there, so you don’t have to wait for the Trolley on this one- just walk out and take a left.  Then once you leave, there is a stop right there to pick up the Trolley. Ride the entire tour, takes about 90 minutes, and has 22 stops.

22 Stops:

1a. The Old Jail (FREE PARKING LOT for everything on #1)

1b. The Oldest Store Museum Experience

1c. History Museum

1d. Gator Bob’s Gift Shop and Penny Arcade

2. Visitor Information Center

2a. Project Swing

2b. Spanish Trail Marker

3. Potter’s Wax Museum

3a. Tolomato Cemetery

3b. Old Drugstore

3c. The Presidio

4. City Gate

4a. Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse

4b. St. George Pedestrian Mall

4c. Huguenot Cemetery

5. Colonial Quarter

5a. Pirate and Treasure Museum

5b. Cuna Street

6. Matanzas Bayfront

6a. Charlotte Street

7. Hypolita Street

7a. St. Photios Shrine

7b. Pena-Peck House

7c. Grace United Methodist Church

7d. Ancient City Baptist Church

7e. Spanish Street

8. Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church

8a. Hotel Ponce De Leon

8b. Markland

9. Villa Zoradya

10. Lightner Museum

10a. Casa Monica

10b. Lincolnville

10c. Dr. Hayling’s Dentist Office

10d. Cora Tyson’s House

10e. Yallaha Plantation

11. St. Augustine Distillery

11a. Solla Carcaba  Cigar Factory

12. San Sebastien Winery

13. Whetstone Chocolate Factory

13a. Art Galleries

14. Cathedral Basilica

14a. Plaza De La Constitucion

14b. Government House

14c. South St. George Street

14d. Trinity Episcopal Church

15. Aviles Street

15b. Historical Society

15c. Ximenez-Fatio House

15d. Spanish Military Hospital

16. Oldest House

16a. St. Francis Barracks

16b. National Cemetery

16c. St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

16d. Bridge of Lions

16e. Treasury Street

17. Castillo De San Marcos

17a. Fort Mose

17b. Fort Matanzas

18. Ripley’s Believe it or Not

18a. Warden Castle

19. Welcome Center

19a. Uptown San Marco

19b. Abbott Tract Historic District

20. Mission Nombre De Dios

20a. The Great Cross

20b. Father Lopez Statue

20c. The Shrine To Our Lady of La Leche

21. Old Senator

21a. Magnolia Avenue

21b. Florida School for the Deaf and Blind

22. Fountain of Youth

Now, this trip, we were just interested in the tour itself, not the stops, so we rode a long time…. Took a toll on our butts and backs after a while.  What I enjoyed about the ride is that the guide was very informative and was easy to understand. What I didn’t like about it was that they repeated certain areas over and over again, and yes, on the same tour. We didn’t get back off and on, so it was a bit annoying to see the same area AGAIN when we had JUST driven past it 5 minutes ago. Maybe that’s how they have to drive it. Keep in mind MANY of these stops are separate admissions, some are just to walk around and check out, and some like the Distillery and Winery give a free pour and tour. Plus you also get a coupon book for even more savings!

I think if you just want to park for the day, which is smart because parking around all of the sites listed above just doesn’t exist or is incredibly limited, then park in the garage and do this trolley. ESPECIALLY if you want to drink at the Distillery, around town, etc. – safer and probably a lot more fun. Driving on these smaller streets isn’t smart either- it’s like squeezing down the corridors of New Orleans- it’s just anxiety inducing and there are WAY to many people to maneuver around.  I definitely think it’s worth the money, and you get the second day free, so if you are there for the weekend, it’s perfect! I hope this helps and have a great day!

 P.S. Like the Disney Parking Trams… always exit RIGHT!

The Paranormal Investigation at the Old Jail in St. Augustine, Florida

Why do some like the dark corners, and still love the feel of the light? I ask myself this all the time when ghost hunting, and it’s all because I saw my Grandma the night she passed away. You don’t have to believe me, heck, it’s not your story to tell. But it was a connection I had made that made me question the after-life. So when I can, I try to sign up for Ghost Tours around the Country, hearing a mystery history adds a bit of charge to the tale. Craig signed us both up for the “Old Jail” at St. Augustine in Florida…and I was all in!

If you haven’t been to St. Augustine, it should be at the top of your Florida Favorites list! Located a little over an hour from the Orlando area, is the oldest city in America.  From National Monuments to Haunted Lighthouses…this city has it all.  No, you aren’t going to find thumping night clubs and wild dance floors, but you will find a pub every 10 feet on St. George Street, along with incredible dining and deserts.  I have been fortunate to take part in the Ghost Tour at the Oldest School House in the city, so I was pretty pumped to try another one at a different location.

Researching which Ghost Tour is for you is KEY in having a good time.  There are two VERY different experiences to be had when participating in one. Either you just want a history tour with some spiritual spookiness thrown in, sometimes LIVE actors to set the scene, with usually a ride on a trolley, bus, or a walk through with a guide.  Entertaining, light, and fun.  The other experience is a Paranormal investigation. They take you through a series of tools that they provide, or they let you use and bring your own in, tell you some of the history of the area, and then let you into said place and you grab your tool of choice and you are an official Ghost Hunter!

Our tour was the 8:30 p.m. slot, booked about a month ahead of time. This place is VERY popular, so make sure you book at least a month out.  They have you come about 15 mins early, restrooms available right before you head in, and then we met “Shelby” who was out Guide for the evening.  She was fun, hilarious, and a great storyteller.  Nobody wants to take a ghost tour with a guide who doesn’t believe or isn’t into it, and her and the other one “Bill” CLEARLY love what they do and were incredibly kind and helpful.

After the explanation of the tools, and being told there is a “crawler” entity that has been seen, I was a bit hesitant on this one.  I don’t mess with the demonic stuff, talking to spirits seems interesting, but I don’t need any kind of attachment or something following me home.  Yes, there is a fine line, but there is still a line.  Craig grabbed a K2 Meter and I used a ghost box, and we had 30 minutes only to roam the jail, anywhere we wanted to go.

This place is already incredibly creepy during the day, they have mannequins in the cells in “General Pop” so add the dark, they can scare you when you are clearing a corner.  The Sheriff would have a bedroom here, with an office downstairs.  The room next to his was for his children- what a way to grow up right?  The PARTY OF 10, which is allowed by Covid right now, would be hard to escape to get the “quiet” moments to be able to talk. Half our group wanted to investigate, and the other half were there to party and be loud.  I asked the spirits continually “Doesn’t all that noise bother you?” LOL I did not get a response. BUT… I DID get one in his bedroom. I thought it was a woman’s bedroom, didn’t feel like a mens at all, and asked if anyone wanted to say hello. I got a VERY clear sentence, sounding like an older English woman “Who are you?”  After I changed my pants (jk) I said my name and I talk to them like I would talk to you.

Once I would find quiet spots in Maximum Security, the Women’s part of the jail, and the Watch Tower, they seemed  a bit more chattier.  It was a half hour of trying to record on my phone, hold the ghost box, asking questions, and maneuvering the people who obviously were trying to do the same. 

It was a cool experience, we had the freedom to do it how we pleased, but we wish they had asked the “party crowd” to leave.  If you aren’t really into it, then leave, but don’t ruin it for those who are really interested. After they left, the half of us chatted with Shelby for another 20 minutes about our favorite ghost experiences, other tours we had taken, and so on. She was chocked full of information, so if you can, try to get her for your tour. Below is a great pic of an orb I caught.

Now, was it worth the money? It was $27 each, one of the cheaper ones I have done. Now, you only get 30 minutes to investigate, so that’s about right for what you are paying for. I have been on $50 ones, and higher, so this is a nice one to do with a small group with a small price tag. The Old Schoolhouse was another great ghost tour, but it was over an hour long to investigate.  They have trolley ghost tours which will take you around to the sites, and also there is a ghost tour available at the Lighthouse.  I had thought about the Lighthouse but I thought it would be disorientating to try to investigate on a tiny, spiraling stair case, in the dark, and not worry about the heights of it all. Maybe someday.  I highly encourage you to try one of them out, and make sure too research IF they take you INTO one of the scary sites, or you are just going to be “driving by it.”  Enjoy!!

MegaCon 2019: Marinating in Pop Culture Never Felt So Good

As children we are told to grow up. To move forward in our lives we must put away the dress up clothes and toys, and find our destiny in the jobs we choose. But what if that childlike flame was never extinguished? What if we were able to move on while still looking at life through magnify glasses and butterfly nets? How different it would be if for a period, or a weekend, we could ignite that flame and put on the Princess dress or Superhero outfit…without judgement, without fear, without shame.  Somehow, fantasy was thrown into this category of “ridiculousness” once we reached a certain age, but our brains don’t forget.  Our hearts don’t forget.  Then once you find that courage to don the mask of your choosing, you then must find your people. Those that “get you” and get that THIS is life! It’s the artistic expression, our souls manifesting in clothes and makeup…and for a weekend, you get to see everyone show it. THIS is MegaCon.

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When I moved here in 2011, I moved here for the weather, the Theme Parks, and for adventure. I had NO IDEA what I would find here in the spaces between all of that.  MegaCon ALONE is worth living here because it is such a GREAT event and they do a great job putting it on!  If you are a fan AT ALL of Pop Culture, or Movies, or TV Shows, or Actors, or Art, or Collectibles…I mean, this has it all. Most of the time when I walk in, I don’t know what to do first. Do I shop first? Do I walk and see everyone in their cosplay? Do I want to walk around with bags full of Pops while I try to look at other stuff? It’s a great problem to have. The event usually starts on a Thursday night and wraps up Sunday afternoon.

And like a Disney vacation, this is something you want to dig your heels in and research on before you step foot inside. Why? Well, with everything I mentioned on top of numerous fam groups that meet up inside or around the outside for photos, get togethers, games, etc… Honestly it’s an experience like no other, simply because you can immerse yourself in costume while still buying a churro or taking a class on Anime makeup. YES- there are classes! Classes on makeup and cosplay, and then there are the panels. Celebrities mostly make up these panels where you can sit and listen to them regale you of their time on set and the stories that most likely haven’t been shared before.

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Speaking of Celebrities, you also can meet them in so many different ways- you are just going to have to pay extra for it! There are professional photo opps to sign up for, and then there are the table meet and greets. The professional ones are very pricey, with the table meet and greets a bit cheaper, pending on the Celebrity.  What’s the difference? Well, the professional ones are very “herded cows” like. We are lined up in long lines, ten or more lines next to each other, they scan your ticket (you pre-pay online or can purchase the Photo opp when at the Con, depending on availability some have sold out) and then you wait for the “black curtain” area. They usher you in, putting your stuff on a cart including cell phones unless you have it in your pocket, and then have you walk in, smile and pose with said celebrity, and move out. I kid you not, it’s all of maybe 20 seconds. For what you pay, in the hundreds, you should be able to talk to them, at least something, and it’s nothing like that.  Of course, you can’t use your own phone either. You are paying for the professional pic- and maybe the bragging rights you were in the same space as them. NOW once you leave the euphoria of meeting them, you head to the pick up area of your picture, which is done instantly. And you stand there until you get it, and if you don’t, you speak up right away because it happened to me and they had to have me go and take it again. A different MegaCon, but it did happen. The Table Meet and Greets are more for autographs and selfies with them- you get more time to talk to them, so if you want more of a connection and moment, I would suggest the table ones instead.

This was the year of “Back to the Future” and I was STOKED!! Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd were going to be there, along with the rest of the Cast. When my family got our photo opp, they told us not to touch either of them, which we respected. But when Kyra and I went next to Michael, he turned to us and told us to come closer. After the pic I told him I LOVED “Teen Wolf” because I did- it made him laugh. 😊 (I watched it hundreds of times on the weekends during Junior High).  They also had fun “Back to the Future” cosplay all over the place along with photo opps completely worth it- who doesn’t want to sit in a Deloreon?

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My other photo opp was the next day with THE GOONIES!!! I mean, come on, this was an 80s dream weekend!! Sean Astin runs the Princess Marathons at Disney World, so I have seen him there so I told him when I walked up for my pic “Yeah I screamed for you at the Finish line last year- my apologies” which made him laugh. I LOVE SEAN!! Corey Feldman would have been fun to talk to, but again, you get seconds, and Sean seemed easier to talk to. And Jonathan Ke Quan (Data), I got a “hello” from him. It was all good. Actually it’s one of my favorite pics ever taken- I look like I am part of the Goonies- dream come true!! *Bought the shirt at MegaCon the day before and am quite happy with how it turned out.

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I have learned that you need to go to MegaCon for AT LEAST two days. One day to shop, look at all of the amazing artists and talk to them, and just take it all in with a burger and a Coke. Next day, dress up and/or take pictures of all the amazing cosplay that surrounds you, get celebrity photo opps, and see the other photo opp exhibits. Know that the first day is the best day for shopping if you are looking for something specific, obviously once the days move on, the variety is depleted, Saturday being the busiest. I have heard the “hottest” day is Saturday for the best cosplay, classes, etc… it also is VERY busy so if you hate crowds- avoid Saturday!

Last but not least, I wanted to share my favorite booth this year was the Ghostbusters. For a small fee, you can wear the pack, get pics in the car and with the cosplayers, and the famous Igo picture. Honorable mentions to the Pizza Planet truck and the Star Wars area.

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I had such a great time on Saturday and Sunday, and loved playing again. Remember just playing? No agendas, no worries, just playing with your imagination and enveloping yourself in unrequited joy. They hope to be back in 2021, and I for one hope to be there. I encourage you to go play…or not, it’s your life.

Generosity makes you feel amazing!!

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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Let’s start with this…

Well, its been 5 years since the last time I blogged. 5 years…wow. Saying it out loud in my head is crazy. So much has happened in that span of time that I’m not even sure where to start. So lets start with this…I love writing. It was, and is, my God given talent and I KNEW back in 2009 that I had it in me to reach out and connect to other liked minds.  It WAS my purpose and still feel it is.

And then I stopped. I just stopped. Why? I could give you the sugar coated answer but in the World these days, I really appreciate when I can get a straight answer from someone. So let me be frank, I let people get to me. I let online bullies and haters run my passion right into the ground.  Yes, I am human and not all of us are equipped for the large amounts of negativity. And enough of the “Just ignore them” because every single person KNOWS they should ignore it and move on.  I knew it.  It’s that simple. I knew I had something amazing, and I just had to take a break and make sure that I was ok, my family was ok, and that it was even worth it.  My family isn’t sure what to think of “The Relocated Tourist” anymore because for them it was a trigger for the monthly drama. They didn’t like seeing how it affected me when all I wanted to do was share my love of Disney and FL living. I have grown much thicker skin since then, and I have learned a lot about who is and isn’t my friend. I also decided that I have no interest in competing with anyone in the Community. Haven’t you ever noticed that? When I moved here in 2011, I had been writing for awhile at that point, not a care in the World about what the FL Community would think. I mean come on people….it’s DISNEY!!! The minute I got here, I was thrown into “groups” and who you weren’t supposed to talk to, and that person over there is the first at everything, blah blah blah.  I got caught up in it. It became this “thing” to be invited to this event, or getting in fast enough for another. You didn’t go into the Parks anymore for the magic, you were there for every obsessive follow, like, and comment.  You weren’t somebody if you weren’t on the Press list…and anyone who was on it didn’t seem interested in helping me get there.  Soon I was regurgitating all of the same stuff every other site was, with zero fresh, or interesting, content- just trying to keep up. Why would anyone care I am at the same Disney Anniversary as everyone else? I had truly forgotten what had made me special, what had made my story connect to SO many people. It was MY story….nobody else could take that away from me, and I just needed that break to remember it.

Then there was the issue of me- I used to hate that I had such a soft heart for people. I was once told that my crying was a “sign of weakness” and that I should never do it again.  To those I say, F you. I care. I care about how others are treated,  I care about my relationships, and I care about reaching and helping others any way that I can. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am done apologizing for it. I am an “Empath” in it’s truest form, which is a fancy word for someone who can pick up quite easily on other’s emotions.  This is truly why I feel I have connected so deeply with many of you.  I knew what it was like to want to live here, or enjoy Disney all the time, or even the FL sun. I hope I can connect with you again on how life TRULY is in Florida and give some real perspective on it…the honeymoon phase is over.

So that’s why I am back…I missed you. I missed me. I missed writing. I missed connecting with friends and building each other up in ways that we only knew how. I love that a kind word or phrase can make someone’s day, and any time I can inspire you to live outside the box, I am happy.

There’s so much to tell you all about what life has been like over the past 5 years, including a move back to WI, then back to FL, and so many ups and downs in between. I am excited to share with you, I am ready for whatever comes, and I thank you for being a part of my journey. Hakuna Matata!

Donations for Content

Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!

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Publix vs. Wal-Mart…are the Commercials really true?

Most of Florida is made up of relocators from not only around the Country, but also around the World. We seek what we know, what we are familiar with for the everyday life choices because it is just human to do so.  When we first got here, we looked for whatever was close to us.  We found a Publix several miles behind us, so it seemed natural to just shop for our groceries there.   On my very first encounter there, I had sticker shock.  How could a frozen pizza be over $7?  First impressions can be a doozy, and  unfortunately that was mine of Publix.  But because it was close by, I continued to run up there for milk and the necessities.

Wal-Mart is not close to me whatsoever, I either have to travel down 192 one way and go to a not so savory one or hit up the one in Cagans Crossings which is a good 10-15 minutes from my house.  Wal-Mart is something most are familiar with, and because that is where I originally grocery shopped in WI, it was a no brainer to just shop there for the weekly groceries and keep Publix as my “milk and bread runs.”

I have seen the commercials running here in Florida about the cheaper prices, and for that, I do have some insight on since I have now shopped at both quite frequently over the past 2.5 years we have lived here. First off, yes, Wal-Mart is cheaper for many things, it’s what they are KNOWN for.  That being said, you are paying for what you get as well.  I can’t tell you how many times I had a question there and found no one to help me, plus add the tourists in and it makes for one stressful time to grocery shop.

In WI I wrote out my list, figured out my meals, and went to the Store like most do.  It was a relaxing time for me to do on my own, to have an hour to myself to think about what I wanted or needed to buy and just shop peacefully.  I have found that here at Wal-Mart it almost feels like a competition, the “Amazing Race” grocery shop style.  The Vacationers are there to stock up and will grab in front of you, not move their carts, and seem to  simply not care that you are there to just do your weekly grocery shop.  It’s an important thing to come to terms with when moving here, at least close to the Parks, because Tourists will always come into play during major times of the year.

Now Publix on the other hand is the complete opposite when it comes to the shopping experience- I LOVE going there with my list, saying hello to the employees who are kind and friendly, and they are always asking if I found everything ok.  When I haven’t, they go and find it for me or give me a rain check. The meat section is EXCELLENT and they will actually make the serving you need, or something that you usually buy that they may not have out.  The produce is fresh and I have yet to have a bad apple or banana from here.  The prices are higher, but they also have “Buy One Get One” offers every week, so I stock up every time I go which helps the next food budget, and so on.  The Service and Quality aren’t discussed in these commercials, just the bottom line.  Again, Wal-Mart for the most part is cheaper, but I guarantee after shopping there so many times, you won’t mind paying a bit higher or doing the “BOGO” deals after wanting to pull your hair out from the lack of quality and service given at the latter.

My point is that you have to try a place twice to make sure your first impression was right.  When we shopped Publix for the first time, it was right after we had moved and we still had “WI Prices” in our head. After you get acclimated to your surroundings, you start to figure out what will work and what won’t with your budget, time and sanity.

I will also like to add that I am sure there are many Wal-Marts out there that are not like the ones here in Florida that may be of higher quality or customer service, I am just speaking of the ones I know of that I have personally shopped for years since living here.  I now only run there for non-food items that I know I can grab and get in and out without spending a day waiting in long lines.  Give each a shot when you relocate here, and see what you find to work for you and your family.

*****As of recent, commercials starting running in the Orlando area, not sure of all Central FL or Florida, Walmart is now honoring competitors like Publix, Winn-Dixie, and other Stores. Click HERE for the story.  A very interesting twist. For those of you who live here already, where do you shop and do you favor one over the other? Does this recent BOGO news change where you will be shopping? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts!

My Favorite Ride at Busch Gardens

Guest Author: Adam

Having grown up part of my childhood in St. Louis, it is hard to ignore The King of Beer and its intriguing history of parks. Who’d have ever guessed that a beverage company would wind up starting one of the largest chains of theme parks?

It is true now that  Anheuser-Busch no longer is associated with Sea World or Busch Gardens (R.I.P. free beer samples and endless supply of bratwurst). There’s no doubt the shape and vision of the parks are the product of a place to show off beer.

The Busch Gardens I frequent the most is the one in Tampa. It’s a fascinating mish mosh of animal themes and attractions built in a mish mosh of styles and times. There’s no doubt it is a stunning park that is constantly growing.

I’m a coaster fan. Been on a lot of them, about one-hundred and sixteen. So That’s a huge reason why I love Busch Gardens. But anyone kind find some great coasters at their local park. What is harder to find, and my favorite attraction, is… (drumroll) the Skyride

There’s something special about seeing animals roam freely in a natural looking habitat without ever having to leave the continent. And sure, there are animal parks elsewhere, and sure you can see the animals from a truck or train, but nowhere else do you get the fantastic views of the big picture of the serengeti like you do from the Skyride.

It’s really special to glide overhead, so silently, gently bobbing up and down and taking in what is really two great vistas. One side you have the elegant spacious land where the animals roam paying no attention to you voyeuristically observing them. On the other you have the busy colorful theme park with coasters in the distance peaking over the trees.

Aside from the vistas, the actual ride is a treasure built in 1974. Gone are the days where sky rides, areal gondolas and ski lifts being common place in theme parks. The mechanics of the ride are fascinating. Like the flexibility but strength of the cable that hold all the gondolas. How did they even string that cable through the supports and make it loop? Or like how the gondolas can be lifted and then rest on the cable, mechanically clenching to the cable. Or even how the Skyride has that ever rare turn where for a little thrill, the gondolas swing down, roll on wheels over head to make the sharp change of direction.

Long ago, there was a suspended monorail that gave a tour over the serengeti and through the brewery. The monorail station shares the building with the Skyride station. Recently, the old monorail load platform has been recently reused as the Cheetah Hunt load platform, cleverly repurposing the clearly charmingly vintage structure. Even more fun is how Cheetah Hunt weaves its way in and out, over and under of the Skyride, not only making Cheetah Hunt all the more thrilling, it adds an indescribable amount of excitement to the Skyride.

Next time you are at Busch Gardens Tampa, make sure to ride the Skyride. Maybe even a few times because what you will see is different and breathtaking every time.

 

Garden Grocer from a Tourist’s Point of View

Guest Author: Curious George

Normally when we go to Walt Disney World, we rent a car.  However car rental prices have gone through the roof over the last couple years and I could no longer justify the expense.  This left us with the challenge of how to get some groceries.  Enter Garden Grocer, which is a grocery delivery service.  You simply go on their website www.GardenGrocer.com and select the items you would like to order.  The minimum order is $40 and there is a $14 delivery fee (only $2 if you order more than $200).

About a week before we left, I created an account, went through the website and added items we would typically buy on vacation to my “favourites” list.  You can add them directly to your cart, but I figured this way they are marked already for my next trip.  Then we went through that list and made a decision which of those items we really wanted.  We ordered milk, bottles of Coke, a case of Dasani, some gallon jugs of distilled water, Gatorade, bagels, cream cheese, Chex mix, pretzels, and licorice.  I found their prices to be fair for regular prices.  Our total came to $44 plus taxes, plus the $14 delivery and a tip for the delivery guy, which you can add right to your order on line of you want. Then you select the time of delivery, as well as the location of the delivery.  We would not be arriving until about 10pm so we selected the last time slot of 7-9 pm.  I also knew that Disney does not allow them to deliver directly to the room for security reasons, so I would not need to be there to meet the driver.  If you stay off-site, you will have to be there when the groceries are delivered, which is less convenient.  I received a confirmation email, followed by a confirmation phone call just confirming they had received my order.  Pretty easy and I was impressed with that extra personal touch.

Just as we were leaving for the airport about 3 pm, my cell phone rings.  It was Garden Grocer indicating that my groceries had been delivered to the resort and were left with Bell Services.  A little early since we had not even left for the airport yet, but since I know that Disney has refrigerators, I wasn’t concerned and actually felt like it was one less thing I needed to worry about.  When we arrived to the resort and had checked in, we let Bell Services know our room number and they delivered the groceries to our room for us.  The items were packed in heavy paper bags with handles.  Each bag had our name on it.  The cold items had been packed separately and were still cold.  One thing I had been concerned about was expiry dates, but I did not need to worry.  We were at WDW for 10 nights and the milk expired 2 weeks from check-in.  Similarly, the bagels were fresh.  (Sorry, but I was tired and did not think to take a photo of my groceries.)

Let me tell you, I was really glad not to have to go get groceries at 10:30 at night!  It was so nice to feel settled literally 10 minutes after check-in.  Their customer service was excellent.  I received exactly what I ordered, fresh and in good condition.  it would have been much more expensive to rent a car or take a cab to the grocery store than their $14 delivery fee, plus I didn’t have to waste my vacation time running those errands.  Additionally, the cost of buying 24 bottles of Dasani and 6 bottles of Coke alone would have cost me $75, more than the cost of the groceries and the delivery fee combined.  I will absolutely use Garden Grocer on our upcoming trips.

 

My Favorite Beach in Florida

Guest Author: Cheryl Maahscheryl3

Florida is full of pristine beaches, my personal favorite is Caspersen Beach. It’s located about 2 hours  from central Orlando but well worth the drive. The physical address is Caspersen Beach, 4100, Harbor Drive, Englewood, FL 34285. It is nestled in the unique city of Venice. A fun activity to do at Caspersen Beach is one Captain Jack Sparrow would be proud of, hunting for fossilized sharks teeth. You will feel like a true pirate once you find this treasure.  Just bring a sieve type tool (a simple beach toy sieve will work) and scoop up some sand just where the tide rolls in, rinse the sand with a little salt water and see what you have. No worries if your first scoop doesn’t turn up a tooth, give at least 5 tries and I am certain you will find one. The shark’s teeth vary in size and color so keep your eyes open. If you are new to Florida beaches always remember 2 things 1. Protect yourself from the sun, have plenty of sunscreen, sun hats, sunglasses, etc. and sandals as the sand can be piping hot and make you practice the African dances you learned from the Animal Kingdom. I’m from the Northwest where the ocean water ice cold for a majority of the year, so a warm beach was a whole new experience for me, I learned pretty quickly to go overboard on the sun protection after my first day of resembling a cooked lobster. cheryl4 cheryl5

The 2nd thing to remember is to be watchful and respect the wildlife. You may find marine life swimming about such as stingrays and jellyfish. I always found the rays to be pleasant creatures as long as I was calm and didn’t romp about in the water where they were swimming. I wasn’t lucky enough to spot a sea turtle but they are around, their nests are often protected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.Cheryl1

I hope you get to venture out to the beach on your next trip to Florida. If you stop by Venice write me back, I’d love to hear about your visit. Catch ya’ in the surf!