My Florida Vacation 2008

Photo by Embitca
Photo by Embitca

Back from Vacation

If you're wondering why you haven't seen me around Hubpages much the past several weeks, it's because I took a much needed break from snow, cold, work and the internet. I just got home from my road trip to Florida a few days ago and thought I'd put together a hub to share some of my photos and adventures!

Cruising down I-95

Since I wasn't sure how long I'd be staying in Orlando, but knew it would be for at least a couple of weeks, I decided I wanted to have my own car with me for the journey. I also just felt like taking a road trip as I love to drive.

So I packed up the car and did a straight shot down I-95. I left Boston on a Thursday and drove to Fredericksburg, VA and then from there drove to South Carolina. From S.C. I drove to St. Augustine, FL to visit the nation's oldest city, arriving late Saturday night.

I spent Sunday afternoon wandering around St. Augustine, attended Mass at the cathedral and then jumped back on I-95 and headed inland to Orlando on I-4.

The first thing I did in Orlando was sign up for a timeshare presentation in order to score a free ticket to Universal Studios *g*

Inside Animal Kingdom Lodge
Inside Animal Kingdom Lodge

Two weeks at Disney Vacation Club

After one night in a hotel I checked into my Disney Vacation Club resort, Sarasota Springs, located next to Downtown Disney. I stayed for several nights and then went to the DVC part of Animal Kingdom Lodge for a week, another beautiful property.

Sarasota Springs was designed as a Vacation Club resort so the property is very spread out, roomy and quiet. Animal Kingdom Lodge, as the name suggests, is actually a hotel that has been expanded to include DVC suites. It is nice having everything so close. Restaurants and lobby are just an elevator ride away, but it does tend to be a bit more rambunctious than some of the other resorts.

Animal Kingdom Lodge has its own wildlife savannah on the property. Here are some of my photos of the animals who live there. Some rooms actually face the Savannah.

Residents of Animal Kingdom Lodge

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These are some African cattle type animals who live on the Savannah at Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World Giraffe and Zebra at Animal Kingdom LodgePink Flamingos
These are some African cattle type animals who live on the Savannah at Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World
These are some African cattle type animals who live on the Savannah at Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World
Giraffe and Zebra at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Giraffe and Zebra at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Pink Flamingos
Pink Flamingos

Walt Disney World

Now that I have an annual pass to WDW, I don't have to kill myself trying to see everything at once so usually I would just spend 3-5 hours at one of the parks every other day or so.

If you're planning a trip to Walt Disney World for more than 10 days, then it may make sense to get an annual pass for at least one member of your party as it then allows you to get the Disney Dining Plan discount card and entitles you to various discounts at shops and restaurants on park property.

I didn't take that many photos this trip because I've now been down to the Disney Parks quite a few times over the past few years so I left my camera in the room most of the time. But here's a few of my favorites taken around dusk and without a flash (or tripod!)

Disney Park Photos

Taken at Disney Hollywood Studios
Taken at Disney Hollywood Studios
Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom
Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom
Cinderella Castle at Night
Cinderella Castle at Night

Gorillas in the Mist

Okay, gorillas behind plexiglass at Animal Kingdom. It is my least favorite park at Disney World, mostly because I'm not really a zoo type person, but this trip I decided to spend more time visiting parts of the property I don't normally bother with so I spent a day at Animal Kingdom and caught some really excellent shots of their gorillas.

Male Silverback Gorillas

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This guy came and sat next to the glass and proceeded to pose for the next half hour.A bachelor silverback gorilla
This guy came and sat next to the glass and proceeded to pose for the next half hour.
This guy came and sat next to the glass and proceeded to pose for the next half hour.
A bachelor silverback gorilla
A bachelor silverback gorilla

VW Beetle at Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach

After I checked out of Animal Kingdom Lodge, I headed up to Port Orange and Daytona Beach for a couple of days before going back down to stay at another Orlando timeshare.

One of the fun things about the beach at Daytona and up in that part of Florida is the fact that you can drive directly on the beach. The beaches are set up with access points and you can pay a fee, drive onto the beach and sometimes drive for miles right next to the ocean. Shockingly unecological, surely, but I found it surprisingly satisfactory. I had no idea I'd get such a kick out of it. Here's a photo of my car on the beach *g*

New Smyrna Beach

Not far from Daytona Beach is New Smyrna and it's beautiful inlet beach. While wandering around the beach and boardwalks over the dunes there for an afternoon I saw some dolphins swimming very close to the shoreline and managed to capture some video. The photo at the top of my hub was taken at New Smyrna Beach.

Here's the video of the dolphins (or porpoises?? I'm not sure which!)

Dolphins in Florida

SeaWorld Orlando

Back in Orlando, I spent a day at SeaWorld, feeding dolphins and watching the different shows -- the Dolphins & Whales Show and the Shamu Show. I actually preferred the Dolphins & Whales show to the headlining Shamu show.

There is just something over the top about the Shamu show that niggled at me a bit. Either that or the patriotic preamble to the show by Anheuser Busch (SeaWorld's owner) just stuck in my craw as being overly nationalistic and really uncalled for at an international tourist destination like Sea World.

Here's a few of my photos from Sea World.

Photos from SeaWorld

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Kennedy Space Center

One of the fortunate coincidences of my trip was that I happened to be in Florida over the same period during which a Space Shuttle Launch was scheduled. So I bought tickets for one of the tours that takes you into Kennedy Space Center in order to watch the launch from inside NASA's property. We were about six miles away from the launch site with an uninterrupted view across the water.

Most of the day was spent in some trepidation as the previous evening expectations were that the launch was 70% likely to get cancelled, but we lucked out and the launch went off without a hitch at 2:50 p.m. The shuttle was in sight for about 45 seconds or so and then it was gone. We waited all day to see it, but it was totally worth the wait because watching it on video doesn't even come close to the live experience.

I did not take photos or video of the launch because the experience is so fleeting I would have missed it while messing around with my camera, but I did take some great shots of the Rocket Garden at the Visitor's Center earlier in the day.

Kennedy Space Center Rocket Garden

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Vacation over!

And that pretty much concludes my trip. I was in Orlando for another several days after that, and then drove back to Boston. Now I can start planning for next year :)

All photos © embitca

Be sure to check out some of my other travel hubs!

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Comments 7 comments

Isabella Snow profile image

Isabella Snow 8 years ago

Fabulous! Hope you had fun! Been awhile since I've seen WDW, thanks for the pics!

Guru-C profile image

Guru-C 8 years ago

Beautiful and very informative. As one who lives in Miami Beach, I'm going to save this page for family and friends who are visiting.

Raven King profile image

Raven King 8 years ago from Cabin Fever

Marvelous hub, I wish I was there.

hiqutipie profile image

hiqutipie 8 years ago from Mississippi

Family is getting together there in a couple of weeks...Thanks for the info embitca

Geri 8 years ago

What a great tour guide you are thanks for all the info. So happy you had a nice break from the snow etc...and had a safe trip back to your home. I live in the Panhandle of Florida it's very different over this way. It's called LA "lower Alabama"and "red neck riviera".Thanks again for your great creativity on your hub. It's been a blast and also my first time to visit a site like yours. Keep up the good work!

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

Great vacation! You are fortunate to live on the Eastern Seaboard and be able to be within a few days driving distance of so many interesting sights.

embitca profile image

embitca 7 years ago from Boston Author

Thanks, Peggy! I am fortunate. Just this past week I drove up the coast of Maine to Acadia National Park. I should have a new hub up soon about it :)

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