17 November 2009

Bradenton is on the Gulf side

Two years of guilt and I finally bought a ticket to visit my sister in Florida. She's lived in Florida a few times over the last tennish years and I'd never visited. Although I did not feel too guilty since our mother visits her on an almost quarterly basis and after six plus years in DC she's visited me once. Once. Anyhoodle...

I took a few days of vacation to go to Bradenton. Apparently no one knows about Bradenton which is a shame because it was a lovely town. Whenever I told someone I was going to Bradenton they'd ask, "Where's that?" "I dunno. Somewhere in the middleish of Florida. Nearish Tampa and Orlando." "Well into which airport are you flying?" "Bradenton. Look I don't know. I bought a ticket, she's picking me up. That's all I know." I got very blank looks in response. Bradenton it turns out, is on the Gulf side of Florida near Sarasota (which is also the airport code apparently).

I spent a lovely week riding around in her jeep with the top down and picking up my jaw from the floorboards as we drove past enormous homes, taking in the sights, eating fresh seafood, playing on the different beaches around Anna Maria Island and Sarasota, going to Disney for the very first time, and staying up late watching Food Network Challenges with our aunt.

I also wandered around one of her favorite beaches doing my best imitation of a photographer.

While she took pictures of me taking pictures.

After a brutal month at work that included a week and a half of binge drinking, this trip was exactly what I needed. My sister has a two-bedroom a short bus ride away from the beach if anyone else needs a break from work and/or binge drinking!

06 November 2009

Disney International Food and Wine Festival?

Right? I know what you're thinking. Disney and fine food and wines do not go together. Sure maybe in the resorts because they have to justify taking off your arm and leg with something. But in the parks? I managed to live a little over 30 years without having set foot in Disney World. That was all blown to Hell though when I finally visited my sister who lives in Florida. My sister, mom, and I met some friends for a day of tasting over-priced food and alcohol samples in Epcot's around the worldyness.

(See there's the big Epcot ball thingy surrounded by the world)

I have to admit that I quite enjoyed myself. In true Disney fashion everything is pretty darn perfect. I could see China from across the pond and it looked an awful lot like I remember Beijing.

Example A: Beijing or Disney?

B: Beijing or Disney?
C: Disney or Beijing?

D: Disney or Beijing?

So maybe everything at Disney had a slightly newer coat of paint...but still. And Beijing wasn't the only really well done city replica. There was also Bologna, Italy


Vikings from Norway where we also went a seemingly large ride tucked into a smallish building.


My favorite was Morocco which is so very much on my 'to visit' list.

While we were wandering around in the impressive looking souk, a band started playing so I did an impromptu bellydance on the square's fountain. And then was pleased that my sister somehow did not manage to push the record button on her camera.

(Just fyi, that's not me)

Then there's the rest of the reason for being there. The food! Now if Disney's website weren't currently under construction I would link to it here so you could see all of them yourself...but it is so won't. There was certainly plenty from which to choose.

Gulab jamun from India. Yum!

Worst tom ka gai I've ever had.

Beer cheese soup from Canada.

Wee little lamb burger.

After we walked around the world we went to Mars (Mission to Mars), flew over California (Soarin'), then swam with Nemo. Then we jumped on the monorail for the Magic Kingdom to see main street all decked out for night time, ride the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (the Johnny Depp anamatrons are creepily real looking), and ride the Haunted Manshion.

All in all, for a place I consider to be less than the happiest place on earth, I had a very nice time. And, bonus, I didn't kill anyone.


A= Beijing, B= Disney, C= Disney, D= Beijing

04 November 2009

Lyman Parks 1917-2009

May he rest in eternal peace. We miss you Grandpa.