Saturday, January 5, 2002

2002 Jan. first trip to Orlando with Dad

When I found out that Lifetouch was having their 2002 winter meetings in Orlando, I decided it might be time to check and see if Prestige would let me go to these meetings!  When they daid that I could go and they would even pay for part of it, I started making plans to go. 

When I told Dad I was going, he mentioned that he had never been to Orlando and would like to come along.  With that, I jumped on the oppurtunity to make it a vacation as well as a work trip.  Work was going to take up most of the first 4 days and a couple nights, so we decided to extend our trip 3 more nights to make it a full week.  I happened to have a Bonus Week certificate from RCI, so I called to see if I could use it for Orlando the first week in January.  They had 2 Gold Crown resorts that I could choose from, so I arbitrarily chose Orange Lake Resort.  Then I booked a midsize car (which Budget upgraded to a Ford Sport truck), booked my flights and was set to go.

Dad's flight arrived about the same time as mine and we were off to the resort.  We were both pleasantly surprised with Orange Lake resort.  It is made up of several sections and each one has it's own configuration of units.  We were in the West Village and loved the singe story "golf villas".  It had a very residential feel.

We were also very impressed with the inside of our 2 bedroom condo.  
We spent every evening at the diningroom table playing cribbage, recounting the day and planning the next one. 
Although we didn't use the kitchen much for cooking, it was handy to have for our snacks and hot drinks. 

Even the views outside our condo were nice. 
Our "village" even had an olympic sized (unheated) swimming pool, as well as a smaller heated pool and large jacuzzi (where we also spent a lot of free time).
Although we didn't use it, they even had a nice beach area and lots of water "toys" for rent.
I'm sure if it was summer instead of Jan., we would have used the beach.

My daily routine for the first 4 days was to get up about 6:30 and head off to the Marriott Grand for my meetings.  I'd come back to the condo at lunch time and pick Dad up and take him back with me for the free lunch and for the afternoon meetings and classes.  I suggested to Dad that he go to the Orange Lake timeshare presentation one morning while I was gone and get the freebie gift card or whatever.  That day, when I came back to get him at lunch he said he bought into Orange Lake.  I didn't believe him until he got out the paperwork and the bottle of champagne that they gave him. 

We toasted his purchase and that was the beginning of our almost yearly trips to Orlando during the 5th week of every year in another West Village Golf Villa.

This particular Jan. week was a very cold one, at least at 6:30 in the morning.  This is the view from my front car window every morning!  I had to scrape ice off the windows with a credit card.  Thought of trying to buy an ice scraper, but decided the chances of finding one for sale in Orlando were probably slim.
My drive to the Marriott took about 20 minutes.  I didn't think that was too bad. 
 One evening Desmond (my territory manager) even took us all out to dinner at Pebbles.  There were probably 20 or so Prestige employees from our territory at this meeting.  They are a fun group of people and I decided I should attend more of their winter meetings.  Dad even enjoyed visiting with them.
On the last day of meetings, there was an awards dinner for all 2000 or so Lifetouch employees attending.  Dinner was great and our territory even won several awards---as was pretty typical, I found out. 
After my meetings were over, Dad's Airforce buddy from Atlanta, Curt Carter, came down and vacationed with us the last 3 days.  He he conned us into going out for sushi and other Japanese food.  Dad actually got a kick out of having eel, something he use to catch out of the creek behind his house when he was  little boy in New Jersey and hadn't eatten since then. 
One day we went to Cypress Gardens.
I really enjoyed the gardens.  I think they did, too.  There was even a butterfly house there.  Note the butterfly on Curt's cap.
Another building had a bunch of old radios.  The old guys got a kick out of seeing old radios they use to have when they were younger. 

 The gardens were beautiful with lots of flowers and cypress trees.  There was even a little animal area with monkeys in it and a small lake where water performances were done.
 Another neat feature of the park was the people dressed up in old time clothing and wandering around the park posing for pictures. 
 Here the guys are posing with a new friend of theirs in the garden.
We were also there before they took down the Christmas decorations, so we were able to wander around the gardens in the evening enjoying the lights.
Of course we went to Epcot, too.  Dad owned stock in Disney and wanted to check out his purchase.   Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

 Curt had the insight on a few places to go for snacks.  Here we were trying out the desserts at the French bakery.  We were not disappointed.
 Here's Dad posing with one of the older gents who was working in the Amercan section of Epcot.
 One of their favorite activities was the Holy Grail skit in the English section.  It was hilarious.
 They both love photography almost as much as I do so it was fun sharing our photos with each other and seeing our different perspectives. 
 The time really goes fast in Epcot.  Before you know it it's getting dark. 
Epcot ended the night with fireworks over the lagoon by the countries.  Pretty spectacular display.
We even went back to Epcot for a 2nd day.  Here was one of the really stupid rides there.  But I don't remember the name of it.

 Here we'er having a gourmet meal in Epcot.  Dad was a big fan of hot dogs.
                                Just another picture in the countries area.
                                 The monorail cutting through Epcot.
And another day comes to an end at Epcot.
After Curt left, we even visited the Holy Queen of the Universe Shrine and lit a candle for a friends mother. 

Our first father/daughter Orlando trip quickly came to an end.  We had a great time.  And I was happy to know we would be able to do it again every 5th week of the year!

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