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Trip to Orlando Journaling
Jan. 30 -
March 1, 2002
These are journal entries written about trip to and stay in Orlando where I worked a while to afford my first visit to Disney World and meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time!

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January 31, 2002 - St. Augustine

We planned to stay at the state park in St. Augustine, but when we arrived, all the campground sites were taken. However, they put us up for the night in their overflow area, which was a parking lot right on the ocean. It was really fantastic - we had front row seats to the cool ocean breezes, the sound of the surf, and a panoramic view of the sky full of stars - all for $8.00 a night! We were sorry they had space the next night in their regular spaces.

We enjoyed the two days we spent exploring St. Augustine. I've never seen a place more proud of having the oldest everything - here's the oldest wooden schoolhouse, there's the oldest pharmacy, over there the oldest grocery store - no new and improved claims here, that's for sure. It really was interesting, though, and I just really get a kick out of seeing how much things have changed, and on the other hand, how much they really remain the same.

We climbed all over Castillo de San Marcos, the fort built in 1672 by the Spanish to protect St. Augustine from the English. Flagler College began as the Ponce de Leon Hotel in 1888 and we both were amazed at how detailed the architecture was and how beautifully it has been preserved. We had a blast on the beach feeding the seagulls, but never got up the energy to climb the 200+ stairs of the oldest lighthouse.

One of the most interesting experiences I had was when I was gazing up at the stars the first night there and thought how lucky I am to be able to do what I'm doing. The next voice I heard in my head said, "Luck, hell! It took courage and commitment to get where you are today. It took planning as well as letting things happen as they would. It took letting some things go and acquiring other things needed. Those are the things it takes to make "luck" and so consider yourself lucky if you must, but also give yourself some credit for the effort it took to create that "luck." All I had to say to that was "Thank you, God - for giving me this world of possibilities that enable me to create what I truly want in my life."

February 3, 2002 - Orlando Arrival

We made it to Orlando night before last and stayed the first night at a huge campground that turned out to be too far from the downtown area where I hope to work at least a couple of weeks while we're here. We moved to the northern end and I love where we are now. I'm parked across from a serene pond where a unique large Anhinga bird lives. It's a real treat watching him fish in the pond, then climb out onto a bench and spread his wings to dry.

We've already met some of our nice neighbors - one a man named Henry who drives his bicycle around with his African grey parrot on the handlebars. Tomorrow we go downtown to drop off some resumes and set up appointments with a couple of the employment agencies. Then we'll start exploring Disney World and all the other myriad of attractions this area offers.

February 21, 2002 - When You Wish Upon a Star...

We really had a great time at Disney World - it really is like entering a different world - really nothing to do with "normal" reality... sometimes you're in a pirate's world with underground caves, next you're shooting through space on a thrilling ride in the dark with stars and planets swirling all around you, then you get sopping wet plunging down a raging river. You get to have lunch with Cinderella at her castle (which fulfilled every fantasy in the 8 year old me). In fact, one of my favorite memories happened when we were leaving a show about how the Disney cartoons are animated. We were in line behind a little girl (about 8 years old) and her daddy walking hand in hand. She looked up at her daddy and said "Wow, I just can't believe this!" Her dad replied, "Yes, that was great, huh?" (thinking she was referring to the show). She looked down at the pink pointed princess hat with the long sparkling scarf she was holding and said "No, I mean this..." and the look on her face as she regarded her treasure was priceless. It still brings a smile to my face when I think of the look of absolute bliss and the sound of sheer awe in her voice. I totally understood where she was coming from because I admit that I would have died for that kind of hat when I was that age.

I really enjoyed hearing more of the story behind the whole Disney thing. Walt Disney was truly a visionary who persisted with his dream despite all the dire warnings of other, more "practical" souls. My favorite revelation of him was his reaction to Roy, his accountant brother, when Roy alarmingly told Walt that they were $3 million in debt! Walt started smiling but Roy was panic-stricken, saying "Walt, you don't understand! We are $3 million in debt - that's not what we made - we are $3 million in debt!!!" Walt started dancing around exclaiming, "Whoopee, Roy - this is great - if somebody was willing to lend us that kind of money, we must really have it made!" What a fantastic way of looking at it - and he was truly right. For the first time I really heard the words to his theme song: "When you wish upon a star - makes no difference who you are - when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true." And I thanked old Walt for creating what he did.

We even had to get our picture taken with the "real" Mickey Mouse. Then we walked through Dr. Seuss' land with the crazy trees and wonderful smells. We saw the Cat In the Hat (my personal favorite) walking around delighting the kids and the Grinch skulking around making them "booooo."

We also heard we were lucky at the time of year we came here. Apparently February is one of the slowest months, at least in season, so we didn't have nearly as long a wait in lines and got to see everything we wanted to see. We also spent an entire day at Universal Studios. My favorite ride was The Hulk - it was a really cool coaster that twists and drops in fantastic ways, and we waited in line twice in the longest line so that we could be right in front. We both agreed it was worth it - to be able to see the curves of the track as you're speeding down it, upside down and sideways adds a heightened excitement to it.

Working in Orlando

After we did those things, I started a job that will take me through until we leave Orlando. At the moment, we plan on leaving on March 4 when our monthly rate is up, but that could change depending on the work that Don's having done on his trailer being complete. If not, we'll stay another week and the firm has already asked me to stay as long as I want. This has been the easiest I've gotten a job yet. I had the list of ALA members that my Maine friend, Liz, kindly gave me. I noticed there were several firms at the same address in downtown Orlando, so having the names of the personnel contacts, I called and then dropped off my intro letters and resume. The second person I talked to called the same day and told me I could work as little or as much as I wanted to, so it has worked out fabulously. I'm also getting to learn a new document managing program for attorneys that I'd never been exposed to before, and that is good for future job marketing. I work for a woman attorney nicknamed "Sly" who is really fun and the people have all been great and real friendly. Every once in a while someone will stop by and ask "Are you the lady who just travels around in an RV? Everybody's talking about you - that is just so cool!"

Downtown Orlando has been nicer than I expected and while it is no Monument Square in Portland, it has a really nice sized little downtown retreat at Lake Eola Park. It has a huge multi-tiered fountain in the middle where you can rent swan paddle boats or just sit and relax. I like to go eat lunch there and feed the sea gulls and various birds who are really not scared of people at all. There are black and white swans gliding by the Pagoda and a cool amphitheater where they hold free shows.

However, I'll be more than ready to leave in the next couple of weeks. I keep hearing about the sunsets at Key West and the dolphins are still calling me to swim with them. We still want to see Epcot and Animal Kingdom if at all possible, and we may even end up going back to Magic Kingdom if we stay longer. It looks like my mom is going to get to come visit and make the trip around the Florida Keys with me, and she and I both are real excited about that. She has always dreamed of doing what I'm doing, and I have to say, that is one of my main inspirations, or at least lessons, I've gained from my mother's experience. She never pursued that dream and now feels too old to start something so new and different. Even my father, who also always wanted to travel, is now hampered by his health and cannot do what he always thought he'd have time for "later." Sometimes later never comes or you wait too long and it just passes you by because you're too busy to notice its progression.

Next Journal entry: Grand Tour of Florida
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