Another Halloween has passed away. It’s so fitting to say it’s dead, like everything great about Halloween is.
We built a church, a maze, a Wheel of Death, and found a way to summon Bloody Mary. The best costume went to the same couple for the second year in a row, Bob Ross and his Happy Little Tree.
We planned this thing for a lot longer than we did last year, but somehow didn’t get everything we wanted to done. Looks like we’ll have to skip Christmas this year so we can prepare for next Halloween! Bigger and better!
October 18 we celebrated our 3rd year as a married couple, and like every other year we went on a trip. But unlike every other year, in which we had a great time, this year the universe decided to throw us a curve ball and gave us one of the worst trips imaginable.
Our bad vibe started the day before we left, with our car being booted because we parked in the wrong lot. The guy that booted us was a douche, and not because of the boot (which we realized we deserved after the fact by a sign posted in the farthest corner of the front of the lot which is opposite of where you actually park), but because he wouldn’t make eye contact and wouldn’t answer my questions (which I asked very politely and in a non confrontational manner, because I don’t know how to be mean apparently). So that was trip money down the drain.
After deciding that it’d be better to go and be broke while there instead of staying home and being broke, we got in the car and went to Pigeon Forge, drove the strip and found the cheapest hotel possible, which in hindsight was a bad idea. The board outside the hotel said $25 a night, which is the cheapest hotel we’ve ever stayed in, which was a sign of things to come. After the typical “do you want to see the room first” that we usually get and usually turn down and will forever now take advantage of, they gave us the key and said “you’ll get in your car and drive through the parking lot, past those stores and that Shoney’s, until you get to the next street, then go behind that other hotel and that’s where your room is”. Time to get a refund and run fast and far right? Not us, hahaha we laugh and keep going down the rabbit hole.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Identity then you know where we stayed, except I think they vacuumed the rooms in that movie. Seriously, they did not vacuum the room, and the fridge was broken, and there were cigarette burns in the bed spread, and there was no fitted sheet just a regular one tucked in (kinda). So any right minded person at this point (if they would have even made it this far) would run away screaming in horror. Not us, we wince and keep going.
We are on the cheap so Daniel gets a $5 foot long that will last two meals and Lori gets free McDonalds from Monopoly pieces, so we’ve got this cheap thing planned out and we’re doing good. We take our food to the river to eat and watch the ducks and everything is all hunky dorey. Heck, there is a guy in the parking lot having car troubles that we help give his battery a jump, so karma should be on our side about now right? WRONG! Apparently we helped the devil because right after that we drove down the street to some stores and parked in a grass lot, and while checking to make sure there were no “NO PARKING” signs we drove into a three foot hole and tore up the front of the car. Yay!
The car seemed ok, except for some cosmetic damage, so after the shops we drove back to the hotel. We brought microwave dinner for that night but went out to get toast to go with it, and on the way back the car started making a rubbing screeching horrible almost dying noise. After pulling over Daniel thought it was the radiator fan scrapping against the housing. “That’ll probably be fine to get us back to the hotel and I’ll try to fix it tomorrow”. Yeah right, it died on the way back, just cut off in the middle of the road and we had to push it to a nearby gas station (but at least Lori now knows you have to take your foot off the break when someone is trying to push the car). When we opened the hood there was something oily all over the radiator fan, which must equal something really bad just happened, of course.
We called a mechanic, they came out and picked up us and the car and took us back into the woods to their shop at a dead end. It was the mechanic shop where horror movies get their ideas. Surrounded by trees, walls of dirt, junk cars, and we have no way of getting out of here. But luckily they haven’t seen as many Rob Zombie films as us, and they were nice. The radiator broke and transmission fluid was leaking and all they had to do was order a replacement and we’d be good to go the next day. We used their Ford Taurus rental car, which makes us look super cool, but who cares as long as we can get back to the hotel, and then finally eat our microwave dinner.
Apparently that was not enough excitement for the day because we awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of the smoke detector and a horrible smell. The window unit AC had frozen over and was smoking, which is totally awesome because we thought it couldn’t get any worse, and it feels great to get proven wrong over and over again.
The next day the rental car smelled like a wet dog, but who cares after everything else that’s happened. We get our car back for a nice chunk of change, and continued to celebrate our Anniversary with Japanese hibachi (where they cook the vegetarian food in chicken remains) and glow in the dark put-put. We even splurged on cheap champagne and Krispy Kreme.
There are only a couple ways it could have been worse, if Dolly was there peeing on everything, we had a screaming baby, or we didn’t have each other.
Last weekend was the first Labor Day weekend we’ve spent together in a couple years. A three day weekend is super enticing for weddings since you get an automatic extra day off for your honeymoon, so Lori is usually shooting at least two days during these holidays, but not this time. No weddings this weekend, instead we went to Jekyll so she could take pictures of Jill in a wedding dress.
During the beach portion of Lori’s shoot, God decided to let loose and pour rain on us, which is funny in hindsight, and kinda funny at the moment, but did suck. Then it would stop for a couple minutes and we’d move down the beach and it’d start again, and stop again, and start again. Kinda like that Red Light Green Light.
Monday morning we did get to enjoy the sunshine and walk to the beach. We even walked around the hotel where we got married almost three years ago. It’s pretty much exactly the same. Makes us wonder if they still have roaches …
This is going to be an epic post. It was a 4 day get away that felt like weeks, which is great.
Monday marked our 2 year wedding anniversary, it feels like longer than that though. For our anniversaries we always want to go somewhere, do something, that way it’s special and never just another day. This year, with Lori being super into Harry Potter, and because they have a giant Halloween thing going on, we went to Universal in Orlando, with a detour to Daytona just because.
Friday – Daytona Detour
Daniel was able to get a half day off work so we could leave early on Friday, which is awesome, a lot of the trip was in the day time. Night time trip driving is the worst, well, worst behind pouring rain. Since we can only afford to go to the parks once each, if we got to Orlando on Friday night we’d have all day Saturday with nothing to do, so why not go to Daytona for the night. Neither of us have ever been (that we know of) and it’s only an hour or so away from Orlando so it’s no big hassle. Except we didn’t know it was Biketoberfest.
So now we’re in Daytona, surrounded by motorcycles, tons and tons and tons of motorcycles. We turned on the main strip and sat for five minutes barely moving at all. We’ve been traveling all day, we’re hungry, we’re tired, we’re stuck in traffic. When it finally moved enough that we could go maybe less than half a block we saw a Diner and turned in a few minutes later. After feeling better about our tummies rumbling it was on to find somewhere to stay, that wasn’t already booked full with bikers, and that didn’t cost a fortune. Hopefully one like we stayed in on our honeymoon in Charleston.
We found it. After stopping at several small, shady, hotels that wanted $70 or more for the night, we found this one that was only $55. Not as cheap as it should have been considering the look of it, but the bike fest was driving up prices everywhere. It’s hard to describe the exact feeling you get when you walk in and the wet smoke smell hits you and you see where you’ll be staying, and pictures can hardly do it justice either. It didn’t feel haunted like the other one we stayed in, but it did feel like someone may kick down the door and hack at us with a chainsaw.
Saturday – We’re going to Orlando
Waking up is pretty easy here, staying asleep is the hard part. It’s like a motorcycle alarm clock you can’t turn off. That combined with sleeping on a board with a pillow that is easier to compare to a hand towel when it comes to support and comfort.
On to experience what Daytona has to offer us. Motorcycles. Yay. We kept getting the feeling we were going to see Daniel’s mom and dad here, and at one point saw the same Harley they ride. It being a vacation and all, it just wouldn’t be right without put-put. The course we found was kinda like Lost cause it was tropical and there was a plane crash. This one is probably our second favorite at this point, right behind Goofy Golf in PCB. You have to have to have real obstacles and challenges, not just putting around a corner, and this one used the volcano and cave theme to be awesome. Lori tried to put through a wall at one point but wasn’t successful.
Then back to the motorcycles. There is no escaping them. Except at the beach. The ocean was beautiful, the sand was firm and didn’t get stuck in between our toes, and there was practically nobody there. Weird. All these people in a beach town, but their riding their bikes around instead of going to the beach . . .
At one point while we were driving around I think we joined a motorcycle parade or something, because there were a gazillion motorcycles and their riders on both sides of the road and all those riders were walking or standing or sitting and looking at whoever was riding down that strip of road. Surprise, it’s Daniel and Lori in their little blue car with the rose still on the antenna from two years ago.
Enough of this, we’ve got our fill, let’s get to Orlando and go swimming. On the way we stopped at a mall because Daniel had the great idea that Lori should get the second ear piercing she’s always wanted. Terrified, and terrifying little girls in the Claire’s, she got it done, but the girl watching (she looked like the girl from Hope Floats) decided she’d never get her ears pierced, ever.
About an hour and a half of driving later, and being harassed by the ticket guy at the hotel that he could have saved us $8 (total, not per person) if we would have booked all of our tickets through him instead of going through the UniversalOrlando.com people, we we’re chilling at the pool. Chilling being a good description even though the water was heated, half of the pool was in the shade of the hotel, making our faces cold, and the other half, the half where you would have a warm face, was full of splashing little kids.
Did you know that there are bad Chinese restaurants out there? Well there are, and there is at least one in Orlando. And to make matters worse, I looked up the address on my phone and it said 8 miles, so we got in the car and went down the highway an exit to get there, ate, it was terrible (buffet nasty), and we drove two blocks back to the hotel. Did you catch that? The directions made us drive down a highway about a mile, turn a couple times, then to get back we turned right drove a block, turned left drove a block and we were back at the hotel. It hurt my soul to see other people out walking while we drove the two blocks back to the hotel.
Sunday – Universal Studios for 15 1/2 hours
Good morning non-scary hotel room. Cold on the outside, warm and fuzzy under the covers. The hotel is about twenty steps away from the world’s largest McDonald’s (I think). You’d know it if you’ve ever been, it’s the only one I’ve ever seen with pasta dishes, and on display in glass cases on real plates. You may find yourself asking, why go to McDonald’s, what about SuperSize Me, and what will Daniel eat? True, they even sneak meat into the fries and hashbrowns (and Daniel’s McMuffin when he’s not looking, it took 3 tries for them to get it right), but it’s Monopoly time! And it’s convenient! And it’s America! There’s probably 2 things for Daniel to eat for breakfast there (and no hashbrowns).
Our first day in a park, we got up early and super excited, unknowingly arriving right when they were announcing the park open. Lots of fun stuff here, Shrek, Mummy, Twister, MIB, Jaws … The Back to the Future ride is now The Simpsons ride, same building, same concept, just Simpsons now. It was fun, Lori absolutely loved it. She hates roller coasters but goes crazy for the simulated ones.
When we’d done everything there was to do, and the park was closing, we got to stay behind, barricaded in the ’50s alleyways for an hour or so until they unleashed us for Halloween Horror Nights XX (20). Yay haunted houses. First up was Hades, it was then closest one, we weren’t thrilled by the description at all but we wanted to do it while there was no line so we didn’t have to wait an hour for something we didn’t want to do anyways. But boy o boy were we wrong. By far the best house of the night (we didn’t go through all of the houses). They used strobe lights, stuck their hands out of nowhere in your face, made Daniel jump out of his skin smiling.
There’s something you have to understand about Daniel and haunted houses, it’s not about the terror or the fear, it’s about the jumping out and going boo. The surprise gets him and makes him shake and giggle and sometimes (a lot of times) fall down. He’ll do the Scooby Doo and his feet are moving but he’s not going anywhere, he’ll shake like he’s having a seizure and kinda skid around, he’ll stiff up and fall down, and sometimes he jumps backwards and head-butts Lori (which he is sorry for).
There were 8 haunted houses and quite a few Scare Zones (free range areas of the park where people in costumes walk around and try to creep you out). Most of the houses we did weren’t scary or jumpy at all. There was the ghost one, just a couple people with glowing white masks on moving around. The asylum was bleh. The Catacombs were ok, the masks were cool and at least made us a bit jumpy. And the Zombie one was fun, it’s the one where Daniel head-butted Lori as he jumped backwards away from a flesh eating zombie coming out of a van. We were in the park for 5 hours during the HHN and didn’t do all the houses. They were open until 1AM but we left at 1130PM because our legs couldn’t take it anymore.
Monday – Islands of Adventure & Anniversary Dinner Yummy-ness
This is what Lori has been waiting for, Harry Potter! This park is full of rides that are built for Daniel and explicitly not for Lori, like The Hulk and the Dragon coasters, and maybe Jurassic Park. We were in line, Lori said she wouldn’t ride, even though she would get to sit next to her hubby the whole time, then they showed a safety video right before you board and it showed the dreaded drop, which looked about 10 feet. So now Lori is thinking maybe, until she asks the guy how far the fall is, 85 feet, and then she asks where the exit is.
Harry Potter time, or to better put it, tons of crazy fans packed into a tiny space and inside stores which are even tinier. Lori was in heaven. She got a chocolate frog (with Slytherin in it) and the every flavor beans that she wants to use for decorations. Everything there was amazing looking, they even had owls in the rafters of one of the buildings (they were moving and Daniel got out of the way so he wouldn’t get pooped on). There were so many people there that they had to have employees form lines for the stores. Lori waited about an hour in line for the wand store while Daniel rode both dragon roller coasters and the little kid coaster.
Then it was time for the big finale, the new Potter ride. Lori didn’t care if it was a roller coaster or not, it was Harry Potter so she was going to ride it. It scared her super bad, she screamed the whole time, but got off and after five minutes said it was her favorite. It’s kinda like the Spiderman ride where there’s screens and real stuff coming at you while you move around, except this one your in a roller coaster harness attached to one of those arms that builds cars, and it flips you and spins you and turns you and it kinda feels like a roller coaster, but your not on a coaster type of track. It’s really cool. After that there wasn’t much time for anything else. We spent about two and a half hours or so in the Potter section.
We hobbled out of the park and back to the hotel room, cleaned up mighty nice and went out for Italian food. It was a toss up between two restaurants, one was by a lake, the other had live music, but since the music one never answered their phone (multiple times throughout the day for two days), we went to the lake. Great choice. Great atmosphere, the lake was pretty, the company was amazing, and the food was delicious.
Tuesday – The dreaded trip home
It stinks that we have to take an entire day off of work, using valuable vacation days, just for travel. But that’s how it goes. We had an ok breakfast at the hotel with horrible service (too many people in there with too few staff) before jumping in the pool one last time before checkout and we were off.
Last week we went to PCB so Lori could get her fix. Seriously, she goes crazy without it. While there, a guy walked by us in a blue jumpsuit . . . at the beach. Found out yesterday that it was FEMA. The last day we thought we found tar, guess we went just in time.
Friday was my 25th birthday and Lori planned an awesome party for me. We went to Manuel’s for dinner, I didn’t know who was coming until they showed up, so I got really excited every time someone I knew walked by the window. There was Adam, Wesley, Becky, Jessica, Ashton, Jessica, Marvin, Mike, Jenny, Catherine, Dustin, CB, Kristin, and Joy! I didn’t think that many people would come for my birthday.
Then after dinner we went back to our place for drinks and cake and pin the tail on the donkey and a pinata! I hope our neighbors don’t hate us already. We did try to keep it down outside after midnight though, so they can’t hate too hard on a Friday night. I fell asleep early as usual (right after they started playing Balderdash), probably 1oclock, but the last person didn’t leave until 230AM. I consider that a pretty good bash.