Had a fantastic day today. We were up by about 8ish to finish packing up and get a bit of breakfast. Spoke to the girls and checked out about 10. Actually really enjoyed staying here at Doral. It was smaller than most Marriott Vacation Club properties but the staff tried really hard and more than made up for any shortcomings by the programme they offered . Also the swimming pool was particularly nice and never crowded.
We decided to take one of the back roads north to Orlando rather than the Turnpike this time. We chose US Highway 27 which runs straight as an arrow all the way north through Florida fro the Keys. It’s amazing to get off the beaten track over here and actually see rural America and some of the small communities. So easy to think that everyone lives in a suburb or a large city. And they don’t.
Pretty soon after leaving Miami we were in the swamps. Swamps as far as you could see on either side of the car. It is difficult for us in the UK to visualize the scale of things here unless you’ve seen it. There is just so much space. Views stretch as far as the horizon . After a while the swamps became managed with the water being drained off into various canals and the land farmed. On one side there were vast fields of turf under cultivation and on the other sugar cane. When I say vast, I mean we drove through them for maybe 60 miles. 60 miles of sugar cane as far as you could see. Then the sugar cane gave way to citrus . Orange trees densely planted, No fruit but unmistakable.
We skirted around Lake Okeechobee (love that name) and kept going north. Eventually we came to Lake Placid about 1pm. Nice little holiday town. Plenty of people out on the lake enjoying the holiday. We were hungry so we stopped at a Golden Corral buffet restaurant. These can be utterly disgusting but if they are good, they are very good. This one was very good and spotlessly clean. For $8.45 (oh the joy of the Senior Special ) we could eat and drink as much as we wanted . Lots and lots to choose from. After a while we realised that this was going to be it, we ere not going to want any dinner .
On again and finally we started to approach Orlando. Got to our hotel about 3pm and checked in. Our apartment is the smallest we’ve had but has everything we wanted. A good bedroom, full kitchen , small lounge and nice bathroom. We are very near the main pool and beyond it is the shore of Lake Bryan where there are lots of watersports on offer. By the time we’d unpacked, we didn’t feel like exploring the hotel so we had a rest. We had a faulty tv in the bedroom that kept coming on, playing for 3 minutes and then turning off for about 2 minutes and then coming on again…… couldn’t stop it at all. The maintenance people came and replaced it with another tv! Amazing.
We decided we wanted to join in a 4th July celebration and see some fireworks but we didn’t want to pay to go into a theme park or go down to Orlando where the traffic would be dreadful. We decided to go to the town of Celebration which was about 4 miles from our hotel.
Celebration is an interesting place. It was founded in 1994 as a model , perfect town mainly by the Disney Corporation largely for the execs to live in. It was totally planned down to the nth degree and there were very strict byelaws. It was designed to be the perfect small town, the living embodiment of Main St USA in the Magic Kingdom. We had a look at it back then and indeed the streets were perfectly manicured and full of lovely clapperboard Victorian style homes, all with wraparound porches and chairs out …. if you’ve seen Pollyanna or The Music Man you will know the sort of thing. Disney stopped being involved with the town about 10 years ago but it still retains the vibe.
So, they have a big i July 4th celebration and we went along to it. There was a park and ride from the outskirts of town to the downtown area and we took that. All very smooth. The town was looking lovely, all decked out. It has grown a lot since I saw it in 1995. There were lots of people and the whole town centre was a mass of food stalls and food trucks All the shops were open and there were many restaurants too. A charming area with a lake central. There were plenty of live bands playing at different venues including pop bands and Dixieland Jazz. We had a good wander around and then found a bench lakeside (so lucky) to watch the fireworks due to come on at 930. Of course as soon as we sat down the downpour started and some thunder. But it was warm rain and the temperature was still 86ish so not so bad. We had some shelter from a tree. Bob bought me a pickmeup in the form of a Hurricane cocktail which was very nice.
The fireworks were absolutely amazing. One of the best shows I’ve seen anywhere, ever. went on for about 30 minutes of solid world class fireworks set to the music from science fiction films (this year’s theme) and ending with a patriotic song medley. Really outstanding. And what was nice was that there were no drunks, no yobbish behaviour or bad language . Just a well behaved crowd off all ages enjoying themselves.
We made a quick getaway as soon as it was over and got the shuttle bus back to our car. Back in our hotel for 1030.
A very good day and happy that there doesn’t seem to have been any atrocities anywhere .