It has been awhile since a vacation has really lived up to my expectations. Previously mentioned hotel idiocy aside, this has been a great trip. My only real regret is that I didn't schedule it a day longer. Of course, then the weather wouldn't have been perfect the whole time.
Tonight, as Diana does packing and I offload some photos to my laptop, I was going to make some comment about winding down for the transition back to "real life," when I realized that this is every bit as real, and in some ways even more real. This week I saw family, saw important friends that I haven't seen in "like forever," and most importantly, got to bring my little boy to one of my favorite places to visit.
Universal Orlando is an interesting place for me. My first visit was technically while I was in high school, during the studio park's soft opening. There was no City Walk, Islands of Adventure, hotels, waterways or parking decks. Just the half-finished studio, a small Hard Rock Cafe, and a massive parking lot. I came back for the first time 11 years later, in 2001. IAAPA had their big social event one evening at Islands of Adventure, which at that time was only two-years-old. I was hooked.
Since that time, every person who is important to me has been here with me, and despite its familiarity, I've never been bored with it. Our last visit was in the summer of 2008, I think, pre-Harry Potter, so we were definitely due for a visit. It did not disappoint.
We spent Tuesday at the parks with Kara, who lives down here now working for Give Kids The World. She's one of my BFF's, but we haven't seen her since our wedding, and that sucks. The three time zones makes it so hard to stay connected with people out here, even with the Internets. It was so much fun to introduce her to Simon, who just loved her. He's such a flirt. Wednesday we had dinner with one of my favorite PR people ever, who also works at GKTW, but has been all over the industry. She was one of the first to support CB Club. Today we had lunch with a friend who actually works in the creative part of Universal, and worked on the big Potter ride. I first met him when he was in college, and it's inspiring to see how he found a niche, and by extension his current job.
I guess what all of these meetings with people did, in a familiar and favorite place, was help ground me a little. It's no secret that Seattle, as much as I love it, doesn't feel like home. I want it too. But being so far away from everything and everyone that I've known continues to be a difficult adjustment. This week I got to spend time with some of those people in that special place, which reinforces the thing I always say about relationships... that life is additive in nature. The people and places are still me, but now Seattle is too.
I really had a great time shooting photos, too. I went well over 500 frames after I deleted the obvious crap. I only brought my 24-105mm lens, so it's mostly landscape scenery stuff, but that's OK. I got a ton of great photos of Simon, who is pretty much the most adorable kid on the planet. Not that I'm biased or anything. I was thrilled with some images I got on Monday night, after a day of rain. The fog and humidity made the search lights around City Walk just cut through the air, and every walkway was wet and reflective. It made for some beautiful photos. I'm bummed that the parks weren't open late enough to get night photos of the Wizarding World.
Tomorrow is an early travel day, especially by Pacific Time. I hope Simon does OK... we've really pushed him to his limits lately. I'm glad that I left the weekend to adjust back to our own time.
Trip reports and photos are coming this weekend, particularly for my FB friends!