Perfect Break To Orlando Vacation

I planned the trip months ago. Last year we took my mom to Washington D.C. (the kids and I). She had always wanted to go – but my dad didn’t. (Yes, my parents are still married). So we invited him to go with us to Orlando – which just happened to be this year’s destination. With teenagers, we knew that DisneyWorld and Universal – the big theme parks – would be on the agenda. But, I didn’t want to overwhelm my 70-year-old dad with roller coasters and costumed characters. So, we left one day in the middle of the week for him to plan what we were doing. He did a GREAT job! It was probably one of my most favorite days.

The day started early (early by definition of my teen daughter would be anything before noon but this was 8 a.m.). We rented a car just for the day. It didn’t make sense to rent a car for the week and then pay for it to sit in a parking lot. The reason we needed a car? We were headed to Lone Cabbage Fish Camp. By the looks of the map on my iPhone we were literally going to the middle of nowhere. It didn’t appear that there was ANYTHING else nearby. The camp really is out there by itself. While it is weather worn and looked a bit old (seriously straight out of a movie) – it was clean and the people were GREAT. They were very down to earth. We waited on the deck (which is beautiful on the back side of the building – you wouldn’t know it was there when you first drive up. We had actually reserved a 60 minute ride but through some scheduling conflict we weren’t on their calendar – so we opted for the 30 minute (which you don’t have to make reservations for).

Lone Cabbage Fish Camp between Orlando and Cocoa Beach.

Lone Cabbage Fish Camp between Orlando and Cocoa Beach.

The 30 minute airboat ride was awesome. The guide was very knowledgeable about the alligators and other wildlife. He told us that he is a hunter – there is actually a process to get your alligator hunting license. He is careful just to hunt what he is going to eat (and told a story about his dad catching him shooting a crow – which he had to eat). He told us about the migrations and where they like to hide, what they eat, poaching, feeding and more. The boat got going fast enough for my kids to really feel like it was a ride (and not just a float).

Airboat Ride at Lone Cabbage Fish Camp

Airboat Ride at Lone Cabbage Fish Camp

We were told we HAD to have the sampler plate which included gator, frog legs and catfish. I was impressed that both of my kids ate some of each. I thought the food was great. Especially the frog legs.

Sampler Plate at Lone Cabbage Fish Camp includes gator, frog legs and catfish. #nomnom

Sampler Plate at Lone Cabbage Fish Camp includes gator, frog legs and catfish. #nomnom

We asked the lady that did everything at Lone Cabbage (cook, wash, bartend, answer phone etc) the best way to get to Cocoa Beach. Her directions? “Go East on the same road you got here on until you hit sand.” Sounded simple. And it was! Within 15-20 minutes we were at the beach!

We forgot to pack swimsuits (guess we weren’t really thinking) but figured that since it was a rental car and that the sand and wet wouldn’t make much of a different. So we literally jumped into the ocean with our clothes on! I suppose it was not all that different from a swimsuit – when my daughter and I have shorts and sports bras on and my son had basketball shorts. Being from Colorado means that my kids hardly ever get to see a beach or the ocean. This was the perfect opportunity to play for a couple hours! We parked at a meter (thanks to the attendant/park ranger who told us where the meters were just a block away – so that we would not have to pay the full $10 day rate). Besides, I think the walkway was cooler looking than if we had gone to the paid lot.

At Cocoa Beach

At Cocoa Beach before we fully jumped in. 

We HAD to shop at the iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop located right there at the beach. The shop had all assortment of beach needs and some fun souvenirs. Even though we live in Colorado we have seen several Ron Jon stickers in the back of cars here. (Plus, I thought if someone wanted a clean/dry shirt they could get one there).

Ron Jon Surf Shop

Ron Jon Surf Shop

Ever since I was a kid my dad would ensure that we had an afternoon snack on any trip. This one was no different. As we were driving back toward Orlando from Cocoa Beach we decided that we were going to have a Key Lime Pie somewhere. I couldn’t remember exactly where I had seen the store – but I knew we passed one on our way between Lone Cabbage and Cocoa Beach. When I drove past it (on the left side of the road), I literally drove around in circles getting to it. While the location of the Key Lime Pie Company isn’t easy to get to if you’re on the wrong side of the road – it is worth the circles! The shop is little and there is no seating inside – but there is an awesome tiki bar just outside (up the stairs) where you can take your key lime and sit in the shade to eat it.

Key Lime Pie Company

Key Lime Pie Company

Our day was winding down. We headed back to our hotel in Orlando. We visited the new Orlando Eye (although we didn’t go in) after we got cleaned up from our ocean excursion. While we didn’t go in (I’m cheap – it is about $25/per person). We had a great time! (And then went to the theme parks again the next day.

Have you had a perfect break from all the tourist hype somewhere? What is your favorite?

Souvenirs From Business Trips

I travel quite a bit in my business. I am constantly challenged with the questions of do I get a souvenir for myself? For my kids? If so, what? I also am constantly on a budget – so getting some big elaborate thing is really out of the question. And I have two kids – so when I get one something I have to get something for the other one as well.

Several years back, my daughter was really into snow globes. So I purchased her a small snow globe. She loved it! So I started buying her the same thing. They are usually just around $5 to $7 so nothing that will break the bank. However, I found out the hard way that some security areas at airports will not allow you through their gates with one. Despite them being small. They are liquid (and apparently against TSA regulations (one agent who made me throw it away also said that the glass could be broken and used for a weapon). So I usually have to buy them at the airport. Which makes shopping pretty easy for me for her. Although the more that I have purchased, the more I realize that they are sort of similar. For example, I went to Orlando and purchased one that had a palm tree inside and there was a tag on the outside that said “Florida” but when I went to San Diego. There was the same palm tree just the outside of it said “San Diego.” Since my shopping options are limited to whatever is at the airport store…all I can say is good thing she likes palm trees.

Florida Snow Globe

Florida Snow Globe

My son on the other hand, has grown a lot in the past few years that I have been traveling. At first, I would get him a small stuffed animal. He was happy with that until he hit about 11 years old. Then I realized that it was sort of a waste of money. He would toss it up on his desk in his room (which is essentially a pile of junk) and never really look at it again. So I started buying him TShirts (he’s a sports fan – so the local team seemed the way to go). But then he would grow out of them and the price was certainly inequitable to what my daughter was getting (and she noticed and voiced it quite loudly). So when a friend suggested Christmas ornaments I did that. He seemed less than happy when I brought him an ornament in October from Mexico. (I was certainly not bringing back tequila to a 15 year old!)

As for me? I sometimes get myself something too. I started collecting either a Christmas ornament (which are sometimes difficult to find) or I recently found Alex and Ani bracelets that have charms of the cities (although they are certainly not everywhere – and sometimes difficult to find – I had to SHIP the San Francisco one – despite being in a store in San Francisco).

Alex and Ani

What is your favorite souvenir? How much did it cost? Do you bring things for your kids when you travel for work? Does TSA let you through with your treasures?