Bonding

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Boating season has officially started! Today, the boys and I took Charlie out on the water for a few hours…

On the boat

It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve felt the wind and spray in our face…especially Alex!

On the boat

It was GREAT just being outside! It got a little cloudy and we got a few sprinkles, but that didn’t put a damper on our fun!

On the boat

On the way back to the marina, Adam took the wheel for a bit…

On the boat

while Charlie daydreamed…

On the boat

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So, this year we’re changing things up a bit and will enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner at my personal favorite Disney park: Disney Hollywood Studios!

Tram Ride DHS Statue

There was so much to do. We had our Fast Passes which made it pretty easy to get to the other activities we wanted to do…mainly just enjoying the Christmas music and awesome decorations,

Christmas Tree Christmas Tree

and…

SANTA!

Santa

Santa

Who also was seen doing a little breaking-and-entering…

Santa

Anyway, we scheduled an early dinner at Hollywood & Vine, where we got to mingle with the Disney characters…

to start, Goofy and I shot the breeze for a bit…

Dad and Goofy

then, we brought the family in…

Family and Goofy

And while we waited on Mickey and the gang, we helped ourselves to Thanksgiving dinner!

Thanksgiving Dinner Thanksgiving Dinner

And in-between going back for second helpings, we hung-out with some Disney VIPs…

Mickey Donald
Minnie Daisey

After dinner, it was just starting to get dark and the Christmas lights we all coming on. Mom and Alex toured the Pixar Studio area, while Adam and I made our way over to the Rockin’ Rollercoaster…and whoooosh!

Rocking Rollercoaster

And that about wrapped-up our day. We watched the light show on the Tower of Terror…

Lights

and stopped for one last picture…

Family

And best of all? NO DISHES TO WASH!!

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The boys were out of school today, so we got on the road a little early to start our Thanksgiving vacation and in the penthouse, no less! What a great view…

View of the Pool

After dinner, Mom and Alex hit the pool…

Alex Floats

and the hot tub!

Hot Tub

This is living!!

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Yesterday Cindy left for England to visit her dad. She had to fly out of Orlando, so the boys and I took a couple of extra days to cap-off our summer vacation and are staying at Hilton’s Parc Soleil Resort…

Hilton Parc Soleil

The rooms are AWESOME!

Hilton Parc Soleil

and the pool? Well, this just about says it all…

Thumb-up

Anyway, we started our day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. They’ll be closing the TCM Great Movie Ride soon, so I wanted to take a ride on it one more time. It’s not the boys favorite ride by any means, but they tolerate it for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, we enjoyed the Indiana Jones show and snapped some pictures of the tank outside…

Tank

and the Frozen Sing-a-Long show is always fun (and extremely funny), but Adam says he’s not going to sing…

Frozen Show

We had Fast Passes for most of the rides we went on, so we were pretty much done by early afternoon. So, we headed back to the Parc for some fun-in-the-sun!

Alex on the Slide

Boys in the Pool

The bar stocked Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, so while the boys enjoyed the pool slide, Dad enjoyed a “dark” Mojito. Mmmmm.

Dark Mojito

Tomorrow, we’re heading home. School starts next week!

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One of the benefits to being retired military is you still have access to all the bases in the country. Many of these bases are located on some pretty darn good real estate, like Key West’s Truman Annex,

Truman Annex

which is home to some prime beachfront…

Truman Annex

and we had it all to ourselves…

Truman Annex

Truman Annex

And with the campsite set-up, we’re ready to hit the water!

Truman Annex

Adjacent to the base beach is a state park, which is separated by a not-so-foreboding fence…

Truman Annex

which we walked around to rent some snorkeling equipment…

Truman Annex Truman Annex

and do some snorkeling…

Truman Annex

While walking on one of the trails in the State Park, we happened across this signpost. Good to know where we are in relation to other cities around the world, and it makes a nice postcard picture!

Truman Annex

We had a great time at the beach today. It was nice and quiet, which is amazing considering it’s the middle of summer! Ah, the perks of military service. It’s days like this that make all the family separations worthwhile!

Truman Annex

So, we packed-up and headed back to our hotel, where we took a dip in the pool and enjoyed a cocktail (Shirley Temples for the boys) before getting ready for dinner in town. What a way to end a great vacation! Tomorrow, we’ll be heading home.

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Well this morning, we started the second leg of our vacation, traveling down A1 to Key West…and in Florida, this is where the road ends.

Where the road ends

of course, it’s also where the road begins…

Where the road begins

We’re staying at Hilton’s Grand Tree Resort; it’s in a good location and pretty close to everything!

Grand Tree Resort

It was a pretty night in town and we couldn’t come to the Conch Republic without visiting Jimmy Buffet’s original “Margaritaville”…

Margaritaville

and after we enjoyed our Cheeseburgers in Paradise (and Margarita’s for mom and I)…

Cheeseburger in Paradise

we ventured down the street for a bit of sightseeing. This is where we encountered the nice man with a parrot…

Parrot Parrot

Parrot Parrot

Parrot Parrot

And how can one visit the southernmost tip of the United States without getting a picture in front of the marker?

Southernmost Tip of Florida

Tomorrow we’re looking forward to some more fun in the sun!

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One of the great advantages to being a member of the Freedom Boat Club is you have access to boats all over the country. There just happens to be a boat club affiliate here! I arranged a boat to take the family off-shore prior to our arrival, so the folks had the boat rready and waiting when we arrived…

Boat Waiting

and in just a few minutes we were ready to cast-off!

The Sea EO

And we’re off…

The Sea EO

Heading across the bay…

Boat going out

Into the inlet and out to sea! As you can see, Adam like’s to sit next to the Captain ๐Ÿ™‚

The inlet

Destination? Anywhere!

Out to sea

We spent the afternoon on the open water. I’d open the throttle and we’d jump the waves at about 50-mph The boys had a blast! Every now and then, I’d slow to idle and we’d just sit on the water rocking back and forth with the rhythm of the ocean. It was wonderful!

Alex would lounge…

Alex lounge

Adam would pace (LOL)…

Adam paces

Cindy would pose…

Cindy poses

Me and Cindy

Beautiful and sooo peaceful!

Pano of Palm Beach Shores

one the way back to the marina, we decided to stop and visit Peanut Island, which is situated in the middle of Palm Beach Shore Harbor…

The boys on Peanut Island

It’s a great place to swim and snorkel, but very rocky!

Cindy and the boys on Peanut Island

This is the life!

Me and the boys on Peanut Island

We had a good time swimming and exploring the island, but alas, the day was drawing to a close, so we reluctantly packed-up the boat…

Loading the boat

and motored-off toward the marina. This time Alex sat next to the Captain…

Me and Alex

What a great day! And did I mention, it was my birthday? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Today we begin our 10-day summer vacation. We arrived this afternoon at our resort in Palm Beach Shores. After unpacking and grabbing a quick bite to eat at the Cabana, we strolled out to the beach. I arranged for some chairs and umbrellas that should be up and ready for us to spend the next few days soaking-up some sun!

Palm Beach Shores Resort

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This afternoon, the twins, Alex and Adam, went to see the twins, Felonious and Dru! The movie was Despicable Me 3, where Felonious (known simply his last name, “Gru”) discovers his long-lost twin brother, Dru. The fact that they were twins was not lost on Alex and Adam, either! They thought it was pretty cool to have something in common with the Gru twins.

Despicable

Of course, they had to get pictures with Gru in his cool villain car…

Villain

Villain

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It’s the last day of our mini-vacation and what better place to spend it than at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? On the ride into the park the tram director commented, “It’s a jungle, not a zoo”, which captured a chuckle from the crowd.

Animal Kingdom Entrance

The photographer liked Alex’s Sorcerer Mickey hat and wanted to draw some attention to it…

Animal Kingdom Entrance

The first order of business today was a visit to Africa…

Africa

We were waiting for the “Festival of the Lion King” show and spotted this drum-beating native on stilts, who talked to the boys as he passed…

African Musician African Musician

After the Lion King show, we made our way to the Animal Kingdom’s new exhibit, Pandora – The World of Avatar…

Pandora

Complete with the Ayram alusรฌng (a.k.a. floating mountains)…

Pandora Floating Mountain

and an AMP (Amplified Mobility Platform)…

AMP AMP and boys

and who could visit Pandora without sampling the local cuisine?

Pandora Lunch

Mmmm…

Pandora Lunch

One the way out, the boys and I stopped for a photo outside one of the Resources Development Administration’s buildings…

RDA Building

and Alex posed for a visitor pass…

Visitor Pass

We had a good time in Pandora, but we had a Safari to get to in Africa, so we left behind the mythical land of Avatar and headed back to Africa. Soon we were on the truck and off into the jungles of Tanzania on our Kilimanjaro Safari…

Kilimanjaro Safari

It’s always fun visiting the animals, like the hippos enjoying a swim and the giraffe’s resting on the Savanna…

Hippo under water Giraffe resting on Savanna

By the time the safari ended, it was clouding up and getting ready to storm. We had one more ride we wanted to get to today: The Expedition Everest roller coaster.

Expedition Everest

Well, me and Adam, anyway, as Alex and Mom aren’t too fond of the roller coasters. Anyway, we took off to Asia, while mom and Alex were off to Discovery Island to the “It’s Tough to be a Bug” show. We had a few minutes before our FastPass kicked-in, so Adam and I took in the sights…

Adam at Expedition Everest

Soon, it started to rain, so we donned our ponchos and got in line for Everest. Although the rain wasn’t too bad, the thunder was loud and lightening in the area caused them to shut-down the ride as we were just about to board the roller coaster! Adam and I hung-out for almost 30-minutes when a break in the storm allowed the ride to open-up again. Whoo hoo…

Expedition Everest

After three or four groups had gone, the lightening caused them to close the ride again and it wouldn’t reopen for the rest of the day. Whew! We barely made it!! By this time, the rain had let-up a bit and we made our way to the exit.

Exit

This evening, we dined at the Disney Polynesian Restaurant and watched the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach on Seven Seas Lagoon. What a great time!

Polynesian Restaurant

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