Traveling

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Today we took our boat out of Beach Marine and headed up the Intracoastal. The boys were looking forward to a new adventure.

Underway

We headed west on the St Johns River toward Jacksonville and we’re soon approaching the Dames Point Bridge.

Approaching the Dames Point Bridge

We had crossed this bridge plenty of times in the car, but this was our first time traveling under it.

Dames Point Bridge

Along the way, there were a lot of little barrier islands to explore, so we tied the boat up to one and Cindy snapped some pictures while the boys did a little swimming.

Barrier Island

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So, we’re in Virginia and visiting family. I wish our trip was under better circumstances, as my 99-year-old grandfather (“Pa”) is very ill and not expected to make it through the weekend. Right now he’s home and being attended to by family and Hospice. We drove up yesterday and headed straight to his house. Most of the family were there, so it was pretty crowded. Everyone who came to the house came in to say “hello” to Pa and sit with him for a bit while he lay in his bed; there was singing and a lot of laughter. Although he couldn’t speak very well and he was very weak, I believe he enjoyed the visits.

Today, we spent most of the day with Pa. It was a little rough on the boys, but fortunately, their cousin Mike was there to treat them to rides on his four-wheeler…

Four-Wheeling Four-Wheeling

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Tomorrow is Cindy’s birthday and surprisingly, she wanted to spend the weekend at Disney World. I was working in Tampa, so drove up here a little early to check-in and get things set-up. Cindy picked-up the boys early from school and headed down.

Happy Birthday Button

We’re staying at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and will be spending this evening and tomorrow at Cindy’s favorite park: Animal Kingdom.

Resort Room Looking out the window

We had a few minutes before we had to get to the park, so the boys chilled out for a bit in the hammocks on the beach outside the room…

Hammock

Soon it was time to go, so the boys dumped the sand out of their shoes and we took-off to Animal Kingdom. We had a Fast Pass for the “Expedition Everest” rollercoaster. Alex didn’t want to ride, so Cindy and Adam went on…

Expedition Everest

We also had a Fast Pass for the “Na’vi River Journey” in Pandora, so before we ate dinner, we visited the Na’vi…

Na'vi River Journey

and then took some pictures…

Pandora Waterfall

then, as the sun was going down, we enjoyed our Pandora feast…

Pandora Drink Pandora Meal Pandora Dessert

After dinner, we had our last Fast Pass for the “Rivers of Light Nighttime Experience,” which turned out to be AWESOME!

River of Light

River of Light

River of Light River of Light

River of Light

River of Light

When the show was over, we headed for the gate because the park was closing. What a fun night! Back at the hotel, the boys chilled a bit before bed…

In Bed

but not for long! Tomorrow will be a busy day!

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Well, Dad had to work, so Mom took the boys to Orlando for the weekend!

Mom and the Boys

Although they spent some time at Disney…

Alex and Hulk Adam and Woody

they spent the majority of the time hanging-out at the pool…lounging in the hot tub…and enjoying some summer treats in the middle of winter…

Ice Cream

Ahhh….it’s good to live in Florida!

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You know the Stephen King movie? Alex assessed the phenomenon and determined it was “creepy” (and I’d have to agree).

The Mist

Hope this burns off, so we can spend some time in the pool before we pack-up to leave!

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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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So, as you know, Cindy is in the U.K. visiting her dad. Looks like she’s having a good time, too! Sharing a Gunniess with the ol’ man…

Cindy sipping Gunniess

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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. 😉

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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