Monday, December 19, 2016

A Disney Pilgrimage (Not Mine)

I can't believe I forgot to tell you about one more element of our flight to Florida. While Dave and I were waiting at Gatwick Airport for our gate to be announced, we saw a family of about a dozen people, at least three generations, all dressed in Disney gear. The women had Mickey cardigans and t-shirts that said "We're going to Disney." The men had t-shirts a la NWA that said "Straight Outta Disney" and their names on the back. There were uncles and grandparents. A few of the girls were wearing mouse ears.

Dave said, "I bet they're on our plane." And sure enough, they were -- about ten rows in front of us. I wondered if they'd bought a tour package that included all that gear, or if they won a contest or something. Anyway, they seemed to be having a ball, and I didn't begrudge them their fun, even though like many Floridians I have mixed feelings about the Disney juggernaut.

Most of Florida has nothing to do with Disney and looks more like the scene above, from small-town Starke. Our drive up to Jacksonville yesterday was pretty effortless. We got started a bit late and then dillydallied along the way, taking a few pictures and stopping for food. We ordered breakfast at McDonald's (the same one I worked at as a teenager, in Pasco County) and they completely bollixed up our order -- somehow we emerged with two extra sandwiches and an extra hash brown that we didn't pay for. It seemed very American to be deluged with surplus fast food.

Rural parts of Central Florida are very Red State, and we saw lots of signs like the ones above, along with Jesus billboards and anti-abortion advertisements. I read them out loud to Dave just to annoy him.

We finally got to Jacksonville about 2 p.m., and had champagne on my brother's back patio, sitting in the wooden Adirondack chairs that he built himself using a pattern he created himself by studying an old chair my mom owns. He's always been much handier than I am. Everything I built in shop class wobbled.

We had dinner, a fabulous crock-pot roast, and brownie cupcakes topped with very pointy strawberries resembling Santa hats. (My older niece made those.) We briefly exchanged gifts. Then Dave and I hit the road and came to a nearby Ramada Inn, where we're camped out in Room 177.

It's a very '80s motel, low and beige, with a pool that we will probably never touch because we'll be out all the time with the family. We have a hyper-effective air conditioner the size of a small refrigerator beneath the window in our room, creating a steady white-noise whoosh and quickly rendering the space Arctic.

I rarely stay in a motel on my Florida trips but with Dave here too, we figured it would be better not to impose. Besides, we're still adjusting our internal clocks and sound sleeping is a requirement!

Last night we watched "The Sound of Music" on TV and I could barely keep my eyes open. The minutes those kids made it over that windy mountaintop I clicked off the TV and was out.


  1. Sounds like a Florida night...Busy waiting for the UPS truck here...

  2. For some people, Disney is an entire lifestyle. I think that most of us have no idea how deeply folks get into it. There are resorts and cruises and of course the parks.
    I love a good Ramada Inn.
    And you know- those anti-abortion and pro-Jesus billboards seem to be indigenous to Central Florida. Weird.

  3. Sounds like a good day. We watched the Sound of Music here, too. SWMBO said she watched it with my dad while I was at the Republican National Convention in 1980. Two nights later he died in his sleep.

  4. When I was growing up, my family was a big Disney family. We went to Disneyland often. I think when I started traveling internationally is when I lost interest in Disneyland and I don't think I've been for over 30 years. I would like to go again one of these days, just to take some photos. I never was one for the rides. My parents and I were at the grand opening ceremony for EPCOT. That was a unique experience.
    Thank goodness I've never seen that Hillary sign before. It really does make me angry. Put her in prison for what? (Don't get me started.)

  5. We took our kids to Disney World when they were about 8 and 10 and the next year we visited my brother in California and went to Disney Land. I live in a red rural county here in Texas but thank the gods, people have removed what few signs were up.

  6. So the hills were alive with the sound of music while you struggled with jetlag?

    Disney was only a marginal event in my childhood, the odd cartoon and watching Cinderella - my first movie experience. Years later, sometime in the late 1980s( ?) the two children of friends of friends (Irish) disappeared while queuing in Disneyland or maybe Disneyworld with "friends" the family had made on that day there. So anything Disney has been anathema since.

  7. Not gonna lie, I have a passel of good Disney memories from when my aunt lived in Orlando and we all visited. My college boyfriend, who was from Jacksonville, was the first person to take me there, and that was a fun day too.

  8. "I read them out loud to Dave just to annoy him." Do you know how to vacay or what, Steve!

    When I was young-ish, we got two channels on TV. One had a Disney production every Sunday evening, which we faithfully watched. That's the closest I came to Disney. Never even saw a Disney movie in the theatre. I don't feel badly about that at all, though. Theme parks of any kind are not my thing.

  9. The fence fits in with the politics. A very weathered board with lots of barbed wire.

  10. The more I hear about Florida, the more it sounds like a place of dramatic contrasts. I keep hearing about how rural and conservative the panhandle is - and I've known conservative Christians who used to travel annually to the panhandle to go to some huge revival thing there. But so much sounds like one giant suburb... and then you've got southern Florida, which I would like to see just for the animals. And Cubans.

    I guess.

    I mean, never having been there, I can only relate what I've heard.

    Still, you don't have to live there anymore and it sounds as though you're enjoying your vacation!

  11. It's surprising that you and Dave were not dressed in Disney garb for the trip to Florida. Perhaps you will dress that way on the flight back to London. A Sylvester Shyster outfit would suit you fine.

  12. If I had a gun handy and was the kind of person to deface private or public property, I'd shoot at any sign that is Pro-Life or Jesus Saves. Preaching of all kinds annoys the shit out of me.

  13. If I had a gun handy and was the kind of person to deface private or public property, I'd shoot at any sign that is Pro-Life or Jesus Saves. Preaching of all kinds annoys the shit out of me.