Florida 2013: Cracker Barrel

I added a wordpress app to my Smartphone and decided to test drive this bad boy at St. Augustine’s Cracker Barrel (I’m a rebel like that), seeing that my Mom and sisters are visiting the local outlets and the intermitent Floridian deluges are stoppering any attempt to sightsee the city’s copious forts and gator farms. Soooo … I’m posting tons of photos over the next several weeks in part because Disney saps the life out of you but mostly because I’m rather lazy writer. Thus, if you’ve developed a healthy lassitude to the written word, enjoy! If not, well read War and Peace or better yet my other blog posts – some are even longer than a Russian novel so go crazy you kooky sesquipedalian.

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Every visit to Cracker Barrel deja vu haunts you. We ate at three of these places and the wild assortment of candy, talking toy tucans, and 'I love Granny' t-shirts look the same regardless of zip code.

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Universal-ly Accepted

None of this architecture is ‘necessary,’ per se, serving no other purpose than to tantalize the eye and imagination, and just so, I love every detail. Who wouldn’t want a windmill spinning atop their house, or a clam-powered faucet?

Details are important.  Any fan of H.G. Wells’ science-fiction will inform you that ignoring the little things in life can prove fatal . . . you know, because all the aliens died in Wells’ novel War of the Worlds . . . because they never considered Earth’s micro-organisms . . . and because of this ‘tiny’ oversight of these microbes the space invaders ended up a ‘little’ dead . . . which is to say ‘very.’

Which brings me to my second point: subtlety.  Subtlety is also a very important quality, especially in writing.  However, in theme parks, the subtle touch is best left outside the gates, along with moderation and unapproved coolers.  In a well-designed theme park, the act of walking or waiting should prove as entertaining as the rides themselves, engaging the imagination as well as the senses.  At the risk of sounding like a dork, I enjoy the lure of another world, of the fantasy.  To quote John Hammond: “I’m not talking about rides.  Everyone has rides.” Continue reading

Wage and War

Like a femme fatale, the curves here proved deadly.

The 3rd Annual Ice Cream Invitational.  Every summer in Disney, Rodney and Ryan compete with Shannon and ‘yours truly’ in a sacred triathlon that tests the very limits of our body, our heart, and — dare I say — our sanity, a contest fit for gladiators (American or otherwise).  The contest consisted of three rounds.  The first grueling challenge sets brother against brother on the miniature golf course, and then the fiery hell of the tennis court . . .

Wait, why are you rolling your eyes?  Seriously, whatever you THINK you know about miniature golf, forget it.  Disney’s Fantasia Fairways is a theme park asylum covered in undulating green felt, reminding you why men have loved and cursed the bloody game for centuries.  No cartoon castles litter the course.  The pathway to the hole rises and falls like waves on a storm-tossed sea so there’s no ‘trick’ or ‘perfect putt’ to secure your hole in one . . . just luck and the pity of God.  This was to be our battlefield — our Ragnarok, some may say days from now — and waiting for us at the end, a rich waffle cone, filled with soft-serve and seasoned with the blood and tears of our enemies. Continue reading

Pit Stop

Okay, sooooo . . .  for the next week or so the Fam and I will be traversing through Orlando and Disney, sowing havoc in our wake like a pretty girl at an anime convention.  During this interim, I’m temporarily transforming the Pub into a photoblog, detailing our adventures like a children’s picture book with as few ‘writing’ as I can manage.  For some of you, who never really enjoyed ‘reading’ anyway (I’m looking at you Brigid), this will prove a chance to visit my blog again; for others, a chance to criticize my poor photography skills.

The take-home message: everyone wins. Continue reading

Packing for Success

Stack of BooksOur yearly sojourn to Florida launches in about two weeks.  Mom and the girls are already mapping out new summer wardrobes with the fervor of gold-greedy conquistadors: new shoes, dresses, skirts, blouses, jeans, sandals and even the accursed swimsuits.  The flotsam of many a shopping excursion litter their rooms, beds, and dressers like giant jigsaw pieces, waiting to be folded, twisted and rolled into a small leather case.   After two weeks, they scamper through the halls, racing from room to room, to stuff the last tube of toothpaste, or hair gel, or razor, or shampoo. Once that’s finished, I’ll hear the screams and shouts for headphones, magazines, iPods, iPads, phones, computers, pillows, chargers, gum, water, snacks, and DVDs to ease the long drive, most of which will be spent sleeping.  Somehow during this final stage, the men of the household are inevitably blamed for moving too slow, not helping, or not panicking enough for the girls’ taste.  Yet for the boys, an hour before departure proves more than enough time to stuff underwear, socks, and the untouched dregs of the dresser drawers into a duffel, download plane tickets, and depart.  Done. Continue reading

Dear Ron, Thanks for the Ice Cream!

“So Bree, are you excited about Florida?”

“OHMYGOSH, IamSOOOready,” my little sister screamed, practically hurling her book to the floor of the car.  “Can’t wait.  Can’t wait to be done with school, with homework, with teachers, with Maryland.  All of it.”

“Amen,” I nodded.  The past few weeks at work had tested most of the school’s parents, students and teachers to the breaking point.  Rumors of our middle school closing due to low attendance had filtered through the hallways and classrooms like an airborne plague.  Only seven families had reenlisted for the new school year, and the administration had given no indication about the school’s survival to anyone, postponing any announcements until they could reevaluate their financial situation (i.e. drink heavily and pray their Powerball tickets pay out).  The kids, like sharks, sensed the blood in the water and were whipped into a frenzy.  Most in fact were already leaving for other schools and so what was the purpose of behaving when discipline no longer mattered? Continue reading

Seashells and Other Intimate Apparel

“All I’m saying is that any guy my age would . . . be attracted to her seashells.”

Kevin walked ahead of us along the path that bordered the canal. In the dark, none of us managed to catch a smile, just the hint of embarrassed laughter, which of course told us he was serious.  We had just left Fantasmic, one of Disney World’s late-night shows, where Mickey Mouse battles the forces of evil equipped with geysers, fireworks and pyrotechnics.  It’s a show designed for kids.   Yet amid the visual distractions and explosions, viewers searching for fragments of story would be better tested finding a scrap of personality from Disney’s main mouse.

“I ask you,” Kev asked afterwards.  “When’s the last time you laughed at a Mickey cartoon, huh?  That’s right.  Never.  During the show, did anyone root for the ‘hero?'” Continue reading