I wasted no time in vacating Louisville after the last day of school. I have accomplished a lot this year and no need to slow up on my glow up for Summer ’17. My new foster daughter and her little sister have lived in Florida, so they were ecstatic about returning to the Sunshine State. We were able to stop off I-75 in Gainesville to link up with their Aunt that they haven’t seen in six years.
Our first stop was the community pool at my parent’s residence. It was closed the entire week of my spring break, so it was nice to enjoy the space again although the hot tub was still undergoing maintenance.
The following morning I ran the Hooters Clearwater Beach 5K. The race started at 10:00 a.m, which meant there was a guarantee to be very hot. Like several runners, I assumed the race would be on the streets around Clearwater. I had butterflies in my stomach when I found out I would be running on a open sand course.
It was not my first time running on the beach. I have trained along the coasts of St. Pete’s and Panama City. Those runs were at the crack of dawn, and at a an easy pace. The trick to running on the beach is to find that happy medium where the sand is not too soft, yet packed enough for proper support.
The interesting part about the Hooters 5K was an optional ocean swim for 1 mile at 9 a.m. Since I am not in swimming shape, I did not attempt the 1 miler so I would not miss the running portion. There were 1/2 and 1/4 mile options, but they were not timed.
The course was down and out. It took forever to hit that 1.5 mile marker. One of my mile splits was 9:00, but I was putting in a 7:00/mile effort. There was much needed water at the turn around. On the way back, the sun beamed my entire left side. One word to describe this race: Brutal.
The first 25 male and female runners received a poker chip to redeem for a framed top finisher award. I don’t know my official results, but I believe I was #6 female overall. My Garmin time was 25:47. Hooters gave out a wing sampler on the deck of their Clearwater Beach location.
Clearwater Beach was super crowded for Memorial Weekend. A lot of police were out issuing citations at $150 per bottle for open containers. We kept it classy and unbothered in our little tent.
All this sun and salt worked up an appetite. We took a walk along the main strip of Mandalay Ave. Something told me to pass by all the touristy stops. We kept walking, and I was so happy to find a Coney. At this point of my post Master Cleanse I was not eating any meat, so I kept it clean with a Greek salad while the girls indulged.
Memorial Day called for grillin’ and chillin’ around the house. My Mom is always whipping up new recipes. It was a slow week for my Dad as he had to wait until Thursday to watch Game 1 of the NBA finals.
On Tuesday, we were in Orlando to drop my car off for routine maintenance. Mercedes-Benz of South Orlando told us they would take us wherever we needed to go. They dropped us off in front of my must stop shopping spot for Florida: the Victoria’s Secret Outlet.
This place gives me life. I spend a minimum of an hour and a half “throwing it in the bag.” I can probably open up a boutique in Louisville from items I have hauled back over the last few years. It is not uncommon to see Ebayers buying entire racks of merchandise for resale.
Again, I didn’t want to have typical vacation food in Orlando. I found Mrs. Potato off the beaten path in Orlando. There is a similar place in Detroit called the Potato Place I used to frequent while going to Wayne State.
For that reason, I did not order the baked potato and tried the Rosti Style. The girls had shrimp and Philly cheese steak, and I tried the chicken catupiry. It did not meet my expectations because the texture of the chicken was overly shredded to the point of having a tuna fish consistency. No Bueno. The captupiry frosting like topping was over kill. Maybe it was my fresh taste buds, but the potato was too salty.
While we were on vacation, Dr. Beach rated Siesta Beach in Sarasota as the #1 beach in America. I told the girls I would make the drive for them to get a taste of the best. I wanted them to be able to compare Siesta Key to Clearwater.
The atmosphere was very laid back. Parking is free, and amenities are more convenient than Clearwater Beach. I had assignments due for my Education Research class, so the lap top was on the beach with me. The ocean was my motivation to get it done. It was pure luck that the girls ran into some friends from Northern, KY.
These photos capture why Siesta Beach is the #1 Beach in America:
My Galaxy Note 4 died, so I picked up the new Galaxy 8. These filters are the closest I will get to Snap Chat or Instagram since I don’t have an account for either.
To wrap up our vacation, the girls and I spent a day at Universal Studio’s new Volcano Bay. I have watched this water theme park being built right off I-4 for several months.
There are three seating options for Volcano Bay. One is first come, first serve lounge chairs. The next option is premium seating that comes with 2 connected loungers that have their own umbrella and lock box. The last option is a cabana. I called several weeks prior to my trip and I was only able to reserve a cabana because someone cancelled. Premium seating is booked through the end of June.
A concierge greeted us at the gate and led us to our private oasis. Food, towels, cold water, an electrical outlet and comfort were in the palm of our hands.
The food was top notch quality and flavor, with very reasonable prices.
The concierge suggested the lava cakes. They were good. The tapioca pudding was very refreshing. The pizza had too much crust on the ends, so only the middle two slices were loaded with toppings. The burger was excellent.
The TapuTapu device is given to all guests as the enter the gates. I was able to order food and reserve rides from my cabana. With out cabana rentals, the rides must be reserved at the actual ride. It will vibrate when it is time to “ride now.”
We went on the blue water slide. It was so much fun!
This is a view of Waturi Beach from the volcano. There is a walk through to lead you to the other side of the park. The wave motions are so fun.
A lot of people had water proof phone pouches. I asked someone to snap our photo:
This photo shows the scariest ride at Volcano Bay. It was closed for most of the day for technical issues. Due to the scheduling with TapuTapu, the ride was closed for anyone who did not reserve a spot. We watched the daring people slide down in a blink of an eye through the plexiglass.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and I cannot wait to go back. I’m sure I left out some details, but it’s on to the next adventure!