October 19, 2022

Dateline, Miami Florida

Sorry for the lack of an update yesterday evening but twelve hours of theme park/roller coaster riding and 25,000 steps logged on the pedometer left me with little energy to write yesterday evening when I got in. It was a matter of laying on the bed, putting my feet up, and not moving for several hours. The days (and years) of where I could do that sort of activity unscathed have definitely receded into the past. I have a decade or two more of roller coastering in me yet but I will have to do some pacing of myself going forward. Fortunately, I did not have that much to do today other than drive the five hours to Miami from Orlando and that didn’t need to happen until after I got some decent sleep.

When I decided to stop in Orlando, I realized I would have a day for theme parks and thrill rides should I so choose. What should it be? Disney to see the new Star Wars attractions? Universal to see the expanded Harry Potter land? Sea World or Lego Land or one of the other ones I’ve never been to? I opted for Universal. I was pretty sure I could manage both sides (Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios) in one long day and I remain a huge Harry Potter fan, despite J. K. Rowling’s somewhat uncomfortable politics. I was introduced to Harry Potter when Steve was sick and an old friend sent me the first three books (all that had been published at the time) as a cheer me up sort of present. One of the things I did during the evenings during Steve’s terminal illness was read to him for an hour or two after dinner every night. It was togetherness time. I had always read to him on long car trips while he drove (the days before Audible) and it always reminded me of my childhood when my father, no matter how busy he was, took half an hour or so to read to me from the children’s classics at bedtime.

Harry became a favorite of Steve’s and I read him the first three a couple of times, joined by The Goblet of Fire, when it was published in the year before he died. He did not live long enough to read the others or to see any of the films. The first one opened a few months after his death. Tommy came along a couple of years later and was a big Potter fan. On our first vacation together, The Order of the Phoenix was released and we went out to the late lamented Times Square Virgin megastore at midnight to buy our copies. We made it a special date night to see each new film as it was released. We saw them in Birmingham, Seattle, and Orlando over the years.

And so, armed with a park hopper pass with an express add on in order to skip the longer lines, I headed to Universal Resort Orlando yesterday morning, arriving at City Walk just after the parks opened for the day. The weather was perfect – sunny, high 70s, no humidity. Warm enough for the water rides but not so warm as to be uncomfortable with running about. By 6 PM, I had hit the majority of the major attractions, had my body shot into the air, corkscrewed, and accelerated in reverse, and was pretty much sated. Thoughts on the Universal parks. Islands of Adventure is better designed that Universal Studios and more fun to spend time in. They have cleverly split the Harry Potter themed areas over both parks (connected with the Hogwarts express) so you have to go to both (for an extra fee) to get the full experience. Their newest ride, Hagrid’s motorcycle ride through his bestiary is great fun and well designed but I still prefer the original Hogwarts ride. The Escape from Gringott’s is fun and the interior design for the queue through Gringott’s bank is marvelous and worth seeing, even if you chicken out and don’t get on the coaster piece at the end The new Velocicoaster which is themed to Jurassic World and the raptors is perhaps the best roller coaster I’ve ever ridden. Dizzying drops. Multiple loops. Incredible theming. Definitely worth the half hour in line.

At dinner time, I met an old friend from Birmingham who has relocated to Orlando and works at one of the hotels on the property. She has an annual pass so we trotted off to Harry Potter land together and had dinner at The Three Broomsticks. Madame Rosmerta was not in evidence but the fish and chips were remarkably good. We caught up on each others lives and then she was kind enough to drive me back to my hotel so I didn’t have to walk that last mile. Collapse followed as mentioned above.

This morning, after sleeping in, I pointed Hope southward on the Florida turnpike towards Miami. The cold front bedeviling most of the US has arrived to Florida. It was in the low 50s in Orlando this morning, didn’t get much about 65 all day and has been raining off and on. Rain and Florida interstates are not the best combination so I did not make great time but eventually arrived in South Miami to spend a few days with one of my oldest friends, having been close since my freshman year of college, who teaches at the University of Miami law school and has for more than thirty years. We try to spend some time together every few years to catch up on life. I have no agenda for the next couple of days with him. He teaches in the mornings but we’ll come up with something to do in the afternoons, even if it’s just conversation. He’s one of the few people I know that can outdo me in the pun department and I’ll have to brush up my rusty skills.

I’ll do some reading up on covid variants and vaccine rates and other pandemic news in the next day or so and will update y’all on that front either tomorrow or the day after. In the meantime, I’m in the mood to wax poetic on any of the elder care issues I haven’t tackled yet. Requests are taken by sliding into my DMs as the kids say.

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