Wintertime Got You Down? Drive As Far South As You Can Before You Hit The Ocean.

Coming home from a great trip always makes me feel more than just a little bipolar. While traveling I am so incredibly happy and centered and when I return back home to my comfortable house with the nice heat and fuzzy bed I am so completely and utterly miserable. Looking over the photos from this 2 week trip in the winter of 2008 with Orion filled me with memories of excitement and wonder, he travels so much better than any child I have ever met. I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to spend this time with him as he grows up.

The first day we went to Smithsonian Museum of American History in DC. There was a hands-on exhibit with Elie Whitney’s cotton gin, and another really great exhibit on inventions that I really enjoyed. The next day we drove to Charleston, SC which had an excellent aquarium there. We went on a behind the scenes to see the Sea Turtle hospital. Had a couple of giant
300lb Loggerheads and some smaller green turtles. We also took a trip to historic Fort Sumter which was a National Monument. It was insanely windy, on the boat on the 2nd story it was hard to stand up. Orion got a Jr. Ranger program completed, I made him do all of it for his homeschooling. It was pretty cool being at the place where the civil war started.

The next day we pushed through to Orlando and made it to Disney Quest to check out the cyberspace mountain exhibit that was the driving force behind getting us down to Florida. We saw the Cirque de Soleil for about $100 for the cheapest seats. The seats were actually pretty good and Orion and I both loved the show. Orion bought a $75 Lego miner set with his own money from a Lego store at Downtown Disney. On the way back to the car Orion said it was his best day ever, having him say that was enough to make the entire trip worthwhile and we were only on day 3!

We drove to Everglades national park and went on multiple hikes. There was lots of wildlife here, some of which are quite acclimated to humans, including lots of alligators and herons. Orion really liked the tiny bright red crab spiders. At night the tiny biting insects come out, Orion enjoyed making mac and cheese and flying my 2 meter kite by the ocean

We woke up early the next morning and did a bunch more hikes at the everglades and went to Biscquane national park. Not much happening there, nice ranger though. Had Mac and Cheese again which Orion didn’t love so much the 2nd time around so I decided to stop making it.

Made it down to Key West finally and went to Pirate Museum and Ripleys believe it or not museum then went on a 3 hr snorkeling trip with 40 other tourists out to the reef. While snorkeling we saw a 7′ long reef shark and I saw a beautiful parrot fish that was almost 3 feet long eating coral. Orion only snorkeled for about 30 minutes before he got cold so I bought him a wetsuit at the dive store.

The following day we went to Bahi state park on the keys but the snorkeling sucked. We then headed to the ‘Theater by the Sea’ shows that Orion really loved. There was a nature walk then a parrot show, dolphin show and sea-lion show and a bottomless boat tour. Orion got kisses from the sea-lion and the dolphin and I just got kisses from just the sea-lion. In the
evening I lost my wallet in the supermarket parking lot which sent me back to the Theater by the Sea show looking frantically for my wallet. I took everything out of the minivan and only went back to the supermarket to have my dad western union me some cash. My dad failed to complete the western union transfer online and after waiting for 45 minutes they told me they had found a wallet at the supermarket earlier in the day. There was $100 missing out of it so I just bailed and gave thanks that I had only canceled one of my Credit cards instead of both. We then watched a great movie on the laptop using Verizon high-speed access and Netflix movies on demand.

We went for a two-hour hike at Big Cypress and then went on the tram for 2 hours and saw tons of wildlife and then went to a very hokey Native American museum where we got to watch a native ‘wrestle’ an alligator. Orion got to hold a baby alligator which was probably the highlight for him for the whole trip. We ate dinner at Little Caesars, and it was really tasty. Went to a mall, Orion bought Rune Factory, a DS game with his own money and we slept on the Walmart parking lot, which was a nice lot except the street cleaner and the airplanes directly overhead.

At Ft Lauderdale we went to Jungle Island, which was expensive but fun. Orion got to bottle feed a baby kangaroo. They had lots of big and little cats and they let you feed the fish and the large birds which Orion particularly enjoyed. Also went to a small science center planetarium combo that was pretty cool. It was Orion’s first planetarium visit. Got parking ticket at 2:00 AM in the morning, decided to ignore it and sleep in the car on the street all night anyway. Orion is starting to get fatigued from travelling.

The next morning we walked around Ft Lauderdale a bit then went to a great science center in Fort Lauderdale and a not so great one in West Palm Beach. Then we went to blue man group show in Orlando. They were funny and artistically inspiring but a little too mainstream and their show supported the American message of overconsumption that I have such a hard time with. At the end of the show they toilet papered the crowd which felt more than a little weird. I am glad I went, and parts of it were very funny and reminded me a lot of burning man. Orion absolutely loved it.

The last real day of traveling we went to a Science center at Daytona Beach which was pretty weak but kept Orion entertained for about 2.5 hrs. I tried to go kite boarding at Daytona Beach, winds were offshore and sucky, The S2 12 was a handful, after 15 minutes of riding I came in and broke my favorite kiteboard on a big rock. Better the board than me. I got pissy about the kite board and started driving home. Next morning in Georgia a tenant of mine called and pipes had frozen in my house so I drove non-stop straight home 17 hrs straight. I was pretty discombobulated when I finally got back.

It was a hard trip because I felt so centered and fulfilled while traveling. While on the road my recent separation with Sun did not distress me, neither did the steady stream of customers slowly filtering out of my life due to lack of availability on my part. A small part of me does not want to let anything go, failed relationships, customers, and especially Orion but a bigger part of me recognizes this attachment as the root of most of the suffering in my life. I have so much in my life to be grateful for, and that is what I want to hold onto, just that feeling of gratitude and a commitment of living a life of service to others.

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