I’m sitting in the Salt Lake City airport by a wall of windows overlooking mountains and snow and planes taking off. It’s a beautiful view. I love the contrast of the peaceful mountains showcasing their strength against the hustle and noise of an airport.
I love airports. I hope I always will. I travel a fair amount and it’s easy to lose the magic and thrill of an experience when it becomes routine.
Airports are full of people who are tired, hungry, running late, excited, anxious, too hot, too cold — the whole spectrum of life. For a people watcher, it’s a goldmine.
But what I think I love most is that airports represent two of my favorite feelings: the feeling of going somewhere new and the feeling of coming home.
Travel exposes you to people and art and beliefs and smells (uggghh) and styles and manners and all sorts of new opportunities. It’s a strange thing, for me at least, to love home as intensely as I do and yet at the same time love being in places that are so far removed and so opposite of home that it’s comical. (Cue India and cows roaming in streets. Also see point d: smells, listed above).
Boarding starts in the next 5 minutes and I’ll be winging my way through the Arctic Blast to Vancouver. I’m not exactly BFF with cold weather so…. fingers crosssed.
You may have noticed the blog came to a sudden halt. Two weeks ago, my dad suddenly and unexpectedly died. And when I say suddenly, I mean it in every sense of the word. The Lord just took him home, right in the middle of an afternoon run. One second he was here and the next he was gone. In an instant. It was that sudden.
Needless to say, I haven’t had the words or the energy or even the motivation to write. It’s a strange thing, death. My dad brought joy and smiles and a giant Santa Claus belly laugh wherever he went and suddenly trying to keep up a blog that attempts to bring joy, smiles, and laughter into your life feels, well, wrong.
I know it’s not. I know he wants all of us to keep on living because he’s actually more alive now in Heaven than he ever was on earth. And that’s hard to believe because my dad knew how to live.
I promise to tell you more about him. I want you to know him. I want you to know this incredible man who loved everyone, served everyone, and left a legacy wider and deeper than I could have ever imagined.
But for now, I’m focusing on the task in front of me. In this case, it’s a 30+ hour flight to Manila, Philippines on the hippie flight to L.A. I’ve never seen so many vegans on a Delta flight in my life. The couple next to me have their shoes off, feet up on the bulkhead, and are traveling with one of the three large poodles I saw at the checkin counter. And we nearly had to turn the plane around because a girl with a cast was sitting on the exit row.
Two universal truths exist in this world: (1) no one can stop eating in the middle of a can of Pringles and (2) not all airline seats are created equal.
This afternoon I faced, yet again, this game of Russian roulette otherwise known as choosing a seat on an international flight.
With my Medallion status on Delta, more seat options are available to me. (All in economy! Don’t have any fancy ideas that I am eating caviar and drinking champagne on these trips. I’m chewing peanuts and stewed tomatoes with the rest of the cabin).
But with the increase of seat options comes an increase in unknown variables. And with a 15 hour leg, those variables become pretty important.
Case in point: Do I choose the economy comfort bulkhead seat with amazing legroom and power (to charge devices) but is the dreaded middle seat? Or do I choose the exit row with full legroom but no power and is further back in the plane? Or do I choose the exit row window (cold) with no person in front of me (full legroom) and (currently) an empty seat beside me, but no power and further back?
I’m putting the question to you, dear readers. You can choose any seat in green, blue, or white. A grey seat means that is taken. What would you pick?
I’m a big believer that Christmas is the very best time of the year. But when your Facebook feed is loaded with photos of cabins and snow and chopping down the perfect tree, a Florida Christmas can seem downright pitiful.
So as a Floridian (an Orlandoan!) through and through, I’m here to share my favorite things to do in Orlando at Christmastime!
My dad loves this event. You pretty much have to be in line at least 2 hours early just to get a seat, but it’s worth it. The price is right (free with park admission – another reason to be a Florida Resident Disney passholder!) and the music and orchestra is outstanding. They sing Christmas carols and read the Christmas story from Luke 2. I’ve never been much of a choir robe girl but I do love me some Doogie Howser, so I always make a point to go when Neil Patrick Harris is the guest narrator. This year’s lineup includes Whoopie Goldberg, Ashley Judd, Sigourney Weaver and check out the list for more.
A little tip: it’s outside seating and when the wind picks up off the lake, it gets cold! Last night my mom brought a blanket (which you KNOW I stole) and we shared a warm chocolate chip cookie and sipped on hot chocolate during the show.
Last year we did the Winter Garden Christmas Parade which is also known as the parade that never ends. Three HOURS later we were still waiting on Santa. Finding parking at the Winter Park Christmas Parade is less than fun but you won’t want to poke your eyes out with candy canes before the parade is over, so really, pick your poison. If you’re looking for a hometown Christmas parade, this one is for you.
Fun fact: When I was an elementary school cheerleader (gasp) I marched in the Winter Park parade every year, pom poms on the shoes and all.
Light Up (fill in the blank)
I prefer small town events, so last Friday night was Light Up Windermere. Pretty much the whole town stands in the middle of Main Street and on the Mayor’s count of three everyone says “Light Up Windermere” and some little elf plugs in the lights and next thing you know the Christmas tree, Town Hall, and all the street lights are twinkling in the name of Christmas cheer. It’s cute, it made the front page of the local paper, and I didn’t have to face any parking nightmares because I could walk there.
There’s Light Up UCF for ice skating, Light Up Lake Hart for a work party, Light Up Winter Park — pretty much if there is a tree and an outlet, you can guarantee there will be a Light Up event in your local Orlando neighborhood.
Windermere Boat Parade
This event always sounds better in my mind than how it plays out. The night goes something like this: get a thermos of hot chocolate, load up with gloves, blankets, hats, jackets. Get on a boat. Sail? Float? (Fill in the boating term ______) to the middle of the lake. Watch the sunset. Just as soon as all the house lights come on, desperately need to go the bathroom because of all the hot chocolate and cold and wind from being in the middle of a lake and bounce miserably until you can get to shore at which point you remember that you forgot to pack a flashlight and you have to walk home in the dark in a town where coyotes run free. Merry Christmas.
Want the Magic of Disney without the Disney prices? Many of the Disney hotels have larger than life Gingerbread houses that you can see for free. You can even make a game of it by looking for Hidden Mickeys within the gingerbread design. Check out all the locations! (link)
Millions of lights (eek!). Millions of people (ugh) It’s the closest I am ever going to get to Times Square on New Years’ Eve (if there is such a thing as please-let-this-never-happen-to-me-bucket-list, Times Square on New Years Eve would top the list). But it’s a great way to get some bright Christmas cheer, and if you want to make a game of it, try to see how many Hidden Mickeys you can find. And if the whole thing is too much for you, you can buy spiked eggnog on the street.
I think I would be an Orlando heretic if I didn’t post about The Singing Christmas Trees. Confession: I don’t think I have been in about 7 years. But prior to that, my Grandaddy would buy up two rows full every year and give tickets away to everyone including the Perkins waitress. And then he would buy the DVD and prior to that the VHS (see? I go way back). And then we would re-watch the Singing Christmas trees all.year.long. I have put in my time. It’s probably good. It’s probably great. I just haven’t quite yet mustered up the holly jolly to go back. (see above note on choirs).
Orlando has so much to offer! Here are more (some I’ve never done):
I spent last week in Canada because when I agreed to go on this trip I forgot to look at the calendar. It’s November. In Canada. The only place colder than November in Canada is my heart when Delta doesn’t give me the upgrade on a flight from Orlando to Atlanta. (Yes, I tweeted my outrage).
Believe it or not, I survived the cold and didn’t even have to wear all the layers I brought. I was decked out in Goodlwill’s finest and got to wear my fabulous black coat and for a Florida girl, that’s reason enough to travel.
Let’s talk about Canada.
For my ‘merican readers, lean close. Here’s a little bit of what they never taught you in history class.
Canada is located north of North Dakota. That means, when you look at a globe, there actually is something on top of the United States and people actually live there. If you talk to a Canadian, they will call that middle area of their country the plains. This may sound funny to you because we think of the plains as Nebraska or Oklahoma or pretty much anywhere with plaid shirts and a tornado that took sweet Dorothy’s house away.
Canada is book-end by Vancouver to the west (home of the 2010 Winter Olympics) and Toronto to the east. (this is actually not true. I have only been to Vancouver and Toronto, so these are my only reference points. But this is how Americans are taught to understand geography).
Prince Edward Island is actually further east than Toronto. Prince Edward Island has topped my travel bucket list since I was 7 years old and I didn’t even know what a bucket list was. The island has the Lake of Shining Waters and is home to none other than Anne of Green Gables and Gilbert Blythe. I could watch Anne of Green Gables and eat butter popcorn every day of my life and die a very happy girl.
Back to Toronto. Suits is filmed there and my man Patrick Adams is from the city and why I did not connect these dots ahead of time and arrange for a drive-by is beyond me. To compensate I started a Pinterest fan board.
You’re still reading this. I’m impressed. If you are male and made it past Anne of Green Gables and my crush on a sleeve-rolling, satchel wearing, smart boy who doesn’t actually exist in real life, I salute you. I think I owe you something about now, like a good Chuck Norris joke. The joke’s on me because I had to google “the name of that guy in all the jokes” because I couldn’t remember Chuck Norris’ name.
Remember that post about how traveling inspires me to write? Lies. All lies. I basically posted once. Nevertheless, I’m back from a fabulous ten days in Budapest, Prague, and Vienna.
Writing after a trip is a lot like writing after I’ve read a book. It’s borderline impossible. Words somehow fail to capture the experience of travel. That, or I’m just lazy.
But here I am — coffee in hand, dog in my lap, soft carpet under my feet, piles of dirty laundry strewn about the living room. Ahh, the joys of returning home.
Let’s talk Budapest.
Budapest is the capital city of Hungary, a country known for large meals with bread and paprika. Behind me in the picture above is the Danube River and the beautiful Chain Bridge. It’s actually not that pretty in the photo, but that’s because it’s daytime. Budapest is rather gray and drab during the day. But at night, the city comes alive with lights and beauty. It’s stunning. Hands down, the most beautiful city I have ever seen (take that, Paris).
I would have more photos to share, but it’s a royal pain in the schnitzel to get them formatted correctly on this site. But I’ll post the full album on my EverydayKarin Facebook page, so head on over there to see all the good stuff. And if you haven’t already, go ahead and Like it! I promise not to spam you with motivational photos every day.
Back on track. I’m enduring an unforseen coffee shortage and in serious need of food that is not meant to sustain you during a hurricane or a nuclear attack, so the brain is not operating at full capacity.
Speaking of coffee, the first day I ordered coffee with cream. The server promptly returned with a coffee pot and a bowl of whipped cream fit for Willy Wonka himself. And then I spilled the coffee down my jeans. If you look closely at the photos, you can see the stains. And now I can add to my list of travel necessities: dark wash jeans.
Clearly this post is spiraling down and in need of rescue. And isn’t telling stories about a trip better as a conversation among friends anyways? So here’s the plan. Will you help me write the next few posts? What are you curious about? If we were chatting over coffee (with a lid, for me), what questions about the trip would you want to ask? Let me know! Leave a comment with your questions and I’ll respond in the next post. Fun, right? Let’s do it!