2021 Florida Trip - Arriving

Our 2021 Florida Trip Report continues with the second day of our adventures. After spending most of the day in the car on the previous day, we were getting close to our destination…

Saturday, June 5

Because we had driven farther than usual the day before, we did not need to get up all that early. But we also wanted breakfast, and we also wanted to get on the road and reach our destination. So we did not sleep too late, either.

After we were all up and ready, we went down to the lobby for breakfast, not knowing for certain what we might find. Each hotel has handled breakfast differently during the pandemic, so it has been interesting to see how each one is. In the lobby, we found a line with several people ahead of us. This hotel serves each guest one by one, which obviously takes a little time. After admiring more of the horse decor in the lobby and discussing our options, we decided to skip the hotel breakfast because of the line, and we went back to our room to pack up and check out. Checking out was quick and easy, and the hotel staff was quite friendly, which is always nice. Nice people make the world a better place.

But we still needed breakfast, of course. Who goes on vacation to skip a meal? The nearby McDonald’s ended up being our breakfast destination. However, they had a long drive-through line, and you can’t go inside to order. So while Laura put in our order online, we drove to a nearby gas station to fill up the car before heading out. Then we went to one of the online order pick-up parking spaces at McDonald’s and got our food, which was brought out without us having to wait too long. I had gotten a sausage biscuit, so it was easy for me to eat while driving, which got us on the road sooner.

Soon after we left McDonald’s, we turned from Interstate 75 onto Florida’s Turnpike, a toll road. We were ready with our Sunpass prepaid toll thing. And that was a good thing, too. Since the time of our last trip in 2019, they had taken out all of the toll booths on the Turnpike. Now, either you pay with Sunpass, or they bill you from your license plate and charge a processing fee. It was nice to be able to zip right through without even having to slow down for the Sunpass lanes at the old toll booths, but I did feel a little sorry for those who might not have been prepared for this change of no change (or dollars). But it worked fine for us.

Because we were getting there so early, we figured that our condo room would not be ready yet, so we did not even go there to try to check in. Instead, we headed for the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets to do some shopping. We got there around 10:45, which is by far the earliest we have ever arrived in the area. Once again, yay for driving farther than usual the night before. We might have to make that our normal routine.

At the outlet mall, we were delighted to see that we could once again park in the garage, where there were plenty of places to park. On our last visit, they had made the garage into valet parking, and of course, we did not want to pay for that. We do spend money on vacation, but we don’t go looking to spend all the money that we have. This time, however, the garage was wide open and free, and we easily found a space. 

Our main focus was the Disney Character Warehouse outlet store, where we usually find some good things. Due to COVID, they were using a waitlist system for entry. So we gave them my cell phone number so that they would send me a text when it was our time to shop, and then we went off to some of the other stores. As usual, we found things to buy at several of the stores. I was already starting to wonder how we would get everything we bought into the car to go back home in a week, but that was a problem for later. That is to say, we would worry about that when we were going home.

We had shopped everywhere we wanted to, and we were about to give up, but then I got a text that it was our time at the Character Warehouse. So we made our way over there. But Jaylin was wearing a neck gaiter for a mask, saving all of his other masks for later in the week, and they would not let him in with that. So he went and checked out a few other places while Laura and I shopped. And yes, once again, we found some more things, including a few things that I texted Jaylin to see if he might like.

All of that shopping had made us hungry, and it was actually after the traditional time for lunch anyway, so eating was next for us. One of our favorite places back home used to be Qdoba, a burrito place, but all of the locations at home closed several years ago. We seem to have a habit of closing down so many of the places we like to eat. Sorry about that. Anyway, on our last visit to Central Florida, we had found a Qdoba location close to the outlet mall, so that was our lunch stop for this day. It was delicious as usual, and we were able to eat in the restaurant. I had wondered how many restaurants would allow us to dine in, and I was glad that some would. With full stomachs, we headed out to our condo.

The High Point World Resort is a nice, quiet place to stay, even though it is right off US 192 and close to almost everything. If you are looking for a good place to stay, I recommend it! And as I said in the Introduction, they did not pay me to say that. We just like it there.

They were still in pandemic mode there at the High Point Resort, so check-in was a little different. Instead of having us go inside the office, they opened a window and talked to us through it while we stood outside. And check-out would be much the same. They were doing all they could to limit contact with guests, which I can completely understand.

We were in our usual room, which is always nice because it feels like home, at least for a week. So we knew right where to go. Everything seemed to be just like it always is there, too, which was nice. There was a message on the phone. But when I checked it, it had been left in March. Was that the last time someone had stayed in our unit? Maybe we could have checked in right when we got to the area! Also, our car appeared to be the only one at our whole building of eight units, and that was true for the whole week. Strange.

We got all of our stuff out of the car and put away. And then we all three sat down on the couch for a bit to relax and enjoy being there. We all ended up taking a bit of an unplanned nap, too. Just another sign that we all really needed this vacation, I guess. 

Laura and Jaylin on the condo couch during our 2021 Florida trip

Jaylin laces up some shoes while Laura reads a book on her Kindle on the condo couch. Believe it or not, this was the only photo that I took on this day. I did get better about taking photos for the rest of the trip, and the following trip report parts will have lots more photos.

Our next task was to get some food to eat for the week. So we got in our car and drove to Target. Walmart is actually closer to the condo, but it is always crazy crowded. Instead, we always drive a little farther to go to Target since they have enough of a grocery selection for what we need for the week and fewer people shopping there. Bread, peanut butter, jelly, bottled water, Coke, chips, and the like were on our list. We also decided to keep supper for this night simple and got a pizza that we could put in the oven back at the condo. That was fine for us since it was getting a little late.

Back at the condo, we ate once the pizza was hot and ready, and it was good for us. We found some episodes of The Big Bang Theory on the television, and we were sufficiently fed and entertained for the evening. Even with our nap, we were all pretty much ready for bed after that.

It was a little unusual not to hear fireworks from the theme parks that night or any night of our trip. But fireworks were another casualty of the pandemic, so we knew not to expect them. They never would keep me awake at night, so I did not mind them, and in fact, I always enjoyed hearing them in past years, just as a reminder of where we were. 

So we drifted off to sleep after a fun first day in Florida, resting up for the upcoming adventures, whatever they might be.

Check back soon for the next day, and check the 2021 Florida Trip page for more of our adventures on this trip, too.

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.