My cousin Paul graduated from FSU on April 29th, and my aunt decided to invite the family down to Florida to celebrate his accomplishment. Paul received his pre-med degree and has also been accepted into a chiropractic college in Florida, which he will start this fall. He has a few more years of school and practice, but until then we celebrate!
The celebration officially started on May 2nd, but brother and I weren't able to join everyone until the evening of the 5th. In total there were 25 of us running around FL. Aunt Laura, Uncle Dan, Joe, Jessie, Logan, Dave, Steven, Bang, Aunt Flora, Flora, Mark, Gramps, and Josie all flew down from CT. Aunt Trisha had booked a suite and numerous hotel rooms at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Studios from Friday - Sunday. Sunday evening we were spending at mom and Trisha's houses until we all had flights back North around the same time Monday evening.
Mom picked us up from the airport Thursday night and when we got to her house she had chicken divan ready for us to eat :) It was perfectly warm and delicious. We went to bed relatively late, which made for a bit of a later start Friday morning. Once we had everyone up Saturday morning, packed, and ready we caravaned up to Orlando. The weather was overcast but the temperature was perfect. And that's really rare for Florida. The entire weekend ended up being sunny and warm and NOT humid - amazing! It did rain during the drive and for the first few hours we were at the hotel. But eventually it cleared and we all geared up in our bathing suits to spend the day by the pool. Mom had rented a cabana for the day, so the older generation relaxed in the shaded cabana and ordered food and drinks while the rest of us ran around and enjoyed the pool. The pool had a water slide that was fast and fun. It was Grams birthday so that night we had a group dinner and a cake to celebrate. The boys went out on the town to celebrate, read get extremely drunk, and I hung out with everyone else back in the suite. Unfortunately, both mom and Nikki weren't feeling well that night. Nikki was feeling much better in the morning, however mom was really sick the night before. So sick in fact, that I ended up sleeping in the suite. Mom ended up having to skip the day at the park and recover from her stomach bug :( Half way throughout the day, aunt Laura started feeling sick and ended up spending the rest of the day/night sick in her room. Luckily, it was only those two who were incredibly sick and it passed quickly. We were worried it would make its way through our group, but we were spared! (and it's always someone in my room who gets sick, always. There were of course others who threw up... but that was as a result of other means :P)
Since Trisha and the kids go to the parks often, she knew exactly which rides to hit. The early morning group was Trisha, Maggie, Connor, Gramps, Josie, Jessie, Joe, Logan, Nikki, Laura, Dan, and me. We decided to go to Harry Potter first because, well it's Harry Potter! That and the main attraction ride there is incredibly motion sensitive, so it's imperative to ride first before eating/drinking anything. It was SO neat, but it definitely messed with my head and stomach. I wish I wasn't so damn sensitive to motion. We rode a few more rides at Hogwarts before moving through the rest of the park. It was really neat to walk through the Hogsmeade village and see all the shops. We also enjoyed delicious butterbeer, which tasted like cream soda with butterscotch, so yummy. At the end of the day I bought peppermint frogs to enjoy at home (Stacey brought them back with her after her trip last fall and I needed them again!) Jessie, Connor, and Nikki were willing to ride almost anything, so we tended to ride a lot of the rides together.
Eventually the boys woke up and joined our group. We ran into them and dragged them along to the original Universal park. The park was closing earlier than usual because it was reserved for a graduation celebration night for some local high schools, so we didn't have much time to run around the second park. However, the park was really empty and we were able to get onto rides quickly. That and we had fast passes, thanks to staying at the Hard Rock Hotel. Our room keys doubled as fast passes at the park! We rode the Mummy ride twice in a row, it was probably my favorite ride (and one of my favorite movies) Once we had completed our day at the parks we all rounded up for dinner on the Boardwalk. We were all so exhausted from a long day of running around, the night ended up being a bit more low key.
Since we had done everything we wanted at the parks on Saturday, we decided to spend Sunday by the pool instead of a second day at the parks. It was a marvelous decision. It was sunny and gorgeous and we all got to relax and hang out together. Late afternoon we all showered up and caravaned back to Tampa. We had a delicious steak, potato dinner, and spent the rest of the day relaxing, watching movies, and working on a puzzle. Monday we did more of the same and rushed to finish the puzzle. We usually complete at least one puzzle during family trips, but this time we were slackers! Joe and mom put in the most effort, there were as usual, a few stragglers at the end.
Brother and I had an earlier flight, so mom drove us to the airport. Of course there was a delay, which we typically check before we leave but failed to do this time. So mom parked her car and we hung around the airport for a few extra hours. Eventually the rest of the group arrived and we all ran around the airport until finally it was time to board the plane and head back to DC. Since we got arrived home a few hours later than planned, Keila was awesome enough to pick us up all the way at BWI (in her crayon car) and drive us home. We managed to get a little lost in DC, it's not really possible to explain how this happened, it just did. But we made it back safely after a typical family affair. We fully celebrated Paul's graduation, thank you for being so smart and finishing your degree so we could all play and celebrate in Florida - on Trisha's dime ;) Congrats Baby Paul!!