I saw this at the airport and couldn't help but think how appropriate it was right now. I can't tell you how excited--and impatient--I was to be going to Florida again this winter, and so soon after my last trip. It was a treat, to be sure. Its no wonder those of us from the frozen, gloomy north get so giddy about heading to the Sunshine State--for any reason--in the winter or early springtime.
Without going into a lot of detail about the trip here, I'll just say, left in the snow and cold, the usual airport hassles, but they still beat the driving hassles, and the usual flying hassles, with my ears bothering me for days after. But finally we arrived. I was SO impatient to get on the ground and get into the warmth.
Orlando! We were here! I felt like kissing the ground!
But the real fun started when I met up with Shelley and her crew of triathletes from Windsor on Monday afternon. I know Shelley was glad to have another female in the mix.
Shelley and the others were here for a triathlon camp, which I would have really liked to have attended, but finances were a little short after the cruise. But when the opportunity came to come down with my friend Jan, I jumped at the chance, and it coincided perfectly with meeting up with Shelley, who very generously offered me a place to stay for a few days, in addition to the other days I would be there.
The training camp, and the "villa" where Shelley was staying were located in Clermont, about 30 miles from the Orlando airport, and about 25 miles from Disney, to help with locating it. Clermont is in Central Florida. It had been 6 years since Don and I had stayed there, when he did the Great Floridian Ironman triathlon, and 5 years since I had driven through with my kids, so I was familiar with some of the area, but was also amazed at all the growth in the last 5 years. Clermont is booming, but it still remains a partially agricultural area. The other thing that setsClermont apart from the rest of Florida? The HILLS! Unbelievable! Which is exactly why
the USAT National Training Center is located here.
Heading down U.S. 27 from Orlando, I had the windows down in the rental car, soaking up the warmth of the day, and breathing in the intoxicating scent of orange blossoms! It was amazing. I truly don't think people who live in this climate--this paradise--fully appreciate how much we from the frozen north absolutely love this climate!
I arrived at "The Pride," the name of the rental home Shelley was staying at with the others, no thanks to Mapquest, which had neglected to include one important detail for finding where I was going. If I hadn't had the directions Shelley sent me, I'd have ended up in Miami!
I did decide to drive by the Citrus Tower first before stopping to see Shelley, since it had become a focal point when Don and I had stayed there several years ago. The Citrus Tower is the highest point in Florida, and is celebrating its 50th Anniversary! Woo hoo! Its a cheesy tourist attraction, but hey, I had to check it out for old time's sake.
Once I arrived at "The Pride," I could see why it was named for that: the owners had decorated the place with a Lion and Tiger theme. Here are just a few cross-section pictures of the place: 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, large kitchen/living/dining areas with a patio and pool outside off those rooms.
This is a picture of the foyer, and while it might be a little difficult to see the pictures and decor, there is a lion picture on the wall.
I couldn't help but enjoy myself. And the weather was so perfect: mid-80s and sunny! Who could ask for more!
On Tuesday, the triathlon camp members had an early morning run planned and then an open water swim. I went out for my own 45 min. run and later met up with those who didn't want to do a gator swim, as I called it, and instead went to the USAT training center to use the magnificent outdoor pool! It is a great facility, and the pool was fantastic--50 meters long! The temperature was perfect too, under the Central Florida sunshine.
The camp crew had an afternoon bike ride planned and left the Center while I was still finishing my 2000 yard swim. I went back to the villa later, got some lunch, and then finally got a shower!
After that, I decided to start dinner, which was supposed to be lasagna. I thought, if they are supposed to be done by 4/4;30, I had better get started. I whipped that up, made a HUGE salad, and finally put the lasagna on to bake around 5 pm. They still weren't there, but it had to be any time, right?? But, alas, 5:30 came and went, and then 6 pm, and finally they arrived. The problem here was the "girls" were supposed to go shopping at 6:45, so it was a tight schedule when they didn't all arrive until almost 6:30.
(to be continued)