Odyssey in Orlando

Picture by Caleb

It was just another day in April when our soon-to-be roommates would send an invite to Warped Tour Orlando with them. This would give us 14 weeks to plan the concert set for July 29 and two weeks prior we were still unsure of what we were doing and how many nights we were staying in “that hotel in Kissimmee that Amanda had reserved.”

July 28, as we begin to pack for the trip, we learn we will be staying at the Seralago Hotel. We grabbed a change of clothes, toothbrushes, the dogs and their food, water bottles, and my camera kit, and consider ourselves ready to go. We make a pick-up at Mellow Mushroom for a large Magical Mystery Tour (pesto and jalapeño with feta) pizza and six Parmesan pretzels and are on the road at 2:30pm.

We had considered theme parks, state parks, and water parks. I had my mind set on Blue Man Group (BMG); online tickets are $162 with tax, military tickets are $96 sans tax, and the college student tickets are $63.90 with tax (all for two people). I called to check for availability and was told that to get the discounted tickets I would have to buy them directly from the Box Office.

We were heading west on I-4 and soon traffic began to build. We heard on the radio that there had been an accident. We saw traffic slowing east bound and soon I thought we had passed the reason for the delay. I was mistaken. The exit we were supposed to take was blocked by emergency vehicles investigating a ’03 Mitsubishi that had slammed into the overpass causing the vehicle to nosedive the earth and burst into flames.

We got to the hotel shortly before 6:00pm and soon were enjoying the A/C of our double twin-bed pet friendly room, #773. I called the box office and they were sold out of student tickets for the evening. We went for chocolates and candy at Orange World and sat in the room watching adult cartoons for the rest of the night.

Up at 7:00am, a shower, refill water bottles, pizza for breakfast, walk and feed dogs, and off we go. The Central Florida Fairgrounds, where the Warped Tour was taking place, was about 20 miles away, it took us awhile to get there. Traffic in Orlando is time-consuming and stressful, but we were off to a good start for the day and nothing was going to ruin that. We turned down what seemed a desolate road only to find that we were somewhat late in our arrival at 9:13am when the gates were not to open until 11:30am. We found a 1/4-mile-line of people and an already full parking lot. There were kids pointing which way to drive and they pointed us right out of the park.

We made a u-turn at the light and found a staff member helping direct traffic, followed by a bearded middle-aged man asking to buy tickets. I have never done this before but I thought that I could haggle as good as anyone else. He was willing to give me $25 for both when I paid $45 for each. I said I would think about it as we aimed for a parking spot. I wasn’t out of the car before the man returned, ready to buy them – sold for $60. Upon arrival I must admit that I was scared off by all the emo kids and my thoughts of their drunken antics. I might have been more inclined to stay for the show if I had known more than one band playing, the Gym Class Heroes. I confirmed more than once with Caleb making sure he wouldn’t regret missing the opportunity to enjoy a new band, he was with me and we were quickly gone.

Now we had the day ahead of us. I anxiously called the BMG number and the student tickets were available at the box office at 10:00am. We arrived at Universal Studios with no difficulty. It was getting directly to the box office that we had a problem with. Caleb was using Tom Tom and the maps on his phone. We drove to a hotel delivery corner, around the block again, and then I pulled into a behind-the-scenes area for directions. I didn’t pull all the way to the gate as I knew I would be turning around. As the guard approached the car I announced that we were lost. He told us that one more circle and a parking garage would have us on the right path to BMG.

The only way to City Walk, Islands of Adventure, and Universal Studios is through a parking garage. Tickets until 6:00pm are $15 and after are $3. Luckily, re-entry was allowed. There was one man in front of us and soon we had our 6:00pm tickets. Caleb was hot and we stopped at Cinnabon for a strawberry milkshake on our way back to the hotel room to get the dogs and head to a park. The only non-child parks close, considering traffic, were too far away. The dogs got walked and got lunch and we decided on the Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) that was north of our destination for the evening.

Traffic was slow again and we almost decided not to go. I am glad we went. The museum had  a military-get-in-free special and asked that we not take pictures. We got lost and found a kids summer art class in progress. We were kindly redirected to the double glass doors behind which are sculptures, paintings, engraved and cut glass, wooden structures, Ancient American pottery, and geometric shapes. We oohed and awed and then came to the children do-it-yourself-art section where Caleb created for me a stamp/crayon drawing and a rubbing of a stone.

Caleb and his pottery art at the OMA

There is a small room dedicated to Hasan Elahi and his latest installation – Concordance. Getting off a flight he was stopped by the FBI and added to their terrorist watch list. As a frequent flyer, logging over 70,000 air miles a year, he began taking pictures and using GPS to track his every move in hopes of keeping himself out of Guantanamo Bay by a FBI mistake. Anyways, it was all the pictures of his food that made me hungry. We found a Pho 88 Restaurant where I could have Bún Xào Cà Ri (curry noodles). That’s what I was in the mood for. We asked our waitress if we could buy some of the hot sauce and she kindly told us that there was a market either direction we went from the restaurant.

She wasn’t kidding; as far as the eye could see were restaurants and markets. Somehow we had ended up in Little Vietnam, though not sure of the official name. Inside the Tien Hung Market, full of aisles of Asian cuisine, we decide against the hot sauce that we can get at home and instead pick up some green jackfruit and bamboo shoots. I would have gone on a shopping spree but we had no cooler and a bad seal on the fridge in our hotel room.

We hit traffic at 4:00pm and the doors open at 5:30pm. It is only 4:30pm when we get to City Walk, so we head to Hard Rock Cafe Orlando to wait. I take pictures of the mural, rotating car, and guitars. There is a couple with champagne getting anyone willing to take their picture. At 5:00pm it is off to wait in line. I enjoy listening to the European English accent of the families sitting next to us while we wait the five minutes before the doors open. Inside is already a tour group of all ages wearing blue Disney shirts that would prove to be disappointing.

Earlier in the Cafe, a girl had come to the bar and ordered something with lemon juice. I hear the bartender advise her against it and then telling the girl, “I don’t speak Spanish.” The girl orders an orange juice for some $3 in an eight ounce glass. The others in her group are quite loud, rude, and pushy. We are in our seats Row N 36 & 37 and take some pre-show pictures as none are allowed during. A staff member comes up to the man behind us with a Toblerone bar and asks that he hold it until one of the Blue Men grab it during the show; my excitement is building.

There are little bronze-looking bodies on either side of the stage with their booties showing and I take some pictures. Later these booties will be dancing under strobe lights. The people in front put on their plastic ponchos in case of flying paint. On the wall are message LED signs that are incorporated into the show, “Please take a moment to turn off all palm pilots, pagers, gameboys, cell phones, laser pointers, laptops, and portable fax machines…Thank You.” The signs will go on to announce a birthday, a headache, and someone’s Facebook update status.

Bronze Bootie Dancers

Onto the second act after the paint and drumming. There was a bag of marshmallows and a gum-ball machine. A guy in the middle to throw and a guy on either side to catch. One catches a gum-ball, full of paint, and decorates a canvas. The other guy, unknowingly, catches a marshmallow and attempts to decorate a canvas. The competition ends with paint all over one canvas and a marshmallow stack of at least 18, that was built in the guys mouth, stuck to another with a price tag of $4,000. If you can’t tell, the picture above is me with the painted canvas. I thought about wanting it during the show, but was sure that someone else would claim it. Also, I was unsure of the asking price; more on this later.

The show would continue with a Cap’n Crunch musical, a lesson on how to be a rock star, and a system that connects even the most anti-social of all people – plumbing. A couple arrived late into the show and they announced it with horns, lights, and a special announcer. The show is very audience-oriented. The Toblerone was tossed by a small boy, using three pieces of chocolate, making one, into the mouth of a Blue Man. They invited a girl on stage to share a Twinkie with them; a boy on stage to be thrown, covered in paint, against a canvas; three people on stage to pull on their ears; and a man, to get a closer look at the audience, by peering down his throat.

There was a live band in boxes above the stage in black-light costumes. The Blue Men beat on barrels with paint splashing and different pipes for different sounds. The LED signs were used again and soon turned into swords for combat and then the fighters outfits began a light show of their own. They did a skit with their heads in a TV, let some colored pipe (like foam pool-noodles) hang from the ceiling, and then began to string toilet paper over the audience.

There was so much energy in the room and it continued into the hallways after the hour and 45 minute show. Many people poured through the exit doors and then began to pack in around the two guys that were standing – picture ready. I took lots of pictures with all the other people posing as we patiently waited our turn. A staff member came out to help  get the Blue Men backstage to get ready for the next show. He took our picture with one of the Blue guys and then Caleb was ready to go. As we headed for the door I spun around quickly and jogged towards the staff member before he disappeared.

I asked if the picture made during the show was for sale. He looked over my shoulder towards the soda and shirts concession area and answered my question. I made my way over and saw a lot of painted glass for display-only. Then I looked behind the sales agent on the counter and there it was – on its little stand with a sign beside it with the sale price. I was so amazed that someone else had not beat me to it and that the price was what I had told Caleb I would be most willing to pay.

he built a marshmallow tower (in his mouth)

Jessica, Blue Man, Caleb

The sticker on the bottom is over a blue thumbprint with the words BMG Used and Approved on it. The sales agent told me it would take hours to dry (at least 12 to be exact) and a guy handed me the painting with such a dull expression on his face along with a Disney bag to put it in later. As soon as it was in my hands, a large smile spread across my face. The picture attracted the attention of some who were probably thinking to themselves, “Why didn’t I get that?”

I couldn’t think about anything except getting the painting to a safe place. I carried it all the way to the hotel room and placed it above the hangers and away from dog paws and potential accidents. I love art; especially affordable art that I can fit on tiny apartment walls. I wanted to brag to someone and didn’t feel like Facebook and I had to call my Dad back anyways. I called my parents and excitedly told them about my painting. Woo-Hoo! After 48 minutes on the phone between the both of them, I was ready to join my snoring husband. Well, he was only napping because he knew it would be a while.

Caleb would then describe his situation to our roommates via text that we was half-dressed, drinking beer, and watching cartoons. I love that we don’t watch TV because it makes watching vacation brain-rot all the more exciting. Most people would probably wonder why then do we own a projector; because when we do watch movies, we like to watch them life-size. It also cuts down on theater costs. Also note, though that what we usually consider a vacation is: a lack of TV, cell phones, computers, and loads of tourists.

The ride home would consist of Vietnamese and pizza leftovers for breakfast and a stop at Wekiwa Springs State Park. I forgot to mention above that with our lack of packing we forgot to bring swimsuits or a lot of other things for that matter. There would be no swimming in the hotel hot tub and no swimming in front of 40 families at the spring with no clothing-optional-sign posted. We parked somewhere and took to the trees. When we were faced with the option of the road back or more trees a tick quickly chose for us.

We would sweat our way back on the road and then drive the rest of the way home. Caleb loves our planning skills (or lack there of) for our trips. I am somewhat of a spontaneous person, so as long as some of the things I want to do might be available, I am fine with just guessing the rest as we go. I look forward to many more trips that go unplanned and work out so well in our favor. And as the old saying goes, “As long as Jessica is happy, Caleb and the dogs are too!”

This entry was posted in Art, Entertainment, Places and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Odyssey in Orlando

  1. John Wise says:

    Very cool. It’s nice seeing you so inspired and ready to take advantage of opportunities others fail to see in their hesitation to be bold. In just little more than a dozen blog entries, you also seem to be becoming comfortable with your blog writing voice. I’m looking forward to your next thousand entries. Post more photos.


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