What a wonderful week we had!! I was one of two VPP Steering Committee members chosen to attend the VPP Safety and Health Conference down in Orlando and Larry took the week off and we made a vacation out of it! My fellow Steering Committee member and friend, Kathy, went down with us on Sunday and while Kathy and I were at the conference every day, Larry went sightseeing and enjoyed the hotel pool. It was cloudy most of the week, with rain toward the end, thanks to Hurricane Hermine, but we still had a wonderful, unforgettable time and I am grateful to have been allowed this experience. We learned so much! Elizabeth Smart was our closing keynote speaker on Thursday and I sat there on the edge of my seat through her entire speech. What an inspiration that girl is! She has not allowed what happened to her control her life. She's happy, she's married, she's a mother. And she's an activist for child safety. She has gotten the best revenge she could have on her captors. She didn't let them destroy her. I am so proud of her!!
The conference was held at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Conference Center and I joked on Facebook that I have GOT to get out more because that place was like nothing I have ever seen before. It's a TWO MILLION square foot, $400 million resort and convention center with four and a half acres of air-conditioned, glass-covered atriums that have the most beautiful gardens, plants and fish ponds. I was walking around that place with my mouth hanging open. No lie. And let me tell y'all. They "put on the dog" for us and took such good care of us that I was starting to smell a little spoiled by Wednesday.
We registered on Monday and were given nice, insulated bags filled with goodies; Little Debbie cakes, bottles of sea salt rubs, miscellaneous VPP items. We made our own convention badges. This was mine:
And here's me and Kathy on Day One!
We spent the week attending workshops and talking with vendors and collecting freebies to take back to our folks at work. And eating. Lord, did we eat! They served us lunch every day. Steak, chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, veggies, penne pasta, raspberry mousse tortes, key lime pies, salads and yesterday, on our last day, they sent us home with box lunches. Italian with provolone on hoagies, turkey wraps and roast beef on focaccia bread. Sandwiches, pasta salad, an apple, a brownie and a bag of chips. We ate good. TOO good. Ha!
Larry found out about a park in Kissimmee called Lakefront Park that was a nest for Pokemon! We went one night and just racked up! There were probably a hundred people out there, walking around hitting Pokestops and catching Pokemon. Larry caught six new ones! I caught one that I didn't already have but since there was a Pokestop right there at our hotel, I ended up catching 183 Magikarps while we were there. I'm that much closer to evolving my Gyarados!
Larry and I squeezed in a quick trip to Magic Kingdom. We only had time to see one park this time and we both wanted to see Mickey and Minnie and all the gang so we went to Magic Kingdom. It rained off and on but we still had a wonderful time!! Larry had gotten us matching "He's mine" and "She's mine" t-shirts and of course we had to take selfies at Cinderella's castle.
I went to Disney World as a child with Mama and Daddy and Ricky and then Larry's mama and I went in 1997. That's it. I've only been twice. And it's been nearly 20 years since the last time. Everything came right back though! There were a few things I wanted to do again and with Larry. It's A Small World was one of them but it was closed for maintenance. We did ride The Haunted Mansion ride, though, and that was as fun as I remembered. We rode the Mad Tea Party tea cups, sat in on a Monsters, Inc. comedy show and the Hall of Presidents show, saw the Country Bears Jamboree and explored Tom Sawyer's Island. I don't do roller coasters or anything HIGH (fast is okay!) so Larry rode Space Mountain and Splash Mountain by himself. We saw the parade, the fireworks, Mickey, Minnie, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Piglet, Cinderella, Prince Charming, the Fairy Godmother (who told us she LOVED our shirts!), Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Aladdin, Woody and Jessie from Toy Story and Pluto.
No trip to Disney World is complete without that iconic Nestle Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar and by the time I was ready to get one, all of the carts had closed up! I couldn't leave without one!! So we walked and asked and walked and asked (I'm guessing seven miles from the Pokemon eggs that hatched) and it started raining pretty heavily. I was soaked to the bone! Finally, FINALLY, Larry sees a sign that has the ice cream on it!! We walk up and start telling the girls in the shop our story and I said, "LOOK at me!" :) I handed one of them a $10 bill and she took pity on me and just GAVE me an ice cream. There's that Disney hospitality!!
The most pure form of happiness.
We had the best week ever! We got out of there before the hurricane hit and brought so many wonderful memories home with us.
There really is magic in Orlando.