Disney Vacation Club – Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

After spending a bajillion dollars on Disney vacations over the years, we finally wised up and joined the Disney Vacation Club.

Disney Vacation Club locations

Disney Vacation Club is kind of like a timeshare but, rather than buying specific weeks at a specific location, members buy points which can be used anytime at a variety of Disney resorts and hundreds of non-Disney properties.

Welcome home

Even with a pretty generous carryover policy, points do have an expiration date. Recently, Peter and I found ourselves with a handful of points that had reached the point of “use it or lose it”.

Reviewing our options and taking into consideration that we already have reservations for an upcoming trip to Walt Disney World with the entire family, Peter suggested a getaway to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort on Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

Disney's Vero Beach Resort

A little back story…

I am a native Floridian; born in St. Petersburg. In my youth, the city was known as the retirement capital of the world. The downtown streets rolled up at 4pm to allow everyone to get in line for the early-bird dinner at Morrison’s Cafeteria.

Today, downtown St. Pete is swanky-town where you can pay a cool million for a condo with a view of the water and a plethora of museums, galleries and hip restaurants at your doorstep.

But I digress.

The point is, back when I was growing up and the state’s population was largely concentrated on the two coasts with a whole lot of nothing but orange groves in the middle, we Floridians felt a strong affinity for our locale.

An East Coast – West Coast thing.

Florida's Best Coast

There was no ambivalence. You were “Ft. Myers” or “Ft. Lauderdale” – not both.

I will always be a true-blue, loyal Gulf Coast gal.

The West Coast, the Best Coast.

So, when Peter suggested vacationing on Florida’s EAST Coast I was not immediately on board.

Old misconceptions die hard.

But, this is Disney after all, so I decided that I could cope. Look at me, walking in the flip flops of others to understand our differences.

Flying into the Orlando airport, we had momentary buyer’s remorse as we headed to our rental car rather than the Disney Magical Express bus to Walt Disney World.

Those feelings were quickly dispelled by the scenery upon our arrival at the resort.

Ocean view

After spending some time relaxing by the pool we enjoyed dinner on site at the Wind and Waves Grill and cocktails on the lovely porch at the Green Cabin Room. Their wine list was not great but the Agave Nectar Margarita was a delicious Plan B.

We spent one entire day lounging under an umbrella on the beach. This fair-skinned Irish gal was also under a hat, towels and a double layer of SPF 50 sunscreen.

Under my umbrella

The cooling breeze and the sound of the waves made for the perfect setting to enjoy my magazines and take a nap.

At one point, we ventured into the surf to frolic in the waves, reminding me of two truths:

  1. As I am no longer 17 years old, my boogie board should have been retired some time ago.
  2. The monster waves of the Atlantic Ocean are much meaner than the gentle, rolling swells of my beloved, placid Gulf of Mexico.

Most of the rest of our time was spent relaxing by the pool.

The pool

Although we resisted the temptation to join in the poolside games like bingo and dive for sharks, we were powerless over the two-story waterslide as a vehicle for somewhat more age-appropriate thrill seeking.

Pool slide

We patiently waited in line among the children and there is no truth to the rumor that we elbowed little ones out of our way or distracted them by shouting, “Hey, look! There’s a shark!”.

After three glorious days, it was time to say goodbye to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and head off on our next adventure.

Spoiler alert: the next adventure involves wine.

As my friend Mickey says, “See you real soon!”

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Golden Threads In The Tapestry Of Our Lives

 

I’ve said it often: I’m a lucky gal.

Among the many, many blessings in my life are my friends.

I once heard someone describe friends as the golden threads in the tapestry of our lives. I love that.

My pal, Ellie, and her husband Archie traveled to visit us for the weekend. We were able to get together with our sweet friend, Therese, her fabulous husband and dear Clare. All golden threads in the tapestry of my life.

Over Easter brunch, Ellie and I reminisced about how we first met.

I hope you will indulge me as I revisit that story…

Camp Beenadeewin postcard

Camp Beenadeewin postcard via Ebay.

 

It all started at Camp Beenadewin during the summer after my 8th-grade year.

That summer, while my sister and I were at camp in Vermont, our family moved from Connecticut to Florida. I would be starting 9th grade at a new school, in a new home, in a new city.

On the last day of camp, everyone scurried about collecting addresses so that we could stay in touch with the girls with whom we had bonded over the eight weeks time.  (Obviously, this was WAY before email was even a concept.)  I had memorized my future Florida address and passed it along to my new BFFs.

One girl, Janet, upon seeing my address, casually mentioned that she knew someone whom she thought lived in that very same city in Florida.

Janet gave me the girl’s name, although we were both quite sure I would never run across her.

What were the chances in a city with a population of over 200,000?  Janet wasn’t even sure if it was the same city.  Plus, I would be going to a tiny, all-girls, Catholic high school rather than one of the half-dozen giant, public high schools at which my odds of coming across this needle in a haystack would be slightly better.

Well, I bet you know where this story is going.  On my very first day of school, in my very first class, sitting – I am not kidding you – RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME (!!!!!!) was the girl that Janet knew.

My friend, Ellie.

We couldn’t have been more different – I was super shy, she was (and is) a fabulously fun, outgoing, life-of-the-party kind of gal. But fortunately, something clicked between us and we have been dear friends for over 40 years.

Whether it was serendipity or fate, Ellie and I will never forget Janet’s part in bringing us together.

Friends are the golden threads in the tapestry of our lives

I am so grateful for all of the loving and beautiful golden threads in my life.

Has serendipity or fate ever played a part in your friendships?

Does anyone know Janet Espinoza? I’d love to thank her.

 

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Making Memories

Recently I returned from a trip to Florida to visit my folks.

Our entire family was there last summer to celebrate our Yankee Doodle Dandy’s 95th birthday. It was a wonderful celebration and provided lots and lots of special memories.

Happy Birthday

This year it was just me visiting but we returned to the scene of last year’s party to celebrate the 96th birthday.

Packards

We are pretty sure we know who sent the rainbow over mom’s shoulder.

The folks and I shopped, enjoyed some wonderful meals and great wine and went to the Clearwater Aquarium to see Winter, the star of the movie “A Dolphin’s Tale”.

Dolphin Tale

Next I’m heading to Montana with our college pals to see this guy:

Last year it was a gals’ trip went but this year we’ve decided to include the husbands. Hosted by our fabulously generous friends, Ellen and John, we will be hiking, rafting, laughing and creating more memories together. All while enjoying this gorgeous scenery.

Glacier National Park

Stay tuned for more reports from the trail!

Glacier National Park

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Our Yankee Doodle Dandy

Yankee Doodle Dandy

My fabulous step-dad turned 95 on the 4th of July. His birthday and the holiday weekend combined to provide a wonderful opportunity for a family reunion.

Most of the days were spent splashing in the pool and dodging the periodic Florida summertime thunderstorms.  My son and daughter-in-law are wishing they had a pool after they experienced the affect an hour of swimming had on the babies’ naps. The boys slept like…well, like babies – very relaxed and sleepy babies.

Because they live in different parts of the country, the cousins don’t get to see each other frequently. But when they are together, they have a blast.  The ages range from 6 to 31. It’s quite a confusing blend of generations.

The little guys (ages 6 and 9) are very clever and have incredible imaginations. They love to create imaginary lands, figuring out everything from the characteristics of the land to the type of currency.  The older cousins love this game and especially enjoy the wacky twists and turns their little cousins come up with.  One night the land that was created included mutant bunnies living underground which eat all the garbage created by the inhabitants and bees that have been genetically altered so they pollenate but don’t sting. Wacky, eh?

On the 4th, we surprised the birthday boy when he arrived for lunch.  We were all wearing matching t-shirts honoring the occasion (Celebrating John’s birthday, Est. July 4, 1918) and had a custom made Tampa Bay Rays jersey for him (number 95, of course).  As John entered the room we broke into a pretty darn good rendition of Yankee Doodle Dandy followed by a chorus of Happy Birthday. Cue the tears and the laughter.  It was just perfect!

The celebration continued with a  fabulous dinner at the resort.  Even the fireworks-canceling rain could not dampen our spirits.

We packed the remaining days with a trip to the beach, more pool time, another celebratory dinner, and ended with an epic pool party at my sister-in-law’s.  By Sunday night most everyone had headed to the airport for their flights home.

Our Yankee Doodle Dandy re-read all his birthday cards, looked over all the pictures from the weekend, and reminisced about the non-stop fun.

And then he said good-night and slept like a baby – a very happy baby.

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