Sunday, July 27, 2008

Nine summer days in Florida

Florida. Humidity. Cocoa Beach. The south in the summer. All things I never fancied myself contemplating much less doing. Yet July 16th found me, my wife, and our three daughters on the way to Florida
Cocoa Beach
Beautiful Atlantic Ocean beach sand right outside our door
for nine days of fun in the sweat, humidity, bugs and heat. To cut to the chase. I kind of liked it. For me, the Wisconsin heat and humidity was worse than the fabled but easily tolerated Florida heat and humidity. At least I thought it was during the time we were there. Cocoa Beach benefits from the giant heat sink that is the Atlantic Ocean. Disney, forty miles inland and with less benefit from the ocean, had daily thunderstorms that we did not see on the coast and it was hotter and more humid inland than on the coast. The bugs weren't so bad in either location, to my surprise, although I did see roaches and even managed to take a shower with a nasty one. But I digress......

We spent four days at Disneyland (or is it world ??), staying at the Grand Floridian, courtesy of a trip my wife won. It was inside on Disney property, with boats and trains going directly to and from the hotel to the park. Everything at the hotel was picture perfect. Too perfect, but it all fit together in a fantasy story kind of way. Besides that, our kids loved every single square centimeter of it from the late night excursions to the giant outdoor pool to the 24/7 café, to the big lobby of the main hotel building.
Disney in Florida
Looking west at the Grand Floridian hotel from the dock at Disney world
The room we had was very plush and fancy but way too small for a family, although I'll bet the thinking is that you spend most of the time at Disney and not so much time in the room, which I would have to agree with. The hotel was nice but nothing special, while Disney was the perfect kid fantasy place. This was followed by five days in a condo on Cocoa Beach. Very cool. Having avoided the South, and Florida in particular, for my entire adult life, I found it to be tolerable. While there are MANY MANY better places in the western part of our fine country, Cocoa Beach, Florida was OK. Kids and wife enjoyed it immensely though and it was all quite family friendly.

Cocoa Beach
Surf level shot of Cocoa Beach
We all thought the beach was beautiful. I was expecting to see a garbage-strewn, run down narrow strip of nasty sand. Instead there were sea oats and some sort of creeping dune rose (my words), a wide strip of beach, life guards, and a distinct wild sort of feel. I was shocked, given the proximity to the road and the crush of hotels and condos in plain sight as far as the eye could see. Much much better than what I thought it would be.