Thursday, June 26, 2014

our trip to Florida

We traveled to Florida over Spring Break in March. 

Our primary goal was to visit two old/good friends: Darrell and Caprice Hairston in Orlando and Rusty and Kellie Russell in Port Charlotte. Darrell is the pastor at Washington Shores Church of Christ; Rusty is the pastor at New Day Christian Church. And it was great to see them!

We also did some touristy things-- on the trip down/back in Atlanta and while we were in Florida. (We visited two beaches: Cocoa Beach and one near Port Charlotte; both seemed as good as a typical beach.)

In Atlanta, we saw the MLK Jr. Historical Site on the way down. (Here's the blog post on the book of King essays/sermons I bought there.) And we saw the World of Coca-Cola on the way back. We would highly recommend both. 

The King site is a must-see and very well done: The primary museum is excellent; the secondary museum is helpful; and the historical parts of the site are a nice complement to the entire experience. We heartily recommend a 3-4 hour visit there!

The Coca-Cola "museum" is also excellent-- from the references to marketing and pop culture to the production and history of Coke. I was most impressed that they did not shy away from the Classic Coke "fiasco" in the museum. The CEO at the time was asked whether it was a plot-- and he replied that they were neither that smart nor that dumb. The product had been tested and they fully expected it to be successful. The tour closes with an impressive gift shop and a tasting room where you can taste dozens of Coke products from all over the world. (Make sure to try Beverly-- and then to quickly try something else!) 

In Florida, we didn't do any of the usual/popular stuff. We were limited in terms of time and don't really have the same touristy preferences as most people anyway. We went to Titusville. The Kennedy Space Center looked awesome. But it's really expensive and we couldn't give it enough time. So, we went to the American Police Hall of Fame and that was a nice stop, especially for our boys. (We saw the Warbird Museum near there and it looked/sounded good too. In my research, I hadn't seen anything on that so it wasn't on our radar at all.) 

We also went to Gatorland; it was a solid place to see indigenous and other wildlife. (In both cases, the posted prices seemed high, but both places extended generous discounts to us, unsolicited.) 

On the way to Port Charlotte, we visited the Suncoast Primary Sanctuary, north of Tampa. It was good, but not nearly as good as the totally awesome Bee City in SC nine months earlier. (It was arguably the highlight of our trip to NC/SC last summer.) At SPS, some of the pens/cages were unimpressive; the animals seemed disinterested; and you were rarely as close to the animals. At Bee City, you got to hand-feed some of the monkeys-- very, very cool. If we hadn't been to Bee City, I think we would have enjoyed this well enough. But you know how it is with comparisons and expectations.  

On the way back, we made a brief stop at the Tampa Electric power station where you can see manatees swimming in the warm discharge waters. Nice!

Things we didn't get to see this time:

Columbus, GA (Ft. Benning and Lumpkin; SW of Atlanta; SE of Birmingham)

-Civil War Naval Museum (Sun-M 12:30-4:30, T-Sat 10-4:30; $7/5; 706-327-9798)

-National Infantry Museum (T-Sat 9-5, Sun 11-5; Free; 706-685-5800)

-Lunch Box Museum (W-Sat 10-6, Sun 12-6; $5; 706-653-6240 or 706-332-6378)

-Little Grand Canyon in Lumpkin, south of Columbus


Williamson, GA (45 miles south of Atlanta)

-Candler Car/Plane Museum (T-F 11-9, Sat 9-9, Sun 11-3; Free; 770-227-9989)


Atlanta: Aquarium, Olympic Park, other

Chattanooga: Ruby (and other?) Falls; hiking


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