5:01pm – The pouring rain we’ve had for most of the day is finally gone. I check the radar on TWC and it’s clear through midnight, so I showered, got dressed, unplugged my phone (100% charged) and got ready to do some photographing.
5:35pm – As soon as I open the door to my condo, I heard thunder…or was it fireworks (it’s hard to tell on July 4th). The sky is half blue, half charcoal so it could go either way.
5:48pm – Trolley arrives. Unfortunately, it’s also “FULL.” It’s also raining out, and my rain gear is back in the unit (because TWC said it wasn’t supposed to rain for the rest of the evening). Now the entire state is red/green/yellow again.
5:56pm – Trolley #2 arrives. It is not completely full like the last one, but it was two stops later. Ugh, I hate super crowded buses.
6:08pm – arrive at Coca-Cola Orlando Eye complex, and stop at the Outback near the trolley drop-off. Hopefully, eating will ease my suddenly sour stomach.
6:15pm – as expected, it was crowded (mostly by people waiting out the rain). I was fortunate enough to be seated immediately at the bar.
7:28pm – Leave restaurant, and the rain IS gone. The sky is clear, but it isn’t dark enough for fireworks yet so I decide to take some pictures around the immediate area to kill time. Yes, my stomach feels better.
7:36pm – Decide to get some ice cream and make my way toward the courtyard. It is surprisingly crowded considering the rain ended less than 20 minutes ago (sidewalk and artificial turf are dry too)
8:13pm – post a bunch of photos to the FB page. I probably should have posted them here…. I still can, hold on. Done, I love WP’s “backdating” feature.
8:27pm – Sunset, however my phone is at about 33% so the planned “Live” video of the fireworks show is called off.
8:43pm – The trolley back to my condo arrives… with exactly four other passengers on it.
8:59pm – arrive back at the condo where there is a near constant booming from fireworks that I know aren’t part of some official show. It will probably keep up like this all night.
9:13pm – I log back into FB on my laptop as my phone charges. I feel horrible about going back on the promise to my followers to “go live” with the fireworks.
9:37pm – a loud rumble of thunder puts the noise outside to an immediate stop. I’m hoping for a huge storm so I can get some sleep, but, no, the auxiliary show continued less than 10 seconds later.
9:47pm – Stomach is acting up again. I may end up spending the entirety of SeaWorld’s Fourth show in the bathroom. I never liked fireworks anyway…
It’s just after 10am, and I am standing on the dock outside the newly renovated Waterside Marketplace waiting for the ferry to cross the Elizabeth River to Portsmouth. The weather app on my phone says its 65 degrees and cloudy, but the chilly ocean wind makes it feel colder than that.
The small paddleboat arrived around 10 past the hour, it dropped off about a half dozen people and let the three of us who were waiting on dock onboard. The inside had a rusted floor with benches along the sides. Apparently, there were more benches in the center of the boat at one point, but they were removed, possibly to make room for the three beaten up fare boxes. The bench wasn’t all that comfortable, but it didn’t matter since it was only a 10 minute ride across the river to High Street landing.
Portsmouth is a charming, quiet town that kind of reminded me of a cross between Federal Hill and Fells Point. Unfortunately for me, I was visiting on a Thursday morning so nearly everything was closed: The Naval Shipbuilding Museum (for refurbishment until “early 2017”), The Lightship Portsmouth (open weekends only), Virginia Sports Museum (permanently closed) and a half dozen “historic homes” (also open weekends only).
That left the Arts & Culture Center (which was “between exhibitions”), the Virginia Children’s Museum, the TCC (Tidewater Community College) Gallery and the exteriors of various buildings. Oh, and I could purchase cheap looking, neon colored t-shirts at the visitor’s center which is coincidentally where I had to go anyway to get the ferry back to Norfolk – and it was only 12:30 (it would have been noon if I hadn’t stopped for lunch at Jimmy Johns on High Street).
I arrived back at downtown Norfolk around 1:25 where it was a balmy 69 degrees with partly cloudy skies, and I was nowhere near ready to pack it in for the day so I walked over to Nauticus (though most of the parks were closed off due to construction of the various tents for next week’s Harborfest). I walked up the ticket counter and the somewhat disinterested cashier sold me a normal base ticket for $15 (included a movie and a limited tour of the attached battleship). I couldn’t decide if I wanted a snack or to just upstairs to see the exhibits on the 3rd floor first so I chose the latter.
The museum itself is hard to quantify. It has some exhibits that are geared towards kids (like the entry on port Norfolk, the touch a shark tank or the small “aquarium” area – which makes the former National Aquarium in DC look HUGE by comparison), but the majority of the labyrinthine museum space is ship life, Naval history, Naval recruiting and the nearby Naval base – not many of which would be of interest to the 3-12 set.
The exhibits are small, superficial and dated with broken or worn out “interactives” and little to no flow between the tightly packed exhibits – which you can’t really skip as there is only ONE path through the exhibit area (as I found out when one of the barely crowded rooms was too noisy for my tastes). The only place in the gallery that wasn’t claustrophobically small was the end where the theater, the NOAA exhibit and the stairway to the actual Hampton Roads Naval Museum\walkway to the USS Wisconsin (which were both on the second level). Though I didn’t partake in either this time as I fell asleep in the 3d movie and took that as a cue to head back to the hotel… at 3pm in the afternoon.
Not yet, first I stopped into their gift shop (my favorite part of their museum), and then I went into their café next door… but they were closed so I looked around thinking I might be able to take some snacks back to the room with me. Then a black man in black shirt hauling a large trash can behind him comes up behind me:
“Ya know,” he said. “We got a full menu.”
“Yeah, thanks, but it’s closed. There’s no-one back there.”
“What was that? I said look up there. We got a full menu up there,” he said pointing up to the large black and white sign hanging from the ceiling that I’d have to be blind to miss (I couldn’t read it with my crappy vision, but I couldn’t miss it when I came in).
“And it doesn’t do me any good if it’s CLOSED because there is NO-ONE back there.”
“’No-one back there?’ I work the café. I’D be the one ringing you up. Now, if you want to order something. Order it.”
With that said, I immediately turned around and decided to get dinner in the hotel and then get a start on my packing. It’s going to be another long day of traveling tomorrow – and my toes aren’t even remotely healed yet…
Note: These are some actual updates from my Facebook page of the same name about my day going to\getting back from seeing the new exhibit at Orlando Science Center (a traveling one at that). Some of said stats have been edited to fit a more detailed narrative timeline.
10:56am – Chased out of the apartment by the obnoxious noise the landscape crew was making with their mowers and whackers. I got everything together to go out… just in time to see them packing up as well. Maybe a little adventure will give this headache a chance to go away…
11:35am – Disembarked at Lynx Central Station and immediately traded my transfer pass for a Sunrail card as I figured (wrongly as it turned out) that an 11-minute train ride would be easier than a 25 minute bus ride… or it would have been except the last morning train left six minutes ago…and “mid-day” trains come at TWO HOUR INTERVALS?
11:55am – I am strongly considering opening my Lyft app and requesting a fricken ride. The only problem is the battery on my phone is running out so I shut it down for the remainder of the afternoon to conserve power.
12:25pm – I am hungry, and decide to go into the actual station itself to get something to eat. It turns out, the building itself is pretty bare bones with restrooms (complete with not-at-all-creepy “these restrooms are being monitored…” sign #eww), vending machines and a rack of schedules across from the entrance (which was closed due to maintenance).
12:47pm – I just finished lunch at their tiny in-station café. No menu, no tables and the cashier tried to rip me off, but it filled 15 minutes so whatever. Yeah, meanwhile, I am sitting here realizing how noisy it is out here: birds, buses coming\going, station announcements and guys with leaf blowers (because someone hates me today).
-1:13pm – Only fifteen minutes to go. ^_^
-1:28pm – After watching two Amtrak and one southbound Sunrail train zoom past me, the Northbound train to Orlando Health finally arrives.
-3:38pm – On my way back from Orlando science center. I was there to see their temporary exhibit #AstronautOSC. I haven’t decided if it is worth writing a review of or not. I like space stuff, but this exhibition was kind of #meh.
-5:04pm – Got on at the wrong bus at the transfer so the driver rudely threw me off at the last stop. He did begrudgingly let me back on 15 minutes later with a condescending lecture about it being “YOUR responsibility to make sure you get on the right bus.”
Sorry, I keep forgetting I CHOSE to have a brand-new car totaled by a teenager I never saw coming. The best part, the state rewarded my pain and suffering by revoking MY license forcing me to deal with assholes like this. 😡
-5:21pm – Thanks to that blunder, I arrived at The Florida Mall about 40 minutes later than I planned. I have less than 20 minutes to get dinner on the opposite side of the mall before my transfer pass expires (as he refused to issue me a new one). Fortunately, it’s a food court, so it shouldn’t be too hard.
–6:20pm – On my way back now, I had to use my last remaining ones as my transfer pass expired just as I was leaving the food court… but I still haven’t decided if I’m doing a full write-up my visit to OSC. Fortunately, I have just over a half-hour to make up my mind…
10:19am – A later start then I would have liked, but I am ready to go out and take photos today. I never did post those pictures from Epcot International Festival of the Arts as they’re still on my phone…the one I forgot to plug in before I got in the shower. Eh, whatever, I’ll be back before it dies anyway.
11:20am – I was starving when I got off the bus across the highway from the Sunrail station (the closest the driver would drop me off as she INSISTED Sunrail doesn’t operate on weekends) so I stopped at the McDonalds adjacent to said station. I’d already missed the 11am train so I had a bit of time to fill anyway.
-1:06pm – I arrive at Sanford Sunrail Station, the expansive parking lot is empty and there are no buses or cabs in sight. I put the zoo’s address into Google Maps and let the friendly GPS lady (whom I can barely hear) guide me.
-2:01pm – Google sent me Rand Yard Rd, which is a one-lane service road for the distributor on the corner and after traipsing through several acres of scrub grass I found myself in some kind of landfill\processing center (looked deserted, but it was a weekend). The latter was fenced off (10 feet from the connection street Google wanted me on) but no, I was the correct route so I was forced to backtrack all the way back to the main road and follow their DRIVING directions to the zoo.
-2:53pm – Finally arrived, with slightly under 2 hours to see everything. I haven’t even gone into their iconic pink\red gate yet, and I’m already exhausted.
-4:09pm – This very well could be a post of its own, but I’ll put in here anyway. No, I’m not going into a tirade about their tiny cages stacked on top of each other. No, my complaint here is that after I left the zoo, I asked the worker at “Admissions” window (couldn’t find “Guest Services”) to call a cab for me.
She looks at me like I’m stupid: “Duh, just open your Uber app, and they’ll…okay, fine, I’ll see if I can do that for you.” She disappears behind the wall for a moment and comes back to give me a sticky note with a phone number on it: “You can call them whenever you’re ready.”
“I don’t have the reception or the battery life for it,” I said showing her my phone with its 22% power that’s supposed to last until I get back.
“Nah, you can do it,” she said with a shrug. “After all, YOU’RE the one who wants it.” Yes, she actually thinks she’s doing me a favor. But at least she pretends to “believe” in me.
I go over to the parking area and do MY due duty as a cab wanting citizen. “I’d like to or… I said I’d like a cab to… I SAID ‘I’D LIKE A CAB TO…’“
Like I said, a huge fucking favor. People are staring at me because I am literally screaming at the top of my phone, and he STILL “can’t hear” me, but, hey, the girl at the “Admissions” window said I “could do it” so why disappoint her?
Finally, I get far enough away from the kiddie rides that he can finally hear me, and at 4:25pm, a black minivan (they sent a minivan for ONE person?) finally pulls up to the curb outside the gate.
-4:48pm – Cab driver conveniently “missed” the station saying ‘’don’t worry, we take the entrance around back.’’ Nice try, I saw the back of the station, there is no “entrance” there. Any other lies you’d like to throw at me?
-6:05pm – Arrive at the Sandlake Station. I spent the next ten minutes waiting on the only bus serving the station on weekends before stupidly deciding to get dinner at the Denny’s adjacent to the station (I should have used the dwindling natural light to find the next regular bus stop). Don’t get me wrong, I was hungry and the food was good, but service was definitely of the turn & burn variety (even though there were only five other patrons in the entire restaurant).
-6:47pm – It is pitch black outside, save for half lit store signs across the street and the blinding glare of the speeding cars. Oh yeah, perfect conditions for finding a bus stop in an unfamiliar area – especially since I now have an extremely expensive brick in my jacket pocket.
-7:39pm – After waiting at the unlit stop for approximately 15 minutes (my only source of time is a dead phone), the bus I wanted finally arrives. I take a seat and fight sleep for the next hour.
-8:49pm – Arrive safely back at the apartment. I’m glad I’m out of quarters since my feet will probably need all day tomorrow to recover from that “shorter route” Google Maps suggested (that ADDED an hour of walking to my trip). Don’t expect any updates from me before noon.
10:01am – Orlando Weekly is reporting that all state offices are closed, all tolls are lifted and that some hospitals in coastal areas were evacuated.
10:03am – The University of Miami is officially on “emergency lock down” – all classes are cancelled, and all retail and offices are closed for the day. Limited dining service is available in the two campus dining halls as long as weather permits, MREs will be available in the Residential Hall lobbies for times when the cafeterias close.
10:20am – Orlando International Airport announced it will be suspending all flights in\out of their airports at 8pm.
11:15am – Sunrail suspends all service through Monday (they don’t offer weekend service)
11:20am – Universal announces it is closing all parks including Wet N’ Wild and CityWalk at 3pm. Disney parks are apparently still open as well with guests going about enjoying their day despite the weather (at the moment is light rain with relatively calm winds).
11:30am – Theme Park Tourist posted that all Disney Parks will close at 5pm, Legoland Florida will close at 5pm as scheduled and SeaWorld will close at 2pm.
12:14pm – TWC is predicting 5-7” of rain through Friday night with wind of 40-50mph with gusts of about 60-65mph. It is not expected to make landfall over Orlando, but we are still under a “Hurricane Warning.”
12:43pm – Not currently raining out, but the winds are strong. The proverbial calm before the storm.
Woke up in a relatively good mood this morning (which is extremely rare for me), and the first post I saw on FB was an uplifting meme listing “positive traits” of people with Dyslexia\ADHD\Aspergers (I’m all three) … and got “Sad-Mad” (to quote the movie Home) as most of them didn’t apply to me.
I look up and it’s 9am, and I can’t leave yet because I need to finish the laundry I started yesterday so I have clean clothes to match my hopefully clean teeth. When the drier finally buzzed, I pulled everything out, hurriedly showered, got dressed and raced downstairs to the approaching trolley.
I’m not a runner, but I didn’t have time to wait “45 minutes” for the next trolley. I get to the corner exactly as the driver gets to the stop and then I really have to move getting within feet of the stop…just to have him shut the door and lurch the bus forward before opening the door again. Hilarious.
“Of course I saw you, dumbass,” he said as if he actually expected me to laugh “with” him. I drop the quarter in the box and could feel everyone staring at me as if their obviously amused smiles would make this less awkward. It doesn’t.
The driver lets me off at Sandlake and International at 10:43am. According to Google Maps, it’s a “21-minute” walk from there to my dentist’s office, but I somehow made it to his door at exactly 11am – hot, sweaty, and exhausted, but exactly on time.
I’m not a fan of going to the dentist – especially after a root canal, an extraction and a prophallactic something (which sounds a lot more fun than it actually is). Fortunately, my teeth and gums are “recovering nicely” (or so the doctor I’ve never seen before told me), but I still needed a half-hour of poking, prodding and scraping that unlike haircuts never actually gets easier (hair is dead, my mouth isn’t). Now I have to schedule a 90-minute bridge installation for either Thanksgiving or my birthday – yah!
The first thing I did after escaping the awkward conversation with the receptionist was get lunch (not even a lollipop). I wanted something fast and there was a McDonalds on the way to Wal-Mart (my next stop) so why not? It was fast and it was food so that was all that really mattered to me.
It’s a long walk (with zero shade) from Sandlake to Wal-Mart, but I survived, entered the store and made a beeline for the watch area where the sole woman working there semi-busily goes between unloading boxes to chatting with passing coworkers to telling customers (all of whom arriving at the counter AFTER I did) at the jewelry end of the counter she can’t help them to disappearing into the back room until after 10 minutes of waiting she finally decides to get rid of help me.
“Do you need help with anything,” she said more as a formality than an actual question.
“The battery on my watch died about two days ago.”
“I’m sorry, we don’t fix watches here. Where did you buy it from?”
“Wal-Mart,” I replied knowing full well if I said anywhere else she’d tell me to “just take it there.”
“We don’t fix watches,” she said flatly. “Try some other store. Florida Mall or something.”
“In other words, I came out here for nothing.”
She shrugs and goes back to half-heartedly unpacking boxes and chatting with passing coworkers.
I leave the store empty-handed and I would have walked back to I-Drive, but there was, conveniently enough, a cab parked directly in front of the store.
I get in and give him the address. He looks at me like I’m nuts, but starts the cab anyway.
“I am not familiar with that address,” he said with a soft yet indeterminate accent. “You will TELL me where to go. Where do I go? Left here?”
“Right,” I corrected.
“Okay, I will turn left at exit to store.”
I swear, I’m the only one who listens to me… either that or I’m trapped in the least funny episode of Seinfeld EVER.
“No, I said turn RIGHT at exit to store.”
“So, right here?”
“Yes, then left at the next exit.”
“You can’t miss it, it’s the building on the left with the bright green metal roof. Of course, I said that to the last driver too and he still…”
“Who it is you [are] babbling at? I need directions, and you are babbling incoherently while I am trying to drive.”
It’s never pleasant being reminded of how others see\hear me. Important? Yes; Pleasant? No as it puts a damper on otherwise polite conversation.
“So you say ‘go right at exit,’” he asked interrupting my brooding inner monologue.
“No, I said ‘turn LEFT at the exit.’ If you go right, you’ll ne…”
He screeches to a halt in the middle of the busy road, turns around and points at me angrily.
“Do you want me to ‘go left’ or ‘go right,’” he snaps. “Which one is it, or do you not know where [the] fuck you [are] going?”
If we weren’t in the middle lane, I would have gotten out, but I’m not partial to getting killed by a speeding car. Moreover, if the big sticker on the window reads “passenger is responsible for all tolls and fees,” who would be “responsible” (I already know who he’d blame) if a car rear-ended us because of HIS stunt?
He starts the cab again and begrudgingly crosses lanes to the rightmost “left-turn” lane just a few hundred yards before the turn and then immediately gets back into the right-turn lane for whatever reason. I ask why he is in the right lane with his right blinker on when the building I requested was obviously to his LEFT so he growls, goes back into the center lane and eventually into the right “left-turn” lane.
Once he got on Westwood, even he could figure out where he was supposed to go (as it’s literally the only “bright green metal roofed building” on the street). I wasn’t planning on giving him a tip, but the fare came to $13.50 (which explains his desire to do a circle tour of I-Drive) and I had three 5s so he was getting a 90-cent “tip” (he forgot to turn his meter off when we were stopped) anyway. I exit the cab, and while he was leaving I traipsed over to the mailboxes and pull two bills and the usual cadre of junk mail that fills the entirety of my tiny mailbox on a daily basis (except Sunday) and head back to the unit.
I came back inside, toss both bills on the counter and open Facebook just to have my “okay” mood spoiled by another uplifting meme about “sharing my thoughts” as it’s a concept which has gotten me in trouble a few times this year (as my thoughts are nothing more than “manipulative lies” designed solely to make people “feel sorry” for me… until they finally realize “the sad fucking joke” that I apparently am).
I look up from my laptop and see it’s pouring rain outside. It’s okay, I had enough sunshine today anyway…