Monday, February 01, 2010

Back from Florida

Regarding my last post - I am back from astronaut training. Actually, that was the one free day that I had in Florida and I spent it at the Kennedy Space Center. It was $38 to get in. One of the guys really did not want to go there in the first place, so when he found out how much it was going to cost, well it was a great reaction. Then the rest of us really wanted to go. It was the "blood-in-the-water" phenomenon so often observed when you put firefighters together.

We were down there for IAFF ALTS, basically some union training. There were firefighters from all over the USA and Canada. There were a lot of classes, some very good. I saw a lot of this:

Our hotel was across from "Downtown Disney." I got kicked out at 6 am while on a run. The guard told me I couldn't run on "the boardwalk." Here's me right before my ejection:

Downtown Disney is basically a theme park without any rides.

Here are some notes I made my last night there while I wandered around by myself:

A strange place. You have to get bused here unless, like me, your hotel is across the street. Incidentally, there is no crosswalk between the two. It's like if you don't ride the bus or drive your car, your bucking the system. No bike racks.

Orlando, Florida - yet not an orange to be had at DD. Theme restaurants. Theme gift stores, but no theme liquor store. Lots of plastic. A fire would melt the place.

Weathered fiberglass statues of brooms with arms, some carrying buckets, all over in little curbed in areas of green. What is the message here? What was the focus group question that spurred this response? They remind me of the old miniature golf statues in Riverfront Park, making me homesick - geographically and chronologically.

No rides. It's almost like a free taster of Disney World I think. If you like the town, you will love the world.

The place is packed and everyone, including myself, is mesmerized, by the shiny sanitary lights and canned corny blarings. It's like a Mormon burlesque show.

I found myself getting lost but always easily found. It's a preplanned route that makes sure the traveler always stays on the path and never truly wanders astray - a safety maze.

Outside of every restaurant, whether an animatronic dinosaur joint, a tropical jungle cafe, a sternwheel fish place, an upscale Italian eatery, the House of Blues, Planet Hollywood, even McDonald's, all the menus are posted like post mortems. Sometimes they are accompanied by the autopsy photos. Here lies Chicken Strips. Three strips, 14 fries. So lifelike.

Yet, I know there was a time when I would have loved this place. It would have been too expensive for me to eat in any of the restaurants, but everyhing else would have appealed to me. Why? What happened?

Maybe it's because I am alone here now. Half of these people could very well be enjoying themselves in an ironic fashion, chatting up between themselves the goofiness of the whole enterprise, but I don't think so.

It's not real and it's embraced by thousands tonight and that says a lot.

Wow, I just depressed myself. I think I must have been really homesick.

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