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  • Damaris Chanza

A Retelling of My Excellent Vacation to Florida

I may have come home sick, but that doesn't change that my vacation to Florida was fantastic.

For only our second vacation together, George and I went back to Florida to visit his sister, Cat. She graciously let us stay with her for a week.

Before I get into all the glorious things that happened, the trip started pretty rockily. Upon arrival, we were supposed to pick up our rental car. Based on their emailed instructions, we taxi'd to their location only to find an empty lot. Confused, a quick Google search gave us another address. We arrived thirty minutes late for our pick-up time but an hour before the place was supposed to close. Relieved and frustrated, we entered to find just one employee, all sloppy with popcorn stuck to his face, who said he couldn't help us; the office was closed. Apparently, that employee worked in an adjoining office for an unaffiliated company. It was 11 pm, and we were exhausted, hungry, in an unfamiliar area, and 2 hours from his sister's house without transportation. We were infuriated.

By the grace of God, a lovely couple offered us a ride back to the airport so we could get another rental car. A woman at the Sixt car rental at the airport saw our despair and was incredibly kind and understanding of our situation. She immediately helped us; soon enough, we were on our way.

We arrived at our destination three hours late but were back on track for the rest of our vacation.

I awoke in the early afternoon the next day with freshly delivered ramen waiting for me in the kitchen courtesy of George. We went to an arcade with Cat, her husband, and their daughter. I beat George at ski ball, and he dominated at a hunting game where I couldn't understand the controls. We compiled enough points to get our ferret, Ellie, some new toys. Then we had dinner at Bonefish, where the bang bang shrimp was delicious.

The next day, we all went kayaking. Dawning a blue life vest and a pound of sunscreen, we paddled to a sandlot where it was safe to stand. In Jersey, going to the beach means preparing for the shock of cold water as the waves hit your toes on your walk to a deeper area. This was completely different. The water was the perfect temperature, feeling cool in Florida's blazing sun. The water was beautifully clear and clean, with no algae or garbage in sight, making the entire experience serene.

The best highlight, however, was our trip to Disney. I previously went to Magic Kingdom for my 18th birthday with my family, but Hollywood Studios was an entirely different adventure, including Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Toy Story Land. We looked up the rides we wanted to go on and headed straight for them.

First, we rode Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Train. The screen exploded right in front of me as a video of Goofy's train drove straight into a camera, revealing the entry area for our train ride. I have no clue how they did that, and I'm still just as puzzled a week later. The ride was a beautiful combination of 2D animation come to life. Next was Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. An almost two-hour wait through the ship's passageways and a mission statement from a very believable Hondo animatronic later, the ride was incredibly jolting and fun. Our last ride of the day was the commercial classic Toy Story Mania. That was probably the day's best ride. George obliterated my score, and we were eager to ride again, but the wait was too long, and we were hungry.

We grabbed a quick bite at one of the park's restaurants and set out to stroll the park and take a closer look at the details and hard work the Imagineers put into it. We built a droid, attended Lightening Mcqueen's Training Academy, met Sully, and purchased souvenirs for our loved ones. Out of exhaustion, we didn't stay for the closing show, but the day was perfect regardless.

The entire trip was perfect, from cooking and playing Pictionary with his family to sitting on the floor playing catch with his niece, pushing away large clumps of seaweed at the beach, and struggling to get back onto the kayak. I woke up the last day with a sore throat and have been sick for almost a week. Even a cold can't change how happy I am to have these beautiful memories.

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