1/4/09 Happy New Year, Blog Readers! This posting is being written in Cocoa Beach, FL where we are mostly packed for our cruise, which starts later today. Our ship leaves from Port Canaveral, Fl, which is nearby. Ken & Carolyn are going to spend the day at the Kennedy Space Center, which is also nearby. We have been there before and enjoyed it very much. We are going to explore the area a bit and go on the ship early so we can workout in the gym. Since we have been in FL we haven't had a chance to work out but we have been walking every day.
In our last post, we mentioned that we were hoping that we wouldn't have any weather problems in Chicago, when our flight stopped there briefly. Guess what - the problem was in San Diego, of all places! We arrived the night before our flight and all flights coming in were canceled because of fog. So, although there was no fog the morning we were leaving, our flight was delayed over 2 hours because we had to wait for a plane to come into the San Diego airport! We arrived in Orlando about 7PM, got our rental car, found our motel, and had a very late meal at the nearby IHop. Even though we were so close to Disney World that we could have seen the midnight fireworks from there, we were so tired that we slept through them!
The next 2 days we spent visiting our friends, Milt and Beth Bourassa, in Lady Lake, FL. They are retired and Beth is a volunteer docent at the Carriage Museum, which is a private museum owned by Carol Austin, who made a fortune by co-founding Paychex. There are over 160 carriages there, most of them beautifully restored, and we enjoyed several hours browsing through there.
Mary, Beth and Elaine near a horse sculpture at the museum.
The grounds are also extensive and beautiful, since Mrs. Austin believes the the carriages should be functional and she uses them to give carriage rides on the property. So she also has over 20 horses there. Upon arrival, we went over to the nearby fenced field where Gracie, the miniature horse, was pulling a very small carriage with a child in it having a driving lesson. Here is a picture showing how small the horse is compared to the trainer!
Inside the museum, the carriages are beautifully presented, along with many of the accoutrements, such as the tack, costumes of the footmen and drivers, picnic baskets, photos of the restoration process, etc. The most impressive carriage was one of only 2 built for and used by Emperor Franz Josef of Austria. Mrs. Austin even had replicas of the horses especially made for this carriage.
Another interesting exhibit was the one on carriages and horses used by fire fighting companies. The horses were trained to react immediately to the fire bell and they would go to their assigned places where their harnesses and tack were suspended so they could be quickly hitched up. Their hitch-up time was often under a minute! There were also wagons and carriages from wild west days, an ice wagon, a produce wagon, a traveling salesman wagon, and many other types of commercial wagons.
After the carriage museum, we took Beth and Milt out to lunch in a nearby town to thank them for their hospitality. Beth selected a restaurant called the Cotillion, which features Southern cooking, and which was full of delightful antiques and old time ambiance. The food was abundant and really delicious. Here is a picture of Milt, Beth and Elaine inside the restaurant:
Yesterday we left Lady Lake and drove here to Cocoa Beach, stopping in Orlando to do a little shopping. Last night we had dinner with Joe & Carla Calwell when they arrived. By coincidence, when we booked a hotel using Priceline and ended up at the Holiday Inn, right across the street from the La Quinta, where they were staying! Of course, later today we will be seeing all of the friends who have booked this cruise, when we meet for dinner on the ship. So this will be the last post until we find an internet cafe at one of our ports. Bon Voyage!