After keeping ourselves around the vacation home for a few days, right off the Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway — you ever want to Hulk smash your GPS, listen to her fumble with that mouthful 7 times on one trip — Emma, Ben, and I decide to do a little exploring on Saturday.
I map out a few places I know they would like to visit: Sam Flax Art Supplies, Sam Ash Music, Best Buy (I wanted to get a new Internet modem), and a comic book store.
My in-laws show up on the same day. They’re looking for a vacation rental in the area, so we said they could come down, especially if they could bring a few items we couldn’t get in our cars. They left two days after we did, and showed up today.
After helping them unload, Emma, Ben, and I pile into my car, and head up I-4 to Downtown Orlando.
One thing I don’t get about Orlando is how it can function with only one major interstate highway. Indianapolis is spoiled for interstates, with half the people in the area — Indy has less than 1 million in the metro area, Orlando has 2.1 million. And yet, Indy has four interstate highways running through it, plus another one running all the way around.
That’s why Indianapolis is known as the Crossroads of America, while Orlando is known as the Throbbing Vein in My Forehead of America.
And just like the vein in my own forehead, whenever I-4 gets clogged up, I’m about to have a goddamn stroke!
The traffic itself has been fairly light, which is a surprise. It’s the middle of September, so kids are back in school, and everything is nice and easy. But I imagine it will get worse around fall break time, so we’re preparing for that.
As we head north on I-4, we see the result of an accident in the southbound lanes, and traffic is backed up for a mile. The backup is represented on Waze as a deep arterial red. I think Waze represents traffic jams in ever-darkening shades of red to match the user’s blood pressure.
I missed the exit to the comic book store, so we decide to skip it and head over to Sam Flax. Emma and Ben are serious about their art, so they drool and wish over everything they can see, explaining the different markers Disney artists use versus Marvel artists, and why certain kinds of notebooks are better than others.
And they do it all with a tone that most teenagers reserve for parents who confuse Taylor Swift with Miley Cyrus. I need to pay attention to art if I want to avoid that tone.
From there, it’s off to Best Buy to purchase an Internet modem to replace the one we’re using. No one else is able to get online, so I decide to try a new modem. (I plugged the new one in when we got home, and it doesn’t even connect. I reconnected the old one, and it worked fine, but I’m still the only one who can get online.)
Next, it’s Sam Ash and a chance for Ben to look at guitars and Emma to look at drum sets. I spend 20 minutes walking from child to child, listening to them tell me about the guys who do the things with the stuff, and I nod like I know what they’re talking about.
I don’t know what they’re talking about.
Everyone is after me to start playing guitar, except for Ben, who thinks it doesn’t fit my image. The kid’s 12, and he’s telling me about image.
“Dude, I wrote an entire book about image. Don’t tell me what my image is.” He snickers sheepishly.
I already decide against the Flying V, because whatever my image is, it’s not that. Nor are any of the other heavy metal guitars. If I do decide to start playing, I’m going to follow the musical route of every other 40-something fat dad: the Blues.
Finally, we look for a little bookstore in nearby Winter Park, Bookmark It. It turns out the bookstore is in a small stall inside a bigger restaurant conglomeration. If you’ve ever visited City Market in Indianapolis, you can imagine what this is like.
It’s a warehouse converted to several 16 x 16 food stalls, sort of like those antique malls in small towns, and there’s a kitchen in the back where the restaurants can share the prep area. (Sorry, I forgot to take pictures.)
Bookmark It is in the back left corner, and is filled with all kinds of books on healthy eating and local living. It’s cute, but I don’t know that I’ll ever do an author reading here. There’s enough room for 5 people, and I’m feeling more optimistic about my crowds than that. Still, it’s a place worth visiting again.
Waze still shows the I-4 accident as arterial red, and the line has gotten longer. We take the toll road home, and I’m thankful we bought the SunPass on Thursday. Saves us all kinds of time, and we make it home in time for me to take a nap.
That night, we go to dinner at Raglan Road in
Downtown Disney Disney Springs. While it’s more Irish-tourist than authentic Irish — sort of like if someone opened up an American restaurant and everyone dressed like cowboys and sang country music — it’s still damn good food.
I get the ham schnitzel, and think of my old business partner, Paul, who makes some of the best wiener schnitzel in Indiana. Unlike Paul, Raglan Road puts baked beans and a fried egg on it. It’s like breakfast.
All in all, a very productive, interesting day. We’re starting to learn where some of the cool stuff is, and figuring our way around. A few more weeks, and I’ll have a little system down.