Friday, January 21, 2022

A Bit of History and Fun in Florida's Space Coast

Hello and welcome back to the blog. First entry in over a year, and it's not about Disney! Go figure. 

It's about my random visit to the Lawndale Historic Museum and house in Rockledge, Florida in December of 2021. Since it was the holiday season, I was fortunate to see it dressed in Christmas finery. This was actually one of my favorite parts of the experience, seeing how they used natural material and decorations to spruce up the spaces. I've been wanting to do the same in our home here in Orlando, so this served as inspiration in many ways. 

The Hiram Smith (H.S.) Williams Family traveled around the country and settled in Rockledge, Florida in 1874. They built the Queen Ann style home that still stands today on the banks of the Indian River, just south of Cocoa Beach and Kennedy Space Center. I doubt they ever imagined their ancestors would see rockets from those same window views less than 100 years later. 

H.S. started a citrus shipping company, drawing business to this section of the Indian River and expanding the population. He brought the first telephone service to Brevard County. He was also a proponent of education, and built a small school-room on the back of the property. 

He died in the house in 1921 at the ripe age of 89. 

His son, Sydney, attended East Florida Seminary, which later became the University of Florida. Go Gators! He and his sister, Myra, also both attended Rollins College. 

Four generations of The Williams family lived in the house continuously until 1989, when Brevard County purchased it for restoration. 

I happened upon this while out for a drive along one of my favorite stretches of road. Scroll through to see some pictures, and read at the end for a suggested day trip itinerary in case you want to visit yourself!

The front porch faces east, toward the river and the ocean

The formal dining room set for the holiday season. The color scheme is authentic to holiday cards and decorations found from the time period (late 1800s). 

Natural elements and handcrafted decorations adorn the spaces. 

Simple, festive, natural. 

An original puzzle set from the family.

This piano was gifted to the daughter, Myra, after she graduated from college. Her shawl drapes across the top and again more natural seasonal decoration. 

The conversion from gas to electric was still spotty at the time; this fixture could use either in case one didn't work. 

The last remaining relative to live in the house until 1989, had this view from her window. Her original shoes are still in her drawer, below. 

The library 

The school room decorated for Christmas. 

Teacher's desk in the school room. 

Natural elements and original holiday cards from the time period offer a different color pallet than the typical red and green we associate with Christmas in modern day. 

Hand spun paper chains and fish scale artwork

Dried apple garland

Dried fruit hanging in the kitchen window

Ok, so if you'd like to take a drive down a beautiful scenic road, get a bit of history, have lunch and shop in historic downtown Cocoa Village, and spend a day in Florida's Space Coast, read on! 

I'd recommend starting on the south end of the Rockledge Drive, coming up US1 North. You'll have to type it into your map or keep you eye out on the right hand side of US1 for an unassuming road that veers off to the right. Trust me, this is it! Drive a short bit up that road and you'll be taken back in time with old historic houses and tranquil tropical breezes. Drive slow and make your way to Downtown Cocoa Village. There are lots of good spots to grab a bite. We ate at Thai Thai and enjoyed it. The Tulip and Cafe Margaux are other local favorites. You can see more about shopping and dining in Cocoa Village here. 

Gotta love old Florida style. Honor system for fruit picked right off the tree that morning. 

Old houses tucked into even older oak trees. 

I wish you could smell the salty air, feel the fresh sea breeze, and hear the ospreys as they hunt for fish. You'll just have to go experience for yourself! 

Glad to see history being preserved and appreciated. 

Scenic route, incorporated August 7, 1887

Groove mid-century house with Coke bottle glass 😍

The wide porch and low tree branches!

Lawndale hours of operation

Spring rolls and tom kah gai soup at Thai Thai

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Visiting Walt Disney World During COVID-19 (With and Without Kids)

 I've been asked a lot and been promising to write this post for some time now. Two months after Walt Disney World officially opened back up since closing down during the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 (March-July), here it is. 

I've visited the various theme parks and resorts around 20 times since reopening, and have seen some changes and learned a lot through the process. 

I could write a short novel on the subject, but instead will just jam out the major points and then maybe ramble on a bit after that...

- Masks are required for all guests aged 2+. Yes, the masks add to the heat and are not enjoyable, but are a fair tradeoff for being able to be at Disney and enjoy a small break from reality. Wear them correctly and use common sense.

- I prefer the disposable masks myself; they are lightweight and I don't have to wash them. My four year old likes the official Disney masks the best. He wears a size Medium. (Disney masks run smaaaaaaallll). 

- Bring at least two, if not three masks per person per day. It's nice to put on a fresh mask after sweating, eating, etc halfway through the day.

- If you bring a stroller:

    - bring a rain cover. Pack it and it won't rain ;) (More Rain Tips to be linked here...)

    - Don't overload it just because you can. The more stuff you schlep, the more you'll have to do to get through security, fold it up if to get on a water transportation, bus, escalator, etc. Diaper bag, rain cover, stroller fan, Yeti of ice water, and a misting water bottle are our must-haves).

    - if you have a young baby, bring a carrier. Plan to park the stroller in one 'land' and explore it all using the carrier. Then move on to the next. 

-The lines are going to look long due to social distancing. The wait times are sometimes inflated, but better to be safe than sorry, and it makes for a happy feeling when the actual wait time is much lower. You know what I mean. 

- Speaking of lines, PICK ONE LINE AND STAY IN IT!!! When you arrive at security or the turn stiles, there will be lines. Choose one and relax. Don't start a long day on a hectic note. You'll get it, I promise (as long as you have your ticket media and Park Pass...)

- The parks are closing early in the evening, but there are ways to extend the magic. Just think, when Walt Disney World opened in 1971, it was dubbed as The Vacation Kingdom of the World, and the ONE park, Magic Kingdom, closed at 6. People shopped, dined, danced, enjoyed water activities, etc. Try to reframe it as old school and retro, but with masks! Ha!

- Remember, at the end of the day, you are choosing to be there and experience Disney during this unprecedented time. You can choose to enjoy it or not. Try to make the best of it and understand that the Cast Members are there for you to escape and play. They're doing more than their original job description asked. We all are because PANDEMIC. 

- Be nice, smile, and HAVE FUN! 

(Also, contact me when you're ready to book a trip. There are so many little pointers, ins and outs, that I can't possibly write here but love to pass along as we 'talk shop' and plan your trip.)

(PS It's free- Disney pays me. Doesn't cost you a penny more. Disney bakes in commission to every price/vacation. When you book through me, I get that. When you book straight through Disney, they keep it.)

(PPS have you SEEN the wait times on hold for Disney lately?? Trust me, you don't want to be doing that unless you're being paid to. So let me!)

Ok but seriously the rules still apply as always: don't over schedule, play to take it slow and/or take a break, try to enjoy the moments and make the best of them. Now there's just an extra layer of stuff to add to the experience. 

Hope this helped. I'm sure I'll add more as things pop into my head. Any questions you have, please ask below. 

As always, thanks for reading. Can't believe some of y'all are still around this here space. XXXOOO