Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Painting with a Twist - Orlando, FL

Recently my husband and I joined another couple for a date night.  I have heard about this place from a few others and thought let's give it a try.  The funny thing is that none of us have paint or do anything creative, but I thought how bad can it be and we should give it a try.  I went on the Painting with a Twist's website and perused through the calendar to see what types of paintings were on the horizon. 

They have 2 different types of classes "singles" which means that everyone paints the same picture and "couples" where each of you paint a canvas that when put together forms a large cohesive painting.  The cool thing is that the "couples" paintings can also stand on their own so you don't have to live together to take that class. Upon searching I found a couples class that had a beach scene that looked like it could be an easy task for a few artistic beginners.

The class was about 3 hours long and the instructor was great.  You get all of the paint, canvas and utensils to create your work of art as well as a smock to wear to cover your clothes.  During your painting they have a bar that sells wine and beer to get you in the creative mindset.  The 2 hour classes are $35/per person and the 3 hour are $45/per person.  It seems a little pricey, but dinner can cost just about that much and you have nothing to hang out your walls to remind you about the experience at a later date.

Check out our finished products!!!

Here is a group picture from everyone that participated that night

I highly recommend trying this place out with either your spouse, girls night out, they even have kids classes.  They also have a private room for parties.  Regular classes are 15 and up.  Kids' and family classes are 7 and up.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Titanic the Experience - Orlando, FL


Recently I haven't had as much time to blog or travel as I would like so when someone told me that they had recently visited the Titanic experience on International drive and thought it was wonderful I figured I had to go.

Before you start the exhibit you receive a boarding pass with the name of a person that was aboard the ship.  At the end you get to see if your person was saved or died at sea. (PS I lived but my husband didnt make it)

The exhibit was redesigned in January 2012 by the RMS Titanic inc.  They have guided tours and prerecorded tours available.  I suggest the guided tour as the guides are in character as one of the individuals who were upon the ship that fateful day.

Upon entering you become a passenger and travel back in time to 100 years ago, where authentic artifacts and interactive storytellers in period costume allow you to visit the unforgettable sights, sounds, and emotions aboard the ship that night. The tour includes full scale room re-creations where you visit Titanic's Grand Staircase, First Class Parlor Suite, Boilers, Captain's Bridge and Promenade Deck and the infamous glacier that caused the wreck.

the middle - steering - propeller for the ship the other 2 are twice as big

only 3 of the 4 steam pipes are real - the 4th is fake and is a storage closet

firt class accomodations - everything was Tiffany glass and first rate

the captains wheel- and the conditions that were out that night -no moon = really dark
the glacier represents the size that the crew saw above the water - however it is 4 times larger underneath - it is also 28 degrees and very chilly to the touch

You can view more than 400 unique pieces of memorabilia and 100 artifacts recovered from the wreck site of Titanic- some of which have recently completed conservation and are on display for the  very first time. Some of the pieces include a portion of the Ship's hull, the Captain's wheel and personal belongings from Titanic's passengers and crew.

Trained actors in period costume portray famous Titanic notables, sharing stories of her passengers and crew during an hour-long guided journey. Upon the end of the exhibit there is an extensive Underwater Room, displaying an 8-foot replica of Titanic as she appears on the bottom of the Atlantic today, including the second largest piece of Titanic ever recovered a 3 ton portion of the ship's hull.

Between 1987 and 2004 the RMS Titanic Inc has recovered over 5,500 artifacts. 

We received the Florida resident special and our adventure for the day came to a little less than $40 - you can check online for coupons -

I was completely impressed with the exhibit.  I wasn't sure what to expect and I learned so much and it was so interesting to see the items made then and how they survived the wreck, and the ocean floor for so long.  It is a truly heart-wrenching story to find out all of the errors that occurred that prevented those poor people from being rescued that night.  Thank goodness the issues that arose have been since changed so that it won't happen again.  For instance freighters and passenger shipped used different types of distress signals so no one knew they had an issue even though 2 ships were less than 2 miles away and could have easily made it to help.  Or that flares used to be silver and white and the freight ships thought they were fireworks and not flares for help. 

If you have ever watched the movie or are interested in the Titanic I would suggest visiting the exhibit.  The tour takes about an hour and then you are allowed to go back the beginning and take your time going back through.

I didn't want to take tooo many pictures of the exhibit as I wanted to leave something to the imagination and let you explore the place for yourself. 

Love pictures - you can have your picture as the King or Queen of the world with the green screen of the ocean and bow as well as on the grand staircase.

Want to do something more? They also have dinner experiences where you can have either a 3 or 4 course meal and celebrate the way the passengers would have on the Titanic. 

Check it out today - http://www.titanictheexperience.com/orlando/special-events.html

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hontoon Island State Park - Deland, FL


For the past couple of years I have been exploring the different state parks around the state of Florida and one really popped out as something different - Hontoon Island State Park.  Why does is stand out? Well because it is the only state park in Florida that you have to take a boat or ferry to get to.

This past weekend Duane and I decided that it was time to explore this island and see what it has to offer.  It took us approximately an hour to get to the park from our house as we decided to take the more scenic route and stay away from the highway.

Upon taking our turn to get to the road for the park we noticed a nice little restaurant on the water and decided to eat before we started hiking. Shady Oaks is a small little restaurant that can be accessed by land or by water using their docks.  The food was very tasty and extremely reasonable.

After lunch we meandered the rest of the way up the back road and finally arrived at our destination.  This park has no entry fee and you will put up directly to the parking lot.  There is an area to stand and that attracts the attention of the ferry guide.  The ferry runs anytime anyone is standing on either bank.  It is an electric, solar driven ferry and the guide tells you a little history of the area.

Upon arriving at the island you are greeted by a concession area, information desk and museum that explains the flora, fauna and history of the island.  There are picnic tables that are setup along the perimeter of the area so that you can enjoy a meal under the shade close to the St. Johns River.  There are a few playground items for the kids to run and play on.

Hontoon State Park is very rich with evidence of the Native American culture that lived in the area.  A lot of the trails were very muddy as this has been an extremely rainy season, so we stayed in the more open, cleared areas.  We will be going back in March when it is more dry to explore the entire island.

You can stay on the island exploring anytime from 8am to one hour before sunset.

To find more about the state park - directions, hours, information - click here - http://www.floridastateparks.org/hontoonisland/

After coming back across the island we decided to see what else was around the area.  A little further down is the Hontoon Island Marina and Resort.  Here you can catch the Blue Heron River Tour - it is a 2 hour tour down the St. Johns River - They leave at 10am and 1pm each day - see website for more information or directions- http://blueheronrivertours.com/Tours.aspx

Want to get away a little and have a mini vacation in your own backyard - why not check out the Hontoon Land Resort - sits right on the St. Johns river next to the Marina - for more information click here - http://hontoon.com/resort.htm