Tuesday, August 14, 2012

August Mini-cation

We had another mini-vacation this past week--odd how many of them involve scale models.  This time is was the IPMS (Internation Plastic Modeler's Society)--the real biggie of the modeling world.  It meets in different locations each year, but this year it happened to be in Orlando--about five hours away.

As we were in no rush to get there we stopped halfway at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.  It's been many years since we've been there, and it's now an amazing place.  They specialize in prehistoric Florida--our favorite being the fossils.  They have an interesting way of displaying them--the skeletons are all in action poses, and on the interpretive boards there are small statues of what the animal would have looked like (as Bob calls it) "upholstered). (and yes--that is a big scary bird).

They have also recently completed a butterfly rainforest. So beautiful and relaxing.  And no-I didn't take this picture.  We forgot to take the camera in so I'm lifting them from their website.

We continued on to Orlando, and after circling around a few times we found our hotel.  It later turned out that driving in circles would be portentious of Things To Come.  The advantage in this case is that while hunting for a hotel we found a tiny hole-in-the wall Thai restaurant.  My kind of place--maybe 12 tables and the owners are also the cooks--and the food delicious.  And the music incongruous--for some reason they were playing Spanish guitar music.  Odd to be eating pork panang while listening to "Spanish Harlem."

I was fascinated by the juxtapostion of the two Floridas.  Orlando is king of edifices of artificiality.  We were almost within walking distances of Universal Studios (including Harry Potter World).  The sprawling metropolis of Disney World was a few miles away.  But just beyond the fence around our hotel was the "real" Florida.  Swamp.  Waiting patiently like an alligator, waiting to take over again.  I found it oddly comforting.

(and no--we didn't visit Harry Potter World or any other attractions.  Not in August, with thousands of other tourists.  No, thank you)

Friday the real adventure began--getting to the IPMS conference, at the Contemporary Resort in Disney World.  We went through the famous gateway of "where dreams come true"--if your dreams include driving around in circles for an hour.  We apparently missed a cutoff, and anywhere we asked directions we got sent to a different resort, or told a wrong turn, or whoever we asked didn't know about the Contemporary Resort (big building--monorail running though it--that one?).  We eventually got there.

The conference was somewhat bigger than others we have been to.

That's part of one of the vendor rooms.  There was also a hanger-sized room of model displays.  I tromped around with Bob for a couple of hours, then found a comfy chair to settle with my book and knitting.  We met for lunch, then parted ways again.  Our original plan had been to spend about a half-day there on both Friday and Saturday, but after the debacle of finding the place he was damned if he'd try to drive in Disneyworld on a Saturday so  he did a Friday marathon instead.

That left Saturday for my Orlando wish--to see an IKEA store.  I don't understand why Tallahassee doesn't have one, being as we have two universities and a community college and IKEA specializes in stuff for apartments.  Like Disney, IKEA is designed to make you get lost and go around in circles so that you see everything.  Unlike Disney, there are frequent maps and the staff actually know where the stuff is.  Although you can buy whole kitchens or living room suites there, I fortunately was not tempted.  It's all rather sleek Danish modern, and my aesthetic leans more towards Victorian/goth/steampunk.  I did get a neat strip of LED lights that I put on my loom:

Otherwise, we just got an armload of small stuff--LED lamps, some artists mannequins, a wine rack.  We found that at checkout is where customer service ends:  we paid, our stuff was shoved to the side of the counter, and we got an abrupt and somewhat mechanical "have a nice day."  No bags.  So we balanced our swag in our arms, and didn't bother to shop the Swedish food section that, for some reason, was beyond the check-out line.

And thence home.  As always, we enjoy these short getaways (except for the driving in circles).

And then . . . we got a call from our vet.  Someone had found a wee calico kitten on the interstate and dropped it off at the vet's office.  They really didn't want to take her to the shelter--could we . . .?

Never mind that RiverSong is now approaching four months old and entering the Crazy Kitten stage--or that we have four other cats.  Meet Noko Marie:

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