Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year to all!!! Forrest and I have not really done anything special for New Years in a while. Last year I went to my parents' house and he stayed home and studied for the boards. OH, what a difference a year makes! This year we found out that Bama would be playing in the Capital One Bowl on New Years Day in Orlando, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to spice up our New Years weekend! Our faithful football traveling companions, Justin and Farrah (who I am going to start referring to as "the Hayes", since they get married this year and it is easier to say) were game so we ordered our tix and made our plans! I have been looking forward to the trip since early December, but with Christmas, it was really hard to think about it until it was time to hit the road! We picked the Hayes up early Thursday morning and headed out. Forrest got a "On the Way to see Bama Play" magnet for the car and we were both super excited to have an opportunity to use it so soon!

Ready to go! Notice Forrest's new magnet!
We were not sure how long it would actually take us to there with traffic and everything, but it was really not too bad. I think our trip to Duke was just as long! We made just a few stops and arrived in about 9 hours. Thank goodness for GPS--every time we hit a patch of traffic, Justin and Forrest would be on their phones, planning out an alternate route. I'm pretty sure that is why we got there in record time! Since we got there earlier than expected, we checked into our hotel (the Sonesta, which Justin booked for a record low rate) and then headed out to Orlando Premium Outlets. I was PUMPED about the outlets because they had a Tory Burch AND I had some Christmas money burning a hole in my purse. Well, apparently there are 2 Orlando Premium Outlets and we were at the wrong one! Even so, we had a great job scouting out bargains. Farrah and I hit up Kate Spade, Coach, Loft, and several other outlets while the guys did their own "manly" shopping. We were so excited that we forgot that we hadn't eaten dinner, so we grabbed something at the food court before heading home. Forrest and I didn't score any loot, but we were hopeful that we'd hit some good sales at the other Premium Outlets later in the week.
On Friday morning we were up early again so we could go to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. We chose this park because it hosts the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and Forrest is a major fan. Justin and Farrah were great sports and agreed to go with us (especially Farrah, who doesn't like rides and held our stuff all day!). We got there pretty early and headed to the WWHP first. You have to stand in line to get into HP world so we were glad we got there early. Apparently it is so popular they have to do this for crowd control. Once we got in, we understood why! There was a full fledged Hogsmeade Village, complete with Hogwarts school! It was like stepping back in time!

Hogsmeade Village

The Baileys at Hogwarts
All of us, HP fans or not, were amazed at the details the construction people put into the stores, rides, and restaurants. Forrest was like a kid on Christmas. Since he has read all of the books, everything meant a lot more to him and he was explaining it all to the rest of us. I have seen all of the movies so I had a good grasp on it myself, but Justin and Farrah hadn't, so it was nice to have Forrest explaining the significance of everything. We rode the Dragon Challenge--a dueling roller coaster--first. While in line you figure out that you are in the Tri-Wizard tournament--how fun! Even if you are not a rider, it is worth standing in line (if you are a HP fan) because there are so many details along the way!

Signs cheering on the contenders in the Tri-Wizard tourney

You only see this if you stand in line for the Dragon Challenge
We boarded the ride and I immediately freaked. I love roller coasters but it has been a really long time since I rode a seriously one like this. What a thrill! Forrest, Justin and I were all screaming (ok, so really just I was screaming) and thoroughly enjoyed our first ride!! Next, we rode HP and the Forbiden Journey, a simulator ride that makes you feel like you are flying! It was the best ride in the whole park, I think! Even Farrah liked it! We opted to get in the "single rider" line to speed up the wait time and it really was a great option. After that, we never stood in a long line again! They also had lockers to put your stuff in that recognized your finger prints. Is that not the coolest thing? It was like something out of the future! Next, we had a British pub style lunch at the 3 broomsticks, where we ran into my sorority sister Mary Kathryn and her boyfriend. Small world for Bama fans! Forrest enjoyed a "butter beer" before we headed out to Hogsmeade to shop.

Butter beer and Fish and Chips!
My favorite was HoneyDukes, the candy store, with chocolate frogs and wands and of course, every flavor beans! We wanted to buy some as souvenirs for my mom and Davis, also HP fans, but we figured they might melt.

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A word on the weather, while I'm at it. It was the BEST weather ever--about 75 and a cool breeze! From now on, I think we should take a trip to Florida every year during Christmas just to warm up! We left Gadsden with snow on the ground and then the next day I was wearing flip flops and a tank top! Ok, back to HP. We rode the Flight of the Hippogriff, a family style coaster, next. It was really cool because you got to see Haggred's house (ok I don't know if that is how you spell it-I never read the book) while you waited in line. Unfortunately, Forrest lost his hat on the ride, but we are hoping that they find it and mail it to us, as promised!!

Last pic with the hat
Before we left we decided to ride the other coaster in the Dragon Challenge, and decided that we should definitely get in the front row, because the roller coasters appear to come at each other. This was the most frightening ride EVER!!! It really looks like you are going to smash into the other train of people and just before you do the ride does a back flip and you see the other people's feet rushing past your own! AHHHH!!! When we got off we were all a little wiggly feeling!!
In an effort to calm ourselves down we went to Dr. Seuss world next. It was just like being a Who down in Whoville at Christmas!!!

Farrah and I with a Who
After a few fun rides, we decided to split up. Forrest was over coasters and wanted to explore Jurassic Park and Farrah decided to read our book club book on her Kindle (I am super jealous of it, btw) while Justin and I rode the Incredible Hulk coaster. This coaster is unlike any I've ever ridden (except I rode the Hulk already in 2002). Instead of starting slow and creaking you up a hill, it shoots you out like a bullets! Crazy!!! Next, Justin, Farrah and I rode Spiderman, a simulator ride, before meeting up with Forrest. We watching the "Agro Circus" where they had motorcycles riding around in a globe cage with a guy standing in the middle! I was no fan of this---it made me too nervous! By the time the circus was over, we were exhausted and had ridden everything thing in the park, so we decided to head back to the hotel and rest before dinner. In the grand tradition of Hayes/Bailey road trips, we ended up eating at Outback for our NYE dinner. We figured that we had eaten at one on both of our previous road trips (SC, on the way to Duke and LA) so we might as well add Outback FLA to the list. Since it was NYE, we went all out. Drinks, appetizers, steaks for dinner. Next, we went to Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney to ring in the NYE with thousands of our closets friends (haha). The coolest part was the Lego store--all kinds of Legos AND all kinds of enormous things made out of Legos!

T-Rex made of Legos

Lego dogs!
By mid-night, we were exhausted and decided to beat the traffic back to the hotel. We felt a little lame leaving before the stroke of 12, but hey, you do what you gotta do! It actually turned out for the best because while we were on the interstate (the only ones, just about) we got to see the fireworks at ALL the theme parks! Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, all of them!! We felt so sneaky and smart!!
Saturday we woke up in a New Year ready for Gameday!! We got dressed in our gameday finery and headed to the Citrus bowl for some football fun!

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The stadium was old but the view from our seats was amazing.

The bowl gave everyone "bambams" to use during the game
Again, we couldn't have asked for better weather! We started beating Michigan State early on and we never let up. We totally dominated them! Our defense was crushing their players and will and their poor guys looked so wiped out! It was GREAT to see the team do so well and we were shouting and cheering the whole time! Forrest had never been to a bowl and the last one I had been too was when I was in middle school so we were really excited to be able to experience a bowl victory! It was also cool to see the awards presentation at the end and hear Nick Saban say some great things about our team!

49-7!!
After a taxi ride back (a taxi that was almost stolen by some hooligans but Forrest luckily stopped that nonsense) we got ready to head to dinner at Carrabbas. Justin and Farrah had a gift card they wanted to use so we happily obliged. Plus, who doesn't love Italian??? The traffic was awful and it took forever to get there, but we had a nice time at dinner nonetheless. Next, it was FINALLY time for the Tory Burch outlet!!! (Note: the Orlando Premium Outlets on Vineland have TB-not the other ones). My birthday is in a few days and I wanted to buy myself something pretty with my Christmas money!! I found so many cool things but I settled on some TB flipflops. After scoring my first bargain, I was unstoppable. I also found some jeans for $10 at Charlotte Russe AND a pink peacoat from Juicy Couture for 75% off that fit me perfectly!! I was SUPER excited about my purchases, obviously! These outlets had everything from Rue 21 to Dior. I went into Roberto Cavalli, Barneys, and saw Ferragamo and Armani! Seriously! I didn't know places like that have outlets, but even so, I still couldn't afford their prices, despite the discount (although I am coveting a Cavalli gown that was SUPER cheap in comparison to its original price but still a little rich for my blood).
On Sunday morning, Forrest and I went to Mass at St. James Cathedral before picking up the Hayes and heading out. Farrah's Kindle screen messed up so she was planning on reading my book in the car since I get motion sickness. However, she had a brilliant idea--she would read TO me! She literally read to me the entire way home and we were able to finish our book for book club. I haven't been read to since I was little, I suppose, and I could totally get into it! I am going to have to get some books on tape now (or hire Farrah to ride with me places so she can read). We caught the boys listening in on us a few times too---I don't know how they could help it, the book is amazing! We had a very smooth ride home (including a stop at IHOP for lunch where we got NUTELLA crepes!) and made it back in about 10 hrs. After dropping the Hayes off, we picked up Sonny at Forrest's parents' house and then Ruffles at my parents'. We are very lucky to have parents that don't mind keeping our dogs! Once we made it home we quickly unloaded and hopped in bed! We were not too pleased with the freezing temps but we were happy to be home safe and sound. Now to get back into the swing of things in a new year!!

Bailey New Years Resolutions:
Forrest: work out at least 3 times a week
Catherine: practice piano!!

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