The sucking vortex of ill-marked, multiply-named, non-Euclidean roadways designed by a disgruntled parking lot architect that is Orlando
Today we left for Orlando for a short weekend getaway. The plan is to arrive in Orlando (technically, Kissimmee) just before dinner, check into the resort (Bunny has a timeshare in the Orlando area), then head over to Emeril's at Universal City Walk for dinner. Tomorrow is a trip to St. Petersburg to visit the Salvador Dali Museum, then back to Orlando for Blue Man Group. Then drive home on Sunday.
The trip to Orlando was uneventful. The trip in Orlando was horrible. Orlando is this huge sucking vortex of ill-marked, multiply-named, non-Euclidean roadways designed by disgruntled parking lot architects (for instance, W Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway is also SR-500, SR-530, US-192, US-17 and US-441; then there's S Apopka Vineland Road, aka CR-435, Vineland Road, and SR-535, which is not to be confused with Apopka Vineland Road, which isn't connected to S Apopka Vineland Road, and is also known as CR-435 and Clarcona Road, which turns into S Park Ave, then N Park Ave before turning into Rock Springs Road where it ends). Worse yet, the map Bunny purchased prior to the trip turned out to be largely useless.
My finger is at the approximate location of our resort on the map Bunny bought. We have this huge 4′×4′ map … and our resort isn't on the map.
And here's the major road we were on for most of the trip, US-192:
Yup, not on the map either.
We almost didn't make it to Emeril's because I read the map wrong (I had to guess where we were) and thought we were on N Orange Blossom Trail (aka US-441, US-92, US-17, SR-500) when in reality we were on S Orange Avenue (an easy mistake when it's also known as Old Dixie Highway and CR-527—I'm telling you, the roads around Orlando are eeeeeeeeeeviiiiiiilllllllllll) and nothing was quite matching up.
Driving home from Emeril's, we got horribly lost and I was sure we were headed west (next stop—Tampa) on Poinciana Blvd, but it turned out we were headed south on Poinciana Blvd before doing a U-turn and stopping at a 7-11 on the corner of US-192 and Poinciana Blvd, where I purchansed our second useless map on the trip—this one at least had US-192 but our resort was still off the map.
(Later, I learned that had we stayed going south on Poinciana Blvd, we would have hit S Orange Blossom Trail (CR-532, US-17, US-92), which, unlike N Orange Blossom Trail that runs north/south, runs east/west. Going east, it turns into S John Young Parkway (aka N Bermuda Avenue) which runs north/south; N Orange Blossom Trail runs parallel to S John Young Parkway, oddly enough—I'm telling you, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeviiiiiiiilllllllll.)
The eeeeeeeeeviiiiilllllll roads around the Orlando area had it's effect on us—I don't recall a time when Bunny and I were arguing more than when we were driving around the area.
Ah, Emeril's. We arrived half an hour late for our reservation and had to wait maybe ten minutes to get seated. Bunny and I were escorted upstairs and lead to this small room (perhaps, 15′×20′) with windows on three sides (man, the geometry of the Orlando area is very odd) and beneath each window, a table.
I swear, there were more waitstaff working the room than patrons (there was only one other couple in the room with us). So the service was excellent. It was also much quieter than in the main dining areas, which was a bonus. At least we could hear each other in conversation.
I enjoyed the crab-stuffed artichoke; Bunny loved the White Truffle Flatbread. It's hard to go wrong with Filet Mignon (what I had) but the carrots were a bit undercooked for my liking. Bunny enjoyed the Pan Roasted Redfish. And of course, dessert—Double Chocolate Fudge Cake for me (mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm) and Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée for Bunny. For a “once-in-a-year” experience, it was quite nice.
Bunny and I managed to escape the sucking vortex of ill-marked, multiply-named, non-Euclidean roadways designed by a disgruntled parking lot architect that is Orlando for the coastal environs of St. Petersburg to view the Salvador Dali Museum.
We arrived in the mid-afternoon and decided against the guided tour and spent a few hours reviewing the works of Salvador Dalí. I enjoyed the experience and was glad I went. I didn't realize that Salvador did more than just melting clocks.
Bunny, however, didn't care for his work that much. It turns out that while she's heard of him, she wasn't familiar with his work; she enjoyed Escher more than Dalí.
The roads around Orlando destroy your soul. By the time we got back to the resort, the bickering between Bunny and me over driving had driven me close to a breakdown. I came very close to skipping out on Blue Man Group but a few minutes of meditative silence gave me the resolve to brave the non-Euclidean Orlando roads once more (odd, since I wasn't the one driving).
In fact, until we were sitting in our seats waiting for the show to start, I was very close to losing it (I'm telling you, the roads around Orlando are eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeviiiiiilllll).
And I'm glad I went.
It's very hard to describe the Blue Man Group experience. It's part concert (bring ear plugs, or ask one of the ushers for ear plugs—there's a ton of drumming), part performance art, part comedy, part social commentary and part audience participation. The energy level is high and it's just this … incredible experience that you have to … um … experience live in order to “get” it.
The entire trip, the sucking vortex of ill-marked, multiply-named, non-Euclidean roadways designed by a disgruntled parking lot architect that is Orlando, the “eh” experience of the Salvador Dali Museum, the loudness of The Hard Rock Cafe (where Bunny and I ate dinner after The Blue Man Group—it was next door and still open), everything, was worth it just to see The Blue Man Group.
In our room was a small booklet with advertisements and coupons for the various attractions in the area. Included in this free booklet were maps of the area. Not to scale and crudely drawn, but way more useful than the large “we paid good money for these useless wastes of paper” maps.
That last map was more than accurate enough to get us back on the right road after driving out the wrong exit from Universal City Walk.
Those Orlando roads are eeeeeeeeeviiiiiillllllllll! So are the maps. Buyer beware!
We're home safe and sound, far away from the eeeeeeeeeviiiiiiiilllllllll streets of Orlando.