Blogging Commerce Driving Food Geography God News Shopping Travel

Orange County Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last Saturday morning I headed northward from my new home in the Florida Heartland (rural South Central Florida). I drove through Polk County – and then into Osceola County – and then into Orange County. (That’s where Orlando is, and I did enter into its sprawling city limits.)

Once I entered into northwestern Osceola County – rural evolved into suburban – with more homes, and stores, and restaurants, and of course – heavy traffic.

I spent the day with my brother, sister-in-law, and two nieces – visiting from the Dallas Texas area. As an aside – news broke that (Saturday) afternoon about the mass shooting at the Allen Premium Outlets. My family lived in Allen for about 6 years from 2007 to 2013, and since 2019 they’ve lived in a nearby suburb within a half-hour of that large outdoor shopping mall. I’ve been to that mall countless times with my family while visiting them. I lift-up to our God Almighty the family and friends of the victims of the shooting. May He comfort them in this difficult time.

Back in the Orlando area – me and my family spent much of the day at the Orange County Convention Center at a national cheerleading tournament. (My youngest niece is a cheerleader with her 9 and 10-year-old peers.) After that we spent several hours at Disney Springs. Once upon a time (mid-1990s to mid-2000s) I spent many vacation nights partying at Pleasure Island – which is now known as The Landing. I even had an annual pass to the nightclubs for many years. We enjoyed a late-Lunch at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Kitchen at The Landing. The food was good, abundant, and expensive. The front of the restaurant faced one of those former clubs that me and my brother loved to hang out at.

It was a fun but exhausting 189-mile day-trip. It was about 14 miles longer than it should’ve been. That evening I accidentally missed the entrance to the hotel that my family was staying at, and we ended-up on I-4 for a frightening 7-mile stretch. As you may know (as a longtime reader of this blog) I don’t drive on interstates, expressways, or turnpikes anymore (with rare exceptions) due to anxiety attacks. Luckily – it was near bumper-to-bumper slow-moving traffic during the entire stretch, so I was sort of fine with it.

It was good to finally return home to paradise in the Florida Heartland after that Saturday adventure !

Next #TravelThursday I’ll look back at a fun cruise from exactly 19 years ago. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2023 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Blogging Food Geography Shopping Travel

My Carnival Celebration Vacation 2023

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I wrote about my day visiting Castillo San Cristóbal y Castillo San Felipe del Morro en Viejo San Juan Puerto Rico. That was Day 4 of my 7-day cruise aboard the Carnival Celebration from Sunday January 08TH 2023 to Sunday January 15TH 2023.

This week it’s on to Day 5 – and the 3RD and final port-of-call in Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas U.S.V.I.

But First: It was another day of full-use of my cell phone (iPhone) without any extra International “roaming” charges, so I got all caught-up (again) on the Interwebs. (I rarely use my iPhone as a phone. I use it mostly as a little computer that fits in the palm of my hand.)

Before the cruise when I was researching and purchasing shore excursions to do on the islands – I didn’t really see anything that I was interested in on St. Thomas. I could go back to the top of the mountain (1,500 feet above sea level) to that big gift shop / liquor store (Mountain Top), and take-in the views from up there. But every good cruise has a fun and relaxing day on the ship when there’s not that many other people around, and I decided that St. Thomas Day would be my personal “Fun Day On Ship”.

Well – a lot of people on the ship had the same idea as me. Of the approximate 6,000 passengers – perhaps 2 out of 3 went ashore (just a rough estimate). That means 1 out of 3 stayed onboard – or 2,000 out of 6,000. The Carnival Celebration – after all – is a very nice and beautiful and modern and huge cruise ship – the biggest and brightest that Carnival has to offer.

I actually did get off the ship for about 90 minutes of walking around the strip shopping center that sits adjacent to the port. I wasn’t planning on buying anything – just browsing – and getting some exercise in.

That was the first part of my Breakfast – courtesy of Emeril Lagasse. (He has a bistro on the ship.) The second part consisted of a half-dozen powdered beignets with strawberry sauce and chocolate sauce. (That’s why I needed those 90 minutes of walking off the ship.)

After that it was back on the ship to resume my “Fun Day On Ship” and explore portions of the ship that I had not previously seen. Oh – and it was time to eat again.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll wrap-up my cruise review of the Carnival Celebration with some final thoughts, and then I’ll reveal my plans for my next (25TH) cruise. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2023 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Blogging Commerce Driving Shopping Travel


Welcome back to #TravelThursday. I was going to write about something different this week, but then I decided to wait until next week to write about that. Such is life as a blogger. Those of you who blog know what I mean. It’s always best to write about what is fresh on your mind in the moment rather than what you were planning to write about.

So last Thursday morning I did a Target run here in my hometown for the first time ever. That’s because we actually have a Target store here in Homestead Florida for the first time ever. It’s the southernmost Target in the contiguous 48 states. It just opened last month.

The next nearest Target is over 30 minutes away in normal traffic. It’s physically located in an awkward location. It’s a regular-sized Target of 124,794 square feet (not a Super Target) – built 25 years ago.

Our brand-new Target is just 3 miles away from my home. It’s also physically located in an awkward location, and people unfamiliar with our local area may have a difficult time trying to find it.

We got a smaller Target. At 72,301 square feet it’s about half the size of a typical Target. When you walk in – it’s noticeable small. You can easily see all 4 walls of the building. Many people are complaining about that in online reviews of the store. Target is actually building more smaller stores than larger ones. In fact – they even build stores that are half the size of the one that we got !

To me our store seems packed merchandise-wise, but it’s laid-out in a weird way – particularly with the smaller grocery and toiletry area. I believe that a major flaw with that area is the signage that’s hanging from the ceiling and facing the wrong way. You actually can’t read any of it if you’re looking down the aisles to see what’s there, as the signs don’t face outward. You actually have to go to the middle of an adjacent aisle to read what’s on the signs on either of the next aisles !

Nevertheless – I’m glad that we finally got a Target here in my hometown – even if it’s a half-Target. It’s also got a little Starbucks inside of it. That makes it even better. I’ll be visiting both on a fairly-regular basis – now that I’m in the Target Circle !

Next #TravelThursday I’ll go the distance. At least that’s what I’m planning to write about. That’s subject to change. Such is life as a blogger. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Blogging Health Holidays Shopping Travel

Step By Step

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. I’m on my 4TH smart watch now in 7 years. I was introduced to the wonderful world of Fitbit back in November 2015. It was one of my surprise #ThanksChristmasGiving gifts that year from my family. I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t really know what a Fitbit was back then. They bought me a Fitbit Charge. I eventually got that first Charge replaced with a new one free-of-charge because the wrist band broke on it. After a few years I got a Fitbit Blaze to replace my Charge, and that was definitely an upgrade. I had to replace the wrist band for it several times, but recently it’s been increasingly difficult to find replacements because it’s obsolete. (I’ve been lucky to find it mostly via Amazon.)

I asked my brother for a Fitbit Sense 2 (brand-new in 2022) as my main #ThanksChristmasGiving gift this year, and that’s exactly what I was expecting to open at the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving morning.

I did not get that. I removed the wrapping paper, and there it was – an Apple Watch. For a few moments I was disappointed. My brother kind of sensed that, as he mentioned that he had the gift receipt for it in case I didn’t want it.

I don’t return gifts. I embrace gifts. So as is tradition on Thanksgiving morning – after everyone in the family opened all of the gifts underneath the Christmas tree – I went upstairs to pack. (I usually drive or fly back home the next day.)

But before packing for the return trip home – I unpacked my new Apple Watch, and I charged it up all the way while doing research for it online. (I knew nothing about Apple Watch until I read all about it.) The more I read – the more I got excited about it. I was looking forward to having it completely charged so that I could take off my Fitbit Blaze for the final time and put on my Apple Watch for the first time. And so I did that.

My new Apple Watch has been on my left wrist ever since then – with the exception of showering every day and recharging it every couple of days. I even wear it to bed to monitor my sleep. In a nutshell – I love it. It’s got far more features than my former Fitbit Blaze – particularly all of the charts and graphs on the various iPhone apps associated with it.

I wonder how long this wrist band is going to last ?

I guess I’ll be with Apple Watch indefinitely now. Fitbit had a good 7-year run on my wrist.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll go the distance. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp