Orlando, Florida

Let’s try this one more time. I had the unfortunate event of writing this post yesterday, only to lose it upon attempting to save the post. šŸ˜¦

2014-07-12 - LAX - MCO

Earlier this week I traveled to Orlando, Florida for a business conference. I continued to stray away from Southwest Airlines when traveling cross country to get direct flights instead of having one or more layovers. This resulted in about $50 more than a flight with Southwest, but I think it’s worth the extra cost. Even if the company was paying for it, I would do the same with my own money. In addition, Virgin America continues to have one of the more comfortable seats in the airline industry, wide enough to fit my not-so-small frame, high enough on the back, along with having a “riser” on the seat back for taller individuals. They also have one of the better in-flight entertainment systems in the industry, with a lot of channels I actually want to watch.

We stayed at the Orlando World Center Marriott, just minutes from Disney World and SeaWorld, although I didn’t go to either of them. I actually didn’t leave the hotel from the time I arrived on the 12th until I left on the 16th. Ā The hotel is large and clean, with a nice pool, which I went to on Sunday for an hour or so. The portion of the conference I attended ended on Tuesday and my flight didn’t leave until late Wednesday. The hope was to spend a good portion of the day Wednesday lounging by the pool, but it wasn’t meant to be as thunderstorms took over the day.

Orlando World Center Marriott Pool

There were a couple of new things I tested out for the first time during the trip. A few months ago I applied for a TSA Preāœ“ā„¢ Known Traveler Number (KTN), which would allow me to go through security without removing my belt, shoes, jacket, and computer from the bag. The cost was $85 and the KTN is valid for 5 years. Now that I’ve tried it I can unequivocally say it was worth the money. Getting through security at LAX and MCO (Orlando) was smooth and quick. I just put everything in my computer bag, placed the bag on the conveyer belt and walked through the security screening area. It was as painless as going through security can possibly be.

I also used AppleĀ iPhoneĀ Passbook as my boarding pass for the first time on the return trip from Orlando. Using the Passbook I was able to check my bag, get through security, and board the plan by just scanning the iPhone screen. Again, it was smooth and quick. However, I did still print a boarding pass, which I kept in my pocket just in case, but never needed it throughout the trip.

The only inconvenience from the trip was checking my bag at LAX. I paid for the checked bag the night before. However, it still took almost 45 minutes to check my bag after arriving at the airport. This was really too long. I arrived at the airport just about 1 hr. 45 minutes from the departure time and didn’t have enough time to eat breakfast at the airport prior to the flight. The lines for the various food shops were also quite long and not moving fast. I ate for the first time later that night after arriving in Orlando.

Sunset from MCO - LAX

Photo Friday – Spring Training 2008

20130226-085824.jpgThe past few years I’ve been somewhat consistent posting about my travels for both work and pleasure as well as posting during each week of the fantasy football season. Well, it seams travel has slowed down lately, so there isn’t much to post about between now and the start of the regular season. As such, I’ve decided to start a Photo Friday theme. Every Friday I’ll post a picture that has some sort of meaning in my life. It might be a picture from travels during years past. It might be a picture from the previous week. It might not even be a picture I took, but something I saw online and found interesting or funny.

This week I’m going back in my time machine to February 2008. That “spring” I went to Port St. Lucie, Florida to see one of my favorite sports teams get ready for the upcoming season. That was also the first year Johan Santana pitched for the NY Metropolitans. He went on to pitch the first no-hitter in Mets history during the 2012 season. Although his stats haven’t lived up to expectations, pitching a no-hitter was special for the history of the franchise. This picture was taken during his first batting practice session on February 22, 2008, assuming the information on my camera was set correctly at the time. You can read more about that trip here.

Feel free to recommend certain topics for pictures to add. I’m open to anything and have over a decade worth of pictures to choose from.

2008-02 – Port St. Lucie, FL

Pictures from Port St. Lucie, FL. home to the Spring Training site for the New York Mets.

Got myself a sunburn!

The past few weeks I was getting a little tired of the cold weather. After doing some research, I found this group that “trains” for spring every February and March in Florida. Sounded a little like a cult to me, but figured it was worth it to go to Florida for some warm weather. This one group I researched trains in Port St. Lucie, FL, so that’s where I went on Tuesday. I started to do some additional research on Tuesday night at a local bar where the bartender was aware of this group. Actually, her father works at this secret training site. The bartender said to show up at the site around 11 AM to watch them train. This still sounds a little weird, but if I can just watch and enjoy the warm weather I would be ok with that. After enjoying a Starbucks coffee on Wednesday morning, I ventured over to the site to watch them train. Turns out I wasn’t the only one interested in this phenomenon. There were a few hundred people there, from kids to adults, some were even hounding the trainees for autographs. Some of the trainees were gracious to the watchers while others just ignored them.

If you haven’t figured out what I’m referring to and need some help, I’ll give you one last hint. The trainees were dressed up wearing shirts with numbers on their back and the word Mets on the front. I’ve wanted to go to the Mets Spring Training site in Port St. Lucie for at least 10 years, so I can now cross that off my bucket list – not that I’ve seen the movie, but I like the reference.

On Wednesday and Friday I watched the Mets practice. The highlight of the trip had to be the last thing that happened before heading back to the airport. There are about 5 fields at Tradition Field and they were in the process of taking batting practice at each of the fields. Some had coaches pitching and some had players pitching. Johan Santana pitched his first batting practice session to David Wright and some other players with Omar Minaya (Mets GM) watching. On the way out, Pedro Martinez was walking on to the main practice field when he decided to pop a squat on the corner of the outfield grass and sign autographs for little kids.

On Thursday I crossed over the bridge from Port St. Lucie to Hutchinson Island, stopping at Jensen Beach Park. I didn’t stay at the beach long since it was very windy and clouds were rolling in. It ended up raining most of the afternoon. Before the rain hit, I did manage to walk around downtown Stuart berfore grabbing some food at Duffy’s, which is a sports bar/restaurant chain in the Florida area.

It was a quick trip, but was pretty cool to see the Mets up close and overall a fun/relaxing few days in Florida. Check out the photo albums here for more pictures.