Our annual trip to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.
I was maxed out on vacation time at work (couldn’t accrue any more until I used some), so taking the week off worked out perfectly for me. Jill and Eve had walked the Space Coast Half Marathon together on Sunday morning, so they were definitely ready for plenty of relaxation too.
Monday, November 28
Finished packing in the morning. Departed later than usual. Arrived at Vero around four o’clock, after stopping at the nearby Publix supermarket to stock up on some food (such as ice cream).
In the resort lobby we got our photos taken with Santa Goofy and Donald by the Christmas tree (about 10m tall, with turtle ornaments). After several years, this is the first time we’ve gotten to see the place decorated for the holidays; usually we leave right before they put up the tree!
We were given the Olive Ridley cottage (1575), named after a subspecies of turtle. It was all the way at the edge of the resort property, on the opposite end from the campfire, so we had near-complete privacy. (Also, the resort itself seemed nearly empty of people.)
Shutters and Sonya’s, the resort’s two restaurants, are closed as they turn them into a new restaurant named “The Wind and the Waves.” Meanwhile they are using the SeaGrape conference room as their dining area, serving from the new menu. We dined there that evening; the place was empty but for one other couple. We were seated at a “special table” covered in confetti, and given free champagne and cirtus creme brûlée for dessert. They still had Mickey butter (coin-sized pads of butter pressed with a Mickey face); this is the last Disney restaurant to have Mickey butter, and it’s going away with the renovation.
That evening was a clear sky, and there’s practically no light pollution over the ocean, so we enjoyed the star-filled sky for a while.
Tuesday, November 29
Slept in. The cottage was enormous (can accommodate 12 people in a pinch), so we each took an entire bedroom for ourselves. Our cottage has a beautiful view of the beach and the ocean; Eve enjoyed seeing the pelicans fly overhead. We baked orange rolls for breakfast and had Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch, and then Jill and Eve made a trip to Target to pick up cookie baking supplies.
We had dinner at the Green Cabin Room (a comfortable little bar), where we were disappointed to find the menu was smaller than last year (no more burgers and housemade chips), but the pizza wasn’t bad and Jill enjoyed her salad. Afterwards we sat by the pool for a while so that Jill could catch Pokémon. Two lifeguards circled the pool slowly, watching for any emergencies, though there was no one else around. One of the lifeguards (Chance) set up a Pokémon lure for Jill, and a little while later he gave us golf clubs and balls and let us go play a round of minigolf. I beat Jill by one stroke. Eve bemoaned that she wasn’t any good at the game … and then she putted our only hole-in-one.
Wednesday, November 30
Lazy day. Jill baked a coffee cake for breakfast, we had more Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch, then they baked cookies (dark chocolate chip, some with mint chocolate chips, and peanut butter). In-between we played games and watched the ocean, and Eve read some books. For dinner, Jill made spaghetti with meat sauce, but we forgot to bring any spices, so we went to the restaurand and asked the chef and he gave her some oregano, some garlic powder, and some onion powder.
We went to the campfire singalong that evening. There were only two other guests there when we arrived, but eventually there were about ten of us. The campfire guides led us in a song about baby shark, and one about Joe and the button factory, and finally we did the hokey pokey, and then we toasted marshmallows over the fire for s’mores. (Little did I realize, though, that I was being eaten alive by sand flies – they left my legs covered in dozens of welts that itched terribly for the next week. Next time, bug repellent!) We wanted to participate in the stargazing eveng this evening, but the sky was too overcast to see more than a few patches of stars.
The Advent of Code, a programming challenge, began at midnight so I stayed up to do the first day’s challenge.
Thursday, December 1
Cookies for breakfast. Eve and Jill collected seashells and met a nice lady walking her dog on the beach, and Jill posed Lego minifigures and took photos of them. Then they sat by the pool for a while so Jill could catch more Pokémon.
For lunch, we walked to the sandwich shop next to the resort. This was Eve’s first chance to see the resort in the daylight! So, so many tiny lizards, all over the place. And today they took down the walls around the renovated restaurant so that we could get a better look at it, though there still wasn’t much to see. (It missed its reopening date; it’s scheduled for “any day now.”)
That evening we had leftovers for dinner, and then I put on Finding Dory (that we had brought with us – the cottage had a Blu-ray player). We all stayed up late playing Guild Wars 2 together, and then I stayed up ’til midnight again for the daily programming challenge.
Friday, December 2
Jill got up early to see the sunrise over the ocean, and then she cooked us a yummy breakfast of sausage, hash browns, and eggs. Eve then went down to the ocean for a while, then to the pool until early afternoon. I watched a copy of ‘Hamilton’ that a friend had shared with us, a live performance recorded secretly. The quality of the recording was on parallel with a high-school musical, but still it was neat to see the blocking of the scenes.
We had dinner at the restaurant in the conference room again. Much more busy this time, but still a delicious experience (except that Jill didn’t care for the lemon aioli on her BLT flatbread).
The sky was very clear, so we spent some time on our cottage’s deck with our big binoculars, stargazing. And then the evening ended with us trying to eat as much ice cream as we could because we weren’t going to take it home with us.
Saturday, December 3
Eve was up before seven to see the sunrise. We packed to come home, then did our customary walk on the beach (with photos), where we saw lots of Portuguese men o’ war on the sand (odd blue jellyfish-like creatures, which we were careful not to touch!).
Had lunch at Mulligan’s, a restaurant nearby (Eve’s treat). Good conversation on the drive home. Jill and Eve made a quick run to Walgreens for some calomine lotion for me to help with the sandfly bite itching. Dinner was delivered pizza (Eve’s treat, again!).
Sunday, December 4
It was nice to not plunge straight from vacation back into work. Usually we schedule our Vero trip around a weekend; this was the first time we weren’t there on a Sunday, and we missed our usual Sunday brunch there. So instead we scheduled a Sunday brunch at Trail’s End at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campgrounds, after which we took a boat to the Magic Kingdom so that Jill could shop for a few things.
All in all, I’d say it was a successful vacation!