Saturday, February 10, 2018

Date Night: what do you do?

A vintage sedan turned into a street hot rod.Some of my friends have regular "date nights" with their significant other; some weekly, some bi-monthly. I would think that depending on where you live, it could eventually get to the point where you are "re-doing" the same thing on date nights - dinner at a favourite restaurants, visiting favourite parks, going to the show ... those are nice things to do I guess, but for us, stuff like that just is normal.

We don't have set or regular date nights. For us, a date night would be something special; something we don't normally do. Of course, it doesn't have to be a "night time" event either. Some day time events can be lots of fun, and feel a lot more like a special date than a dinner out.


The front of the Ponderosa restaurant in Kissimmee, Florida.
Wednesday this past week (Feb. 7th) we had a day/evening date. It was a lot like a date ... well, the type I remember from my youth anyways (yeah, I'm kinda old).  There is a city near us in Florida called Kissimmee, and we've visited it on several occasions (once to go to the Boggy Creek Airboat Tour - that was a date too) because they have a Ponderosa restaurant. Doesn't seem like much of a reason I guess, but they have terrific fish and chips and there isn't another one near us. And back home in Canada, well ... we lost all our Ponderosa's years ago.

The sign from the Old Town shopping district in Kissimmee, FloridaThe area where the Ponderosa is has lots of attractions - there's a visitors center next door, and a large gift shop, a pretty big indoor flea market, lots of shopping along the strip there.  Directly across the road is an area called Old Town. Although we've noticed it on each trip, we really hadn't explored it at all, so our date on this day was to visit the flea market near Ponderosa, have an early dinner (around 4ish) and then spend part of the evening exploring Old Town. I'd say the day was a success.

We wandered a little through the flea market, stopping to look at a few things of interest, but for the most part the items on offer were pretty standard for flea markets - warm weather tee shirts, shorts, bikinis and towels, jewellery (both the real stuff and the costume stuff), hats, sunglasses, custom printed tees, coffee mugs ... I'm pretty sure everyone has seen this type of flea market.

A man's straw hat in the fedora style, with strip top cap and black band.
The hubby bought a new fedora :)

There were a few unique offerings that were worth more than a passing glance though. At one booth a couple had wood items (trinket boxes, frames, etc.) that could be emblazoned with your own photograph, right off your cell phone. They didn't seem "burned" on, the finished product looked almost as if they'd drawn it themselves. They were really unique ... we may go back to that one again.

Crossing the road into Old Town ended up being more interesting (and fun) that I'd expected it to be. There were some hot rods parked along the main drag (not as many as I'd expect, but a pleasant surprise was one truck style hot rod with an Ontario license plate ... that's our home province!) but the walking district is quite pretty.

A vintage 2 door sedan in bright turquoise.Cobblestone roads and sidewalks, and down the center meridian (separating the left and right sides of the tiny street) were a variety of stone water fountains (maybe 4 or 5?) with coloured lights.

The type of shops gathered in this area were rather unique - some were retro type contents like the "Groovy Shop" (that was fun, however they were missing the traditional 60s/70s water buffalo sandals <--- I went through several pairs of those from the late 1960s into the late 1970s). They did have lots of tie-dyed items (tie-dye has become fairly popular once again), and some noticeably vintage toys (VW beetles from the early 70s) and a variety of other "hippie" type items.

The music playing in the shop was entirely keeping with the era too ... since it took me back to my teens it was thoroughly enjoyable to wander through the shop. (In fact, several of the shops along the walking route were sort of retro-ish and had music from the appropriate time periods. I enjoyed just listening to all the "cool" hippie music.)

There was also a wonderful popcorn shop ... I really had trouble staying out of that one (but I did ... I didn't go in at all). The smell of popcorn permeated the air, and the shop had many flavours to offer. And yeah, the popcorn was entirely fresh.

Clear boxes of flavoured popcorn.
Fresh Flavoured Popcorn (Credit Briejones via Wikimedia Commons )
Small funnel cake on a cardboard plate.There were shops offering home made ice cream, a bakery, and A & W (which also sold funnel cake ... I've never seen an A & W with funnel cake, so we'll have to check when we get back home to Canada to see if they have it), a cool "British Shop" offering a selection of items from Great Britain (including the Tardis and Dalek); shops offering Asian and Egyptian themed gifts, and the traditional General Store (hubby bought himself a tee in there). Quite a lot of different places to wander into (oh, including a mining operation ... very neat).

Among the stores were entertainment venues ... one outdoor (free) venue with musicians - the night we were there it was country, and quite good. There's also the The Great Magic Hall (a shop, and an indoor magic show with set times and prices), and (oh my goodness!) The Haunted House.

We didn't go into any of those (wrong time for the Magic Show, and my husband would not appreciate the haunted house) but the entertainment from the Haunted House spilled right out into the street.

While talking to a street vendor (sold amazing wind spinners) we heard this enormous "WHOOSH" behind us, and when I turned to look, a huge door (a little like a castle dungeon door) was rising, and smoke was spilling out below. Crawling out through the smoke was this ... well, not too sure what he was. A guy (actor) dressed in black pants and white shirt and covered in (fake) blood.

He acted a little like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, though he wasn't hunchbacked, nor misshapen in any way. He cackled and wrung his hands and generally played the part though, running (while hunched over) up to people in the crowd (kids as well).  Pretty effective way to get those who like that kind of stuff into the paid venue. But the offering on the sign that night (maybe every night, I don't know) was to feel like what it would be like if you were buried alive. I figured I could forgo that without any problem at all, lol.  The crowd loved it though ... everyone had out the cell phones videoing the guy.

Pretty wind spinner in silver, with silver spiral tail and two small crystal balls riding the curves.
The street vendor we were talking to was selling these wind spinners ... as they spun, they appeared to be flashing light everywhere. Some were plain, some had designs and colours they were pretty cool. These might look like something you'd find in a dollar shop, but they aren't. They are quite heavy and made of steel. The tails on them have balls that move up and down the spiral as the wind spins them. Each piece is sold separately though ... my purchase for the day was one of the small ones in one colour (silver) ... for some reason that one seemed to catch my eye every time I looked over in his direction. And I bought a small tail with two small balls in it. Total including taxes was $32. The larger ones are a lot more. You can also buy a small motor if you want to hang them indoors, but I didn't price one so I don't know the cost (I'll check that out on our next trip!)

Overall we both really enjoyed Old Town. There were people wandering around, though being a Wednesday evening it wasn't terribly crowded either. Check the Old Town website if you're interested in any of the special cruise nights or car show events.

We plan to go back, as there are all sort of events that look interesting, and we hope to be able to attend the 28th Anniversary Saturday Night Classic Car Cruise. Looks like lots of fun!


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