Trip Report When can we do this again? A Fractal family Odyssey. *COMPLETED*


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I am glued to the Fractal family Odyssey already!! Your trip reports are always filled with humor and great photos! This one started with a bang! Love the videos as well.


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The next day we woke up early. By "we" I mean myself and Al. It's hard for me to sleep past 7am. The rest of the crew slowly arose by 11 and after packing some goodies we took the 20 minute drive to Indian Rocks Beach, a favorite of my In-laws. I brought along my "older" camera; the Sony NEX-7 (sealed in a large ziploc and then in a camera bag) as I did not what to risk anything happening to my new Sony A7rii.

Val was giving me grief about the shirt I was wearing. It was a T-shirt that I turned into my "work-out, yard work and now beach shirt". Men have a hard time letting go of comfortable clothing.

"Can we please get a new shirt?" She said. "I think you had that same shirt on when we were at Clearwater two years ago."

"I did not." I replied confidently. "And what if I did? It's a great beach shirt."

"It's starting to come apart at the collar...and I know you had it on in Clearwater. T-shirts are not that expensive."

Well, she was correct.



The beach was enjoyable. The water was more refreshing than it was 2 years ago in Clearwater; perhaps due to the rain. After a quick dip and sunning myself for 20 minutes or so, I got up to do my favorite thing on the beach; walk.

Toni was the only one to agree to join me so we started our stroll, with camera in hand.

This guy was looking for lunch...

Toni made a surprisingly willing model.

Toni will be 16 next month. She's been my early morning side-kick since her first time in Disney. During those trips her older siblings were in full teenager mode. Sleeping late, talking back, full of drama. I remember teasing by telling her someday she would be a nasty teenager. She promised she would not carry on those traits, but mother nature takes its toll as she's now in the midst of hormonal change. Despite this, she is the least "teenager' of the three and remains a delight to spend time with.

She gave me the idea of taking a selfie in her sunglasses.

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Attached to my NEX-7 was a 10-18mm zoom lens. Attached to that I had a 3 stop Neutral Density (ND) filter. An ND filter is kinda like sunglasses for your camera lens. It blocks some of the light and glare and gives you different creative opportunities. On this day, the ND filter really made the Florida sky and clouds "pop".

Future storm clouds forming?

After awhile, Val gave the kids the option of renting a paddle board.

which is exactly what they did.

but not without of few set backs.

Eventually they got the hang of it. As for thank you!

Sterg, being the aquatic type, quickly caught on.

"no one knows, how far we'll go..."

After a couple more hours in the sun & surf we left the beach (where all fun things are prohibited).

Despite all the snacks we packed, the kids (and adults) had worked up an appetite. Time for food...
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How dare you question Val's memory! Don't you know that us mommas have memories like a steel trap! Once it's in there, it's not going anywhere!:D My kids are constantly amazed at the silly things I remember!

I can't believe Toni is going to be 16!:eek: I remember your reports when she was so little! (Ok, not really little, but little compared to now!!)


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As a Vietnam Vet, Al belongs to an American Legion near the beach.

Apparently, American Legions in Florida come with their own dock!

Sterg and Toni approved.

At one point, Sterg took the camera and started taking pictures of me asking me to model my t-shirt for Mom. My patience grew thin.

We ordered a couple pitchers of beer and some light fare that was very tasty. With the shade, the water view and breeze, live music and good company we enjoyed our late lunch at the Legion. Good job by the In-laws!

All smiles!

As we walked out I asked Sterg and Toni to sit on the lifeguard chairs (to some protest) for a photo.

Along came this very friendly lady with her own props!

We then went back to the house, spent some time at the pool and ended the night with a heated game of Phase 10 (which I won).

Up next; Another meal by the water, beautiful sunset over the Gulf of Mexico and meet up with some old friends.
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Glad we're not the only ones who seem to have these issues with traveling, but I'm sorry you got off on such a rocky start.
Thanks! things got better...then worse...then better again!

Been looking forward to this... Can't wait to see your awesome pictures...
Thank you @Shane7694 !

I recently read your old TRs so now I'm really excited for this!! Following :D
Thanks for going back to the old ones @becca and for following!

Think I'll follow along for awhile. This should be good.....
Thank you @Plowboy !

Well done to your daughter graduating in nursing. I've been a registered nurse for over 30 years now and still love my job. A great profession:happy:
Thanks @susan lees ! Good to hear. Better yet, she's already got a good job!

Excited for another trip report and your awesome pictures!
Thanks @osucbsb !

Yikes, I'm feeling stressed just reading about your airport adventure. Glad to know things get better.
Thanks @LSV ! They do, then don't, then do again. :D

@fractal you started this report a whole 12 hours ago!! How did I miss this!!?

I was having a combination of hysterical laughter and shock when reading Sterg's water bottle issue. Very similar to @Tuvalu and her eating an unknown child's cotton candy!! :hilarious:
You're slipping @Zipitidoda :D. I was laughing too, but not until much later.

YAY! So excited for the rest. Good thing it was Sterg who had to go and not one of the ladies....I have been in that situation and I just had to sit there and cry in pain :cry:. We eventually got off the interstate that time, and I ran into some random mechanic's shop and he begrudgingly let me use his bathroom. It was awful! I guess sometimes being a dude has it's perks.

Aaaaaanyway. Hope the rest of the trip was smooth sailing :D
Thanks for following @sheriffwoody !:)


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I can't wait to read the rest of this report! There's been so many good trip reports lately which has helped pass the time until my upcoming trip.
Thanks @MotherofaPrincessLover !

I'm in!! Also,.. is that an anniversary cheese log??
Thanks for following @DisneyBound2017 ! For the record it really is a cake. :D

I had to laugh at this pic too!! An anniversary cheese log!! :hilarious:
It isn't a vacation without a few "incidents" lol! We start every single one of our family trips by blaring Holiday Road from our cars after filling up at the gas station- in true Griswold style. ;) Can't wait to read the rest and see your always amazing photos.
Great idea! Thanks for following @DisneyShe !

Following along!
Thanks @MouseDreaming ! :)

I was drinking coffee while reading the beginning of your report and just about spit it out laughing! The bathroom emergency and losing the licence? Good thing your family doesn't do a survivor style vote at the end of each trip day:joyfull:.
All true! In hindsight he handled himself pretty well, but would have still been kicked off the island. :D

Oh my gosh we do the same thing!!!
< Channeling Gus, the DME bus driver >

"Go ahead. I'll wait."

I've read your past reports & have always found them to be quite entertaining--great pictures too!! I can't wait to hear about the rest of the odyssey!!
You had said in your pre-trip that Alex got a job at UPMC--congrats to her!! I live in Pittsburgh--great town!!
Thanks @riverside !

No Way!! :)
Our poor daughter in law had never seen those movies, we went to see the remake one with her and had to catch her up on all the originals so that she knew what we meant by our quotes and the song. My son beats me to it now that he drives down too. People look at us kinda weird at the gas pumps but that makes it even funnier. :p

Looking forward to this full version after following the live one. Can always count on some awesome pictures!
Thanks @TheDude23 !

EXCELLENT start. And of course, I mean excellent for us! I love all trip reports, but sometimes the ones with drama are so much more entertaining :D
Thank you @myhappyplace !

So excited! Your trip reports are what started my current WDWMagic obsession my husband loves so much.
Lol! Thanks for following @Missy_May ! Hopefully he loves them just as much.

Oh wow!! What a start to the trip!! Happy it all worked out after a crazy few twists!!

Q: have often considered BWI over PHL. Thoughts/pros/cons?

Following! :D:D:D
Hi @cfry06 ! Pros - First, BWI was cheaper. Second, BWI is much less hectic. Third, BWI is cleaner. Cons - BWI is further away (by about 30-40minutes).

Following along and very excited! When I joined the boards years ago one of your trip reports was the first I had read. Crazy how time flies...your kids have grown so much. Congrats to your daughter on graduating!

Wild start to what should be another fantastic report!
Thanks @Matty30 ! Happy you are following along and I'll be looking forward to your TR!

I am glued to the Fractal family Odyssey already!! Your trip reports are always filled with humor and great photos! This one started with a bang! Love the videos as well.
Thank you @CaliKris !

Happy to see Toni stuck with her early mornings with dad tradition. :joyfull: I'm a daddy's girl, so your relationship pulls at my heart strings!

So excited to read all about your trip, regardless of the rocky start. Everything is funnier in hindsight. :p
Thanks @blgauger! It's a little tougher getting her up early, but she still does.

How dare you question Val's memory! Don't you know that us mommas have memories like a steel trap! Once it's in there, it's not going anywhere!:D My kids are constantly amazed at the silly things I remember!

I can't believe Toni is going to be 16!:eek: I remember your reports when she was so little! (Ok, not really little, but little compared to now!!)
Yes, what was I thinking? :D I'm sure you can relate to how fast they grow up. As much stress they gave me in the height of their teenage years, I would give anything to go back to that time. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Love the paddle boarding pictures. :hilarious: The one of Moana (@fractal jr) is awesome. :p
"Yes Sterg, I used a picture of you as a Moana reference..." :D

Toni is so beautiful! She looks older than me, even though I have 4 years on her :hilarious:
Thanks @becca !


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Original Poster
The next evening we had dinner at The Pub, a restaurant/bar on the inter-coastal near Clearwater. The food was fine, the threatening weather cooperated and I took the opportunity to bring my camera and flash.

I was using a wide angle 18mm lens which allowed me to take the dreaded selfie. The big problem with wide angle lenses is the distortions it creates. The objects closest to the lens appear much larger while the objects further much smaller. I'm no George Clooney, but my nose is not that big compared to my head...

I was enjoying my Modelo and Val her wine...



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I use SmugMug to store and share my photos. Sometime this year, the browser at work blocked Smugmug. It's as if the website was wiped off the face of the earth. Not only can I not get to my Smugmug account from work, I can't see any photos that I share on other sites. Same with Flickr (also have a more limited account there). I used to use my lunch break (I won't admit to anything more) to update a TR or post photos, but that options is now gone. What nerve! :mad: You would thing they pay me to be doing something else . Now it has to be all done at home! :eek:

The problem with doing it at home is juggling it among all the other things that need to be done as well as the constant reminders from Val. I mean, foot tall grass can wait another day or two right? She knows I'll eventually fix the water shooting out of the kitchen faucet, correct? Where's the priority? :confused:

All kidding aside, this report is going to be unfolding a bit slower than the others. I'm still only about 1/3 through editing the photos, please bear with me... :)


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I'm so happy to hear that Toni was still up for her morning WDW jaunts for this trip! Reading about your time together in past reports has always put a smile on my face. My dad and I are the DisNuts in my family so we had quite a few similar early mornings on our family trips when I was younger and I love reading about daddy/daughter WDW time in other people's trip reports!

Also loved the paddleboard photos! Those things are hard to maneuver :hilarious:

Along came this very friendly lady with her own props!
Too funny!
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