As the title suggests, we are still here in America and having a great time enjoying US hospitality for the second time. Although this time, we have much more leisure time as it's a holiday for the most part.
We've been to Philadelphia where we visited allegedly the most haunted place in America. Eastern State Penitentiary which was pretty freaky I have to say but really good. Niamh was definitely scared in there - it was spooky. We took the edge off it with a trip for lunch to a "hipster cafe" at least that's what Niamh seemed to think it was. Fair enough, she was impressed....
We've also been to Orlando ( and done Universal Studios again) - the kids love that. Highlights included The Simpsons Ride, Men in Black, the brand new Transformers ride and the awesome Harry Potter ride (the latter actually ground to a halt with a technical hitch whilst we were on it - much to Conors annoyance, that boy does not do patience). Suffice to say he wasn't overtly keen on going back on it again but, curiosity and not wanting to sit in the waiting room on his own got the better of him and he joined us for a second go - and loved it. We also enjoyed going around and seeing all the "Walking Dead" vehicles and props they have there currently as it is all set up for Halloween Horror Nights (we didn't do this as we felt Conor was too young to be scared witless being chased by zombies and ghouls)
I sometimes wonder how people manage to "do" Orlando for two weeks - it's physically and mentally exhausting. We did four days - highlights tour. I could've slept for a week by day four and that's with Niamhs pass that eliminates queuing. Niamh had relented from her usual protocol of steadfastly refusing to do anything at all with the wheelchair (sometimes annoyingly stubborn about it) and she had allowed us to bring it so we have been able to get out and about more. It is an absolute necessity for her for any parks, cities or basically anywhere that requires prolonged walking. I think she's been secretly pleased it was there for her because the heat coupled with tiredness has taken it's toll a bit. Well more than a bit.
So after Orlando, where we had picked up our hire car aka "the Behemoth", we embarked upon road trip number one. We are already familiar with this road having been on it a few times already last year. We were going to Jacksonville for a chill out and Niamhs follow up appointment with the fabulous team out there. It was amazing to walk back through those doors and see everyone again. Dr Danny was really pleased with Niamh and said he could see good results that were two fold. The first being that there was no sign of tumour recurrence and the second being that there was no sign of any damage from the proton therapy. All damage sustained has been cause by the initial tumour pressure when she was first diagnosed. This is amazing really because, had she had radiotherapy in the UK, then she would be highly likely to have more long term side effects that occurred from that. As it stands, she has major side effects, but not from the proton therapy - from the tumour damage. This gives you an idea of the power, speed, aggressive nature and ferocity of the tumour. It grew at an incredible rate and did irreversible damage that Niamh has to live with now. Nevertheless we are thrilled with his "expert" opinion on Niamh and so so happy that she is now more or less a year in remission. Seeing the team brought back good memories for us, visiting Jax was lovely and chilling out there in our old neighborhood was great.
Niamh and Dr Danny Indelicato
After Jax, we embarked on our biggest road trip - the 5.5 hr journey to Panama City Beach. We had a lot of fun traveling up inc a visit To Denny's for lunch. After we passed Tallahassee, we started to pass through many small towns - small town America. Hicksville, where life seemed nice and simple. We changed time zone and also passed many houses where the owner was sitting out on the porch in the sun, enjoying a beer. Paul would love to do that in honesty. We are kind of in redneck county now - out in the sticks so to speak. It's off the beaten track for the average British tourist and we seem to attract attention - sticking out like sore thumbs haha. Everyone is so kind to us though, part of the reason we love Florida so much. Southern hospitality at its finest here.
So, at the moment we are in PCB, last night here before we head off tomorrow on road trip number three to Penscacola. Not so much of a long trip as before. Panama City Beach is beautiful, on the Gulf of Mexico - the view from our balcony is breathtaking
We've had a couple of days here just chilling out (what else can you do here?) which is also the plan for Penscacola.Niamh celebrated her 14th birthday here, the hotel provided a cake and banner for her which was lovely. She was slightly embarrassed by all the attention but, I think, secretly pleased. The cake was a Publix one (they are divine especially the buttercream icing) and was enjoyed by all inc other hotel guests.