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Florida 18 - T2 - Day 18 - Boat, Springs and Neil leaving

Today was the day I hadn't been looking forward to at all. If anyone recalls our trip here in May I do not cope well with the boys leaving any of our holidays early. Pathetic I know. For reasons relating to work, football and korfball, Neil had however booked to fly home today. As ever I did not want him to go.

The pain was softened by the fact that Barry was staying longer and that it was a conscious decision by Neil this time. It also helped that we were in the early stages of planning when he (and perhaps, hopefully, all of us) may be coming back here.

Karen had warned me not to get so upset as to ruin the last day and I did manage to put it out of my mind most of the time. We decided we would drive to Wilderness Lodge and hire a boat on the Seven Seas Lagoon. By the time we got there it was already very hot. We had to wait until the boat rental shop opened at 11am but by 11.15am we had cast off in our 8 seater schooner.

Captain Neil took the first shift on our voyage, reversing carefully out of the dock and taking us round until we were right in front of the Magic Kingdom. Karen took on the role of Back Seat Captain giving out needless and pointless instruction to whoever was actually skippering the boat at the time. I take the helm for about 5 minutes before Captain Barry took over. He had a difficult challenge whereby we were given instructions by the River Patrol to first pull over and then full steam ahead as one of the MK Passenger Ferries wanted to go the same way as us. He coped very well under the pressure and then took us back into dock.

It was not the cheapest thing to do but very very enjoyable. Its not everyday that you get to pilot a boat that close to a Disney theme park and some of their hotels.

After this we drove to Disney Springs and parked in the Orange Garage in order to get some lunch. Since we had last been here, it had been decked out for Christmas.

Today we all fancied Pizza from Blaze. I really enjoyed my Pizza and ended up annoying Karen by telling her repeatedly of this fact. For me anywhere that includes White Pizzas as a normal menu item is good by me. The fact that they make them in front of you like a Subway and then cook them in 90 seconds is all an added bonus.

We then walked around for a bit purchasing some drinks as we did so. We headed to the newly opened Christmas Tree trail. There were 27 different trees all decorated with a different Disney theme. Neil's favourite was the ghoulish Haunted Mansion one, whilst Barry was just pleased to see a Robin Hood themed tree. It did all seem surreal as we were in the baking sun again with Christmas music blaring out and snow blowing onto us. At the end of the trail, there is a cabin where you can meet Santa. We could see him and without doubt he was the most realistic Santa I have ever seen. He looked like Richard Attenborough from the film.

As we slowly walked back to the car we called in as usual to the Ghirardelli shop where Barry overhead a conversation that may well change Karens life. One lady behind us when presented with her free Caramel chocolate said "I don't like Caramel - can I have a Raspberry one instead" and was told Yes! All these years Karen has been eating the caramel ones which are her least favourite and could have been swapping them. I foresee another visit very soon for her to try this out.

Sadly we headed back to the villa with Nile for the last time this trip. He spent sometime packing whilst we chilled by the pool. I contained my emotions. At 4.45pm with heavy hearts from all of us we set off to the airport. The traffic was heavy but at 5.35pm we said our goodbyes with tears in our eyes.

I then spent every opportunity that evening and overnight tracking his flight before take off and after. He did keep us updated when he could.

The remaining three of us then headed down to The Loop where I had to collect something from Best Buy before heading to the Outback situated there. We all had the usual and I managed to use my $20 off voucher. My meal was wrong twice but they got there in the end.

Karen then bought some perfume from Marshalls behind the restuarant before we drove over the road to purchase our final load of groceries from Publix.

We then took the slow route back along the 192 to allow Barry to have a peruse around Super Target as he had not been this trip. Karen managed to get herself a Starbucks before the in store coffee shop closed.

Then we headed back to a much quieter villa without Neil for the first time, had a quick drink before retiring as we knew we had an early start the next day.

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