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Vacation

I'm going to be on vacation from June 17th to July 1st in Orlando, Florida, having just finished the first draft of a trilogy. Part of my reason for going there involves giving a keynote at a conference—programming, not SF—but the rest of the reason is proximate burn-out, and not having had a proper vacation since last April. (If I finish the work in progress in time, then since that last vacation I will have written first drafts of three books and a good chunk of another. People who tell me to shut up and write faster will be shouted at.)

Anyway, I have a simple question: what interesting local attractions can I stick my head into? My wife is already bidding to ride the Disney monorail (she's a monorail geek). A day at one of the big amusement parks is pretty much inevitable. But what interesting tech stuff is there in that time period? Anything big launching from Cape Canaveral? Suggestions, please, in the comments below ...

NOTE:

Do not suggest places to eat: I'm diabetic, my wife's vegan (but I'm not), and our intersecting dietary restrictions create a whole world of just-don't-go-there. (Yes, we can survive in Orlando: we've been there before.) And (see vegan above) don't suggest places that have been boycotted for animal cruelty.

140 Comments

1:

If you're at all inclined towards doing anything outdoors, Wekiwa Springs is beautiful and very un-touristy.

2:

Yes. Come to Titusville, on the Space Coast and go to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center. Depending on the package you purchase you will get to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis, see a Saturn moon rocket, possibly see the inside of the Launch Control Center where the old Space shuttle firing rooms are and where the new firing rooms are being built. You can also see memento's from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. I haven't been on the tour in a while even though I work there, so I am not sure where the various stops on the tours are.

3:

The Launch Schedule on the NASA app doesn't show anything going up from Canaveral any time soon.

Oh, too bad, looks like the Walt Disney World MARK IV RED MONORAIL 1971 Ride Vehicle Car Cab Prop sold for $99,000. Don't even want to think about how much shipping would've been.

4:

Is the Holy Land Experience still open? Might be good for laughs and horrors. Though might get thrown out if you can't control the snark.

5:

Sorry, one last thing.
I assume you've seen this: NASA Partner SpaceX Unveils Human-Carrying Dragon V2.
Every Bond villain needs an escape pod.

6:

Machineguns are legal in Florida, and there are a couple of places that will let you rent one on the range and shoot a few hundred rounds. I haven't been down there in 15 years, so I couldn't recommend any place. As a native Chicagoan, I just had to try out a Tommy gun, and it was kind of awesome.

7:

How do you feel about snakes?

http://www.reptileworldserpentarium.com/

It was awesome to 9 year old me 30 years ago, though it seems they've got a bit more serious about the health and safety since I was there.

8:

Your options really depend on your transit. This is 'Murica, damn it, so mass transit is out of the question. Orlando is especially that way. If you are leaving the ecosystem of a theme park, cars are mandatory. Seaworld is a better park experience than Maus Morgul but they don't have monorails. Those parks have become repulsive and are nothing like the Disney of fondest memory.

There's the space stuff, obviously. Lots of good nature as well if you're into that sort of thing.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/travel/springs/os-closest-springs-orlando,0,4069572.photogallery

Bok Tower is gorgeous but a bit of a drive from Orlando.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bok_Tower_Gardens

9:

The BBC has a web-programme on iPlayer about WW1 which includes a machine-gun being fired at a secret underground test range in the UK. Which is sort of spooky. It's certainly something I wouldn't have thought of, but it is the sort of thing we are so totally not used to in the UK.

10:

According to http://spaceflightnow.com/tracking/ there's plenty due up, but very little from Florida. A Falcon 9 is due a few days earlier with another just listed as "July" at the moment.

11:

The Kennedy visitor center has a Saturn V suspended from the ceiling so you can walk under it, along with a bunch of other things that paled in comparison. But really, almost everything pales in comparison to a Saturn V, doesn't it?

Most of the entertaining things that I've seen in the area were an hour or two outside of Orlando. Kennedy is cool. My son and I went on an airboat tour near the coast which was surprisingly fun. St Augustine was nicely historic, although that means something different here than it does in Edinburgh.

Orlando proper is sort of like a giant 50 mile wide strip mall with an abusive corporate overlord, only without the charm. Plus decent Cuban food. And a monorail, I guess.

My favorite part of Florida is the Everglades, but it's probably better to go in November or December, and avoid Mosquito Feeding Season.


12:

Nothing to recommend in addition to the excellent suggestions above. However, a cautionary note: It's going to be hot. Very hot and very humid. It's amazing how the climate there ages anyone who spends significant time outdoors; I've seen people I'd swear were in their sixties claim to be forty-something.

13:

Another vote for Kennedy Space Center. I personally can't wait to get back there to see the new Atlantis building. It's also really worth doing the KSC Up-Close Explore Tour.

In the Disney complex, I absolutely recommend the backstage tours. I've done the ones for the Magic Kingdom and Epcot and they were amazing. I also scuba-ed in the Seas of Life Aquarium in Epcot! If I had to pick one, I'd pick the Magic Kingdom tour. You get to go in the hidden corridors underneath and get all these great back stories about Walt and the parks.

14:

My wife says, "Clyde Butcher" (photographs of old Florida). Nope, his galleries are a little out of the way.

re #12, what ages you is not the heat+humidity, it is the steady dose of UV. Take sunscreen, take a couple of lightweight cotton long sleeve shirts (seersucker is nice), take a hat. Use them all. Good sport growing up as a kid in Florida is checking out all the scarlet tourists who didn't take this advice, or who tried to get their tan on the 1-day plan.

Don Garlits has a museum in Ocala, not incredibly far away. There's also Daytona, who knows what might be racing there then. (I'm assuming ethnographic studies are also permitted). Might be some boat races going on, not sure. (Cigarette boats, formerly used by smugglers, now used in competition. Hydrofoils sometimes race on Tampa Bay.)

Big-ass phosphate mines in Bartow, or there were.

Salvador Dali museum in St. Pete, too.

Not too much tech in Florida except for NASA, especially since the end of the cold war. Boston was as close as two former Floridians could "easily" both find interesting jobs.

You shouldn't see any oranges this time of year.

15:

I would like to endorse the sun warning. Worst thing northerners do is get burned on the first day of vacation and then they can barely even stand to be outside long enough to get in and out of a car.

It's getting stinky hot down here and we haven't even hit high summer yet. The ride to work is an endurance feat. At least there aren't any hills.

16:

It's not tech-related but my wife are going on a swamp tour (http://www.kissimmeeswamptours.com/) on Thursday the 26th. You are welcome to join us.

17:

Probably can't join you, I'm afraid. (It overlaps with the conference I'm speaking at.)

18:

May I recommend The Dark Side of Disney?

19:

Hurricane season is on, and there have been reports of really loud military/war exercises in southern Florida.

A friend who was on a boating vacation in Florida years ago got a little too close to some naval vessels during a US/NATO(?*) military exercise. His recounting included many 'Holy s*it!', 'Holy s*it!' exclamations ... so clearly impressed. So impressed, he's never getting near a naval/military exercise again.

* It was a multi-country exercise, whether NATO or some other alliance, I don't recall.

20:

Probably a long drive for you but Florida State University in Tallahassee might be of interest ...

Paul Dirac spent his last years there;

Home of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL), the world's highest powered magnet laboratory;

Official Florida State Art Museum: John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

21:

I plan to checkout the hacker/makerspaces while I am there.

22:

nth-ing Kennedy Space Center. I can put you in contact with the PR team there if you wish to do an impromptu book signing or something (perhaps in exchange for seats on their mega-tour, which is the best way to see everything in one day).

Opening soon is the new Harry Potter themed area at Universal Studios Florida. It will connect via 'train' to the area in Islands of Adventure that opened a few years ago. Definitely worth checking out if you're into well themed design and the latest technical wizbangs when it comes to theme park attractions.

I'd like to put in a plug for Gatorland. It's a small roadside attraction that captures old Florida perfectly (also my wife is employed there). It's more than just alligators, but that is the main attraction. If you have a half day to kill, it's about a 20 minute drive from Walt Disney World and 15 minutes from SeaWorld area.

Speaking of the SeaWorld area. They have a boutique water park called Discovery Cove. IMHO it's the best water park experience in town and a great value (yes, you just went to look at the admission cost and think I've blown a gasket, but hear me out). Cost is all inclusive for food, snacks, and light beverages (beer, wine, etc). Pick one of the up-charge experiences (swim with dolphins or the dive-helmet under water wreath (a SCUBA-like experience without the training or the gear)) if you want, but they're not absolutely necessary to enjoy Discovery Cove. You'll still have an amazing day of relaxation ahead of you. Here's where the value comes in. Reserve tickets for early in your vacation as admission to Discovery Cove comes with free admission to SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica (another water park) for the next 14 days. Just one day at each will cost you about $105. So you buy one park and get two free. Not a bad deal.

I'm ashamed to say that Orlando's museum scene is really nothing to write home about, but the Tampa area does have a few. The Ringling Museum in Sarasota is my favorite. Three great buildings full of circus memorabilia and two giant halls of classic and modern paintings and art. It also has some nice gardens to stroll through and is set on a Fine and Performing Arts College campus.

While you're on the Gulf Coast, plan a half-day of Vitamin-E absorption on some of the nicest beaches in the state. Siesta Key, Longboat Key, and Anna Marie Island all consistently rank on the best lists. St Armand's Square on Longboat Key is a somewhat upscale tourist shop and dining area that's a good pitstop.

At Disney, I too recommend the backstage tours. The Animal Care tour at Disney's Animal Kingdom is fantastic. You might also sign up for a course at the Disney Institute (they generally only work with groups, but might make an exception for you).

Some smaller attractions to consider:
- Scenic Boat Tours in Winter Park, FL
- Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, FL (largest collection of Tiffany Glass)
- Bok Tower Gardens in Winter Haven, FL (about 1 hour south of Disney)
- LEGOLAND Florida in Winter Haven, FL (different than European parks, has grafted itself onto beautiful old Florida Cypress Gardens)
- Hoop De Doo Revue at Walt Disney World (a dinner show with a western theme... not Vegan friendly, alas)
- Mount Dora, FL - sleepy community outside of Orlando good for shopping and strolling and a community theatre scene.
- Fun Spot America (International Drive location, not Kissimmee location) - affordable, 2 coasters, lots of go-karts, decent county fair style attractions.
- Richard Petty Driving Experience - Spend 8 laps living like a NASCAR legend. Not cheap, but good if you like that sort of thing. If you want to drive a Ferrari or Lamborghini they can make that happen too.

I've left off a bunch of little touristy things (golf, mini-golf, the Titanic Museum, etc). Those are fun to do, but very very kitsch.

As a local and the owner of a blog that writes extensively about Orlando's attraction scene ( http://thedisneyblog.com ) I welcome you to contact me directly with any questions. I'll be happy to answer what I can and point you in the right direction for those I don't know.

23:

If you visit Disney note the parks are designed to keep lots of people moving around in manageable clumps. And not really allow crowds to gather and gum up the works. I got a very quick tour way back in 78 with a guy who had worked there a few years earlier and he showed me how to look for visually hidden cuts through the hedges and fences which allowed you to go from one place to another without taking the official wandering trails.

And there are services with Apps that tell you where the lines are and are not.

And yes, a hat with a full brim would be good for someone with your hair style. Plus sun block for your arms, legs, hands, & feet. Sunburned thighs are a real pain. Ditto the tops of your hands and feet. Think about putting block on out of the way places like the tops and backs of your ears. Strangers to these latitudes don't realize you can get burned even when the sun is low in the sky.

Wear porous clothes so your sweat can evaporate easily. Take a bag so you buy a few water bottles at a time and not have to spend 30 minutes buying another one when the first one or three run out. Pack an extra shirt and/or underwear if wearing wet ones isn't for you. :)

24:

If you do plan to do Disney, make sure to take full advantage of MyMagic+ and the ability reserve 3 attractions (includes shows, parades, rides, meet and greets) a day via Fastpass+. I still meet tons of people who don't do this and end up waiting much longer for attractions than they have to. Disney's own app (Disney's Magical Experience) is really all you need now, but Touring Plans has the best non-Disney app if you feel like you want a second opinion as to wait times. :)

Since you're visiting Central Florida is summer, may I suggest investing in a pair of ponchos. As long as there isn't lightning in the area, just slip the poncho on and go have fun in the rain. I carry a backpack that has a water proof section where my camera and wallet goes if the rain starts, otherwise I really don't mind getting a little wet.

The sun tips are good. Remember proper hydration is key to having a good day with lots of energy to enjoy the evening or feeling completely beat around 3pm during the peak heat.

25:

One more thing. The Disney monorail is free. There are two loops that you'll want to go on. One boards at the Ticket and Transportation Center (the TTC to us locals) and goes out to EPCOT with a short trip though the park before returning to station. The other has stops at the three luxury hotels near the Magic Kingdom.

One of my favorite FREE ways to experience Walt Disney World is to park at one of the Magic Kingdom hotels (tell the people at the toll booth you're heading to the hotel and you won't have to pay for parking), enjoy a quick snack, then jump on the monorail loop, stopping at each hotel for a quick tour of the lobby and grounds.

From the Magic Kingdom stop, you can also catch a boat to the nearby Wilderness Lodge. Designed by Peter Dominick, it captures the feel of the great wooden lodges of the American West. There are nice walking or biking paths in that area too. From the TTC stop, you can catch that Round trip ride on the EPCOT monorail.

This is more fun at Christmas time when the parks and hotels are decorated in the holiday spirit, but great fun anytime of year.

OK, I'll shut up now.

26:

Hi Charlie:

Info on tours at the MagLab:

http://www.magnet.fsu.edu/education/community/tours.html

The MagLab is a fascinating place, and we welcome visitors! Read about our tour options below. All visitors touring the lab are required by our safety policy to wear close-toed shoes! No sandals or flip-flops, please!

Monthly Public Tours

The lab hosts free public tours of the facility on the third Wednesday of each month at 11:30 a.m. No reservations are required for this standing tour; just show up (wearing close-toed shoes!) and check in at the reception desk. These tours include a general overview of the Magnet Lab and the research conducted here as well as explanations of the different types of magnets used here, including resistive magnets, superconducting magnets, pulsed magnets and our world-record hybrid magnet.

Schedule a Private Group Tour

Group tours (a minimum of eight people) of the MagLab are available for free to the general public. Tours last about an hour and must be scheduled at least three weeks in advance through our Tour Request page.

Virtual Tour

Can’t make it to the MagLab? Try our online tour, which provides a peek at things live visitors don’t get to see.

27:

In the (highly unlikely) event that you fancy taking a side-trip to Texas, I've sent you an email offering hospitality.

28:

Yez. Well, Florida is heading well into summer, which probably means you'll find it hot, humid, and potentially rainy. Do bring sunglasses. Be wary of evening mosquitos.

You'll be an hour or so from either side, west coast or east coast, if you're fond of beaches. It's a good area for collecting fossilized sharks' teeth and shells. Probably no point in mentioning restaurants. There's probably enough to keep you busy in Orlando, anyway, but it's 100% tourist zone, you shouldn't take it as representative of anything at all.

29:

I'm sure you've thought about this already, but there's lots of beach in Florida, and some of it is even free of wifi signal. It likely says more about me than you that I would highly recommend slathering yourself with sunscreen and planting yourself in a chair on the beach beside a cooler full of beer and just sit there doing nothing.

30:

I'll n+1 Kennedy Space Center. Lots of good, geeky space stuff there. You can spend a full day there between the self-guided exhibits and the various tours. And if you haven't seen it before, the Saturn V is pretty impressive in person. (It isn't suspended from the ceiling - but it is horizontal, held up on risers, so you can walk underneath it.) That's on one of the tours too, so you need to catch that tour - and it is worth it.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like anything is going up in that window - but there is always a chance the Falcon 9 scheduled for mid-June will be delayed, or you might see the Falcon 9 scheduled for July on the pad for pre-flight checks (you'd have to go on the tour out to the pad area, of course).

For future reference, this is a good place to find the schedules: http://spacecoastlaunches.com/

I'm a big Disney fan, my wife & I go a few times a year and I've been going regularly since I was an infant (43 now). I don't agree with the comment that the parks are worse. Things change - some things are better, some I don't like as much, but overall there is more to do now.

I will echo what others have said - Orlando was a swamp before humans got involved. And nature really reminds you of that in the summer. It is very hot and very humid. Wear light, breathable clothing (cotton is good), wear a hat, sunglasses, don't forget sunscreen - and water. Lots of water. My advice for the parks in the warm months is to take advantage of the extended hours - go early, then go back the hotel for the peak of the heat and take a siesta, then come back out in the evening as it cools. In the summer the parks can be open past midnight.

On the geek/tech side of things, I find the backstage tours fascinating just for the logistics of what they do: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/

I've done the Keys to the Kingdom Tour, which takes you down into the Utilidors under The Magic Kingdom: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/magic-kingdom/keys-to-the-kingdom-tour/

The Behind the Seeds tour at Epcot's The Land pavillion is short and interesting: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/behind-the-seeds/

The roundhouse/steam trains tour is on my to do list: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/magic-kingdom/magic-behind-steam-trains-tour/ And I need to do the all-day mega-tour: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/backstage-magic/

BTW, if your wife likes monorails (and really, who doesn't?), there was a series of blog posts on the Disney Parks Blog about them. This is the last post in the series, which has links to all of the earlier posts: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2014/05/the-history-of-the-disneyland-monorail-mark-vii-2008-present/

31:

Another vote for Kennedy space center. The rockets are awesome. I hiked around some outdoor swamp-forest trails near there which were fun, not that I suspect you're into that kind of thing.

Given sea level rise, I'd suggest seeing south Florida while its still habitable and above-water. You can also visit the Lake Wales Ridge, which will be all that's left of the state after sea level rise. It's a great place for bio-geeks, not that interesting otherwise.

The humidity is annoying, so come prepared. I hope you don't mind drinking cold beer for a change, because it'll be worth it.

32:

Had another thought. If you're into Forteana there's the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum. Turns out there's one in Orlando. No idea what it's like, I've been to the one in St. Augustine, but that was at least 30 years ago.

33:

the ariboat tours of the everglades are remarkably neat

34:

Strange attractor...

The BBC has a web-programme on iPlayer about WW1 which includes a machine-gun being fired at a secret underground test range in the UK. Which is sort of spooky. It's certainly something I wouldn't have thought of, but it is the sort of thing we are so totally not used to in the UK.

...as opposed to the not-so-secret-underground-rifle-range that I use every week in the middle of Edinburgh. Although no machine-guns are fired there (we top out at 0.22LR) and it's only 25m long. The University Sports Centre is an old brewery, and included several 40m long tunnels in the basement and sub-basement; we've got one, the archers have another, the weightlifters have the remaining two.

There's a rifle range under Waverley Station that was in use until the early 1990s, and another in a basement under the old AI department in Forrest Hill. Several of the schools in Edinburgh have their own indoor rifle ranges, one of them produced an ISSF Junior World Champion a couple of years ago.

In fact, they've just reopened the indoor 50m range under the stand in Meadowbank Stadium - the Scotland squad now use it as their regular training facility, and are working up to the Commonwealth Games (believe me, training at an outdoor 50m range in Aberdeen in January is not for the faint-hearted; I've never fired from inside a sleeping bag before).

Reusing an old railway tunnel as a rifle range is nothing new...
http://www.thetunnel.co.uk/facilities

35:

If you're going to KSC, and it sounds like you might, then you might contact their PR department and see if you can get a peek at the Project Morpheus lander, which is one of John Carmack's designs (it's a new vehicle rebuild, after they crashed and burned the first one, but based on Pixel/Texel) modified to burn Liquid Methane fuel, and being used for a bunch of flight tests stuff.

Also, the SpaceX facilty is reportedly pretty cool. Payloads are off limits, but you probably could put your hand on the unassembled rocket for a Falcon 9 launch...

36:

My mistake, you're quite right that while the heat and humidity is unpleasant, it's the solar stuff that ages your epidermis and gives you skin cancer.

Also, Charlie, if you spend any time at all the Disney complex, BRING IN YOUR OWN FOOD. THE ONLY FOOD THEY SERVE AT THE MOUSE IS COMPLETE CRAP!!! At least, that was the case when we were there in 2005. Even my daughter complained about this after the first day.

37:

There is a video-game oriented mini-theme park called "DisneyQuest" which is entertaining in a very retro-futuristic way. It looks like they set it up in the 90s and then never updated anything, such as the quaint "virtual reality" games with visuals that could be beat by 10 year old home consoles, probably running on wheezing SGIs in the back room.

38:

Note that Tallahassee (where NHMFL is located) is a 6-8 hour drive from Orlando.

39:

(n+2)'ing KSC, of course. I can also attest that Bok Tower is a very pretty place, and if you're into Lego at all, Legoland is worth a visit. The beaches in the Tampa Bay area are pretty uniformly gorgeous, though as people have said, it will be hot.

40:

Being flippant for a moment :)

There's a meditation workshop on at the Orlando Buddhist temple on the 21st. It's the nearest to a monastery I could find for a Perl Monk...

41:

There is an IMAX theater at the KSC. When I was there earlier this year, they were showing a tour of the ISS given by the crew and helmet cam videos of both repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope. All in IMAX 3D.

42:

I've never been a fan of the mega parks, so take that into account. Near Orlando you can visit Legoland at the former Cypress Gardens, which has been a nice attraction from well before I first visited it in the sixties. You can head west to Weeki Wachee, another Old Florida attraction with an underwater mermaid show.

Head to the Atlantic coast to beat the heat. Thanks to ocean breezes it's not as hot and not nearly as humid as around Orlando. Remember, the parks are near Orlando because there was lots of cheap land available there. That was because the climate there is the worst in Florida.

Kennedy Space Center is a great east coast option, too, as is St. Augustine, the oldest city in North America (not so old to a European, though). And there are lots of swamp airboat tours available just south and east of Orlando.

Finally, if you had the time you could head north a couple of hours to Ichetucknee Springs, a little north of where I live, and tube down them for a few hours. The springs are 72 degrees year round, and leave you feeling cool and refreshed for hours afterwards on a hot summer day. You'll see tons of native plants and animals as you drift, too, including alligators.

43:

Kennedy Space Center is not too far away and, if you're lucky, there might be a launch scheduled.

https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/

Also check out the Microsoft Store at the mall.

http://content.microsoftstore.com/detail/Thefloridamall

44:

Why the fuck would we want to suffer a Microsoft store? The one I've been past, in Boston, is loud, garish, unpleasant and contains nothing worth buying.

45:

Since you're visiting Central Florida is summer, may I suggest investing in a pair of ponchos. As long as there isn't lightning in the area, just slip

Note that you should be able to find these for a few $$ that are consider one or two time use. They are about the size of your hand folded up when new. Walmart, KMart, etc...

Note that in the summer in the southern US it can be bright and sunny till mid to late afternoon then thunderstorms show up.

46:

similar sort of latitude to Jamaica,,,
when we go there its SPF50.,. and a hat,
gotta admit, id love to go play machineguns,,,
--------- ¬ dakka dakka
have fun sir

47:

Check out the Microsoft store? You really are trolling, aren't you? :-/

48:

Now, playing with machine guns we can totally get into. It's been a while, and those things aren't exactly freely available in the UK.

49:

See if you can get yourself an invite to the (now closed to the public, but still very much alive) Fantasy of Flight aviation museum and restoration shops. http://www.fantasyofflight.com/

50:

If you haven't been recently, a day at Kennedy Space Center (and the surrounding attractions, such as the Astronaut Hall of Fame) seems a must. The Space Shuttle they have on display is truly awe-inspiring.

If you enjoy seeing rare/wild animals, two recommendations:

Close to Orlando is the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, a bird sanctuary dedicated solely to raptors. It's an opportunity to get extremely close to some beautiful birds. Only $5 (cash only), but the staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly.

Out in Tampa (90 minute drive from Orlando) is Big Cat Rescue. They post a lot of YouTube videos of the cats in their care, which can give you a sense of their scope and feel.

And if you do head to that neck of the woods, you might like the Salvador Dali Museum.

Further south, in Fort Myers, is Thomas Edison's winter estate, featuring tours of his labs and gardens (including specimens he collected while searching for the ideal lightbulb filament).

51:

Didn't recall it being that long, so checked Google maps: Orlando-Tallahassee - 257 miles (3.47 hours) along I-75N and I-10W (toll hwy).

Still a longish drive but if you overnight there, not too bad. Plus, NHMFL is not your everyday tech ...

52:

Let me just add that driving 250 miles means (see diabetes above) 3 rest stops, so takes me about 5 hours. Also, driving that distance with the added stress of being on the wrong side of the road and having to mentally translate foreign road signs leaves me wiped out for a day afterwards. Each way. This is not how I plan to spend waste a vacation.

53:

Good suggestions re KSC above, though I have not been there recently. Nothing to add about Orlando really, while I have beloved family there, it's a big sprawling Sunbelt city essentially unlivable without central AC and a lot of driving, and not a lot of redeeming factors.

My sister-in-law (a 30+ year veteran in the service of the Mouse Lord!) suggested you check out the Contemporary resort - the hotel that the monorail actually goes through on the way to/from the Magic Kingdom. There is a restaurant/bar in the lobby that provides a good look at the monorail. Apparently there used to be some fantastic monorail-related murals in the bar area but they may not be there now.

Also on the subject of the domain of the Mouse, there is a book written by an anthropologist called Vinyl Leaves (by Stephen Fjellman) that I read several years ago and remember as excellent. It's more than 20 years old but the main premises are solid I would think. Reading that book caused me to really understand how engineered and commodified the experience of visiting a theme park is...and how scarily good Disney is at it.

54:

The Morse Museum, not far from Orlando, claims to house "the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany." I missed it when I was there, but it looks worth the trip.

55:

Fantasy of Flight's not open to the public any more? What happened?

Charlie, if aviation, particularly WWII era and earlier aviation, is an interest, I'd definitely recommend this.

56:

We're spending two weeks at DisneyWorld in June with a vegan, vegetarian and lapband in the group. We've done it before and it just requires some research and planning to pull it off.

The best overall "on-menu" vegan experience is the buffet at Boma in the Animal Kingdom. You can also score a handful of vegan dishes at the various restaurants at Epcot. Aside from those, if possible make reservations for at least one meal a day at any other restaurant and inform them of your dietary preferences, the chef's will then gladly prepare something off-menu for you.

After that it's fairly hit or miss, as the menu's can change frequently. Odds are for walk around dining you're looking at veggie burgers/dogs, salads and the like. Interestingly enough, most of the ice cream stands will have non-dairy options so don't overlook them if you're up for a sweet.

Now, finding an adequate supply of beer throughout the parks - that's a much tougher task...

57:

n+n for KSC. It's one of the best things anywhere.

And: Besides the Audubon Raptor Center, there's the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, on the Gulf Coast. It has a terrific boardwalk trail through the swamp, with gators, turtles, and other critters to see at every turn. Depending on the time of year, a colony of wood storks may also be nesting.

Wherever you go, absolutely remember the sunscreen, sunhat, mosquito repellent, and water bottle.

Have a great vacation!

58:

see see diabetes above above.

Type 1 or 2?

I was diagnosed with type 2 about 15 years ago. Last year apparently not. Mind you giving up smoking & loosing 5 stone, and having a stroke probably helped.


God the nhs test was so dumb. They tell you jokes to test brain function.Amongst other things they test you for humor. Allegedly. Responding "I understand why that's supposed to be funny, but it isn't".


You on the statins & blood-pressure pills? Double dosed on Ramiprill one time. Strange... but not unamusing...

Do you find any behavior effects? Me, no, but my wife says it makes me more aggressive. I think this is not true simply the result of my speech ( Say what you want, don't waste my time! Is that agressive? ... Probably).

Rgds

59:

Type 2, with metabolic syndrome. Let's just say I'm not at immediate risk, but I'm really glad prescriptions are free on the NHS in Scotland (as in, there's no co-pay whatsoever).

60:

List of things to do from Orlando sentinel that I keep bookmarked when friends/family visit.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/os-things-to-do-central-florida-pictures,0,3262394.photogallery

61:

Sunscreen goes up to 110. (Though it's apparently "100+" now.) I love this stuff; it works and it sweats off relatively slowly.

http://www.neutrogena.com/category/sun/ultra+sheer-.do#productLine

I'd also recommend finding something to put in the water, so you've got electrolytes coming in at about the same rate as they're going out. There are a bunch of add-big-tablet-to-water products out there now.

It's a pity Homestead, FL is ~270 miles from Orlando; the nuclear plant there has a big population of crocodiles due to the serendipitous design of the cooling ponds and channels. (New-World crocodiles, not alligators.)

62:

I suppose this is more for Feorag than you, with the diabetic thing, but if you do end up doing Disney I suggest trying the Dole Whip Float if you never have before. Fruity vegan soft serve dessert in pineapple juice, and hard to find outside of Disney establishments. I haven't been since the 90's and still want one badly.

And on the sunscreen recs, as a lifelong resident of beach towns I'd remind you--though you probably are well aware--that just because it's cloudy doesn't mean you don't need it if you're spending time outside. I've seen many a miserable tourist who arrived pasty and unaware of this fact only to learn through experience.

63:

What about playing with machine guns in a Microsoft store? That could be fun (well, as long as it lasts)

64:

The notion of a place where one has to wear anti-UV gear _and_ carry litres of water to stave off dehydration, while battling mosquitoes and navigating throngs of people, sounds quite close to a traditional view of hell. Except there are no weird-looking humanoids herding the throngs. Oh, wait...

65:

The notion of a place where one has to wear anti-UV gear _and_ carry litres of water to stave off dehydration, while battling mosquitoes and navigating throngs of people, sounds quite close to a traditional view of hell.

Or Tokyo, or Kuala Lumpur. I've survived both.

(I'd hate to live somewhere that hot, but I can cope for a few weeks of vacation time.)

66:

Note: quips about playing with guns in [social context other than on a firing range] are at best in questionable taste, and at worst are highly offensive. Spree killers aren't really a suitable subject for humor. I'm not going to call this a yellow card offense, but please consider the possibility that some of the folks reading this blog might have lost loved ones in a mass shooting?

67:

I hear the Japanese soccer team is in Tampa right now (at the Yankees' spring training facility possibly?). There might be some other teams in the state as well, getting acclimated to the heat/time-zone/mosquitoes/T-backs/relative-danger-level/etc.( :P ). If you do a little research, it might be a chance to get a bit of preview on the World Cup action?

68:

I would rather gouge my eyes out with a rusty spork than give that vile exercise in international corporate corruption (and football) an iota of my attention.

69:

You've read Hiassen already?
http://www.goodreads.com/series/106705-skink
Must read, for Florida

70:

He'll hate that, but I'd love to see the Japanese team play.

71:

That looks as if it ought to be useful, but I can't get it to go past the second item. A web "designer" is clearly in need of finding a new career in something they can actually do.

72:

As n-> infinity, lim (vacation suggestions)-> KSC. Other than that, tech oriented stuff is mostly in the college towns or near them.

What you might find interesting in Fl that isn't part of the normal tourist trap sort of thing is to check a map for cities and towns about half an hour of driving from Orl and then check out the nature trails. Once you get out of Disney's blast area you can actually find some rather pleasant places and for the most part they tend to be pretty peaceful. If you feel compelled to visit a beach you should go to New Smyrna and go to Bethune State Park. All the..joys(?) of the beach with way way less people than Daytona.

It should be noted though that the thing about humidity and heat is really not a joke, especially in July. It is advisable to have a wardrobe that allows you to actually let sweat evaporate and something to protect you from what I call the ball of hate (sunglasses and big stupid hats really do help). Further, the thing about water + electrolytes is very true. Try out gatorade or one of its alternatives in addition to water.

73:


" Sunscreen goes up to 110."

Thanks for that. I honestly didn’t know that sun screen went up to that level.

I don’t just get sun burn I have very fair skin and I suffer from " Light Triggered Dermatitis " and best advice, from my Local Medical Practice here in the UK, when first I displayed the Rashes, and was promptly referred from practice nurse to GP and thence as a living Visual Aid to the practices medical student GPs was to cover up and plaster skin that wasn't covered up with sun screen.

Given that I have the male pattern baldness that is affected by all male persons of taste and discernment this means that I have quite a lot of skin to cover.

Alas though .. guess which Big South American River themed dealer popped up from my web search for a UK dealer from which to source your linked recomended Sunscreen?

74:

Presumably it's an MOD site for weapons research or now probably a privatised organisation.

CIT at Cranfield has apparently a cool black museum of bits and pieces of weapons v2 v1 parts and so on

75:

Noted & conceded. I was thinking more of the wares as target, not the people.

76:

I went to EPCOT half-a-dozen years ago and it felt like a near-future SF writer's Bizarro Land Fun House. It's all about the technology...of THE FUTURE. Plus, world culture viewed through the Disnefier(tm...of course).

I figure for someone as engaged in the topic as you are it would either amuse or annoy (or, ideally, both).

77:

Given that I have the male pattern baldness that is affected by all male persons of taste and discernment this means that I have quite a lot of skin to cover.

Being as I am Canadian, I am now compelled to mention a hat as being a more effective option than any amount of sunscreen. (Because you might find your way to Tilley Hats, and thus start being mistaken for a wandering birder.)

I need the 110; long sleeves, cycle in sunblock tights, etc. but neck and nose are a problem no matter what, especially around water, a surprisingly reflective substance.

Also, try to get lip goo that's got a high SPF factor; 30 isn't that hard to find. One doesn't want to use regular sunscreen (taste, topical-only chemistries) but really ought to do something, because sunburned lips are only slightly less bad than sunburning the soles of your feet.

78:

Sunscreen goes up to 110

In very rough terms amount of blockage is 1/spf. Very rough.

But in general what it means is that going from an SPF of 30 to 35 is a much bigger deal than going from 50 to 55.

Past about 30 or 35 you're getting in to territory only needed by people with sun allergies and such.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunscreen

I figure I get to have slices of skin removed in the next few years. I'm 60 now and in my teens drove a small tractor mowing fields to earn my spending money. Usually dressed in a hat, cutoffs shorted than board short swim wear, and sneakers. I was tanned for 5 or 6 months at a time. Usually with a late spring bad burn.

79:

All I've seen is short reports in the aviation press, but seemingly Kermit Weeks has decided that being a "public museum" is no longer the medium to long term future for his collection (but I think private tours are still possible, and the flyable machines will still be displayed).

80:

Make sure you check out the launches from both bases at Canaveral - and keep an eye on the local news - when we went in 2012 there was nothing posted, then we saw a tv spot telling of a night time satellite launch from the military part at canaveral, not listed on the NASA site - no canned primates but still pretty cool.

The Boggy Creek Airboat ride was a good way to clean the last few dollars out of the wallet on the way home - a couple of miles straight south of the airport - fitted in nicely before the flight - bcairboats.com

81:

Get yourself tomtom or some other good satnav - speech prompts take a lot of stress out of driving on the wrong side of the road

82:

And, by way of a memo to everybody: if you're booking a flight well in advance, remember to check the itinerary a couple of weeks before you travel!

I did so just now -- prodded because I just booked our cat in to her kitty hotel while we're gone -- and discovered that someone had fat-fingered our departure date, changing a '1' in the day to a '2'. (The original departure date was still on the airline's computer system: but there was a payment hitch, so phone calls and re-booking ensued, and in the process our departure date got accidentally shunted back 10 days.) Problem due to airline now fixed by airline, at no cost to passenger. But? If I'd left it much later (we leave in a bit over two weeks) there might have been no replacement seats left.

83:

We have an elderly UK tomtom with US maps and a dying battery. Thinking about buying a new one with a better screen ...

(Pause for googling)

... Yup, new tomtom goes on the shopping list for this afternoon. (And a US maps download, and a microSD card to store them on.)

84:

Have you already been on one of those airboats (as seen in the kids tv show Gentle Ben) and gone looking for alligators? I think it's more normal to do a lot further south of orlando, but we had a day to kill there earlier in the year and went on a local one. Various birds/deadly snake/alligators/baby aligators were seen - plus of course you get to go in a boat that uses a giant propeller behind the driver to push it along at speed.

85:

I'm not convinced that buying the map separately buys you anything. Last time I investigated these things (garmin, not tomtom) the difference in price between units with and without various maps was almost exactly the same as the cost of the extra map downloads.

I concluded that I was paying for data rather than hardware, and just went for the unit with all the maps I needed.

86:

I'm a little surprised that nobody has suggested visiting the town of Celebration, Florida. To anyone who's interested in economics, it's a must-see.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-14/pixie-dust-loses-magic-as-foreclosures-slam-utopian-disney-town.html

TL,DR: Extremely tightly planned residential community founded by Disney. Looks like the setting of "The Truman Show". Then the mortgage crisis hits, and wackiness ensues.

87:

KSC is worth every minute. My brother and I spent two days there, taking both the tours they had available then. The longer tour included the parts that are now a restricted area where the first Mercury-Redstone were fired and a lot of the older launch sites that you dont get to see on the standard tour.

88:

I'm a bit late to the party, but I'm a former 30+ year Floridian. I'm a Colorado resident now.

DO NOT underestimate how lousy it is with humidity there.
FIFTY PERCENT is VERY LOW. Teenage athletes DIE in practice there.

That said, my partner is from the UK. When we used to commuter-date, the thing that totally blew her mind (being from a country that completely eradicated any wild animal larger than a small dog centuries ago) was how easily you could go 'round any reasonably-sized, reasonably quiet (a hundred meters from the freeway is usually sufficient) and see a prehistoric predator (alligators) larger than you are tall. Well maybe not you. She's short.

Don't worry! They're pretty docile and people are too big to be seen as food. Just don't try to wade in and bother them.

89:

bah. ellipses. *reasonably quiet body of water*

And FL is riddled with them. Runoff reservoirs (common, necessary) will usually do the trick, but any park worth the name will usually boast at least one (body of water and alligator).

90:

You're correct; however, buying a satnav with US/NorAm maps preinstalled in the UK is a bit difficult. (Try buying a UK satnav in the US, by way of comparison.) Easier to buy a UK/EU satnav and add the extra maps.

92:

To elaborate slightly on why I recommend Hiassen

"Tourist Season, published in 1986, was Hiaasen's first solo novel. GQ magazine called it "one of the 10 best destination reads of all time," although it failed to frighten a single tourist away from Florida...."

Smithsonian, recently: Carl Hiaasen has compiled a body of work populated by venal real estate developers, crooked politicians, environmental zealots, dead tourists, ambitious strippers and numbskull lowlifes. He says that as nonfiction has gotten stranger than fiction, it’s become harder for a satirist to stay ahead of “the curve of human weirdness. America is becoming more like South Florida every day, which is terrifying.”

Guidance appropriate for visitors.

93:

AS I posted in the other thread:
59:

I hope you have a good time seeing it. It isn't so long before people will get antsy about it sinking beneath the rising waters due to AGW.


Hiassen is worth reading, although having read 3 of them I found them a bit samey. Read one or two, they are entertaining. Perhaps someone could write similar novels set in Edinburgh.

94:

Know that St. Augustine was listed a couple of times above but don't think Castillo De San Marcos was specifically mentioned. If you like history and "what ifs" San Marcos will spark your imagination. I always love Florida and that sense of pirates and permanent autonomous zones. Really think that's why Cory is so hung up on freeing Disneyland. It's funny to think how many times North America could have been TOTALLY different if this or that battle went the other way. I hear Fort Caroline is nice too (Jean Ribault, French Huguenots) but it's much further from Orlando. Finally, Augustine has a very nice art scene. I hope you find nothing but the best in Southern hospitality.

95:

I've heard Hiaasen introduced as the Florida equivalent of Chris Brookmyre. Or maybe Chris introduced as the Scottish equivalent of Carl Hiaasen. (He's on my semi-perpetual "I gotta oughtta read this someday" pile.)

96:

Definitely put a Hiaasen on the reading pile - before I moved to S. Florida I thought the characters a little far-fetched. Now I see them all around me on a daily. Second the Wekiwa Springs State Park rec... the clear water springs are one of the nicest features of that part of the state and that one has been kept from the kitsch developers so it's a little more bearable. And, do be careful as Orlando has garnered the dubious honor of most fatal place in the US to be a pedestrian - four out of the top (er... bottom?) ten are in South or Central Florida...

97:

Hiaasen is great. If you like him, try Tim Dorsey, who is a bit more zany madcap. If you've ever lived in or near Tampa (I have) try Triggerfish Twist. It is SUCH a Tampa novel. Hiaasen is a more mature writer for sure, but Dorsey is just ADHD nuts. His humor actually reminds me a bit of our illustrious host here.

98:

"Easier to buy a UK/EU satnav and add the extra maps."
If you own a smartphone, check if you got a driving application with free worldwide downloadable maps included (that's the case for mine).

99:

Belated pointer: James Fallows has a mildly complimentary post from a happy CD publisher, about Amazon. This is in response to Mr Fallows' previous critical review. See http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/JamesFallows/~3/Idsb4L4tq6o/story01.htm

100:

So you're not a big soccer fan. Did not know that :)

Anyhow, after checking your travel dates more carefully, it seems that the vile exercise will already be well underway by the time you arrive in Florida, and the lads from Nippon will be long gone. Your eyes and the makers of rusty sporks are safe, although it sounds like your better half may be a bit disappointed to miss the Samurai Blue.

Well, if the heady blend of athletics and corporate greed aren't your thing, then you'd probably not be interested in popping down to Miami the night you arrive to catch game 6 of the NBA finals...

101:


FWIW, I recently looked up the cost of adding Central American maps to my USian Garmin Nuvi and it came in at around half the price of the hardware ($50ish vs $100ish). YMMV.

102:

Ahh, Florida! How I (don't) miss you.
@FloridaMan

103:

Does OSM -- Open Street Map -- not work for the US?

The Canadian version is (at least for bicycling and map detail purposes) superior to the Garmin maps. I'm pretty sure the OSMAND+ app is available for iPhone as well as Android; I like it on Android.

(Google is better at routing, but I've got enhanced topo maps of all of Canada on my phone, no data charges required. What's not to like about that?)

104:

OSM is great for geocaching, and apparently well-liked by cyclists but doesn't do routing well. I will have it on the GPSr I'll have with me for caching. The iPhone is considerably smaller than the new satnav we just bought - and part of the reason for replacing it was a desire for a bigger screen. Its mount will just go on the beanbag we already have. We do not have any kind of mount for the phones.

As for Google Maps, well, don't use it to look for a vegan-friendly pizzeria in Bristol! It has all the faults Apple Maps is accused of, but the latter knows where that pizzeria is.

105:

While there are lots of good normal attractions in Orlando and the Space Coast, the geek consumer in me has always liked Sci Fi City. Haven't been in about a decade, but the internet says it's still there.

106:

Treasure Museum in Port Sebastian? Various shiny bits reclaimed from a couple centuries of bad weather and shipping on the Spanish Main and Golden Triangle.

Vero Beach is an interesting collection of Prohibition era gangster homes decaying in Floridian splendor.

Harvey Groves on the way up A1A to Kennedy is the last citrus grove still operating north of the 1986 Frost Line. All the rest of the orchards were abandoned, leading to wild boar feasting on good, unharvested, now wild citrus.

The Herpetarium is a classic tourist trap, halfway point to the coast from Orlando. Before we got good at synthesizing complex proteins, most of the snake antivenins in the US came from here. Many still do.

107:

The most recent info on that Sci Fi City website is dated mid-September 2013, which seems a bad sign. I would want to check whether it was still in operation, if I were visiting Orlando for other reasons.

There are signs elsewhere they are still in business, but it looks a bit clumsy not to be keeping the news sections of your website up to date. Also, my own experience makes me wary of the third-party business lists. Sometimes, defunct data seems to linger.

108:

You could check out the electronic surplus store
http://www.skycraftsurplus.com/
Often something interesting there.


Brian

109:

As for Google Maps, well, don't use it to look for a vegan-friendly pizzeria in Bristol! It has all the faults Apple Maps is accused of, but the latter knows where that pizzeria is.

I can no longer eat pizza -- by the time you've got the dairy and the gluten out of it, it's not pizza -- and I acknowledge that this is an old bias, formed more than thirty years ago, and in London at that, but it wouldn't occur to me to order pizza anywhere in the Isle of the Mighty.

110:

Oh there are some decent Italian places around if you look. But yeah, most pizza over here seems to be US chain style stuff, and there are better foods.

I quite concede your point that without the super-stretched dough and the cheese that becomes stretchy once cooked, a lot of the pizza-ness has gone.

111:

There's a lot of controversy about SeaWorld's captive orcas. So that's probably out.

(It's hard enough to build an enclosure that gives even a dolphin some room to move and get up speed, and big enough for a social group. For orcas, 20 times the size, it's going to be much harder.)

112:

In which general context, there's a petition taking off on Change.org asking BA to stop selling inclusive holidays to SeaWorld because of the orcas. If anyone cares enough to ask, I'll get and post a hyperlink.

113:

One of my greatest pleasures (both living in Winter Park/Orlando during the happiest years of my childhood, and visiting thereafter), is to stop at a roadside fruit stand and have some fresh-squeezed orange juice and fresh-picked oranges. With your Type 2 D, only a small amount of OJ will have to do, but apparently a small orange is okay.

114:

As a expatriate South Floridian, I recommend Wooten's airboat tours on US 41, 90 minutes west of Miami. Stop at the Mikkosukee reservation and look at the ribbon skirts and jackets, a truly colorful and quite original garb.

I also have done the Ichnetukee River float many times, and enjoyed the hell out of it each time. No wifi, no cellular, just several miles of lazy river to glide down. Best thing to do in Florida.

John Bartley, NHS Class of 1970.

115:

The principle remains - Google Maps has its problems, in this specific example not being able to tell the difference between Something Road and New Something Road. A problem that caused me to walk a long way before giving up and firing up the much-maligned Apple Maps. Which showed me exactly where I should have been.

116:

I'm still rather interested in this tour. Can we arrange to get together?

117:

John Frost: yes please on contact with the PR team at the Cape. Can you drop me an email?

118:

Google maps certainly does have problems. It's tried to route me over bicycle path that doesn't exist (at least twice "exist yet") on more than one occasion. It's also quite surreal to be sailing along on path the GPS doesn't know about, even if google did which is why I was there in the first place. That's fine until I might have to ask the GPS about routing, at which point the electrons have a coping-failure of some magnitude. (I think the algorithm has to connect existing path locations; if you're in what it thinks is the middle of a field, it hasn't got any way to decide what the closet bit of path might be.)

Since Ordnance Survey maps and the Energy, Mines, and Resources (back when it was) Canada maps *also* had, and I'm sure have, errors, I came to believe this was in the nature of maps when I was having my formative experiences with them.

119:

Yup.

I may be misguided, but I put more faith in a company that lives or dies by a single particular product than I do in a company who provide a wide range of services for free in the hope that by so doing they'll attract your eyeballs to the advertisements which are their real product.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that if you aren't paying for the product you probably are the product. (Hence buying the new TomTom with lifetime map updates and a big, bright new touchscreen rather than a windshield mount for the iPad mini or an Android tablet with Google Maps. And yes, I know both Garmin and TomTom do app downloads for iOS and Android: again, I suspect the GPS hardware in the dedicated kit is probably better quality.)

120:

GPS receiver depends on the phone; the GPS receiver in my phone (a Note 3) is (much) better than in my GPS device (an eTrex 20).

The eTrex 20 has a 25 hour battery life, though, while the phone has a much larger screen and much less battery life when run continuously. So the phone gets used to resolve "where am I?" questions and the dedicated GPS gets used to record tracks and manage normal levels of "do I turn here?" confusion.

Plus I just like having more than one set of maps and more than one device available; lost is bad.

121:

I also note that in general, phone mapping systems only maintain a very small local cache of maps on the phone; if you move around, they require online connectivity. Whereas the pure GPS systems store [almost] everything on-board (unless you're paying for live updates on traffic congestion or speed cameras), so that they function just fine in areas with zero cell signal.

122:

I also note that in general, phone mapping systems only maintain a very small local cache of maps on the phone

Completely true, and why I -- at the start of this -- had good things to say about OSMAND, because Open Street Map allows complete local copies of the maps, never mind caching. Very useful in places with no cell service (aka all the non-densely-populated parts of Canada) and even more useful along places like the Niagara River (which has a lovely bicycle path), where the closest cell tower is in the US and one can wind up paying for unexpected international data roaming in quantity on very little notice.

123:

Whats sad about google maps with regard to caching is that for several years ending one or two years ago you could specify cached areas the device would pull down and keep and which would work offline (the map would work, no route finding)... but they removed that and now it doesn't seem to work at all without a connection.

I had an ipad with no data connection I used to use as an offline map + gps with google maps, but you can't do that anymore.

124:

Whats sad about google maps with regard to caching is that for several years ending one or two years ago you could specify cached areas the device would pull down and keep and which would work offline

Hi to you in the future! Can you tell me which year you're posting from so I know when to migrate off Google Maps?

Being a bit less facetious, the Google Maps on my Android 4.4.2 phablet, a device that hadn't been designed two years ago, has this. I suspect you can't find it because they faffed around with the UI, but it's on the panel you get when you've pinned a location (the same panel that offers Street View). I just saved a named map and then reloaded it (from my profile page).

It's also possible there's some difference on your device that is breaking it for you, but it is working over here.

125:

This wasn't in the iOS Google Maps app until a few point versions ago -- if you are on iOS and updated to the latest version of the app, you should be able to find the "Offline maps" option by tapping the user icon beside the search bar (I do think you might need to have a Google ID though).

126:

Ah, I hadn't considered that the iOS version would be different.

I'm now wondering if there was an interregnum between the old caching control and the current one. That's not impossible.

127:

Good question. I assume that it's always been an option on the Android version then? (Shockingly ignorant of other mobile OS's, aren't I?)

128:

Actually I dug it up, and map caching isn't entirely gone on my phone, just mostly gone. Don't have the ipad with me to check it.

However what you need to do today on an android 4.4.3 nexus 4 phone (so as google a device as you can get) to cache a map region is:
1) zoom the map window to cover the area you want
2) type "okay maps" into the search field and hit search.
3) see the phone say "the on screen are has been cached" (or goto 1 if it says "too large, zoom in")
4) I guess not do that again with a different map view?

It is definitely not on the 'pin selected pane', basically it is now an easter egg feature on that platform.

The years ago version on ipad allowed you to set more than one rectangle of cached maps, I think up to a certain size. Which was actually getting fairly close to a full feature.

Anyhow, certainly not a reliable feature even though the underlying software does support it completely.

129:

Open Street Maps works on my Android phone even with my data connection disabled, so were you to download the Florida maps in advance, you could do without data service as long as you have voice service. However, Garmins and such don't outsource their computation to the cellular network, so Our Esteemed Host has a good point.

HOWEVER: Having done US location verification for a major Northern European mapping company formerly heavily invested in timer {/clue} I could not drive more than a mile without finding a significant error in a suburban area with a population growth rate

130:

Open Street Maps works on my Android phone even with my data connection disabled, so were you to download the Florida maps in advance, you could do without data service as long as you have voice service. However, Garmins and such don't outsource their computation to the cellular network, so Our Esteemed Host has a good point.

HOWEVER: Having done US location verification for a major Northern European celllphone and mapping company formerly heavily invested in timber {/clue} I could not drive more than a mile without finding a significant error in a suburban area with a population growth rate less than 5 per cent per annum. Florida, growing like The Blob as it is, will (I suspect) have even more mapping errors.

Therefore, don't you go driving into no gator holes!

131:

If you read the help (tips and tricks, view map offline) for Google Maps (on my new Sony X1 Compact, anyway), it tells you to:
1. search for a place
2. select the place info sheet at the bottom of the screen (you can zoom etc first, but that is only mentioned in the next level of help), and touch 'Save map to use offline'
3. Name the saved map

Multiple maps can presumably be saved.
You can also save the current viewed area by tapping to Search, and scrolling down to the Save option at the bottom.

The latest Maps interface 'clean up' has moved access to a lot of functionality (and I assume, lost some).

132:

This is a probably-not-too-terribly-useful observation, but I've noticed that Maps on iOS devices can show location info from wifi networks that you aren't joined to. Though if the section of map you're in hasn't loaded, it's not too helpful. I'm guessing that wifi signals include the info, for some reason. Of course, I've also noticed that, even when joined, it's not always too precise--at home my location seems to float around the block.

133:

However what you need to do today on an android 4.4.3 nexus 4 phone

I'm so glad I don't have to follow that set of instructions. On my 4.4.2 phone with latest Maps, I can do it in 4 clicks plus entering a name.

Method 1:

1: Somewhere on the displayed area, press and hold till the pin pops up
2: Tap the panel that's appeared at the bottom to open it up
3: Tap 'Save map to use offline'
4: Tap 'Save' (OK, can adjust which area is covered)
5: Type in name and tap 'Save'

Method 2:

1: Tap on the 'me' icon top right
2: At the bottom, below Offline maps, select 'View all and manage'
3: Select 'Save a new offline map'
4: Tap 'Save' (OK, can adjust which area is covered)
5: Type in name and tap 'Save'

So both those have managed to disappear on your version? Ouch!

I suspect the allowable area issue you encountered is probably generic though.

134:

Ahh, turns out it has recently changed to work as various posters describe. The "save offline map" link is there in the pane, and I haven't dug into it much yet but from the few seconds of looking it seemed to support multiple saved regions.

So all is well in offline google maps again.

135:

Note: after my post describing the "okay maps" easter egg, I got a map update and found the described link. So they quite recently re-exposed the feature.

136:

Note: it most certainly was gone for a while. Google "ok maps" or "okay maps" and you will find a number of postings of how to do it during that, recently ended, dark age.

137:

Speaking of the NHS 5 minutes after typing the diabetes comment/question I dived head first down 13 stairs, was removed to casualty, where they decided I needed my spleen out. Which they took. I then hemorrhaged, and lost 5 liters of blood. ( q: how do you loose 2Kg of unsightly tissue?).

3 days in ITU, then 3 in acute surgical care, now out. Note, it was a murder plot by my cat! Now on antibiotics for life...

Anyway, still alive and still reading!!

138:

I used to live in Orlando in the 90s, there's a ton of stuff to do around there though I'm not up on the more recent things. It looks like there are a lot of good suggestions above.

In general, any sort of nature-based attraction like the various springs are good. Florida has a geology and ecology you won't see in Europe, and they get more locals rather than tourists.

If you have time, booking an airboat ride is a lot of fun. Nothing quite like zooming through alligator territory on a boat propelled by a giant fan and driven by a redneck. There are a number of companies operating on the St. John's River, which is a shallow and swampy wetland full of cows and alligators.

Also keep in mind that it tends to thunderstorm in Florida almost every afternoon. But the storms are usually done in a half hour or so -- just find cover and relax a bit.

139:

TomTom for iOS stores all the maps locally and is thus a gigantic app (1.9GB for UK and western Europe on my iPhone) and buying overseas maps is easily done, they're all in the UK app store. I haven't tried it on an iPad mini or similar Android device, but in general I've found it to be much better than the dedicated TomTom I had before.

It feels pricey for an app, but as far as I know it's cheaper than the equivalent dedicated satnav, and one less thing to carry around or charge.

140:

No doubt OGH will be on his way home real soon now from Orlando, Florida and so is unlikly to need this sage advice on Alligators, but, just in case you should encounter the local 'gators Charlie .. however humane your intent DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MOVE THE ALIGATORS from the path of your car; apparently T Shirts don't work as field expedient blindfolds! Who'd have thought it? ...

" Alligator Attack: Attempt To Move Alligator Backfires

1 day 7 hours ago, Barcroft TV
A lucky motorist got away with just a SNAP on the wrist - after trying to move an 11ft alligator out of the road. Glen Taylor Bonin, 23, spotted the massive reptile blocking the road during an outing with pals. The carpenter and friends, Kacey Kole Mays, 21, Ricky LeBlanc, 24, attempted to move the alligator by first using their t-shirts to blindfold it. But Glen narrowly avoided serious injury when the irate beast clamps its jaws round his hand and shook him like a rag doll. "


https://uk.screen.yahoo.com/video/playlist/wildlife-videos/alligator-attack-attempt-move-alligator-120000566.html?vp=1

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on May 30, 2014 1:25 PM.

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