My 2018 MLB Spring Training Grapefruit League Toyota Grand Slam Road Trip: From Orlando to Fort Myers in the 2018 Toyota Camry (Part 2 of 3)

After waking up at Loews Portofino Bay at Universal Studios, I began the 2nd day of my road trip across Florida by rushing downstairs to call dibs on the Toyota I would be driving that day.

It was the 2018 Toyota Camry that had drawn my attention. Not only is it a sporty (and fast) looking car, but I’m a sucker for red interior. As I began loading up my gear, I realized I wouldn’t even need to find and choose a driving partner for the day, as I noticed someone else’s gear was already loaded up.

Of the 8 of us automotive writers there for the event and 5 vehicles to choose from, my driving partner and I found each other simply by the process of choosing the car first.

Ray Logan, of 50Bold.com, had also chosen the Camry, and therefore, he had chosen me as well. It was no surprise that Ray and I hit it off quite easily.

Our mission was to take the Camry from Orlando to Fort Myers, where we would be watching the Orioles play the Twins at Hammond Stadium.

The midpoint stop on our journey was a vegan shop in Sarasota called CROP (which now that I am looking closely at their sign, stand for “coldpressed, raw, organic, produce”).

Of all days to be introduced to this wondrous place, it just happened to be my 5th anniversary of being a vegan. So as you can imagine, the owner was truly able to celebrate with me.

I explained to him how I have been free of dyshidrotic eczema, constant sinus pressure, and pet allergies for the past 5 years in which I have not consumed any meat, eggs, or dairy. While he was obviously happy to hear this, he wasn’t surprised, as he also personally believes in the power of plants alone.

It was such a thrill for me to be able to stock up on all kinds of manly vegan goodies for the 2nd half of the road trip. I enjoyed a HeartBeet Burger, a peanut butter and banana smoothie, chia coconut pudding, and some delectable vegan chocolates.

Yeah, I may have went overboard, and but hey… what a fun way to celebrate 5 years being healed of eczema (thanks to my vegan lifestyle) than to stock up at Crop!

By the time Ray and I made it to the game, food was no longer on my mind. But having gotten a little too much sun from the game the day before, we decided to hang up in the shade up at the top of the stadium; enjoying the game from a nearly aerial view.

After a good time at the game, we made our way to The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village. I loved how right there at the balcony near my bed, I had a nice view of yachts on the water. It made me think of the 1983 Jimmy Buffett song, “One Particular Harbor”.

I admit though, I felt kind of guilty not being able to share this amazing hotel experience while my wife was back home with the kids. Either way, I slept like a rock.

And I would need every minute of that solid sleep for the adventure ahead the next day in the Toyota C-HR, with a new driving partner.

This was an action packed road trip, for sure.

Work hard while playing hard. That was my theme.

To read all 3 parts of My 2018 MLB Spring Training Grapefruit League Toyota Florida Road Trip series, just click on the link below for the ones you haven’t read yet:

An Awesome Dad Vacation (Part 1 of 3)
From Orlando to Fort Myers in the 2018 Toyota Camry (Part 2 of 3)
From Cape Coral to Manalapan in the 2018 Toyota Camry (Part 3 of 3)
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My 2018 MLB Spring Training Grapefruit League Toyota Grand Slam Road Trip: An Awesome Dad Vacation (Part 1 of 3)

Yes, it’s true that just two weeks ago I made my big TV debut on The Lifetime Network. But a few weeks before I obtained my 15 minutes of fame, Toyota had already reached out to me and invited me to join them on a road trip across Florida; to be part of the 2018 Major League Baseball Spring Training Grapefruit League tour.

Now that I work from home as a freelance writer and social media specialist, I didn’t even have to ask to time off; like I used to when I worked in an office. Instead, I just had to (quite easily) convince my mom to take care of the kids for a week. And as for my wife, she was more than happy to let me go out for a 4 day road trip with a bunch of other guys who also write about cars for a living. She was all for it!

Toyota made it clear in the invite that they would be taking care of everything: My flight to and from Florida, all my meals, all my hotel stays, all my entertainment; and of course, brand new Toyotas to drive from Orlando to Fort Myers to Port St. Lucie. So yeah, as you can imagine, it was an awesome trip!

It was a welcome culture shock, as a stay-at-home dad who works from home, to enjoy the finest hotels (like Loews Portofino Bay at Universal Studios featured in many of these pictures), restaurants, and entertainment; while driving brand-new cars and meeting other guys who were a lot like me.

The vehicles I had access to included the blue (and also a maroon) C-HR, the silver Camry, the red Corolla, and the newly redesigned white Prius.

Over the course of three days of driving, we saw three baseball games:

The Pirates vs. The Braves at Champion Station in Orlando on March 5th

The Orioles vs. The Twins at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers on March 6th

The Yankees vs. The Mets at First Data Field in Port St. Lucie on March 7th

The folks at Toyota even had a special Atlanta Braves jersey with my name on it, for me to wear to the Braves’ game. In fact, when the whole trip was over and I got back to Nashville, I had a Toyota backpack stuffed full of Toyota swag.

So as you imagine, there was no need for me to buy any souvenirs for my kids. I simply brought home all the Toyota goodies and my kids basically thought it was Christmas!

This is just my 1st of 3 posts about my amazing experience. Stay tuned for the 2nd, when I share about my day of driving the 2018 Toyota Camry, and the 3rd, featuring my experience in the 2018 Toyota C-HR.

I love being a daddy blogger!

To read all 3 parts of My 2018 MLB Spring Training Grapefruit League Toyota Florida Road Trip series, just click on the link below for the ones you haven’t read yet:

An Awesome Dad Vacation (Part 1 of 3)
From Orlando to Fort Myers in the 2018 Toyota Camry (Part 2 of 3)
From Cape Coral to Manalapan in the 2018 Toyota Camry (Part 3 of 3)

 

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

4 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Our family had so much fun road tripping in the 2015 Toyota Camry from Sacramento to Monterey, California. Of course, our main stop on that leg on our trip was the historic Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Here’s my video I made about our trip there, where you can also hear the jingle I wrote for them:

First though, we stopped at Ike’s Love and Sandwiches; a sandwich shop that openly welcomes vegans and vegetarians. I had a very manly vegan meatball sub; as the picture demonstrates.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Once we parked the Camry, we enjoyed our walk from the parking garage to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I liked taking the picture of you standing in front of the giant otter at one of the shops there near Monterey Canning Company.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

The aquarium itself was everything we could have hoped for. I was snapping pictures the whole time as you pulled Mommy around, saying, “Hey, look at this fish!”

You seemed most excited by the sharks; as well as the station where we got to draw our own sea creatures, then “set them free”, by watching them swim across the giant screen in front of us.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

I think my favorite part was how they presented the jellyfish; in colored lights which really showed off their translucent bodies.

Plus, an extra benefit of visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium is that our family got to check out the Pacific coast; as the aquarium is situated right there on it. Looking down from the pier, we were able to see some seals in their natural habitat; just chilling out on a rock.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

I love it that you’re at such a perfect age now to truly appreciate such a fun and wondrous event. It was such a treat for our family to experience the Monterey Bay Aquarium!

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Before heading to the hotel for the night, we drove to El Cantaro Vegan Mexican Restaurant for dinner, as we talked about our favorite parts about the aquarium.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Mommy got to drive the Camry from there; you fell asleep within a few minutes.

Our next and final stop for our Camry road trip took place the next morning, when we visited the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park…

So stay tuned!

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

4 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

Dear Jack,

This is the 2nd of several entries in my new miniseries, Family in a Camry. In August while on our annual family vacation, Toyota loaned us a 2015 Camry for our road trips around California.

So I decided to compile all our video footage and photos into a narrative to remember our trip. Here’s this week’s video:

Of course, I already did the one about our Jack-Man video we made, which is sort of like an unofficial entry in the series as well.

(So maybe then, today is actually technically the 3rd Family in a Camry entry in the series…)

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

Mommy and Evan’s mommy grew up together in California; they’ve known each other for a long time.

Actually, you met Evan for the 1st time in August 2011; 4 years ago. I wrote about it at the time.

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Now, Evan is 5 years old and you are just a couple of months away from your 5th birthday, which we plan to celebrate in Florida; while reviewing another Toyota.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

As for Evan, he decided he wanted to have his party at the local skating rink. So that meant you got to roller skate for the 1st time!

There was also a “jumpy house” there; as well as those roller scooter things…

The fact that Evan’s birthday party just happened to be during the 10 day span we were there in California on our annual family vacation was completely coincidental.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

But what a perfect coincidence!

Even though you and Evan were born only 4 months apart, you guys are a year apart in school; based on the way the cut-off date.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

I have a feeling that you and Evan will grow up knowing each other; even if you only see each once a year.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

Stay tuned for my next Family in a Camry entry, which features our family visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Webisode 19 of Jack-Man- “Chinese Field Trip”

4 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: Webisode 19- “Chinese Field Trip”

Dear Jack,

Two weeks ago when our family was on vacation in Sacramento, you and I shot a webisode of Jack-Man.

Right across the Sacramento River from Grandma’s house is a little village called Locke, which was populated by Chinese immigrants about a hundred years ago.

Dear Jack: Webisode 19- “Chinese Field Trip”

I decided it would make a fun locale for us, so I wrote the webisode around it, also tying it in to the 2015 Camry our family was given that week to review. (I’ll have plenty more pictures and videos of all the other cool stuff we did, too.)

In “Chinese Field Trip,” things are shaken up when Jack-Man and Green Meanie have to work together in order to find their way back from China to Sacramento; when they both mysteriously end up in a geographical loop hole, or portal, that transports them both, along with the 2015 Camry, to the other side of the globe.

Dear Jack: Webisode 19- “Chinese Field Trip”

Basically, I just wanted to explore the tiny Chinese village with you, but I figured it would cool if we captured it on camera while wearing our funny costumes.

I also custom wrote this little song for the Webisode 19:

“Keys to the Camry”

The keys to the Camry, I gotta find

This puts me in a bind, not gonna lie

China’s quite lovely this time of year

But I’m not supposed to be here

The only way back to Sacramento’s in that Toyota

If we don’t make it back to California I’d settle for a

Place just a little closer even if it’s Minnesota

I do appreciate this field trip

The culture and the ambience is so hip

Right about now I could really use a selfie stick

I’d impress my Facebook friends

And here it is!

Be on the look-out for several more fun videos and stories coming up, based on our family’s adventures in Sacramento; including a trip to the Monterey Aquarium and the Santa Cruz boardwalk.

Also, here’s the walk around video of the 2015 Toyota Camera that is referenced in “Chinese Field Trip.”

Love,

Daddy

c2 c3

Readers’ Expectations 3: Mexican Mustaches, Arabian Snails, and W.W.J.D? (What Would Jesus Drive)

Friday is typically my slowest day: Less people come to my site on Friday than any other day of the week.  So for the average 168 who do show up on any given Friday, the most hard-core and devoted readers of scenicroutesnapshots.com, I love to share my most off-the-wall Google searches.  Here’s how random Internet searchers found my site this week:

“Mexican mustaches”– This was a popular search on Wednesday, which was Cinquo de Mayo.  Many people out there just wanted to get in the Cinquo de Mayo spirit by reading about Mexican mustaches.  I can’t argue with that…

“will Earl Hickey ever shave his mustache?”– I hate to be bearer of bad news, but the last episode of the NBC sitcom My Name is Earl aired a year ago.  The show was cancelled.  So I think it’s safe to say actor Jason Lee has shaved by now.  Sorry.

“cartoon spoon of sugar”–  Uh, yes, because cartoon spoons of sugar are so much sweeter going down… You’re… weird.

“الحلزون”– When I Googled this, it took me to the Wikipedia entry for “snail”.  This script is Arabian.  It also took me to the link below, which is for some kind of art contest taking place in the country of Syria: http://www.syriacartoon.com/index.htm

“cannabis and me”– I like this.  I really do.  It makes me think of either an afterschool special or an 80’s movie about a kid and his weird alien friend.

“show me, don’t waste”– The new “green” state slogan for Missouri.

“in the temptation of Jesus, Jesus drives”– Man, I don’t know what Bible you’re reading, but when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness for 40 days, he sure didn’t simply drive off to Italy in a Toyota Camry.