Travel: September 2007 Archives

From the Wikipedia entry on Kissimmee, Florida:

The Houston Astros conduct spring training in Kissimmee, at Osceola County Stadium. The Astros' farm system formerly included a Kissimmee entry in the Florida State League. In order to prevent jokes, the team's nickname was the Cobras rather than the Astros.

One evening after all the meetings were over, I decided to visit two towns, one old, one new, south of Orlando's main tourist district.

First stop was Kissimmee. Most people who have been there know the town for US 192, Irlo Bronson Way, a busy strip of tourist businesses that lead to the Maingate area of Walt Disney World. But south of 192 there's an actual town, the county seat of Osceola County, with a main street (Broadway), a courthouse square, an Amtrak station, and a lakefront.

When I was searching for Wi-Fi locations before my trip, I learned that the Kissimmee Utility Authority had established a free Wi-Fi zone in their downtown, so I was curious to see how it was working.

Although Kissimmee's Broadway has some handsome old buildings, plus some new mixed residential and retail buildings being constructed in a classic urban fashion, they all seem to house businesses that are open only in the daytime: banks, real estate offices, a photographer, a guitar store, a Christian book store, antique shops, a bakery, a couple of cafes. Only one restaurant was open, just off of Broadway. I don't imagine a free Wi-Fi zone helps boost downtown business much if the only place to use it is sitting on the curb or behind the wheel of your car. Just to test it out, I did try to connect from inside the minivan, found several of KUA's access points, but none of them strong enough to hold a signal.

The most interesting sight in old Kissimmee is the Monument of States. It has a homemade quality to it that reminds me of Ed Galloway's work near Foyil. It is a 50 foot high pyramid-like structure with rocks from every state embedded in painted concrete, and it dates back to World War II, a project of the Kissimmee All-States Tourist Club. The rock from Oklahoma was a polished slab (quartz, probably) with Gov. Leon Phillips' name engraved in it. It's at the base on the north side, in the lower left of this photo, to the left of the words "MONUMENT OF STATES."

Other inscriptions on the monument appear to have been etched out of the concrete by hand. Here's a vintage postcard of the monument. Here's a fairly recent Flickr photoset. Like our beloved Blue Whale, it was refurbished a few years ago with the help of the good folks at Hampton Inn.

I left Kissimmee and headed to Celebration; more about that in a later entry.

A Thrifty warning

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When I was booking my trip to Orlando, I was excited to learn that Thrifty not only had a great weekly rate, but a special deal called "Wild Car." For less than the cost of booking a mid-size, I was guaranteed a mid-size or better. Maybe I'd wind up with an SUV with satellite radio or a sporty ragtop. It worked out to about $80, or $120 once all the taxes and fees were figured in.

I like to book Dollar or Thrifty when I can. The prices are usually good, I've always had good customer service, even when renting from a Dollar affiliate overseas, and I like supporting a local company.

The way the Wild Car works, I learned from the agent in Orlando, is that every Wild Car customer on a given day gets the same type vehicle.

The day before I arrived, the Wild Car was a PT Cruiser.

The day before that, it was a convertible.

The day I arrived, it was a minivan. Chrysler Town and Country.


Monty Hall would call that a zonk.

Now if a customer really needed a minivan, they'd probably have booked one. If you didn't need one, I can't imagine you'd think a minivan is better than a mid-size.

Something to keep in mind when you're thinking about rolling the dice on that Wild Car deal.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Travel category from September 2007.

Travel: August 2007 is the previous archive.

Travel: February 2008 is the next archive.

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