Now that I’m resting in VA, I finally have a chance to post about my trip!

This weekend has been so busy but also a lot of fun.  Friday was Sarah’s beautiful wedding in Orlando.  By the evening, the weather was perfect for the outdoor ceremony then we moved inside for the reception.  I was so honored to be a part of her special day!

Sarah’s gorgeous Cinderella-inspired couture dress & my fierce dress from White House Black Market.

Sat. morning, I left at 9a and drove 7 1/2 hours to Atlanta.  30 miles from my exit, I got stuck in traffic for several hours when two lanes of I-75 were closed (I witnessed a couple cases of road rage).  Luckily, I had plenty of gas (plus the Eco feature on my car to preserve gas).  After a detour, I eventually made it to my friend’s place (several hours later then planned).  She was sweet enough to take me out to dinner, give me a quick tour of the area, and walk through Piedmont Park.  We had breakfast at a great cafe in the morning and then I started the 10 hour drive to VA.  Driving out of GA and through the Carolinas was so boring!  It wasn’t until I entered VA that the drive was more scenic and enjoyable.  I made it to VA just in time for dinner with my second family.

With the exception of the traffic in Atlanta, the drive was smooth – no accidents or bad weather and I didn’t run out of gas or get lost.

I’ve been resting here for the past two nights and I’ll head to DE tomorrow morning. It will be a quick trip (only a 3 hour drive).

I suppose this will be my last post since I’m no longer marooned in FL.  Thank you all so much for taking the time to read my blog and follow along on my adventures!  I appreciated all of your support and kind words of encouragement.  I’m looking forward to the summer& for the next adventures to come!

The past couple nights, I have been either going to bed really late at night or waking up really early in the morning (this morning I was up around 5:30 making coffee — *sigh*).  I have several “to do” lists which include all the things I need to do to move-out and all the things I need to do to move-in.  I’ve been excited and stressed trying to get everything done.

I wrapped up my work at the archives on Friday & left a “thank you” note for the librarians who have been accommodating and really helped me be productive.  I’ve collected thousands of documents from 3 different collections in the time I’ve been there.  I plan to stay in touch with the head librarian as I develop my diss. and sort through all my findings.  This research trip was my first year dedicated to intense archival research.  Some candidates get stuck at this point because it takes a lot of time and money to travel to archives and everyone is fighting for limited funds through fellowships and grants.  While it’s an important part of the dissertation process, it’s also only the beginning.  It’s hard to say how many chapters I’ll write (I think 4-6 chapters is typical), but I’m looking forward to getting started on the writing process.  The faster I write, the sooner I’ll finish.

I’ve got everything packed up and loaded in the car except for the few things I need for the next 5 days and the wedding.  The Great Migration begins on Sat. morning. I’ll try to update during my stops (one in GA and one in VA).

Wish me luck!

Now that my research is winding down, I’ve been using the additional time to reflect on my trip, my findings, and the steps that I need to take to transition from the research phase to the writing phase.   Overall, I came with a specific research plan (a list of archives to visit, collections to search, and people to connect with) and I feel like I accomplished many of my goals.

At the end of the week, I had lunch with a UF professor and she gave me a few helpful, encouraging tips that made me feel confident about moving to the next phase.  I have a lot of source material to pull from and I feel that I can write on a wide range of topics.  Deciding how to organize all the information into cohesive chapters will be tricky.  Writing can be a very difficult process and the prof. I met with suggested that I start with the “easiest” chapter (or the chapter that I feel most comfortable writing) and leave the intro. chapter last.

I’ve also been organizing my bookmarks on my computer- keeping note of different opportunities for conferences, fellowships, and travel grants.  Even though I’m not at the point to present my material, it’s important to keep tabs on upcoming deadlines.

This week will be my last full week in the archives then I’ll have a couple days to pack the few things left in my apt., shop for a wedding gift, clean the apt. from top to bottom, and attend Sarah’s wedding.  After that, the great migration will begin!

It’s not officially a heat wave, but with the 90 degree weather and high humidity it certainly feels like one.  The best time to avoid the heat is between 10a and 4p so I’ve been leaving early each morning to get to the library before 10a (but the sun is really damaging my skin even though I wear sunscreen ::sigh::).  The past week in the archives has been incredibly productive.  I’ve collected docs. from 4 of the 7 volumes of the West Florida governor’s papers.  The docs. deal with conflict with the English, dealings with Indians, and trade.  Renovations will be happening in Special Collections starting Monday (technically it will be closed) but the librarians have allowed me to come in and continue working at my little station.

The week ended with Sarah’s bridal shower.  It was fun & the food was great.  There are only 19 days until her wedding, which is so exciting!

My gift: Apples to Apples Disney Edition!

This weekend has been relaxing.  I went out for lunch and a movie yesterday (The Avengers – go see it!), but today is too warm so I stayed inside.  Rain is in the forecast this week, so I’m looking forward to the break from the heat.  I am so excited that there are only 3 weeks remaining.

Since there are only 4 weeks remaining for this research trip, I have been staying in the library all week and scrambling to try to collect any additional relevant primary sources.   I’ve branched out to begin looking at some archival papers from the Pensacola and Louisiana region (LA is further west than my diss. will cover, but I figure why not search the catalog?).  Campus has been quiet since classes ended and students are wrapping up finals which is nice (although there has been some noise related to the budget changes coming to UF).  But it’s also getting hotter (highs in the 90s with 50% humidity!).  Luckily, special collections leaves the A/C on full blast year round.

I’m also getting everything set-up to move back to DE.  I’ve got my move-out date set (May 24th) and have packed a few more things into my car.  Sarah’s bridal shower is this coming weekend, so it will be nice to take a brief break for her party!

Before you know it, I’ll be back in DE!

I was making progress in the archives Mon.-Wed. The collection I am working in includes select papers from the Archivo General de Indias in Seville. I managed to get through the documents from 1702-1708 but I still have a lot of work to do (the collection ends in 1783).  I was not productive on Thurs.  I hadn’t been sleeping well all week so decided to sleep in, clean my apartment, and pack for Sarah’s bachelorette party.

I drove down to Sarah’s Friday morning and we carpooled to Tampa (about 45 minutes away).  I had a BLAST the entire weekend.  We had dinner at a nice Greek restaurant, ice cream, daiquiris, and pedicures.  We also watched movies, played board games, and went bowling.  I drank a little, danced a lot, ran around, embarrassed myself a little – but it wouldn’t be a party otherwise!

Glasses of retsina (a traditional Greek wine).

The bridal shower is in two weeks!  Until then, I have a TON of work to do!  I am scrambling to grab any other relevant materials from the library.  I have to make accommodations for the wedding and prep for the drive back to DE.  I’ve found housing & a wonderful colleague for my roommate (I’m so excited about that).  More importantly, I have to begin making my move out plans.  Only 5 weeks remaining!

I had every intention of helping Sarah pack up her apartment on Friday, but packing was not a priority this weekend.  Instead, we both agreed we could use a break and have fun so we headed straight to Epcot for the International Flower & Garden Festival!  This year was the 19th Flower & Garden festival.  It began in March and features about 75 character topiaries.  We got there sometime around noon or 1p.  The weather was perfect (sunny but not too hot) and the park was not too crowded (esp. now that spring break is over).  We trekked around the park and Sarah spotted many of the different characters.

The attention to detail is amazing & it’s phenomenal how quickly they set up all the topiaries for the festival.  If you look at them closely, there are small bobby pins that holds all the vines in place to maintain the shape of the characters.  Here are a few more of my favorites.

We got in line for a few attractions including Soarin’ (hang-glidin’ over CA), Mission: Space, and Ellen’s Energy Adventure.  I especially enjoyed Living with the Land which is a tour of the Disney greenhouse where they use innovative technology to grow various fruits and vegetables – e.g. growing pumpkins and melons on trees (there is an emphasis on conservation, sustainability, and environmental education in many of the attractions).  We stopped in France for sweets (chocolate eclair, apple tart, & creme brulee) & iced cappuccinos and stopped by a couple of the shops for souvenirs.  Every year they feature festival merchandise so I picked up the 2012 poster and t-shirt.  Overall, the festival was a blast.

Saturday morning was a bit cloudy (with a little rain), but we headed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom anyway.   Cloudy weather is actually better because the chance that you’ll spot more of the animals is greater.  Animal Kingdom is not a zoo (the animals roam in designated sections of the park) and feels compact.  If you plan it right, you can do this park in half a day.

The Tree of Life

We started by going on an expedition in a safari vehicle.  Some of the animals get pretty close to the safari car, but most of the animals are kept at a safe distance by the strategic placement of natural barriers.  Along the various nature trails in the park, we spotted giraffes, a warthog, ankole cattle, elephants, lions, tigers, monkeys – there are also plenty of exotic birds.  We stopped to watch Nemo the Musical which had very catchy music (though I always forget how sad that story is) and two rides (Everest and Dinosaur) which usually have long queues but that day hardly had a wait time (this park was not too crowded either).  It didn’t take us long to get through the park.

We picked a good weekend to go to both parks.  We also had plenty of time to chat, watch TV, go to the mall, and relax.  The next few weeks will be busy for both of us – I’ve still got a lot of planning to do as far as my drive from FL to the mid Atlantic.

I’ll be heading back to Sarah’s on Friday, so this will be a short week + another fun-filled weekend!  Only 6 weeks left!


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