What do Two Canadians and a Brit do on American Thanksgiving?

Walk of course. And walk and walk and walk and then pray that they don’t have to eat Big Macs when they finally stop and then wish that they could please please please have a Big Mac. Just one. Please? I don’t know what the other Canadians and Brits in Florida were doing but that’s exactly what my husband, my son and I did for our very first American Thanksgiving last year. Here’s what happened:

We had been planning to spend the morning relaxing in our pajamas. Turns out it’s freaking hard to relax with an 18 month old yelling, giggling and stumble-running all over the house. We decided to get some fresh air and go for a walk on the Cross Seminole Trail. We strolled and enjoyed the dappled sunlight, the near chill in the air, and the jolly shouts of Happy Thanksgiving exchanged between all the non-motorized movers. J alternated between being carried, stumbling ahead of us and riding in his cushy stroller while sucking back OJ and snacking on cheerios.

We were having a fantastic bit of outdoor family fun until we realized that we were over an hour’s walk from home and we hadn’t eaten anything all morning (little J had polished off tons of Os but we adults hadn’t stooped to stealing from his stash). We considered turning around and going home but then remembered that Winter Springs Town Center was coming up on the trail. We’d already been walking for an hour so it couldn’t be far, right? The only concern: What if none of the restaurants were open when we got there? It was a holiday after all. We decided that McDonalds was bound to be open even if nothing else was. We could keep walking and there would at least be something vaguely resembling food soon.

Now, I’ve just checked with Google Maps and it seems that the walk was less than 4 miles and should have taken 1 hour and 10 minutes. Since we’d already walked for an hour, we were correct to expect the Town Center to be right around the corner. It wasn’t. We walked for at least another hour before we finally got there.

It is possible that I’ve misremembered how long it took and Google Maps is correct. We were hungry and tired and our toddler was cranky so it felt like an eternity. But then again, it’s not like Google Maps gives travel time estimates for our chosen modes of transport:

Walking while pushing a stroller

Walking at baby speed

Walking while carrying 30 pound weight, such as very large toddler*

(*This image actually had the label “Strike” beneath it so I have to assume that theselittle people are carrying signs, not boxes containing toddlers. But they look like boxes, right? And they could have toddlers in them, couldn’t they? Oh, the three icon images, which are for use with google maps but with different meanings than the ones listed above, can be found at http://code.google.com/p/google-maps-icons.)

So let’s assume that Google Maps is wrong and I’m right: It took us two hours to get to the Winter Springs Town Center parking lot. We were exhausted (if you’re thinking, “A two hour walk is nothing. You guys are wusses,” you can just shut up since you’ve obviously never walked anywhere for even 30 minutes with a toddler) but so relieved to have arrived. I was giddily humming “Big Yellow Taxi” and thinking that this parking lot was the closest thing to paradise I’d ever seen. And then we realized that the parking lot was completely empty, as were all the shops and restaurants. Even our worse case scenario did not have a string of cars in the drive-through but was instead silent and empty inside and out.

We sat down on the edge of a water fountain and tiredly discussed our options, as though there were any. We pretty much had to walk another two hours home before we could eat. There wasn’t even a vending machine and my husband was so thirsty that he was eying up the water gushing out of the fountain.

We had resigned ourselves to turning around and going home when suddenly the sun shone a little brighter as the clouds parted and a harp strummed (yes, in my memory it is exactly like the first 4 seconds of The Simpson’s opening sequence). A man was walking out of a restaurant carrying an A-frame sign that declared “Yes, We’re Open!” in green chalk. I think we actually ran across the parking lot to him. I have no idea what he thought of us but he graciously welcomed us, sat us down and brought us water.

And then we asked for beer and he brought us beer and we loved him.

He also brought us a lunch menu. We ordered and then we feasted.

We were Thankful.

I can’t tell you what we ate but I can tell you that it was delicious. If pressed, I would have perhaps admitted that we only thought the food was sooooo good because we were sooooo hungry. But since then we’ve been back to Hollywood Bistro many times and I can tell you, in a much less biased way, that their lunch and breakfast is pretty awesome. So good, in fact, that we’ve made that glorious restaurant part of our American Thanksgiving family tradition by going back along the trail to it again this year. Yup, we did it again. Are we crazy? Not that crazy.

This year we took our bikes!


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  1. #1 by bluedolly25 on November 30, 2010 - 7:50 pm

    Hi. It sounds like you guys had a interesting day! I had plenty days like this one. These days are the fun story to tell in the future. You know! Well I am so grateful my kids aren’t babies anymore . But they always my babies,no matter what but just happy no more strollers!!

    • #2 by cookthestory on December 1, 2010 - 9:30 am

      I know what you mean! I’m sad that he’s growing up so fast but I won’t be sad to see the stroller disappear. Thanks for reading.

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