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In Orlando - shop 'til you drop vs. read 'til you leave

© by Mike Keenan

After exhaustion created by myriad theme parks in the area, it's time for shopping. The Keenan family shopping strategy has existed successfully for decades with no harm done to either party. How does it work? Simple. I drive my wife directly to a mall and escort her safely inside. Then, we agree to meet again at a pre-arranged time. It might be one hour, two, three...I don't care, because while my wife is happily engaged in shopping, I head immediately to the bookstore where I amuse myself amongst books, magazines and sometimes music. Occasionally, there is coffee. That's a bonus.
     Today, we attempt to employ the same winning strategy at two Orlando malls. We drive first to The Mall at Millenia, exit 78, U.S. 4., anchored by Bloomingdale's, Macy's and
The Mall at Millenia
4200 Conroy Road
Orlando, FL 32839

Orlando Premium Outlet
8200 Vineland Avenue
Orlando, FL 32821

Neiman Marcus department stores. Inside, we agree to a generous period of three hours and then we will meet at a terrific fountain area. My wife merrily departs unencumbered by me and my purchase-any-item-within-60-seconds technique, perfected over many years of practice, usually the day before Christmas.
     The Mall at Millenia is large, aesthetically laid out, up-scale, and contains a variety of fine-looking stores, but suffers from one unforgivable fault. There is NO bookstore. I had noticed a lot of electronic book readers on my travels of late. Good grief, could it be true? No more bookstores? Is this the ascendancy of WiFi?
     I make several circles of the entire mall, getting in some needed aerobic exercise and noting the attractive stores, neat elliptical ceiling structures, clever use of glass and light and the spiffy intermittent fountains that attract child and adult alike. For over an hour, I experiment (play) with my camera, employing different f-stops and shutter speeds, trying to capture the essence of water as it spurts upwardly high into the air.
     My wife eventually returns toting several shopping bags, one devoted to our grandson. I am shutout. No hits, no runs, no bookstore.

Cooling At The Fountain  Elliptical Ceiling  Entranced By Water  For The Ladies   Glass Equals Light

     Off we sail to the next mall on our list, the Premium Outlet variety boasting 180 stores, but you guessed it, no bookstore. My wife is forced to share my company. Inside stores, whether they be clothes, purses, shoes, etc., I sit and try to read anything available. At one, I read the AARP newsletter. Too many health-related stories. Do old people never tire of talking about their ailments? Obviously, the answer is no.
     This mall features many popular stores and is located outdoors, yet the architects have thoughtfully provided glass roofs in case of rain. Do you call an outlet store a mall if shoppers walk outside to the stores? I don't know. Perhaps an agora as with the ancient Greeks. Surely, there is a University course offered somewhere on this matter in conjunction with an athletic scholarship. Yes, I'm smarting and mean-spirited from no bookstores at two so-called malls.
     At this one however, I actually commit to some serious shopping at two sporting goods stores, but it's my wife again who snags a few items. To celebrate her success, I take her to UNO's to share a pizza and a Cobb salad. Yes, I am the last of the big-time spenders. Hey, the food is delicious and we have two pieces of pizza left to share on our balcony tonight, lit lovingly by a fabulous moon. Remember, it's the simple things...

Magical Memories Cane Island Condos  Milenia Roof  Milenia Sculpture  Outlet Mall  The Essence Of Water

     Our home base is on Cane Island in Kissimmee off US192 and not really an island. The condos are administered by Magical Memories Guest Services. Our fourth-storey condo is one of several buildings that surrounded a wee lake with a fountain set in the middle and an adjacent pool. Palms and deciduous trees in bloom with a few shrubs border the lake. The condo is spacious and bright. There's a handy washer and dryer. The two bedrooms easily accommodate a family.
     On our glorious first night, we languidly lounged on the balcony, sipping brewskies, embracing a delightful breeze that crossed the miniature lake with a squadron of ducks creating v-shaped wakes in the water, and shore birds with enormous beaks thrust into the water's fringes, trying to snare food. Later, we watch veering planes sail through the night sky towards welcoming airports like absent children trying to reunite with parents, and the full moon beams beatifically as it charts its closest recorded trajectory to earth. I don't mind the shopping morass. This sure beats shoveling snow.

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo Credits
Mike Keenan

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