The Weekend

My wife and I spent both days getting out a bit to head downtown and behave a bit like tourists. I wanted to check on the construction of the Dr. Phillips Center For The Performing Arts that's currently going on downtown between S. Orange and S. Rosalind along W. Anderson.

Across the Power Distribution Station 2

So we headed east on I-4 and took the fairly new S. Street Exit to the heart of downtown. I saw this view and embarrassed my poor wife by stopping off in the emergency lane on the exit and getting out with the E-3. I wasn't out in traffic, but my wife had flipped on the emergency flashers, so I made a quick trip out and carefully shot a few exposures. Considering the paranoia about photographers and photography, I had no desire for a visit from a representative of the local constabulary.

City Hall

We parked again in front of city hall. As I got out I was caught up in the light reflecting all around the plaza and between the buildings, not just the direct sunlight but the reflected light between multiple buildings multiple times. I stopped after a few shots, as I was going across Orange Avenue to look at the construction for the new art center.

Looking Downtown

Still and all, I couldn't help but look back and see this view, again with the direct and reflected light, the textures and colors of the building materials, and the detail in the shadows. The light today was something to behold.

Deep Construction

I finally reached the "deep end" of the construction area, except it was surrounded by chain link fencing that stood a good eight feet tall. I flipped out the E-3's articulated screen, then stretch my arms up as high as I could over the fence, using the screen as a general reference. I shot three exposures, of which this one was the one I chose. I just liked the general layout of the colors.

Walker-Hendry House

On the way back, driving around the base of the I-4/408 interchange, I came across this historical landmark and closed up house now known as the Walker-Hendry House. It sits empty and locked up and posted on every window not to be trespassed. I guess the gentrified area doesn't want any riff-raff about, like the three homeless men who sat next to the lake right across from the porch.

Solitary Time

I caught this gentleman along Lake Eola on Saturday, lost in his game of solitaire. He stood out amongst the young urban couples walking around the park with their pure-bread dogs and the small but formal wedding party that had come to watch the bridge and groom have their photograph taken with the lake in the background.

New Car Shopping

Beside driving around like tourists we were out looking at a replacement for my wife's 10-year-old Kia van. We've paid it off and taken good care of it, but the expenses are now beginning to add up to substantial amounts, and my wife want's something smaller that's inexpensive to buy and has much better gas mileage. We'd thought about another Prius, but the idea of spending $26K or more on another car has motivated us to look for a very efficient gasoline car.

Fiats All In A Row

On Saturday we drove down to Field's Fiat and just looked at the 500s. We sat in several just to see how small the interiors were. And the interiors are pretty small. I'm tall enough that the hear on my head (and yes, I still have some) was rubbing against the interior roof. Otherwise we thought the Fiat was really good looking (what my wife calls "cute"). They start at $16K and the basic vehicle gets 30 city/38 highway.

Fiat 500 Front Seats

Fiat 500 Interior Driver and Shotgun

Fiat 500 Left Front Wheel Detail

On Sunday we stopped by a local Ford dealership to look at the Fiesta. Nice looking cars, but mighty small interiors for me. I could barely fit in the passenger side, and I was really filling out the car on the driver's side.

Ford Focus 2012 Headon

So we went over and looked at the Ford Focus, which for 2012 looks really nice. We found three we liked color-wise, the yellow you see here, a bright McLaren red and a bright metal-flake blue. This yellow is also metal-flake. The prices hovered around $18K to $19K, but the salesman said we could negotiate that price down. I fit into the Focus just fine on both sides of the car. Mileage for those cars was a surprising 28 MPG city/38 MPG highway.

Ford Focus 2012 Right Rear Corner

Starting Monday another week of intense work, then next weekend another weekend of car shopping. We're not quite ready yet to get a new car; we need to get our taxes down and see where we are financially after that. But we need to get a van replacement, so we might as well start looking now.


  1. Yeah, that Fiat is cute, but hmmm, buying Italian? I mean besides a motorbike? Don't get me wrong, but this was always something for people who didn't care about maintaining things themselves... same for French cars.

    A Ford? I grew up in Cologne, where they are built for Germany, and these never got me excited in any way, at least not more or less than our Opel (which belong to GM now). A former colleague got a Ford company car tho, big car with big Diesel engine, and yes, that was quite ok - liked it better than the boss's small Beamer.

    I'm - like you - into Toyota, for the sheer quality. These simply work, and that's all I demand by a car nowadays. Our next one will probably be a Hybrid (we had a Carina, and now have a smaller Corolla). And yes, that Prius has its price, but there's also a Corolla (here these are called 'Auris' by now) Hybrid.

    We even had a smaller 'Yaris' for a few days while our car was into maintenance, and as a small city car, that's ok as well. Turns off its engine at red traffic lights, and starts again when you step on the pedal. Otherwise, a Corolla/Auris is all you'd need for two (plus small kids). But if you like cars with a bit more 'headroom', have a look at the new 'Verso-S'. It's small but high I think.

    If you have completely different model names over there in the US, look at to get an idea of what I'm talking about. Prices could be translated about 1:1 if that Prius costs 26k at your place as well...

  2. I have an '08 Yaris but haven't tried the new one yet. My impression of the Corolla is that it has less front-seat space than the Yaris, due to its' more conservative shape. In general, I'm not impressed by the new Corolla, it's just so much duller than it needs to be.

    Of the group, I'd go for the Focus. Get the manual transmission, though - the automatic's a brand-new DCT and they're still working the kinks out. Mostly software mods in response to customer complaints about smoothness. Of course, that applies to the Fiat too, simply because buying an Italian car with a slushbox misses the whole point.

    If you're waiting, the Chevy Sonic looks like it's worth a look.

    Japan's remaining quality advantage is that they can and do build the first year's production exclusively for the home market. Detroit can't - we're the home market.


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