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mellow memorial

Personal favorite BBQ eatery
I took the time off this Memorial Day weekend to not do much of anything when measured against the efforts of others. I didn't go shop at any sales (although I drove my wife over to return some merchandise at a mall), I didn't go to any special holiday activities (although there were plenty), I even stayed away from anything work related (I did not once check my work email). I spent the last three days doing nothing except exercising downtime, which allowed me to clear my mind and find a calmer spot in the universe. And along the way, I ate BBQ not once, but two days in succession, something of a guilty pleasure for me.
Today was probably the most active day of the three-day weekend. My wife had some items to return to a Vera Bradley outlet store at the Premium Outlet Mall. The only reason she shops there is the occasional 60% off sales that crop up. Our plan today was very simple; drive her over, drop her off, and then get out of the mall and wait for her to call me when she's finished. Drive back and pick her up and head on home. I've been to the Premium Outlet Mall just once in my life to shop. The experience that one time was horrific enough that I 've never been back. My wife is made of sterner stuff, but even she limits her exposure to the mall to only when absolutely necessary.

Even though the shops didn't open until late morning, and even though we got there but 45 minutes after official opening, there wasn't an empty parking spot to be found anywhere. So I dropped my wife off and then stopped off at a McDonalds situated conveniently across Vineland from the mall and got out to do some urban photography. I'd go get my wife when she finished and called me.

This mall is very close to Disney Buena Vista, and it picks up a lot of tourist traffic because of its close proximity. So you'll see a lot of touristy type stuff around, such as this helicopter service that also flies out of a small heliport located on I-Drive close to Sandlake Road. When I walked by this particular helicopter (a Robinson R44 Raven; they all appear to be R44s) it was sitting very nicely opened up. There was another nearby pad where other copters were flying in an out at a rather constant rate. I rather like the lines of the Raven.
Next to the helipad there's a lot of construction going on across from the Premium Outlets. About two years ago I'd noted that a small strip mall was pretty much out of business. Apparently some business group purchased all that property, tore everything down, and is now in the process of building even bigger and grander stores on that land. According to the signs on the fences something is supposed to open this October. I guess this is a sign of progress and prosperity; clearing more land to build more outlet stores so we can buy and sell more stuff. One of the signs stated rather presciently that future shoppers were going to need more closet space to hold all the new stuff they'd be buying here.

Of course not everything is sunshine and unicorns down here in Tourist Land. Not very far north from here on I-Drive is another nearly-dead micro-mall, this one once known as Piazza Roma.
The biggest former business in this micro-mall appears to be this former Shell gas station. The whole group of structures appear to be thrown up with inexpensive materials, including cheap looking stucco and fiberglass Roman-style statuary. While I was there a van with a family of four pulled up to the Shell station. One of the children proceeded to get out and throw up on the asphalt. The parents didn't allow the child back in until the child was no longer heaving. After about 10 minutes then piled back into their van and left.
On the way back home I spotted this second gas station, a Chevron, in the process of closing its doors. I suspect it's going out of business because it can't compete with the new Wawa station that opened up earlier this year less than a block east from it.
Lingering evening light grows later and later as we head towards the summer equinox. The lone magnolia growing in the back yard is now full of buds and blooms. I love to go back as the sun is setting and look at the big magnificent blooms. We've got riots of color all through the yard and the neighborhood as many annuals, bushes and trees are in full bloom.

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