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Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Part Two

My last post was about our recent trip to Universal Studios, but there was so much to tell that I simply couldn’t complete it in one post. I don’t know how many posts it will come out as, but probably a few. So this is part two. 

After wandering around Diagon Alley and attempting to absorb it all, we decided to head to one of The Wizarding World’s rides. Strolling through one line which led straight through Gringotts bank,  I continually gasped and pointed at small details only a true fan would notice. As we passed a set of golden doors engraved with a poem I knew by heart, I recited dramatically:

“Enter, Stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed.
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath these floors,
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware,
Of finding more than treasure there.”


In the ride, you were led through several top-security vaults by Bill Weasley and Griphook the goblin, while being attacked by many security measures which Gringotts puts up against intruders. It was a ride of great quality, being mostly digital but very well done.

Knockturn Alley we had yet to visit. I knew, of course, what it was supposed to be like, and upon finding it I was not in the slightest disappointed. There was Borgin and Burke’s, a store of dark magic into which Harry had once inadvertently stumbled, and in the corner was a vanishing cabinet, and in a glass case was a cursed necklace, and you could there by a “hand of glory,” a severed hand which gave a light which only the holder could benefit from. Or rather, that was the idea; but, of course, these were only skeletal plastic hands with a hole for a tea-candle. I cast a silencing charm on some severed heads, lit a digital bird on fire, and magically unlocked a door – though it still couldn’t be opened. Everything was dark in Knockturn Alley, though outside the world was bright and cheery. A couple cloaked and hooded wizards roamed the streets, looking forbidding; they were only kids in costume, but they had gotten quite into character.

Hogwarts castle in the distance.
Hogwarts castle in the distance.

We stopped into Florean Fortescue’s for earl grey and lavender flavored ice cream, which turned out to be pretty good but still tasted far more like lavender than the earl grey we were hoping for. We drank some delicious butterbeer, enjoyed pumpkin juice, and nibbled a gigantic chocolate frog. Every frog comes with a famous witch or wizard card, and I, a Hufflepuff, got a Helga Hufflepuff card with my first and only frog! We got some gillywater as well, which is nothing more than regular water with a fancy sticker on the bottle, but throughout the day we kept refilling both its bottle and that of the pumpkin juice.

Diagon Alley, I think, was the best part of Universal. Everything else was really fantastic as well, but nothing, not one single thing, could top the magic of this magical shopping centre.

Gordon Has a New eBook Out!

I, Gordon, after taking my trusty typewriter to a log cabin in the woods, being held hostage by a crazy lady, fending off herds of wolves, and running out of Hot Pockets, have written a book about loggerhead turtles and am proud to release it to you, The Life of a Loggerhead: a Story, a Game, and a Recipe.

Remember when you read my post about the Marathon Key Turtle Hospital Well, good, because that post was the inspiration (along with suggestions from the crazy lady in the woods) to write what is now known as  the funnest book about turtles ever, so go ahead and buy that book!

If you want to preview or buy the book, all you have to do is click on the cover image below! Just click on it!

You can also click HERE.

Marathon Key Turtle Hospital

In the town of Marathon there are sea turtles, lots of sea turtles, and if there are lots of sea turtles some of them are going to get injured. That’s why there is a sea turtle hospital.

We went on a tour of it with a few friends and learned a little about the turtles and the things they get hospitalized for:

First off are the regular things like damaged shells from getting hit by boats or hurt limbs from fishing line entanglement. But then there are the weird things like air bubbles inside of their shells (from getting hit by boats) that make it hard for them to dive or tumors that grow over their eyes so they can no longer find food.

The turtle hospital is where they can get all that fixed. They have lasers to remove the tumors and weights to put on the turtles’ shells to help them dive again.

But sometimes they don’t recover well enough to go back into the wild  and they need to stay at then hospital and live there with the other turtles who have also become permanent residents. The most common turtles to become permanent residents are the ones who get air bubbles in their shells. The weights are helpful, but when the shell grows it sheds the scales so the weights can’t stay on. The hospital workers always have to put a new weight on, meaning the turtles need to stay at the hospital.

This was a great place to go to learn about turtles and how they live, in and out of the hospital.

Our group meeting the turtles
This guy is all healed from his tumors and ready to go back into the wild
This guy has a weight on his shell to help him dive


Hermit Crab Day

Just in case you were wondering, that’s a thing. Now.
Cali and I invented it about a week ago. Read about it here, and then go ahead and  then read about it on Cali’s blog.
Cali and I planned a party. We wanted it to be on Hermit Crab Island (See that cute TTT), but there was no way we could get everyone out there, so we hosted the party on the beach at the RV park. Beforehand, Cali and I had  done all sorts of stuff to prepare, including zentangling on clam shells, and preparing “sand” to eat. Cali wrote some things to say to introduce Marcus and me, and I wrote a story on Hermit Crabs, based off research I had done. Marcus read a poem by Augusta Day, and a brief history of the Keys by Azailia Dexter. I will record those in a minute. We even went to Hermit Crab Island to get crabs to hold.

The party was supposed to start at four, and when we got back from Hermit Crab Island it was ten ’til! Cali and I hurried to set up at the beach, but there were people there using the table that we had planned to have Mom use for her presentation on shells! Marcus, Gordon, and the Mann boys helped us get the food, music from Cali’s iPod, and decorations (tea lights in sea shells). I was really stressed out, but in the end it turned out great. We had already rehearsed several times that day.

Everybody arrived, and brought their own chairs like the invitations had asked. Once they were seated Marcus turned off the music, and Cali glanced at me from the top of the tree where she sat to announce. I was sitting in a lower branch, and Marcus stood behind me. It was Cali’s cue to introduce me. But she didn’t. We sat there whispering for a second. Cali was nervous all of a sudden, but I couldn’t just start. I felt unsteady and shy if she didn’t talk first. So I jumped out of the tree and turned the music back on. Then we talked, and Cali agreed to present me like planned. She motioned to Marcus, he turned the music off again, and Cali said her little intro. Then I started reading from my notebook.  I’m working on turning my story into an eBook, available on TurtleTells. You’ll know when it’s up.

Here's Marcus reading. Can you spot Cali?
Here’s Marcus reading. Can you spot Cali?

Then Cali introduced Marcus, who recited The Beach, by Augusta Day.

He recited a history of the Keys, too.
After Marcus, Cali announced Mom, and she presented on shells.

Crazy Shell Lady.
Crazy Shell Lady.

There was Q&A after that, and there will be Q&A on the comments here after you finish reading the post.
Then I called out from the tree, “Who wants to hold George?” Of course, the five hermit crabs that Cali and I had found were a big hit. We took the bowl and passed them around, always keeping a close eye on them.

After a little while we took all the hermit crabs back and I asked if there was anyone who hadn’t gotten to hold the hermit crabs who wanted to. There wasn’t, so I said,

“If you want to hold more crabs later, tell me or Cali. For now, lets eat sand!”  And we did. (Or, rather, everyone else did.) Serving lemonade and sand.

Serving lemonade and sand.

We had to whisper in little Thiessen’s ear what it was really made of, but then he liked it. Everyone did. After that the grown-ups sat and talked, and Cali and I arranged the other kids into a game of shell-toss, where they picked one previously Zentangled shell each, and tossed it at a bucket. Kids 8 and under tossed their shells into a hole in the sand.

Then everyone got an extra shell, because we had a lot, and the party was over.  So yeah. Happy Hermit Crab Day. Now I want to get two (or three, or four, or ten) as pets. :)