But we knew a storm was coming, one that was predicted to cause more problems for the roads Georgia, and by the time we got moving on our way we could see the clouds to the north and feel the temperature drop.
However, we had one more stop to make on our way out of Florida: Weeki Wachee.
If you've been keeping score on this account of our Mold-A-Rama Road Trip, you'll know we had picked up 57 of the total 59 Mold-A-Ramas by then. The last two were to be found at Weeki Wachee, and we worked for those last two. (If you can call any experience that's essentially visiting a vending machine "work," but as far as this adventure goes we wrapped up with some suspense!)
Weeki Wachee is an old-school kind of Florida attraction. They have a natural spring that forms a big pool that they've dug theater seats down alongside so you can look into it like a giant fishbowl. Inside are fish and turtles, and during showtimes there are mermaids!
We arrived at (the deserted looking) Weeki Wachee right before 3:00. When I asked at the ticket counter when the next mermaid show was, she said the last one started in three minutes. We hurriedly paid our admission and ran to the theater. We settled into our seats just as the curtains revealed the underwater stage and the performance of The Little Mermaid began.
Women in mermaid costumes appeared. They "sang," they swam, they smiled as their long hair floated about their faces in the water. During scene changes they ran bubbles up the windows to act as a curtain. It was all both silly and mesmerizing.
Weeki Wachee is unique. We kept trying to impress this upon the kids who mostly seemed confused. I can't imagine getting around that deep underwater with my legs bound together and no goggles, sipping air from a hose while trying to smile and lip sync to music.
Weeki Wachee has two Mold-A-Ramas, both figures not seen anywhere else: a mermaid, and a girl riding a seahorse. But we ran into problems trying to obtain them.
|Mona and Quinn trying not to get too wet|
The first machine (the mermaid) was in front of the gift shop. The Mold-A-Rama machines at Weeki Wachee seem to be fussy. They spit back more dollar bills than they take, and occasionally hold one briefly to tease you before rejecting it. But wet bills? Forget it. The challenge was keeping the money dry enough for it to be accepted while trying to feed it into the machine, and since the Mold-A-Ramas are two dollars you have to achieve this twice.
But then the rain got heavier. There was lightning and thunder, and as we waited inside the gift shop we overheard part of a phone conversation about having to close the park.
NO! We were not going to miss out on our VERY LAST MOLD-A-RAMA of the road trip because of RAIN!
The gift shop lady did not understand just how much we needed to find that last machine before they closed the park. She wasn't sure exactly where it was and waved in the direction of a playground a couple of buildings beyond down the path. The rain was not letting up, so we decided to brave the storm.
We put Aden in charge of all the things we didn't want to get wet and had her wait in the building, I had the gift shop lady change a twenty for a stack of dry bills which I carefully tucked in a dry pocket, and the rest of us ran off into the rain, looking for the last Mold-A-Rama machine.
Mona spotted it, of course (expert spotter she is of both animals and Mold-A-Rama machines), under a little covered area near some slides and swings.
Ian and the kids shielded the front of the machine with their bodies to block the rain while I got down by the ground and fed it one bill after another trying to get any of them to take. It took some time, but success!
And seeing as it was the ultimate Mold-A-Rama of a very big trip we decided to get extras for friends and family.
It's so easy to get bogged down in our daily lives. Sometimes for anything new to happen we have to make a conscious decision to make time for it. Otherwise the time slips away and all we have to look back on are the things that were expected and that we were supposed to do.
Sometimes you have to stop everything and go look for mermaids. I'm glad we did.