UCF Homecoming 2011

Well, so much for updating frequently…Looks like that went out the window over the past month as work-related things kept me busy.  But that didn’t stop me traveling completely.  Last weekend I headed down to Orlando for the homecoming game at the University of Central Florida!  Normally I would have opted to fly down on a Friday and return home on a Sunday, but this time I flew down on a Saturday Morning and returned back on Monday morning.  I hate catching early morning flights, but I was more than willing to do it to shave like $80 off the cost of the ticket.

My Delta flights ECP-ATL-MCO that morning were pretty standard.  I got upgraded for both of my flights, which wasn’t even full on the ATL-MCO leg.  On arrival, I made my way to the Hertz #1 Club Gold spots in the parking garage and picked up the Mitsubishi Galant I reserved.  This marked a first for me – Ever since graduating in May 2010 from UCF, I’ve always had friends or my younger brother to pick me up or drop me off at the airport.  That also meant that I usually crashed on couches and as a result also meant that I would be staying in hotels this time.

Upon leaving the airport I realized I forgot my SunPass transponder back in my car at home, so I opted for just taking Semoran north out of the airport and figured that I would take that to University and shoot over to UCF.  Somehow I made it nearly to Colonial Dr before I even hit a red light, and soon enough I was on the main UCF campus.  I figured that parking wasn’t going to be the easiest, but headed to the lot that I had often parked in my freshman year.  I used to have to circle this lot to find a spot, but to my surprise I pulled right into an empty spot – not bad!  With time to kill, I wandered the campus, picked up a new shirt from the bookstore, and grabbed lunch before making my way through the tailgaters at Memory Mall and on to the stadium.

UCF Reflection Pond

Despite the less-than-stellar season that UCF has had thus far this year, fans were out everywhere.  I guess it doesn’t take much to get football fans to tailgate and get drunk.  I got to the stadium and originally took my seat for the ticket I purchased – right on the goal line next to the student section.  However, I didn’t wind up sitting there after I got a text from my brother and moved to a student section seat with him and a few others.  One can read recaps of the game online – but in short, UCF dominated Memphis and ran up a a 41-0 zip defeat.

UCF vs Memphis - 50 Minutes to kick off

UCF vs Memphis - 1st Half

After spending some time with my brother and the others from the game, I made my way to the Sheraton Orlando North in the suburb of Maitland, FL.  Upon checking in at 11pm that night I was informed that I had been upgraded to a Club Floor room, due to availability.  I don’t think that this is standard for a Sheraton (I haven’t been upgraded to a Club Floor room thus far as a SPG Gold), but I certainly wasn’t going to have any complaints.  The room was pretty standard and had a comfy king sized bed.  Luckily my room was on the opposite side of the hotel from Interstate 4.  My only complaints was that it was nowhere near anywhere I was that weekend and there was no breakfast in the Club Lounge.  I’m guessing that Sundays there just isn’t enough demand for the hotel to offer it.  Would have been nice though if there had been a note in my room saying “Hey, don’t get your hopes up, because there is no breakfast tomorrow morning in the lounge.”  Other than that this hotel is a pretty decent property and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again in the future, even if it is a bit out of the way for what I am usually in Orlando for.

Sheraton Orlando North - Club Floor King

Sheraton Orlando North - 'S' Marks the Spot

Actually the whole lack of breakfast thing wasn’t that big of a deal since I was planning on meeting my brother for lunch at the Orlando Ale House.  Of course I did have a bit of time to kill so I drove aimlessly in downtown Orlando and Lake Eola only to fight one-way streets (damn you Pine Street and your change of direction!).  Either way I eventually made it to lunch which lasted for a few hours before I headed back to the UCF campus for something else.

One of my friends through college who was one of my roommates for three years was heading down to Orlando for the afternoon from Gainesville so we could hang out for the first time since graduation.  I spent my time waiting next to the reflection pond enjoying the beautiful day that Orlando was having.  Eventually he showed up and without getting into too many details we spent the afternoon checking out some of the new things on campus, heading down to the I-Drive area, eating chicken tenders at Huey Magoo’s (a staple of mine during college), and eventually winding up at Hard Knocks.

For the less familiar, Hard Knocks is a place that bills itself as an indoor combat simulation arena and LAN center (that means video games).  Essentially, what they do offer is laser tag using guns that have the close feel, weight, and look of actual weapons.  That means running around with replica FN P90 or M-16, shotguns, handguns and more through either an office environment (with cubicles and all), a warehouse, or the “house” environment.  My friend and I figured there would be at least a few people out here, despite being a Sunday night, but the only people there included a 10 year old (I’m guessing here) and his dad.  That actually just meant me and my friend and this random kid running around shooting each other.  That’s fine in the free for all missions, but wasn’t exactly fair for the kid when team missions were being played and we teamed up on him. After getting worn out and re-hydrating we went our separate ways and I headed for the Sheraton Suites Orlando Airport.

Now, when I stay at an airport hotel, I really don’t expect much.  The average person is just there for one night and nothing more and probably just wanting a place to crash.  Still, when you are dealing with a major brand, you expect certain levels of service and cleanliness.  Upon first arriving to my 2nd floor suite (the only type of room here it seems) I first noted that it looked a little bit on the dated side.  It did have flat screen TVs but the decor was definitely older.  Since this was just a one night crash pad I didn’t really care too much – I really just needed a bed (while earning SPG points of course!).  As I was getting ready to jump into my bed I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  “Why is the carpet moving?” I thought until I snapped to and realized there was a good sized bug scurrying across the floor.  Now I don’t get freaked out really, but I do move swiftly to kill the intruder.  I figured I could call down to the front desk and swap rooms, but I really just wanted to sleep so I figured that I would take care of it in the morning.

Sheraton Suites Orlando Airport - King Suite

Sheraton Suites Orlando Airport - My "Guest"

There was just one problem with my plan.  When I got down to the front desk at 430am in the morning there was no one there.  I mean I even tried shouting out to the back office area and no one responded.  I even waited 5 minutes at the counter, thinking that surely someone would be around soon, but no one came.  Eventually I just said screw it and made my way out to my car and to the airport.  After getting through security (and listening to the TSA blaming Delta for the e-boarding pass scanner not working) I sent a tweet to Starwood about my bug problem.  They referred it on to the hotel who a few days later told me no other bugs were found and that they would be crediting my account 3000 points.  I’m still waiting on the points, so we shall see if I have to escalate that or not.

Flights that morning were pretty easy, but I did not make the upgrade on the MCO-ATL flight.  I even volunteered my seat since they were oversold, but in the end they didn’t need me.  Such a shame too, since they were going to route me MCO-MIA-ATL-ECP and toss me $400 in vouchers.  This year I think I’ve volunteered my seat 3 or 4 times and never once have they needed me.  The only other thing to note that the flight was early enough that it was still completely dark when we arrived in ATL.  Other than that my ATL-ECP flight arrived about 20 minutes early and wound up only getting into the office an hour later than usual, which isn’t too bad.


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