The morning started like every
other travel morning, got the dogs fed, drank coffee, loaded the
last minute items and checked the lights on the tow car. All
systems were go so we hit the highway at 7:09 am. There was a
light rain falling but other than that everything looked good, for
about 10 miles! Then it started to snow, and snow and snow. The
border crossing was only 28 miles from our home and it leads us
directly on to Interstate 81 in Northern New York, all I could
think of was, “If it’s this bad here, what’s it going to be
like around Watertown, they get more snow than any other place in
We were driving along, taking our time
since the roads were getting very slippery. The windshield wipers
were working overtime when all of a sudden the wiper on the
driver’s side disappeared! We pulled over and Gary got out to
see what could be done to fix it, nothing! It was broken so he
took the wiper arm off the other side and transplanted it on the
driver’s side and off we went, he could see fine but I
couldn’t see a thing! How was he going to be able to drive when
I couldn’t see?
Once we crossed over the 1000 Island
Bridge and entered NY State things started to clear a bit, I could
see again. It wasn’t long before we were into another snow
squall, this went on until we got past Syracuse, then things start
to really clear up. It was smooth sailing.
I sent a text to Dave to let him know
we would be in Binghamton about 11:30 a.m. to meet him and Kristen
and the girls for lunch. We pulled in right on time. Dave and Gary
loaded the Tagrel MouseFest goodies into the car; Zak and Zoë
took on their guard dog duties so we could all go into the Cracker
Barrel for lunch. We had a great visit with Kristen, Dave, Brinn
and Maddy and before we knew it 2 hours had passed; we had to get
back on the road.
We were back on the road by 1:30 p.m.
and not long after we entered Pennsylvania the sun came out. It
was a gorgeous afternoon to be traveling and we made good time all
the way to Harrisburg. We pulled into the campground about 4:30
and had everything set up by 5 p.m. It was shortly after that
Linda called to let us know that she and Deb were on their way
over to meet us, Zak & Zoë will be working double time this
trip. We got all of the “AllEars” boxes loaded and then headed
over to Chili’s for some dinner.
Before we went to the restaurant we
made a stop at the Christmas Tree Shop, I just love that place.
Gary pushed the cart and Linda, Deb and I filled it. It was fun.
After paying for our purchases we went for dinner. The food was
very good, the conversation and company was great, we talked and
laughed and told lots of stories. We finally decided we better
leave so we came back to the campground and had a nice visit. Deb
and Zak had great fun playing with his Pluto. All too soon it was
time to say our goodbyes, but it will only be a short time before
we meet up with everyone at MouseFest.
We were both wide awake and ready
to tackle the day at 6 a.m. We got everything packed, picked up
and put away and hit the road at 7:33 a.m. It was smooth sailing
all the way. The weather was perfect, clear skies and sunshine, my
kind of driving weather.
We were pushing right through to
Wytheville and only stopped twice, once for a coffee and then at a
rest area. I made peanut butter and jam sandwiches for lunch while
Gary walked the dogs. Just as we were getting to Roanoke it
started to cloud over and then a spit of rain but no snow! We
arrive at our destination about 2 p.m., took time to fill up with
gas and propane and then on to the campground. We got the same
site we get every time we stop at this KOA.
I took the dogs to the dog park for a
good romp while Gary washed down the RV and car; we figure we are
safe from road salt now. After getting set up we relaxed for a bit
and then went to our favorite Chinese restaurant in the area. They
make the best egg rolls and won ton soup we have ever had. We then
went to the Wal-Mart and picked up some supplies. When we came out
it was pouring rain, that’s okay as long as it doesn’t turn to
Zak and Zoë are just exhausted! I
guess they hadn’t really understood that their work load would
be doubled when they were guarding the AllEars swag in addition to
the Tagrel swag.
Tomorrow will be a long day since we
want to get as far a Savannah Georgia so it will be an early
We were up early
today; we had a 400-mile day ahead of us and wanted to get on the
road. Everything was packed up and we left the campground at 6:55
a.m. We had gone about 2 miles when Gary said, “I don’t have
any dash lights.” which also meant we had no taillights or
running lights. We were just a couple of blocks from the FlyingJ
so we pulled in and got some fuses to fix the problem. We were
soon on the interstate headed for Georgia.
It rained all day and was just plain
dreary; the traffic was heavy and in some areas it was stop and
go. We decided to listen to an audio book to help the time pass.
The traffic was so slow around lunchtime that I was able to make a
couple of sandwiches for us, without us pulling over, so that
saved some time. We did make a couple of quick stops at the rest
areas so the dogs could have a stretch.
We arrive at the KOA just outside
Savannah about 4:30 p.m., and decided that once we parked we were
not going anywhere the rest of the evening. I cooked us some
supper and we settled in to watch TV. All in all it was a pretty
uneventful day. This looks like quite a nice campground; there is
a large pond with ducks, Canada Geese and swans. There are several
hundred egrets roosted in the trees surrounding the pond. Too bad
it’s raining, or we would do some exploring.
Tomorrow if all goes well we should
check into Fort Wilderness around 1 p.m., I can’t wait, either
can Zak & Zoë, they love the dog run there and I think they
have had enough of this “Swag’n Train” stuff! They’re worn
December 1, 2008
was up too early again today! After a day behind the wheel he
can’t seem to keep his eyes open much past 9:30 . . . and that
means he wakes up at 5:00. Today was no different . . . he tossed
and turned until 5:30 . . . keeping the dogs and I awake before I
finally kicked him out of bed!
were on the road by 7:00 and after a quick stop for gas we made it
to the Disney Character Outlet in St. Augustine by 10:30. I looked
for bargains while Gary went looking for a new arm for the
windshield wiper. I had more luck than he did . . . we are still
looking for wipers!
noon we were driving through the Disney gate on EPCOT Centre Drive
and it felt like we were home!
had requested a site in loop 300 and they missed by a mile! We are
in the 700 loop, but it’s a nice big site! I like it, but we
still want to be in 300, near the canal, so we are moving on
spent the afternoon setting up the campsite with lights, chairs,
palm trees, Christmas decorations and all that other “must have
stuff” we keep in our big purplonium box! Zak and Zoë were
happy to finally run and chase some squirrels . . . there are
plenty of little critters here! We had an hour before dinner so
Gary had a bit of a nap and I walked the dogs over to the doggie
park. It’s neat now that you can walk your dogs outside of the
pet loops; they have special trails that lead to the doggie park.
There were about 10 dogs in the park playing chase and having a
I got back to the site we walked up to Trail’s End for dinner
and admired the lights along the way. It’s beginning to look a
lot like Christmas here! After dinner we stopped at the Settlement
Trading Post where I traded a few pins. I haven’t been to a park
yet and I have 9 of the new Hidden Mickey pins. We walked around a
bit more enjoying the sights before settling in for some TV before
we’re off to the Magic Kingdom! Yay!
December 2, 2008
. . . we both slept well, and didn’t wake up until 6:30.We were first in line waiting for the boat to the Magic
Kingdom and we had our new Annual Passes picked up before rope
drop.We took a
leisurely stroll up Main Street and had several PhotoPass pictures
taken as the crowd rushed past us.I traded a few pins and did some shopping before we headed
crowds were very light so we almost walked on Peter Pan, then did
a walk-on at It’s a Small World and the Haunted Mansion.There was a 10 minute wait for Big Thunder Mountain
Railroad but Pirates of the Caribbean was a walk-on.We managed to get all these rides done, have a hot dog at
Casey’s and leave the park at about 12:30.It is so much fun when there are no crowds!
weather was great too!Clear blue skies and temperatures in the low 60’s.We were quite comfortable in shirt-sleeves, but some of the
Floridians were cold in their parkas, scarves, hats and mittens!The clear skies made excellent conditions for photos.
spending a little time with the dogs we hopped in the car and
headed out to WalMart and Home Depot.I needed a few groceries and Gary wanted some more parts to
make Mickey lamps.We
were back in time to take the dogs out for a romp before we left
loves this campground . . . there are so many squirrels to chase!
drove over to the Polynesian for our 6:00 dinner reservation at
excellent as usual.Neither
of us enjoys the noodles as well as those scalloped potatoes they
used to have, but it is still one of our favourite meals at WDW.Stuffed and contented, we returned to the campground for a
were up and going by 7:00 this morning. After walking the dogs we
headed to Hollywood Studios to practice some more on Toy Story
Mania. We have to get our skill level up for MouseFest! We were
there for rope-drop and rushed directly back to the new
attraction. We grabbed a FastPass and then rode the ride
immediately. Wow! It’s great. Our FastPass wasn’t until 10:05
so we headed over to the Animation Studio store to see the new cel
which is to be released on December 13th. It’s great . . .
I’ll have to add it to my collection. Now – how do I tell Gary
it has to be a Christmas gift? Maybe he’ll read it in this
report and pick up on my subtle hint?
10:05 we were back in line and enjoyed our second ride as much as
our first. After T.S. Mania we headed down Sunset Boulevard and Gary
took a ride on Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster while I did some
shopping. We met up and went to Tower of Terror but the line was
just too long . . . so we hit the road.
went back to the campground and picked up the dogs. Next stop –
Downtown Disney. We were anxious to have a picture of Zak and Zoë
with Santa Claus. Zak and Zoë were unenthusiastic while Santa was
merely ambivalent, but Gary and I had fun!
at Fort Wilderness Gary and the dogs had a rest while I rode my bike
to the Meadows and around a couple of the loops. Soon it was time to
head out to EPCOT. We had a dinner reservation at Nine Dragons in
China and then we were going to the Candlelight Processional.
soon as we entered the park we took a ride on Spaceship Earth and
then walked back to China for dinner. It was excellent. Funny –
this restaurant had been closed almost seven months for
refurbishment but we hardly noticed any changes. After dinner we
walked directly to the America Gardens Theatre and got in line for
the 8:15 show. The narrator was Neil Patrick Harris and he was
great. He was the best we have seen there yet!
it was over we hurried out of the park while Illuminations was in
progress and were back to the campground by 9:45.
got off to a slower start today.After walking the dogs we drove over to Animal Kingdom and
headed directly to Kilimanjaro Safaris.The wait time was 50 minutes so we grabbed a FastPass and
then walked over to Asia.It
has been several years since we enjoyed the Maharajah Jungle Trek
so we took advantage of the opportunity.The animals were all out in plain sight.We had an excellent view of the tigers, fruit bats, meerkats
the jungle trek we headed back and took the safari ride.Once again most of the animals were out in plain sight.We even got to see a black rhino running.It’s quite a sight . . . you definitely don’t want to
get in their way!
the safari we walked through the Pangani Forest for the first time
in a few years.The
male gorilla put on a great show, parading back and forth in front
was now lunchtime so we shopped our way out of the park and drove
back to the campground where we had a sandwich at our campsite.
took the dogs for a walk and took a picture of them on the old
railroad which used to run around the campground.While Zak was chasing his ball and Zoë was chasing
a family a short distance away looking at something on the
over to check it out and saw a small alligator on the shore.He was about 4 feet long and he swam away as we watched.We’ll have to keep the dogs away from the river bank!
We hopped in the car and drove to Downtown Disney where
we enjoyed dinner at Captain Jack’s.Then Gary found a seat outside The Earl of Sandwich and
read his book for a few hours while I did some shopping and traded
pins beside the DTD Pin Station.We were back home with the dogs by 10:00 p.m.
woke up this morning dreading the thought of moving.When we checked in and didn’t get our 300 loop request
they told us we could move to a site in the 300 loop on Friday.So when Gary asked me if I wanted to go to the Outpost with
him I said, “No, I don’t even want to move.”The site we have in the 700 loop is big, close to the dog
walk and there is a wooded area behind us . . . so Gary decided
that it would be easier to live with me if we just stayed put
here.It has taken
many years, but he is beginning to understand me.
went to the Outpost, arranged for us to stay put and as soon as he
got back we began putting up our decorations.We have 6 inflatables, 5 strings of icicle lights, some
illuminated signs, wreaths, our Mickey lamp, 2 palm trees and no
partridges! (Although while we were decorating two wild
turkeys strolled past.)
beginning to look almost tacky enough!
were finished decorating by about 1:00 p.m. and celebrated by
having some barbecued hot dogs for lunch.After lunch we took the dogs for a romp in the nearby dog
walk area along a canal between the 700 and 800 loops.
We saw yet another alligator, this one about 3 feet long,
and a turtle about 12 inches in diameter.Neither of them was interested in eating Zak or Zoë.
left for Animal Kingdom at 4:00 and slowly made our way to Tusker
House for our 5:00 p.m. dinner reservation.We really enjoy the new buffet there.It’s very similar to Boma but with a little less
great value for the money!
dinner we headed back to the campsite, took a few pictures of our
decorations and then headed to the Settlement dock area to watch
the Wishes fireworks and the Water Parade from the beach.
was a slow but busy day.
had nothing planned today except dinner at Kona Café.We had a leisurely morning, walked the dogs and gave them a
good romp at the dog walk before we headed out to Animal Kingdom.We headed straight to Asia and Expedition Everest.There was a fifty-minute wait so we jumped in the singles
ten-minute wait we ended up in consecutive cars.I really like the ride, but I could not do it twice in a
row.It takes me
about an hour after the ride to recover my balance or my
we walked back from Everest we noticed two handlers from Flights
of Wonder . . . they were trying to coax a parrot down from a tree
near the gibbon towers.He
had apparently gotten spooked during the 10:30 show and flown
away.We spent a few
minutes watching the gibbons, mom and dad with a new baby.
had about 20 minutes to kill before the 11:30 Flights of Wonder
Show so we went to the take-out window at Yak & Yeti and
picked up an order of egg rolls to share.Mmmmm Good!
bird show was great, as usual.It looked as though they were breaking in a few new birds,
some of them had to be urged off stage!
walked around the Tree of Life and into the “It’s Tough to be
a Bug” show.I’ve
seen this show many, many times and I know that stinger is coming,
but it still startles me!
left the park at about 1:00 p.m. and drove to the Disney Character
Outlet Store on Vineland.After
buying a few items (there were some deals on scrapbooks) we had a
bite in the food court and then drove to the Publix supermarket
just up the street.We
picked up a few groceries and were back at Fort Wilderness by
some time with the dogs we walked up to the Settlement and hopped
the launch to the Contemporary Resort and the monorail to the
at Kona Café was great!Our
server Sandy (who served us there on our last trip) arranged to
get us bread pudding from ‘Ohana . . . this is absolutely
our favourite dessert!
boarded the monorail again and headed to the Magic Kingdom.It was jam-packed!At
8:00 the people were already lining Main Street waiting for the
headed directly to Tomorrowland and got in line for Buzz
don’t want you to get the impression that I’m competitive . .
. but I knocked his socks off!I smoked him!227,000
to 34,000 – I cleaned his clock!YEAH!
he slunk out of Buzz we wandered over toward Main Street where the
SpectroMagic Parade was in Progress.We watched the tail end of the parade from the Rose Garden
and then fought our way onto Main Street to find a spot to watch
“Wishes” the nightly fireworks show.Ouch . . . the street was so crowded already that we
decided to leave and beat the rush leaving the park as soon as
Wishes was over.The
fireworks started just as our boat pulled away from the dock and
we had an excellent view from the water.
were back to the campground by 9:45 and enjoyed the many new
Christmas lights on the way back to our site.There were a lot of new campers arriving today and most of
them spent the afternoon putting up lots of lights and
getting better every day
Sunday December 7, 2008
wanted to be at Hollywood Studios for rope-drop and get in a few
more rides on Toy Story Midway Mania . . . but we missed.We were ten minutes late for rope drop.We picked up a pair of FastPasses and then got in line.The sign said it was a fifty minute wait, but we were
through in thirty minutes.What
a great ride!We had an hour to wait for our FastPass so laughed our way
through MuppetVision 3D and then walked over to the Animation
Gallery to look at the new cel one more time.By then our FastPass was valid so we headed back to TSMM
for our last ride of the day.The FastPass lines were short so we picked up another pair
to give away on our way out of the park.
11:30 we had a bite of lunch at Rosie’s All American Café and
then “dropped in” at the Hollywood Tower of Terror.We gave the TSMM FastPasses to a young couple we met in the
TofT line and then hopped in the car and headed back to our home
away from home.
did a bit of laundry while Gary gave the dogs some exercise and
then we all had a rest before leaving at 5:00 for Mickey’s Very
Merry Christmas Party.
had dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern (our last meal there before the
characters leave) and then headed over to TomorrowLand.
lined up for the “Twas the Night Before Christmas” show in the
haven’t seen it in several years and it has been updated a bit.A great show!As
we left the Galaxy Theatre there was no line at Buzz Lightyear so
in we went.Gary beat me this time.I had a defective gun . . . honest I did . . . really . . .
it was broke . . . would I lie to you?
stood beside the Partners statue to watch the special Christmas
Party version of the Wishes fireworks show and then moved forward
a bit for the forecourt show at Cinderella Castle.
After the forecourt show we stopped at the Crystal
Palace to warm up with some hot chocolate and cookies and then we
headed down Main Street.Gary
went directly to the second floor of the train station and staked
out a spot to watch the parade while I went to Exposition Hall and
bought a PhotoPass picture.As soon as the parade ended we rushed out the exit to beat
the crowds and boarded the boat back to Fort Wilderness.We were back to the motorhome by 11:30, tired after a long
was a great day.We both slept in and had a very leisurely morning.We enjoyed a pot of coffee, read e-mail, posted our trip
report, walked the dogs and then at about 10:30 rode our bikes to
Trail’s End Buffet for a late morning brunch.It was great.
brunch we hopped on our bikes again and spent over an hour riding
around the campground, planning a route for the Tagrel “Lights
and Dogs Tour” coming up in just two days.We’ll repeat the bike ride tomorrow night just to be sure
it looks as good after dark.
were back to the campsite by 1:00 p.m. and took Zak and Zoë to
the dog walk area for another run.I don’t think they get this much exercise at home!
relaxed the rest of the afternoon and all four of us had a nice
long nap.By 4:00 we
were on our way to Downtown Disney for some pin trading and
dinner.I did a bit
of shopping while Gary read his book, then we had a bite at Earl
of Sandwich.I went
to trade pins at Pin Central while Gary read some more.He came to collect me at 6:15 and we headed to the Villains
Room in the World of Disney Store to participate in the nightly
pin trading session at 6:30.Then we headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see the
Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
course when we arrived we diverted to Toy Story Midway Mania for
one more ride.The
sign said the standby wait was 70 minutes, but we were on the ride
in only 25 minutes.We
both really enjoy this new attraction . . . but we’ll have to
take a few days off . . . our trigger arms are sore!
TSMM we headed directly to the Osborne Lights – Magnificent!The crowd was fairly light at closing time and we got some
good pictures and video clips.Well worth the trip.
took a few more shots on our way out of the park and were back in
the motorhome with the dogs by 9:15
was slow going this morning, when we finally got it together we
drove over to EPCOT. We found the park quite busy again, not sure
where everyone is coming from. We walked over to Soarin’
thinking we would get a FastPass but the return time was later in
the afternoon and we knew we wouldn’t be staying that long. We
then walked over to Ellen’s Energy Adventure, we hadn’t seen
this in a couple of years. We walked in just when it was starting,
I really like this ride.
the time we were done with Ellen it was lunchtime so we walked
over to China and had some lunch at the Lotus Blossom Café
take-out. After we finished our lunch we walked around World
Showcase stopping in Germany to look in the shops and then The
American Adventure to take pictures of the Ginger Bread House. We
were going to watch the film in France but it wasn’t going to
start for another 45 minutes and we didn’t want to wait so we
was getting on so we thought we should get back to the dogs, we
made a stop for ice-cream at the Fountain View Café on our way
out and sat by the fountain while we ate our cones.
we got back to the campsite we walked the dogs and then everyone
had a nap. When we got up Gary took the dogs over to the dog park
and I just tidied up a bit, then sat outside and just enjoyed the
nice sunny day.
Gary got back with the dogs we decided that we would just hang
around the camp for the rest of the day. I cooked some supper and
we ate in, which is a rarity but nice to do once in a while.
supper we took our bikes and road around the campground looking at
all the lights. There were some new ones but we noticed there
wasn’t as many as in previous years. I figure by the weekend
there will be more since there is hardly an empty campsite in the
had turned quite warm so it was the first night that we went to
bed with all the windows open and no extra blanket.
once again approached the new day slowly.We knew that this would be our last little bit of peace and
quiet for several days . . . so we savored it!We had a very relaxing morning and did very little until
exactly 11:07 when Dave (Tagrel) sent a text message – he had
arrived and was waiting for us in the Fort Wilderness parking lot.Off we went and handed over all the Tagrel.com swag.Zak and Zoë both let out a sigh of relief, their job was
now half done!
had just finished a sandwich when JohnnyBlack and roguepony pulled
into their campsite at 12:30 and began setting up their camp.We went over to greet them and then returned to our site,
donned our bathing suits and headed to the pool.Our first warm day had turned hot and sticky . . . the pool
at the motorhome we straightened things up a bit, swept away all the
droppings from the cypress trees, and did all the last minute things
we had to do for the “Fort Wilderness Lights and Dogs Tour” we
are co-hosting with JohnnyBlack and roguepony. Poor Zak was
feeling bad - he somehow hurt his leg and was limping badly. He was
disappointed - he wanted to be at his prime for the meet.
(roguepony) came over about 3:15 and we yakked a bit about plans for
the Lights & Dogs
Tour.They had some
boxes of goodies for WDWNJ and BigRed so Gary hopped in the car and
delivered them to the Wilderness Lodge.By the time Gary got back with WDWNJ and BigRed (and the
scotch) it was time to head out for our first MouseFest meet,
“Begin at the End” hosted by WillCAD and Mike Scopa.
was great fun.About 50
of our friends from the Tagrel.com web site (taginators) assembled
in front of the Trail’s End Buffet at 4:00 for a meet and greet
session.It was so good
to see friends, many of whom we had not seen for a year, and to meet
some new folks we had only “met” online.
too soon we moved inside the restaurant for dinner and the chatter,
gossip and lies continued!Lots
dinner was over and darkness set in we moved on to the next phase of
the evening’s activities, the “Lights and Dogs Tour”.About 45 taginators joined us as set out at 6:00 p.m. and
roamed through five of loops of campsites enjoying the holiday
lights set up by many of the campers.We sang Christmas Carols as we went and had so much fun that
several of the owners had to come out and see what was going on.There were plenty of questions, “How do you transport so
much stuff here?” – “Do you have to pay for the hydro you
use?” – “How long does this take to set up and how long are
the way we stopped at FLSharon and GroupHugJohn’s camper for a
visit . . . this is where WDWNJ caught a bit of a chill and cracked
open a bottle of MacAllan malt whiskey.MacAllan is an excellent remedy for the chills . . . and many
of us found that we needed a bit of a cure as well.Off we went, sipping and singing!We stopped at JohnnyBlack and roguepony’s site, picked up
the dogs, Casey, Elphie and Morgan who came the rest of the way with
sensed that most people were amazed with the décor in the
impressive items seemed to be Minnie Mouse soaking in the bubble
bath and the giant inflatable outdoor movie screen with Disney
walked about a mile, but took a full hour to do it . . . there were
plenty of photo opportunities so we just moseyed along.By 7:00 we had reached our own campsite and took time to sit
and visit for an hour or so.Some
people sat inside, others settled in at the picnic table and we had
a more time to visit.Before
we were done, roguepony had set up her laptop with a web cam and our
little party was streaming live to her blog site.She kept getting text messages asking her to turn the camera
so they could see the dogs, turn the camera so we cannot see Gary
and John, etc.
along a banner with some Christmas penguins with cut-outs at the
head. When you put your head in the cut-out she snapped your
picture and you were officially "tagged"
Zak and Zoë
were the most famous pair to get "tagged" that night!
crowd began to drift away about 8:00 but a few stayed on and we
yakked on until it was time for the daily 9:45 water parade.We walked down to the dock and found some chairs on the
dockside patio where we enjoyed one of Disney’s longest running
called it a night and everyone went their separate ways.After a little bit of cleaning up at the campsite we hit the
hay and were asleep almost instantly.It had been a great day.
had very little to do this morning . . . good thing.It was a rainy morning.Very rainy.We
unplugged all the inflatable Christmas decorations and lowered the
awning on the motorhome because of the gusty wind.The rain lasted until mid-afternoon and brought down a lot of
needles from the many cypress trees in the area.They were sticking to everything!What a mess.All
of the decorations in the campsite across from us were drowned out
in the lake that formed in the low-lying area.Fortunately we had no damage, just a mess!
loaded all the AllEars.net swag into the car and met Linda at the
Contemporary Resort where we transferred the cargo to her car and
then went off to the ballroom for Mike Scopa’s “MouseFest
101” and the official MouseFest Kick-Off Ceremony.
the kick-off we headed back to the campground, dropped the car
off, let the dogs out and caught the boat to the Magic Kingdom.Unfortunately we were too late to join Mike Scopa’s Dole
Whip Meet so we headed directly to the Carousel of Progress and
the Tomorrowland Big Three meet.We joined a group of about 50 friends from Tagrel.com and
rode Carousel of Progress, then Buzz Lightyear and finally the
Tomorrowland Transit Authority.
it was back to the campsite and the dogs for a short while before
we hopped in the car and headed to Downtown Disney to join Moley,
John & Cathy, Chef Lizzie, Frogman and Tagrel for dinner at T.
Rex Café.It’s an
interesting restaurant, similar to the Rainforest Café, but
themed with dinosaurs.The
food was far from fine dining, but it was good.Unfortunately the dinosaurs are far too noisy to allow
normal conversation, so we had to do our yakking during the lulls.We still managed to pack in lots of laughs.
dinner we went our separate ways.Gary and I stayed at Downtown Disney where I did some pin
trading and he sat outside the Earl of Sandwich reading his book.I was done trading quickly and we were back to the campsite
the way we drove by site #551.Someone had recommended it to us during the tour the night
before, so we decided to check it out. AMAZING!A 6-foot tall replica of Disney’s Cinderella Castle with
lights, lighted trees, overhead stars and music.The lights are all timed to match the music and there are
background lights, which simulate the Wishes fireworks show.It will definitely be a part of next year’s Lights and
a day!We were up
bright and early and we had to hit the ground running.We packed Zak & Zoë in the car and were at Animal
Kingdom by 8:30.Gary
kept the dogs out in the entry area while I did all the paperwork
in the kennel.The
dogs got to meet lots of our Tagrel.com friends and seemed to have
a good time!
we got the dogs all checked in an settled I headed to the fort at
Harambe for the AllEars meet while Gary rushed over to Expedition
Everest to pick up a couple of FastPasses.He soon joined me at the meet and we had fun renewing
acquaintances with many of our web-based friends.
AllEars had arranged a photo scavenger hunt and we took a few
minutes to complete the hunt and collect our prizes, a pair of
AllEars change purses.Thanks
the Harambe meet we rushed over to Expedition Everest to share a
thrilling ride with a large group of friends.Gary and I rode in the second row and I decided that I like
riding in the front better than the back on this particular roller
the time we finished at Everest it was getting close to lunchtime
so we headed to the kennel and “sprung” the dogs. We had
arranged a park-hopper kennel pass for them – they actually
stamp “Hopper” on the receipt!Too cool . . .
we left the park there were some characters out and we asked to
have the dogs picture taken with Pluto.The cast member “handling” Pluto said, “He’s
leaving now, you’ll have to catch the next one coming out in a
Pluto saw the dogs and told the handler he’d stay for just one
more with the puppies.We
were delighted, and so was Zoë, but Zak was less than thrilled.He doesn’t seem to like the characters.Special thanks to Pluto for staying those extra few
drove over to Disney Hollywood Studios and checked the Zak and Zoë
into the kennel there.It
was much quieter than the Animal Kingdom kennel and the dogs
soon as we entered the park we met SusanL, BriarRose, BetsyAnn and
Lynner who were headed to Pizza Planet for lunch.We fell in step and joined them for lunch before heading
off to the Hollywood Tagomania meet.The standby wait time read 70 minutes, but we were through in
less than 60 minutes and the time flew by since we were yakking
with so many friends in the line.
next meet was “Stop, Drop and Roll” so Gary rushed over to
Rock ‘n Roller Coaster while I went to walk the dogs and give
them a snack.The
FastPass return for R ‘n R was 5:00 – too late – so the
“Stop & Droppers” skipped the FastPasses and went directly
to Tower of Terror for the drop.Then they returned to R ‘n R and used the single rider line
for the Roll.I met
up with them as they finished the meet and we headed off to 50’s
Prime Time Café for the 4:00 dinner meet organized by SusanL.There were over 70 of us under 7 different reservations.It was quite a feat to get that many people together, well
done Susan!We had a
wonderful time, good company, good food and good times.We even created a few “PBJ shake fans”
dinner it was time to head to MuppetVision Square for the HoHoHo
Lotta Lights meet.WOW!You have never witnessed such a spectacle of blinking,
winking and flashing in your life.And that was just the spectators!The lights were impressive too!
had flashing headgear, glowstick neckwear, blinking balls, there
were even a couple of fools in blinking and flashing Elton John
glasses.It was a
and I headed out a bit before the crowd to “spring” the dogs
from the kennel and get them back to the motorhome.They were sure glad to see us!After we got them home, fed and settled we hopped back in
the car and joined the gang at the Beach Club Solarium for the
annual Tagrel gift exchange.What a surprise to see our friend and fellow Canadian Tacey
there.So glad she
could make it . . . that Tacey doll just wasn’t the same!
– the exchange is fun!If they were to make cheating and stealing legal the world
would not be as chaotic as the Tagrel gift exchange!Gifts changed hands so fast you could hardly keep track.Some people were stuffing afghans under their shirts,
others were sitting on their precious gifts . . . all to no avail.All the secrets were revealed . . . you could not even
trust your closest friends!
was the year of the bags and afghans and I was determined to have
one of the three afghans.For
a few minutes I had two (one was Gary’s) just to be sure that
one came home with me.And
it did!Hooray!The gift exchange is such a treat; we look forward to it
every year.It is
such fun to see greed and avarice raised to such hilarious levels!The chant “Let’s make Brian cry!” is now almost as
haunting as “It’s a Small World After all.”
After the gifts were all doled out we stayed a few
minutes to help clean up and then hit the road.We were back at the campsite by 12:30 a.m. and hit the hay
immediately – tomorrow is an early morning!
some strange reason Gary was awake before the 5:45 alarm clock
sounded.We both had
to wake up quickly . . . I was off to Downtown Disney for a 6:30
a.m. shopping marathon at the World of Disney Store.It was billed as a special sale for annual passholders,
with many items for 50% or 60% off.Gary was joining a group for a “photo walk” around the
lagoon at the Boardwalk.
thoroughly enjoyed his early morning, I didn’t.The World of Disney Store was not prepared for the throng
of rabid shoppers.The
lines were long and slow moving.The merchandise was not ready . . . and was grabbed out of
the arms of cast members as they brought it out.No one was sure which items were discounted and which were
not.It was dreadful!If I ever suggest this to my friends again, I hope they have
the good sense to shoot me!
on the other hand got some very good pictures and had a great time
with the AllEars Photo-blog team.
unloading my bargain goodies at the motorhome and walking the dogs
I headed to the Beach Club Convention Centre to join Gary.We were both volunteering at the “Mega-Mouse Meet”.Over 900 registered guests and several hundred who had not
registered gathered in the ballroom to meet their favourite
webmasters, authors, podcasters and other “Disney
was a runner, a jack-of-all-trades designated to just run around
doing whatever needed to be done.I helped man the table for our Internet community,
session was well attended and this year we had a much bigger room
and there was no congestion . . . a definite improvement over last
the Mega Meet we drove over to Hollywood Studios where Gary
purchased the new animation cel which was being released.He plans to surprise me with it at Christmas, and of course
I will be totally surprised.
a quick stop back at the Beach Club we headed to the campground
and crashed.We both
conked out for a nap and recharged ourselves for the evening.
4:30 we were on our way to EPCOT and headed directly back to World
Showcase.We went to
the ride in Norway for the first time in several years and even
sat through the short movie at the end.We were heading to China for an Illuminations Dessert Party
and stopped along the way for a quick counter service dinner at
the Lotus Blossom Café.On
our way out we met TwirlerGirl and her husband TwirlerDave.Sandy and her friend WendyBird joined us for the
CircleVision show in China and then we joined the large group from
Tagrel waiting to be admitted to our special viewing area.
Illuminations show is spectacular and we enjoyed seeing it from a
vantage point we had never experienced.The scenes on the globe are quite different from different
angles.It was fun to
stand with so many of our Tagrel friend to enjoy the show.
left immediately after Illuminations and were back at the campsite
by 10:30.We have
another early start and another long day tomorrow!
Sunday December 14, 2008
fast start again today.We were up and going by 7:00 and headed to the Beach Club by
8:15 where we met Tagrel.We
drove Dave and Brian over to the Dolphin Resort for the Tagrel.com
moderators breakfast at Fresh.It’s a great breakfast buffet with an omelet bar and
yakking in the foyer for a while we were seated and almost
immediately began eating too much.But it was delicious!Good food is even better when you share it with good
10:30 we were back at the motorhome where we took the dogs for a
walk and then took down a few of our Christmas inflatables.It was looking like rain and we want to be sure they were
dry when we packed them away for the year!
it was time to hustle over to the Magic Kingdom for the Capture
the Magic Meet.This
photo scavenger hunt is absolutely the most fun you can have.The teams ended up getting juggled a bit.At starting time our team, the Magic Catchers, were short a
member and the DoodleBlack team was “Doodle-less” so the human
cyclotron known as roguepony smashed our teams together to create
The Black-Magic Catchers.The
team was comprised of BriarRose (Kristen), Cruiser (Gary),
JohnnyBlack (John), roguepony (Erin), Rosebud (Karen) and I.We soon found a rhythm . . .BriarRose planned our attack and marked off our photos on
the official scorecard, roguepony dashed ahead to attractions to
assemble what we needed, with Rosebud on her heels, while
JohnnyBlack, Cruiser and I brought up the rear, looking around for
nametags, Dream Squad members, etc.
times we watched Erin sprint off ahead of us, dodging strollers
and wheelchairs and leaping over small children in a single bound!It was like a game of roller derby with the six of us
pitted against the other 50,000 guests in the Magic Kingdom.I wish I had a picture of the expression on the face of the
dazed elderly cast member in front of the Country Bear Jamboree .
. . she was parking strollers when we grabbed her, posed her in
the first can-can kick line she has been in for decades, clicked a
picture and then ran away laughing.We also should have a video of Erin as she hurdled
(that’s right, I said hurdled not hurtled) over the people in
line at Philharmagic, disappeared into the building, only to
return seconds later (now hurdling upstream) with 3D glasses.She crammed them on our faces, click – Gary had the
picture – and she dashed back to return the glasses.We were off again – 14 seconds, start to finish.
were shocked when we asked, “Can we borrow your children for a
minute?” and then posed with them before the parents had time to
dashed up and down Main Street, through Frontierland,
Adventureland, Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown Fair, Tomorrowland
and finally back to the Rose Garden where we had started.It was a 90-minute whirlwind of exercise, laughter, and
fun.We sang, we
danced, we laughed and so did the other guests and cast members we
stopped four times to trade pins!
the grand finale, BriarRose ran over three of her team-mates with
her ECV.What a great
at the Rose Garden the other teams assembled and the scores were
tallied – the grand prize went to Sid’s Angels with 54 points
and three teams, including ours, tied for second with 52 points.The rest of the team said we could have won it all if I
hadn’t stopped for pin trading – but I said, “Hey, pins are
and tired, we dragged ourselves to Casey’s for a hot dog and
then headed back to the campsite and the dogs.After a rest (actually a loooong nap) we headed off the
were early for our dinner reservation at Le Cellier in the
Canadian Pavilion, so we strolled over to England.We wandered through the shop until Gary heard the
“Beatlemania” group start in courtyard behind the pavilion.He left to listen to the music and I joined him after I had
combed through the entire shop.There were doing their “Sergeant Pepper” set and we sang
along for a while before returning to Canada for dinner.
Tagrel friends were beginning to assemble, we had three tables
reserved.Gary and I
were soon seated at a lop-sided table.We had four Canadians at one end and four Americans at the
were Daddio, Cathio, Gary and I and the Yankees were MargaretJ,
Faline, AliciaG and Cheryl.The
crack between the tables became our version of the Mason-Dixon
Line and we spent some time laughing about the differences between
Canada we sit on a park bench but in Atlanta Margaret sits on a
“binch” . . . washroom vs. restroom . . . serviette vs. napkin
. . . but in the end we decided that all Tag’s are the same . .
. we’re Disney geeks through and through!
menu has changed and of course Margaret got plenty of food
was a great night, yet a sad time as we all knew MouseFest was
drawing to an end.There
were some tearful goodbyes at the end . . . see you all again next
Gary and I drove back to the campground and soon fell
– a relaxing morning!We
slept until 7:30 and sat and drank a pot of coffee.About 9:00 we started packing up the decorations, barbecue,
awning, outdoor mats, etc.FLSharon
and GroupHugJohn were packing up at the same time and Sharon
stopped by for a few minutes to say goodbye.We finished stowing it all away about 11:15 and then had a
shower and headed over to the Polynesian to join a group of
friends for lunch.Lisa
(Photographer) had arranged a reservation at Kona Café and we
joined her, Johnny & Erin, John & Cathy and Sid for lunch.It was our last get together with our Tagrel friends so we
2:00 we went our separate way.Gary and I drove back to the campground and rode our bikes
down to the pond beside the Meadows Trading Post.I had over half a bucket of popcorn to feed to the ducks and
ibis.They gobbled it
up in a jiffy!There
were still more birds arriving when we left!We took a few minutes to ride all around the 700 and 800
loops and I wrote down which sites we would like to stay in.
This should help next time we check in!
hung the bikes up on the bike rack behind the motorhome . . . we are
now all set.In the
morning we just have to dump the holding tanks, pull in the
slide-out room, retract the leveling jacks and hook up the tow car
before we leave.About
five minutes work and we’ll be gone!Since we got so much of the preparation done today, I made us
a breakfast reservation at Trail’s End for tomorrow morning.
had a nap and by 5:00 we boarded the launch to the Contemporary
Resort and the monorail to the Polynesian.We had a wonderful dinner at ‘Ohana and then we were off
for the last few hours at the Magic Kingdom.We arrived just in time for the 8:00 p.m. Wishes fireworks
show and managed to get a prime viewing spot near the Partners
crowd was thinning out after the fireworks and we managed to ride
Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain before we ran out of
We have had a busy time the last four days and we were
pooped!We hopped the
boat back to the campground and headed back to our campsite.As we walked down the 700 loop toward our motorhome the
horse-drawn carriage came by.We
stepped off the road to let it pass and said hello to the
passengers.When they were just past us we heard a voice say, “I know
said, “Yes you do Ann.” And Gary called out, “George and Ann,
is that you?”It was fellow Disney fans and MouseFesters George and Ann
from Ohio.We met them
in July 2008 at MagicMeets and they were in the cabin directly
across from us on the Deb & Steve Cruise in September.We wished them a Merry Christmas as they rounded the corner.We were totally done-in so we walked the dogs and then
crashed by 11:00 p.m.
were up at 7:00 and did the final prep work to get underway.Then it was time for a quick shower and we walked to
Trail’s End for our 7:50 breakfast reservation.As always, it was great . . . a perfect way to say goodbye
to Walt Disney World.
drove down to the Outpost and dropped off the cable modem while
Gary got the dogs set up in their harnesses.He drove down to the hook-up area and I met him there.We hooked up the tow car and hit the road at 9:07.
day was uneventful.Nothing fell off the motorhome.
stopped at a rest area along the way and later stopped for gas at
the Flying J near Brunswick, GA where we made sandwiches for
3:30 we were pulling into the campground at Walterboro, SC.It’s a regular stopping place for us, we like the tall
pines and the big campsites.
spent a bit of time cleaning interior of the motorhome and Gary
did a few a few little chores outside.When we get home it will be going into storage until April.
romping the dogs, we went to a nearby WalMart for a few groceries
and then to Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner.The night was quiet, we watched TV and got to bed early.
were up at 6:45 and after battening down the motorhome, we were on
the road by 8:00.It
was a bit foggy but traffic was moving well.We stopped about 10:00 to pick up a quick coffee and at
about 11:30 stopped at a rest area near Columbia, SC.We must have looked strange to everyone else when we jumped
out in our shorts and t-shirts.It was cold . . . we could see our breath.OUCH!Let’s
turn around and head south again!
soon crossed into North Carolina and stopped for some shopping at
the JR Store . . . you can’t help but notice those billboards
all along the highway.We
stopped at a Cracker Barrel for lunch (Wednesday – Chicken Pot
Pie Day) and pulled into the KOA campground at Wytheville, VA at
was a gray and dreary drive and I normally dread the long drive
home . . . but this one is different.Whenever I start to feel down, I just look back and I see my
new Mickey Mouse Afghan.It
brightens me up right away!The
dogs like it too!
Dinner was once again at our favourite spot here –
The Peking Chinese Restaurant.It’s great.After
a night of TV we hit the hay . . . it will be another long day on
the road tomorrow.
were up and going at 6:45 again.We pulled out at 8:15 and headed northeast.Once again we made a mid morning stop at McDonald’s for
coffee and pulled over at a rest area about 11:00 to walk the
light and we made good time.
pulled into the Flying J Truck Stop at Winchester, VA where we
gassed up and had a quick bite of lunch in the parking lot.
on the road it was smooth sailing, we saw a long back up of
traffic in the southbound lanes due to a tractor-trailer rollover,
but the northbound lanes were fine.As soon as we crossed from Maryland into Pennsylvania we
saw a dusting of snow on the ground.YUK!An omen
of things to come?We
were disappointed at the fog and gray skies we saw as we drove
through the Shenandoah Valley.It’s such a beautiful area but we didn’t get to see
much of it due to the fog.I
guess we’ll just have to wait until April!
pulled into the campground at 3:30 and got set up.I took the dogs out for a walk and Gary started the
will finish draining everything and adding antifreeze in the
and Linda drove up from Maryland to pick up the leftover swag and
we had a quick dinner with them.After a nice visit they made their way back home and we
watched a bit of TV.
will be another long day on the road, but we are looking forward
to being home tomorrow night!
awoke to the soothing pitter-patter of ice pellets on the roof.Yikes . . . the weather was turning nasty . . . we got on
the road quickly!
finished winterizing the motorhome (drained the holding tanks, put
anti-freeze in the water lines, etc.) while I battened everything
down inside.We were
on the road by 7:50 a.m. and hoped to meet up with Dave Card in
Binghamton, NY by about 11:00 a.m.Alas, it was not to be.
further north we drove, the worse the weather got!We stopped at a McDonalds and picked up a quick breakfast
“to go” and carried on.The weather got still worse . . . and worse . . . and worse!Rain, freezing rain, snow and often a mix of all three.Most of the time we were doing less than 30 miles per hour.Cars and trucks littered the ditches.I sent Dave a text message saying we would be late!
12:30 the dogs needed a stop, so we pulled off into a rest area.That was a big mistake!There were three trucks stuck on the sloped ramp up to the
rest area.Ouch!We waited about 20 minutes to see if they could get going .
. . but it just wasn’t going to happen.We tow a car behind the motorhome and you cannot back up
until it is unhooked and moved.So Gary kicked the snow and slush off the hitch, unhooked
the car and I drove it around the stuck trucks and parked in the
rest area.I walked
back and directed Gary as he backed several hundred yards down the
ramp and back to the highway.He drove around to the ramp on the far side of the rest
area and I met him there in the car.We hooked back up and were back on our way, slower than ever.We lost an hour and a half with that little side trip!
weather just kept getting worse and worse!At about 1:45 we decided to call it a day.The roads were just too treacherous to carry on.We had seen countless cars and trucks in the ditch and the
weather continued to get worse.We pulled into the Flying J Truck Stop at New Milford, PA
and settled in for the rest of the day and the night.We called Dave and told him we’d call and work out a
meeting time for tomorrow.
walking the dogs (they let out a big sigh of relief) we called
home to let the folks know we’re going to be a bit late, had a
late lunch and then a well-deserved nap.
was a quiet night.We
read and played some cribbage before tiring out and hitting the
hay!I skunked Gary in the first game and he came back to win the
second.We were both
so pooped from a tiring day on the road in bad weather that we
couldn’t stay awake for the rubber match!We hit the hay early!
were up and going by 6:30.Gary
took the dogs out for a walk and then picked us each up a coffee
at the restaurant in the Flying J.We pulled the motorhome over to the RV fill-up area and
topped up with propane before leaving.The tank was almost empty and we thought we might still
need the furnace on the way home.
pulled out at about 7:30.The
roads were in good shape . . . such a relief after the previousday.We were
making good time so we sent Dave Card a text message to let him
know we were going to stop at the Cracker Barrel in Binghamton, NY
replied immediately that he would meet us there to pick up the
leftover swag we were trucking.He arrived before we had a chance to order breakfast but he
he picked up a cold from Typhoid Amy and just wanted to get home
breakfast we hit the road again and didn’t stop until we hit
Cicero, NY where we stopped at WalMart.I picked up a 21-pound turkey for Christmas dinner – they
are about $1.00 a pound cheaper in the US than here in Canada.
crossed the border at about 1:00 and pulled up in front of our
house at 1:30 p.m.It
took an hour and a half to unload the motorhome, unhook the
tow-car and get squared away.Our neighbour had just finished blowing the snow from our
driveway, that was a big plus!
took the tow car off to the car wash . . . it gets caked with ice
and salt when you tow it in a storm!When he got back he pulled out the snowblower and cleared a
hole in the snowbank so we could park the RV on the vacant lot
next door until the weather is mild enough to get it washed up and
back to the barn where we normally store it.
another trip is in the books!We were away 22 days, logged 4,557 kilometers (2,848
miles), and used 1,512 liters (400 gallons) of gasoline.It was great, we always look forward to this annual
get-together with our online friends!
next motorhome trip willbe
in April, we head off to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN on our
way to Walt Disney World.