Thursday July 17th

We hit the road late in the day.  I had been busy all day shuttling RV’s to a show for our friends who own a dealership and I didn’t get home until about 5:30.  It was a very hot day and I desperately needed a shower!  By 6:40 we were all packed up and pulling out.  After a quick fast-food dinner at Gananoque we pulled up to the border – there was no one in line, we just pulled right up to the booth.  What a treat!  By 7:30 we were on Interstate 81 motoring south.

The drive was uneventful and by 9:30 we pulled into our destination – the WalMart parking lot at Cicero NY, a suburb of Syracuse.  It stays open until midnight so Carol was able to pick up some groceries for the RV.

We were both tired after our busy day, so we were in bed before 11:00.  The flash of lightning just before we pulled into the parking lot should have been an omen.  It was a horrible night!  It must have been 110 degrees, with the heat rising from the asphalt.  There wasn’t a breath of wind, and of course we couldn’t plug into electrical power.  The generator would have powered the Air Conditioner, but the noise from it would have disturbed the two RV’s parked next to us.  So we both just laid on top of the sheets sweating.  Then the street sweeper arrived!  (You may recall that last year on our way to MagicMeets, in this same parking lot, we had a thunderstorm and the street sweeper.) While he was busy sweeping Carol looked out the window to monitor his progress.  She thought it might be like counting sheep.  This was when she noticed the huge sign with bright red lettering that announced there was to be absolutely no overnight truck or RV parking.  It was just a couple of feet out the window; she could have reached out and touched it.  She roused me to tell me and I grumbled, “They’ll have to tow the other two RV’s away before they can hook onto us!” I rolled over and tried to get back to sleep.  By Carol’s count it took 238.5 laps for the sweeper to cover the entire parking lot.  Neither of us slept much.

Friday July 18th

We were up and on the road early.  (No surprise there.)  I said to Carol, “Wow, it felt good when I woke up cool last night and pulled the sheet over me.”  She replied, “You fool, that was this morning, ten minutes before we got up!”   The drive to Harrisburg went well, we pulled into Harrisburg East Campground at 11:45 and by 12:30 we were all set up.  Johnnyblack & roguepony had checked in the night before and they came over for a visit with their three dogs Morgan, Casey & Elphie.  After a lot of yakking and a cold drink they went off to Camp Hill to help with the “Team All-Ears” set-up.  We were exhausted after so little sleep the night before, so we had a short nap and then went to Hershey for some mega-chocolate shopping at Chocolate World.  Carol thinks it’s heaven there . . . and I (I don’t like chocolate) humour her by carrying all her purchases.
When we got back to the campground it was time to walk the dogs and then head across the Susquehanna River to Camp Hill PA where we joined about 50 other Disney fans for dinner.  Unfortunately our friend Tacey from St. Catharines, ON was delayed for over three hours at the border on her way out of Canada and missed the meal she was hosting.  She is now all too well aware of the risks involved in importing Dole Whip mix into the United States.  The sniffer dogs were so attracted to the scent of this pineapple delicacy that it was immediately confiscated by US Customs for full chemical testing. After our group dinner we spent a bit of time with the dogs and gave them a chance to run after a long day in the RV. 

Dave & Kristen Card

WDWNJ gets some more pictures to "photochop"

Then it was time to return to the Radisson Conference Centre for “Celebrity Magic-Tunes” . . . a game of “Name That Tune” featuring Disney music and an expert panel consisting of Lou Mongello, Deb Wills, Steve Barrett and Annette Owens.  What a treat watching this group of hams compete for the championship.  A drink with our Disney friends in the lounge of the Radisson Hotel rounded out the evening and we headed back to the campground about 10:00 for a quick “lights-out.” 

Tacey arrived after we had finished eating!

Lou Mongello & Deb Wills at Magic-Tunes

Saturday July 19th

We had a more leisurely start to the day today.  It felt good to take a slow approach to the day after a good nights sleep, so we both enjoyed it.  We were at the Conference Centre by 8:30.  We hopped in line and enjoyed some time socializing with more friends while we waited for the 9:30 opening of the event.  Then the hall opened and we found the tables set aside by some friends who had gotten in early and set them aside.  Our three Tagrel group tables were almost side-by-side so we could visit back and forth throughout the day.
After some opening remarks and instructions from the event’s founder Fred Block it was time to settle a Super Bowl bet.  Since Fred’s Giants had given Mike Scopa’s Patriots such a surprising upset, Mike wore a Giants shirt for an hour!  Ouch!

Rosebud & zakerdog

Cinderella, Rosebud & Cruiser

Fred Block on his Segway

The rowdy table next to us!

Then we were treated to an amazing keynote presentation by Dave Anderson, a retired Imagineer.  He gave a wonderful presentation, talking about Walt Disney, his leadership and his persistence.  Dave was not one of the “Nine Old Men” . . . but he was certainly the next best thing.  What a treat to hear about Walt from someone who had not only met him, but had worked directly with him.  Dave filled his presentation with personal anecdotes, including some of the technical challenges he faced in the design and construction of the Matterhorn Bobsleds.
Dave Anderson & zakerdog Mike Scopa interviews Dave Anderson.

After the keynote address there were breakout sessions.  I wanted to see and hear Justin Muchoney, Disney’s new Chief Magical Official, but by the time I took a quick look at the silent auction items and headed toward the breakout room, it was full.  Over 100 people had beaten me there!  I took advantage of my bad fortune and walked the parking lot looking for Disney vanity plates.  I found a few new ones. 

Carol went to Deb Will’s breakout session to hear more about Disney Cruise Lines.  She got lucky and won a very stylish t-shirt.   By the time the breakout sessions were over, a buffet lunch was ready in the hall outside the ballroom, so we all filled a plate and returned to our tables for more chatter over lunch. 

Justin Muchoney & Tacey

Deb Wills in her pirate garb!

The afternoon breakout sessions soon began and I went to Steve Barrett’s talk about Hidden Mickey’s while Carol headed back to the campground to let Zak and Zoë out.  Steve even had a few “questionable” hidden Mickey’s he couldn’t decide on, so he asked us to vote.  We OK’d two of them and nixed two others.  It was great fun!

Then it was time for the silent auction results.  Carol just missed on the Animal Kingdom 10th Anniversary Laser Cel (signed by Joe Rohde) that she really, really wanted . . . but she did win a nice set of four framed and matted Annual Passholder lithographs.  Now . . . if we only had some more wall space!

The finale was an expert panel consisting of Lou Mongello, Dave Marx, Len Testa, Beci Mahnken, Deb Wills and Mike Scopa.  They answered a variety of questions from the audience and quite a number of phone-in questions from the people who were following the live podcast around the world.  It covered everything currently in the rumour-mill for Disney fans and there were some very interesting insights.

The final official events were the auction results and a thank you to Fred Block.  Every year the silent auction benefits Lou Mongello’s Dream Team in their support of the Make a Wish Foundation.  This year we raised $20,000 to help make those wishes come true.  Then it was time for Fred to say his tearful goodbye and the day was over.

Steve Barrett

The dinner gang posing beside our motorhome and my wonderful Mickey lamp!

Carol and I were heading back to the campground and the dogs so WDWNY (John) and BigRed (Cathy) decided to join us . . . then WillCAD . . . then Faline (Franny) & Glen . . . then Rosebud (Karen).

We stopped for a cold drink at the campground, everyone met “the famous Zak and Zoë” and then we were off to Chilli’s for dinner.  We caught up with Johnnyblack & roguepony at the restaurant – and they brought along Dave Anderson, the keynote speaker and his family.  What a great time . . . nothing better than a leisurely meal with good friends who are also Disney geeks like us!  Carol had to leave early to get back to the hotel for her pin-trading meet but I stayed with the gang to share more exaggeration and tall tales with them.

I got back to the RV at about 10:30 and Carol pulled in just before 11:00.  It had been a very full day and we needed some rest before Hershey Park, so it was off to bed right away.

Sunday July 20th

I woke up too early.  After tossing and turning for a half hour I got up at 6:00 and started writing this trip report.  Carol got up an hour later and got ready for our day at Hershey Park.  We had the opportunity to enter the park early and our group had exclusive access to the new roller coaster “Fahrenheit” and I didn’t want to be late.


We arrived at the park at about 8:15 and Carol took the dogs to wait for the 9:00 kennel opening.  I went directly to the park entrance and at 8:45 a group of about 100 of us were escorted to the brand new coaster.  

What kind of fool would ride this? I would!!

On the first try they could not squeeze my  large   very large  huge carcass hard enough to fasten the safety belt, so I had to exit and watch my friends ride without me.  After sulking for a few minutes I tried again.  Dave Card joined me and I picked the biggest kid working the ride, Adam, and said, “Push right here as hard as you can.”  Adam is about my size, and with his push and my pull we got the shoulder restraint shoved far enough into my belly that we could latch the safety belt.  Adam asked, “Are you Okay?” and I whispered, “I’ll be OK until I need to breathe.”


He gave the thumbs-up sign to the ride operator and we were off!  The ride begins with a slow climb straight up 121 feet and then a free-fall descent at a 97-degree angle.  Then you are off into the twists, turns, loops and spirals.  During the 85-second ride I managed to think of 32 alternate names for this attraction.  Since this is a family site I cannot share them here!

LindaMac & michellescribmac just arrived!

Michelle and Gary in the front seat!


After taking a few minutes to catch my breath again (it really was tight) I headed back up the ramp, called Adam over and strapped in again.  The second rocket-sled ride was enough for me.  What a great ride!!  Soon after I caught my breath from this one Carol arrived with the second group to be escorted in.  With her were LindaMac and michellescribmac who wanted to ride, so we waited for the two of them and took their picture.  One ride was plenty for LindaMac, she has checked this one off her bucket-list.

Michelle & Gary upside down! Michelle & Gary live to ride another day!

Michelle wanted to go one more time, so she coaxed me back on for a third ride.  This time Adam had to call for back-up.  It took three of them to squeeze until the seat belt latched . . . but it was worth it. . .what a ride!


Carol and I wandered around the park and rode Wildcat, a wooden coaster with Dave and his daughter Maddy.  Then we walked through the water park area cooling off in the misted air.  It wasn’t even 11:00 yet and it was over 110 degrees.  The humidity was stifling and there was no breeze.  We were on our way to ride the monorail (hoping the breeze would cool us off) when we met JohnnyBlack and roguepony who were heading to Wildcat Catering for our group lunch.  We turned around and joined them.  During lunch we were joined by Sandy (sjh801), WDWNJ & BigRed, LindaMac and michellescribmac.  After a 90-minute gab-fest it was time to go.  The heat was just too much for us!

A small piece of the water park.

Carol's idea of a thrill ride!

I started the car and cooled it off while Carol “sprung” the dogs from the kennel.  After a quick stop at the nearby Disney outlet we went back to the campground for a swim and a nap.



Tonight we will head out for a quiet dinner somewhere nearby, watch some TV and enjoy a lazy evening.  Tomorrow morning we pack up and head down the road to Saugherties NY for an overnight stay on our way to Lake Placid.  We will stay in Lake Placid until Sunday morning when we will head for home once again.



Monday July 21st
We pulled out of the campground at 8:35. JohnnyBlack and roguepony were nowhere to be seen, so we presume they were still sleeping.

We had an uneventful drive through Pennsylvania, into New Jersey and then into New York where we pulled into the KOA campground at Saugherties, NY. After a hectic weekend we were glad to finish the drive early and after setting up the RV we laid down for a nap. After an hour I got up and went to the pool for a swim. I left a note telling Carol where I was, and when I came back an hour and a half later she was just reading it. She had slept the whole time.

We went out shopping and had a bite to eat at a cafe near the campground. Then we enjoyed a quiet night of TV and Tagrel before hitting the hay early.

Tuesday July 22nd
We were on the road again at 8:00 and continued north on Interstate 87. We stopped for breakfast at Cracker Barrell and made a few stops at information centres looking for brochures for the Lake Placid area. We pulled into the KOA campground at Whiteface Mountain, Wilmington, NY at 1:15.

We had joked along the way that is was nice that nothing had fallen off the RV this trip. When we pulled in we finally noticed that the left front tire had fallen off the Toyota Corolla we tow. I must have been on the last leg of our drive, but that was enough. There were only a few shreds of tire left, and the rim was mangled. You cannot see the tow car in the mirrors, and the back-up camera only gives you a view of the hood and the roof, not the tires. So after AAA put the spare donut on, I travelled all over northern New York looking for a replacement rim. Goober and Cooter at the local garage couldn't help me, so they sent me to the local auto wrecker. Billy-Bob at the junk yard took a look at our four year old Corolla and said, "Nope, we don't got nuthin' that new!" So off I went to the nearest Toyota dealer . . . nope, no rims in stock, try Sam's Club . . . nope, we don't sell rims, try Sears . . . nope, no rims here . . .

Carol suggested I fix it with some coat hangers . . .

The Toyota dealer will have a rim in by Thursday. WooHoo!

Carol whipped up some burgers on the grill and we spent a quiet night with the dogs.

Wednesday July 23rd

We decided that this should be a leisurely day.  We got off to a slow start and after showers and a pot of coffee we reviewed some brochures and settled on a train trip.  We drove (slowly on that silly donut) into Lake Placid and picked up our tickets for the Adirondack Scenic Railway. 


We had over an hour until the 11:00 departure, so we drove all the way around Mirror Lake . . . wow there are some beautiful summer properties in this village!  Lifestyles of the rich and famous could tape a few shows here!


We stopped for a quick bit of grocery shopping and then headed back to the station and boarded our train.  This 50 year old diesel train rockets you the 11 miles from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake in a mere 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes at leisure in Saranac Lake you board the train again for the return trip.  It’s not quite as speedy or as thrilling as Fahrenheit, but is sure has some pretty moments!

Our scenic train!

Luxurious appointments! Rocketing along at 20 mph

Scenery along the way

We were delayed on the initial leg of our trip, the conductor had to grab his chain saw and cut back three trees which had fallen across the track overnight.  As a result of this delay the engineer put the hammer down and we reached a blistering 25 mph in our efforts to keep on schedule.  We enjoyed an ice cream cone in Saranac Lake and re-boarded for the trip home.

Saranac Lake station More of that luscious scenery!

Thursday July 24, 2008

It was another rainy day.  The dogs woke me up at 7:00 and I puttered at the computer for a few hours.  Carol slept until 9:00.  The rain just kept coming down, so we spent the morning indoors, at the computer, reading and playing with the dogs.  Zak liked that. 


The rain eased up long enough that we could barbecue some hot dogs for lunch.  I took the dogs for a walk while Carol got lunch together.

Zak at the KOA campground Zoe at the KOA campground

After lunch it was time to get the car fixed.  We took a leisurely 40-mile drive into Plattsburgh, NY to get our new tire and rim installed.  We stopped at a few scenic spots along the way and took some pictures and of course I pointed out to Carol the highlights of the area including Goober and Cooter’s garage and Billy-Bob’s junk yard.

A pretty waterfall at Wilmington, NY

The Ausable Chasm The Ausable Chasm

We arrived a bit early for our appointment at the Toyota dealership so we did a bit of shopping and toured the town.  It’s a very pretty little town with some amazing homes on the shore of Lake Champlain.  By the time we got back to the campground it was time for dinner, so we went out to a local biker-bar that Carol thought looked appealing.  The meal was quite forgettable but they did make a very good Manhattan there!


It was still early and the skies had cleared a bit, so we picked up the dogs and headed into the town of Lake Placid.   We picked up Ben & Jerry’s cones and walked through the downtown area window shopping before we drove back to the campground.

On the way back we talked about how quiet things are here.  This is prime summer tourist season and most of the motels are quite empty.  A lot of the restaurants are closed.  The KOA campground where we are staying told us last October, when we stayed here a few days, that they are always fully booked all summer.  Since we have been here it has been half empty.  Have soaring gas prices slowed things down that much?

Friday July 25, 2008

We woke up to a bright sunny day.  The alarm cluck (Zoë) had me up at 6:30.  Zoë doesn’t bark when she needs to go out, she clucks.  A sound originates deep in the back of her throat and just doesn’t seem to come out.  Imagine a bullfrog with laryngitis who stutters . . . that’s it!


July 25th is Christmas in July day at the campground.  Santa was greeting everyone who went for breakfast at the main lodge.  After breakfast I took the dogs back for a picture with Santa.  They just weren’t impressed . . . I don’t think they believe anymore!


When we got back to the RV Carol was up so we locked up and headed out!  We were on the road at 10:00 and heading up the Veteran’s Memorial Highway to the summit of Whiteface Mountain.  What a drive!  The 8 mile long highway climbs almost to the top of this 4,867-foot peak.  We had to stop several times on the way up to take pictures.  You park at the 4,610 foot level and hike up the last 1/5th mile while climbing an additional 250 feet.
The dogs are not big fans of Santa! Some amazing scenery here!

We started up the steps to the peak with Zak & Zoë in tow.  About a tenth of the way up, the stone steps end and you hike across a series of huge boulders.  It quickly became evident that Zak & Zoë are not mountain dogs.  The handrails are designed to protect humans but they are of little benefit to dogs . . . and the sides of the trail are unforgiving.  In some places it’s hundreds of feet straight down.  So we headed back down the trail and took the elevator to the top.

They look like mountain dogs . . .

The first part is easy . . . then the steps end. In the tunnel on the way to the elevator.

The dogs were a little nervous with the height . . . Carol was too!

What a view . . . a 360 degree panorama.  It feels like you’re at the top of the world!

That's Lake Placid below. The elevator takes you up to this weather station.

The dogs are a big hit wherever they go!

On our way back down the hill we stopped and hiked to the Wilmington reservoir before heading back to the campground for lunch.

Wilmington Reservoir Reservoir dogs!

After lunch we headed to the High Falls Gorge, a 700-foot cascading waterfall through a gorge.  It’s quite beautiful!

The High Falls Gorge

The upper part of the waterfall. Lower part of the cascade.

After the gorge hike we picked up a few groceries and headed back to the campground.  Zak & Zoë were worn out and needed a nap!  After our nap Carol and I headed to the pool for a swim and then had barbecued burgers and corn on the cob for dinner.


After dinner we lit a campfire and played a few games of cribbage before the mosquitoes drove us back inside.  It was a busy day . . . we’ll be off to bed early.  Maybe we’ll get up the gondola tomorrow?

Saturday July 26, 2008

We took an easy start again today.  Zoë let me sleep until 6:30 and Carol was up around 8:00.  We talked about riding the gondola up Whiteface, but thought might be kind of anticlimactic.  So we ended up hopping in the car at about 10:00 and driving to the south end of Lake Champlain and then north along the eastern coast of the lake.  On the way we drove past the Olympic Ski Jump facilities and a magnificent waterfall along highway 73. 


Olympic ski jump facility A waterfall along highway 73

We came upon what we thought was a flea market in a rural park.  It was part of the bicentennial celebrations at Keene Valley.  They had some alpacas which were quite curious about Zak & Zoë.  The dogs, on the other hand, were not the least bit curious about the alpacas.

The Keene Valley bicentennial Curious alpacas

After a few more hours of rocks, hills and trees we agreed that the scenery is about the same as we see 20 miles north of home.  Sure . . . the hills are a lot bigger, but aside from that it’s the same.  I think this is a sign that we are getting homesick.

A pretty mountain lake

We stopped at a quaint little bakery and café at Keene and had a light lunch on our way back to the campground.


When we woke from a nap the skies had turned dark and threatening.  We scrambled out and packed up our lawnchairs, barbecue, outdoor mats, picnic tablecloth, and all the other stuff we did not want to get wet.  I think when it was all packed up, we both just wanted to go home.  Yup – we’re definitely homesick!  The skies opened up and it rained hard for about a half hour, then the skies cleared and the sun came out again.


After we walked the dogs we headed out for dinner.  Our plans for a barbecue had been rained out.  We stopped at Rosalia’s, a wonderful new Italian restaurant at Wilmington.  It’s a family business and three generations of the family took care of us.  Grandma was the hostess, Mom was the cook and the youngest generation was our waitress.  It is the sort of place that has no menu.  They tell you, “We have chicken, sausage, veal, pasta, lasagne . . . and we’ll make whatever you want with it.”  While they were preparing our dinner order the cook came out and picked some basil from a plant in the restaurant.  I’m sure it went into that pesto sauce I enjoyed so much.  Dinner was wonderful!


Now we are back in the campground, the car is all hooked up and we are pretty much ready to pull out in the morning.  All we have to do is raise the levelling jacks, retract the awning and dump the holding tanks.  We hope to be on the road by 8:00.


It has been a great trip, but it’s always so nice to get home!

Sunday July 27, 2008