Wednesday April 21, 2010


We hit the road at 6:40 a.m. and by 7:20 we had cleared customs at the Thousand Islands border crossing and were southbound on I-81.


We have been anxious to try out our new motorhome since we bought it about three weeks ago.  It’s a beauty!  It’s 36 feet long with three slide-out rooms and all the amenities.  It even has central vacuum!


I like the way it handles on the highway and Carol thinks it’s really pretty!

2 slides make a huge living area.
There's even a computer workstation in the bedroom

We made several rest area stops for the dogs.  Little Zoë is having some kidney issues and had dialysis on Tuesday, so we want to give her plenty of pit stops.  By 12:30 we made it as far as Wilkes-Barre, PA where we pulled off for lunch at Cracker Barrel.  Wednesday is chicken potpie day – YUM!


The miles clicked off in the afternoon and we pulled into the Harrisburg East Campground, Harrisburg, PA at about 3:45 p.m.  We were quickly all set up and after taking the dogs for a walk and tossing the ball for Zak we hopped in the car and went out for a bit of shopping.  Just after we pulled out of the campground Carol’s cell phone rang.  It was my sister who called to let us know that my Mom was in the hospital.  She didn’t have much in the way of details, but promised to call later.


Dinner was a quick bite at Friendlys and then we headed back to the campground


My sister, Connie, called back to let us know that Mom was on her way back home.  She still didn’t have much in the way of details, just that it was some sort of heart issue.  The senior’s residence where she lives was going to keep her on oxygen and monitor her closely overnight.


Decisions, decisions!  Do we keep going or do we turn around and head back home!  We decided to call Mom in the morning and decide after that.


The rest of the evening we spent in front of the TV and the computer and turned in at about 11:00.  It had been a long and tiring day.

Thursday April 22, 2010


It was a leisurely start to the day.  We had a few cups of coffee and a shower before I called Mom at 7:30.  She sounded weak and tired, but said that she had slept well and urged us to continue our trip.  So off we went. 


We pulled out of Harrisburg at 8:20.  Once again we made several short rest area stops for the dogs and spoke to Connie twice during the morning.  She was with Mom by this time and let us know that she seemed to be doing OK and was getting very good care at the senior’s home.  Connie will visit her again on the weekend.

At 12:30 we pulled off at a huge antique market near Staunton, VA.  We wandered around for about 15 minutes, but it would have taken hours to browse through all the displays.  They had some wonderful old pieces of furniture and plenty of collectibles, but there were no bargains.


We had a very good home-cooked lunch at the little lunch counter in the antique market and by 1:30 were back on the road.  The weather was glorious, sunny and bright.  The drive through the Shenandoah Valley is one of our favourites.  There were plenty of trees and lilacs in blossom and the miles slid by quickly.


We pulled off the highway at Wytheville, VA at 4:15 and gassed up at the Flying J truck stop before checking in at the KOA campground.  We followed our usual routine; Carol walked the dogs while I hooked up the RV’s power, water and cable TV connections.  Carol had to press the button for the levelling jacks.  The hydraulics are all automatic on the new machine.  Press one button and the jacks start extending and retracting all on their own.  The corners of the RV rise and fall until the computer decides the rig is level.  It’s pretty cool!


This campground has a nice “off-leash” park for the dogs so we both headed over there with Zak and Zoë and gave them a good run.  They were glad for the exercise after being cooped up in the motorhome all day.  Zak sleeps on the couch (in a harness hooked to the seat belt) while we drive and Zoë curls up on the floor at Carol’s feet, in front of the passenger chair.


At about 6:15 we headed out for dinner.  It’s always Chinese in Wytheville.  We discovered the Peking Restaurant several years ago and now it’s a “must do” on out way through the area.


We were back to the campsite by 7:30 and settled in for another quiet night.  Things are still a bit “up in the air” with my Mom, so we will call again in the morning before we decide whether to continue south or turn around and head for home.

Friday April 23, 2010


We were up and at ‘em early today.  After a chat with my mother we hit the road heading on south.  We pulled out of Wytheville at 8:00 a.m. and before we knew it we were rolling down the big hill at Fancy Gap.  It is an amazing vista, a hill seven miles long as you drop out of the Virginia mountains into North Carolina.  You can see for miles and miles.


We once again made regular stops so the dogs could stretch their legs and attend to their business!

It's a really big rig when you hook the bicycles and the car on the back! A pit stop for Zak and Zoë

Carol and I enjoy watching the season change each time we make this drive.  When we left home in Ontario our trees were in bud but very few of the buds were open.  By the time we were past Syracuse, NY the buds were more open and some spring flowers were visible.  In Pennsylvania we saw our first trees in blossom, thousands of them.  Beautiful pink blossoms which reminded us of the Jacaranda trees we saw in Southern California.  As we moved on through Maryland and West Virginia we saw more and more of these flowering trees and in northern Virginia we saw a field of fresh cut hay.  By the time we hit North Carolina the morning haze had lifted and we had glorious blue skies as we passed by beautiful Lake Norman.  The lake was like a mirror, not a ripple o the water.  There were lots of wildflowers along the side of the highway and in places we saw huge tracts of phlox.


We made a brief stop at Statesville and Carol did some window-shopping at JR’s while I made a few phone calls relating to my mother.  Carol saw some linens we can use in the motor home so we will probably stop to pick them up on the way home.


We got back on the road quickly and the miles continued to roll by.  I picked up a Virgin Mobile Broadband Modem, which plugs into a USB port (thanks Sheryl for forwarding it to us) and Carol has had fun with it.  She can browse the web while we are rolling down the highway and she seems to enjoy annoying her friends with regular updates to Facebook.


Lunch was a quick sandwich at a rest area and we continued our journey.  Carol spotted our first palm trees in South Carolina (prompting a Facebook update) which confirmed that we were truly in the south!  Today was a long driving day for us, over 400 miles, and we pulled into our destination, Richmond Hill, GA at 4:00 p.m.


As usual, Carol walked the dogs while I set us up for the night, then she did all the interior “stuff” which converts our vehicle into our home.  After a bit of relaxation we hopped in the car and went of in search of dinner.  We checked out the menu at the Smokin’ Pig BBQ Pit and didn’t see anything appealing, so we drove on to Molly McPherson’s Scottish Pub.  The menu looked better so we decided to give it a try.  WOW!  It was good.  Carol said it was the best Shepherd’s Pie she has ever had.  I had “Molly’s Favorite Sandwich” which is smoked turkey, cheddar and green apple slices with maple butter on grilled rye bread.  It was good too!  We’ll definitely be going back there on our next trip!  If you are in the area, it’s at I-95 exit 87, just about ½ mile east of the interstate on Highway 17.  The address is 3742 South Highway 17.  Try it, you’ll like it!


Carol picked up a few groceries and we were back to the campground with the car hooked back up again by 8:00.


We have about 350 miles to go tomorrow and we will end up at Cortez, FL near Bradenton.  We hope to be on the road in good time!

Saturday April 24, 2010


We were up bright and early this morning and after a shower and a quick bite of breakfast we disconnected and got underway.  We were on the road by 7:30 a.m.  At 9:00 we pulled into the Flying J Truck Stop at Brunswick, GA to gas up.  There was a big line up ahead of us; two RV’s filling up at the designated RV pumps, and four more big rigs waiting ahead of us.  So Carol took the dogs for a walk and picked us each up a hot coffee while I chatted with the other waiting drivers.  When all the rigs hold 75 gallons or more, fill–ups take a while.  By 10:00 we were back on the road.  Carol always stays busy during this part of the trip; she scans the rivers as we cross them, looking for manatees and gators. No luck today, it was a complete shutout.


Soon we crossed the state line into Florida (another FaceBook update) and as always, we stopped at the welcome centre for an orange juice.  Today we also picked up some brochures for the gulf coast area.  It’s been a long time since either of us has visited that area of the state. 

Back on the road, we took I-295 South at Jacksonville and then I-10 west before catching US-301 South toward Gainesville.  I noticed some white flowers along the roadside and asked Carol about them.  She said, “They’re water lilies, growing in the water in the ditch.”  Then she went on to say, “I’ve been watching for manatees, gators and armadillos all day, and the only critters I’ve seen have been Canada Geese.  Go figure!”  I chuckled at that one!

We stopped at a stand along US-301 and bought some fresh strawberries, vine ripened tomatoes and a few nice looking oranges.  We were soon back under way and stopped at a rest area soon after pulling on to I-75.  I walked the dogs while Carol whipped me up a delicious cobb salad. 


Back on the highway with just 175 miles to go, Zoë’s eyes are saying, “Are we there yet?”


We enjoyed the drive down I-75, since it was fresh for us.  Neither Carol nor I have been in this area for a few decades!  We saw plenty of new sights and enjoyed the scenery.


By 4:00 p.m. we were pulling into Holiday Cove RV Resort.  I think we’re going to like it here.  It’s an old campground, about ¾ mile from the beach.  It was bought about a year ago and has been totally redone.  All the services are new!  New electrical wires, new sewers, new plumbing, new restrooms and showers, new swimming pool and each of the campsites is paved with interlocking brick.  It is really quite nice!


It is a condominium and many of the campsites have been sold.  Prices range from $89,900 to $189,900 depending on the size and location of the site.


By 5:30 we were set up and settled in for our 5-night stay here.  Time to think about dinner.  What to have?  Carol says, “Why don’t you run out and buy a pound of bacon and we’ll try those nice fresh tomatoes.  I’ll make us some bacon and tomato sandwiches.”   This time of year the tomatoes we see in Canada taste like wood, so I was quick to hop in the car and get going.


When I got back we set up the Coleman stove on the picnic table (don’t want the new RV to smell like bacon for a week) and cooked outside.  Zak and Zoë lounged on the ground while we waited for the bacon to cook.  They seemed to sense that we were settled for a few days and looked quite relieved!


Wow, those sandwiches were great!  After dinner we took a walk around the campground and by the time we were done the swimming pool was inviting us for a dip.  By 9:00 we were waterlogged and headed back to our site.  A little time at the computer and we both crashed shortly after 10:00.  It’s been a long four days getting here!  It’s nice to be settled for a while!


Tomorrow we plan to go to a big craft sale at Siesta Key and then check out some local beaches!

Sunday April 25, 2010


It was a wasted day!  A completely, utterly, gloriously wasted day!


We stayed in bed until well after 7:00 a.m. when Zoë finally woke us up.  She had some business to attend to!  We had a nice leisurely start today, a pot of coffee and no reason to rush!  Carol decided that we should go to Siesta Fiesta, a craft sale at Siesta Key, in the morning, so we struck out about 9:30.  We took the scenic route to Siesta Key, crossing from Cortez to Bradenton Beach which is on Anna Marie Island.  Our leisurely drive took us south to Longboat Key and then Lido Key before we finally arrived on Siesta Key.  What a beautiful area!  There are no signs of any economic problems on Longboat Key; the place just oozes money.  Palatial beach houses with manicured properties and several magnificent golf courses. 


Carol saw a large vacant lot for sale and announced, “We should buy that lot.”  I explained, “We would have to sell everything we own to buy it.”  She replied, “That’s OK, we could park the motorhome there and live in it.”  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the motorhome is one of the things we would have to sell!

The craft sale was huge; about four blocks of Ocean Boulevard were closed to traffic and lined with two rows of vendor tents.  Another six blocks, three on each end, were lined with tents on the sidewalks on both sides of the street.  They were all artisans with some very unique products.  We spent over two hours roaming through the area.  Carol was quite taken with some of the photographic art printed on canvas and mounted on frames.  I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the images of a great blue heron arrives at our house in the near future.  I know for sure that if the artist had one in stock she would have bought it!


Around noon we picked up a chicken gyro, a chicken kebab (the marinade tasted like 1 part lime, 2 parts garlic) and a slice of apple bread pudding.  Yum!  It was nice to sit for a few minutes, enjoy our lunch and do some people watching.


After lunch we wandered through a few more vendor tents before heading back to the campground.  By now we were getting quite hot and sticky!  We took the dogs out for a walk and then, still a bit tired from our four days of travel, we laid down for a nap.


Sleep didn’t come though and within a half hour we were up, in the car and on the move again.  This time we had the dogs with us.  We crossed to Anna Maria Island again and this time we headed north, exploring the other end of this chain of islands.  We followed the gulf shore all the way to the northern tip and then returned part way south following the bay side.  At Manatee Avenue we crossed the causeway and bridge into Bradenton, stopping along the way to give the dogs a few minutes on the beach.  It is one of the few beaches in the area to allow dogs!

We continued through Bradenton and back to the campground where we had a swim and then we both showered before dinner.  One of the ladies in the campground office suggested a local “seafood shack” for dinner.  We soon had the dogs fed and off we went again, to the northern tip of Anna Maria Island.  The Rod & Reel Pier Restaurant is a small, dingy looking place on the end of a pier.  A bar and bait shop on the bottom and a small restaurant upstairs.  As we walked out the pier toward the restaurant Carol pointed to a pair of dolphins who were swimming past the end of the pier.  We stopped and watched them for a few minutes before heading on for dinner.

The restaurant was a lot more than it appeared to be and it certainly lived up to Betty’s recommendation.  For appetizers we ordered a cup of clam chowder and fried clam strips which we shared.  Yum!  I had a Grouper Reuben and Carol had Garlic Grouper.  Both were very enjoyable.  Although we were quite full after our meal, Carol said, “I have never had a Key Lime Pie I enjoyed, but it’s the only dessert they have.  Wanna try it?”  So we ordered one piece to share.  While we waited for our pie, two more dolphins arrived and they stayed to feed in an area directly in front of us.  We lingered over our pie for at least fifteen minutes as we watched them enjoy their dinner.  We were so engrossed with their performance that we didn’t even see the waitress deliver the cheque.  Oh yeah . . . the pie.  It was as good as the rest of the meal.  Carol commented that she really did like it!

This is the closest she got to a manatee!

We headed back to the campground and settled in for the night.  There was a severe weather warning for the area so we took the dogs out early, folded up lawn chairs and anything which might blow around and then watched a little TV.

Monday April 26, 2010


What a night!  The rain started last night just after we took the dogs out.  It poured.  There was a lull at about 10:30 so we took them out again . . . once again just in time.  The storm hit with a vengeance.  The sky was afire with lightning and the thunder roared.  Zoë shivered and shook!  It poured and it blew, then it poured and blew some more.  It rained in a hard downpour for several hours until that storm cell passed.  About a half hour later the next cell blew in and it repeated the whole process.  It actually woke me up several times during the night (that’s quite an achievement).


It was still raining hard when I rolled over at 6:30 a.m., but by the time I crawled out of bed at 8:15 the skies were clear and blue.


We had a leisurely morning.  After a pot of coffee we loaded the dogs in the car and did some touring with them, including a stop at a Veterinary Clinic to see about topping up Zoë’s supply of pills.  Then we spotted the Sea Hag’s shop.  I spied the cars parked in front, all painted up to look like a coral reef, with a mermaid tail sticking out of the trunk lid.  You just have to stop at a place like that!  Unfortunately the Sea Hag wouldn’t let the dogs into her antique shop so we had to bring them home.  We went back to the shop and poked around for a few minutes.  It was an amazing assortment of nautical stuff, but nothing caught Carol’s eye.

Back at the camp we had a sandwich for lunch and then hopped in the car to explore the beaches north of Cortez.  This was my opportunity to hop in the “Way-Back Machine” and re-live a few vacations 30 years ago.  A half a lifetime and a full wife-time ago some friends had a condo on Gulf Boulevard at Indian Rocks and I vacationed there a few times.  Carol humoured me by revisiting all my old haunts (and a few new ones).

We made our way to I-295 north and crossed the Sunshine Skyway, an amazing 6-mile causeway and bridge across Tampa Bay.

The string of islands on the north side of Tampa Bay contain the towns of St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, Redington Beach, Redington Shores, Indian Shores, Indian Rocks, Belleair Beach and Clearwater Beach.  We covered them all.  Our first stop was at St. Pete’s Beach where we walked a boardwalk across the dunes and strolled the beach for a few minutes.  Then we were off to John’s Pass where I had a beer at the Bamboo Beach Bar – it was a haunt 30 years ago.  Carol drank a Strawberry Daiquiri until it gave her a brain-freeze.  The Bamboo I remember from 30 years ago used to blow away with every hurricane.  Today’s version is quite a bit more permanent!  

Further north we pulled in to the Gulf Coast Seabird Sanctuary.  They house rescued birds and supply them to zoos around the world.  It is just amazing to see the birds that are attracted by the birds held in captivity.  They nest and roost on the outside of the netted enclosures.  They are wild and self-sufficient yet they are remarkably well socialized.

Then we were off, heading north again, as far as the very northern tip of Clearwater Beach.  We stopped on the way back at Sand Key Park and walked the beach again for a while. 

Next stop was dinner at Crabby Bill’s.  This place hasn’t changed much.  It’s still a neighbourhood haunt with some character.  Definitely not fine dining, but if you want a wide variety of seafood choices, well prepared, simply presented and you are happy to sit on picnic tables inside the restaurant, this may be your place.  What has changed?  Well, 30 years ago the menu was written on the walls and updated daily.  Now they have printed menus.  That’s about the only change.  The food was OK . . . this is the sort of place you go back to because of the character.  If you’re in the area, give it a try!

After dinner we hurried back to the campground to let the dogs out.  I settled in and did a few repairs and chores in the RV while Carol headed off to WalMart for some retail therapy.  She finds it much more therapeutic if I’m not there!


She was back shortly after 9:00 and we went off for a swim.  After a hot day the air had cooled down and we were actually chilled when we got out of the water.  We shut off the A/C in the motorhome and opened up the windows.  The fresh air feels great!

Tuesday April 27, 2010

What a treat having the windows open!  We slept until 8:00 a.m. in the fresh air.  Then Zoë announced that she needed to go out!  After a leisurely pot of coffee and a bowl of cereal we hopped in the car and drove back to Siesta Key for a few hours on the beach.  We passed this famous statue in Bradenton.

What a great spot!  We arrived at the public beach maintained by the county at about 10:00 and found a nice spot to set up our chairs and umbrella.  It’s a terrific beach, a long stretch of sand between the park entry and the shore, with nice soft, clean, white sand.  There were very few other people when we arrived, but the crowd grew as the morning passed.


We were about 35 yards from the waters edge and Carol basked in the sun while I sat under the umbrella reading and people watching.  We wandered down to the waters edge a few times and strolled along the shore, but the water was too cold to go much beyond our knees.  The wind picked up steadily over the morning and the surf grew steadily.

By 12:30 we had gotten enough sun so we packed up and headed into the nearby Village of Siesta Key.  We had a nice lunch at The Hub Baja Grill and then went over to Big Olaf’s Ice Cream Shop for dessert.  Both were good.

We were back at the campsite by 2:30 and took the dogs for a walk before heading to the pool.  Cooled and refreshed, we headed back to the motorhome for a nap.


We spent some time playing with the dogs before dinnertime rolled around.  A couple we met earlier in the swimming pool recommended the Banana Cabana just a few miles away on Anna Maria Island.  It is a tiny “hole-in-the-wall” place and easy to miss, but it was wonderful! 

It has a Caribbean theme and some very unique dishes.  Carol had the “Rasta Pasta” and I tried the seafood platter.  Both were just amazing.  Once again we shared a slice of Key Lime Pie.  Carol is definitely acquiring a taste for it!  If you visit the area, try Banana Cabana, it’s at 103 Gulf Drive North, Bradenton Beach.  It’s just a few doors south of Cortez Road.
As we left the restaurant we looked at the ocean directly across the street.  The sky was clear and sunset was only a few minutes away.  We drove a few blocks south and found a comfortable spot to enjoy the show.  What a great way to end a wonderful day!

Wednesday April 28, 2010

Yesterday was such a wonderful day that we decided to repeat it again today.  Zoë had me up at 6:30 but after walking the dogs I went back to bed and didn’t get up again until 8:00.  After a pot of coffee we walked to the café across the street and had breakfast before heading to the beach.


Today we headed across to Anna Maria Island and then north in search of sand and surf.  We stopped at Anna Maria Beach, about mid way between the public pier and the pier where we had dinner at the Rod & Reel.  It was a much smaller beach, nearly deserted and on the Tampa Bay side of the island.  It gave us a terrific view of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

We set up our lawn chairs and umbrella at about 10:00 a.m. and then went for a stroll, taking some pictures of the bridge in the distance and the abundant waterfowl.

The sound of the surf was soothing!

I was getting some terrific shots of a pelican when I noticed Carol off in the distance.  Her arms were waving and her lips were flapping so I knew it had to be important, but her words were carried away on the wind.  As she got closer I got the message, “Did you see the dolphin?  He was right in front of you.”  She pointed off a bit to my right and he broke the surface.  I raised the camera, but he didn’t surface again.  So close, he wasn’t more than 75 feet way, and I missed him!  Dang!


All was not lost though; within ten minutes another pair approached from the south and went right past us.  Wow!  They were further out but they put on a good show for a few minutes.

About ten minutes later Carol said, “Look, there’s another one!” and we both held our cameras poised for him to breach the surface . . . but he didn’t.  He wasn’t acting like a dolphin at all.  He was a big dark shape slowly swimming by just under the surface.  Then he broke the surface just briefly, showing no fin, and we figured it out.  He’s a manatee!  Wow!  A manatee!  Carol was thrilled; she had finally seen a manatee in the wild!  Then just a few minutes later I pointed out another dark shape to her.  Yup, another manatee! 


Carol was having heart palpitations and I didn’t think she could survive another sighting, so we moved on to Holmes Beach, a bit south and on the gulf side.  This was a much larger and more crowded beach with clean white sand.  We set up close to the water and waded in the surf a bit.  I read my book while Carol basked in the sun and then we went up to the snack bar for a bite of lunch.

After lunch we read and basked a bit more before heading back to the campsite.  The dogs were happy to see us and after taking them for a walk we put away some of our campsite paraphernalia so we can get away in good time tomorrow.  Then we went to the pool for a dip, followed of course by a well-earned nap.  It always surprises me how a life of blissful leisure can wear you down!


After our nap I took the dogs for a nice long walk and soon it was time for dinner.  We decided that we had not had nearly enough local seafood so we headed off to a place quite close by, Cortez Kitchen, conveniently located directly beside Cortez Bait and Seafood.  The restaurant overlooked a canal full of fishing boats and the seabirds were actively feeding in the canal.  They put on quite a show.  Dinner was quite good. We started off with a bowl of clam chowder and then shared a seafood platter, grilled grouper, grilled shrimp, grilled scallops and stuffed crab.  Yum!

After dinner we headed to a place directly across from the campground.  We have been admiring Tyler’s Ice Cream since we arrived and tonight was our last chance.  It was great!  They make all their own and they are generous with the servings.  If we were staying here we would definitely go back there.  Wonder if they’re open for breakfast?


No sunset to see; it was too overcast, so we headed back to the RV.  It was another great day and tomorrow we are off to Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World.  It just gets better and better!

Thursday April 29, 2010


It’s moving day!  We were up at 7:00 a.m. and started getting ready to pull out.  I had a quick bowl of cereal, disconnected the RV, had a shower and we pulled out at 8:45. 

Just before we pulled out.

 This is where Zak travels!

Along the way we stopped at two rest areas and I made a couple of calls concerning my mother, all is well, she’s weak but stable so we’re carrying on our holiday.  At one of the rest area’s we saw a huge sand crane feeding on bugs in a grassy area just a few yards from where we were parked!  Just two things left on Carol’s “wanna see” list, gator and armadillo.

The excitement builds . . .

And builds . . .

And builds . . .

We pulled into Fort Wilderness at 11:30 and got checked in.  Our site wasn’t ready, so we pulled into the overflow parking area, unhooked the car and went to Downtown Disney for lunch at the Earl of Sandwich.  Naturally Carol had to pick up some pins and vinylmations at Pin Central.  We brought our sandwiches back to the motorhome and ate them while we waited.


The site was ready at 1:30 so we drove back.  Carol went ahead in the car and I followed along behind in the RV.  She stopped for a minute close to the bridge near the entry to the 1400 loop and I waited behind.  Later she told me about the huge bird she had seen near the bridge, it’s tail all fanned out like a turkey or a peacock.  It was big and tall like a rhea.  We don’t know what it was.  A very long legged turkey? 


As soon as we arrived at the campsite Carol directed me while I backed in, and we started connecting and setting up.  We are in site #512.  We started right in setting up our Disney display.  The Mickey pole lamp, several Mickey Head rope lights, a Disney flag and of course a couple of illuminated palm trees.  As we were setting up who should drop by but a cousin of mine.  Yup, we knew that Linda would be here in a 5th wheel with her husband and a pair of golden retrievers, but we thought they were pulling out this morning.  Turns out they are here until tomorrow and they are thinking about trying to book another day.  Their son Mark and his wife and daughter are camped beside them in another 5th wheel.  We had a great visit.  Hopefully we can spend some more time with them before they pull out.


After the campsite reached the exact degree of tackiness we moved inside to cool off for a few minutes.  Then it was time to walk the dogs and head out for dinner.  We walked them part way around the 500 camping loop and then hopped in the car to head off to the Beach Club for the Cape May Buffet.  We just haven’t had enough seafood yet!


Dinner was great as usual, they’ve added steamed crab legs to the menu since we were last there.  Carol was a busy girl with those crackers!


We dropped by Publix to pick up a few staples (beer and water) and got back to the campsite about 9:15, just in time for a swim.  As soon as the groceries were put away and the dogs were drained, we hopped on out bikes and headed to the pool.  As we pulled off Big Pine Drive onto the cart path to the pool area, Carol was in front of me.  She let out a shriek and veered off toward the bushed.  Fortunately she stopped just shy of the jungle.  The cacophony startled me, Carol was shrieking, the brakes on her bike were squealing and the poor traumatized armadillo she narrowly missed was making an ungodly high-pitched sound.  He slowly lumbered off into the thicket and we carried on to the pool.  Scratch one more off the list, just a gator to go.  Sure hope she doesn’t run over one!


The pool was just what we needed.  There were hardly any people there at 10:00 and we soaked in the pool for a few minutes before transferring to the hot tub.  There were four young people in the spa and by their conversation we knew they were big Disney fans so we talked Disney with them for a few minutes.  It turned out they were cast members who were tent camping in the 1500 loop as part of a cast activity.  Sure sounded like they were having fun!

Within a few very short minutes we bored those young folks to the point where they left and we had the entire pool area all to ourselves.  Not another soul in sight!  We really enjoyed the serenity of a quiet interlude in the pool and then it was time to go.  Back on our bikes and back to the campsite, we were soon off to bed.  No animal encounters this time.

Just tacky enough!

Friday April 30, 2010 


It was a very slow day today.  We got up about 7:30 and took the dogs out, lounged around the coffee pot for an hour and then took the dogs out for a walk.  My cousins were pulling out this morning so we visited with them a bit on our way to the dog area behind the 800 loop of campsites.  There were plenty of squirrels around but Zoë didn’t see one until we were almost back to our campsite.  She was quick to run it up a tree and then bounced around the bottom of the tree growling for a while.  She’s quite a hunter!


Carol and I hopped in the car and visited the Disney Character Outlet and then drove on to the local Camping World store for some supplies.   We were back at the campground by 12:30 and Carol made sandwiches for lunch.  Some friends from the web site arrived about 1:30 and we had a very nice relaxing visit with them.  We gave them a brief tour of the campground and at about 4:30 I drove them to the Outpost where they caught a bus to EPCOT.


We had dinner reservations at Trail’s End Buffet but it was so hot and humid that we didn’t feel like a big meal.  We cancelled the reservation and opted to have a bite later at the Relay For Life.  At about 5:30 I drove Carol over to the Contemporary Resort where she did some pin trading (she traded a few Vinylmations too).  I went back to the RV and caught up a bit on my e-mails and posts, then went back to the Contemporary to pick Carol up at 7:00 p.m.  We headed directly over to the Reedy Creek Fire Hall near Downtown Disney for the annual cancer walk.

Carol and Robin

Our friend Robin is a cancer survivor and every year she is actively involved in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.  This was the third year we have been able to drop in and support Robin during the event.  Each year it gets bigger and bigger.  Teams arrange to have walkers circling the oval track for 24 hours and the walkers are sponsored, but each team has some other fundraising activity as well.  Some have raffles or draws, there were Crown and Anchor games, food booths, craft sales, even a plant sale which the Disney Horticulture Department hosted.  Carol and I circled the entire track, exploring all the displays and sales before we found Robin.  She had been exploring just ahead of us with another of her friends.  We each had a bratwurst at the Rotary Club booth (Robin’s team) and then sat and visited with Robin for an hour or so while we enjoyed some of the festivities.  There was non-stop action on the stage during our entire stay.

About 8:45 we said goodbye to Robin and headed to Downtown Disney for dessert.  We enjoyed an ice cream at Ghiradelli’s.  Carol popped into Guest Services and bought some Disney Dollars and then made a quick stop at the Pin Store to trade a Vinylmation before we creaked back into the car to head home.


We had planned to ride down to the pool for a swim and a hot tub, but we decided to skip it and just relax at home.  It was another good day!

Dessert at Downtown Disney

Saturday May 1, 2010


It was my birthday, so Carol let me sleep in until 7:08 a.m.   That’s when she elbowed me and said, “Better get up and let the dogs out!”  By the time I got back she had their breakfast ready.  Zoë’s food and drug regimen has gotten so complicated that it’s way beyond my capabilities.


This was the day we wanted to spend some time at EPCOT and enjoy the Flower and Garden Festival so it was a quicker start than we’ve had the past few days.  I had a bowl of cereal and we both took a quick shower.  I showered in the comfort station while Carol took hers in the RV.  As I left the shower stall a stranger asked, “Are you heading to a park today?”  “Yes, we’re going to EPCOT.” I replied.  He handed me three Priority Admission coupons (like a FastPass) and explained that they had to be used today.  He was heading home, so they were mine if I wanted them.  WOW!  Great way to start my birthday!  I thanked him several times.  Carol had my birthday card and gift ready when I got back.  A new mp3 player – yippee!


We took the dogs out for a nice long walk before we left.  Once again Zoë did some “squirrelin’” and Zak chased his ball until there was no chase left in him.

By 9:45 we were off to EPCOT and started taking pictures.  

We covered all of Future World this morning, heading first toward The Land.  We decided to use up two of those coupons right away at Soarin’.  The couple ahead of us in line were obviously true Disney fans, they asked for row B1 and were wearing Passporter Passholder pouches.  We ended up chatting with them for quite some time.  They were thinking about an RV purchase and had plenty of questions about our motorhome and Fort Wilderness.  After the ride we sat with them in the Sunshine Seasons seating area and spent about 15 minutes answering their questions.

Then we wandered back through the rose garden toward World Showcase and snapped pictures all the way.  Carol shopped a bit in the event kiosks and then we walked back down the centre toward the fountain snapping pics of topiary along the way.  We stopped at Electric Umbrella for lunch and then headed across toward Mission Space and Test Track to see the Flower and Garden displays in that area.  Once again Pixie Hollow and Fawn’s Butterfly House were amazing.

After making our way around all the displays of Future World we were very hot and tired.  We walked out to the parking lot and headed back to camp.  After draining the dogs we took a well-earned nap.  This life of constant leisure can be so tiring!


By 5:30 we had walked the dogs again and were on our way back to EPCOT for dinner at Le Cellier.  

We took a slow stroll toward Canada and snapped a few more topiary pictures along the way.  

By 7:00 we were seated in the restaurant and ordering our dinner.  Carol had the New York Strip Steak and I had the Filet Mignon.  Excellent as usual!  We shared a Maple Crème Brule for dessert.


We walked around World Showcase enjoying the rest of the topiary, but the light quickly faded and made photography difficult, so we continued our slow walk enjoying the remaining displays.

By 9:00 we were leaving the park, just as the Illuminations fireworks show began.  We were dragging ourselves to make it to the car after a day in the stifling heat.  We were glad to be back to the cool comfort of the motorhome.  Zak and Zoë were happy to see us too!


It was a great birthday!

Sunday May 2, 2010


It was a slothful day!  We did next to nothing!  At 7:10 a.m. I opened the door to take the dogs out.  The humidity was so thick you had to chew your way through it.


We knew from the weather forecast that we were in for a few very hot days so we had no agenda for the day.  I gave the dogs a good long walk early, before the real heat set in and then I updated this trip report.  There are some folks back home who get downright testy if we’re just a little bit late!    


Carol went shopping at Downtown Disney and made a point of telling me that she had some quality retail therapy without me to urge her along.  Hmmmm!  Late in the morning I took the dogs out for another long walk and chatted with a few of the regular Fort Wilderness campers along the way.


Carol was back by noon, apparently not fully shopped out because as soon as we had a bite of lunch we went off to WalMart.  This was my kind of shopping though; know what you want - go get it - go home.  That “wander through every store and touch everything you see” kind of shopping makes me crazy!  Wonder why she leaves me home . . . Hmmm?


We were back by 2:30 and rode our bikes down to the pool.  It was busy, but we found a table which offered a bit of shade and hopped in the soupy warm water.  It was warm but refreshing.  We soaked for a while, both took a run down the waterslide, soaked some more and then Carol sunned a bit while I read my book.  By 4:30 we had had enough sun and heat (it was 95 degrees and the humidity was steamy) so we rode back to the cool RV for a nap.

We had a dinner reservation at Kona Café but we tried to get into ‘Ohana instead.  No such luck, it was too busy.  We had a very nice dinner at Kona though, and finished it off with ‘Ohana’s Bread Pudding for dessert.  Yum!

After dinner we drove back to the campground and hopped on our bikes.  We rode to the Settlement where Carol did some more shopping (honest – she did) and then we wandered down to the dock to watch the 9:45 Electric Water Pageant followed by Wishes at 10:00.  There were two chairs left at a front row table and the couple at the table agreed to share it with us.  There were from Milton Ontario, about 25 miles from where we lived in our working lives.  We chatted with them until the water pageant started.  It was a very nice evening.  We always enjoy watching these two events from the Fort Wilderness dock.


Back at the motorhome we watched a bit of TV before crashing.  The heat had taken its toll and we weren’t long heading to bed.

Monday May 3, 2010


Another hot day . . . today it was merely blistering!  Once again we had very little planned and we had a slow start in the morning.  We didn’t head out until about 9:00 a.m. when we pointed the car toward Downtown Disney hoping to finally get our first flight on Characters In Flight. 

Alas, it was not to be today, too windy.  We have tried several times and it’s always the same, “Too windy”.  Maybe tomorrow morning?


Nothing else was open in West Side that early in the morning so we drove over to Marketplace and had breakfast for the first time at the Earl of Sandwich.  WOW!  I had their Bacon, Egg & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich.  It was very good.  Carol had their Breakfast BLT and it was awesome.  Capital A Awesome!  She shared a tiny bite with me . . . WOW!  From Earl’s we went through the Christmas Store to the Art of Disney Store where she showed me what she wants for her birthday.

Then I went back to the car to wait while she returned a few things at the World of Disney Store.  As we pulled away heading to the Animal Kingdom Lodge she said, “That was a very good breakfast.”  I REPLIED, “Yes, we’ll have breakfast there again someday.”  She immediately interjected, “No, we’ll have breakfast there tomorrow!”


We pulled into Animal Kingdom Lodge and wandered through the lobby and down to Arusha Rock to see some animals on the savannah.  There were very few animals at 11:15, just a few pelicans.  The African guide said that they would be sent out from the barn at 11:30 so we waited inside. 

I found a comfy chair in the lobby while the designated shopper scoured the stores.  She found another treasure for the Disney Room, a Mickey Bobble-Head in a safari costume (on sale for $3.99 – you can’t pass up a deal like that).


At 11:30 we headed back out to the savannah and there were a few more animals; ankoli cattle and a few antelope.  We took a few pictures and then hopped back in the car and returned to Fort Wilderness.

By 12:45 we were on our bikes and headed for the pool.  It was much quieter there today and we found a table, dropped our stuff and took a long cool soak!  We both tried the water slide again and later had a hot dog from the snack bar for lunch.  We both had another swim then I read my book while Carol basked.  I even braved to hot tub for a few minutes to soak my aching knees, then cooled off in the pool.  By 2:30 I had absorbed enough sun and heat so I rode back to the campsite and fiddled on the computer a bit before I took a nap.  Carol was back about 3:30 and decided it was naptime for her too.


Soon it was time to feed and walk the dogs.  Zoë treed another squirrel . . . what a good hunter!  Then it was time to leave for dinner.  We ate at Sweet Tomatoes in the Crossroads Plaza.  It’s a great spot . . . a terrific salad bar, soups, breads and desserts.  After dinner we headed to Downtown Disney where we caught the 7:35 showing of Alice in Wonderland in 3D.  We both enjoyed it; glad we saw the 3D version!


As we came out of the theatre the Characters in Flight balloon was up, so we got in line.  The wind kept picking up while we waited and they weren’t selling tickets for a ride until the previous one had landed . . . very touch-and-go, but our turn finally came and up we went!  What a great view, we were able to see Spaceship Earth and the Contemporary Resort Hotel quite clearly, and of course all the lights of Downtown Disney and Saratoga Springs.  The night view convinced us that we really want to do it in daylight.  So we’ll try again tomorrow morning, since we’ll be there for breakfast anyway!

After our flight Carol hit a few shops (of course) and then we headed home, let the dogs out and crashed for the night!

Tuesday May 4, 2010


She was cracking the whip this morning!  “Come on, get out of bed.  It’s time for breakfast!”  Carol is not normally a breakfast person, but that Earl’s BLT has her excited today!  So we were out and on the road by 9:00.


First stop – Characters in Flight.  As we approach we see the flashing red sign – “Closed due to high winds”  DANG!  Not again!


“Oh well,” she says, “let’s go to Earl’s!”  Breakfast was great; try it sometime!  After breakfast I explained to Carol that I had some stealthy shopping to do.  She promised to act surprised on her birthday and wandered off to the Pin Shop while I picked up the gift she pointed out yesterday.  Based on my limited shopping skills, this system works very well for us!


We were back at the campsite by 10:30 and started taking down the Mickey Lamp and all our other décor and packing it all away in the motorhome’s “basement” before the afternoon heat became oppressive.  Believe me, it was already oppressive enough at 10:30.


By 11:30 all was packed up and stowed away and Carol had done a load of laundry (no, not the WDWNJ kind).  We are always a bit sad when we pack up, it means we’re leaving tomorrow.

We spent a few minutes inside, cooling off and then hopped on our bikes and rode the pretty exercise trail from Fort Wilderness to Wilderness Lodge.  We staked out a shady spot beside the pool and then went for lunch at Roaring Forks Café.  We spent a few hours at the pool, in and out of the pool, in and out of the hot tub and then at about 2:30 we rode back to the campground.

On the return trip we rode along the nature trail which follows the shore of the lake and we snuck through the “backstage” area which borders the old River Country water park and comes out at the horse barn.  Last time we tried this trail we ran into a group in the middle of a Segway Tour and the Cast Members sent us back to the “onstage” area.  Glad we made it all the way through this time, it’s a pretty ride and a lot more rustic than the exercise trail.

We had a nap and then a leisurely afternoon.  It’s too hot to do anything else; it’s another steamy day in the mid 90’s.


We fed the dogs and took them for a nice long walk behind the 800 loop.  Zoë treed five squirrels; three real and two imaginary.  It was a good squirellin’ day!


We headed down to Trail’s End Buffet at 6:20, a bit early for our 7:10 reservation.  We were seated right away and had a delicious meal.  I really like the fresh salad bar and Carol thinks the fried chicken is great.  I wore my birthday pin and we finagled it into strawberry shortcake.  Yum!

After dinner we rode our bikes over to the Settlement Trading Post and Carol traded a few pins.  Then we rode down to the Meadows Trading Post where she traded a few more.  Her last shop-portunity!


Back at the RV we watched TV for a while and then at 10:00 rode down to the pool for a swim before bed.  Tomorrow we head for home!

Wednesday May 5, 2010


I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and rolled over to go back to sleep, but the dogs radar had picked me up.  They whimpered until I got up to let them out.  So I immediately finished up preparations to leave.  I hung the bikes on the bike rack, unhooked the cable TV, water and power lines and secured everything for driving.  While I was at it I heard Carol moving around inside.  She was battening everything down in the interior.  By 7:30 we had everything done and I headed to the comfort station for a much-needed shower.


We walked down to the Settlement and had breakfast at Trail’s End and then pulled out.  We stopped nest the Outpost, hooked up the tow-car and were on the road by 9:30.


The miles rolled by quickly.  We had a very brief slowdown on I-4 in Orlando and then it was clear sailing all day.  We made one quick rest area stop for the dogs and then stopped at about 1:00 p.m. at the Georgia Welcome Centre where we made a sandwich for lunch and walked the dogs again.


About half way through Georgia, the strangest thing happened!  We were driving along in light traffic when a car suddenly passed us, pulled over in front of us and slowed down.  I pulled out to go around when the driver leaned out and started waving and pulled over to the shoulder.  Carol said, “He’s trying to tell us something.”  So I pulled over too.   That’s when we noticed that the car had Ontario license plates.  The driver stepped out of the car, followed by the passenger.  They were out neighbours Rich and his wife Pat!  They came aboard the motorhome and we visited for ten or fifteen minutes on the side of the Interstate.


What are the odds?  They had been wintering in Florida and were on their way home.  As they drove by us they noticed Carol’s license plate “LVDISNEY” and knew it was us.  I would have bet a lot of money against that kind of coincidence.


By 2:45 we were back on the road and soon crossed into South Carolina.  We pulled off the highway near the campground, filled up with gas and were hooked up in the campsite by 5:00 p.m. 


Shortly after we got settled my sister Connie called to let us know that Mom is back in the hospital.  Connie rushed to the hospital and called later to let us know that she has had another heart attack but seems to be stable and lucid.  The hospital refers to her condition as “guarded”.  We will be accelerating our trip home and hope to be there within 24 hours.

Thursday May 6, 2010


We hit the road bright and early, driving our normal speed, but determined to have a longer day than usual - twice the distance we normally drive.  By 1:00 p.m. we had climbed the mountains at Fancy Gap and entered Virginia.  We stopped and gassed up at Wytheville VA, our normal overnight stop and then carried on northbound.  We had a few stops along the way for the dogs and we pulled into Harrisburg East Campground, Harrisburg, PA well after dark.  Dogs, driver and navigator were dog tired!

Friday May 7, 2010


Once again we were off early and made few stops along the way.  We crossed the border at 1:00 p.m. and were home unpacking the RV by 2:00.  I grabbed a short nap while Carol did a bit of laundry, then we loaded fresh clothes in the motorhome and I headed out to see Mom in the hospital.