October 20, 2010

We had planned to leave tomorrow morning, but we had the motorhome all packed by noon.  That's when Carol left to get her hair and nails "all spruced-up" for the trip.  She was back by late afternoon and we soon headed over to her parent's home, across the city, for an early dinner.  As we pulled on the expressway heading toward her folks home she said, "I'm all ready to go now!"  I sensed a deeper meaning so I asked, "Do you mean you want to leave tonight?"  "Yup," she replied, "let's git er dun!"

We had a nice dinner with her mom and dad but as soon as dessert was done we said, "Hate to eat and run, but bye-bye!"

We did a few last minute things at home and pulled away at 7:00 p.m.  By 7:35 we had cleared US Customs - next stop Cicero, NY - a suburb of Syracuse.   We pulled into Cicero just a few minutes after 9:00 and did a bit of shopping at Target and WalMart.  We picked up enough air-time to cover our internet needs for the trip and enough groceries to get us to Florida.  By 10:30 we pulled in behind the Cracker Barrel Restaurant where we spent the night.

It's always nice to get a head start on the trip!

October 21, 2010


Cracker Barrel was a nice place to spend the night.  There was minimal road noise and no trucks.  We were one of three RV’s to spend the night there, and a tour bus pulled in as we were getting out of bed.  We woke to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof at about 6:30.  We stayed in bed a few minutes hoping it would let up so we could take Zak out for his morning ablutions . . . no such luck!  I took Zak out and we both got wet while Carol got his breakfast ready.


We had a nice breakfast at Cracker Barrel.  As we entered the restaurant Carol said, “I think we’re too young to be in here!”  The tour bus was a load of seniors . . . really senior ones.  The average age must have been close to 90.  Carol told me she met a lady at the door and thought it must be an employee in Halloween costume – turned out to be a senior heading back to the bus.


We were on the road by 7:30 and all went well for 30 minutes.  That’s when the windshield wipers went boom!  They both stopped moving for a few seconds and then the drivers wiper went left while the passengers went right.  We had a definite Marty Feldman look going on.  Fortunately I had given the windshield a treatment of RainX so the rainwater was sheeting and rolling right off.  We carried on!


By 9:00 we were passing Binghamton , NY and soon into Pennsylvania .  We stopped at the FlyingJ truck stop at New Milford , PA and gassed up.  Then we pulled around to an open parking area and I checked the wipers.  As I suspected, the linkage has loosened.  I think I can fix it, but it will wait for a warmer climate.  It’s too cold and damp today.


So, with the wipers held up with bunjee cords, we hit the road again.  Soon the sun began to peek through but the winds continued.  High in the mountains there were gusts which moved us a foot or two.  The leaves in this area are past their peak but there are still some nicely colored hills and valleys.  Unfortunately the rain and clouds today made for poor viewing.  Hopefully we’ll see more colour and clearer skies as we continue south.


We pulled off and parked in a service station for lunch.  Carol made us sandwiches and we were back on the road in no time.  By 1:00 we were pulling into our campground in Harrisburg .  By 1:30 we were all set up and I went for a shower in the bath house.  Carol neatened up the RV while I took Zak out and tossed the ball for him until he had enough!


We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon and soon our friends Deb and Linda showed up for a visit.  We had not seen these two for over a year and the time just flew by.  We yakked in the motorhome for over an hour and then adjourned to Chili’s where we spent another two hours chatting over dinner and coffee.  What a great evening, we cherish the times we can spend with good friends.

Too soon it was time for Linda and Deb to head for home.  Carol and I had just a few more stops!  First was Target, where we found another Halloween costume for Zak – a saddle with the headless horseman attached to it!  He’ll wear it to the Fort Wilderness Golf Cart Parade October 30th – the parade is led by the Headless Horseman!


Wait a minute . . . Zak has three Halloween costumes and all I have is a lousy pumpkin t-shirt!  I’d better talk to Carol about this!


Our last stop was the Christmas Tree Shop.  Carol has a difficult time driving by one of these stores.  Tonight we got out cheaply, only about $12.00.


We were back at the RV by about 9:00 and settled in for the night.  Bed will come early after a long day.  Tomorrow we’re off to Wytheville , VA.   I hope we have a sunny day as we pass through the scenic Shenandoah Valley !

October 22, 2010


We went to bed at 10:00 last night, so early that I woke up about 5:00 a.m. and tossed and turned for about a half hour.  Since I couldn’t sleep I got up and played at the computer.  By 6:00 I was yawning so I stealthily climbed back in bed, trying ever so hard not to waken the sleeping ogre.  As I carefully pulled the sheet up to my chin she rolled over and sprung out of bed in a cat-like manner.  “Come on lazybones,” she said, “time’s a wastin’!  Let’s get on the road.”


OK, I lied about the cat-like thing, she moaned and groaned and sort of flopped out of bed, but the rest is all true!


She took Zak out while I gathered my senses and got dressed.  Soon I had downed a few cups of coffee and a bowl of cereal.  We unhooked, pulled in all the slides and were on the road by 7:15.  Morning traffic in Harrisburg was quite light and before we knew it we were across the state line into Maryland .  It was brief though, just 12 miles in Maryland and then we hit West Virginia .  Only 26 miles later we left West Virginia and entered Virginia .  We stopped at Winchester , VA and gassed up then about noon made a short stop in a rest area where Carol made us each a sandwich.


It was a beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed the scenery all along our route.  The variety seems odd to us.  It is quite flat where we live and the leaves are well past their peak colours, and most leaves have fallen.  Here in mountainous country the leaves are just beginning to turn in the valleys but they are mostly down when you hit the higher altitudes.  They don’t have the bright reds, oranges and golds we get at home but there are still some very striking sights!

We pulled into the KOA campground in Wytheville , VA at 2:00. It’s nice when we can get an early start in the morning and get settled in the campground in time to relax for a while in the afternoon.


We hooked up the RV and then took Zak to the off-leash doggie park in the campground.  We tossed the ball for him until he had used up two days worth of pent-up energy.  Then Zak joined us both for a nap!


By 5:00 we were in the car scouting Wytheville looking for a car wash.  Our tow-car took quite a beating in the rain on Thursday and really needed a wash.  Once it was cleaned up we headed to our favourite Chinese Restaurant for dinner.  Yum, there was enough left over that I can nuke it for my lunch tomorrow!


By 8:00 we were back in the motorhome where we settled in for a quiet night of TV.  Tomorrow we’re off again, next stop Walterboro , SC.


A few bits of trivia about our route:

  • We spend our first two days on one highway, Interstate 81.  We cross the border into the USA just 25 miles east of our home and immediately head south on I-81 for 745 miles.

  • On our third and fourth day we cover 4 highways, I-77 for 232 miles, I-26 for 53 miles, I-95 for 339 miles and finally I-4 for 69 miles.

October 23, 2010


This morning she growled, “Come on, rise and shine!”  It was still dark, that’s a bad sign!  My bleary eyes finally focused on the clock; it read 5:59.  “It’s too early to get up.” I said.  We both laid in bed staring silently at the clock.  When it flipped over to 6:00 a.m. we got up and began our day.


It was the same old daily routine, coffee, internet, e-mail and the four S’s;  S#*t, Shave, Shower and Shampoo.  I had a quick bowl of cereal and began the disconnect while Carol battened everything down inside the RV.


We pulled out of the campground at 7:22 and continued south.  It was a crisp morning with frost on the ground high in the Virginia hills, and many valleys in this mountainous area were filled with fog.  It was quite beautiful, but unfortunately a bit too dark for good pictures.


The sun was rising as we began our descent down the long slope at Fancy Gap, heading into North Carolina .  The seven mile long grade drops 1,500 feet and there are some spectacular views as you descend (if your wife lets you take your eyes off the road).  The three runaway truck ramps remind you that this is a serious grade!

At the bottom the terrain changes from mountains to rolling hills and the skies were a vivid blue.  Not a cloud to be seen.  Soon we were past Statesville , Lake Norman and Mooresville.  If you are a NASCAR fan, this must be close to heaven!  Mooresville is best known as the home of many NASCAR racing teams, as well as racing technology suppliers, which has earned the city the nickname " Race City USA .  There are two automotive museums: The Memory Lane Motorsports and Historical Automotive Museum and the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame.  We are not racing fans and we saw none of these things as we zipped past on the interstate!


What we did see were hot air balloons.  There must have been a balloon-fest in Statesville.  There were at least 50 balloons in the air as we drove by!

We stopped for fuel just south of Columbia and had a bite of lunch in the RV while we were stopped, then carried on south.  We pulled on to Interstate 95 at about 1:00 p.m. and just six minutes later Carol spotted the first palm tree.


At 1:35 we pulled into the campground at Walterboro , SC.   It was a glorious 77 degrees!  Before we did all the motorhome hookups I pulled out my bucket, hose and brushes and gave the RV a bath.  It had picked up quite a bit of road grime in the rainstorm on Thursday and we were anxious to clean it up.  Carol pulled a lawn chair out and supervised to make sure I didn’t miss any spots!  She’s such a big help!


Carol took Zak for a walk and tossed the ball for him and then it was nap time for all of us.

At 5:15 we headed out to find the Sonic Restaurant just one exit north on the highway.  We had seen the signs on the way in.  We don’t have Sonics in Canada and they look intriguingly like an old time drive-in.  We’ve been wanting to try one for a few years.  We pulled in and checked the menu . . . Eek!  This looks like McDonalds food . . . so we left.  We’re not fans of Rotten Ronnie!


Just up the road we pulled in to Dukes Barbecue.  All you can eat for $8.50 – you just know it’s gotta be good!  Actually, it wasn’t bad, and it was an experience.  There were very few things on the buffet that we recognized so we asked plenty of questions.  The fried chicken, mac and cheese, hush puppies, onion rings and pulled pork were good.  The ribs, deep fried corn and rice with barbecue hash were not so hot.  Carol thoughtfully pointed out that those things I put on my plate were deep fried jalapenos.  Disaster was averted!  Holy flaming sphincters Batman, that was close!


There were three different desserts, all sweet and covered with some sort of white and fluffy whipped-cream-ish stuff.  We could not discern any distinct flavour so we don’t know what they were. 


We agreed that Dukes filled the void for us, but it’s definitely not a “do-over”.  There are plenty of other options in the area, but we’ll probably stick to Ruby Tuesday.  I like the salad bar there!


We stopped briefly at Wal-Mart and didn’t buy Zak any more Halloween costumes.


We were back to the campground by 7:40 and hooked the car up before settling in for the night.  Tomorrow we have a short 244 mile hop to St. Augustine , FL    Zak is looking forward to some beach time tomorrow afternoon!

October 24, 2010

Carol raised her head and looked at the clock, “Let’s get going,” she said.  When I saw the time, 5:30 a.m., I said, “Rollover and go to sleep.”  She got up! 


I went back to sleep and the next thing I knew there was a lot of clattering and banging.  It was 7:00 a.m. and she was washing the dishes with vigorous enthusiasm.  I am sure it was for my benefit.  I got the message, hopped out of bed, slam dunked a bowl of cereal, tossed a cup of coffee on top of it and started disconnecting the RV.  By 7:45 we were on the road.


The day started off clear and bright and we soon crossed into Georgia .  That’s when the dark clouds rolled in and the rain began.  It rained heavily at times, but within 20 miles we drove out of it and the skies were clear and bright once again.  Both South Carolina and Georgia are very flat.  Gentle rolling hills, if any at all, so we made great time!

No hills and no traffic in South Carolina

We drove non-stop to the Florida Welcome Centre, where we pulled in at about 10:30.  We always look forward to that glass of orange juice.  Zak was happy to stretch his legs a bit, and then we were on our way.


This has been an interesting trip.  We have a Virgin Mobile Internet Stick which plugs into the USB port on Carol’s laptop.  She has been very busy all the way down, checking e-mails, posting to web sites, googling points of interest we pass, updating her Facebook status and chatting with her mother and some friends.  She has been so busy that she has hardly found time to give me that ever-so-important feedback on my driving!  I’m surprised we’ve made it this far without incident. 

By 11:30 we pulled into the Prime Outlet Stores in St. Augustine .  I dropped Carol off so she could scout the Disney Character Outlet and I went on to Camping World, just up the road.  I picked up a few things and then joined my boss at the Disney Store.  We had a quick bite in the food court and then headed directly to North Beach Camp Resort.  We were quickly checked in and backing into site #5, our favourite.  It’s so densely foliated that you cannot see your neighbours.  The site is canopied with trees so it is always shaded and cool.


As soon as we were hooked up we took Zak to the beach and tossed his ball until he was pooped.  He was hoping we would throw it in the water, he loves to swim.  Unfortunately there was quite a surf rolling, so he had to be content with getting his paws wet!

After a bit of a rest to cool down, Carol and I hopped in the car and drove around the historic part of the city, then over to Anastasia Island for some more touring.  Soon it was getting close to dinner time so we began looking for a spot to eat.  The first one we agreed on was Red Lobster.  Yum.


We were back to the campground by 7:00 p.m.  Zak was very happy to see us, we were late with his dinner!  Since we brought him a treat from Red Lobster, he has forgiven us.


Now we’ve settled in for the night.  We plan to watch some TV and then go for a swim and hot tub before bed.


Tomorrow is a short driving day, just 129 miles to Fort Wilderness .  We want to be there before noon.  We always like to check in early, it’s easier to get one of the sites we prefer.

October 25, 2010


We slept in . . . until 7:15.  Wow, it felt great.  

Our campsite at North Beach

We went through our normal routine and were on the road by 8:45.  We turned from I-95 onto I-4 at 10:00 a.m. and by 11:00 we were exiting I-4 for Fort Wilderness .  It was an uneventful drive, good weather and light traffic, except for the stretch through the heart of Orlando .  There the traffic was heavy, Carol didn’t say anything, but she was grabbing the edges of her seat occasionally.  But soon we were passing under our favourite sign!

This is always the best part of our journey.  We know that we are closing in on our favourite campground.  There is no campground that feels more like home for us!


A few days earlier on the journey down Carol did a little cogitating and calculating.  The result was her announcement that this would be her 40th trip to Walt Disney World and my 30th trip!  We have made 24 trips together and I made 5 trips before the two of us became a couple.  Carol had made 10 trips before she discovered the relentless bliss that comes with my constant companionship.  These numbers don’t sound at all odd to our many internet friends, but they have convinced our friends and family back home that we are nuts!

There was a line-up at check-in and we had to wait a bit, but we expected that!  Carol had sent a fax requesting site 707 or 706 and we were delighted when Pat checked us in and confirmed that we would be in #707.  Fantastic! 


The site wasn’t ready yet, but we had a plan!  We have gotten to know Nelson, the cast member who cleans and prep’s sites in the 700 and 1400 loops.  We pulled into the overflow parking lot at about 12:15, unhooked the car and drove back to find Nelson.  Our site in the 700 loop was empty and clean, but there was no sign of Nelson.  We drove over to the 1400 loop and there he was.  He called in, told the office our site was ready and we went back for the RV.  Shortly after we backed into the site Nelson arrived and blew away all the pine needles for us.

We did the basic hook-ups, water, sewer, cable TV and electric, got the air conditioning going for Zak and we drove over to Downtown Disney for lunch at the Earl of Sandwich.  BLT for each of us, YUM!

Then it was straight back to the Fort, where we focused on setting up our Halloween décor.  It was hot, sweaty work.  It was 90 degrees today, a new record for the Orlando area.  We sure felt it!  We took our time and took several breaks to cool off.  

Just arrived . . . 

All this was tucked away in the hatches under the RV

Starting to take shape.

By about 5:00 we were wearing out, fortunately our friends John and Sharon dropped by and we had a visit with them (inside where it was cool).  Soon they went off to the Magic Kingdom and we finished up outside for the day.  Only one mishap, while I was on top of a ladder attaching a rope light Mickey to a pine tree the bungee strap slipped out of my fingers, whipped around the back of the tree and smacked me in the face.  I was stunned and bleeding but I held onto the tree.  Even through all of Carol’s laughter I held onto the tree.  The two welts below my left cheekbone should look great in our PhotoPass pictures.

I have just a few more chores outside tomorrow, Carol will focus on the inside of the motorhome.


After feeding Zak and chilling out (literally) for a few minutes we hopped in the car and went to Port Orleans Riverside for a bite in the food court there.  We both had pasta at the custom-made pasta bar and it was quite good.


Too pooped for anything else, we headed back to the RV.  A little TV and it will be lights out!

October 26, 2010


Bright and early again today!  We were both up and rolling at 6:00 . . . dunno why!  After checking e-mail and having a coffee we got back at the decorations.  I went outside and rearranged the electrical cords to put more of the lights on timers!  It was so bright at bedtime last night that Carol unplugged a lot of them.  Meantime, Carol finished up the inside décor, pumpkins on the dash, lights on the windshield, etc.  I did a few odd jobs like washing up the bikes and soon Carol was done. 


We each had a shower and about 10:30 we left for WalMart – we needed a few groceries and a broom to sweep up pine needles.  Looks like our last broom was left in Cape Cod when we packed up in the rain!  Back at the RV we had a sandwich for lunch and I laid down for a short nap. 


By 2:45 we were in the car heading for the Magic Kingdom .  We parked at the Polynesian Resort and pulled my rental scooter out of the trunk.  In just a few minutes it was assembled and we headed to the hotel and the monorail.  We stopped at Guest Relations to buy a Tables In Wonderland card and then found a spot on Town Square to watch the 3:00 parade.  I had a terrific spot to get a shot as the Thunderbirds precision flying team flew over before the parade.  Unfortunately, the Thunderbirds didn’t know where I had the camera pointed . . . they flew behind me.  They missed Main Street altogether so the best I got was a nice shot of con trails disappearing into a tree.

We sat and watched the parade and then wandered through the Emporium shops and stopped at Casey’s for a cold drink.  

While we were at Casey’s ScottWDW, his wife Merri and their daughter stopped by to say hello. After a short visit with them we wandered through the shops on the other side of Main Street heading back toward the train station.  Before we left the park we had a PhotoPass picture taken in front of the station, then boarded the monorail back to the Polynesian.


We had a dinner reservation for 5:25 p.m. at ‘Ohana and Carol checked us in at about 5:20.  We barely had time to sit down when the pager started buzzing, our table was ready.  It was another good meal, we always enjoy dinner at ‘Ohana.  This time we weren’t able to finish the bread pudding.  That is a first – we have never left a scrap of dessert here, we normally lick the bowls clean!


We were back to the campground by 6:45 p.m.  Carol fed Zak his dinner and then took him for a nice long walk.


A swim and a soak in the hot tub rounded out the night!


Tomorrow we plan to spend the morning at Typhoon Lagoon, the afternoon (91 degrees and very humid) at the Campground and have dinner at Kona Café.

The final product!

Our Mickey lamp with it's Halloween costume on!

October 27, 2010


It was a slow morning.  We both slept in; then took it easy for a few hours.  We left about 9:50 for Typhoon Lagoon.  We should have left about 10 minutes sooner!  All the best shady spots were filled when we wandered in at 10:10.  We did manage to find a spot beside the funnel cake stand and set ourselves up with chairs and lounges.  The temperature hadn’t peaked yet, it was a mere 89 degrees . . .


We hit the wave pool immediately to get away from the scorching heat.  We let the giant wave toss us around for about 20 minutes before we were worn down!  If you have never been to Typhoon Lagoon then you are really missing out on a great water park.  The wave pool is like no other I have ever seen.  There is one giant wave, at least six feet high, about every minute.  It crests and breaks about halfway down the length of the pool and carries everyone away with it.  People actually body-surf in this pool . . . it is awesome!


We relaxed for a few minutes then grabbed some tubes and took a leisurely float around Castaway Creek, the “ Lazy River ” that winds its way throughout the park.  It was lunch time so we dried off a bit and then went to Typhoon Tilly’s where we shared a chicken wrap.  That left us with room to share a funnel cake . . . the aroma had been driving us nuts all morning.


After lunch we hopped back in the wave pool to rinse off the funnel cake shrapnel.  Another ten or twelve giant waves got the job done.  We gathered up our stuff and headed to the change rooms where we showered and dressed for the trip back to Fort Wilderness . 

Along the way we stopped at the new Best Friends kennel located opposite Port Orleans Riverside.  It's a great facility, all sorts of special things for the pampered pet . . . too bad they built it in such an inconvenient location.  It really should be at Fort Wilderness or at the Ticket and Transportation Centre.

The sign says "Don't let your children lick the hydrant" or something like that!

Back at the RV we took Zak for a walk and then laid down for a nap.  Carol couldn’t sleep so she got up, hopped on her bike and went for a ride.  She scouted Halloween decorations on several loops, registered Zak for the pet parade, registered our site for trick or treating, visited both Trading Posts and visited with friends GroupHugJohn & FLSharon at the pool.  When she came back I hopped on my bike and toured several of the loops as well.


By 5:30 we were on our way to the Polynesian Resort where our friend Beci joined us for dinner.  It was sure nice to be able to sit and spend some quiet time with her.  Usually when we are together things are pretty busy and Beci is always at the centre of things, making sure events flow as they should.  This time was pleasantly different; we all had time to relax.


After dinner Carol and I returned to the campground and hopped on a borrowed golf cart to tour the camping loops.  The loops take on a much different look after dark.  There are some amazing displays of ghosts, goblins, spooks, gremlins, smoke, light, sounds, things flying through the trees . . . you really have to see it to fully appreciate how creative people can be!


By 10:00 we were worn right out so I dropped Carol off and took the cart back.  It was another great Disney day!


Tomorrow we have no plans except for dinner, which will be taken in small bites as we wander around EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival.  Will we end up at a park in the morning?  Who knows!

October 28, 2010


It was another slow morning.  We slept until 7:00 and then did nothing for a few hours. 

A neighbors campsite

The campsite next door

We sat outside enjoying our coffee and watching the wildlife.  There is plenty of wildlife here, Tuesday night on our way back from dinner at ‘Ohana we spotted four deer, Wednesday night on our way to dinner at Kona we saw two more deer.  This morning over coffee we saw plenty of squirrels, little tiny lizards, a pileated woodpecker and then we had a spectacular view as a hawk swooped about ten feet overhead and landed on a signpost about twenty-five feet away.


Our conversation over our coffee went like this:


“What do you want to do this morning?”


“I don’t know.”


“We could go to a park or we could just hang out at the campground.”




“We could go shopping or we could just hang out at the campground.”


“Yup, I don’t care.”


“We could go to the pool or we could just hang out at the campsite.”


“Yup, we could do that too, do you have a preference?”


It took a full hour to decide to go to the pool.  We’re just not very highly motivated when it’s this hot!  By 10:00 we had ridden our bikes to the Meadows and were in the pool cooling down.  FLSharon came along and had a short swim, they were heading back to Tampa today but she needed one more dip before she left.  I hopped in the hot tub for a few minutes, we both used the waterslide and had several dips in the pool before we hopped on our bikes and rode back to the RV for lunch.


After a sandwich at the campsite we took Zak for a walk and then got in the car to head out shopping.  Carol dragged me off to JC Penny to buy some shirts and slacks.  It’s a painful ritual she makes me endure every few years.  I quickly agreed to all her selections, swiped my Visa card and the pain was over!


We were back at Fort Wilderness by 3:00 and it was nap time.   After a short rest we fed Zak his dinner and took him for a walk before heading out to EPCOT.

We enjoyed the Food and Wine Festival last year for the first time so we started this year’s dining trek around World Showcase at New Zealand with seared sea scallops then moved on to Greece for spanakopita, Greek salad and chicken souvlaki.  We sampled the cheese fondue from the Charcuterie & Cheese booth and then tried the maple-glazed salmon from Canada .  Our next stop was Ireland where we sampled the lobster and scallop fisherman’s pie and Carol tried the chocolate lava cake.  In France we tasted the braised beef ribs and chocolate milk crème brulée then headed to Spain for the taste of Spain dish which featured cheese, bread, cold sausage, ham and pimento.  We capped off our meal at Belgium where we enjoyed a dessert of Belgian waffle with berry compote and whipped cream.  By now we were stuffed, and we only made it about a third of the way around World Showcase.   I guess we’ll have to go back!  It was all so good, Carol’s favourite was the braised ribs at France and mine was the lobster and scallop pie at Ireland .

New Zealand scallops

Special thanks to our friends at Tagrel.com.  Most of our meal was paid for with the gift card they gave us at Tag-O-Mania.


As we walked around the rest of World Showcase the Eat to the Beat Concert was playing at America Gardens .  Tonight’s artist was Starship starring Mickey Thomas so I stopped to watch the show while Carol walked on to the new Werther’s shop in Germany .  She sniffed the sweet smell of the candies while she waited for me and we headed toward Future World together.  We wanted to see Captain EO on our way out, but the show had closed at 7:00 p.m.  We’ll have to catch it another day.

We were back at the campground by 9:30.  Carol spotted three more deer on the way home.


Tomorrow we will head to Hollywood Studios in the morning and have dinner at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom.

October 29, 2010


Today we got off to a quicker start.  We were at the gate entering Hollywood Studios by 9:10 and from there we went directly to Toy Story Midway Mania.  What a great ride.  We left Toy Story and soon found ourselves outside the Backlot Tour.  It has been several years since we visited Catastrophe Canyon , so we jumped aboard.

From there we walked down to the Disney Animation store and browsed before heading to Sunset Boulevard.  Carol browsed through the Villains Store while I took a wild ride on Rock ‘n Roller Coaster.  Then we met and headed to Tower of Terror where we rode together.  It was getting close to noon so we headed out to the exit.  On the way back to Fort Wilderness I dropped Carol off at D Street in Downtown Disney.  She picked up a few new Vinylmation releases while I waited in the parking lot.  She came back to the car with a bag from Wetzel's Pretzels.  She ordered two cheese dogs for lunch, what she got was two cheese pretzels, so that’s what we had for lunch.

An entry in the Cast Member Pumpkin Carving Contest

Carol's favorite - she voted for this one!

Back at the RV we relaxed for a bit, then I went to the Meadows to register us in the site decorating contest and pick up a quart of milk.  While I was there I took some pictures of Waldo, the Great Blue Heron.  Waldo hangs out in the pond between the Meadows Trading Post and the Bike Barn.  There is a fishing dock there and it’s strictly “catch & release”.  Many of the fishermen release their catch in Waldo’s direction, so he keeps coming back!

By mid-afternoon the humidity had broken and the air cooled off.  We opened up the motorhome, shut off the air conditioning and had a nice nap in the fresh air.


We were back on the road by 4:30 heading to Animal Kingdom.  Our dinner reservation at Tusker House was for 5:20 and the last safari ride was at 6:00.  We wanted to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris, so we stopped and rescheduled dinner.  Then off we went for a late safari.  It was disappointing; we didn’t see too many animals.


Dinner was great, as usual.  After eating we walked from Africa to Asia and took a spin on Expedition Everest.  Carol giggled all the way through the ride.  She enjoyed it so much we went right back to the entry and rode it again before heading for home.  By 8:00 we were in the car heading back to camp.


Tomorrow we will probably head to the pool for the morning.  We plan to have lunch at Beaches & Cream then Carol will do some pin trading at the Yacht & Beach Club Convention Centre while I shop for a few odds and ends.  We’ll be back to the campground in time for the 5:45 golf cart parade.  The way they decorate the carts is just astounding.

 October 30, 2010


This morning we both slept in until 7:30 and once again took a slow approach to the day.  It was a treat to be able to turn off the A/C last night, open the windows and sleep in the fresh air.  It was still a bit warm and Carol had set up the fan, but it was better than the constant A/C we’ve had since we arrived here.


On the spur of the moment we decided to have breakfast at Trail’s End so we rode our bikes to the Settlement.  There was hardly anyone there so we were seated right away.  Donell was our server again; he and Ken have been working there for many years!  We chuckled at the folks from Boca Raton at the next table; they didn’t bring blankets and almost froze last night!  The mercury dipped almost all the way down to 70!  LOL


After breakfast we took Zak for a walk and let him romp a bit and then rode our bikes to the pool for a dip.  As we rode in a crowd had gathered for the annual Halloween Mummy Wrap.  Disney supplies hundreds of rolls of that wonderful toilet paper they use, and families wrap their kids in it from head to toe.  Once they are all wrapped the kids line up and at the count of three they run to the far side of the playing field and back.  What a sight!  There is “bum-wad” flying in all directions as they run!  The costumes are judged when the run is over.  I wouldn’t want to be a judge, there isn’t much TP left on the kids and the field looks like a TP bomb went off!

After our swim we jumped in the car and headed over to the Beach Club for lunch at Beaches and Cream.  As we pulled in we were regretting that big breakfast at Trail’s End.  We weren’t very hungry.  We split a burger and then I had a butterscotch sundae while Carol had a “No Way José” – it’s a ginormous concoction of chocolate syrup, peanut butter sauce, vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, chocolate chips, whipped cream and a cherry.  I got full just looking at it.  Needless to say Carol could not finish it – but she tried gallantly!

After lunch I dropped Carol off at the Yacht & Beach Convention Centre for a pin trading event.  I gassed up the car headed back to the campground.  Before I pulled into our campsite she sent a text – she was done – so I turned right around and went back to pick her up.


Back at the campground I had a shower and took Zak for a walk while Carol did some laundry over at the comfort station.  Then we relaxed a bit before the big Golf Cart Parade.

By 5:45 we had our lawn chairs all set up on Big Pine Drive and were waiting for the parade to start.  Zak had his Headless Horseman costume on for the occasion.  It is just amazing how creative people can be when they decorate the carts.  There were bats, cats, spiders and all the usual Halloween stuff but there were some distinctly Disney designs as well.  There was a Slinky Dog.

There was a pirate ship, there was a Kilimanjaro Safari Truck, a hearse pulled by an invisible horse and so many other great ideas.  But the hit of the show was Zak.  Carts in the parade were stopping to get pictures of our Headless Horsedog.


After the parade we headed over to Trail’s End where we picked up some take-out and ate it on the porch of the restaurant.  Then it was time to do some “looping”.  We had picked up a golf cart for the day and we started driving around the camping loops as soon as it was dark.  There are twice as many decorations as there were just three nights ago when we did our last tour.  Some of the displays are fantastic.  One site had hundreds of lights and inflatables and they are synchronized to flash in time with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.  This is an eerie but interesting place to be on Halloween.

We stopped for a few minutes at a gathering of people from the camping thread on the Disboards site and then continued our journey around the campground.  We finished just in time to head to the marina where we found a spot to lean on the fence for a front row view of the water parade.


It’s been a great day, and tomorrow promises to be another day of fun.  Zak is entered in the Costumed Pet Parade at 10:45 and Trick or Treating begins at 5:00 p.m.  We plan to spend the whole day at the campground tomorrow.

October 31, 2010


It’s Halloween!  Zak was so excited about the pet parade that he didn’t let us sleep past 7:30.  LOL – Zak hates costumes!  We enjoyed some quiet time early in the day, knowing that it would be chaotic later.  We sat outside and sipped coffee and savoured the atmosphere as long as we could.  I took a spin around the campground on the golf cart and when I got back we got Zak all dressed for the costumes pet parade.  We had planned to dress him up in some cute orange pajamas with a Halloween print, but he was such a hit in his headless horseman outfit at the golf cart parade the day before we decide to go with it again!  Off we went to the dog park where we met up with about a hundred other dogs and two very wary cats. 

It was very enjoyable.  So many of the costumes were imaginative and unique!


Zak didn’t win but he sure had a lot of fun!  No, I admit it, that’s a lie . . . his Momma had a lot of fun; poor Zak was mortified as usual!

Winner for best Disney character - Dumbo

Winner for best Family costume

Best in Show - Rocky

Our personal favourite!

After the dog parade we cooled down for a few minutes and then drove over to Downtown Disney for a sandwich at Earl’s.  Of course Carol had to stop at the pin store twice and then I waited on a bench while she shopped in The World of Disney Store.


We were back at Fort Wilderness by 2:00.  I caught up on my beauty rest while Carol and Zak sat outside watching the world go by.  At about 3:30 we started to set up for the trick or treaters.  The kids were scheduled to scour the camping loops for candy between 5:00 and 7:00.  Carol opened all the candy bags and dumped them into several large bowls while I set up some outdoor speakers.  During the trick or treat hours we played the soundtrack to the Hallowishes fireworks show, the Boo To You Parade and a few songs from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Carol and I donned our orange Halloween shirts and she put on her Salem witch hat, then we rigged Zak up once again as the headless horseman.  The kids arrived right on schedule at 5:00 and they hit with a vengeance!  We had over 1,000 individual pieces of candy and Carol started by handing out three to each child.  When over 50 little goblins passed through in the first 10 minutes she decided to cut back to one piece each so we would have enough candy to last until 7:00.   About 5:45 Photographer (Lisa) and Stinkerbell (Terri) arrived.  They had several hundred pieces of candy to add to the pile.  Thanks girls!

There were some terrific costumes.  There were plenty of Disney characters of course, and a few very good Harry Potters, an amazing Travelocity Garden Gnome, two strikingly good blue avatars but my favourite was the Disney monorail car.


There were a few brief gaps in trick or treaters but these were generally filled in by prowling golf carts.  We had a second look at many of the best decorated carts.

We ran out of candy at 7:30.  After sitting inside for a few minutes to cool down we all got in the car and took a ride around the campground showing Lisa and Terri some of the other decorated campsites.  Many of them are really quite impressive!  One of them has dozens of Halloween inflatables and hundreds of lights which are all synchronized to flash and raster in time with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.  You really have to see it to believe it!

We dropped the girls off in the parking lot at 8:30, they were heading to the airport to pick up another friend who was arriving tonight.


Carol and I went back, cooked up a couple of hot dogs on the grill and then rode our bikes to the Fort Wilderness beach where we enjoyed the Hallowishes fireworks show followed by the Electric Water Pageant.  What a wonderful way to end a magical day at Walt Disney World.


Tomorrow we plan to spend the morning at Blizzard Beach and then go to EPCOT later in the afternoon so we can make our way around another portion of the Food and Wine Festival.  Maybe we’ll even get to Captain EO!

November 1, 2010

Halloween is history!  Let’s get on with our vacation!  Carol was up bright and early and had already started taking down Halloween decorations when I crawled out of bed at 8:00. 


We looked at the dark grey and overcast skies and debated skipping Blizzard Beach until a sunny day came along.  In the end we decided to go so we got on the road by 10:00.

It was almost as though we had never been there before.  I think it was our first visit since 1999.  We took a few pictures as we entered the park and soon found a sandy spot between Cross Creek (the lazy river which surrounds the park) and Melt-away Bay (the wave pool). 

Our first stop was the wave pool – BRRR!  The water runs right down from the snow covered peaks and it’s cold!  We got in to about our knees and then turned toward the lazy river, hoping it would be warmer.


It was warmer, but only marginally warmer.  We each grabbed a tube and enjoyed a leisurely float around the park.  Carol was whining about the cold, so it was time to go . . . but first I had to go back to the wave pool and bob around in the surf a bit.  Then we headed toward the exit, had a shower in the bath house and drove back to Fort Wilderness .  If we get another hot sunny morning we’ll head back to the beach!

We were back at the RV by 12:15 and had a quick sandwich.  Carol continued taking down the Halloween décor while I ran off to WalMart for a few items.  By the time I got back she had most of it down.  We packed it all away, stowed it in the RV’s basement, hung s few new lights (Christmas-ish) and then rested a bit before heading off to EPCOT.

By 4:30 we had fed and walked Zak and were on the road to EPCOT.  Our first stop was Future World where we enjoyed Captain EO.  It was the first time I had ever seen it and I now understand why people still talk about it.


We walked through the Rose Garden to World Showcase where we resumed our dining expedition.  Our first stop was France where Carol again had the braised short ribs.  Then we were off to Morocco where I tried the Kefta Pocket, a pita stuffed with spiced beef and herbed vegetables.  At Australia we shared the Lamington, a chocolate covered butter cake.  Yum!  Next in line was Japan where we shared the Wafu Ribettes, spiced pork ribs - not so good.  In it US I enjoyed a dish of tomatoes, Oregon blue cheese, red onions and basil.  We ordered the Pecan Bread Pudding from the Hops and Barley booth – wow, it was great!  In Italy we shared two dishes, cheese ravioli and Tuscan meatballs, very tasty.  Our last stop was Germany where we enjoyed a sausage in a pretzel roll and some wonderful apple struedel.  We were stuffed!  In two trips we have made it two thirds of the way around the Food and Wine Festival.  We’ll have to spend another evening there later this week.

The park was surprisingly crowded.  Carol planned the day knowing that all those weekend people would have returned home.  Unfortunately they didn’t follow expectations.  On our way out of the park we stopped in Mexico to take the Gran Fiesta Tour.  The line was so long we turned right around and left.  We took a detour over to Test Track and rode it to round out our night at EPCOT.


We went to Downtown Disney where Carol picked up our tickets for the November 8th Christmas Party.  Then we went to Ghirardelli’s for an ice cream cone before heading back to Fort Wilderness .  We were both done in after a long day.

November 2, 2010

This morning we were on our way by 8:45.  I rode my scooter and Carol rode her bike to the dock at Fort Wilderness .  The boat pulled up just as we arrived and by 9:05 we were on Main Street USA.  We stopped to watch the Main Street dancers and Carol took a few more pictures of the horse.  We must have a thousand pictures of that horse!

Then we made our way to Tomorrowland to take our first ride on Space Mountain since the music was added.  It was disappointing; the music was hard to hear and had little or nothing to do with the ride.  It’s a sad effort when compared to Disneyland’s version of Space Mountain , where the music is always clear and sharp and is a perfect match for the thrills, drops and spins of the track!

After Space Mountain we took a spin around Tomorrowland on the WEDWAY People Mover.  I got a picture of the Thirst Ranger Vehicle which friend John was looking for last month!


We went from the WEDWAY to Buzz Lightyear and once again helped save the galaxy from the evil Emperor Zurg.  I don’t know how the galaxy would ever survive without us!

We walked through Toontown, sightseeing, on our way to Fantasyland.  Peter Pan was broken down for a few minutes so we rode It’s A Small World.  It looks good after the refurbishment – fresh and bright!  Peter Pan was running again so we took a flight.  This old time ride just never gets tired!

Lunch at Pecos Bills was as good as ever.  We both had cheeseburgers heaped up with goodies from the lavish fixin’s bar.  Yum!  I hung a napkin from my collar to protect my shirt.  The lady who does my laundry thanked me!


As we walked up to Pirates of the Caribbean they announced that the ride was down temporarily.  We were very disappointed so naturally we stopped for a Dole Whip to drown our sorrows.


Then we were on our way out of the park.  Carol spied a few Halloween items on sale at 50% off so she stopped to look at them.  I told her I’d meet her at the Fire Hall.  As soon as I parked there I noticed her fanny pack in the basket of my scooter.  Uh-Oh!  She’s gonna need that!  So I raced back up Main Street in the scooter.  How was I to know that my boss was racing through the store heading to the Fire Hall.  I got to the far end of the Emporium and there was no Carol – she was at the Fire Hall where there was no me!  What could I do, yup, I turned and started heading down through the store heading to the Fire Hall, I’ll head her off at the pass!  As you probably guessed, she’s now rushing up Main Street to head me off at the pass!  She spotted me through a door and came rushing in, “Halt!” she cried.  We chuckled for a few minutes and then she went to pick up her purchases.  I waited at the Fire Hall.


We were back at the RV by 2:00 and it started to rain.  It rained hard for over an hour.  We debated whether or not we should follow our plan and go to EPCOT.  It was still threatening rain.  We decided to go ahead, and we left about 5:30. 


Our mission was to finish the lands of the Food and Wine Festival.  We started at Chile where we had Shrimp Ceviche and Pastel de Choclo, a beef and corn pie.  Both were quite good.  At Argentina we tried a grilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce and boniato puree along with a roasted corn and cheese empinata.   Once again, both were nice.  Carol picked up a trio plate from the Desserts & Champagne booth.  It had Strawberry Angel Verrine, Pear Streusel Pudding Cake and Dark Chocolate Sensation.  The first two were very tasty, Carol described the chocolate dish as “blah!”


Both dishes from Brazil , grilled pork and shrimp stew, were very good.  At the Puerto Rico booth we picked chicken soup with rice and a medianoche sandwich.  While we were enjoying the Puerto Rican dishes Carol received  a text from our friend Lisa (Photographer).  She and Karen (Rosebud) were in Germany and would meet us at Puerto Rico .  They soon arrived and we visited for a few minutes.  Then we continued our trek, they came along, we were planning to ride Malestrom together once we got to Norway .

We stopped in Mexico for a Tamal de Pollo then in Poland for Pierogie and finally a pot sticker in China .  They were all great, but we were stuffed.  We could not finish the tour . . . we missed South Africa , South Korea and Singapore .  Perhaps we’ll get back another evening.


It had started to sprinkle rain as we left Puerto Rico and it gained intensity all along our route.  By the time we finished our dining tour in China it was raining heavily.  We headed to Norway and rode Malestrom with Lisa and Karen, then all four of us ducked into the new Wurther’s shop in Germany to get out of the rain.   Carol bought some caramel corn while we dried off and waited for the rain to let up.  We had both had enough rain and more than enough food, so we headed over to the boat dock to catch a ride across the lagoon.  We just missed the last boat of the evening, so we all walked back toward the park exit.


We said goodbye to Lisa and Karen at Puerto Rico .  They planned to catch a few more rides.  We headed to the exit but of course Carol had to stop for a bit at the Art of Disney Store. 


By 8:30 we were back at the motorhome and settled in for a night of TV.


No plans for tomorrow yet, we’ll wait and see what the weather brings!

November 3, 2010

We got rolling late.  By 9:30 we were pulling out for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Christmas has arrived at the Studios.  All signs of Halloween are gone and Christmas décor is everywhere.  The shops have all been re-merchandised with Christmas product.

Our first stop was Toy Story Mania.  We wore our arms out pulling on that little string.  This is a great ride, fun for all ages.  We wandered on through the streets in the backlot area, looking at the progress being made with the Osborne Lights.  We’ll be enjoying the dancing lights in just a few days.  Mulch, Sweat and Shears were playing so we stopped, watched and listened for a few minutes.  There was hardly any line at the PhotoPass stop with Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater so we stopped for a quick pic.  Then we carried in to Muppetvision 3D.  Every time I see this show I remember Carol’s father the first time he saw it – he could not stop chuckling.

We approached Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre as lunch time approached so we dropped in for lunch.  We didn’t have a reservation but we were seated almost immediately.  I had a reuben sandwich and Carol had BLT soup and onion rings.  The food was better than we remembered it!


We headed down Sunset Boulevard and visited with David Rippberger in the Animation store for a few minutes.  He is one of only six cel artists still hand-painting cels.  There was nothing there that called out “Buy Me” to Carol so we carried on.  She stopped and picked up a few things in the Villains store while I watched some streetmosphere performers right outside the shop.  As I was watching our friend Lisa (Photographer) came along so we chatted for a few minutes.  Then it was time to get back to Zak, he had been on his own at the campground long enough. 

We were back at the RV by 1:30 and had a very lazy afternoon.  We had talked about riding over to the pool but just never got around to it.  At 3:30 we were sitting out in the lawn chairs and I said, “We’d better get to the dock for the shuttle launch!”  We hopped on our bikes and stopped at Trail’s End to fill up our refillable mugs.  I wheeled into the Trading Post and asked if there was any change in the launch time.  They told me it was scrubbed for today and rescheduled for tomorrow.  Dang!


We sat in some comfy rocking chairs at the Trading Post and sipped our cokes before riding back to the campsite.

Soon it was time for our dinner at Olivias in the Old Key West Resort.  We left a bit early so we could poke around the resort.  We haven’t been to this resort before so we wanted to explore a bit.


As we pulled out of the campground we spotted a large turtle in the middle of the road.  I pulled off to the shoulder; a car behind me stopped and a Disney bus coming from the opposite direction stopped while I picked the big guy up and carried him off into the ditch.  He was about 14 inches across and must have weighed about fifteen pounds.  As we turned onto Vista Boulevard we spotted two armadillos grazing on grubs along the shoulder of the road.  It was a good day for spotting game!


We arrived at Old Key West about 5:30 and wandered around snapping a few pictures.  Then it was time to check-in at Olivia’s.  We had a terrific meal, Carol had a tasty fried chicken breast with white sauce and I had pasta with shrimp and pesto.  Yum!  We topped it off with banana bread pudding with Foster sauce and vanilla ice cream.

After dinner Carol dropped me off at the campsite and I stayed with Zak while she headed off to the Disney Character outlet and the grocery store.


By the time Carol got back it was raining so we had to scratch our plans for the pool and hot tub.  





P.S. - In case you were wondering, yes, I did wash the turtle gunk off my hands before dinner!

November 4, 2010

It was a very slow start today.  It rained all night and we slept well with the patter of the rain on the roof of the motorhome.  We both slept until about 8:00 a.m.  We left for Animal Kingdom at 10:00 a.m.   The crowds were quite light, what a treat.  We meandered to Kilimanjaro Safaris and had a great ride.  The animals were plentiful on this cool and damp morning.  It was almost as if they were posing for us.

After our safari we followed the Pangani Trail where the Lowland Gorillas were out in full force.


Our next destination was Expedition Everest.  On our way through Asia toward Everest we stopped at Yak and Yeti Counter Service for a bite of lunch.  It was great!  Then we were on to Everest.


As the ride began it started to drizzle.  By the time we were finished the ride it was raining steadily so we began our trek toward the park exit.

We were back to the motorhome by 2:00 p.m. and relaxed with Zak for a few hours.


The sun was shining at 5:00 when we left for the Magic Kingdom .  We caught the launch from Fort Wilderness to the Kingdom and headed directly to Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café for dinner.  Carol sent a text to our friends Lisa and Karen who were also at the park.  They were sitting in the rocking chairs on the veranda near the Haunted Mansion so we scooted over and rode through the mansion with them.  Then the four of us went to Pirates of the Caribbean for a ride.


Lisa and Karen went off to ride the Jungle Cruise while Carol and I went over to Main Street to watch the Electrical Parade.  The start of the parade was delayed about 10 minutes.  It started to rain again during the parade and it drizzled off and on throughout.

When the parade was over we made our way down Main Street to the Ice Cream Shop and had a cone while we waited for the Wishes fireworks show.  Wishes was also delayed by about 10 minutes and about halfway through the show the drizzle turned into a shower.  We stayed and watched the show as most people began to hurry out of the park but before long the shower turned into a downpour and we too turned and headed to the exit.  The explosions of the finale were echoing as we entered the back door at Casey’s to make our way through the Emporium and on to Town Square .  The launch had us back to the campground by 9:40, tired and wet.

November 5, 2010

I woke up freezing.  There was a frigid wind raging through the bedroom.  The storm which blew through the Orlando area yesterday dropped temperatures by about 20 degrees.  During the night my precious bride had a melt-down, got out of bed and turned the fan on high.  Within seconds of getting back in bed she was shivering . . . but of course it was too cold to get up and turn off the fan!


I was overcome by a very basic human need, no doubt brought on by the freezing gale!  As I headed toward the bathroom I saw Zak.  He was near the door, standing on his hind lags, tap dancing and holding his little wee-wee in his forepaws.  I opened the door and we both ran off into the woods.  When I really have to go, the world is my urinal!


We decided to head off to the Magic Kingdom and caught the launch to the park at about 10:00.  We wandered around Town Square taking a few pictures and then headed to Fantasyland.  We rode Peter Pan again and then carried on to Mickey’s Philharmagic.  We rounded out our rides with Snow White’s Scary Adventure and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Our next stop was Casey’s where we each had a hot dog and shared an order of natchos.  It was warming up and the park was getting quite busy so we boarded the launch and headed back to Fort Wilderness !  We were back by 2:00 and took Zak for a walk.


Zak joined Carol and I for a short nap (no fan this time) and then Carol took Zak out for a romp.


By 4:30 we were on the way again.  We arrived at EPCOT at 5:00 and rode Spaceship Earth.  Carol picked the health video again, she wanted to see herself leap out of bed again!


Our next stop was The Living Seas where we enjoyed the Finding Nemo ride and then spent a few minutes enjoying the aquariums.  We went on and sat through the Captain EO 3D show before heading off to Le Cellier for dinner.  Once again it was terrific!


We had decided over dinner that our last ride for the day would be Soarin’ but when we arrived at The Land they announced that the ride was down.  All rides in the park were down.  Yikes . . . must have been a big computer glitch!


We headed across Future World to Mouse Gear where we planned to shop for a few minutes but it was so crowded we turned right around and left.  We stopped at the Art of Disney Store where Carol bought a Jiminy Cricket figurine and then we headed directly to the parking lot.  We were back at the RV by 8:45.


A little TV and we’ll hit the hay early.  Carol has a ticket to a special sale tomorrow morning at Downtown Disney.  It begins at 5:30 a.m.  Ouch – 5:30 a.m.!


She has promised – no fan tonight!


P.S. – I lied earlier about Zak – he can’t tap dance.

November 6, 2010

She snuck out without waking me.  I opened my eyes at 7:00 a.m. and she was gone.  She left at 5:15 a.m. and the parking lot at Downtown Disney’s Marketplace was full.  She had to park at lot #2 and walk back.  The lot was full at 5:25 a.m. – are there that many Carol’s out there?


She picked up some great bargains, pins, vinylmations, Jim Shore figures, scrap booking supplies, she even bought a suitcase.  She texted me at 8:30, “Want breakfast?”  I quickly replied, “Sure.”  Within a half hour she pulled in with breakfast sandwiches from the Earl of Sandwich.  Yum!

After she showed me her treasures we walked Zak for a few minutes and then headed to Hollywood Studios.  We headed toward Toy Story Midway Mania and stopped in at One Man’s Dream, our first visit since it reopened.  It is really freshened up, with some new elements.  It's a great story about a great man.  Be sure to visit!

We carried on and rode Toy Story again and then watched the Narnia, Prince Caspian show.  It was our first time through and we enjoyed it.  It reminded me how much we enjoyed the movie.   We may have to watch it again!


We wandered through the Streets of America on our way to Pizza Planet for lunch.  After lunch we popped into Writer’s Stop where Carol picked us up a cookie for dessert.  


We headed from there to the Great Movie Ride but it was not running so we turned and went back to the American Idol Experience.  It was entertaining, quite well staged.


We headed back to the campground and spent a quiet afternoon with Zak.


We were back on the road at 5:00, on our way to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner.  We really enjoy this restaurant in the Crossroads Plaza .  We had planned to head back to the Magic Kingdom to see the Electric Parade again but at the last minute we decided to go to Disney Quest instead.

We started by hopping on a raft at the Jungle Cruise ride and soon we were shooting white water while dodging flowing lava and dinosaurs.  It was great fun.  We wandered around a few games and tried our hand, but frankly, we just didn’t understand them.  We sat in a little booth where the video had us start by standing on a dock and then later paddling a canoe.  There was some way to score points by whacking frogs with your paddles, but we didn’t figure out the system before we were devoured by a giant frog.


We moved on to what looked like a great virtual reality game, Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride.  You put a helmet over your head and the viewer shows a video of your flying carpet ride over the streets of Agrabah.  You straddle a seat and fly your carpet with a pair of handlebars.  The object is to ride your carpet over the gems you see.  The jewels help you gather points which will later help you defeat the evil Jafar.  They suggest that you work as a team when gathering jewels in order to maximize your chances of victory.  We were doing quite well, I was in the lead grabbing jewels and Carol was right behind me picking up what I missed, when she virtually barfed on her virtual carpet!


Carol has never liked Star Tours because of the virtual reality motion and the carpets are like Star Tours but way more so!  After the ride we sat for a few minutes while she collected herself, then we tried a few other games before  heading for home.  We have decided that we are both stuck in the Pac-Man generation and that perhaps Disney Quest is not for us.


We were back to Fort Wilderness by 9:00 p.m.


Tomorrow we have tickets for the 10:30 a.m. Gospel Brunch at House of Blues.  We will probably wind up at Animal Kingdom after the brunch.

November 7, 2010

We had a very lazy Sunday morning.  We took advantage of the extra hour by sleeping in until 7:30.  That’s when our neighbour pulled out his leaf blower and cleaned the fallen pine needles off his campsite.  And a good morning to you too!


We lingered over a pot of coffee and took then took some crusts of bread and headed out in search of ducks.  We went to the canal beside the playground and the doggie park – there were no ducks.  Carol took Zak into the off-leash area of the dog park while I rode my bike to the canal behind the 300 loop in search of ducks.  The cold weather must have driven them all further south; there were no ducks to be found!  By the time I got back Zak was tired of chasing his ball so we headed for home.  Along the way we noticed that Christmas is moving into Fort Wilderness in a big way!

Soon it was time to head to Downtown Disney for the Gospel Bunch.  We stopped at the Meadows and walked through the Trading Post and out back to the pond.  We tossed all of our bread from the fishing dock.  There were no ducks, but the egrets, ibis and geese nibbled at it.  The birds here must be extremely well fed because they sure acted as though they were used to a higher level of cuisine.  Waldo, the Great Blue Heron, just stood off on the shore waiting for someone to throw him a fish!


We arrived at the House of Blues at 10:25 and joined the line to be seated.  We were in the second tier of seats, conveniently located between the buffet table and a giant post which blocked our view of the stage.  I guess that’s what you get when you book last minute.


The food was very good; there was a standard breakfast buffet table with eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, biscuits, gravy, fruit, all the normal stuff.  There was a station where they custom made jambalaya – you pick the ingredients and they cook it up while you wait.  In another corner was an omelette station.  The dessert table even included a nice banana bread pudding.  It was all great except for the coffee which was so bad we sent it back.


Just as we were finishing our breakfast the show began.  It was a high-energy, high-volume affair.  The feature dancer, the woman in the white dress, looked as though she was made of rubber bands.  I don't know how she moved the way she did!  There was some traditional spiritual music mixed with many traditional pop tunes modified a bit to fit the gospel theme.  I enjoyed most of it but Carol didn’t.  Not her kind of music!  


One of those modified pop tunes was “Never Surrender” – they brought out a girl whose voice was a magnificent instrument, it needed no amplification!  But of course they did amplify it.  Oh Boy, did they amplify it!  It was high, loud and shrill.  Dogs in the next state were barking!  After the third shrieking chorus Carol had a headache which didn’t subside for a few hours.

At this point in the show dogs are howling in Georgia


Reverend Leroy could really sing!

But we didn’t surrender, we stayed until the end of the show.  I was really expecting John Belushi to appear and do hand-springs down the aisle, it was that kind of show.  The performance wrapped up at noon.  It was something we have talked about doing for several years and we’re glad we went, but it’s certainly not a do-over for us.


Carol shopped her way through West Side while I drove the car over to Planet Hollywood and waited for her.  We were back to the RV by 1:30 and had a quiet afternoon with Zak.

By 5:00 we were heading out again, this time to Hollywood Studios to see Fantasmic.  We haven’t seen this show in a few years so we’re overdue.  We were hoping to get lucky and find a table for dinner (with no reservations) before the 8:00 p.m. show.  Mama Melrose was all booked up, 50’s Prime Time was full too, so we decided to catch the 6:30 Fantasmic show and eat later.  We arrived for the show quite late and ended up sitting in the last row of the Jafar section, but we were right in front of the far left water screen and had great sight lines.  If it had been about thirty degrees warmer I would have enjoyed it more, but Carol was quite comfortable.  Except for that little fan incident a few nights ago, she hasn’t been chilly since 1998.


Fantasmic was over by 7:00 and we waited until most people had left the amphitheatre before we joined the exiting throng.  We shopped a bit down Sunset Boulevard and then Hollywood Boulevard before we left the park at about 8:00.


We went back to Sweet Tomatoes at the Crossroads Plaza for dinner.  We are real fans of this place, good food and good value.


After dinner we made one stop at Walgreens looking for Christmas Disney inflatables.  No luck!  We were back to the RV shortly after 9:00 p.m.


Tomorrow we will probably hang around the campground for the day since we are having the motorhome washed and waxed.  We have dinner reservations for ‘Ohana and tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tomorrow night!

November 8, 2010


We wasted most of the morning.  Our days are counting down and we wasted a morning!  I had arranged to have our RV washed  and waxed today and we didn’t want to leave Zak alone in the motorhome while they were powerwashing and buffing it, so we hung around.  I took the car out and gassed up, found an ATM and cashed up, picked up some milk and stuff and when I got back we took a bike ride to the horse barns.  Unfortunately there’s not much left of the petting zoo here, most of the animals have moved to the petting zoo at Rafiki’s Planet Watch in Animal Kingdom.


Disney's steam calliope 


When José had still not shown up with his detailing crew by 11:00 I called him.  Ooops, he had written us down for Wednesday.  Dang – he promised to be here first thing Tuesday so we jumped in the car and sped off to Animal Kingdom.

This is the kind of scenery we enjoy at Fort Wilderness


Our first stop at AK was Expedition Everest.  This is Carol’s favourite coaster!  We stopped at Yak & Yeti and picked up some egg rolls from the take out counter.  We are having a big dinner at ‘Ohana so a light lunch was in order.  After lunch we took a walk along the Maharajah Jungle Trek.  We have not walked these paths in several years.  It was good to see all those Asian critters again, and the setting, the ruins of Anandapur, is unique as well.

After the jungle trek we headed back to the car.  Carol stopped at Island Outfitters to check the Vinylmations, she has been desperate to find a giraffe from one of the Vinylmation sets and has had no luck.  But today she got lucky.  The cast member went and conferred with a supervisor, then opened a new box of 24, pulled out the giraffe and sold it to Carol.  She was over the moon!  It’s her new favourite!  I like the part where she rips its head off, pops on a neck-extender and then puts the head back on.  There are some sick people designing these things!

We arrived back at Fort Wilderness at 3:00 p.m.  We played with Zak and relaxed a bit.


We were back on the road at 5:00 heading to the Polynesian Resort.  As usual we had a great dinner at ‘Ohana and then caught the monorail to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  We sure are glad we had the chance to get to the Halloween Party and the Christmas Party the same year.  We haven’t been to the Christmas Party for several years so we had really been looking forward to it.


We entered the park at 6:50 and were about half way up Main Street USA when the clock struck 7:00.  That’s when the party music started and it began to snow.  That Florida snow sure looks pretty but it tastes kinda soapy!

Naturally we had to scurry over to Frontierland so Carol could line up to buy her Christmas Party pins.  I waited outside the Frontier Mercantile shop, minding my own business when suddenly I was attached by bears.  Luckily it was my old pals Wendell and Big Al!

Carol picked up all the pins she wanted and a Vinylmation Toy Soldier too.  It’s her new favourite.  (She’s a pretty fickle girl)  When she was done it was almost time for the show in the castle forecourt so we scooted over there – I scooted, Carol walked!  It’s the same old show, “Celebrate the Season”, Mickey gives Minnie a Christmas gift, but it’s full of music, dance and all the characters.  We both like the prancing horses and dancing reindeer.  Great fun!

As soon as the show was over people scrambled for a spot to watch the 8:15 parade.  We looked very briefly for a spot in Liberty Square to park for the parade but it was so crowded and busy that we opted to catch the 10:30 parade instead.  We headed over toward Fantasyland and stopped at Columbia Harbor House for a hot chocolate on the way.  Yum, a nice treat on a cool night!  We took a flight with Peter Pan and then carried on to Tomorrowland where we watched the “A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas” show on  the Rockettower Plaza Stage.  The spirited dancers were joined by Buzz Lightyear and Mike Wazowski who led us in a Christmas Carol sing-along.  Santa (played by Stitch) joined the throng for the rousing finale!

Time was approaching for Holiday Wishes, the special Christmas fireworks show so we headed for Main Street and found a spot between Casey’s and The Hub.  It was spectacular, a totally different show with plenty of red and green pyrotechnics timed to match the music and dialogue.  Of course the castle is all lit for the season too!

After Wishes we made our way to Liberty Square and found a good spot to view the second parade of the evening.  Carol picked us up some hot chocolate and cookies at Columbia Harbor House and we chatted with our neighbours while we waited for the parade.  It’s been several years since we have seen the dancing reindeer, the marching toy soldiers, the gingerbread men and all the other special characters in the Christmas parade.  What a treat.

When the parade was over people began to leave the park and the crowds down Main Street were thick, so we stopped and sat in the Crystal Palace savouring another hot chocolate while the crowd dispersed.  Then we made our way down Main Street , stopping along the way for a few PhotoPass pictures.


We got back to our campsite at 12:05.  Zak was very happy to see us.

November 9, 2010

Another wasted morning.  The crew arrived about 9:30 to wash and wax the RV.  Carol went for a bike ride to The Settlement and around a few camping loops while I hung around the campsite.  By 11:00 they had the motorhome and car washed and Carol took off for Downtown Disney for a little retail therapy.  While she was gone one of the other campers invited us to go to Disney’s Property Control.  This is where Disney sends their old fixtures and unsold merchandise for sale to cast members and local businesses.  Carol gave the invitation due consideration and in about one nanosecond said, “Yippee!”


She was back from Downtown Disney by 2:00 p.m. with no purchases.  That’s right – nothing!  We arrived at Property Control about 3:00 and spent an hour there.  There is a huge variety of product at great prices, but we didn’t buy much; just a shirt for me and a few bits of Halloween décor.  I think it’s similar to the outlet stores, the product changes often and if you are there on the right day you might find some treasures.


When we returned the guys were all finished waxing the RV and the car.  I packed a few things away and hung the bikes in the bike rack, a head-start on morning preparations.  While I was working with the bikes Carol spotted a deer which was walking through the back of our campsite.  She and Zak followed it’s progress for a few minutes until it disappeared into the brush beside the canal.


By 5:00 we had fed Zak and were in the car on the way to Hollywood Studios.  When we arrived Carol went to look for pins while I headed to Hollywood and Vine to see if we could get a table for dinner with no reservation.  No such luck, Hollywood and Vine was closed.  I went on to 50’s Prime Time Café and got lucky.  We were seated and ordering dinner within 10 minutes.


After dinner we detoured on our way to the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  We just had to take one more ride on Toy Story Midway Mania.  Then we carried on to the Streets of America for the Osborne Lights.  They were great – I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

The park closed at 8:00 and we were back to the campground by 9:00.  We spent a few more minutes packing the car and getting ready to leave tomorrow then we put on our bathing suits and headed to the hot tub.  We had a nice relaxing soak to wind up our time at Disney.


Tomorrow morning we pull out and drive 361 miles to Walterboro , SC , the first leg of our four day trip home.

November 10, 2010

What the heck was with the fireworks?  Carol and I were pooped and hit the hay at about 11:15.  I followed my normal routine . . . I have to read for at least five minutes.  Then I turn out the light and lay my head down.  Within six to ten seconds the snoring begins.  Carol, on the other hand, tosses and turns for up to a half-hour before she falls asleep.  By the time the clock turned over to midnight we were both sleeping soundly.  That’s exactly when the fireworks began.  What the hay?  It must have been some special party at the Magic Kingdom .  Carol said they seemed to go on longer than Wishes normally does . . . I don’t know, I was sleeping again!


We were up and rolling before 7:00 a.m.  After a shower, coffee and a bowl of cereal I unhooked the water, electric and cable TV connections and we pulled out at about 8:00.  We stopped just outside Disney property and gassed up.  We were pulling on to Interstate 4 by 8:40.

Traffic was heavy until we got through downtown Orlando and then it thinned out and we made better time.  All was going well until 9:35.  That’s when Carol decided to take a break from pointing out the deficiencies in my driving technique.  She undid her seat belt, stood up and headed toward the bathroom.  Almost instantly I head a moan and a muffled scream.  They were not the same moan and scream my driving normally evokes, so I asked, “Is everything OK dear?”  Suddenly she was beside me, sitting in her chair. 


“It’s a F-F-F-Frog!” she said.


I didn’t quite comprehend what she said, so I replied, “Hunh?”


“It’s a frog.  There’s a frog on the door.  You’ve got to get rid of it!  Get it out of here!”


We are doing precisely 63 miles per hour on a section of eastbound Interstate 4 with very narrow shoulders.  I said, “I’ll pull over and get it as soon as I can.”


“No, No,” she emphasized, “you have to get it now.  Pull over!  Pull over!”


So I did.  We sat on the shoulder, just barely off the highway, at a precarious angle, right wheels almost in the ditch with cars and transport trucks whizzing by and rocking the motorhome vigorously.  As Carol cowered in her chair I headed back toward the back of the swaying RV.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  There was a frog about half way up the door between the bathroom and the bedroom, clinging to the glass in the door.  He was a pretty good size, when I finally got hold of him he was quite a handful.  I pitched him out the door beside mile marker # 119.  If I was at home I would say it was a leopard frog but I don’t know what they are called in the south.  Well, that’s not 100% true, I know what Carol called it, but this is a family site!

I made it safely back into the flow of traffic and soon we turned onto I-95.  We stopped and filled up with propane at FlyingJ and got right back on the road.  As we left I-95 to take the 9A bypass around Jacksonville I noticed a big bird with a white head on the shore of a pond beside the road.  “Is that a bald eagle?” I asked.  “Yes, it is.” Carol said.  That’s not something you see every day!


By 12:15 we were in Georgia and we pulled in to the Cracker Barrel at Kingsland . . . it’s chicken pot pie day!  Yippee – we love their chicken pot pie!  What a shock, at 12:30 they were sold out of the lunch special.  Bummer.  So, after a forgettable lunch we hit the road again.  Traffic was light all afternoon.  Our next stop was Walterboro.  We pulled in at 4:00 and by 4:30 we were all set up in our campsite.


We left at 5:00 and headed to Walgreens.  Carol wanted some Christmas decorations we saw at Fort Wilderness yesterday.  What luck, they were in stock, plus more!  She stocked up!


By 6:15 we pulled in to Ruby Tuesday for dinner.  I really enjoy their salad bar.


We got back to the campground by 7:30.  I hooked the car back up and we settled in for a night of television.  Tomorrow we travel 323 miles to Wytheville VA.

November 11, 2010

We were up at 6:45 and followed out normal routine . . . well, almost normal.  Before we could pull out we had to scour the RV from top to bottom.  Carol had to be certain there were no concealed amphibians or secreted serpents!  Once she was satisfied, we were off!  We hit the highway at 8:00 a.m.


Carol wasn’t watching the roadside and the rivers looking for gators, armadillos or other critters like she usually does . . . she kept looking back at the bedroom door, every five minutes or so, all day.  Her frog detectors were set on high, just to be sure!


Traffic was light and we made good time through South Carolina and the southern portion of North Carolina .  We stopped at Rock Hill SC to gas up at 10:30 and by 12:15 we pulled off at Statesville , NC for some shopping at JR’s.  Billboards along the highway 100 miles either side of JR’s describe their inventory!  It’s a huge discount store with a wide variety of product.  We often stop to look around and occasionally we even buy something.  Today Carol picked up a couple of small items and then we had a quick sandwich in the RV.


We were back on the road by 1:30 and soon we were climbing that huge hill at Fancy Gap.  It was a great view today, clear blue skies, bright sunshine and still a bit of colour in the trees!


By 3:00 we were at the campground and settled in.  Carol did some laundry while I took a nap!  (Sounds fair doesn’t it?)


We left for dinner at 5:30.  Wytheville has one of my favourite Chinese restaurants.  The food is just great!  We keep saying that we will try somewhere else, but we keep going back again and again.  We always end up with leftovers which I can nuke for lunch the next day, and all for under $30.00


We were both tired after two days on the road, and of course Carol is still trying to recover from the trauma of yesterday’s frog encounter, so we went straight back to the campground and settled in for the night.


Tomorrow we cover 361 miles on our way to Harrisburg PA

November 12, 2010

Brrrr!  It was 33 degrees this morning.  There was frost on the ground!  Where are the chirping crickets?  Where are the singing tree frogs?  Ooops . . . I’m no longer allowed to mention frogs! I woke at 4:30 this morning with my entire posterior exposed to the elements.  Carol was wrapped up in a cocoon of blankets and I had none.  I grabbed the blankets and gave a vigorous yank – she did one complete revolution but naturally she pretended not to notice!

I think we’re heading the wrong way!  It’s getting colder, the trees are getting bare and Carol is getting bluer.  All the way down she was updating her Facebook status as we crossed into another state, it was so exciting.  Not so on the trip home, the trip is tedious, we just want to get there!


Carol dealt with the tedium by staying online with Disney Cruise Lines most of the morning.  She was checking out excursions along the itinerary for our January cruise.   


At about 10:30 we stopped at a truck stop to stretch our legs and pick up a coffee, then quickly hit the road again.  At 12:30 we stopped to fill up at a truck stop just north of Winchester VA and I had leftover Chinese food for lunch.  Carol had a hot dog from the truck stop and we got back on the road by 1:15.


Our entire route today was in the Shenandoah Valley and it is very hilly country.  If someone could figure out a way to flatten the state of Virginia it would probably be twice as big when they were finished!  Wow, there’s a lot of hills!

We pulled into our campground at Harrisburg at 3:00 and I hooked up our utilities while Carol cleaned and vacuumed the interior.  Once the connections were made I took Zak for a walk.  As I was coming back with Zak our friends John and Cathy pulled in.  We all sat in the RV visiting and talking about our upcoming cruise until 5:30 when we headed out to dinner.  We ended up at Applebee’s and enjoyed a nice meal and plenty of laughs.


Carol had noticed some signs promoting “Sweet Lights”, some Christmas lights at Hershey Park so we went back to the campground and googled the lights.  Armed with driving directions we all hopped in John’s car and off we went to Hershey.  What a great Christmas panorama.  It was a drive-thru trail, about two and a half miles long and featured hundreds of large illuminated Christmas characters, nursery rhyme characters, animals and plenty of winter scenes.  It was very enjoyable.  The only thing which would have improved it was snow . . . but we’re not ready for that yet!

We headed back to the motorhome where Carol made a pot of coffee and we sat and visited for another hour.  John enjoyed the Mickey Bar we brought north for him!   Zak got plenty of attention too, but all too soon it was time to call it a night.  John and Cathy left at 10:45; they’re staying in a nearby hotel.  I hooked the car onto the back of the RV and it was soon time to call it a night.


Tomorrow morning I will dump all the holding tanks and winterize the motorhome before we pull out of the campground.  Carol has a few shopping stops planned on our final day of travel.  We will drive 382 miles tomorrow and should be home in Kingston between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m.

November 13, 2010

We were up at about 6:45 a.m. and didn’t really rush into anything!  We savoured a few cups of coffee, browsed the web, checked our e-mail, I had a bowl of cereal, and then about 8:00 we started to get ready to pull out. 


Carol had a shower in the RV and then while she scrubbed things down a bit I started to dump all the holding tanks and go through the winterizing process.  This involves draining and flushing all the holding tanks and water lines, then running a special non-toxic anti-freeze through all the fresh water lines.  We finished the process at 8:45 and I went to the bathhouse for a shower.  (Couldn’t shower in the RV now!)


We pulled out of the campground at 9:10 and headed north.  Traffic was light and we made steady progress through the hills of Pennsylvania .


Since we got off to a late start, we didn’t stop for a leg-stretch until lunch time.  We pulled into a gas station which advertized the “Boar’s Nest Deli” and thought we’d check it out.  The restrooms were a Boar’s Nest, the deli wasn’t much better.  We decided to pass.


We stopped for a bite just north of Binghamton NY .  Quizno’s sandwiches and Dunkin Donut’s coffee were the order of the day.


We pulled off the highway again in Cicero NY , just North of Syracuse.  Carol dashed in to the Wal-Mart for a Butterball turkey while I waited in the motorhome with Zak.  Shopping was a success!  Carol came back with at 24 lb. Butterball for 98¢ a pound.  FYI for our American friends, Butterball turkeys cost about $2.49 a pound in Canada .  Savings - $36.24   Our next stop was Watertown NY to fill up the tank with gas at $3.09 a gallon.  That’s a high price compared to the $2.55 we were paying in the southern states, but it’s far better than the $4.15 we are now paying at home!


Back on the road, it was clear sailing to the border.  We cleared Canadian Customs and Immigration at 5:32 and headed west for home.  By 6:02 we were parked in front of our home and then began the onerous task of unpacking that great big beastly vacation home.  Our clothing, food and all perishables were out in no time.  The rest will wait until morning!   We’re pooped.


A few statistics about our trip:


  • We travelled 2,865 miles.  In each state or province our mileage was:

    • Ontario – 57 miles

    • New York – 368 miles

    • Pennsylvania – 490 miles

    • Maryland – 24 miles

    • West Virginia – 52 miles

    • Virginia – 571 miles

    • North Carolina – 211 miles

    • South Carolina – 472 miles

    • Georgia – 224 miles

    • Florida – 396 miles