Friday September 2, 2011


Ouch – what a frustrating way to start a trip.


It started four days ago.  Tuesday morning at 6:16 a.m. I awoke with a finger stuck in my ribs.  Her nose was mere inches from mine.  “Are we there yet?” she asked.  I have not seen her this excited about a trip in quite some time.  She is just dying to get to Florida and start playing with all her pin-head friends.


Tuesday was the day we were to pick up the RV.  It had been in the shop at the dealership getting a few minor repairs.  We had it home by noon, pulled it into the driveway and opened it up to air it out.  We packed a few things in it in the afternoon and then just sat in it for a while with the dogs.  We’re still working at getting Blue used to RV travel.  It would have been very easy to pull out Tuesday night but unfortunately we had commitments all week and we could not leave before Friday afternoon.  Dang!


 Wednesday was shampoo day.  We had the carpets in the motorhome and in a few rooms of the house steam-cleaned.  By late afternoon the carpets were dry enough that we carried out all of our clothing and hung them in the closets and filled a few drawers.  Sure would have been nice to leave Wednesday.  Dang!


Thursday we moved it out of the driveway and onto the street in front of the house.  I hooked the tow bar and bike rack on the back and hung the bikes.  Almost ready to go!  All that was left was to hitch the car to the tow bar, toss some food in the fridge and drive away!  Our friends at had started placing wagers that we would leave Thursday but alas, it was not to be.  Dang!


Friday there were a few last minute errands and appointments.  By 3:00 p.m. they were all done and we were making final preparations.  The car was hooked on, the dogs were harnessed on the couch and we pulled out at 3:08.  Skies were sunny, it was hot, humid and hazy.  After about 20 minutes on the freeway I asked Carol how the dogs were doing.  She turned to look back at the couch, smiled and said, “Blue is sound asleep.”  Good, everything was going well for us!


We pulled up to the border and I let Carol pick the line of cars we should join.  I always let her choose so that I have someone to blame.  She picked a line with six cars and one fellow on a bicycle.  Within ten minutes I was getting windburn from the cars zooming by us on both sides!  Boy did we pick the wrong line.  After about 25 minutes we finally pulled up to the booth.  The US Border Control Officer was a blonde lady.  I don’t mean to disparage other blondes, but I think this lady is the one who gives other blondes a bad name!  She didn’t seem to understand why the licence plate on our tow car said “Disney”.  This led to some very strange questions . . . “Do you own a house in the US?”  “Do you own a house in Canada”  “Have you ever lived in the US?”  “You entered the US on August 11th, where did you go?”  After about 10 minutes of friendly banter she sent us over to another building where we parked the RV and went in to find a comfortable chair.  They kept our passports and the keys to the motorhome until we answered a few more questions.


IIt was our lucky day; we entered the building right behind a busload of Mexicans who were moving to Ottawa.  This was fortunate because it kept us quite amused while we waited!  After about 15 minutes they called us up and had us fill out a declaration, the same as you do at an airport.  Then we sat some more.  There were ten or fifteen men sitting scowling at computer screens and one poor woman who seemed to be working.  When our time finally came, after 55 minutes, she was quite pleasant, asked us the same questions we normally get asked outside at the booth, stamped our form to clear us for departure and wished us a good day!  No one came aboard the RV; they didn’t even look in the door!  I still don’t understand what Blondie was thinking!  Why did she send us over there?


The border crossing cost us a needless hour but by 5:00 we were back on the road.  Next stop the Cracker Barrel at Cicero, NY.  We walked the dogs and fed them before we headed into the restaurant for dinner.  The Halloween goodies were out in the store so naturally Carol had to shop too!  By 7:15 we were back out in the RV and Carol said, “Why don’t we drive a bit further.  We could stay at the Cracker Barrel in Binghamton.”


“Yes,” I replied, “or we could go on to the Flying J at New Milford, PA, it’s only about 25 miles further.”


So that’s what we did!  By 9:15 we pulled into the Flying J and settled for the night.  Walked the dogs, played on the computer, lights out at 11:00.

Saturday September 3, 2011


We woke up at 7:00, fully rested and ready to face another day.  Yeah, right!

There is something about the ambiance of a Flying J truck-stop that I just don’t find conducive to a good night’s sleep.  The sound of big semi tractors roaring by, the beep-beep-beep as they back up and the constant hint of diesel in the air did not lull me to sleep.  I tossed and turned and flipped and flopped!  I think I got about an hour of sleep, but it was in a series of 30 second bursts scattered through the night.  Carol says she slept well . . . but of course she had to, this was her idea!

Finally at 5:22 a.m. I gave up the pretence of sleep, hobbled into the truck stop and bought a couple of coffees.  Carol gave the dogs a walk before we headed into Denny’s, attached to the truck stop, for breakfast.


After another walk for the dogs we pulled the motorhome over to the special RV fuel pumps and filled up.  We were on the road again at 7:00; bleary-eyed and drowsy but content.  At least I was, not so sure about Carol and the dogs.


The miles passed quickly and traffic was light.  Skies were overcast with low hanging cloud in many of the higher mountain areas.  It was quite pretty in spots!  We passed through a few light showers but not enough to slow down traffic.  We made two brief rest area stops for the dogs and by 11:30 we were pulling into our campground in Williamsport, MD.  Gosh it’s nice to pull in early!  Makes those two extra hours last night seem worthwhile!


Carol walked the dogs while I did the normal hook-ups and by 12:30 we were all settled.  We had a light lunch of PBJ sandwiches and by 1:30 it was nap time!  I remember looking at the clock at 2:05 and thinking, “Just another ten minutes.” And suddenly Carol poked me and said, “Better get up, it’s after 3 o’clock.”  Sure enough, it was 3:08.  I scrambled out of bed and into the shower.  Some of the paparazzi were dropping by at about 4:00 p.m. to photograph the dogs and I wanted to look my best!

Soon there was a knock at the door, our friends John and Cathy arrived.  We sat and started catching up on each other’s lives and before we knew it Deb and Linda drove up.  We sat in the motorhome sharing stories and experiences and an hour and a half flew by before we knew it.  We hopped in the cars and headed off to a nearby Outback steakhouse for dinner.  There was a 30 minute wait so we settled in at the bar and before we knew it the pager buzzed.  The half hour had zipped past in a flurry of conversation and laughter.  We were led to our table and carried on the fun over dinner.  Even after dinner was done and the table all cleared away we stayed, for at least another hour.  I don’t think any of us wanted the visit to end!  We spent five and a half hours together and there was never a lull in the conversation.  The laughter never stopped!  We finally said our good-byes at about 9:30 when Deb and Linda headed back home to the Washington DC area.  John and Cathy drove us back to the campground.  We talked and laughed a few more minutes before the yawns overtook us.  They headed back to their hotel room at Hagerstown and we were soon getting ready for bed!

What a wonderful evening.  It is so much fun to share good times with good friends!

Sunday September 4, 2011


What a difference a night makes! 


After the previous night’s marathon giggle-fest we were both exhausted and we slept like babies.  While we’re not likely to ever return to that campground, it sure was quieter than a truck stop and we both had a good night’s sleep!  I woke with a start as Blue jumped up on the bed.  Carol asked, “What time is it?” It was 6:45.  Wow, we slept in!  We were soon up and moving. 


We were on I-81 by 8:00 a.m. and continued our trek southward.  This is one of my favourite areas; I just love the scenery through the Shenandoah Valley.  Unfortunately it was hot, humid and hazy again.  The haze detracted a bit from the beauty, but it did give a distinct blue cast to the Blue Ridge Mountains which were to the east of us.  Wow, it was pretty.  Unfortunately pictures don’t do it justice.

We made two rest area stops for the dogs and one stop at Rotten Ronnie’s so the humans could have lunch.  Service at McDonalds in the US is just the same as in Canada, they screwed up the order! Carol corrected them and then when she walked all the way back to the RV she discovered the other mistake!  Oh well!  She wasn’t walking back so we ate what they gave us!

We left Interstate 81 at 1:00 and headed south on I-77.  Our entire trip to Walt Disney World is 1,405 miles and we travel almost half of it, 641 miles, on I-81.  Soon we were heading down that breathtaking hill, 7 ½ miles of steep slope as we dropped from Fancy Gap Virginia and entered North Carolina at Mount Airy.  We made a brief stop at the welcome centre so the dogs could feel welcome (and relieved) and then went directly to Statesville, NC where we pulled into the KOA Campground at about 2:45.

Starting down the 7 1/2 mile hill

Today was a shopping day and Carol had a list!  She walked the dogs while I quickly got the hook-ups done and off we went . . . Camping World for some RV supplies, JR’s for some jumbo sized jeans for yours truly, K-Mart just for the heck of it and finally the nearby Food Lion grocery store for some victuals!


On the way back to the campground Carol said, “Oh look, there’s an Outback Restaurant.”  Several years ago when the Outback chain in the USA had some financial difficulties they decided that the thing to do was to shut down the very profitable Canadian division.  All of the restaurants at home sit empty and idle.  We really miss them!  We enjoyed the Bloomin’ Onion so much last night that we decided to have another.  So we scurried back to the RV, put the groceries away and turned back to the Outback.  We shared a delicious onion and then Carol had the same meal as the previous night.  I had a cobb salad.  Yum!


By 8:30 we were back with the dogs and settled in for a quiet night of television and rest.


Tomorrow is palm tree day!  We will carry on south on I-77 then turn onto I-26 which will carry us to I-95 near the Atlantic coast in South Carolina.  We will spot our first palm trees in South Carolina before we end our day near Brunswick, Georgia.


Hooray, Hooray, tomorrow’s palm tree day!

Monday September 5, 2011


Six degrees of separation . . . it’s still working!  Last night after we got back from our dinner at Outback Carol received a text message from a fellow pin head.  Susan is a friend of ours from a suburb of Toronto.  She and her mother Allison left home early Saturday morning on their way to the pin event.  They crossed the border at Buffalo NY and followed I-90 west to Erie PA then I-79 south to I-77.  The text Carol read said, “Just stopped for the night at Statesville NC.  We’re in the Hampton Inn behind the Outback Restaurant.”  We may have passed them as we left the restaurant since we exited through the Hampton Inn parking lot.  What a small world!  We chuckled over that but we were far too tired to go visiting!


This morning Carol woke first, at 6:15 and soon we were both up getting ready to pull out.  Carol looked after the dogs and their needs while I drank coffee and had a bowl of cereal.  I went out and disconnected the hook-ups while she ran in the slides, raised the hydraulic levelling jacks and battened everything down for road travel.  We can sometimes operate like a well oiled machine, other times we trip over each other.  Today it went well!  When we were done I had a quick shower and we hit the road just before 8:00 a.m.  The Statesville KOA was nice for an overnight stay.  We may go back there!


Our first palm tree sighting came at 9:09 a.m.  I was watching the road and didn’t see it, but when Carol started all the hootin’ and hollerin’ I knew what it was.  I saw plenty of them later in the day.  It was Labour Day Monday so traffic was very light and we zoomed along.  Tropical Storm Lee was centred somewhere in Mississippi and we expected some rain and wind as a result, but there was very little of either.  Skies were overcast but weather was really not a problem.

We hit the South Carolina State line at 8:45 a.m.

At one point in the morning I turned to Carol and said, “Now that I’m shaved, showered and all sweet smelling you probably find me very attractive.  I bet you’re just aflame with passion!”  She quickly turned, pointed to a roadside sign and said, “Look, there’s a Five Guys Burger Shop in Lake Norman!”  Hmmmmm . . . I wonder what she’s trying to tell me?  I know there’s some kind of subliminal message there . . .


At about 10:30 we pulled into a rest area on I-26 to give the dogs a walk.  The dog walk area was on a knoll overlooking the freeway.  Just as the dogs finished up and we turned to head back to the RV I heard a screech of tires.  A car was sideways in the westbound lanes, tires smoking as it slid sideways through another lane of traffic, hit the grass in the median and flipped end over end.  The front and rear bumpers and the rear window all went flying in different directions and the car finally landed on all four wheels and came to a stop in the centre of the median.  Then the brake lights came on.  Perhaps a bit too late?  The driver got out first, followed by three passengers.  Luckily they all seemed shaken but unhurt.  Wow, these southern rednecks sure know how to entertain tourists!  But, of course we are in the heart of NASCAR country, so what else would you expect?

At noon we pulled into a rest area just a few miles south of Walterboro SC and I walked the dogs while Carol made us a sandwich for lunch.  Within 25 minutes we pulled back out onto I-95 to carry on southward.  Not two minutes after we left the rest area Carol received a text from Susan; it read, “Did you just pull out of the rest area?”  They pulled in as we were leaving . . . wow, what a small world.  They needed gas and so did we so we pulled off at Point South SC and met for a quick “Hello” in the Exxon station.  They stayed for lunch and we hit the road again.  Just before we pulled off at Brunswick GA that familiar little VW Rabbit with the Ontario Licence Plate “DIZNYFRK” sailed past us with a honk and a wave.  They were heading all the way through to Orlando today.  We’ll get there tomorrow afternoon.

Within a few minutes we pulled into Coastal Georgia RV Resort.  What a nice place . . . it is very new, with concrete pads, paved roads with curbs, manicured lawns and landscaping . . . it’s beautiful!  We’ll definitely be coming back here!


It was very hot and humid and the pool looked very inviting so we both put on our swimsuits.  Carol took the dogs over to the fenced “off-leash” dog park while I hooked up the RV connections and started to wash the RV and the tow car.  Suddenly the skies darkened, lightning started to flash and the rain came.  Carol came dashing back with the dogs and scrambled in to avoid the rain.  I kept on washing the vehicles . . . it’s much easier when the rinse is almost automatic! 


By the time I was done washing the rig and the car the rain had stopped and the skies were clearing so we went off for our swim.  Aaaahhh!  It felt so good! 

We lazed in the water for a while and then headed back to the campsite.  It was 5:00 and that’s dinnertime for Zak and Blue.  Carol fed them and walked them again before we hopped in the car in search of our dinner.  All the usual chains are here, Burger King, Subway, Waffle House, Denny’s etc. but we wanted something different so we just kept driving until we found it.  We followed Route 17 east and crossed a huge bridge and one of the first things we saw was Spanky’s Seafood Grill and Bar.  It looked just seedy enough to suit us so in we went.  It was terrific.  We both ordered the same thing, a combo seafood platter with grouper, shrimp and scallops.  Delicious but unfortunately neither of us could finish it.

We were bushed after another big day on the road so we headed straight back to the campground.  Of course there was a diversion on the way back.  Carol had not been shopping all day so we pulled into Harvey’s, a grocery store close to the campground.  She stocked up on a few more things for the trip and off we went.  We were back with the dogs by 8:15 and once again settled in for a quiet night of TV.


Tomorrow we plan to stop briefly in St. Augustine (retail therapy at the Disney Outlet Store) and we should be at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground by 2:00.  I’m sure the dogs will be happy when their house stops bouncing down the road!

Tuesday September 6, 2011


Carol woke up at 6:10.  “It’s Disney Day,” she said, “Let’s get moving.”


We were up in a flash (Carol flashed, it was more of a crawl for me).  We quickly packed up to go.  We were back on the Interstate by 7:30. 

By 8:00 a.m. we were at the Florida Welcome Centre hoisting a frosty orange juice and then quickly back on the road.  Skies were clear and traffic was light so we made good time. 

We took the 9A bypass around Jacksonville and enjoyed the magnificent view from the Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge.  Before long we were approaching St. Augustine.  Carol cannot drive past the Disney Character Outlet Store there so we pulled in and she shopped for a half hour.  It was a successful stop; she found some pins and a Christmas gift.

We made the big turn onto I-4 and within a half hour pulled off at a rest area.  Carol took the dogs for a walk while I pulled out the sandwich fixin’s for lunch.  It was a quick stop and we were soon back on the road, anxious to get to Fort Wilderness.


Soon all those familiar signs came into view.  Yeah!

The Security Guard at the gate welcomed us home and we pulled up to the drive-thru registration at 12:45.  Our campsite was ready; we got our second choice, site #705.  Bonus.  We unhooked the car and Carol led the way to the 700 loop and then directed me as I backed into the site.

Once we were parked it was a flurry of activity.  I hooked up the power so we could get the A/C going (it’s really hot and humid) and then did the cable, water and sewer hook-ups while Carol tended to the slide-outs and jacks.  She vacuumed the RV while I pulled stuff out of the basement hatches.  Dang . . . it’s hot out!


Carol joined my outside and we put down the outdoor carpet, set up the awning lights, the Mickey lamp, the rope-light Mickey heads and all our other décor.  This trip we have a brand new item . . . it’s a round 22” wooden Fort Wilderness sign a craftsman in South Carolina made for us.  We have it hanging on the front of the RV.  I like it!

We were moving slowly in all the heat and we didn’t finish setting up until 4:30.  Then it was time for a shower.  It was REALLY time for a shower!

Carol fed the dogs and took them for a walk before we hopped in the car and drove to Downtown Disney.  We met friends Susan and Allison at Wolfgang Pucks at 6:00 for dinner.  It was a great meal but that didn’t stop Carol and I from yawning all the way through it.  Of course, once we left the restaurant she found her second wind and we had to go to the Pin Store.  By 8:30 we were back at the campsite.  We want to be sure we are with Blue the first few nights while the Wishes fireworks show is underway.  He was quite nervous; he clung to Carol all through the show!  Good thing we were there!


Bed time came early after a hot and tiring day

Wednesday September 7, 2011


Blue woke us up when he jumped on the bed at 6:30; the rain was pitter-pattering on the roof.  We had gone to bed early and enjoyed a long rest.  We had a relaxed morning, lingering over our coffee until about 9:15.  We gave the dogs another walk and headed off to Hollywood Studios. 

As soon as we arrived I rode my trusty scooter (the PPK Chariot) over to Toy Story Midway Mania and grabbed a couple of FastPasses then rushed back to meet Carol at the Disney Studios Animation Gallery.  Carol really hoped to pick up the new 40th Anniversary cel at the Gallery.  Alas they were out of stock.  Hopefully the new stock will arrive before we head home . . . it’s just soooo expensive to ship this sort of thing to Canada.

Our next stop was back at Toy Story, the standby line was only 20 minutes long so we stepped in line.  Because of the PPK Chariot we were sent up the ramp to the handicapped loading area.  When the ride was over the folks on the other car attached to our train told the Cast Member that their guns weren’t working.  A technician quickly appeared, tinkered with something and gave the “thumbs up”.  So the folks in the other car rode again without getting off . . . and so did we. What a bonus!

We headed over to Guest Services where Carol cancelled out lunch reservation at the Plaza Restaurant.  Then we shopped our way out of the park, surprised a couple by giving them our unused FastPasses for Toy Story, and drove over to Downtown Disney for lunch at the Earl of Sandwich.  It has become a bit of a tradition that we have lunch at Earl’s the day we arrive at Fort Wilderness, but we didn’t make it on Tuesday and we really missed it!  So we made up for it today . . . Yum!  Of course Carol had to walk through the Pin Station and check out all the lanyards while we were at Downtown Disney; then we headed back to the campground for a sleepy afternoon with the dogs.


After a relaxing afternoon (that means a long nap) we walked and fed the dogs then drove over to the Boardwalk where the Canadian contingent gathered for dinner at the Big River Grill.  Our friends Bob, Juanita, Joaquin, Gabe, Susan and Allison, all from the Toronto area, were there with us.  We enjoyed spending time with our friends and also had a terrific meal. 

Gary, Carol, Susan, Joaquin, Juanita, Bob, Allison, Gabe

 It was my first time at Big River.  It’s a brew-pub and after I had ordered my second pint of their wonderful brown ale Bob surprised me by ordering their sampler package for me.  It was comprised of six small glasses, one of each of their brews.  Carol drove home!  But all six of their brews were good!  Once they had me all liquored-up they took me out to try on funny hats!

Soon we said our goodbyes and Susan and Allison followed us to the campground for a cup of tea.  This was really only an excuse, the real reason for the visit was to give Carol and Susan time to plan their strategy for the pin event.  They reviewed their pin “wants lists” and worked out a plan to help each other get everything they were looking for!  Somehow they always seem to be able to work together to get everything on their lists!


Susan and Allison left about 9:00 and we relaxed for the rest of the evening.  Tomorrow will start early; Carol is signed up for a special Disney Design Group Artist Breakfast presented by CJDPT and Travel Dreams. I will drop her off at the Boardwalk for 8:30.

Thursday September 8, 2011


Carol was excited about the breakfast meet with the Disney artists.  She was up at 6:10 and rarin’ to go!  I crawled out of bed about 10 minutes later and we lounged over a pot of coffee.  She fed and walked the dogs while I had a bowl of cereal and then it was time head off to the Boardwalk where I dropped her off.  She had an amazing spread of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pastries, omelettes, juices . . . and all I had was a crumby bowl of raisin bran!  Aaargh!

Carol writes: 

The special DDG Artist breakfast was presented by CJDPT and Travel Dreams.  In addition to a wonderful breakfast we were treated to an hour of open discussion with three of the most talented Disney artists. There were only about twenty five of us in attendance so the format allowed for an up close and personal conversation with Alex Maher, Monty Maldovan and Quynh Kimball.  Before it was time for these fellows to leave and get back to their work they surprised us with about a dozen original pin sketches that they had brought to be raffled off.  We had each been given a ticket at the beginning of the breakfast and I had thought it would be for a door prize.  I was even more surprised when I had one of the winning tickets and came home with a sketch of Orange Bird drawn by Alex Maher.

John Rick introduces the artists

Carol won an Orange Bird sketch by Alex Maher

After dropping Carol off at 8:30 I gassed up at Hess and headed back to the Fort.  I washed the car and pumped up the bicycle tires, walked the dogs and then loafed until she returned.  Susan and Allison drove her back and we enjoyed a cold drink before hopping in the cars and heading to the Coronado Springs Conference Centre to register for the pin event and pick up our goodies!  Carol was tickled pink that she managed to get everything on her RSP (Random Selection Process) list.  It’s like a lottery, they ask for your first, second and third choices and then try to allocate the pins as fairly as possible. 

We entered the line at 12:15 and after about an hour and a quarter we approached the registration desk where Jeb the cast member greeted us.  He checked our photo ID’s and then went to the back room to retrieve our bags of pins and vinylmations.  They check each item off the order list and then have you sign to acknowledge that you have received everything.  It’s quite a detailed process.  Then we adjourned to the trading room next door.

The line was long but it moved fairly quickly

The trading room

The trading area was huge, row after row of tables and chairs.  We sat with a group of people Carol has gotten to know quite well from her twice a year trips to New Jersey for the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders weekend events.  First things first . . . everyone opens up their new pins and admires them.  There is plenty of ooohing and aaahing!  Sometimes there is a little disappointment when the packages of Mystery Pins are opened.  That was the case with Carol; she didn’t get the mystery pins she really wanted . . . but hey, that’s what the trading room is for!  Soon everyone pins their traders onto their lanyards, opens up their books, baskets and suitcases full of “trader pins” and the trading action starts.

My official duties were over, I’m registered for the Vinylmation Event on Sunday but not for the Pin Event which takes place Friday and Saturday.  So I packed Carol’s brand new treasures in the car and headed back to the campground at about 3:15.  I walked Zak and Blue and then we all had a nice relaxing nap! 


Later I took a short bicycle ride to test the poopy knee and see how it stood up to the challenge.  So far, so good.  By 6:00 I was starting to think about going somewhere to find something for dinner so I took the dogs out for another walk before I left.  This was when Blue saw his first horse.  We were about halfway to the other end of the 700 loop of campsites when I heard the clip clop of hooves on the pavement.  It was the horse-drawn carriage taking a couple on a tour of the campground.  I shortened up Blue’s lead and stood with him along the side of the road.  He heard the hooves too and darted behind my legs where he let out a low growl.  As it passed he did a lot of sniffing and then once it was by us he tugged on the lead, wanting to follow it.  We turned and went back to the RV.  Blue has had a few “firsts” this trip but I think the horse was the biggest yet!


We had no sooner gotten back when my phone chirped.  It was a text from Carol, “If you aren’t doing anything, can you bring over my bag of Vinylmation traders?”  Of course, I knew that she really meant “Drop everything and get them over here now!”  So I did!  The main parking lot was still full so I headed over to the loading dock area, close to the side door.  As I pulled in I got her next text, “You just drove by me.”  I wheeled around and pulled back up to the main door where she was waiting.  I handed the bag through the window and she scurried off to resume trading.  I headed to Downtown Disney and had dinner.  A BLT at Earl’s – yum!


Another text from Carol came at about 8:30, “Come get me, I’m through!” so off I went again.  She was pretty excited with the trades she had made!  We were back to the RV by 9:10 and were surprised to find a bottle of wine and a note on the steps to the motorhome.  Our friends Karin and Tom, from Austria had dropped over to say Hi while we were gone.  Dang!


Carol admired her trades for a while and then it was early to bed.  She has an early entry opportunity tomorrow.  I’ll drop her off at EPCOT at 7:30 a.m.  A small group will have breakfast at the event and then she can hit the trading boards for an hour and a half before the doors open and the big crowd rushes in.  She wants to be well rested so she’s at her trading peak!

Friday September 9, 2011


The alarm blasted us awake at 6:30.  Ouch!  Carol hit the ground running and soon we were on the way.  On our way out of the campground, near where the horse trail crosses the road we saw a large cat bound across the road in front of us.  It was very big and had a short tail; we think it was a bobcat.  We’ve seen plenty of deer and smaller critters here, but this was the first big cat!  I dropped Carol off at EPCOT at 7:30 and headed back to the RV.  After another coffee and a shower I rode my bike over to Trail’s End for breakfast.

I took a leisurely ride around several camping loops and headed back to the campsite.  Just as I was preparing to load the dogs in the car and head off to the “off-leash” dog park a car pulled up.  It was Karin and Tom who we missed the night before.  They came in and we visited for an hour or so.  They have just finished three back-to-back Disney Cruises and are flying home tomorrow!  Karin jokingly said that they blame Carol for their addiction to cruising.  She gave them plenty of tips before their first cruise and now they are hooked!  They have three more booked already!

After they got away I loaded up Zak and Blue and drove over to the 300 loop.  It’s a short walk from there to “Waggin’ Tails”, the dog park.  We had the place all to ourselves for the first 15 minutes or so.  Zak chased the ball a few times and then had to sniff the entire perimeter of the park catching up on all the doggie news.  Blue chased the ball again and again until he was huffing and puffing like Zak.  Then some playmates showed up for Blue.  He had a great time running and romping with Spot and Gizmo.  Zak found a shady spot under a picnic table and had a nap while the younger dogs ran and played.  Zak and I think a lot alike!


Soon the heat was getting to me and Blue was starting to wind down so we headed back home to the air-conditioned comfort of the RV.


At 1:30 I met up with a friend who took me to “Property Control”.  That’s the place where Disney sells a lot of their end-of-line merchandise, store fixtures, old decorations, etc.  Carol wanted me to bring back anything I thought she might like!  Wow . . . that’s a huge responsibility.  Naturally I blew it!  I bought about a hundred dollars worth of stuff for forty dollars and she liked six buck’s worth!  It’s her fault though . . . men should never be trusted with important jobs such as shopping!

I had just laid down for a well earned nap when I heard a clap of thunder.  That was my cue to get the dogs out for a pee as soon as possible.  By the time they got the job done and I rolled up the car windows the rain started.  The sky was flashing and the thunder was rolling but it was a gentle rain so I sat in a lawn chair under the RV’s awning with the two dogs by my side.  Within a few minutes the rain was blowing in sheets and Blue was shivering in fear so we moved inside to “ride out” the storm.  I fed them dinner which they ate nervously.  As they were finishing dinner I got a text from Carol, “Pin trading tonight at Port Orleans Riverside, want to join me there for dinner?”  I replied, “Dogs are nervous in the storm, I’ll meet you there when it passes.”  By 6:00 p.m. the rain was over and the skies were brightening so I gave Zak and Blue a walk and then hustled off in the car.  I picked her up in the EPCOT parking lot at 6:30 and off we sped to Riverside.  They have a great little food court area there and we each had a pasta dish for dinner.  Then the trading started in the food court eating area.  Carol and Susan spent the first half hour looking at the pins they had traded for that day and gloating at their success.  Once that ritual was complete they both wandered off to do some more trading.  I sat in the corner with my book and enjoyed some quiet time amid all the hubbub.


I was shocked when Carol came back at 8:45 and said, “That’s it, I’m tired, I’m hot and I’m ready to go.”  By 9:15 we were in the motorhome where the dogs gave her a very warm welcome.


I asked her to write a bit about her day and she growled, “I really don’t have time right now.  I have another busy day tomorrow and I have to be prepared . . . so stop bugging me about your stooopid trip report.” 


So you will have to be happy with my paraphrasing of what she told me in the car on the way home.  She can correct my errors straighten out my lies tomorrow.  The day started off poorly, they were not very organized at check-in and entry took longer than it should have.  The hot breakfast consisted of two hot dishes, 1) biscuits and gravy 2) grits.  Since she’s not from Alabama neither was too appealing.  The selection of pastries, etc. was very limited.  The lines at the trading boards were very long; she only made it through the lines to three of the boards during the 90 minute “early entry” period.  She paid $40.00 for the Breakfast/Early Entry option and was very disappointed with the result.  She won’t be doing that again. She did get a nice pin though.


As for the event itself, she was quite pleased.  The décor was interesting, they had a very nice selection of special pins for release at the event and she was able to find all the pins she was looking for either at the trading boards or in the trading room.

Lined up for the 8:00 a.m. early entry


World Showplace - between Canada and Great Britain

The Orange Bird is in almost every display!


Some unique decor

One of the lots to be auctioned


In the trading room

The Haunted Mansion

Orange Bird on the submarine

Trading at Riverside


Trading at Riverside


Tomorrow she is leaving her pin bags in the RV and lightening her load, she plans to just stand in line for the pin trading boards and try to find some special limited editions.

Once again we tottered off to bed early!

Saturday September 10, 2011


There was no alarm clock set today so Blue woke us at 7:00 a.m.  We spent a leisurely couple of hours with the dogs before hopping in the car.  I dropped Carol off at EPCOT at 9:00 and headed back to the dogs.  On my way back into the campground I stopped at the Meadows Trading Post and bought my Christmas present from Carol.  I can’t tell you what it is because I want to be surprised on Christmas morning!


Back at the campsite I loaded Zak and Blue into the car and drove over to the doggie park.  Spot and Gizmo weren’t there; we had the place all to ourselves.  Zak and Blue were giving me dirty looks because I had forgotten to bring their tennis balls.  Ooops!  There had been a few balls lying around in the park the day before and while we were looking for them about a half dozen other dogs showed up.  Now they had someone to play with so they quickly forgot about my faux pas!  Zak sniffed for a while and then curled up in the shade but Blue romped and played for about 45 minutes.  When he’d had enough he walked over to the gate and stood there puffing and staring at me.  It was time to go!


I dropped them off at the RV and went for a bike ride around several camping loops.  It was warming up and I was hot so I went back, changed into my trunks and rode the bike to the pool.  I spent an hour moving between the pool and the hot tub . . . aaahhhh!  This is a good life!


By 12:30 I was back at the campsite and made a PBJ sandwich for lunch.  I walked the dogs again and then settled down in a lawn chair with my book.  Before long the sandman was beating away at me so I went inside and had a nap . . . then read some more.  It was a glorious afternoon.  A gloriously wasted afternoon!


By 5:00 the dogs were reminding me that it was their dinner time so I fed them and then took them off for another walk.  As we approached the rail fence at the entry to the dog walk, behind the 800 loop and directly across from our campsite, a deer bounded across in front of us and disappeared into the brush.  Blue was startled and shied back at first but once it was out of sight he strained at the lead to follow it and he barked and barked.  I had a hard time quieting him down!


Soon Carol texted, she had hitched a ride with Susan and Allison and they were leaving EPCOT for Downtown Disney.  I drove over and met them there.  We had a nice dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express and then explored the Art of Disney Store.  Carol found the gift she wanted from me for Christmas so she bought it.  By now you know the rules; I can’t tell you what it is because I want her to be surprised Christmas morning.  I ran the gift out to the car while they explored some more shops and then I headed to the Lego Store where we had agreed to meet.  The place was crazy-busy.  There was hardly room to manoeuvre my scooter on the sidewalks in the hordes of people.  I managed to take a few pictures before I gave up and parked the scooter off to the side where I could read my book. 

Before 9:00 p.m. Carol appeared and said something I never expected to hear.  Ever!  At any time in my life!  She said, “It’s just too busy; I can’t shop, it’s too crowded.  Let’s go!”  She didn’t have to ask me twice – ZOOM – we were gone.


Back at the motorhome I once again asked her to write a bit about her day and she once again growled, “I really don’t have time right now.  I have another busy day tomorrow and I have to be prepared . . . so stop bugging me about your stooopid trip report.” 


So for the second time you will have to be happy with my paraphrasing of what she told me in the car on the way home.  She can correct my errors straighten out my lies tomorrow, or the next day, or the next.  When she got to EPCOT at 9:00, a half hour before the doors were to open, the line for the pin event was already stretched back all the way through Canada and into the Rose Garden.  Ouch.  Once the doors opened she spent all day lined up for the pin trading boards. 

Tony sniffed all the incoming pin bags

Once again, a huge line

Some pin celebrities!

A display of pins from Hong Kong Disneyland

The Disney Design Group artists

Next year's pin event theme


The pin boards are large cork boards on easels.  Each one has hundreds of pins and people line up for the opportunity to spend one minute scanning the board before they trade for two pins from the board.  The boards contain some very good pins and the cast members “refresh” them with more good pins regularly throughout the day. 


Carol’s day was good and bad.  The bad thing was that she just couldn’t spot the pins she wanted easily.  Normally she can pick them out quickly - with the eye of an eagle!  Today her eyes weren’t that sharp.  The good thing was that after all was said and done she ended up with a bag full of some very good pins.  She was pleased with the results.  She took a short lunch break, a take-out chicken sandwich from the Refreshment Station near the Rose Garden but the rest of her day, from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., was spent in the lines.  It truly is a terrible affliction she has!


Tomorrow I’ll be joining her at the Vinylmations event.  I’ll be standing in those lines (I’ll actually sit on my scooter) from 9:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  Yippee!!

Sunday September 11, 2011


Once again Blue woke us up when he heard the coffee pot start!  We were up before 7:00 and had a quiet start to the day but we were on the road by 8:30.


This was Vinylmation Day.  We arrived at the EPCOT fountain just as the ten second countdown began and then the rope dropped.  Carol took a leisurely walk back to World Showplace while I rushed ahead at full speed on my scooter.  People with huge backpacks full of pins and vinylmations were running past me as though I was standing still.  At 9:00 a.m. it was over 85 degrees with steamy humidity and people were running as fast as they could while dragging huge suitcases or carrying tote bins full of trade-ables.  These people are insane!

It was so hot out that they opened the doors to World Showplace at 9:15 so we could find shade and cooler temperatures.  The Vinylmation session was a separate event, with separate ticketing and registration.  Last year was the first Vinylmation event and Carol really enjoyed it.  There were only about 300 people in attendance.  This year was a different story.  Even though we were there at rope drop and ended up near the front of the line, over 100 people had entered the hall before we did.  I would estimate the crowd at close to 1000 people.

The trading tables did not open until 9:30 so I wandered around for a few minutes taking pictures.  The theme centered around the park as it was when it opened in 1971, the original rides and resorts were portrayed in the decor!

Then the boxes came out and the trading started.  I spent from 9:30 to 1:15 in line.  There were no potty breaks, no coffee breaks, no breaks of any kind.  Carol is a harsh boss! 


Let me tell you about the trading tables.  At the head of every line are two boxes on the table.  One is open and you can see the contents (24 vinylmations) and select what you like.  The other one is closed.  You pick a number from 1 to 15 and the cast member hands you whatever is in that compartment within the box.  When you trade, the item you give them goes into the box.  They “refresh: the boxes with good items about every 30 minutes so the objective is to be very close to the front of the line when the refresh occurs.  Within just a few minutes the boxes are full of crap fecal matter.


So that’s how my day went, get in line, read my book as I scoot forward, get to the table and trade two crap items for two different crap items, return to the end of the line and start the process over again.  What fun!  I did manage to finish that book and I also got one very good Vinylmation, the Orange Bird chaser for Carol.  The Orange Bird was released at the event and was highly desirable.  You could trade it for almost anything you wanted.  Within minutes of the event opening Orange Bird was selling for $100 on eBay.


By 1:00 p.m. Carol, who also spent the entire day in lines, had had enough, she headed off to the trading room and made a few quick swaps before we headed back to Fort Wilderness at 1:15.  Carol was quite happy with the results at the end of the day.  She had quite a few really good vinylmations, and even a few good pin trades!


It was hot, hot, hot out!  Back at the motorhome we were surprised to find a golf cart.  A kind-hearted friend decided we needed one, so we have a loaner for a few days!  Bonus!  We took the dogs out for a nature break and then had a quick sandwich for lunch.  Napping ensued.


About 4:00 we loaded the dogs in the cart and took them off to the doggie park.  Blue just wasn’t too sure about this new contraption.  He shivered and shook at first but later settled a bit.  He wasn’t relaxed, just not quite so nervous.  Zak curled up on the seat and had a nap.  He’s a veteran traveller!  Our stay at the dog park was brief . . . it was too hot for us and too hot for the dogs!  Just as we got back to the RV and were feeding the dogs Carol got a text from Susan.  They were at the Magic Kingdom.  After the dogs were fed and walked we headed to the Fort Wilderness dock and boarded a boat to the Magic Kingdom to join them.  First stop – Pecos Bill’s for burgers!  Love the fixin’s bar there . . . but those whole wheat buns they’ve switched to are just too dry.  Hope they switch back to regular old highly processed white buns soon!


We left Pecos Bill’s and naturally Carol had to stop at Frontier Mercantile to look at pins.  Susan and Allison were there and soon Donald, Aimee and Dom appeared.  We all trooped over to the Haunted Mansion for our first glimpse of the new queue area.  It’s very well done; there is plenty of interactive stuff to keep you amused while you wait.  At the end of the ride the whole “hitchhiking ghosts” illusion has changed.  Ezra sat on top of our Doom Buggy and stretched our heads way out of shape.  Fortunately they snapped back into place!  The improvements are great!  We strolled over to PhilharMagic and sat through a show.  Disney does a great job on 3D movies and this is the newest one at Walt Disney World.


After PhilharMagic we stood outside deciding where to go next.  No one had any strong preference so the decision took quite a while.  We stood in the heat debating our next stop and finally someone, I think it was Allison, said, “let’s go to Pirates of the Caribbean, it’ll be cool there.”  So off we went . . . and it was cooler!  After Pirates we said our goodbyes and headed toward home.  We looked quickly at the ice cream shop but the line was so long we passed by, exited the park and caught the boat back to the campground.


The Wishes fireworks show was just starting as we returned so we sat through all the booming with Blue and then hopped in the golf cart and headed to the pool.  We enjoyed the pool and the hot tub; we soaked away the aches and pains of the day before heading back for a long night’s sleep.

Monday September 12, 2011


Nothing happened today!


Well . . . that’s not entirely true, but very little happened today!  After four very busy days Carol seemed to be operating at about half speed.  We had a very relaxing day which didn’t get started until Blue launched himself onto the bed at 7:20.  His breakfast was late!  Carol fed the dogs but I had to get my own breakfast, whimper, moan, sigh, whine!


I did a few light chores around the RV and then rode the golf cart out to the Outpost Office to pick up a list of local RV repair businesses.  One of the two Air Conditioning units on the roof of the motorhome has quit cooling.  I called to arrange a service call.


We loaded the dogs into the golf cart and went to the doggie park for a short romp.  It was already steamy hot at 9:45 and Blue was tired and thirsty within 20 minutes.  Zak was tired and thirsty within 20 seconds.  The good news is Blue seems to be getting more comfortable in the golf cart.  He shivered and shook at a reduced frequency today.


Just minutes after we got back to the campsite Norbert from Master RV Repairs pulled up.  He replaced a relay and a capacitor and had the A/C unit running again within a half hour.  We feel much more secure about leaving the dogs in this heat with two functioning A/C units.  If one fails the other will still keep the RV cool!


I loafed with the dogs while Carol hopped in the golf cart and went off shopping . . . just because she could!  She went to both the Settlement Trading Post and the Meadows Trading Post to check out their wares.  She brought back a fun little Halloween decoration, a light-up Mickey figurine, Mickey is dressed as a ghost.

When she got back it was lunch time so we hopped in the car and drove to the Beach Club Resort.  It has been a while since we ate at Beaches and Cream and Carol has been craving ice cream since we arrived.  She had the hot dog with onion rings and I had a burger with fries.  Then she ordered the “No Way José” Sundae.  She had them cut it back to two scoops of ice cream.  It was one scoop of vanilla, one scoop of chocolate, covered with hot fudge sauce, peanut butter sauce, peanut butter chips, whipped cream and a cherry.  I had two scoops of vanilla with caramel sauce, peanut butter sauce and a cherry.  That should cure her hankerin’ for ice cream for a while.

The family at the table next to us ordered a Kitchen Sink.  It's a huge sundae, a little bit of everything on the menu, and it's served in a kitchen sink.  They were almost finished it when we left!

On our way back to the campground we made a few shopping stops, first at Walgreen’s where she came out empty-handed and then at Publix where she bought a few groceries.


By 3:00 we were back home and the dogs persuaded us to lay down for a nap.  It wasn’t a hard sell!  By 5:00 p.m. the dogs were fed and walked and we were in the car on our way to EPCOT.  We hooked up with Susan and Allison at the Electric Umbrella and headed of to The Land where we rode Living with the Land and then Soarin’. 

As we were exiting Soarin’ the people who were taking our seats for the next flight said, “Oh, Hi Carol and Gary!”  It was Snickerdoodlesmommy and her son Nicholas.  They have moved from Kissimmee to Dallas but they seem to be here at WDW a lot.  We met and chatted for a few minutes at the exit to Soarin’ then carried on to China for dinner.

By the time we were done eating we decided to skip Illuminations and head toward the exit.  Carol wanted to shop (of course) at Mouse Gear and beat the crowd out of the park.  The Fort Wilderness pool was beckoning! 


We got back to the campsite just after Wishes ended and Blue was sure happy to see us!  Before long we were in the golf cart and headed to the pool.  We had a relaxing soak in the pool, the hot tub, then the pool again.  At 10:30 we headed back to the dogs, followed by bed.  Snore!

Tuesday September 13, 2011


No chance to sleep in today!  Blue thudded onto the bed at 6:45 and that was it.  As usual we had coffee and fed the dogs but this morning we took them to the doggie park bright and early.  There were no other dogs there but Blue chased the ball and burned up a lot of energy before it got too hot.  The only downside was the long grass and the heavy dew.  We ended up with two wet dogs and four wet shoes!

By 8:30 we were in the car and on the road to Hollywood Studios.  When we left Susan and Allison the previous night they were on the way to Studios.  They noticed the Animation Cel Carol has been trying to buy.  It was out of stock but someone had returned one!  Susan arranged for them to put it aside for us so there was a huge rush for us to get there before it disappeared again!  We entered the park at 9:03 and Carol went straight to the Animation Gallery Store while I scooted over to Toy Story Mania for a pair of FastPasses.  When I got back to Animation, there was Carol admiring her new cel!   Thanks Susan . . . now I’m going to have to rearrange the other fourteen cels to get this new one in the “perfect” spot!  Carol paid for the cel but we left it in the store to pick up later; we wanted to ride some attractions!

Our first stop was Toy Story, we once again wounded our arms breaking plates, bursting balloons and tossing rings.  It really is a great game!  Then we headed toward Tower of Terror but, of course, we had to shop our way along Sunset Boulevard.  My precious bride has been thinking for the past year about a 40th Anniversary Dooney & Bourke purse.  She finally found one with Pluto in the fabric pattern on the front.  They are expensive so it took her a while to fully rationalize the purchase.  Using her Premiere Annual Pass for a 20% discount and then applying all of her accumulated gift cards she was able to pick up a $165.00 purse with a cash out-lay of $0.58 – that’s right, a mere fifty eight cents!  I’m interested to see if those guys collecting custom duties at the border agree with her logic that it only cost fifty eight cents!


Our next stop was Rockin’ Roller Coaster where she sat admiring her new purse while I rode the coaster.  Then we headed to Tower of Terror where we rode together.  Yikes . . . what a sinking sensation!

By shortly after 11:00 we were heading out of the park.  I scooted ahead to the Animation Store and picked up her cel while she shopped her way down Hollywood Boulevard.  We met at Oscar’s Garage and headed out to the car.


We roamed around the lobby at the Polynesian Resort and took some pictures while we waited for our 12:00 lunch reservation at Kona Café.  Carol had the chicken wings and I had the Tonga Toast.  Yummy!

We were back to the campsite by 1:30.  Carol did some laundry and I kept the dogs out of her way by napping with them.  When I got up she took the dogs for a nap.  It was that kind of afternoon, it was very hot out and we just didn’t want to be out there.  We conserved our energy for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party which we were attending later in the day.

By 5:00 we were on the road again.  Actually we went by boat . . . to the Magic Kingdom for MNSSHP.  The Halloween Party is our favourite!  The parade is so much fun and the special Hallo-Wishes version of the fireworks show is amazing!  We entered the park at 5:30 and picked up our party wristbands.  Then we headed to Columbia Harbor House for dinner.  Ooops – it closed at 5:00 p.m.  Dang!  We carried on to Pinocchio’s Village Haus and had dinner there.  I can’t remember when Carol and I last ate there, it’s been at least ten years.  I had pizza and Carol had chicken parmesan.  Both were good.

From Pinocchio Haus we went directly across the street to Peter Pan and took a flight over London.  Then it was time to head to Frontier Mercantile to meet our friend Gabe and line up for the special Halloween Party pins which went on sale at 7:00 p.m. 

While Carol and Gabe were waiting for pins I wandered a bit and took some pictures.  There were some very elaborate costumes!  Even the Dapper Dans were decked out for the event!

After they had picked up their event pins we walked over to the Haunted Mansion.  At a Halloween Party you just have to ride with the 999 happy haunts!  We went through a few trick-or-treat lines and headed toward Liberty Square where we found a good spot to watch the 8:15 parade.  The Halloween Parade is spectacular.  The normal Disney characters are all in Halloween costumes and we really enjoy seeing characters you don’t see in other parades, like the dancing grave-diggers who make sparks on the pavement when they spin with their shovels.

After the parade we wandered through a few more trick-or-treat lines (Carol is a master at extracting extra candy from the cast members) on our way to FantasyLand.  Most of Fantasyland is closed for construction and part of it was roped off as they got ready for the fireworks so we had to duck in through the exit line to catch a ride on Snow White’s Scary Adventure.  Then we wandered over toward Main Street to find a prime spot to see the special “Hallo-Wishes” version of the fireworks show.  Naturally we had to make a few trick-or-treat stops along the way!


The special fireworks show is amazing, with a catchy soundtrack of spooky music featuring all the Disney villains, all co-ordinated with colourful pyrotechnic effects.  It really is breathtaking!

After the fireworks we said goodbye to Gabe and headed toward the exit.  We caught the boat back to the campground.  The dogs had now been alone for quite a while and Blue had been alone for the fireworks for the first time.  They sure were glad to see us when we pulled in at about 10:15.


Our plans for a late night swim were a wash-out as fatigue overtook us soon after we got back!

Wednesday September 14, 2011


Blue let us sleep in today.  He vaulted onto the bed and landed between us at 7:20.  We had a relaxed morning and at about 9:30 we were in the car heading toward Typhoon Lagoon. 

We arrived just as they opened and found a nice sheltered spot on the beach with a thatched palapa umbrella to keep us cool.  It was already hot so we waded into the wave pool and got tossed around for a while by the giant wall of water in the lagoon.  They produce six foot waves in the lagoon and people actually body surf.  Not people who are built like me of course, but little stick-people can catch a wave!


We spent a bit of time under the palapa and then took a leisurely bob around the Lazy River.  Then it was time for another rest . . . it was that kind of day!  Carol decided that she needed a funnel cake for breakfast.  Funnel cakes are nice when you eat them beside the pool.  We made our way over to Crushin’ Gusher for a ride on the Water-Coaster and to rinse off the funnel cake sugar.  I expected that they might remember us from the “Great Gusher Spouse-Launch” of 2009 but no one recognized us!  Phew!  Carol took one plunge and I took two before we headed back to the beach.  Lunch was a quick hot dog on the beach and once we dried it was time to leave.


Statue made entirely of Lego blocks

We made it back to the dogs by 12:30.  After showering off the chlorine we took the boys over to the doggie park.  Blue has become quite comfortable in the golf cart.  He laid quite calmly on the front seat beside me and checked out the scenery.  About 20 minutes of romping was enough for him; his tongue was dragging!


At about 1:30 we headed to Downtown Disney where Carol shopped her way through the Lego Store and the World of Disney.  She came out almost empty handed – one little $6.00 toy from Lego.

Statue made entirely of Lego blocks

Buzz is made entirely of Lego blocks - Carol is not!

This family is made entirely of Lego blocks

Scott and Judy - this one is for you!

Back at the campground we had a nap – the dogs insisted!


By 5:15 the dogs were fed and walked and we hopped in the car to head to the Old Key West resort for dinner at Olivia’s.  Susan and Allison met us there.  The food was good but the atmosphere was lousy.  The restaurant was full of babies and they were having a scream-a-thon!  There were random piercing screams every five seconds or so and the parents seemed oblivious!  I was tempted to go slap the parents.  We won’t be rushing back to Olivia’s!

Susan and Allison followed us back to the campsite.  We had a cup of tea in the motorhome and yakked a while before we hopped on the golf cart and went to the dock to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks.  By 9:15 Wishes was done . . . and so was Allison.  She was beat!  They are leaving for home tomorrow so they left early to rest up for the two long driving days ahead of them.


We settled in for a quiet night of TV.

Thursday September 15, 2011


There was some sort of chain saw emergency at 6:00 a.m.  I remember hearing it in a semi-wakened state and hoping it was a Texas chain saw gang chasing down screaming children over at Old Key West.  Then I fell back to sleep.  Carol later told me it lasted about a half hour and then all was quiet again.


Blue bounded in at 7:25 to let us know it was time to feed the dogs!  Carol scurried and got them fed and walked and within an hour we were on the road to Animal Kingdom.  We really enjoy the park but it gets so dreadfully hot in the afternoon that we wanted to get there early.  We passed through the gate at 9:05, just after rope drop.

Carol always has her best pin trading results at Animal Kingdom so she stopped at every shop and kiosk as we made our way back to Africa for a ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris.   There were some good animal sightings on the safari so Carol and I both played with our new cameras.

After the safari it was beginning to heat up so we slowly made our way over to Asia.  As we passed the Yak & Yeti Restaurant Carol decided that egg rolls would make a nice breakfast so we stopped and shared an order.  Yum!


We took a cooling ride on Expedition Everest!  The breeze sure felt good!  The backward plunge seemed to help settle the egg rolls too!

We skirted past DinoLand USA on our way to Discovery Island and Carol once again visited every store and kiosk in search of pins.  She made a few trades and we headed out the gate at 12:00.

We headed toward Downtown Disney and pulled into the Crossroads Plaza where we enjoyed a nice lunch at Sweet Tomatoes.  We really enjoy their salad bar!  After a quick stop at Walgreen’s just down the road we headed back to Fort Wilderness and spent the hottest part of the day napping with the dogs.

To you this may look like 104 degrees.

To us it said, "It's unbelievably hot, go have a nap with the dogs!"

After a relaxing afternoon we drove to EPCOT and arrived at Teppan Edo just in time for out 6:00 p.m. reservation.  We sat with a family of four from Iowa and a couple from New Jersey.  The two young boys from Iowa had just finished their Pirate Training and were still decked out in all their pirate gear.  It sure looked like they had a great day!

Our chef was Hiroe; I think she was quite new on the job but she put on a good show and cooked a good meal as well.  Carol had the steak and shrimp; I had the chicken and shrimp.

For desert we wandered over to the nearby kiosk and ordered a rainbow Kakigori to share.  We had never tried this dish before and we quite enjoyed it.  It is simply shaved ice with fruit syrup.   We had strawberry, cherry and tangerine syrup.  We both had a serious brain-freeze before it was done!


We made a slow walk around the World Showcase Lagoon and did some people-watching.  Of course Carol had to stop in Germany and look at the Steiff bears.  While we were there she stopped in at the Werther’s Shop and bought a bag of caramel popcorn.  Wow, it’s good!  Made with real Werther’s caramel!


We popped into Spaceship Earth and took a ride back in time before leaving the park.  By 9:00 we were back at the campground.  We took the dogs for a short walk and then hopped in the golf cart and went to the pool for a soak!  Aaahh!  That sure feels good after a blazing hot day!


Once again it was “Lights Out” early!

Friday September 16, 2011


She announced last night that she wasn’t going to a park today . . . it was just to darned hot to enjoy a park.  That’s not exactly what she said, but it’s the gist of the message with the expletives all deleted.  Of course, it’s never, ever too hot to shop!


Blue let us sleep until 7:30 before he pounced.  We loafed for a while sipping coffee and at 9:00 we rode the golf cart over to Trail’s End where we enjoyed their buffet breakfast.  We headed back to the RV and let the dogs out again before we hopped in the car.  I spent the next several hours chauffeuring Carol to various stores in the area.  On the way we passed by a city park, Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake, where they have RV camping facilities so we pulled in to have a look.  It’s a nice park with about 10 fully serviced sites, concrete pads and plenty of shade.  The full service sites are $23.00 per night.  That compares very well with the $60.00  to $100.00 per night we pay at Disney’s Fort Wilderness but the park lacks the Disney magic we feel at Fort Wilderness.  If we’re looking for a spot to stay for a night or two at the beginning or end of a trip and The Fort is all booked, it could be an option.

While we were cruising around the Turkey Lake Park we had to stop and wait for a gopher tortoise to cross the road in front of us.  The park is a sanctuary for this endangered species.  About 80 of them call the park home!

We made an unplanned stop.  As we passed a shoe outlet Carol cried out, “Stop, I need shoes.”  Turned out that she didn’t.  She found nothing to buy so we carried on to our first planned destination, Bass Pro Shops where I picked up some new cargo shorts.  We were soon back in the car and carried on to PetSmart to pick up some dog kibble for Blue.  He eats like a horse and Carol underestimated his appetite when packing for the trip. 


I expected one more stop would be added to our itinerary so I asked, “Do you want to go to the Disney Outlet in Vineland?”  There was no hesitation – “Yes!”  I waited in the car and read my book.  Soon she was back with nothing but a small Eeyore figurine and off we went again.  We had to pass Downtown Disney on the way back and Carol cannot simply pass by so we pulled in and she dashed off to DStreet to fondle a few vinylmations.  Surprise – she didn’t buy any, all she brought back were two Wetzel’s Pretzels for our lunch.


We were back to the motorhome and the dogs by 1:00 p.m.  I took Blue off to the dog park for a half hour of running and romping.  Soon he’d had enough and it was nap time!


About 4:00 p.m. Blue and I hopped on the golf cart and went “looping”.  This simply means we drove slowly through most of the camping loops checking out the campsites and the décor.  As we made our rounds we encountered a few other carts, also with dogs, doing the same thing.  It’s a Fort Wilderness ritual!


As soon as we got back Carol gave me some bad news.  Carol is my colour co-ordinator and is quick to tell me what shirt goes with which pants.  If you should see me in some really goofy looking outfit someday, take it as a sign that there is some sort of matrimonial discord in the Cruise household and Carol is exacting some revenge.  Well, it turned out that two pair of the cargo shorts I bought today look different in sunlight than they did in the store.  They are exactly the same colour as a pair I already have and never wear because I have nothing to match them and I don’t like the colour.  So we fed and walked the dogs and then headed back to Bass Pro. 

On the way out of Fort Wilderness Carol’s eagle eye picked out a doe and her fawn in the brush along the side of the road so I stopped and she got out for a few pictures.  Mother and child stayed a few minutes before the two white tails disappeared into the woods.

Once we got to Bass Pro Carol dashed in and returned the offensive shorts and then we headed on to Roman’s Macaroni Grill for dinner.  We were last in a Macaroni Grill several years ago in Nashville and really enjoyed it.  Alas, they’ve changed the menu.  Tonight it was good but not great.  As  we left the restaurant Carol said, “Ooh, feel that, it’s a breeze!”  It was a HOT breeze, but it felt nice compared to the stifling and still air we’ve had all day!


We stopped at the Meadows on our way back home; Carol made her one and only pin trade of the day.  We were back at the motorhome by 8:00 and had a quiet night.  After a light rain shower we took a cart ride to the dock where we watched the 9:30 Hallo-Wishes fireworks show and then the 9:45 Electric Water Pageant.  Then we rode the cart directly to the Meadows Pool for a relaxing soak in the hot tub and a cooling dip in the pool before bed.  Aaahhh!


Tomorrow we will take down and pack away some of our decorations and campsite accessories so we’re ready to begin our trek home on Sunday.  We plan to have our last dinner here at ‘Ohana and spend our last evening at The Magic Kingdom.

Saturday September 17, 2011


 I woke up at 7:30, let the dogs out and then fed them.  Blue didn’t bound onto the bed and wake Carol until about 7:50.  We dawdled over coffee and I had a bowl of cereal.  At about 9:00 we loaded the dogs onto the golf cart and headed to the Waggin’ Tails dog park.  Their friends from yesterday, Taz and Rudy were there so they sniffed for a while and then Blue romped with his buddies while Zak curled up in the shade.

Zak and Taz

Rudy and Blue

We didn't get the names of the little guys at the water bowl.

By 9:45 we had a pair of tired dogs back to the campsite and Carol and I started taking down lights and decorations, getting ready to pull out tomorrow.  Within minutes we were sweating buckets.  It’s no fun working in this heat and humidity; we’re sure looking forward to some cool temperatures at home!  By 11:00 we had the campsite looking pretty naked . . . the bikes were hung on the back of the RV and everything was stowed away except for a few items which will go in the trunk of the car once my PPK Chariot is gone.  Carol had a shower and when she was done I dumped and rinsed the holding tanks then disconnected and stowed the sewer hose.  Tomorrow morning all we have to do is pull in the three slide-out rooms, lift the hydraulic stabilizing jacks, disconnect the water and electricity and we’re ready to pull out!


Carol hopped in the car at about 11:30 and made a quick run to the grocery store while I had a shower.  Once I smelled a little sweeter I took a ride on the golf cart and toured a few camping loops.  I had just gotten back home when Carol returned.


We had a sandwich in the RV and Carol headed off to the Settlement Trading Post.  They have a pin trading book out every day from 12:30 until 1:00 and she hadn’t traded a pin yet today!


We huddled inside where it was cool.  She played at her computer for a while and I read my book.  It had cooled down from “Inferno” to “Stifling-and-a-half” but was still just too danged hot to do anything.  The official high was forecast at 92 but I think we sailed well past that before noon.  So the only thing to do was have a nap.

We fed the dogs early and took them for a walk along the pet walk area behind the 800 loop.  It’s a shady area and a pretty walk along one of the canals that crisscross the campground.  By 4:45 p.m. we were in the car headed to the Polynesian Resort and our 5:20 dinner reservation at ‘Ohana.

Dinner was great as usual . . . ‘Ohana is a restaurant we seldom miss.  The appetizers are good, the flame broiled meats are good and the dessert is awesome.  We rode the monorail to the Magic Kingdom Carol took a few pictures of the Halloween decor before we scooted over to Tomorrowland.

We took a spin on Buzz Lightyear.  I tried a few pictures with my new camera . . . a few were OK . . . I guess I should read the manual.

After we defeated the Evil Emperor Zurg we went directly to Liberty Square and staked out a good spot for the 8:00 p.m. Main Street Electrical Parade.  It’s a great parade . . . we both really enjoy it!

After the parade we made a mad dash to the exit; we had to be back at the Polynesian Resort by 9:00; my rental scooter was being picked up there.  As luck would have it there was a monorail breakdown and we were 20 minutes late but we dropped it off and drove back to the campground.  After letting the dogs out for a latrine break we packed the last few things in the trunk of the car and rolled up the awning.  Just a few more things to do in the morning and we’ll be ready to pull out.


By 10:00 we were in the golf cart and heading to the pool.  Once again it was pool – hot tub – pool - aaaah!


We were back to the campsite by 10:45 and lights out soon followed.


Tomorrow we plan to be on the road by 8:30 or so and our 361 mile driving day will end mid-afternoon at Walterboro, South Carolina.

Sunday September 18, 2011


We were up at 7:00 and lounged for a bit over coffee.  I had a bowl of cereal and then took care of the disconnections while Carol ran in the slides, lifted the jacks and packed away anything which would rattle or fall while we were underway.  We pulled out of the campsite at 8:30 and Carol followed me in the car to the “hook-up lane” near the Fort Wilderness exit.  By 9:00 the car was “in tow” and we were eastbound on I-4.


This is the part of the trip that Carol really dislikes.  I’m sure that if she could contact Scottie she’d say, “Beam me up!” and be instantly transported to Chateau Zakerdog 1,405 miles north.  If she was Samantha she would crinkle her nose and she and the dogs would disappear “boink”!  But alas, she has to endure the four day trip.  I try to keep her busy by asking questions along the way.  She sits with the laptop on the dash in front of her, so as we pass the sign for the Cyrus McCormick Homestead I ask her, “Who is Cyrus McCormick?”  She googles and finds him, “He invented a bunch of farm implements.”  Then we go by the Molly Pitcher Highway and I ask, “Who is Molly Pitcher?”  After a quick google she replies, “She sounds like an American version of Laura Secord.”  And that’s how I keep her amused.


Unfortunately we’ve been up and down these highways so many times that we’ve covered all the questions.  The trip started off very quietly but as we headed east on I-4 we passed through a couple of light rain showers and a heavy love bug shower.  So she spent a few hours researching love bugs. 


If you haven’t been to Florida in love bug season you will find this interesting.  Here’s what she discovered . . . you will never see a lone love bug.  They are always in pairs.  They are always “connected”, hence the term love bugs.  The phrase “Fly United” was probably coined after someone observed a swarm of love bugs.  They always fly united.  This form of flight keeps them contented and congenial but not too agile.  It seems to be a case of “boy meets girl meets windshield” and our windshield met a lot of boys and girls today.  The front of our motorhome was smeared from top to bottom and side to side with the greasy remnants of thousands of love bugs.  About two hours after impact the remains of these highly acidic insects can begin to etch certain types of automotive finishes.  Carol thoughtfully told me this about four hours after we passed through the first few swarms!  Yipes!  There were no pictures of our travels today, you could not see very much through the smear of bug guts!


We turned north onto I-95 at 10:00 and stopped briefly to gas up at St. Augustine.  Before long we were passing through Jacksonville.  For the past several years we have taken the Highway 9A bypass which runs east of the city because of all the construction on I-95.  But our friend Susan told us the construction at Jacksonville was pretty much finished so we took the more direct route.  It wasn’t too bad, Susan was right, it’s almost finished.  At one point we were on a concrete section of the interstate, near the downtown area, and the expansion joints in the highway were drumming up a “bumpety bump, bumpety bump, bumpety bump bump”.  I turned to Carol and said, “This highway has a great beat to dance to.”  She smiled and replied, “I was just thinking that it sounds just like the background sounds in Mouse Gear.”  Seems that great minds do thing alike.


We stopped at the Georgia Welcome Centre for a stretch, had a quick sandwich and were soon back on the road.  Temperatures had cooled significantly so we shut off the A/C, opened the windows and savoured the cool fresh air.

We pulled in to the Green Acres Campground at Walterboro at 3:30.  Soon we had the RV situated and hooked up for the night.  Carol took the dogs out for a run while I scrubbed all the love bug shrapnel off the front of the RV.  Wow . . . they’re sticky little guys!

By 5:30 we were on our way to Walgreen’s.  Carol was hoping to find some new Disney themed Halloween decorations but they had nothing new.  She left empty-handed.  We laughed a bit about our stop in Walterboro last autumn on our way home.  When we’re here we normally go to Ruby Tuesday for dinner; I like the salad bar and Carol likes the ribs.  Last time through we decided to try something different.  We went to a BBQ place, I think it was called The Rancid Pig, and Carol found their $6.50 all-you-can-eat buffet to be less than satisfying.  So we decided to try the Longhorn Steakhouse.  Carol went in and took a look at the buffet table.  It didn’t appeal so back out the door we went.  We drove across the street to Ruby Tuesday’s where I had the salad bar and she had ribs!


We were back with the dogs by 7:30 and settled in for a quiet night of TV.  The windows were open, a cool breeze was blowing through, it was bliss!

Monday September 19, 2011


It was a shorter driving day today, only 323 miles to our next campground in Wytheville, Virginia.  We were up shortly after 7:00 a.m. and pulled out of the campground at 8:10.  Before long we left I-95 and headed north-west on I-26 for about 85 miles.


Traffic was light and we made good time under cloudy skies.  It was refreshingly cool and comfortable.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Carol discretely close the air vents on the dash.  She didn’t whine or complain about being cold, she just quietly closed the vents.


At Columbia, SC we turned north again on I-77.  At 10:30 we stopped for fuel near Rock Hill, SC.  We pulled into the FlyingJ truck stop where the sign announced gas for $3.19 a gallon, the cheapest we have seen on this trip.  Unfortunately all of their pumps were broken.  Not one or two of them, not 15 or twenty of them, but every stinkin’ pump was out of service!  The Exxon station across the road had the same price but it was jammed full of cars and there was no room to turn the RV to get in.  We got back on the interstate and pulled off 5 miles north at the next exit.  The Sunoco there had gas for $3.25, still a bargain; I gassed up the RV while Carol walked the dogs.


We pulled off at Statesville, NC at 12:30 and parked in front of J.R.’s.  It’s a huge discount store.  There are billboards for 50 miles along the highway in both directions advertizing everything from soup to nuts at J.R.’s.  We had a quick sandwich in the RV and then headed into the store.  We stopped on the way south looking for some jeans for me but they were out of my size!  Guess what?  They’re still out!  Carol did buy a few small items and we were soon on the way.


We made the seven mile long climb as we left North Carolina and entered Virginia.  When we reached the summit at Fancy Gap, VA and started down the other side traffic slowed to a crawl.  Within a couple of miles we saw why . . . a pickup truck towing a small sailboat on a trailer lost control, rolled over and spilled the sailboat.  They were both totalled!


We pulled into the KOA Campground at Wytheville, VA at 3:00 and quickly got set up for the evening.  They have a nice little dog park here so we took the boys off for a romp.


By 5:00 we had fed the dogs and we drove off to investigate a nearby antique market.  There are several of them along the side of the interstate.  Uh-Oh!  What’s that noise?  There was a distinct growl coming from the front end of the car.  Sounds like a wheel bearing to me.  We spent a bit of time exploring all the little booths, nooks and crannies in one of the antique barns and then went in search of a service garage where someone could listen to our new growl.  Turns out they all close quite early . . . but the service department at the local Chevy dealer opens at 7:00 a.m.   I’ll be there waiting.  I’m not comfortable towing it another 700 miles until I know what’s causing the noise.


We headed off to the Peking Restaurant.  We discovered this little place several years ago and we eat there every time we’re in the area.  Once again it was terrific.


We were back at the campground by 7:30, turned the furnace on, took the dogs for another walk before dark, then settled in for a quiet night of television.  I’ll be up bright and early tomorrow; we sure don’t want car trouble to delay us too much!

Tuesday September 20, 2011


The alarm shocked me at 6:00 a.m.  I sprang out of bed like a nimble teenager and scurried to the bathroom, anxious to get going and get the car fixed.  Within seconds my age and infirmities kicked in, reminding me that I’m no teenager.  Not by a long shot!


I took the dogs out for their morning ablutions and then jumped in hobbled into the shower.  After a quick bowl of cereal I was in the car and on my way to the local Chevy dealer’s.  The service department opened at 7:00 a.m. and I was there waiting when it opened.  Things didn’t start well.  The Service Manager, we’ll call him Cooter, showed me a long list of names and said, “We didn’t get all of our work done yesterday, but I’ll try to fit you in.”  Oh Goody!  I found a spot to sit in the showroom and watched while absolutely nothing happened.


After waiting 45 minutes I was thinking, “If nothing happens in the next 15 minutes I’ll take it somewhere else.”  That’s when I noticed Cooter out beside the car.  He had a piece of paper and he wrote down the VIN number and the mileage.  A few minutes later he poked his head into the showroom and asked, “Do you know how to switch the speedometer from kilometres to miles?  We gotta have everything in miles here.”  I told him that it was a Canadian car and it didn’t switch.  All he needed to do was take the kilometres, divide by 8 and multiply by 5 and he’d have the number of miles.  Turn’s out old Cooter is no fool; he asked, “Isn’t there another way to do it?  There’s some kind of decimal I can use.”  “Yeah, there is,” I replied, “use .625, that’s the decimal equivalent of five eighths.”  Off went Cooter!


A few minutes later one of the technicians, we’ll call him Cletus, took the car for a test drive and then put it up on the hoist.  As he was taking off the right front wheel I walked over and said, “What do you think; is it the wheel bearing?”  “I don’t rightly know;” he said, “but I’m gonna replace it and see what happens!”  This does not fill me with confidence!  I stopped at Cooter’s desk and asked, “Did you get that mileage figured out?”  “Yeah,” he said, “it’s 64,000 kilometres so that’s 105,000 miles.”  Uh-Oh!  “No,” I said, “it should be about 40,000 miles, better check your numbers.” 


Back in the showroom I had a stimulating conversation with a dairy farmer about the damage trade unions are doing to the American economy and how much damage President Obama has singlehandedly been able to do in such a short time.  Soon he left and the lady sitting beside him decided to take over the task of entertaining the visiting Canadian.  She was in having her 1996 TransAm repaired and she took great delight in telling me how it came to pass that she has more replacement parts than her car does. I received a very graphic description of each and every one of her new components . . . Yikes!  Fortunately, my car was done before she finished her list and I escaped before she got to all the really good parts.  Yippee . . . and big thanks to Cooter and Cletus!


The car was done by 9:00 and it was all covered by warranty.  Bonus!  I was back to the campground by 9:15 and was I ever pleased to find that Carol had disconnected the cable TV, water and electrical connections.  All I had to do was hitch up the car and we were away!  We pulled out at 9:30 . . . much sooner than I had expected.


Skies were grey and we passed through several patches of drizzly rain showers.  At about 12:15 we pulled off the highway at Harrisonburg, VA and pulled into a shopping plaza neat a Chick-fil-A restaurant.  We don’t have them in Canada and we tried one in Kissimmee several years ago.  We were disappointed and never went back.  Some of our internet friends still rave about Chick-fil-A so we decided to try again.  It was OK . . . we’ll go back again if it’s convenient!


Carol walked the dogs and we quickly got back on the road.  At about 2:30 we pulled off just outside Winchester, VA to gas up and then passed into West Virginia and Maryland before hitting Pennsylvania.  It seemed to be a very long day, probably because we were a couple of hours late getting rolling.  We pulled into the campground in Harrisburg at 4:30.


As soon as we were set up we took the dogs for a walk, tossed the ball and gave them both a chance to run, then we jumped in the car and headed out!  Carol was a couple of hours late with her shopping!  We had a quick dinner at Chili’s and then she scoured the Christmas Tree Shoppe and took a quick spin around JC Penny while I waited in the car.


We were back to the campground by 8:00 and settled in front of the TV.


Tomorrow we finish our long trek home.  There is only one planned stop at WalMart near Syracuse, NY.  Carol wants to pick up a turkey or two.  They’re about half of the price we pay at home.

Wednesday September 21, 2011


We slept longer than I expected; I crawled out of bed at 6:50.  Our last morning on the road is always a busy time.  We have to spit polish the motorhome and get it ready to put back in storage.  I had a quick bowl of cereal and headed off to the campground’s bath house for a shower while Carol cleaned and wiped down the shower in the RV.  By the time I got back she had the bathroom all ship shape so I started the process of draining and rinsing out the holding tanks.  The last day coming home is usually our longest driving day, 382 miles, and her Majesty Princess Carol cannot use the on-board lavatory once we’re drained . . . no more “goin’ on the go” so to speak.  So we have to make a few extra rest area stops.  We finished up and pulled out of the campground at 8:40, about 40 minutes later than I had hoped.


Traffic was heavy for the first few miles, but once we hit I-81 and headed north it was clear sailing.  All went well for the first hour and we made good time under overcast skies with just the occasional drop of rain.


Then I noticed one of the portable roadside signs which was flashing a warning, “Dense fog ahead”   We drove on another ten miles with no sign of fog.  I thought, “So far, so good!”  Then suddenly we climbed up a mountain and there we were in fog . . . thick fog . . . pea soup fog.  Traffic slowed to about 50 miles per hour with visibility about 50 yards.  It was often a struggle to pick out the taillights of the truck ahead and the headlights of the truck behind in the dense mist.  After about 30 harrowing minutes of white knuckle driving in the fog we entered a construction zone where the left lane was closed.  Traffic merged to the right into a very narrow lane.  I struggled to keep the painted lane markers in sight!  It was at this precise moment that Carol caught a chill.  Her second chill since 1998.  She reached over to the heater controls and turned the temperature knob all the way up to the highest setting.


Now if you’ve ever taken a science course or if you’ve ever taken a shower you know what happens when warm moist air encounters cold glass!  Yup, fog!  Within two seconds the windshield had turned opaque with a nice even layer of fog all across the inside.  Visibility was now about 15 feet, a very blurry 15 feet.  I could barely see the road.  I instinctively tried the windshield wipers . . . nope they didn’t help.  So I turned the blower controls to Defrost and turned the fan on high.  Then I turned on the fans up in the top corners of the windshield, closed my eyes and prayed.  Well, I didn’t actually close my eyes, but I coasted down to about 20 miles per hour with my four way flashers going and strained to see the lane markers painted on the road.  They were just barely visible!  I was sure we would be rear-ended if I stopped!  I think we must have driven about a mile with almost zero visibility before the defroster began to make an impact.  By then Carol had run back to the kitchen, found a towel and was leaning out over the dashboard and wiping the windshield in front of me.  Finally the windshield was clear . . . the fog outside was still dense but the fog inside was gone.  Wow . . . what an experience.  The fog lasted over an hour and once it finally lifted we were able to relax a bit.  It was a real white-knuckle experience for both of us!


At about 10:30 we made a quick rest area stop (for the humans) and then an hour later pulled into the FlyingJ Truck Stop in northern Pennsylvania where I gassed up the RV while Carol walked the dogs.  Soon we were back on the road and at 12:15 we pulled into the Cracker Barrel Restaurant at Binghamton, NY.  It was Wednesday and that’s Chicken Pot Pie day at Cracker Barrel.  We always try to make it on Chicken Pot Pie day!


We made one more stop; Carol took a quick run into WalMart at Cicero, NY to find a turkey at those cheap US prices.  She found a nice big Butterball at $1.18 per pound.  Not a real bargain but still much cheaper than we pay in Canada.


We pulled up to the Canadian border at 4:15.  This crossing was as unusual as the one we had entering the US three weeks ago.  But this one was a nice sort of unusual.  She asked how long we had been gone, were we bringing back a large amount of cash, did we have any weapons, alcohol, tobacco.  What was interesting is what she didn’t ask.  She didn’t ask where we had been, she didn’t ask the value of goods we were bringing back, she really didn’t ask any of the normal questions.  She did ask about the dogs citizenship.  Really, she asked, “Are the dogs Canadian citizens?”  I said, “I guess so, they were born here.”  She handed back our passports and away we went!  We rolled onto Canadian soil at 4:21 p.m.


By 5:00 we were parked in front of the house unpacking the motorhome.  Ugh . . . this has to be the worst part of any vacation!


It was a good holiday, Carol was very happy with the pin event and she did some of her best pin trading ever.  But it was HOT!  It was too hot for us to be comfortable in the campground or in the parks.  I don’t think we’ll take the RV back again in September . . . it’s too danged hot!