February 1, 2013


We got a later start than normal; there was some running around to do in the morning.  This trip our son Rob and his Sheltie Jak are riding along with us.  By 10:10 all the chores were done, the dogs were harnessed and hooked into the seat belts on the couch and we pulled away.  Thirty minutes later we arrived at US Customs.  Wow!  There was only one car ahead of us.  In just a few seconds we pulled up to the customs officer, he asked about three quick questions and handed back our passports with a cheery “Have a nice trip!”

We made a quick stop at Watertown where I wanted to pump enough gas to get us to the FlyingJ truck stop in Pennsylvania.  Ooops . . . a big gasoline tanker was blocking the entrance I needed to use, I couldn’t navigate my way into the station.  We carried on down the road and bought fuel a few exits later.  By 1:00 we pulled in for lunch at the Cracker Barrel in Cicero New York. 

Jak was nervous and did a lot of panting for the first hundred miles but by afternoon he had settled down.  Zak and Blue are well travelled veterans so they set a good example for him.

We encountered a few snow squalls between Watertown and Binghamton and traffic slowed several times but there was very little snow accumulated and no significant delays. 

We crossed the Pennsylvania state line shortly after 3:00 p.m. and gassed up.  We were back on the road by 3:30 and the delays soon started!  There were some serious snow squalls and some real delays because of slick and slippery roads.  We saw two transport trucks on their sides in the ditch.  Better to go slow and easy than to end up like those trucks!


The snow ended after about a half hour and traffic sped up again.  We were making good time until we broke over the crest of a mountain to encounter the setting sun glaring directly in our eyes.  Traffic slowed again immediately as every driver on the road was forced to look directly into the sun.  We were relieved after about 15 minutes when a cloud bank brought some welcome shade!  Whew!


Unfortunately that cloud bank also brought more snow . . . lots more snow and lots more delay.  Between the snow and the setting sun we lost about an hour or an hour and a half to slow traffic . . . but at least we fared better than those two truckers.

We pulled into the campground at Harrisburg Pennsylvania at 6:40.  By 7:00 we were all hooked up and the dogs had a run before we hopped I the car to head out for dinner.  The first priority was a gas station stop to clean the car windows.  The car was not too pretty after being towed all day through snow, slush, sand and salt.  Yuk!


We had a nice dinner at Chilli’s and then I waited in the car while Carol and Rob shopped at Target.  By the time they finished shopping there and we drove over to the Christmas Tree Shop it was just past 9:00 and they were closed.  Aw . . . that’s too bad!


The dogs were happy to see us, we settled in front of the TV for the night.


Tomorrow we will head further south on I-81, through the Shenandoah Valley to Wytheville Virginia.  If we make good time we may carry on another hour and a half and stop at Statesville North Carolina instead.

Saturday February 2, 2013


We had a much earlier start today.  We were up before the crack of dawn and after a quick bowl of cereal we unhooked the RV and battened down for departure.  We pulled away at 7:25 under clear skies.  Traffic was light all day and we had no slowdowns . . . clear sailing all the way.

We covered the first 70 miles in no time and crossed the state line from Pennsylvania into Maryland at 8:40 a.m.

This began our passage through four states in 35 minutes.  West Virginia came a mere eleven minutes later at 8:51. 

Next we drove into Virginia at 9:15.

We stopped in northern Virginia to top up the gas tank but were soon back on the road and made great time under overcast skies.  We stopped in a rest area at about 11:40 and walked the dogs before making ourselves sandwiches for lunch.


At 2:00 we turned off I-81 onto I-77.  We were half way to Florida.  Yippee!

We climbed for about 30 miles to the peak of the Blue Ridge Mountains and then took the quick 7 mile descent into North Carolina.  Carol hardly screamed at all on the way down.  I think she was on her best behaviour because Rob is with us.

We crossed the boundary into North Carolina at 2:30 and pulled into the KOA Campground at Statesville at 3:30.


After checking in we unhooked the car and I had the propane tank topped up while Carol and Rob walked the dogs.  They needed a good stretch!


By 4:30 I had flushed out the holding tanks, rinsed the antifreeze out of the water lines and filled the 60 gallon fresh water tank.  Hooray . . . we have running water again!   Meanwhile Carol had gotten everything set up inside.

I had a short rest while Carol fed the dogs and at 5:15 we hopped in the car and headed off to Outback for dinner.  We had been looking forward to a “Bloomin’ Onion” for several days.  Unfortunately our team of servers neglected to bring it to us.  When our entrées arrived we asked, “Hey, where’s the onion?”  The bottom line was our onion was complementary but we had it for dessert rather than as an appetizer.  Dang!


Naturally there had to be some retail therapy so I chauffeured Carol and Rob to K-Mart, Food Lion, J.R.’s and Wallgreens.  We were back to the RV by 8:00 and I hooked the car up so we’re ready to pull out in the morning.


By 9:00 the winds were howling and wet snow was swirling . . . wonder what tomorrow will bring?


We plan to head to Brunswick Georgia, about 360 miles from here.  There is a truck wash near the campground; we really need to get this grubby, salt covered RV and car washed up! 


Rob is getting more and more excited with each passing mile.  I expect that he will be vibrating at a much higher frequency by this time tomorrow . . . after all, it’s Palm Tree Day!


We should spot a palm tree within our first hour of travel.

Sunday February 3, 2013


Last night’s wind and snow didn’t amount to anything.  The wind died out after about 20 minutes and there was no snow accumulation.  What it did do though was prompt Carol to take the dogs out for their nightly chores about two hours earlier than usual.  There was nothing worth watching on TV so we all sat around yawning for a few minutes and then went to bed.  We were all in bed before 10:00 p.m.


Naturally this meant that morning came around very early.  I tossed and turned for a while before getting up at 5:30 and turning on the coffee pot.  Carol followed at about 6:00 and Rob not too much later.  After coffee, cereal and a shower we made ready to pull out.  We were on the road by 7:30 a.m.

Roads were dry and Sunday morning traffic was light as we carried on southward under sunny skies.  Once again we made great time.  We crossed the state line into South Carolina at 8:10 and spotted our first palm tree at 9:00.

We stopped at Rock Hill, South Carolina and gassed up, then a while later pulled into a rest area on I-26 where we walked the dogs.

We crossed the Georgia state line at 12:15 and pulled into the Georgia Welcome Centre where we had a sandwich for lunch.  Back on the road we made the final dash to our destination, Brunswick, Georgia.

Jak has adjusted very well to life on the road.  He panted and drooled a bit the first morning but he settled down in the afternoon.  On his second day he started out calmly and by afternoon he was sleeping on the couch as we cruised down the highway.   We pulled off the highway at Brunswick at 2:15.  It was a much quicker trip than we had hoped for!


First stop was the Blue Beacon Truck Wash for a long overdue clean-up.  The motor home and the car were filthy after our snowy trek through New York and Pennsylvania.  There were five trucks and another RV lined up ahead of us, but both wash bays were open and we were all cleaned up within 40 minutes.  Aaaahhh!  That’s better.

We checked into the campground and were all set up before 3:30.  It’s a great campsite, a pull-through directly across from the off-leash dog park and the restrooms.  All three dogs enjoyed a long romp before Carol, Rob and I hopped in the car for a tour of the historic old section of Brunswick.  It’s a quaint old southern settlement with a wonderful Town Square surrounded by heritage buildings which house a number of terrific looking antique dealers.  Unfortunately they were all closed on Sunday afternoon.  We dropped into CVS Pharmacy and Target to pick up a few items and then headed back home to feed the dogs.


Once they were fed then walked again we headed out for dinner.  We drove to the next exit north of the campground and pulled into International House of Pancakes.  Rob felt like IHOP for dinner.  Who would have thought that they would close early on Super Bowl Sunday.  There was a Burger King directly next door . . . but most of it was missing . . . only the roof was left.  How did that happen?


We went across the road to Pizza Hut and had a nice dinner.  We were one of three tables of diners in the restaurant but there were about a dozen orders a minute heading out the door to nearby Super Bowl parties.  It was a madhouse but our dinner was fresh, hot and tasty.


We stopped at a nearby grocery store on the way home.  I waited in the car with my book while Carol and Rob shopped.  By 7:30 we were back home.  The dogs had another good romp in the off-leash park before we settled in front of the TV and watched the Super Bowl.


Tomorrow will be a shorter driving day.  It’s only 99 miles to our next campground at St. Augustine, Florida so we can start the day slowly, arrive early and spend some time poking around historic St. Augustine.

Monday February 4, 2013


Sleeping in didn’t work – again!  We were up at 6:00, too excited to roll over and sleep.  Even Rob was up early.  We took our time getting ready to pull out . . . just to be sure we didn’t arrive at the Florida Welcome Centre before they opened at 8:00 a.m.

We pulled out of our camp site at 7:45 and crossed the Florida State Line at 8:12.    Our first stop was the Florida Welcome Centre where we had our traditional orange juice and picked up a few brochures.

We took the eastern I-295 beltway around Jacksonville and stopped briefly at the St. Augustine Camping World Store and the Disney Character Outlet before heading on to North Beach Camp Resort.


We were checked in by 11:00 and I unhooked the car and drove back to see if the site was empty while Carol and Rob walked the dogs on the beach.  The folks who stayed in our site the previous night were all cleared out so I headed back to get the RV.  Along the way I noticed a Mickey Mouse rope light hanging on a trailer.  The owner was sitting outside so I stopped and asked, “Did you find directions for that rope light online?”  “Yes,” he replied, “I found them on your web site.”  We chatted for a few minutes, it turns out that Jane and Keith Chatfield read our blogs all the time.  They knew we were supposed to arrive today so they weren’t surprised to see us.  What a small world . . . It was great chatting with you Jane and Keith!


When I got back to the RV Rob and Carol had returned with the dogs so Carol followed along in the car and then waved me into position in the camp site.  We were all set up by 11:45 so after walking the dogs once more we hopped in the car and headed off to lunch.  We decided on IHOP – Rob was still disappointed that we missed them last night!  We had a good lunch and then took a tour of the town showing Rob some of the sights.  We parked near the old historic part of the city and walked the length of St. George Street, popping into many of the stores and boutiques.

Once we had covered the historic area we asked Rob what he would like to see.  His reply?  “The Alligator Farm.”  So off we went to Anastasia Island and the “gator farm”.



It was better than we expected . . . lots of gators and lots of other animals too.  We watched a zoologist feed some of the American Alligators while he explained their habitat, customs and diet.  Then we toured the park where we saw plenty of other birds and animals.  We spent a very entertaining two hours at the Alligator Farm. 


By 4:30 we were back to the dogs.  I had a short nap while Carol fed them then the three of us took them for a walk before heading out to dinner.


We have been looking forward to our traditional shrimp dinner at O’Steens for several months.  When we pulled up the place was dark . . . Uh Oh!  The sign on the door said “Closed Sunday and Monday” – DANG!  Yesterday IHOP was closed, the Burger King next door to it had somehow blown up and today O’Steens was closed.  What’s wrong with our luck?  I severely reprimanded our vacation planner.


We went to Carrabbas and had a very nice dinner while I drowned my sorrow with a tasty Manhattan.


After dinner we drove though the historic district one final time before heading back home to settle in with the dogs for the evening.


Tomorrow is Disney day – we check in at Fort Wilderness.  Yippee!

Tuesday February 5, 2013


We woke up early again today . . . but there was a difference.  Rob was the first to wake up.  He is not a “morning person” at all, but he is very excited and it’s making a noticeable difference.

I woke at 5:45 and Rob already had lights turned on.  I refused to get up until 6:00 a.m.  We had a leisurely start again, coffee and cereal then I disconnected while Rob and Carol walked the dogs.

We pulled out at 7:35 and soon pulled off just a few miles south of St. Augustine and gassed up at the FlyingJ truck stop.  We were quickly back on the road and just 16 miles later pulled off again to pick up my Tow Mater at the Palm Coast Home Depot.  At Christmas I spotted a Tow Mater inflatable Christmas decoration and I just had to have one!  I searched online and found them at Home Depot.  Palm Coast had one in stock and it was on sale at 50% off.  WOW!  I got on the phone right away (December 26th) and did a telephone order with delayed pick-up.  They normally only hold telephone orders for 14 days but I persuaded Christie and Adrian to hold it until February 5th when I would be passing through.


When Rob and I arrived at the Customer Service desk at about 8:30 . . . they couldn’t find my Mater!  I had a bad feeling . . . they called to the Receiving Desk and two people were sent off to search the warehouse.  I went to the lighting department to search for some acrylic globes to make a few more Mickey Lamps and when I returned to Customer Service – there was my Mater.  Aaah – what a relief!  They didn’t have any 12” globes so all I picked up was the Tow Mater – but that was enough.  I am sooo glad I was able to find one!

We were back on the road by 9:15 and traffic moved very well.  At 9:55 we turned onto I-4.  Rob was very animated and got more and more excited the closer we got.  He sat in the front seat and watched the GPS display very closely.   Every ten miles he would clap, slap his knees and say, “Only 40 miles to go!”  Soon he clapped, slapped and chimed out, “Only 30 miles to go.”  By the time we got down to single digits he was just vibrating with excitement.  At 10:55 we pulled off at Exit 64 heading toward Fort Wilderness.

We pulled up to the drive-through check-in lane at exactly 11:00 and were soon all checked in.  The 700 loop, our favourite, was completely unavailable and after a bit of discussion we agreed to take site #840 which backs on to the canal and dog walk.


Our site wasn’t ready so we drove to the overflow parking lot; Carol and Rob walked the dogs while I unhooked the car, then we took a drive back to check out site #840.  It looked fine so we drove through the 700 loop, said hello to our friend Hilda and then headed off to Downtown Disney.

We had a nice lunch at Earl of Sandwich and by the time we were done the text message had arrived confirming that our site was ready.

We hurried back and I drove the RV, following Carol who took the car back to the 800 loop.  She waved me into position and we began to set up for our two week stay.  Rob took the three bicycles down off the bike rack while I hooked up the utilities and Carol set things up inside.  Rob was too excited to sit still so he hopped on his bike to explore Fort Wilderness while Carol and I set up the Mickey lamps, hung some lights on the awning and set up all the stuff that transforms our motor home into a more permanent home for a few weeks.


We were all done by 4:00 p.m. when Rob came back for a few minutes.  He had ridden all around the campground and then hopped on the boat to the nearby Wilderness Lodge Resort.  He still couldn’t sit still so he rode off again, intending to catch the boat to the Contemporary Resort Hotel.  I headed indoors for a badly needed shower and then laid down for a rest while Carol continued to putter with her set-up routine.

 We rode down to Trail’s End Buffet where we had agreed to meet Rob at 5:15, just before our 5:30 dinner reservation.  We arrived a few minutes early so Carol walked over to the Trading Post while I relaxed in a rocking chair on the veranda.  As I waited a lady approached and asked, “Are you Gary?”  “Yes, I am,” I replied, “Who are you?”  It was Merrily and her husband Dick who visit Fort Wilderness every year and stay in the cabins.  They know us from the Tagrel.com web site and follow our blog entries.  Merrily goes by the screen name Pooh4me on the Tagrel site.  Thanks for introducing yourselves Merrily and Dick, it was great to meet you!  Try to join us for Tag-O-Mania in December . . . you would really enjoy the rest of our crazy crew!

We had a terrific dinner at Trail’s End.  The fried chicken, ribs, roast beef and all the usual buffet fare was great but the Maple Glazed Salmon was outstanding!  There were a number of empty tables at Trail’s End all the time we were there.  This place is a real hidden gem at Walt Disney World.  The food is terrific and at $22.99 for an adult buffet it is about the best deal in the entire area.  Please don’t tell anyone though; we want to keep this secret all to ourselves!


After dinner we rode our bikes back to the campsite and I settled in for a quiet evening with the dogs.  Carol and Rob hopped in the car and struck out toward Downtown Disney where they scoured some of the shops then headed to the Character Outlet on Vineland.  They were back home at about 9:30.


Tomorrow we hope to finally sleep in a bit but we still hope to be at the Magic Kingdom for rope drop.

Wednesday February 6, 2013


We slept in . . . a bit.  This morning it was 6:30 when we rolled out of bed.  Rob kept snoring until about 7:45.

We rode our bikes to the marina and caught the boat to the Magic Kingdom just as it was leaving.  Perfect timing!  It pulled up to the Magic Kingdom dock just as the 9:00 a.m. opening show at the Railroad Station was ending.  We walked through the station and into the park at 9:05.

Rob was very excited . . . he stood for a few minutes just looking around at the characterswho were posing for photos in Town Square.  After picking up some Sorcerer cards at the Fire Hall we slowly made our way up Main Street USA.

Cinderella Castle was open so we walked through on our way to Peter Pan.  It was exactly as Rob remembered from all those years ago.  Our next stop was Mickey’s Philharmagic, Rob’s first Disney 3D show since Captain EO was brand new.  He sure seemed impressed with the more modern 3D effect.

Next came another classic old ride, It’s a Small World.

Then we took a spin through the Haunted Mansion.

As we passed the Country Bear Jamboree the show was about to start so we popped in and spent some quality time with Big Al and the gang.

When the show was over Big Al tried to follow us home!

We headed to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad where the standby line was 35 minutes and the FastPass time was only 35 minutes later.  We decided to pick up Fast Passes and head to Pecos Bill’s for some lunch.  Carol and Rob had cheeseburgers and I tried the taco salad for the first time.  It was good – I’ll do it again!  We stopped for a few minutes to watch the workers who are refurbishing Splash Mountain.  Every leaf in the briar patch is being repainted by hand.  Each leaf is mounted on a metal spike; they pull them out one at a time and carefully blend the colors before re-inserting them.

We rode Big Thunder then headed to Adventureland and rode Pirates of the Caribbean.  It was about 12:30 and we thought the dogs had been alone long enough (this of course means it was nap time) so we all headed toward the exit.  We paused along the way for a cool treat, Carol had a citrus swirl, I had a pineapple float and Rob had raspberry lemonade.  Then Carol and I caught the boat back to the campground.  Rob stayed at the park and boarded the train for a grand circle tour.


After the dogs had a short walk the nap turned out to be very successful for both Carol and I.  Later I took a short drive to Walgreens to pick up a few things while Carol fed the dogs and walked them again, and then it was time to head out for dinner.

We drove over to the Polynesian Resort and met Rob there at 5:00.  He had arrived by monorail.  We were seated promptly for our 5:30 dinner reservation at 'Ohana.  Over a delicious dinner Rob told us about the rest of his day.  After his train ride he did The Carousel of Progress, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain (twice), Stitch’s Great Escape, Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse & the Hall of Presidents.  I was tired just listening to all he had done!


After dinner Carol and I drove home.   Rob hadn’t had quite enough Disney yet so he hopped back on the monorail to the Contemporary Resort Hotel and caught a boat from there back to the campground.


After he and Carol reviewed all the pins and vinylmations he had traded for during the day they hopped in the car at about 8:00 p.m. for a trip to Downtown Disney.  I had a nice quiet evening on my own!  Aaahhhh!


Tomorrow we will head to EPCOT; we hope to be there for rope drop at 9:00 a.m.

Thursday February 7, 2013


Finally . . . we slept until 7:00 a.m. – our normal time.  Hooray!


We followed our normal routine of coffee and cereal then showered and hopped in the car.  We went through the turnstiles at EPCOT at 9:10.

Morning crowds were very light, there was no one in line for Spaceship Earth so we walked directly in and boarded our time machine for a trip back to the dawn of civilization. 

When we entered Future World Chip and Dale had just arrived; there was no line so we stopped for a picture.

Next on our agenda was Soarin’ – as we expected there was already a 45 minute wait time so we picked up FastPasses and went on to The Living With The Land ride and then The Living Seas where we rode the Nemo ride.

We still had plenty of time before our FastPasses were good so we headed to Imagination where we watched Captain EO, then took a ride with Figment through the world of Imagination.


After Imagination it was time to head back to The Land and go Soarin’.  Rob really enjoyed it – it’s one he plans to do again.


It was 12:10 p.m. so we stopped at Sunshine Seasons for a bite of lunch.  Before heading back to the dogs we crossed to the other side of Future World where Rob and I took a spin on Mission Space.  We did the orange (Intense) side, Rob liked it and will probably do it again.

The dogs were sitting cross-legged at the door when we arrived back at 1:30.  After walking them I laid down for a nap.  Carol sat outside with the dogs (and a few turtles) then puttered on the computer.  Rob left at 3:00 to catch the boat and monorail back to EPCOT.  We fed and walked the dogs and then at 5:00 we got back in the car and pointed it toward EPCOT.

Carol had to stop at The Art of Disney store for a few minutes before we met Rob at Le Cellier for our 6:00 p.m. dinner reservation.  We were seated early and enjoyed another wonderful meal.

After dinner we enjoyed the “O Canada” circle-vision show before heading toward the Off Kilter stage.  I saved seats for the three of us while Carol and Rob headed on down the road to shop their way through the stores in England.

They arrived back just as the band started and we sat through a rousing set.


We walked to Norway and took the Maelstrom ride then went to find a good spot to view the 9:00 p.m. Illuminations show, the grand finale of our day at EPCOT.   We stood along the fence beside Friendship dock beside the Port of Entry shop.  The wind was blowing in our direction and during the fireworks show we ate a lot of ash!  By the time the show was over we reeked of sulphur!


We were back to three very happy dogs by 9:50 p.m.


Tomorrow we plan to head to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Friday February 8, 2013


Once again we were up at 7:00 a.m. and by 8:45 we were on our way to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Rob’s first priority was the Tower of Terror so we scurried up Hollywood Boulevard and down Sunset Boulevard to the tower. 


The sign at the standby line read 20 minutes so we hopped into the queue.  Within 20 minutes we were loaded in our car, front row seats.  We rose to the top and hovered for a few seconds in front of the open doors . . . then the bottom fell out.  Rob had never ridden the tower before so he was not prepared for what happened next.  It was a big surprise to him but he loved it!  He can’t wait to get back and do it again!

Next stop was Rock ‘n Roller Coaster.  The standby line was 65 minutes - Carol sat and waited for us while Rob and I went through the single rider line.  The line moved quickly and we boarded within 20 minutes.  We were both on the same train, three rows apart.  Rob’s verdict – it’s a good ride but he prefers Space Mountain!

We moved on to Toy Story Midway Mania.  The standby line read 70 minutes and they were issuing FastPasses for 5:15 to 6:15.  We hopped in standby.  After 20 minutes we had barely moved so we bailed out.  We backtracked through the line and exited through the entry door.  We picked up FastPasses for 5:30 to 6:30 and headed toward Tatooine.  We stopped along the way and Rob had a pizza at Pizza Planet then the three of us entered the standby line at Star Tours.

There was almost no delay; we boarded in under 5 minutes.  Rob enjoyed it so much that we returned directly to the standby line to ride again while Carol waited on a nearby bench.  Just before we entered the queue a stranger gave us two FastPasses so we ducked into the express line.  It might have saved us about one minute, but no more.

We wandered over to Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner; Carol and I had been looking forward to a sausage on a bun for lunch.  Alas, the place was closed . . . that’s odd!  It was closed when we last visited in November.  We were very disappointed.


We headed back to Fort Wilderness and had a sandwich in the motor home . . . not nearly as good as that sausage on a bun would have been!


After walking the dogs Carol and Rob rode their bikes to the pool while I went to pick up a golf cart.  I joined them briefly at the pool, had a swim and a soak in the hot tub before heading back to the campsite for a nap.  Rob and Carol returned shortly after 3:00, some sun showing on their cheeks.


Rob and I loaded Blue and Jak on the golf cart and headed to the dog park while Carol got dinner ready for the pups.  It was Jak’s first ride on a cart, he shivered for the first few minutes but settled down quickly.  They had a nice run at the park, there were four other shelties there and they all had a good romp.  When it came time to head back to the campsite Jak was a trooper, not nervous at all.

The pups had an early dinner and we headed back to Hollywood Studios.  We had time for The Great Movie Ride before our 5:15 dinner reservation at The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre then after dinner we cashed in our FastPasses at Toy Story Midway Mania.  Carol rode with Rob to show him the ropes and he picked it up quickly.  Carol surged to an early lead but when all was said and done Rob was a clear winner.


Time was drawing near for Fantasmic so we headed back down Sunset Boulevard to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheatre.  Mickey kept his amazing record intact . . . he defeated the forces of evil again!  Rob enjoyed Fantasmic, he said it was much better than Illuminations.


We were back to the RV by 8:15 and after walking the dogs Carol and Rob went off shopping again.  I think Rob enjoys shopping even more than Carol does!


I had a quiet night in front of the TV.


Tomorrow we head to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Saturday February 9, 2013


We got off to a slow start today . . . due to some technical problems last night.  Carol made a purchase and her Visa card was declined.  A manager had to come and delete the entire transaction then start all over again.  This time the card was OK and Carol walked away with a big wad of paper . . . but no card.  When she got home and went grocery shopping she noticed the missing card.


This morning we waited until Lost & Found opened at 9:00 a.m.  Carol called and they had her card – GREAT!

We headed off to Animal Kingdom and by 10:00 a.m. we were in the queue for Kilimanjaro Safari.  It was a great ride, plenty of animals.

We took a leisurely stroll along the Pangani Trail and saw plenty more animals, including the baby Lowland Gorilla.

We stopped for lunch, some egg rolls and rice at the Yak & Yeti quick service counter before heading off to Expedition Everest.  The standby line read 45 minutes so we entered the single rider line.  We were aboard our trains within 15 minutes.  We hadn’t told Rob about the backward portion of the coaster ride so he wasn’t prepared for that high speed spiral in reverse.  When we met after the ride he said it was a good ride, better than Rock ‘n Roller Coaster but Space Mountain is still his favourite.

It was time to head back home and let the dogs out so we made our way toward the exit, stopping at It’s Tough To Be A Bug.  It’s one of our favourite 3D movies and Rob enjoyed it too!


On our way home we stopped at Lost & Found and picked up the errant Visa card and arrived back to some happy dogs at about 1:45.  After walking them at the campsite Rob headed to the pool for a dip while Carol and I loaded the three pups on the golf cart and took them to the dog park for a romp.  Zak sniffed around the fence line while Blue chased his ball and Jak romped and ran with four corgis.

I had a well earned nap with the dogs while Carol rode her bike off to the pool and joined Rob.  They were back by 3:30.

The dogs were fed and walked by 4:00 and we struck off in the car, returning to Animal Kingdom.  We headed straight back to Expedition Everest and used the single rider line to ride twice in a row.  Carol was a bit woozy after the second ride . . . she’ll never ride back-to-back again!

We arrived at Yak & Yeti about 10 minutes early for our 5:45 dinner reservation and were seated immediately.  We always enjoy the meal at Yak & Yeti and tonight was no exception, it was terrific.


Our next stop was Dinoland.  Carol and I waited while Rob rode Primeval Whirl and then we all rode Dinosaur together. 

Dinosaur is a ride Carol and I don’t enjoy all that much, it’s too bumpy for us.  It’s been so long since we have ridden it that Carol forgot the plot line.  It was like a brand new ride for her.


It was after 7:00 p.m. when we finished Dinosaur and Carol wanted to head to Magic Kingdom to see the 10:00 p.m. Electrical Parade (it will always be the Main Street Electrical Parade to me) so we left Animal Kingdom and headed home.


I stayed with the dogs while Carol and Rob rode their bikes to the marina and caught the boat to the Magic Kingdom.  They arrived just as the first Electrical Parade was ending so they picked up Sorcerer Cards and slowly strolled up Main Street to The Hub where they had a great view of the “Celebrate the Magic” show projected on the Cinderella Castle.  They waited five minutes and watched Wishes from the same spot.  There was time for a ride on Haunted Mansion before they returned to the castle forecourt to watch the 10:00 p.m. Electrical Parade.  It brought back plenty of memories from the ‘80’s for Rob!


Rob wandered off for some more rides (Winnie the Pooh and The Tea Cups) while Carol returned home. He told us that Mr. Toad was much better than Pooh.


Tomorrow we have nothing planned other than dinner at EPCOT’s Rose & Crown.  We will probably spend the morning at EPCOT.

Sunday February 10, 2013


We all slept in this morning.  I was sound asleep until I felt the bed jiggle at 7:30 . . . it was Carol getting up.  Blue had been staring in her face until she awoke.  I soon followed and we sipped coffee for a while.  By 8:45 I had showered and dressed; Rob continued to snore on the pull out couch in the living room.


I took the golf cart to the Trail’s End Restaurant for some take-out breakfast.  Alas, they have changed the menu, no more breakfast bagel sandwiches, so I rode back to the motor home and made myself some toast.


By 9:45 we were all ready to go – destination EPCOT where we wanted to finish the two attractions Rob had not seen in Future World.

First on our agenda was Test Track – it was the first time Carol and I had seen it since it opened after the big revamp.  We were not big fans of the original Test Track so we were looking forward to seeing the changes.  It was a disappointment.  It seemed to me like they just painted the interior black and added a few video screens.  I feel sorry for those crash test dummies who are probably out looking for work!

We headed to The Universe of Energy and along the way I stopped to watch The Jammitors, a musical troupe who play percussion on garbage cans.

Carol and Rob wandered away during the show so they missed the big ceremony where I was appointed a “Junior Jammitor”.

Once the trash men were finished their set we took a trip back in time with Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye.  We don’t stop in to see Ellen very often but once in a while we cheer her on as she defeats Stupid Judy.


We headed to the exit and drove to Downtown Disney where we had lunch at Earl of Sandwich before heading to the Character Outlet Store.  I waited in the car, reading my book, while they shopped, then we all headed back to the campground where Carol and I took the three dogs to the off leash park.


We were back to the RV by 3:00 and soon Rob left to head back to EPCOT.  Carol and I laid down for a nap.

By 5:00 we were on our way back to EPCOT too and we met Rob in front of The Rose & Crown at 6:00 p.m., just in time for our dinner reservation.

After a nice dinner we drove directly back to the campground and caught the boat to the Magic Kingdom.  We arrived just as the Electrical Parade was ending and we followed the end of the parade up Main Street to stake out a good spot to watch the 8:45 Celebrate The Magic show.  It was great!  Cinderella Castle comes alive with scenes from classic Disney movies and cartoons.  It astounds me how they can animate the castle with light!


As soon as the castle show was over we beat a hasty retreat; we wanted to beat the crowd that would arrive after the 9:00 Wishes fireworks show.  We watched the fireworks from the boat and arrived back at the campground at about 9:20.  Rob stayed at the Magic Kingdom and enjoyed the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Tomorrowland Speedway before he caught the boat back at about 9:45.


Tomorrow we plan to spent the morning at the Theme Park Connection Warehouse in Winter Garden, about 15 miles north of the campground.  We may head to Typhoon Lagoon in the afternoon.  Dinner will be at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.

Monday February 11, 2013


Another slow start today; I woke at 7:30 when Carol got up to feed the dogs.  After a bowl of cereal and a pot of coffee we were ready to hit the road!  It was a shopping extravaganza!  We headed north to Winter Garden where I dropped Carol and Rob off at the Theme Park Connection Warehouse.  I carried on to the nearby Home Depot where I found the acrylic globes for two more Mickey lamps.  Back at the Warehouse I checked on Carol and Rob . . . they were still in a shopping frenzy so I headed to the car where I read my book while I waited.

They were done just before noon and we headed back home.  After walking the dogs we had a sandwich in the motor home and took off again . . . this time our destination was Typhoon Lagoon.

Rob headed to the water slides and took a few runs down Crushin’ Gusher while Carol and I dodged some giant waves in the wave pool.  We lazed in the sun for a bit and then Rob left to swim with the sharks – Carol and I dodged a few more waves.

We all dozed off in some lounge chairs for a while.  We woke up just short of dehydration at 4:00 and headed for home.

The dogs were delighted to see us.  After they were fed and walked we relaxed for a few minutes.  I noticed a few deer across the canal from our campsite so we watched them for a bit, a doe and her fawn.  See the baby peeking around the tree?



At about 5:45 we all hopped in the golf cart and drove to Pioneer Hall.  We were booked for the 6:15 Hoop-Dee-Doo dinner show.

The show hasn’t changed in 40 years, the same corny jokes, the same song and dance routines and the same belly laughs.

Once again Dolly Drew picked me as her “Toot-toot” guy and I was a big hit!


After dinner we were stuffed and tired from our afternoon in the sun so we headed back for a quiet night with the dogs.  Well, at least it was a quiet night for Rob and I; Carol managed to get a few loads of laundry done while the two of us relaxed.


Tomorrow we will probably visit Hollywood Studios and then have dinner at Boma.

Tuesday February 12, 2013


Sleeping in is starting to be a habit.  A nice habit!  It was 7:30 again this morning before anything stirred me.  Jak woke Carol up at 6:30 to let her know that he really, really needed to go out but she was able to take him out and return to bed without waking me . . . that’s why she’s my princess!

By 9:30 we were at Hollywood Studios to finish off the last few items on Rob’s list.

He wanted to ride Tower of Terror again so we headed that way.  The standby line was 60 minutes so Carol scooted over and picked us up FastPasses while Rob and I hopped in the single rider at Rock ‘n Roller Coaster.


After our high speed limo ride with Aerosmith the three of us walked over to the Animation Courtyard and took in The Magic of Disney Animation show.  I spent a few minutes visiting with Ink & Paint artist David Rippberger while Carol and Rob explored the Animation Gallery.


It was time for our Tower of Terror FastPasses so we headed back down to the end of Sunset Boulevard and enjoyed some thrilling ups and downs.

It was getting close to lunch time so we headed toward the Commissary, Rob wanted a burger.  Carol dashed on ahead with our tickets to pick up FastPasses for Star Tours.  As we passed Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner I noticed that it was open.  Carol met us as we neared the Commissary and I saved us a nice shady table while Rob picked up his burger and Carol dashed back to Min & Bill’s to pick up sausage in a bun for each of us.  Yum!

After lunch we headed to MuppetVision 3D – Rob wanted to see the show that always keeps his grandfather chuckling.  Rob chuckled too!


After MuppetVision it was time to cash in our FastPasses at Star Tours.  There were some more firsts during our flight; for Carol it was the first transition with Yoda while for Rob and I it was our first trip through the asteroids.

From Star Tours we strolled down through the Streets of America to One Man’s Dream.  It’s a stirring and heart warming tribute to Walt Disney and a terrific way to conclude our day at Hollywood Studios.

We were back with the dogs about 1:30 and after walking the dogs Carol and Rob rode their bikes to the pool for a dip and some sun.  I stayed at the campsite where I sat outside with the dogs and read my book.  By 3:00 p.m. the sandman had caught up with me and it was nap time.


At about 3:00 Rob rode his bike to the marina where he caught a combination of boat and monorail to EPCOT.  Carol arrived back shortly after 4:00 and after the dogs had their dinner we loaded all three of them on the golf cart and took them to the off-leash park for a good romp.


At 5:45 we left for dinner.  Just after we pulled out of the campground Carol spotted an armadillo along the side of the road.  I pulled over and she snapped a couple of pictures.  We have seen several of them this trip but Rob has never been with us for a sighting.  He’s becoming a bit sceptical; he thinks they are mythical creatures.  This picture aught to prove the point!

We enjoyed the salad bar at Sweet Tomatoes and then went to WalMart for some shopping.  We got home to some quaking dogs at 8:05, just after the Wishes fireworks show had started.  You can hear it very clearly from our campsite and Blue shakes every time it starts.


Rob returned at about 9:00 p.m.  He stopped at the Magic Kingdom to pick up Sorcerer cards and then had a very busy time at EPCOT.  There was a huge wait for Soarin’ and all the FastPasses were gone so he skipped that ride but he did Spaceship Earth, Mission Space, The Living Seas and had dinner from the quick service counter in China.


Later in the evening Carol and I took a dip in the pool and enjoyed a relaxing soak in the hot tub to end our day.


Tomorrow we will probably head to Animal Kingdom and have dinner at Boma.

Wednesday February 13, 2013


I woke up to a surprise this morning – Rob was awake before I was.  We were all out of bed by 7:20 and hit the road at 8:50. 

As we were leaving a horse-drawn hay wagon passed the campsite and we followed it out of our camping loop.

We rolled into Animal Kingdom at about 9:20.  Skies were clear and it was already getting hot.  We have been blessed with very good weather since we arrived.

Rob’s first priority was another ride on Expedition Everest so he and I headed directly there and entered the single rider line while Carol scurried to Kilimanjaro Safaris to pick up FastPasses.  By the time we finished our ride Carol had arrived so the three of us hopped back in the single rider line and went for another high speed adventure through the mountain.

It wasn’t time for our Safari FastPass yet so we stopped at Flights of Wonder to take in the 10:30 show.  When the time came for Foster the Australian rosy breasted cockatiel to take a dollar bill from a guest I was the first one waving a bill.  Carol has been on stage with the owl four times but today it was my turn!

We carried on toward Africa and encountered DiVine along the trail.  Carol got a few good pictures.

Then we boarded our safari truck.  It was a very good safari today, plenty of animals.

We walked over to DinoLand and had lunch at Donald’s Restaurantosaurus.  It took forever . . . I saved a table in the shade while Carol and Rob lined up for food.  They were behind a group of Brazilian cheerleaders.  There has been a cheerleading competition going on since we arrived and all the parks are crawling with swarms of screaming little girls in matching cheer outfits.  Everywhere you look there is a leader holding up a flag.  He or she is followed by 50 or 60 little tweens and finally a tail-gunner with another flag brings up the read, herding stragglers.  They have been blocking traffic and choking queues everywhere we go.  Today they choked the line at Donald’s restaurant.  Ouch!

After lunch we went back to Asia and strolled through the Maharajah Jungle Trek.  Once again it was a good day to see plenty of animals.

Our final stop was the 3D movie It’s Tough To Be A Bug.  Rob wanted to see it one more time.

We were back home with the dogs by 2:00.  Carol and I relaxed for the afternoon while Rob took off on another boat and monorail excursion.


Carol and I loaded the three dogs on the golf cart and took them to the off-leash park for a good romp before their dinner and as they finished eating at about 4:45 Rob arrived back from his adventure. He had taken the boat to the Contemporary Resort and the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, shopped on Main Street and then reversed his route on the way back home.

Rob didn’t feel like a big dinner so he stayed with the dogs when Carol and I struck out at 5:15 for dinner at Boma.  We enjoy visiting the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Tonight there were plenty of animals to see at Arusha Rock.  Carol forgot her camera so she snapped these shots with her phone.


We had a terrific meal and were back home to a wet campsite just before 8:00.  It had rained hard while we were in Boma and it continued to drizzle until about 9:00 p.m.  I stayed with the dogs while Carol and Rob went to Downtown Disney . . . more shopping.  I think those two could shop around the clock!


Tomorrow is a “non-park” day.  Carol and Rob plan to head to a nearby flea market and I will rest at home with the dogs.  Aaah!  Then we will wind up a relaxing day with dinner at Raglan Road.

Thursday February 14, 2013


Nothing interesting happened today!


Blue woke us up at 7:00 a.m. and I sipped coffee while Carol took the three dogs out on a cool drizzly morning to do their chores.  It’s good to be me!


I had very little planned today and I revelled in the relaxation. 


Carol and Rob drove off just after 9:00 for a full day of retail therapy.  They were anxious to visit a local flea market.  I really don’t understand the overwhelming urge to shop but it seems to make them happy!

After they left I puttered on the computer for a while, had a shower and some toast for breakfast.  Then it was time to do my chores!  I took down some pewter handles on cupboard doors in the motor home and put up some Disney themed handles.  Our cupboards are now adorned with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald.  It looks good!

I drove around in the golf cart between showers, snooped around the old River Country area and visited with a few other campers then sat in a lawn chair and read my book while a gentle drizzle fell.


It stopped raining for a while around 11:00 so I loaded Blue and Jak in the golf cart and took them to the dog park for some exercise.  We had the park all to ourselves and they played for over a half hour.  The afternoon involved more rain, more reading and a nap.  It was quite blissful!

Carol and Rob arrived back home at 3:00 p.m. and declared their shopping day a total bust!  They bought next to nothing!  They visited two flea markets, a half dozen pawn shops, a couple of thrift stores, two Disney outlets and Downtown Disney.  They found almost nothing worth buying . . . but they had fun!  You see – that’s what I don’t understand about shopping.

Carol fed and walked the dogs at 4:30 and we left for dinner at 5:30.  We were seated almost immediately at Raglan Road and had a nice dinner.  Rob said his fish & chips wasn’t as good as he had at Rose & Crown . . . but there was no fish left when he said it.  Mine was quite good.  Carol and I shared a bread pudding for desert.  Yum!

After a quick stop at WalMart (yes, more shopping) we settled in for an evening with the dogs.


Tomorrow we will head to Hollywood Studios in the morning.  Later we will have dinner at Be Our Guest and spend the evening at Magic Kingdom.

Friday February 15, 2013


No sleeping in today.  Blue landed at 7:00 a.m. and Jak dropped in just seconds later.  Soon Carol had them walked and fed, then walked again.  We were in the car and on our way to Hollywood Studios before 9:00 a.m.  As we were on our way Carol made a prediction . . . she forecast that Studios would be very quiet since everyone would be at EPCOT where they had Extra Magic Hours.  BOY was she wrong!

As we approached the bag check area we spotted flags . . . scores of little pink, blue and green flags on sticks.  The Argentinians have arrived!  It looked as if the entire country is migrating north, each tribe following it’s own flag.  Today they reached Hollywood Studios.  Everywhere you looked there was a flag and several hundred Argentines following it.  Of course, the Cheerleading tweens from around the world are still here and none of the folks from Louisiana have gone home yet.  It was a zoo this morning!

Rob and I headed directly to Rock ‘n Roller Coaster and joined the single rider line.  It was the longest I had ever seen and it moved very slowly.  Carol had gone to Tower of Terror for FastPasses and then waited, and waited and waited.  She thought she might have missed us so she began to pace.  She got a few pictures at the exit while she was pacing!

Finally, after about 45 minutes got to the end of the line, enjoyed our ride, and joined Carol.  By the time we were done it was time for our FastPasses at Tower Of Terror so we headed directly there and joined a huge FastPass line.  We were about 20 minutes in the FastPass line before we had our thrilling plunge.  We decided that we would find out where the Argentines were going next and we would head in the opposite direction.

Carol hurried ahead and picked up FastPasses for Star Tours and we all met at the entrance to the Commissary.  Rob picked up chicken on a bun at the Commissary while Carol headed to Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner and picked up two Sausages in Buns.

After lunch we headed to Star Tours.  The standby line was only 10 minutes so Rob and I rode standby before using the FastPasses.  We were surprised when Rob’s picture flashed up on the screen.  He was picked as the rebel spy!  Carol joined us when we cashed in our FastPasses for the second ride.  The movie had some sound troubles in the first few minutes and then the ride shut down totally.  We sat in a still and silent capsule for about 5 minutes before they off-loaded us and loaded us into the capsule next door.  They must have re-booted the entire system because it was another 5 minutes before or ride resumed.  After all the delays it ended up being a good ride, we saw several elements we had not seen before.

The dogs had been alone long enough so we headed to the car and drove home.  We were back with the dogs by 1:30 p.m.


As soon as we arrived Carol and I loaded all three dogs in the golf cart and took them to the dog park for a good run.  They all had a good workout.  Then it was time for the humans to relax; we all had a good nap.

By 4:30 the dogs had been fed and walked and the three of us caught the boat to the Magic Kingdom.  As we waited for the boat Carol spent a few minutes watching a shore bird.  It waded into the shadow of the marina dock where there was a colony of clams.  One by one it picked up the clams, carried them out to the beach where it pecked them quite hard with its beak until it could pry them open.  After a lot of work it had a tasty treat to eat.

As soon as we arrived at the Magic Kingdom we picked up Sorcerer cards, then Carol and Rob shopped through the Emporium while I headed to the time board on Main Street to check out wait times.  When I saw a 70 minute wait time for the Jungle Cruise I said to a nearby cast member, “I have never seen a 70 minute wait for Jungle Cruise.”  He said he could shorten that for me, asked how many were in my party, and then wrote out a FastPass which was good at any attraction for the rest of the day.  Wow – that was great – I gave him a “Thank You” card.

Carol went to Jungle Cruise to get a FastPass for later but the return time conflicted with our dinner at Be Our Guest so she didn’t bother getting one, instead she went to the new Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and picked up FastPasses there.  We all met at Gaston’s Tavern and then headed to the Character Meet tent in Mickey’s Storybook Circus.  Rob and Carol took some pictures with Goofy and Donald and soon it was time to head to dinner.

It was our first dinner at Be Our Guest . . . Carol and I had lunch there in October and really enjoyed it so we had been looking forward to trying dinner.  We weren’t disappointed.  Carol and Rob had the strip steak and I had the sautéed shrimp and scallops.  Everything was delicious!  Afterward we sampled some of “The Grey Stuff” and it was delicious too!

After dinner we headed directly to Space Mountain where we cashed in our complimentary FastPass.  Next was the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor where I was (again) picked as “That Guy”.  It’s a very entertaining show; I don’t know why we don’t stop there more often!

It was time to use our 8:20 – 9:20 FastPass at Ariel’s Undersea Adventure so we headed back to New Fantasyland.


After finishing the Ariel ride we wandered over to Adventureland to find the Pirates of the Caribbean shut down with “technical difficulties” so we walked on past and stopped at The Jungle Cruise.  The 70 minute wait I had seen earlier had now dwindled to 5 minutes so we boarded a boat and took a moonlight cruise.  It has been years since we rode this attraction at night.  We had a great skipper and a very entertaining ride.

It was approaching 10:00 p.m. so we headed to the exit and caught a boat back to the campground.  The dogs were delighted to see us when we pulled in at 10:10.  By 10:30 the dogs were all snugged in bed with Rob.


Tomorrow we will head to EPCOT.  We have no dinner plans, we’ll just wing it!

Saturday February 16, 2013


Once again the dogs had Carol up by 7:00 a.m.  I followed about 15 minutes later.  I had decided to enjoy a day off from the parks today.  My legs have done pretty well, but by the end of the day I have been limping so this morning I decided to rest.  Carol and Rob struck off on their way to EPCOT at 8:50.  I puttered at the computer uploading a late instalment of our trip report (sorry Judy) then had a shower and took the golf cart to Trail’s End Buffet for breakfast.


After breakfast I cruised around some of the camping loops and then sat outside with the dogs reading my book.  At about 11:00 I packed up all three dogs in the cart and took them to the dog park.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle all three on the cart all by myself, but they were great.  Jak has sure adjusted well to camping, he was cool as a cucumber on the cart.  Here are a few dog pictures for Mariby!

After the dogs were pooped out from romping we loaded up again for the return trip.  Three tongues were hanging out!


I grabbed my book and returned to my lawn chair where I read until the winds picked up.  The gusts were flapping and rattling the awning on the RV and that was spooking the dogs.  I had just gone in and laid down for a nap when Carol and Rob arrived back at 2:20.  I got back up and they recounted their morning adventures before we all retired for a nap.


As soon as they arrived at EPCOT Rob dashed off to Soarin’ to pick up FastPasses.  At 9:35 the passes were already time-stamped for 12:50 – 1:50.

On their way back through the breezeway they noticed that the Character Spot greeting area looked empty so in they went.  There wasn’t another soul in the place so they had plenty of time to get shots with some of Rob’s favourite Disney characters.

They carried on toward Test Track . . . Carol didn’t mention it but I’m certain they stopped at Pin Central on the way past. 

Carol rode Test Track with Rob; they used the single rider line and both ended up in the same car!  Bonus!

Rob wanted to ride Mission Space one more time.  Carol does not like that ride so she waited for him.  Rob was about three-quarters of the way through the line when he thought, “Gosh, this looks awfully familiar.”  He had gotten turned around and was back in the Test Track single rider line – so he rode it again.

Then it was time for another journey back in time on Spaceship Earth.  The ride stalled so Carol was able to take a few pictures (no flash - I hate it when people take flash pictures in a dark ride). Then they headed back to World Showcase for lunch Mexico’s La Cantina.

After lunch they strolled around World Showcase and browsed through a number of shops, starting with Germany where Carol picked up some of that terrific Werther’s Caramel Corn.  There were even a few scraps left for me when she got home.  YUM!


Next came the shops in America, Morocco and Japan before they watched the movie in France.  Then it was time for their Soarin’ FastPass so they headed to The Land in Future World.  They cut through The Rose Garden which is now all set up for the Flower & Garden Festival which begins in a couple of weeks.  When we were there just a few days ago it was all grass, dotted with a few small flags; now it is a beautiful floral display.  Those Disney gardeners sure work quickly!


The area behind The Rose Garden is called "Land of Oz" and is  themed for the new Disney movie “Oz The Great and Powerful”

After another thrilling hang-glider ride over California they took a car ride home, just in time to disrupt my nap!


After we had all napped Carol fed the dogs and we took them out for a walk before heading back to EPCOT for the evening.  Rob still wanted to ride Mission Space one more time!


We were on the road at 5:00 and Carol’s first stop at EPCOT was The Art of Disney Store.  She really has trouble walking past that place.  No purchases today . . . and that’s a good thing!  She bought a new Larry Dotson print, a scene from Fort Wilderness, at Downtown Disney the other night.  That means that almost every piece of art adorning the walls in her Disney Room will have to be rearranged!  Sigh!


Next stop was Mission Space . . . oops . . . almost.  First Carol and Rob had to stop at Mouse Gear to trade some vinylmations.  I waited at the entry to Mission Space and soon they showed up.  Rob and I rode the orange (intense) side while Carol waited in Cowards Corner.


We strolled around World Showcase to China where we had a nice dinner at the quick service counter.  We all ordered the same thing, orange chicken.  It was quite tasty.

After dinner we headed back toward the exit.  Carol and Rob again stopped at Mouse Gear for a vinylmation trade.  I headed on to the car while they traded and Carol soon joined me there.  Rob carried on to The Living Seas to check out the aquariums one last time.  He planned to catch the monorail to the Magic Kingdom after that.


Carol and I stopped to gas up the car on the way back and were home with the puppies by 8:00 p.m.


Tomorrow we plan to visit the Magic Kingdom in the morning and then Carol and I will spend the afternoon tearing down all of our lights and camping paraphernalia before we pull out to head home Monday.  Rob will spend the afternoon soaking in every little bit of Disney magic he can find!


Our last dinner at Walt Disney World will be at ‘Ohana.

Sunday February 17, 2013


Once again a pair of leaping dogs woke us up at 7:00 a.m.  Blue and Jak were hungry.  Soon the dogs were fed and walked; the humans were fed and showered.  By 8:55 we were aboard a boat bound for the Magic Kingdom.  The crowds were still light when we entered the park at 9:15.  Not an Argentinean in sight.

Carol and Rob stopped in the Emporium to trade vinylmations while I headed to the Time Board on Main Street.  They soon joined me and we spent a few minutes strategizing.  Carol dashed off to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to pick up FastPasses and picked up her Sorcerer Cards when she was done.

Rob and I headed directly to Astro Orbiter where he enjoyed his first ride since 1988 and I enjoyed my first ride since 1999.  There was no line at all, only four people in front of us.  It’s a nice view from up there!

Carol joined us just as our ride was over and we took a spin with Buzz Lightyear.  Rob was the big winner with a score of 275,000.

Crowds were starting to pick up a bit, we spotted our first horde of little tween cheerleaders on our way to Pirates of the Caribbean.

We stopped on our way through Adventureland and visited the Tiki Birds.  It is so much better since they reverted to the original show.  I sure don’t miss the voice of Gilbert Gottfried – so annoying!

We carried on to Pirates of the Caribbean.  The ride was almost a walk-on, no more than a 5 minute wait.

By the time we finished riding Pirates at 11:00 a.m. it was time for our FastPasses at Big Thunder Mountain so we boarded our train for a wild ride in the wilderness.

At 11:30 we stopped at Pecos Bills for lunch.  Carol and Rob each had a cheeseburger; I had the Taco Salad again.  They give you a bowl made from a crispy tortilla, it has a scoop of tasty taco beef in the bottom and you take it to the “fixins bar” to add toppings to your taste.  I have now perfected my recipe.  I add a big scoop of fried onions, a heaping dollop of sautéed mushrooms, about a half-cup of hot cheese sauce, a few slices of sweet pickles and a dash of grated cheese.  Then I add a very light dusting of lettuce, just enough to ease my conscience and to make it seem wholesome and nutritious to people I pass on the way to my table!  Aaahh . . . it’s tasty!


On our way toward the exit we stopped to enjoy another show at The Country Bear Jamboree.

The boat had us back to the campsite by 1:15.  After walking the dogs we began the unpleasant task of packing up and getting ready to hit the road in the morning.  Fortunately, it all stows away faster than it sets up.  By 2:30 the bikes were hung on the rack and wrapped in a tarp, the Mickey lamp and Mickey rope lights were stowed in the RV’s basement, the lawn chairs were folded up and tucked in the trunk of the car, the patio mat was folded up and tucked away and the awning was retracted and locked-down for travel.  Whew!  It’s a sad chore!



We loaded the dogs on the golf cart and took them to the park for one last romp at Disney.  They’re sure going to miss it here!


Guess what happened next?  Nap?  You betcha!  All three of us snuggled in for a well earned snooze.  Carol and I enjoyed all that extra space in our bed since the dogs settled on the couch and napped with Rob.  Nice!


By 4:45 the dogs were fed and walked again.  I drove Rob and Carol to the Meadows Trading Post on the golf cart; they traded yet another vinylmation then we returned to the campsite, switched to the car and drove to the Polynesian Resort for dinner at ‘Ohana. 

It was another great meal.

We ended up with a small pile of shrimp shells.  Our friend Scottie will be disappointed; it took three of us to make this small pile.  Last February he made a pile five times this size – all on his own!

After dinner we drove back to Fort Wilderness where the two shoppers dropped me off and then carried on to Downtown Disney.  How can they shop that much?  I just don’t understand!  They were back before 10:00; Carol had bought a few pins.


Tomorrow I have to dump our holding tanks and unhook the utilities while Carol battens things down inside.  Then we’re off - on the road again.  We plan to travel 361 miles and spend the night in Walterboro South Carolina.

Monday February 18, 2013


It’s a sad day.  Even the dogs are blue . . . Correction – one of the dogs is Blue but all three are sad.  We are on the way home.


We were up at 7:00 and after a shower and a bowl of cereal I started the dump and disconnect routine while Carol ran in the slides, retracted the stabilizing jacks and made everything inside ready to travel.  We pulled out of the campsite at 8:30.  Rob drove the golf cart back to return it while Carol followed along behind in the car to pick him up and they met me in the overflow parking lot.  We had the tow car hooked up and pulled out by 8:45.  We turned onto I-95 at 10:00 and at about 10:30 pulled off at Exit 298 near St. Augustine to pick up some oranges at the D. & L. Groves store on US Route 1.  We were hoping to find Honey Belle oranges but it is too late in the season.  We ended up with Pineapple Navel oranges and Honey tangerines.


As we left the citrus store we noticed Rob leaning over the fence, we thought he was looking at gators or some kind of wildlife.  As we approached him we asked and he said, “No, I’m just moping about going home.”  Of course we understand that, that’s the way we always feel.  During the four-day southbound trip we are always thinking, “Oh boy!  Oh boy!  We’ll soon be there.”  But on the four-day trip north we always think, “Aw crap!  It’s over.”

We crossed the state line into Georgia at noon and pulled off at the FlyingJ Truck Stop south of Brunswick.  I filled up with gas while Carol and Rob walked the dogs, then we had a bite of lunch before hitting the road again.

We carried on under sunny skies and crossed into South Carolina at 2:45.

We made a quick stop at the South Carolina Welcome Centre and walked the dogs.


Then at 3:45 we pulled into our destination, New Green Acres Campground at Walterboro South Carolina.  While I checked in Rob met one of his childhood heroes, Arnold Ziffle.

As we pulled into our campsite the RV suddenly died.  It just quit . . . out of the blue the engine stopped and I had no power steering and no power brakes.  Frightening!The motor home was half-way into the campsite and the tow car was blocking the road behind us.


For the last few days we have been having trouble with a switch which disconnects the chassis battery, the battery which starts the engine.  It had shut itself off from time to time when we least expected it.  We were able to flick it back and forth a few times and get things going again, but today was the first time it disconnected while the RV was running.  Very frightening indeed, I wouldn’t want that to happen while we’re on the highway.  Our travels have halted until we can get repairs.  There are two other batteries which operate all the lights and accessories in the living area of the coach and they still work just fine so we’ll be comfortable while we wait for the problem to be fixed.


I unhooked the car so it wouldn’t block the road and Carol stayed in flicking that troublesome switch.  After a few minutes she got a green light and she was able to get the engine started again.  I pulled ahead into the campsite and took the car to the office to see if they could recommend a repair facility.

I called a mobile RV repair specialist who will be here tomorrow morning.  He thinks he can do a simple fix which will get us home . . . hope he’s right!


We headed off to Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner and then Carol needed some retail therapy.  After all, she hadn’t been shopping all day!  We stopped at Walgreens where she and Rob were in and out in less than five minutes.  WOW!  Then we had to stop at a Goodwill Thrift Store they spotted.  Once again it was almost miraculous . . . they were in and out in under five minutes.


We were back to the RV with the dogs by 8:00 p.m.  It took a bit of pushing and squeezing to get the living room slide open, the power driver’s chair wasn’t operational without the chassis battery but we were able to manipulate it by hand in order to get Rob’s bed opened up.  The dogs were very happy, they now have a place to sleep!


Hopefully tomorrows repairs will go well and we will be able to make our planned stop at Wytheville Virginia, just a little later than we had planned!

Tuesday February 19, 2013


Carol and I were up at 7:00 a.m.  Rob continued to snore on the couch.


Our service man wasn’t due until 10:30 so we dithered around doing nothing for a while.  Carol found a drawer in the bedroom that didn’t close anymore.  I grabbed a screwdriver and repaired the glide track . . . now it’s good as new.  Rob continued to snore on the couch.


I had time to reflect on the last few weeks.  It has been an unusual trip in several respects.  It was fun to watch Rob reacquaint himself with many classic old Disney attractions and just as much fun to see him experience new ones for the first time.  It’s always refreshing to see the magic through someone else’s eyes.


We didn’t bump into any Disney friends this time.  One night we said hello to TCD, an acquaintance from an online Disney camping community, but normally we run into several friends we have made at various Disney fan meets over the years.


On three occasions some total strangers came up and asked, “Are you Gary?”  Then they continued, “We read your blog all the time.” Or, “We really enjoy your AllEars articles.”  We are always surprised when things like that happen and we really like meeting or hearing from people who enjoy reading about our adventures. 


If you vacation vicariously with us, or if you just like looking at our pictures . . .  please take a minute and sign our guest book.  Tell us who you are and how you found us. 


In the past couple of years we have heard from folks in England, Australia and South Africa and it still mystifies us that they wandered on to our little site.


At 9:00 a.m. I turned on the computer checked the weather for the rest of our trip.  Uh-oh!  It will be below freezing every night – that means there will be no water available.  I need to winterize the rig on the way home and that means I need water to flush out the holding tanks.  So I decided to get the winterizing done while I waited for repairs.  I got right at it, dumped the holding tanks, flushed them out nice and clean and then pumped all of the interior water lines full of non-toxic anti-freeze.  It was drizzling by the time I was done at 10:05.  While I was winterizing, Carol took the dogs to the off-leash park and they had a good romp.  Jak ran and played with a basset hound until he finally collapsed.  There was no more run left in him! 


The repair man, Brian Johnson, arrived at 10:25.  Brian really knew his stuff.  I held the hood open for him while he worked.  I don’t really understand what he did, but after hooking up his multi-meter and checking a few readings he started moving wires to bypass a defective solenoid.  By then it was raining steadily but in about 15 minutes he was done.  Carol started the engine and began checking all the inside electronics - problem – the power driver’s seat had no power.  I headed in to investigate and found another problem – the electric steps at the RV door had no power.  Yikes – that’s no good.  Brian got out his meter again, checked a few more readings and moved two more wires.  Perfect – everything was working!


I paid Brian and we made ready to pull out at 11:00.  The last thing to do was a light check.  Problem – the left signal light on the tow car wasn’t working.  I fiddled with all the connections but couldn’t get it to work.  It was raining hard and the signal on the RV was working fine so I gave up, we’ll take it home as is and I’ll look for the problem when it’s warm and dry.  We left at 11:04 and were almost giddy when we pulled onto I-95 and made tracks north.  We had all been afraid the repairs would take much longer.  I set the cruise control at my customary 63 MPH and since we were behind schedule I snuck it up to a blazing 65 MPH.  There was no objection from the navigator (I was surprised) so we carried on merrily . . .


For 20 minutes!  At 11:24 the fecal matter made contact with the ventilation equipment.  Yup, the turds hit the turbine!  It was pouring rain and we were doing 65 with the windshield wipers on steadily.  Suddenly the driver’s wiper went left and the passenger’s wiper went right . . . and they didn’t come back.  Uh-oh.  This happened twice a few years ago – the arms which drive the wipers had jumped off the gear on the end of the electric motor.  All of this stuff is tucked up under the front cowl where you can’t possibly see it while you try to attach wrenches to it.  First you take a good look at it, then you reach in blind and feel your way around with the tools.  It’s great fun!  Naturally it’s always pouring while you do this!  We pulled into a roadside weigh scale and dodged the passing trucks while we attempted to repair the problem.  Rob came out and held the hood up while I fumbled with my wrenches for about a half-hour.  At one point I said to Rob, “They could not possibly have made this any more awkward.”  After 30 minutes we were both soaked but the wipers weren’t fixed.  I finally threw all my wet tools back in the toolbox and gave up.  We drove about 35 miles out of our way to a Camping World Store.  Carol and Rob walked the dogs while I explained our problem to the service co-ordinator.  After a short wait an RV technician came out and fumbled with his wrenches for about a half-hour while I held the hood up for him.  After about 20 minutes he said, “They could not possibly have made this any more awkward.”  I smugly agreed.  Suddenly a small grin appeared on his face and a few minutes later he pulled his arms out and said, “There you are, all fixed.  Have a good day.”  A trifling $54.00 later we were back on the road.  By 2:53 we had covered the 35 miles back to our route and we were back on course, a mere 5 hours behind schedule.  It was still raining but the wipers were functioning just fine!


The skies cleared and the rain stopped about 4:00 p.m.  We pulled in to the FlyingJ Truck Stop at Rock Hill South Carolina and I topped up the gas tank while the dogs stretched their legs for a few minutes, then we made tracks again.

Since we were so far behind schedule I kept up the blistering 65 MPH pace most of the day.  The notable exception came just minutes after we crossed the North Carolina state line at 5:25.

It was rush hour in Charlotte North Carolina and we crept and crawled for a few minutes. 

It was dark by the time we crossed the Virginia state line.  Too dark for a picture.  We began the big climb at Fancy Gap; it was the first night view of the vista for Carol . . . she didn’t even scream about my speed as we made the big climb! 


The screaming started later . . . the last 20 miles were brutal.  The weather forecast I read earlier in the day called for 40 MPH gusts.  We encountered them as we descended the other side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  There were even periods of sustained 40 MPH winds.  I had to two-fist the steering wheel most of the time.  As I struggled to keep the RV upright the navigator was yelling out helpful hints like, "Slow down!"


If you took my entire days conversational output, excised the invectives and deleted the expletives it would be distilled down to a half-dozen monosyllables and a couple of grunts!

Our frustrated group finally pulled into the campground at 7:55 p.m.  Everyone was bushed after a long, long day on the road.  We set up quickly and soon Carol had the dogs all fed and walked, much later than usual.  Then it was time to take me out for some social adjustment at the Peking Restaurant.  Two Manhattans did the job just fine!


Tomorrow simply has to be a better day!  We hope to get away early in the morning so we arrive in Harrisburg Pennsylvania in time to visit nearby Chocolate World.

Wednesday February 20, 2013


The wind gusts from last evening carried on all night.  There were plenty of blustery gusts and lots of prolonged periods of 40 MPH winds.  The RV was rocking most of the night; a few times it even woke me up.  That doesn’t happen often.  All three of us slept restlessly.

We wanted to get on the road bright and early today . . . so when I woke up at 6:00 a.m. I rolled over and started to bug Carol.  She played dead until 6:27 . . . when I got up and turned on the coffee.  Suddenly she was wide awake . . . it was a miracle!  Rob was awake at 6:30 too.  WOW!  We quickly made things ready for travel and pulled out at 7:40.

Roads were dry and skies were clear.  The gusting continued but the wind speed dropped as we moved further north.

By 10:00 a.m. we pulled into a rest area just north of Staunton Virginia where we all stretched our legs and gave the puppies a walk.


Our next stop was at Woodstock Virginia.  We pulled into the Cracker Barrel there at 11:30 . . . .after all it was chicken pot pie day.  Yum, our favourite lunch!

I gassed up at the FlyingJ Truck Stop just north of Winchester Virginia and we crossed the state line into West Virginia at 12:55.

We rolled past the Maryland state line at 1:20

By 1:32 we were in Pennsylvania where we continued to make excellent time in light traffic.  The only snow we saw all day was a thin patch which sat in a permanently shaded area along the edge of a forest high in the mountains of Virginia.  We are now three quarters of the way home and we have seen no snow in any area the sun can touch.


We pulled into the campground at 2:30 and by 3:00 we were all set up for the night.  The hook-up is easy after we’re winterized; simply plug in the electrical cable.  Carol ran out the three room slides and dropped the stabilizing jacks while I unhitched the car. 


By 3:10 we had walked the dogs and were on our way to Chocolate World in nearby Hershey.  It was 27 degrees outside and the 20 MPH winds made it seem much colder.  Carol announced on the way to Hershey that, in her opinion, Harrisburg is the coldest place in the world.

We spent about an hour at Chocolate World.  We took “The Great American Chocolate Tour” where Gabby, Harmony and Olympia explained the chocolate making process to us.  Then Rob and Carol wandered the aisles of the store while I waited in the car.  They find it very odd that I don’t like chocolate.

Next stop was the Disney Outlet store in the Tangers Outlet Mall near Hershey Park.  I took a quick peek in the store then waited in the car again.  Carol and Rob soon arrived with their purchases and then it was my time to shop.  They joined me in the Harbor Freight Tools Store for a few minutes; none of us bought a thing.  We were back to the RV by 5:30.



Carol fed and walked the dogs and by 6:00 we were off for dinner – a quick sandwich and ice cream at a nearby Friendly’s Restaurant.  I think we’re all getting tired of eating out.  Carol is already fantasizing about the pot roast she’s going to cook in the crock pot on Friday!


Carol dropped me off at the camp site at 7:30.  Rob decided at the last minute to stay with me, he’s apparently all-shopped-out!   Carol struck out on her own to the Christmas Tree Shop.  She’ll probably head to JC Penney and Target before she gets back. (Carol adds:  Yes I did and I bought three bathing suits!  I hate shopping for bathing suits.  I found three that fit, and I liked them, so I bought them all!  I should be good for another three years.  The best part was that I got the three suits for the price I would pay for one at home.)


Tomorrow is our last day on the road; we are 382 miles from home.  Once again we’ll try to get an early start . . . we should be home late tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday February 21, 2013


The bed felt pretty cozy on a cold morning in Harrisburg so we stayed tucked in until 7:15 . . . then it was time to get moving.  I had a shower and a quick bowl of cereal while Carol fed and walked the dogs.  We pulled out just after 8:00.  The 20 MPH winds had died down during the night but there were still some intense gusts, enough to keep me alert as I drove.  I spotted a few flakes of snow in the air as we left the campground but by the time I mentioned them to Carol they were gone.

Skies were overcast but the road was clear and dry so we made good time.  We pulled off at the FlyingJ Truck Stop in northern Pennsylvania and I gassed up for the last time this trip.

Then came the New York state line, we crossed into New York at 11:05 and pulled off in Cortland for a quick bite at McDonalds.  We don’t often eat at Rotten Ronnie’s but Carol does enjoy their Southern Chicken Sandwich.  Ronnie doesn’t serve them in Canada!

There were traces of snow along the roadside as we moved north but we didn’t  encounter any new snow until we hit the area we always dread on our way home – that nasty snow belt between Syracuse and Watertown New York.  The area is known for its heavy “lake-effect” snow.

Westerly winds blow the 250 mile length of Lake Ontario and pick up moisture all the way.  When the winds hit land all that moisture is dumped as snow.  Welcome to Syracuse!

Our dry and clean RV was soon a dirty, salty mess!  But we were luckier than some!

We approached the border at 2:30 and after a brief stop at the Duty Free Store we crossed into our home and native land at 2:45.  It’s a very short drive from the Thousand Island Bridge to our home; we pulled the RV in front of the house ay 3:25 and began unloading.

Carol and Rob hauled everything out of the interior while I unhooked the car then took the bikes off the rack and hung them up in the garage.


By 5:00 everything was unpacked and lugged into the house.  We moved the motor home to a nearby plaza where it will sit overnight.  Tomorrow the filthy beast will visit a truck wash for a bath before it goes into the shop for a few repairs.  Dang that solenoid!


It was a great trip, Rob had a blast and it was fun for Carol and I to watch him have such a good time!  It always heightens our enjoyment when we can share Disney experiences with others!