Tuesday February 11, 2014


What a chore we had getting ready for this trip!  We only had one day to pack before leaving and the packing chore was complicated by all the snow we have had.  The newspaper a few days ago reported that we have had 70% more snow this year than last year.  I think they were wrong - we've had way more than 70% more.  We've had three times as much - it's been endless!


We picked up the RV at 8:30 Monday morning and by 9:00 we were loading it up.  Ouch - it was really tough this time.


There was so much snow that we could not park the RV in the driveway, the snow banks were too high to let me make the sharp turn required!  It had to stay in the street while we ran back and forth.  Carol packed everything away inside while I hung the bikes on the rack and hooked up the car.  Then we started filling the basement storage bays.  In order to open some of the storage bays we had to move the RV.  There was plenty of jiggling and manoeuvring . . . and once the car is hooked up there is no backing up - I had to drive it around the block.  That happened several times before we were done.


This will be a very unusual trip.  Carol's parents, John & Sybil, along with son Rob will be joining us.  We're calling it "John and Sybil's Trailer Trash Trip".  We have motel rooms booked for them at every stop and once we arrive at Fort Wilderness they will camp beside us in a rented RV.  Hopefully we can all survive the trip with our sanity intact!

We were up bright and early Tuesday morning and pulled away at 7:30 sharp.  I was behind the wheel, Carol sat in the co-pilot chair with Zak at her feet, Rob shared the couch with Jak and Blue, John lounged in an easy chair while Sybil shared a bench at the kitchen dinette with Daizy.  There was a bit of seat trading during the trip but mostly that was the seating plan!

After a quick stop at Duty Free we pulled up to US Customs - there was no line at all and after about three quick questions we were waved through - we entered the USA at 8:15.

Roads were clear and dry and we made steady progress in light traffic.  At 8:45 we made a quick stop in Watertown NY and pumped $100 worth of gas, enough to get us to the first FlyingJ Truck Stop.  There were some light snow flurries and wet roads in the Mexico NY area but it was brief and didn't slow us down at all.

We crossed the state line at 11:50 and soon pulled off at the FlyingJ Truck Stop for a fill up.  After the dogs were walked we had sandwiches for lunch in the RV while we were parked at the FlyingJ and then we continued our bee-line trip to Harrisburg PA.

We were in the campground at 3:15.  I hooked up the utilities and then took John to the motel to check in while Carol, Sybil and Rob walked the dogs.  By 4:00 we were all loaded in the car for a quick trip to Chocolate World in nearby Hershey.  All five of us hopped in a car for the "Chocolate Tour" hosted by three Holstein cows, Olympia, Harmony and Gabby.  Then it was time to hit the store!  Everyone stocked up on Hershey chocolate . . . everyone but me.  I'm one of those rare folks who doesn't like chocolate!  It was a scramble to get our tour and shopping done before Chocolate World closed at 5:00 - but we got it all done!

Back at the campground everyone unloaded their goodies, Carol fed the dogs and we headed out once again - this time for dinner at Chilli's.  It was John's 84th birthday so we had some gifts and cards for him and after an excellent meal the restaurant brought out a special treat for him, ice cream with chocolate sauce.


Naturally the ladies had to shop so Rob escorted them as they toured the nearby Target store.  I hung out in the car reading my book and talking with the birthday boy.


We dropped John and Sybil off at their hotel and were back to the RV by 8:30.  I pulled out my brand new laptop and discovered that for some unknown reason Windows 8 will not connect to our Virgin Mobile MiFi device.  Windows 8 is a miserable program, in my opinion it is the worst piece of crap Microsoft has ever produced.  I spent close to two hours trying to navigate my way to the network settings so I could edit them.  I never did find them . . . after I tossed a great deal of verbal abuse toward Microsoft - and called into question the marital status of Bill Gates' parents - I called it a night at 10:15.  Sleep came very quickly.


All four dogs are with us in the motor home, Daizy snuggled with Carol and I, Zak and Jak shared the pull out couch with Rob and Blue curled up on the floor at the foot of our bed.  We all slept well after a long day on the road.

Wednesday February 12, 2014


After heading to bed early the night before we were all up bright and early . . . very early.  Coffee was set to start at 6:00 but Carol pushed the start button at 5:15.  After cursing out Microsoft for another hour I had a bowl of cereal and unhooked the utilities.  Carol and Rob walked and fed the dogs and we pulled out at 6:45.  John and Sybil were waiting at their hotel when we pulled up at 6:50.  We drove to a nearby plaza where I parked and turned on the onboard generator . . . John and Sybil had toast for breakfast while we sat parked in front of JC Penney.  We pulled out at 7:09 and continued our southbound trek!

Traffic was light and roads were bare.  Soon we hit that part of the trip where we cover four states in 40 minutes.  We left Pennsylvania and entered Maryland at 8:25, then entered West Virginia at 8:36 and finally crossed into Virginia at 9:01.

We pulled off at the first exit in Virginia and filled up with fuel at the FlyingJ Truck Stop.  After gassing up I pulled over to the propane filling are to top up our propane tank.  The furnace has been running almost steadily and it took 16 gallons to fill it up.  The dogs had a nice stretch while we were topping up then we hit the road again at 9:45.


The amount of snow along the roadside dwindled steadily as we moved south and by 11:20 when we pulled off at Staunton VA there was no snow at all.  None visible anywhere.  The dogs had a nice stretch, Blue and Jak even had time to romp and play alongside the RV when we parked behind the Cracker Barrel Restaurant.  Wednesday . . . chicken pot pie day . . . where else would we go!

We were under way again at about 12:30 and made good progress for about two hours . . . then the sewage made contact with the ventilation equipment!


Friends had been e-mailing and commenting on Facebook about the bad weather forecast.  We were driving on clear and dry roads, about 90 minutes from that giant hill which drops us from Virginia into North Carolina, when friends in the Raleigh/Durham area began to pop up on Facebook reporting heavy snow and freezing rain.  Carol said, "It sounds bad, maybe we should pull off before that nasty hill."  I said, "The roads are great here, let's just wait and see what develops before we decide."  Just a few moments later a light snow shower started and it quickly amplified.  It wasn't more than 20 minutes after I told Carol we should hold off our decision that I said, "Yikes - this is bad . . . we better plan on pulling off in Wytheville."


The last 50 miles was very painful.  The weather was brutal, the roads were snow packed and icy and the state had declared a state of emergency.  They were urging everyone to stay off the roads.  At one point we pulled off on an exit ramp to clear the ice off the windshield wipers.  As we made our way down the ramp on the other side the road rumbled under our tires . . . it was like a washboard . . . sheer ice covered with snow.  Everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief at 3:15 when we pulled off the highway near Wytheville and crawled up a slippery hill into the Wytheville KOA Campground.  Carol and Rob walked the dogs while I hooked up the motor home and unhooked the car.  We all relaxed for a few minutes as we stared out the windows at the heavy snow.  Big flakes and plenty of them - about 6 inches had accumulated before we left at about 4:45 to take John & Sybil to their hotel a few miles away.

After they were checked in we all headed off to the Peking Restaurant for dinner.  Yum . . . great wonton soup and egg rolls.


Enough was enough . . . we were all whacked out after a long day on the road . . . which wound up with a stressful hour.  We dropped John & Sybil off at their hotel and went back to the RV for a quiet night of TV.  By the time we got back home there was 8 to 10 inches on the ground.  We had a hard time getting the car backed in at the front of the RV.  When the dogs went out at 9:15 we were getting freezing rain . . . this is starting to get very interesting!


Tomorrow we'll play it by ear, if the weather is clear we'll try to pick John and Sybil up at 8:00 a.m. . . . or will it be noon?  Or will it be Friday?  Time will tell . . . at least we're off the road, all safe and sound for now!

Thursday February 13, 2014


We were up at 6:15 . . . yikes there was more snow!  At least a foot on the ground.  There was no way we were getting out of here quickly. 

The campground owners were ploughing by 7:00 a.m. but it would take a while to clear a track which would allow us to move the car and get the RV going.


Carol tried to call her parents at their motel but the switchboard was malfunctioning.  She wasn't able to get through.  They finally called us just after 9:00 and she told them to sit tight in the room, we'd get there when we could!

I started cleaning the car as Rob dug it out.  Rob and I headed out at about 9:45 and picked up a new wiper blade to replace the broken one on the tow car and a new clip to hold down the big net which protects the car while we are towing it.  This snow has busted a lot of stuff!


We picked John and Sybil up at 11:00 and took the Interstate back to the campground.  Two lanes were wet but bare, the third lane was snow covered.  Once we were all back in the snug and warm RV we convened a pow-wow.  The vote was 4 to 1, Carol lost to the majority . . . we would pull out after lunch.  John held the step ladder while Rob brushed a foot of heavy wet snow off the awnings which cover the three slide-out rooms.  Carol had made sandwiches which we ate after we were set to go, then I drove the motor home around the back of the campground and we hooked up to the car which we had left parked in front of the office.


We pulled out at 1:15 p.m. and made good time as we started the 30 mile climb up the Blue Ridge Mountains on I-77.  Carol wasn't looking forward to the big hill ahead of us and she refused to sit in her normal seat.  She strapped herself in on the couch where she could clutch the dogs for moral support.  I had explicit instructions . . . don't go faster than 45 mph and don't pass anyone.


The higher we went the colder it got and the wet roads became track-bare . . . soon we came across a few small icy patches.  When we peaked and then began our 7 mile descent on the other side the road was quite icy . . . but no one was telling Carol.  Everyone stayed in the same lane and we crept down at about 25 mph for the first mile.  Then it warmed up a bit and the ice turned to water . . . traffic sped up to about 35 but we continued in one lane almost all the way to the bottom.  In the last mile a few trucks started to go past us and when we were about a hundred yards from level ground at the bottom I decided that it was time to do a sound check . . . I pulled out to pass.  As I expected, she was in good voice.  Very clear diction, excellent volume and wonderful acoustic qualities!

We were all relieved to finally hit bottom in North Carolina . . . I bumped our speed up to our normal 63 mph and we sped along on clean dry roads.  Carol told me that one of her pin trading friends suggested on Facebook that I owed Carol a Disney Cel for dragging her down that scary hill!  Au contraire Evil and All Powerfull Queen of Disney Villains . . . I think it's the other way around.  I managed to transport Carol and her family all the way down that perilous precipice . . . I think she owes me!


Things were going extremely well but then suddenly, at mile marker 93, everything stopped.  There was an accident 8 miles ahead of us.  We ground to a complete halt at 2:15 after only 60 minutes on the road. 

At 3:15, after sitting completely still for an hour, we inched ahead about 50 yards.  Another hour went by . . . we sat, some of us reading and some playing on the computer.  We inched ahead a few yards and saw our first snowman in the median.  Yup, some of the stranded motorists were so bored that they got out and made snowmen while they waited.  We were stalled in the same place for 5 hours and 20 minutes, moving about 500 yards in all that time.  It was nice to see the three snowmen, it broke the monotony!  At least we had the RV where we could get up and walk around, and we had a bathroom . . . I'm sure many people were in some discomfort after being stranded that long!

Once we got moving again we went through a ten mile stretch of highway which had not been salted or ploughed because it was full of stranded cars.  There were ice patches up to 5 inches thick in places.  For all of our Disney friends, it reminded of that old section in the Test Track ride where you cross the blocks - I think they were German blocks or something like that!   But these blocks were real and they were made of ice!


Finally we made it through the bad stretch and hit good road again.  We sped through an almost vacant I-77 at Charlotte and at 9:30 crossed the state line into South Carolina where we pulled over at Rock Hill to gas up at the FlyingJ.

We convened another tribal council and decided to carry on to Walterboro SC, roads were good and traffic was very light!  We passed Columbia and turned on to I-26 as we made our way east toward I-95.  Wow - look at all those trees bending over!  The signs if the recent ice storm were everywhere!  Fallen and leaning trees along the roadside had been trimmed back to the side of the road but the shoulder was mostly impassable because of the debris.


At about midnight we came to a construction zone where the lanes were diverted to the right about four feet.  They accomplished the diversion by simply painting some new lines to mark the traffic lanes.  The right lane now extended about four feet onto the shoulder.  Suddenly, out of the dark appeared a giant pot hole . . . it was enormous and there was no time to react.  BANG!  The right front tire hit the pot hole and stuff in the RV fell off the wall.  A wooden Mickey Mouse left his spot on the wall, took a dive to the floor and fractured an ear!  All of the condiments in the refrigerator leaped out of the shelves on the inside of the door and rolled around on the shelves.  It was quite an impact . . . you'll hear more about that tomorrow.


Soon we turned onto southbound I-95 for our final 36 mile run to Walterboro.  Carol had phoned along the way to find a motel . . . no luck!  They were all full of emergency workers who were in the area clearing felled trees and restoring power to the thousands of homes still in the dark.  Everyone would stay in the RV tonight!


We pulled into our regular campground at Walterboro, New Green Acres.  It looked like a war zone - trees down, huge limbs across the internal roads, water lying everywhere and no power.  We crept and crawled through the campground, exited out the back and headed to the Cracker Barrel Restaurant across the road.  We pulled in at about 1:30 a.m., pulled out the couch for John, Sybil and Daizy, dropped the dinette booth into a bed for Rob and Jak and headed to bed.  It was "lights out" by 2:00 a.m.  Wow - What a day!

Friday February 14, 2014


I was sleeping peacefully when the dumpster landed on the asphalt beside us at 5:57 a.m.  BANG!  It startled all the dogs and woke every one of us.  I tried to get back to sleep but it just wasn't going to work.  We were all up by 6:30 after about four hours of sleep.  John, Sybil and I went into Cracker barrel for breakfast while Carol and Rob tended the dogs and got the RV ready to travel.


The three of us were back with coffee for Carol at 7:05 and she was all ready to roll.  We pulled out at 7:10.  Skies were sunny and there was no trace of snow.  My feet were warm and dry for the fist time in days.  At 7:15 I spotted my first palm tree - life can be good sometimes!

We zipped steadily along in light traffic and crossed into Georgia at 9:30.

We planned to gas up at the FlyingJ at exit 29 and I had slowed down as we approached our exit.  Remember that pot hole last night?  Suddenly BANG - the right front tire blew.  The wheel tugged to the right and I braked as we pulled off onto the shoulder . . . just 500 yards from our exit.  It was an amazing display of driving daring-do . . . I managed to keep the big rig shiny-side up and rubber-side down!  As bad as the situation was, it happened in a very good spot, a wide shoulder with plenty of room to get off the road.

I lifted us up on the hydraulic jacks so I could spin the tire . . . there was hole you could put your fist through, but the rim was intact.  I called AAA for roadside assistance - all they could do was tow me to a tire repair spot, they had no roadside repairs.  We decided to call directly and arranged for Wingfoot Tire Service, just a mile or two away, to come and fix us up.  We had an hour to wait so I played on the computer, others dealt with the delay in their own ways!  Charles from Wingfoot arrived at 11:30 and we were back on the road at 12:00 about $800.00 poorer but none the worse for wear.  Yes, it was terribly annoying . . . but we're all very thankful it wasn't much worse!

We gassed up at FlyingJ and proceeded to the nearby Blue Beacon Truck Wash.  We waited in line for about a half hour and then drove into the wash bay.  I opened the propane bay door under the coach so they could spray the big propane tank and clear off the road salt.  As I turned to head to the office to pay for the wash, I tripped on a high pressure spray hose and performed a magnificent swan dive onto the wet, grimy and slimy concrete floor.  Within seconds a flock of illegal immigrants arrived to ensure that was OK - the only thing wounded was my pride.

Once the RV and the car were all cleaned up we got back on the road and crossed the Florida state line at 2:30 - naturally we had to stop at the Welcome Centre for orange juice and a few pictures.


Next stop?  Of course it was the Disney Character Outlet Store in St. Augustine.  Carol said they'd be in and out in less than 20 minutes.  Like I haven't heard that before!  Man was I surprised when they returned after only 14 minutes.  Wow!

Traffic was heavy as we passed through Orlando during Friday night rush hour on a long weekend.  A good time for some shut-eye!

It seemed to take forever to cross the city but we finally arrived on Disney property and were soon checking in at Fort Wilderness.

We are in sites 833 and 835.  John and Sybil's rented 5th wheel trailer was set up in 833 so Carol and Rob directed me as I backed into site 835 in the dark.  It's the first time we've arrived in the dark - daylight is much better!


Carol fed the dogs and walked them while I did the basics to set up the RV, then we took off for dinner.  After a very nice meal at Trail's End Buffet I crashed.  It's been a long four days and I was beat!  My sweet Valentine carried on a while longer, putting things away while I snored.

Saturday February 15, 2014


We both slept like logs last night.  I snored from 11:15 until past 7:00 a.m.  Carol had continued putting things away inside the RV until about 1:00 a.m.  A good night of sleep felt great!

Since we arrived in the dark we didn't do anything more than the basic set-up last night.  This morning we remedied that.  Carol spent a few minutes getting Rob and her parents squared away while I pulled the bicycles down off the rack, then we both got to work at home.  I extended the awning and then all the accessories were put in place, patio mat, awning lights, lawn chairs, Mickey Lamp Post, Mickey Rope Lights, Musket Mickey sign, etc.  We finished just after 11:00 a.m.

Carol, Sybil and Rob loaded into the car and headed out for some shopping.  Their first stop was Downtown Disney where Carol lined up at Guest Services to upgrade our 10-day Park Hoppers to Annual Passes.  The line wasn't moving at all and she gave up after 10 minutes!


They had a bite to eat at Earl of Sandwich and then drove over to the nearby Holiday Inn on Hotel Plaza Boulevard.  There was a pin trading event Carol had been looking forward to . . . and she managed to pick up some pins and vinylmations to add to her collection.  She was very happy with her trades!  Rob traded a few Vinylmations and at about 2:30 they left the event and drove to Winn Dixie for some grocery shopping.


John and I took the golf cart for a spin and toured the entire campground.  We walked the horse barn at Tri-Circle D Ranch, strolled around Chip & Dale's Sing-along Theatre.  We saw it all, top to bottom then headed back to the RV and enjoyed a sandwich for lunch.  John headed to his campsite next door where he sat in the sun, reading his book and dozing.  I spent some time setting up a cable modem I picked up at The Meadows Trading Post and connecting a WiFi router.  Halleluiah - I now have a reliable internet connection.  I uploaded a few days worth of trip report and then sat down with my book.  After a few minutes my eyes were drooping so I surrendered to the sandman and went for a nap.  Aaah!  Finally, after all those days behind the wheel - a nap.

I hadn't been up too long when Carol and her troop returned.  She put the groceries and all her other treasures away and soon we were on the road again.  This time our destination was the Polynesian Resort where we were having dinner at 'Ohana. 

We were seated at about 5:30 and had a wonderful meal, as always!

We were back home at 7:30.  John, Sybil and I settled in for the night while Carol and Rob boarded a boat to the Magic Kingdom where they visited a ticket booth and exchanged those Park Hoppers for Annual Passes.  They didn't enter the park, it was a quick boat ride back to the campground.  We got to bed early after all those long days on the road!  Tomorrow we're off to EPCOT!

Sunday February 16, 2014


We all slept well . . . Sybil said she had her best sleep in years!  I'm not sure whether it was due to total exhaustion or the clean fresh air at Fort Wilderness.  I suppose it doesn't matter which it was, the point is we were all well rested and ready to go!


We pulled out in the car at 8:30 and by 9:00 we had parked at EPCOT and entered the park.

Our first stop was Spaceship Earth, we all really enjoy the ride through history!  There was no line at all when we arrived at 9:05 so we didn't bother using our FastPasses, we joined the standby line.

We wandered on to Future World and took a ride with Nemo and his friends, then spent a few minutes enjoying the aquariums.  The manatees were frolicking when we arrived.  Two divers were vacuuming in the main section of the aquarium and directly behind them were another pair of divers feeding the stingrays.  It was fascinating!

Our next stop was Soarin' in the Land Pavilion.  Carol and I have seen this one at least a hundred times and I still really enjoy it.  Carol thinks it's getting a bit stale and needs to be refreshed - I don't disagree but that does not detract from my enjoyment!

We stopped for coffee and cokes at the Sunshine Seasons food court and then headed out to cash in our last FastPasses of the day at Living With The Land. 

John and Carol are both avid gardeners and they get a big kick out of the greenhouses.

By 12:30 we were seated at the Rose & Crown Pub in England.  We went with the total British experience - fish & chips, cottage pie, Guiness and Strongbow.  It was delicious, as always.

We meandered toward the exit to get home to the dogs.  Carol and Rob dashed ahead to Mouse Gear to trade vinylmations.  I escorted John and Sybil to Club Cool and gave John his first taste of Beverly.  John assured me it was also his last taste of Beverly . . . no surprise there!

Sybil had to take one final spin on The Great Potty Ride before we left the park!

We were home with the dogs by 2:00 p.m. 

Carol and I loaded Blue and Jak on the golf cart and took them to the dog park for a run.  Blue ran and ran chasing his ball while Jak tried to coax him to play.  Before long a cute little female poodle, Chanel, arrived and Jak was smitten!  They ran, romped and had a great time.  Within 30 minutes both dogs were pooped so we headed home.

Carol and Rob went to the Character Outlet on Vineland and did a bit of shopping while the rest of us enjoyed some down time (Zzzzzz!) 

When they returned they were raving about the armadillo they had seen just down the road from the campground.  They stopped beside the road for a few minutes and watched him roam and eat.


At about 5:30 we loaded back in the car for a return to EPCOT.  As we left the campground Carol said, "This is where we saw the armadillo . . . Oh, look, there he is!"  We stopped and watched for another few minutes.  As we drove on we saw another, then another.  Yesterday we saw seven deer, today we saw seven armadillo.  This is a great area to watch critters!

At EPCOT we walked directly back to World Showcase and had a nice dinner from the counter service outlet at China.  Sesame Chicken and Orange Chicken were the favorites!


We headed toward Mexico but stopped to walk through the Stave Church in Norway.  They are featuring an exhibit of scenes, costumes and accessories from the new movie Frozen.


In Mexico we had to wait while Sybil tried on a few hats.  She really has a thing for goofy hats!

We joined a long line for the Gran Fiesta Tour but the line moved quickly.  Soon we were cavorting across Mexico with José Carioca, Panchito and Donald Duck.

Mexico was our final hurrah for the day; we headed toward the exit. 

Naturally Carol could not walk past The Art of Disney Store so John, Sybil and I waited outside while she and Rob shopped.  She soon came out - empty handed and we headed to the parking lot.


We were home by 8:15.  We knew that the parks would be very busy this weekend but we accomplished a lot more than we had expected today.  Tomorrow we are heading to the Magic Kingdom and I'm sure it will be jam packed there.

Monday February 17, 2014


It was a magnificent day!  The sun was shining in a clear blue sky.  It was picture-perfect.  Four of us boarded the golf cart and scooted to the Fort Wilderness dock, Carol rode her bike. 

 The boat pulled in just as we arrived at 8:15.


We have heard many times that the two busiest days at the Magic Kingdom are Christmas Day and President's Day.  This was President's Day so we were expecting the place to be jam packed.  We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived, the crowd wasn't too bad!  Carol and Rob activated their Sorcerer cards and we ambled slowly up Main Street on our way to Fantasyland.  Cinderella Castle was open so we stopped inside to admire the mosaics.  Two ladies stopped beside me and said, "Hi Gary."  We had met them a couple of years ago at the AllEars.net December to Remember event.  After chatting with them for a few minutes we carried on.

This was the first time John and Sybil had seen the new Fantasyland so we pointed out some of the highlights as we headed to Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid.  The standby queue for Ariel's ride was very short so we didn't need our FastPasses, but we used them anyway.

It really is a cute ride, we all enjoyed it.

We headed back toward the castle and passed the new restroom and stroller parking area themed after the Tangled movie as we made our way to our next stop, the Haunted Mansion.  We boarded our Doom Buggies and took a spin through this ghoulish attraction.  When we got to the end there was a malfunction - the hitchhiking ghosts rolled through those final screens but the images of us in our Doom Buggies were not there.  The ghosts didn't swap our heads or do any mischief to us because we were not there.  Disappointing!


Carol and Rob stopped at Frontier Mercantile to trade Vinylmations while John, Sybil and I slowly wandered though Frontierland on our way to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Sybil waited in the sunshine while the four of us took a wild ride through the wilderness.

It was time for a rest so we started on our way to the Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland.  As we passed Pirates of the Caribbean there was some pirate training going on at the nearby stage so we stopped and watched the show for about 10 minutes.  Sybil was clapping, dancing, yelling and cheering.  I think she'd make a good pirate!   Arghhh!


I picked up a pineapple float at Aloha Isle and returned to Sunshine Tree Terrace where everyone else had settled with their citrus swirls.  We rested for a few minutes before heading back to Pirates of the Caribbean to cash in our last FastPass of the day.  This time we were glad to have the passes, the line was huge!  Once again, there were some technical issues with the ride.  A number of scenes were dark.  The underwater mermaids were not backlit, the skeleton at the ships wheel was not visible, that entire area was dark.  When we arrived at the village where Barbossa's ship is attacking the fortress the lights were out on the right side, you could not see the fortress walls.  Disney needs to do some maintenance!

It was lunch time so we headed to Pecos Bills for some frontier grub before heading home to the dogs.  John and I found a nice bench beside City Hall and spent some quality time people watching as we waited for Carol, Sybil and Rob who were scouring the shops along Main Street as they made their way toward the exit.


Along the way they encountered the Fire Chief who inducted Sybil as an Honorary Fireman.

Scoop Sanderson said hello to Carol and gave her a very special, highly coveted Pin Trading Award!

A launch was waiting as we neared the Magic Kingdom dock and we boarded immediately for a quick ride home.  The four dogs were happy to see us!


We enjoyed a leisurely afternoon.  John and Sybil had a nice long rest, sitting in the sun beside their RV.  Rob rode his bike to the pool where he ended up joining a group from Maine to compete in the trivia contest.  Carol and I took a quick trip to WalMart to pick up a few supplies.  The dash display showed the outside temperature at 30°C (86°F) NICE!  I had a short nap when we got home.

At 5:15 we hopped in the car again and headed to Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner at Boma.  We left early to allow plenty of time to roam around the resort and explore Arusha Rock and all the savannahs.  There were plenty of animals to see, zebra, giraffe, Ankole cattle, wildebeast, antelope, scimitar oryx, flamingo, ostrich and pelicans to name a few.


Dinner was terrific.  Boma is a buffet restaurant and most of the dishes have a distinct African flair.  We all ate our fill!

We were home by 8:00 after a very good day.  Most of us were tired and looking forward to hitting the sack early.  I was the first man down . . . I've been fighting a cold for a few days and I hit the sack just after 9:00 p.m.


Rob to still had a bit of gas in his tank so he headed off in the golf cart and caught a boat to the Magic Kingdom where he caught the end of the Main Street Electrical Parade, traded a few Vinylmations then rode Space Mountain.  He was back home at 10:45.

Tuesday February 18, 2014


When I woke up this morning I felt like the dog who sat on sandpaper - Ruff!  It was destined to be a down-day for me, I stayed home to try to fight off this cold.  I uploaded yesterday's exciting episode of this trip report and then sat outside in the sunshine with four dogs and my book.


When I got bored I puttered a bit, changed a burnt out bulb in the Mickey Mouse lamp post and then washed the windshield and front windows of the motor home.  Then I returned to my book.


The four able bodied revellers left in the car at 8:30 for Hollywood Studios.

Sybil waited outside while Carol, John and Rob bounced and flailed around on the Tower of Terror.

Carol and Sybil shared a Danish on Sunset Boulevard while they waited for John and Rob who used the Single Rider line for a quick spin across town at the Rock 'n Roller Coaster.

Next on the agenda was Toy Story Midway Mania.  It was the first time on this ride for John and Sybil - they really enjoyed it!

They strolled through the Streets of America on their way to Star Tours.

The men enjoyed a thrilling space flight while the women waited back on Earth.

At noon they dropped into Pizza Planet for lunch, then enjoyed the last attraction of the morning, MuppetVision 3D.  This is one of John's favourites and once again he chuckled all the way through it.

They were home by 1:30 and everyone settled in for a restful afternoon.  I gave the car a quick wash then enjoyed a two hour nap.  Sybil laid in the sun; John had a nap; Carol and Rob rode their bikes to the pool.

By 5:15 all five of us were loaded up in the car for a return trip to Hollywood Studios.  We had a dinner reservation at 50's Prime Time Café.

We arrived well ahead of our 6:30 reservation so Rob and I headed to Star Tours for a fast paced trip to Kashyyyk, the Wookiee planet.  After wrecking the jungles and vexing the Wookiees Rob headed to Rock 'n Roller Coaster and I went to 50's Prime Time to meet Carol and her parents. 


They had been to the Art of Animation Store where Carol scoped out the new cel to be released in March.  She decided to save valuable wall space for one she likes better!


We were seated just before 6:30 and had a nice leisurely meal.  Our waitress wasn't overbearing and didn't pester us too much.  She was more aggressive with the table next to us and that suited us just fine!

Rob joined us for dessert at 7:00 - he reported that the line at Rock 'n Roller Coaster was too long so he had gone back and rode Star Tours twice more while we ate.


As we exited the park Carol and Rob dashed off to the Villains Store for one last Vinylmation trade, then met us at the parking lot.  We were home at 8:10.  All the old folks settled in for the night; Rob caught a boat to the Magic Kingdom.

Wednesday February 19, 2014


We were all eager to get going this morning!  We had planned to get away by 8:30 but pulled away 15 minutes early on our way to Animal Kingdom.

Sybil used up some of the extra time by trying on goofy hats!

Once we were in the park we stopped in front of the Tree of Life for a group picture - we have a collage frame full of family group pictures in front of the tree - now we have another to add.


Carol, Rob and Sybil went off to shop and trade pins while John and I watched the animals at the base of the Tree of Life.  Soon the other three wrapped up the shopping and trading and rejoined us.

We posed John and Sybil for a picture in front of that amazing tree and just as Carol snapped the shot a duck flew by so close it ruffled their hair!

Don't see the duck?  Here's a close-up!

We carried on to Kilimanjaro Safaris for a photo safari through Africa.  There were plenty of animals today, a good thing since it was John and Sybil's second ride.  They last rode with Carol and I in December 2000.

As we exited the safari the gorillas were out playing so we stopped for a few minutes.

At Harambe Sybil had to stop and show us her prowess on the bongos.  We couldn't get away fast enough . . . the lady needs a few more lessons!

Rob has been looking forward to a ride on Kali River Rapids, it was closed for refurbishment when he was here last year.  Rob, John and I rode while the ladies waited onshore.  After our sopping run through the rapids we adjourned to Yak & Yeti where we found a sunny table and sipped coffee while we dried off!

Rob hopped in the single rider line at Expedition Everest and then Carol, John and I cashed in our FastPasses to join him on his second ride.  It's a great coaster but once was enough for me today!

We had a very nice lunch at Yak & Yeti then made our way toward the park exit.

On our way out of the park we made a detour to the Tree of Life and naturally we had to put on our Bug Eyes and watch It's Tough To Be A Bug before heading to the parking lot.

We were home by 2:00 p.m. and everyone had a snooze . . . everyone but  Carol, she went to the pool for a quick dip.  Before we knew it to was time to feed and walk the dogs before heading out to dinner.


Rob decided to pass on dinner at Downtown Disney.  He went to the Magic Kingdom to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. 

The rest of us left for Downtown Disney at 5:30.  We parked very close to Planet Hollywood and the Characters in Flight balloon was flying as we headed toward the shopping area.  We went directly to the ticket boot, bought our passes and within 15 minutes of parking we were airborne.  Carol and I have flow at night but never in daylight and John and Sybil have been trying to get aloft for years.  We were all thrilled to finally get a ride!

We had a nice dinner at Wolfgang Pucks then John and I waited for Carol and Sybil outside the DStreet store.  Surprise - they were less than 10 minutes!


We were home with the dogs by 8:00 and Rob returned from the Magic Kingdom at 9:30.

Thursday February 20, 2014


Another down day for me - this danged cold!  Everyone else left for EPCOT at 8:30.  I stayed home, drugged myself and relaxed.  I puttered a bit with some minor repairs and sat out with the dogs, reading my book.  Then at noon I headed indoors - Canada was facing the USA in the ladies hockey Gold Medal Game.  GO CANADA GO!  I was in Florida with the A/C running watching women play hockey in Russia . . . how odd was that?  GO CANADA GO!


Once at EPCOT Carol and the gang headed straight to Soarin' where they had a 9:05 FastPass.  John and Sybil both really enjoy this attraction; so do I . . . whine, wimper!

They walked across the concourse to the Imagination Institute and took a journey into their imaginations with Figment and Dr. Nigel Channing.

Then they helped Captain EO save the galaxy before crossing to the other side of Future World. 

Along the way they encountered the Jammitors, a skilled percussion group who beat out some great tunes on garbage cans!  Neither John nor Sybil had seen this group before and in no time at all they were clapping and tapping along!  When the show was over they were both presented with snazzy certificates (stickers) proclaiming them to be "Junior Jammitors".

After an educational tour of the Universe of Energy with Ellen and Stupid Judy they headed to Mission Space where John and Rob rode while the ladies waited in the wings.


They had a quick lunch at Electric Umbrella then headed for home.  They arrived at 1:15 and John joined me to watch the exciting end of the hockey game.  Canada was down 2 - 0 with three and a half minutes to go and ended up winning the Gold Medal in overtime.  A sweet win for Canada, a bitter loss for the USA!


Carol and Rob went to the pool, John and I had a nap after the game.

At 4:45 we all loaded in the car and headed out to EPCOT for dinner at Japan's Teppan Edo Restaurant.  Carol and I always enjoy the dinner there and tonight was no exception.  Our chef, Mikako, put on a great show and prepared a terrific meal!

On our way toward the exit we stopped in France to watch the movie Impressions de France.  The film is a little dated but it gives a wonderful perspective on a beautiful country.


We were home before 9:00 and everyone settled in for the night . . . everyone except me.  I headed to the hot tub for a nice soothing soak before bed.

Friday February 21, 2014


We were all up and raring to go this morning - even me.  I felt better than I have for several days.  We caught the boat were on our way to the Magic Kingdom at 8:30.

When we entered the park the Main Street Trolley Show was just beginning so we stopped to watch the dancers.  It's a great way to start a Disney day!

We walked through the castle again and made our way to Mickey's Philharmagic.  John chuckled all the way through the show, he just loves the 3D movies!


We were glad to have FastPasses for Peter Pan, as usual the line was very long for this classic old attraction.

After flying to Neverland with Tinker Bell and the gang we crossed the road to It's A Small World and let that bouncy tune eat away at our brains for a few minutes!

It was time for a break and a cool drink so we went to the Sunshine Terrace where John and I had a Pineapple Float while Carol and Sybil had Citrus Swirls.


In a few minutes we were fully refreshed and walked to the Haunted Mansion for an adventure with the 999 happy haunts.  Hooray - the hitchhiking ghosts were operating again and we had our heads popped and swapped as we finished our rides.

John and Sybil had yet to see Mickey's Storybook Circus so we headed in that direction, showing them the sights, and wound up having an encounter with Goofy and Donald!

Our last stop of the morning was Tomorrowland where we took a spin with Buzz Lightyear.

As we made our way down Main Street USA toward the exit a familiar voice rang out.  It was Cheri from Atlanta.  She and her daughter Naomi along with friend Terri from New Orleans were just entering the park.  Sybil was delighted to meet one of her Facebook friends!

We caught the boat and were home at 1:00 p.m.  After a lunch of sandwiches on the picnic table it was time to get a group picture of the dogs on the golf cart.  Have you ever tried to pose four dogs for a picture? 


Carol and I loaded up Jak and Blue on the cart and took them to the off-leash park for a run.  They had a lot of pent-up energy and needed some exercise.  Then came a nap!  Aaahhhh!

At 5:15 we were on the way again, heading back to the Magic Kingdom for dinner at Be Our Guest.  We were seated promptly for our 6:30 reservation and enjoyed a terrific meal.  This time we were seated in the Beast's West Wing and were able to watch the petals drop from the rose.  Friends, Rachel (melemt) & Sarah (LovinDisney4Ever), from Tagrel.com, were also dining there and stopped by to say hello.

After dinner we fought our way through the crowd to Casey's Corner where we watched the Wishes Fireworks extravaganza on Main Street.  It's always better when you see it from the street!


We moved over toward the Crystal Palace and found a location with a clear view of Cinderella Castle and enjoyed the Celebrate The Magic show.  Wow - it's just amazing how they can transform the castle with lights!

We moved to Frontierland and found a good location in front of Frontier Mercantile to watch the Main Street Electric Parade.  It's bouncy and bright, a very energetic parade!

Those of us watching had run out of energy though . . . it had been a long day and we had accomplished a lot!  We made our way to the exit, caught a boat and were back home with some happy dogs at 10:20 p.m.   Zzzzzz!

Saturday February 22, 2014


We decided months ago that this would be a non-park day . . . a day to relax.  What a great decision that was, we all needed a day to recharge.


We slept until after 7:00 and took a slow start to the day.  We sipped coffee as we dabbled at the computer.  No deadlines, no pressure, it was great!


By 9:30 a.m. Carol and Rob had enjoyed enough relaxation.  They headed out for some retail therapy.  Their first stop was Theme Park Connection, a warehouse full of old Disney pins. vinylmations, figurines, books, magazines, decorations . . . it's a cornucopia of Disney junk.  Although they each picked up a few small items, they reported that the pickings were slim today.  They visited a Goodwill Store, the Character Outlet  and WalMart before they got home at about 2:45.


John Sybil and I continued to relax all day.  We watched some Olympics on TV and took a golf cart tour of the campground.  We had terrific photo opportunity at Tri-Circle D Ranch . . . but I forgot to take the camera!  The six little white ponies which pull Cinderella's carriage were all getting a bath at the horse barn.  They were going to be working at a wedding later in the day and were getting primped and preened for the event!

We had a nice lunch at Trail's End, we left the golf cart behind and got inside just as the skies opened up.  It poured, the rain was overshooting the eave troughs on the roof and cascading in sheets off the eaves.  Thunder, lightning and torrential rains!  Thankfully it didn't last too long.  By the time we were finished lunch the sun was shining again.


Naturally I had a nap later in the afternoon.


We left for dinner at 5:30 and had a miserable dining experience at Cape May, a seafood buffet restaurant at Disney's Beach Club Resort.

It was the most expensive meal we have had so far and it was by far the worst food.  The restaurant was very busy but somehow the food didn't seem to be fresh and hot.  And the service - deplorable!  They seated us at a table beside the buffet - the line of people waiting for the buffet circled our table.  We were surrounded by people holding empty plates.  When our server arrived we told her this just wouldn't do.  They moved us to the very next table, but at least we were now six feet from the ravenous horde.

We had just helped ourselves to soup and salad when a young boy arrived beside our table, started crying, then vomited all over the floor.  Ugh!  We moved again, finally to a quieter corner of the dining room, but we left a good server behind and gained one who seemed to keep forgetting we were there.

Then as a grand finale they refused to honour our Tables In Wonderland discount card and at the same time split payment of the bill equally between two credit cards.  We were not asking for separate cheques; give us one, but split the payment equally between two cards!  We appealed to the manager and he explained that the eight dining rooms who had previously split the bill for us were wrong and he was right.  We explained to him that we would forgo the 20% discount and pay the full bill but he and his staff would forgo a 20% tip.  I tucked away the discount card, they split the full bill two ways and we left.  No tip!  It was a poor ending to a nice day!


We were back home by 8:00 p.m.  I enjoyed a soothing soak in the hot tub while Carol did a few loads of laundry.


Tomorrow we're off to Animal Kingdom for another safari ride!

Sunday February 23, 2014


We were up by 6:55 and I immediately turned on the television.  I was hoping to see the Olympic Gold Medal hockey game, Canada vs. Sweden.  This is the sort of event which causes my country to stand still while everyone from coast to coast watches the game . . . but I wasn't sure it would be televised here since the USA wasn't playing! 


I was pleasantly surprised - there it was on NBC.  Jonathan Toews scored a pretty tip-in to put Canada ahead 1 - 0 after one period.  I took a quick shower during the intermission and was back for the opening face-off of period two.  Holy Cow!  Sidney Crosby had a clear breakaway; he totally fooled the Swedish goaltender, pulled him out of the net and then flipped to in the net on his backhand.  After two periods Canada was ahead 2 - 0 on two picture-perfect goals.


We convened a tribal council and discussed whether we should stay and watch the third period or head off to Animal Kingdom.  The consensus was, "Let's go!" so we put all four dogs in our motor home, left the TV on and instructed them to cheer the team on!

We were in the car and on our way by 8:30.  As we entered the park we had our first sighting of DiVine.  She was performing on the right trail, just behind the stroller rental shop.

We headed straight to Harambe and cashed in our FastPasses for a ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris.  It was quite overcast, a bit hazy and very humid; there were plenty of animals today.


After another great safari ride Carol found a WiFi signal on her phone and checked the hockey score.  Chris Kunitz scored in the third period and Canada won the game 3 - 0.  Hooray - two hockey gold medals, just like in 2010.

We were elated as we strolled over to Asia and took a high speed run through the Himalayas on Expedition Everest.  Rob and I used the single rider line to take a second ride before we left Tibet.


Our next stop was the Theatre In The Wild in DinoLand where we watched Finding Nemo - The Musical.  It was the first time John, Sybil and Rob had seen this high energy production and they really enjoyed it. 

I always find myself torn, do I watch the live actors or do I watch the puppets they carry and manipulate.  It's a wonderful show!

After the show we briefly discussed walking the Maharaja Trek but decided against it.  It was very hot and humid and we were all tired.  We slowly made our way to the exit and headed for home.

We were back at the campground at about 12:30 and sat outside to eat sandwiches which Carol prepared.

After lunch Carol and Rob went to the pool while everyone else napped.  Carol came back home at 3:00 and helped me load Jak and Blue on the golf cart for a trip to the dog park.  Blue ran and ran after his ball and Jak had a great time romping and racing with Pete, a 13 year-old Jack Russell Terrier.


By 5:15 the dogs were all fed and walked and the humans were loaded back in the car for a trip to Downtown Disney.

It took about 10 minutes to find a parking spot at Marketplace.  The area was jammed with Princesses (and the occasional Prince) wearing medallions from the race earlier in the day.


We headed directly to The Earl of Sandwich for dinner.  The food was far better than we had the night before at Cape May and it was about 1/8th the cost.  There was a party underway for the racers, a DJ was cranking out tunes, folks were dancing in the concourse beside Earl's and two stilt walkers were putting on a dance show.  There was plenty to watch while we ate our sandwiches!

After dinner I moved around the corner to a quieter table and settled in to read my book while everyone else went shopping.  John and Sybil went off in search of a sweat-shirt for John while Carol and Rob struck out looking for pins, Vinylmations and anything else that caught their eye.  They covered a lot of ground, all the way from the Art of Disney Store in Marketplace to the DStreet Store in West Side.  After an hour and a half of diligent shopping no one purchased a single thing!  This is the part of shopping that makes absolutely no sense to me!

Everyone reconvened at Earl of Sandwich, where I was reading, at 7:45.


As Carol was talking with her parents a stranger ran up, surprised Carol with a big hug and said, "Hi, I'm Chantal."  Chantal is from Terrebonne Québec, a suburb of Montreal.  She has been reading our blog for a few years and used our online guestbook to ask a few questions.  She and Carol have been e-mailing back and forth for a year or so and it was nice to finally meet her.  Chantal, her husband and two daughters are sailing on the Disney Dream this Thursday.  Bon Voyage Chantal!


The Wishes fireworks show was lighting up the sky as we entered the campground and had just finished when we parked at our site.  Blue was still quaking when we opened the door . . . he was very glad to see us!


Rob caught a boat to the Magic Kingdom while everyone else settled in for the night.

Monday February 24, 2014


There was no shivering dog this morning so we slept until 6:45.  By 8:30 we had driven the golf cart to the marina and just missed the boat to the Magic Kingdom.  After a short wait the next boat arrived and we pulled up to the Magic Kingdom entrance just as they opened the gates.



We went directly to the Railroad Station and took the Grand Circle Tour all the way around the park.

By the time we returned to Town Square the bulk of the early morning crowd had disbursed.

We had FastPasses for Jungle Cruise so that was our next stop.  Those jungle rivers can be hot and by the time we were done we needed to quench our thirsts.  What better way than with Citrus Swirls and Pineapple Floats?  Ahhhh - that's better!

The Country Bears and some of their friends were dancing on the street in Frontierland so we stopped to watch, then went to the Country Bear Jamboree for a toe-tappin' foot-stompin' hoedown!

Our next FastPass was for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Sybil waited in the sun while the four of us took a high speed run around the mountain.  Yikes!


As we strolled through Frontierland on our way to Adventureland, Carol stopped and picked up a couple of churros.  She broke one of the tasty treats in half and gave one piece to me, the other to Sybil.  There was a huge grin on Sybil's face as she held that churro out for John to see and said, "Wow it's still warm - that's fresh!"  That was precisely when a big seagull grazed my head, swooped down, landed on Sybil's wrist, grabbed that churro and flew off.  A disgusted Sybil watched him eat it on the street about 25 feet away!

She was still miffed about the churro when we arrived at Tomorrowland and rode the Carousel of Progress.


Our last stop of the morning was at Pirates of the Caribbean.  Thankfully we had a FastPass . . . the park was crowded by noon and there was a very long standby line.

Carol, Sybil and Rob shopped their way through the Emporium while John and I waited on a bench near City Hall then we boarded a boat for home.  The dogs were excited to see us when we arrived home at 1:30.


After sandwiches at the picnic table, John and I took Blue and Jak to the dog park while Carol and Sybil drove off for an exciting hour at Walgreens and Winn-Dixie.  Then it was nap time!

By 5:15 the dogs were fed and walked and we drove to EPCOT.  A Friendship boat took us from Mexico to Germany and we walked to The American Adventure.

They are setting up for the Flower & Garden Festival which begins in a few weeks so we snapped a few pictures of topiary along the way!

We ate dinner in America, at The Liberty Inn. and then began visiting the countries around World Showcase Lagoon.  We strolled through the shops of Italy, then Germany.  Naturally Carol had to have Wurther's Caramel Corn in Germany!


The Chinese acrobats were just about to start a show when we arrived so we stopped and watched their stirring presentation before heading indoors for the CircleVision movie.  The movie in China is one of my favourites!

Next came Norway where we rode Maelstrom and had a glimpse of Norse culture, then cavorted with the trolls in the shops.

It was 8:30 when we left Norway and made our way toward the exit.  We found a great vantage point to  watch the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks show.  John and Sybil had ring-side seats and an unobstructed view and enjoyed the show very much!


The park was closed when Illuminations ended so we wormed our way toward the exit in the midst of a huge crowd, loaded into the car and headed for home.  The 9:45 Electrical Water Pageant was just starting as we let the dogs out for a stretch.


We were all tired after a long day!

Tuesday February 25, 2014


I decided that I needed another down day; my cold is much better but I was just plain  tired - running with these 84 year-olds had worn me down and some rest was in order.  After Carol and the gang left for Hollywood Studios at 8:30 I puttered a bit. I took apart and put away the two Mickey lamp posts.  Then I gave the two campsites a blow with the leaf blower and then packed it away.


Blue and Jak needed some exercise so I took them to the dog park where Blue chased his ball and Jak romped with royalty!  There was a corgi there for him to play with!


I sat out under the awning reading, had a sandwich for lunch and then read some more before the gang arrived home at 2:00 p.m.

The park people had gone directly to the Tower of Terror where three of them plunged while Sybil waited outside.

Next on their agenda was the Great Movie Ride, an adventurous trip through some of the best movies in history!

They walked through the Walt Disney: One Man's Dream display, a wonderful tribute to a remarkably talented man.


They moved next door and honed their shooting Toy Story Midway Mania.


The last ride of the morning was Star Tours.  John and Rob rode and then Rob went back for a second ride.

They ate lunch at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre while watching some really cheesy old horror flicks in the big screen!


They encountered a few characters on their way to the exit and stopped for some pictures!

Everyone was back home by 2:00 and we all enjoyed a restful afternoon.


By 5:30 the dogs had been fed and walked and we boarded the car for a return to Hollywood Studios.  A light dinner and Fantasmic were in the plans!


We headed down Sunset Boulevard and stopped at the Sunset Ranch Market where we all enjoyed hot dogs.  While Carol and John were off picking up our food, Sybil and I, and all those sitting in the food court area were treated to a wonderful impromptu red-neck floor show.  A Mom and a Grandma were sitting yakking while three children under five ran all around the seating area yelling and screaming.  Mom and Grandma were blissfully unaware of the demon children.  Sybil joked to me, "I wonder which one will fall and start crying first?"  Suddenly the little boy ran full speed into the end of a table with his forehead.  Thunk!  There was a split-second of peace and quiet . . . then he started crying.  Seconds later the Mom was cradling a bawling young boy . . . she turned to Grandma (her mother) and yelled, "Shut your f---ing mouth!" She really screamed it out, and a hush fell over the dining area.  Grandma said, "But . . ." and Mom immediately cut her off with "I don't give a sh--!"  It was more fun than an episode of Duck Dynasty!  How do folks like that get into a family park?


We pulled ourselves away from the melodrama and headed to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheatre for the 7:00 p.m. presentation of Fantasmic.  It's a great show, live action, animation, special effects, lasers, fireworks and, of course, Mickey always defeats the forces of evil!  What's not to enjoy!

Once Fantasmic  was over the theatre emptied quickly; we were back to the parking lot in no time and pulled up to the RV at 8:00 p.m. just as the Wishes fireworks show started booming in the background.  Blue was happy to see us, he doesn't like Wishes!  Rob needed more Disney; he caught a boat to the Magic Kingdom.,


The trip is almost over - tomorrow is our last Disney day.  We will spend the morning at EPCOT and then have our last dinner at our favourite restaurant - 'Ohana.

Wednesday February 26, 2014


Our last Disney Day!  How the time has flown!  We were all in the car at 8:30 and pulled out for EPCOT.  It was an overcast, dreary day and we were all feeling dreary because our trip was almost over.

As we approached Spaceship Earth we noticed Pluto posing nearby.  The line was short so we stopped for a few flicks!

Next stop was at that big old golf ball!  Spaceship Earth is one of our favourites, an interesting and engaging presentation of the history of communications.  Too many people pass this one by . . . it's one we seldom miss!


We had plenty of time before our FastPass for Soarin' so we wandered over to Journey Into Imagination - With Figment.  Alas, it was closed.  We headed to Sunshine Seasons and had a coffee while we waited for our FastPass time.

We joined the line for Soarin' at 10:10 and took a flight over California.


Then we split up; John, Sybil & I crossed the concourse to Future World East and spotted the Jammitors.  This three man group puts on a terrific percussion show using nothing but metal buckets and garbage cans.  John and Sybil were once again inducted as Junior Jammitors before we carried on to the Canada Pavilion.  We watched O Canada, a wonderful CircleVision movie featuring scenes from across Canada.

Meanwhile Carol and Rob walked around World Showcase as they made their way to the American Adventure.  They snapped pictures of topiaries all the way around!

We met near the restrooms behind Mouse Gear at 12:15, just in time for our 12:20 FastPass at Mission Space.  John, Rob and I rode the Orange side - high intensity!  It's quite a thrill, 3 G's of force at takeoff then that thrilling crash landing on Mars!


Carol & Sybil spent their Mission Space time shopping through Mouse Gear and we caught up with them at the Art of Disney Store near the park exit.


We were home with the dogs by 1:00 p.m., had sandwiches for lunch and started breaking camp!  It was drizzling and humid, so a few things went away wet.  Thankfully we hadn't put all of our stuff out, so there wasn't that much to pack away.  By 3:00 the bikes were hung and John, Sybil and Rob's bags had been packed and moved from their rental trailer into the RV.  The patio mats, lawn chairs, patio tables, Mickey lights and all the other paraphernalia had been folded, packed and stowed!  It was nap time!

At 5:30 we were in the car again, on our way to the Polynesian Resort for dinner at 'Ohana.  As always, the food was terrific, but tonight our servers, Debbie and Robert, combined to give us the worst service we have ever experienced at 'Ohana.  We normally find the service there a bit rushed, almost as if they are trying to push you out.  But tonight it was the opposite.  We were all quite hungry and it dragged on and on . . . we were there 30 minutes before we saw our salad!  The good news?  John and Rob paid for dinner to thank Carol and I for the trip.  Thanks guys!

Rob caught the monorail to the Magic Kingdom and the rest of us drove back to the campground.  We were home with the dogs by 8:45 and settled in for the night.  Tomorrow we hope to be on the road by 8:30 and will travel 363 miles to Walterboro South Carolina.

Thursday February 27, 2014


Wow . . . we got away early!  We were up at 6:45 and finished the disconnecting in light, drizzly showers under bleak and overcast skies!  The weather was quite appropriate since we were all feeling bleak about leaving!


I had told the gang the night before that we should try to pull out of the campsite by 8:30.  Then after dropping off the internet kit at The Meadows and hooking up the car we should be out of the campground by 9:00.  We left the campsite at 8:17 and left the campground at 8:38.  Bonus!


Traffic was heavy through downtown Orlando . . . but, of course, it's always heavy through downtown Orlando.  Once we put the city behind us we made great time.  The roads were damp all morning and I had the wipers on intermittently but it didn't slow us at all.

At 11:00 we pulled off I-4 at exit 298, just south of St. Augustine, and picked up a few bags of oranges to take home.  Oh Boy!  We were able to get Honey Belles.  We had a bag of that variety a few years ago - they were sweet, seedless and very juicy!

After giving the dogs a walk, we were back on the road at 11:30; skies had cleared and we zipped along in light traffic.  Rob dozed on the couch with Jak and Blue.

John snored in the easy chair behind the passenger seat while Carol navigated from the co-pilot's chair with Zak at her feet.  Sybil sat at the dinette table in the kitchen.  She was pretending to work on crosswords and play a Facebook game . . . but I suspect she was once again blowing kisses at all the truckers when we weren't watching!

We took the I-295 Eastern Beltway around Jacksonville and crossed that spectacular Dames Point Bridge.  What a great view!

We crossed the state line into Georgia at 12:30 and pulled off the interstate again at 1:15 to fill up with gas at the Brunswick Georgia FlyingJ.  We sat in the RV and enjoyed sandwiches and a few chicken fingers for lunch before carrying on.

We crossed the state line into South Carolina at 3:00 and aside from a brief slow-down as we passed a transport trailer being pulled out of the trees in pieces, we made great time.  We pulled into the Days Inn at 3:45 and Carol got John and Sybil all checked in before we headed on to the campground just across the highway.  We were all settled and hooked up in our campsite by 4:30.  Carol fed the dogs and we took them out and tossed the ball for a few minutes.  They had been cooped up listening to everyone snore all day and they needed some exercise!

Rob decided to just have a snack in the motor home for dinner so Carol and I drove to the Days Inn and picked up John and Sybil.  We had a very nice dinner at Ruby Tuesdays . . . after a bit of an odd start!  Carol and John were looking forward to ribs . . . really looking forward to ribs!  We were all ready to place our orders at 6:00 p.m. when our server, Andrew, announced, "We're out of ribs!"  John was very disappointed and asked, "When will you have ribs?"  Andrew replied, "In about 3 hours; we slow cook our ribs for four hours."


QUESTION:  How bad is restaurant's planning when they know at 5:00 p.m. that they're running out of ribs?  Wouldn't you expect that they would have enough prepared to at least begin the dinner hour?


John had a steak which he really enjoyed, all the rest of us had a very nice parmesan chicken pasta dish.


After dinner we headed to Walgreens for a quick bit of shopping and dropped John and Sybil off just after 8:00.  We relaxed in front of the television for the night!

Friday February 28, 2014


Carol and I were up at 6:40 and started getting ready to pull out.

Rob and the dogs took a few minutes to get moving!

Rob spent some time last night gloating over his new Vinylmations so they all had to be put away before the dogs were fed.

By 7:45 we were all unhooked and we struck out in the RV to pick up the hotel people!  We were on the interstate at 7:59, one minute ahead of schedule!  It was a glorious day, clear skies and sunshine.  There had been a light frost overnight, but no snow!


Traffic was light and we made good time.  We turned from I-95 onto I-26 at 8:30 and encountered a few brief slow-downs.

Work crews were busy cleaning up downed trees and fallen branches from that nasty storm which delayed us on our southbound trip.  There was all sorts of heavy equipment cutting up the wreckage and loading it into big trucks.

Jak and Blue have been facing in the same direction as we travelled, but today they ended up looking nose to nose.  At one point Jak decided to growl at Blue and snapped at him.  Blue was crestfallen!  His BFF had snubbed him!  It was hours before he recovered from the trauma!

Sybil occasionally poked her head out from under her pile of warm, snuggly blankets to play a bit of her Facebook game . . . then she'd cocoon for a while again!

We pulled over at 10:30 in Rock Hill South Carolina and I gassed up at FlyingJ while Carol and Rob walked the dogs.  By 11:15 we had crossed the state line into North Carolina.  The cameraman (woman) was a little "bouncy" today so all the state signs are a bit fuzzy!

We pulled over at 11:45 in Mooresville North Carolina and had a nice lunch at Cracker Barrel.  Carol, Rob and I enjoyed French toast, Sybil devoured a Reuben sandwich and John had scrambled eggs, bacon and a fruit cup.  It was all delicious!  The dogs had another stretch before we left.


By 2:00 we were approaching the Blue Ridge Mountains and that great big hill!


The picture on the left shows exactly where we were stopped for 5 hours and 20 minutes on our southbound trip.  Remember those snowmen in the median?  Sure looks different now!

We crossed into Virginia at 2:15 and began the long climb!

It was a great view under clear skies, but it's a much more exciting ride when everything is covered in ice and snow.

We pulled into the KOA campground in Wytheville Virginia at 2:50.  There was no snow in sight.  This picture shows the same scene as the last picture I included on February 12th.  We were shocked to find that all the snow was gone.  There was over two feet of snow on the ground when we pulled out of here sixteen days ago!

Here's the picture Carol took when we pulled in on February 12th.  When we pulled out the next day there was at least a foot more snow than you see in this picture!

By 3:30 we were all settled in.  The dogs enjoyed another stretch and Carol drove John and Sybil off to their hotel a few miles away.  I did the logical thing . . . I had a nap!


Jak and Blue had reconciled by 5:00 p.m. when Carol took them to the off-leash dog park in the campground.  They had a good romp before it was time for us to leave for dinner.


We picked John and Sybil up at 6:00 and headed back to the Peking Restaurant.  Everyone enjoyed the meal there a few weeks ago, so why tempt fate?  It was just as good this time!


We dropped the folks back at their hotel and settled in at the campground for the night.  TVLand was playing some old classics and we laughed through some great old episodes of Gilligan's Island, Andy Griffin and Bonanza.  We don't get this channel in Canada, it was fun to watch!


We are half-way home now; tomorrow we travel 359 miles, mostly in the Shenandoah Valley,  to Harrisburg Pennsylvania.

Saturday March 1, 2014


Up at 6:45 . . . cereal, shower, unhook, pick up John & Sybil at hotel, drive back to the campground and hook up the car . . . it was a routine morning.  We pulled out of the KOA at 8:03 - three minutes late!


It was a very dull day.  Skies were sort of grey and sort of clear.  The roads were dry and traffic was light, we made great time all day.

Are we there yet?

My regular navigator and driving coach surrendered her seat to her father.  He was derelict in his duties; he hardly criticized my driving!  He immediately fell asleep and dozed off and on all day.  Rob did much the same, dozing in the easy chair directly behind John.  Since Carol and Sybil were out of my line of sight and almost impossible to hear, it was a very peaceful day.


At 10:30 we pulled off into a rest area just north of Staunton Virginia and the dogs had a walk. 


By 12:10 we pulled off at the Winchester Virginia FlyingJ where I gassed up.  Carol made sandwiches which we enjoyed in the RV before pulling back onto the interstate.

We pulled back onto I-81 at 1:00 p.m. and at 1:03 crossed the state line into West Virginia.  The FlyingJ is about 200 yards south of the state line!

There was no snow!

Just 27 miles later we crossed into Maryland at 1:29.  Still no snow!

Then a mere 12 miles later we entered Pennsylvania at 1:39 for the final leg of our days journey.  Snow started to appear in the shaded areas along the roadside.


We pulled into Harrisburg East Campground at 2:50 and parked the motor home for the night.

I unhooked the car while Carol walked the dogs, then she drove John and Sybil to their hotel and stopped at The Christmas Tree Shop while I drained, flushed and winterized the RV.  We're now all set for the cold weather at home!

I fiddled at the computer for a bit while Carol fed the dogs and before we knew it it was dinner time.  Today was Rob's 43rd birthday so he chose the restaurant - Outback.

We picked John & Sybil up at 5:30 and drove about 4 miles to the restaurant.  There was already a long line . . . we had expected to wait on Saturday night!


We were seated by 6:15 and had a good meal!  It took a while, we waited a half-hour between our appetizers and out entrees, but it was all tasty!

After dinner we made a quick shopping stop - John waited in the car while I went to Harbor Freight Tools and Carol, Sybil and Rob went to Dollar General.


We dropped the hotel folks off and were back home with the puppies by 8:30.  I settled in at the computer while Carol and Rob started to sort out all of the purchases.  The stuff going home with us is now all arranged to deliver to three different households . . . it turned out to be quite an exercise in logistics!


As I fiddled at the computer a hockey game was playing on the television.  The Pittsburgh Penguins were playing the Chicago Black Hawks in an outdoor game at Chicago.  It was snowing heavily, the onset of winter storm Titan.  We hope to be home tomorrow before Titan begins to affect this area!  We've seen enough snow, thank you very much!

Sunday March 2, 2014


We were up at 6:15 and quickly made ready to pull out.  Since I had winterized the previous day, the disconnect was easy - just pull the electric cable and put it away.

Carol had everything battened down inside and we pulled out at 7:25.  The hotel dwellers were waiting when we pulled up at 7:30.  As soon as they were aboard we moved down the road to the parking lot at JC Penney where we parked for a few minutes while John had some breakfast.


We were on the interstate and northbound again by 7:51. 


Roads were clear and dry, traffic was light, skies were grey and passengers were blue!  We were all feeling a bit down - when we stop later today this trip will be over.  The last day of a vacation is always so bittersweet.  It's sad to go home, but it's good to get home.  Isn't that odd?

We pulled over to gas up for the last time at the FlyingJ in northern Pennsylvania.  The dogs had a stretch and we pulled back onto the highway at 10:45.  Our next stop was at a rest area south of Syracuse New York where we had sandwiches for lunch and pulled back onto I-81 at 12:30.  We were really making good time!

We encountered a snow flurry at Syracuse; it was enough to dampen the road but not enough to slow traffic.  It only lasted a few minutes and then skies began to clear.  The closer we got to Canada the bluer the sky became.

After a quick stop at the Duty Free Store we pulled up to the border crossing at 2:30.  There was no line and after a few very quick questions we were waved through . . . back home again!

We pulled up in front of the house at 3:10 and began to unpack.  Carol and Rob lugged boxes and bags full of stuff out of the coach while I unhooked the car, took the bikes off the rack, took down the bike rack and removed the tow bar that hooks to the car.


Carol loaded John, Sybil and Rob in the car and took them home.  Once she returned she emptied the closets and refrigerator and I lugged it into the house.  We were all finished by 6:00 p.m.  Wow . . . Carol has a huge pile of laundry to do!


This was an unusual trip in a few ways, first, Carol and I usually travel alone - this time there were five of us and four dogs.  I think we were both a bit apprehensive about that, but it all worked out well.  It was a great trip; we both enjoyed seeing John, Sybil and Rob enjoy themselves at Fort Wilderness.  Carol and I just love it there and it's nice to be able to share it with family!


Another unusual twist - normally the southbound trip is uneventful and on the way home we race to beat a winter storm.  This time the southbound trip was plagued with trouble, heavy snow, icy roads, snowed in at the campground, a 5 1/2 hour delay in stalled traffic and a blown tire.  The trip back home was quiet and uneventful.  We kept hearing a lot about winter storm Titan which was on the way but we didn't see any signs of Titan.


So here we are, back in the deep snow and looking forward to our next trip.  In May we'll enjoy a western Caribbean cruise . . . can't wait!