Monday January 20


Carol finished taking down Christmas decorations about January 5th and immediately began packing for this trip.  She had me pull down two plastic bins to hold our clothes and a bin which was still filled with our camping gear from last year’s trip.


Then we discovered those great big magical zip-lock bags with a vacuum connector.  We picked up a box of big bags and stuffed a huge, bulky, fluffy mattress cover, a quilt and a couple of beach towels into it.  When we sealed the bag and then hooked up the vacuum hose . . . presto!  The bedding now fit inside a matchbox.


Well, maybe it wasn’t quite that small . . . but it was now about a tenth of its normal size.


We headed back and bought some more bags; then all of our clothes and linens were miniaturized so they could fit into every little nook and cranny in the car!


We packed the car yesterday.  It took several tries to figure out the jig-saw puzzle or tetris puzzle and make everything fit, but by 2:00 in the afternoon it was done!


Our plan was to get up at about 5:00 a.m. and be on the road by 6:00.  I asked Carol, “Do we need to set an alarm?”


“No,” she replied, “You’ll be awake at 3:00 and wake me up with your honking and snorting!”  She was right; it was just a few minutes after 3:00.


She didn’t actually acknowledge me until 4:00 and by 4:15 we were up and moving.  The last few items were packed in the car, the Sheltie’s were all harnessed and safely strapped in the back seat, and we pulled out at 5:30 a.m. Little Oliver remained home; he is having his own vacation with his favourite dog sitter, Kim, who will live at the house while we are gone.  Oliver hates the car!


There was only one lane open at US Customs when we pulled up at 6:00 but no one was waiting.  We drove directly up, handed over our Nexus Cards for inspection, answered two or three routine questions and were waved through.


We stopped at the Whitney Point Rest Area in the southern part of Upstate New York to stretch our legs and give the dogs a break then carried on in very light traffic.  The road was clear but wet with salt brine in some areas.  We made good time.


We stopped at the FlyingJ Truck Stop in northern Pennsylvania; Carol gave the pups a drink of water while I filled the gas tank.


We stopped at noon in a rest area just south of Carlisle Pennsylvania and gave the dogs another walk.  There was very little snow on the ground but there were clear signs of freezing rain.  The dog-walk area was almost fully covered with a sheet of ice.  Jak and Jake walked very gingerly and coped quite well, but Blue looked like he had ball bearings on his feet.  He slipped, slid, skidded and did several face-plants before he was able to complete his chores.


After the three dogs had done their duty we sat in the car with them and enjoyed sandwiches that Carol had made for the trip.


After just few more minutes on the road all signs of snow and ice disappeared.  We made great time, stopping again for gas at Winchester Virginia and later at a rest area near Fairfield Virginia.


We pulled into our destination, Wytheville Virginia at 5:15.  We topped up the gas tank so we’re ready to get rolling first thing in the morning.  After we checked in at the Red Roof Inn we let the dogs enjoy a stretch, then Carol fed them before I struck out to pick up dinner.


I was back at about 6:30 with a bag full of tasty Chinese food which we enjoyed in the room before settling in for some relaxing TV time with the dogs!  They were exhausted after a 733 mile day on the road.  (Carol and I were too!)


We’re half way to Orlando Florida!


Tomorrow we’ll carry on southbound and stop for the night at Brunswick Georgia, about 453 miles further south!  Today we started in snow and frigid cold (minus 3ºF or minus 19ºC) tomorrow we’ll be seeing palm trees!

Tuesday January 21


Jake had bad night.  The hotel had hard surface floors which gave all three boys very little traction.  When they tried to jump on the bed their hind legs slipped and they didn’t quite make it.  We had to lift them up!


Then when they tried to jump down their legs splayed out and they did belly flops.  It was very disconcerting for Blue and Jake but Jak was totally ambivalent!  He slept on the floor, as he always does.


Jake started the night with me and Blue settled in on the other queen bed with Carol.  Jake was restless all night and his coat was about twice its normal size.  The room was very dry and needed a heavy dose of humidity to bring his coat back to normal size.  At about 4:00 a.m. I woke to find him panting and puffing.  I lifted him down onto the floor and he hurried over to the bowl where he had a healthy drink of water before trying to jump up on Carol’s bed.  I helped him make it onto the bed on his second try and then watched as sparks followed his feet across the bed.  The static electricity must have been bothering him all night.  Poor guy!


After Jake left I had two hours of great sleep . . . then at 6:02 I heard a growl, Carol said ‘I need coffee.’  The breakfast room opened at 6:00 a.m. and she had the patience to wait two full minutes before waking me.


I brought her back two cups of coffee and then went back to toast myself a bagel for breakfast.  Yikes . . . the bagels were nice and chewy, sort of like Montreal bagels, but they weren’t pre-sliced and there was nothing to slice them with but a plastic knife.  By the time I had it sliced there wasn’t much left to toast!

We load our overnight supplies in the car and pulled away at 7:07; the dogs were in our standard ‘Jak-in-the-box’ configuration.  We learned on our first trip with the three dogs in the car that they couldn’t be left to find their own place.  Blue has to be as far to the right as he can get, then he faces toward the centre of the car and his hind leg continually slips down between the seat and the door, causing him great distress.  We stopped several times and moved him over to the middle of the seat . . . but before we could get back on the highway he was back on the right side.


That’s when we tried the box!  Jak is the smallest, so we put a banana box on the right, where Blue wanted to be, then put Jak in it.  Once he and the box were in position.  Blue was content to stay in the middle.  Jake has always been agreeable, he’ll stay anywhere we put him . . . except on that static filled bed!

The sun was just rising as we made our way south on I-77 and approached that big seven-mile-long hill that descends the southern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains and took us out of Virginia and into North Carolina.  The sunrise was a glorious orangey-red as it back-lit the mountains.


By 7:35 we were at the bottom and made great time through North Carolina with light traffic.


We crossed into South Carolina at 9:15 and stopped at the Welcome Centre to give the dogs a walk and stretch our legs.


We were back on the road quickly and it wasn’t long before Carol spotted out first palm tree, in Rock Hill at 9:40!  Its coconuts must have been shivering, it was only 28ºF, not at all tropical!


The sun was shining brightly but Brrrr – it was cold.

We gassed up at the Flying J Truck Stop at St. George South Carolina then parked off to the side away from the gas pumps, beside a picnic table.  Alas, it was still only 34ºF so we ate the sandwiches Carol had made in the car.


Just down the road from the truck stop we spotted a car wash so I stuffed it full of quarters and rinsed off all the salt brine we brought south with us.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well it rinsed off.  The car looks much better now!

From St. George it was a non-stop to drive to Brunswick Georgia where we checked in to the Red Roof Inn at about 2:45 p.m.  The dogs were happy to get out of the car and after they had a walk and we had settled into the room they joined Carol and I for a short nap.


Soon it was time for the dogs to have dinner, and then we loaded them up in the car for a very short drive.  We drove a couple of miles to satisfy my hankering for a Chif-fil-A sandwich.  Carol had chicken tenders, and then we stopped at Dunkin Donuts where we picked up a couple of coffees we can nuke in the morning.  There’s no coffee maker in the room.


Carol popped into a Dollar General Store looking for a garden flag to hang on our Mickey Mouse lamp, but had no luck, the garden stock isn’t out yet, and they’re still cleaning up Christmas.


We were back to the room by 7:00 p.m. and enjoyed some television before turning in.


Tomorrow we have a short hop, about 220 miles, and we plan to arrive at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground before noon.

Wednesday January 22


Today it was my turn; at 6:30 Blue was panting so I lifted him off the bed and he dashed over to his water bowl for a drink.  As I let him down Carol stirred.  ‘Do you want to get started now or keep sleeping?’ I asked.


‘Hunh?’ she moaned, so I said no more.

Two minutes later she asked, ‘What time is it?’  ‘It’s 6:35.’

‘I was sound asleep, but let’s go!’


I walked the dogs while she woke up and nuked the Dunkin Donuts coffee we had picked up last night.


Carol fed the dogs while I had a shower, then I headed to the hotel lobby where I tossed out most of a lousy continental breakfast.

We hit the road at 7:45 under sunny skies, which gave way to clouds within a half hour.  The temperature was 30ºF but rose to about 50ºF by the time we pulled into Fort Wilderness at noon.

Our only stops along the way were at St. Augustine where we gassed up at FlyingJ and at Ormond Beach where we had breakfast at Waffle House and bought a bag of oranges.

As soon as we pulled in at The Fort the dogs perked up and started sniffing familiar scents.  They seemed to know exactly where they were!

Mike and Terry from Wilderness Camper Rentals were just starting to set up our rented trailer in site 704.  We said hello, then took the dogs for a walk so we wouldn’t be in their way.  We know from our own experience that you develop a routine when setting up and it works best if no one gets in your way.

We dropped in to say hello to our friend Hilda in the 400 loop, then picked up our rental golf cart.  The dogs remembered exactly what to do, Jake jumped up on the passenger seat beside me, Blue sat on the floor on the passenger side and Jak rode on the back seat with Carol.  It’s amazing how they remember these things!


By the time we got back Mike and Terry were just wrapping up.  We chatted with them for a few minutes and as soon as they pulled away we started unpacking the car.  I passed a bin and a laundry basket full of stuff up the steps to Carol, then followed with about a half-dozen sucked-out zip-lock bags full of extremely dense clothing and linens.


The dogs went directly to their regular places on the couch and settled in for a nap while Carol set up the trailer for our 23 night stay and I worked outside setting up all of out outdoor décor.  This year we hauled down three Mickey Mouse lamps I made over the past few months.  They will all be sold before we go home!  We’ll need that cargo space for all the stuff Carol will buy while we’re here!


After I had the lamps all assembled I put up a red Mickey Mouse rope light on the front of the trailer, stretched white rope lights down each side off the concrete pad, set up lawn chairs, stretched extension cords and timers, and when Carol finished her inside chores she came out to help hang a string of red and white lights on the awning.  It’s going to look pretty after dark!

We were all done by 4:00 and celebrated by laying down for a nap.  Alas, sleep didn’t come to either of us . . . but it wasn’t a problem for the dogs!


Carol fed the dogs at 5:00 and we gave them a quick walk behind our site before heading out to dinner.  It’s a lovely site, very large and private.  It backs on to the old railway tracks which we can follow to the dog walk area which runs along the canal behind the neighbouring 800 loop.  We’re going to be very happy here for the next three weeks!

Dinner was at Trail’s End, a wonderful buffet restaurant right here in the campground.  It’s a hidden gem, a very good meal at a fairly reasonable price . . . please don’t tell anyone, let’s keep it out little secret!


We had a reservation for 5:40 but they were able to seat us immediately when we arrived at 5:15.  We were glad; it was too cool and windy to wait outside until a table was ready.  After a nice dinner Carol needed some retail therapy so she browsed the Settlement Trading Post while I paid the dinner bill.  She didn’t buy anything, but there are some serious contenders that might make the trip home with us in a few weeks.

We took the golf cart back to the campsite and hopped in the car to head out and pick up an ECV scooter for Carol to use in the parks.  She’s awaiting knee replacement surgery and the scooter will make the trip bearable for her.  When we were here in November we often took turns with the ECV, especially when we were standing waiting for fireworks or parades.


On the way home we stopped at a Publix Supermarket where Carol picked up some groceries and supplies.


We had hoped to head to EPCOT for an hour or two after dinner but it was still very cool and we were very tired.  We were home with some pooped puppies just before 8:00 p.m.

It feels good to be settled!

Thursday January 23


Gosh it was nice to have a morning where we didn’t have to hit the ground running!  Even the dogs enjoyed it!


We were still up too early; Carol had the coffee set to start brewing at 6:20 and she turned it on manually just a few minutes before the scheduled time.  By the time I got up at 6:30 the java was ready and waiting.


I relaxed and read the two Canadian newspapers I get online as I enjoyed a few hot cups and a toasted bagel.


We took the dogs for a nice long walk down the abandoned railroad track behind our campsite then along the dog walk area that follows the canal behind the 800 camping loop.  They all did lots of sniffing . . . but they totally missed the squirrels and wild turkeys we passed along the way.


We took the golf cart to the marina at about 8:45 and a cast member waved us away.  The boats were not running to the Magic Kingdom because of construction on the dock at that end of the route.  That changed our plans!

Instead of going to the Magic Kingdom we opted to go back to the camp site, get the car and go to EPCOT.


We arrived at the park at 9:20 and walked through a newly opened walkway, behind Innoventions West, to The Living Seas where we took a ride with Nemo and Friends.

After our undersea adventure we nosed around the building looking for our friend Naomi.  She was nowhere to be found so we’ll try again a time or two before we head home.

Next on our agenda was Living With The Land where we had a FastPass.  It was an ideal time to try out the camera on my new phone.  Carol snapped shots with the camera and I used my new Google Pixel phone.  We’ll compare the quality later.

We then headed over toward the hub to find the Annual Passholder Festival of the Arts magnet.  We walked through the Innoventions East breezeway and entered what remains of the Mouse Gear store through the back door.  The magnets were handed out just inside the entrance.

Our friends Al & Jane from Missouri sent a text that they were in the area and wanted to meet us at the campground, so we headed off toward the exit, stopping at Guest Relations along the way so Carol could pick up the latest issue of the Annual Passholder newsletter, The Mickey Monitor.

Newsletter in hand, we hopped in the car at about 11:15 and drove on home to let the dogs out for a stretch before our guests arrived.  I took a few minutes to download the pictures and compare the camera images to the phone images.  Wow!  That phone camera is good . . . I don’t think I need to carry a camera anymore.


Carol had a bag of goodies to give to Jane and Jane brought along a box full of Disney merchandise she has picked up for Carol over the last few months.  Once all the new goodies had been examined and admired Al & Jane headed off to lunch at Beaches and Cream.  Carol and I had PBJ sandwiches in the trailer and were just about to load the dogs onto the golf cart for a trip to the off-leash park when it started to rain.  It started lightly so we waited a few minutes hoping it would stop.  Unfortunately for the dogs it got worse . . . it poured.  That was good news for Carol though, we took off to Property Control, the place where Disney sells off their out-of-date or surplus merchandise.  Shopping there is hit-or-miss, but today was a good day . . . she came home with a full bag!


All that visiting and shopping had worn us out, so we took a well earned nap.


The dogs were fed a few minutes before their usual time of 5:00 p.m. so that we could head off to EPCOT and begin to enjoy the Festival of the Arts which is underway.  We left the camera behind . . . it was stressful for me, but I did it!

One of our favourite Disney artists, Alex Maher, was signing his prints and Carol desperately wanted a copy of his Fox and Hound painting.


Here’s my happy bride with her new print and the artist who created it.

After chatting with Alex for over a half-hour we struck out to try some of the food kiosks set up for the festival.  Our first stop was at the Refreshment Port, beside Canada, where we sampled some beef brisket poutine.  The description made it sound much better than it tasted.  The fries were good and the onion crisps were nice but the cheese on top had a very unusual texture.  It was definitely a ‘once-is-enough’ dish.

We walked past the Port of Entry Shops and checked out a few other kiosks along the way.  Nothing sounded too appetizing to us until we got to La Cantina de San Angel in Mexico.  I wanted to try the nachos so Carol picked up an order for me and a kids meal of chicken tenders for her.  Neither of us was enthused by our choice . . . another case of ‘once-is-enough’.


We took a ride through the Mexican Pavilion on the Gran Fiesta Tour with the Three Cabaleros.  Another chance to test my new phone’s camera.

By the time we left Mexico it was time to check in for our FastPass viewing area to watch ‘EPCOT Forever’ the temporary fireworks show that takes place at 9:00 nightly over the World Showcase Lagoon.

It’s a very nice show, with some great old music tracks from past EPCOT features and attractions.  A nice way to finish the day!

By the time the fireworks were over the park was closed so we joined the slow march to the exit and got home to the puppies about 9:45.

Friday January 24


Our morning routine is starting to come together.  We were up at 6:45 and enjoyed coffee.  I had a bagel and read my daily newspapers.


By 8:45 we were ready to go; the dogs had been fed, walked and their chores were up-to-date.

We hopped on the golf cart at 8:45 and headed to the marina where we caught a cruiser to the Magic Kingdom, Carol had booked us two FastPasses.

Our first stop was the Fire Hall where we picked up sorcerer cards then we walked up Main Street absorbing the magical atmosphere of Walt Disney World.  It was an unusual walk; at no point did Carol enter the Emporium to shop . . . that’s a rare occurrence!

We stopped for a PhotoPass on Main Street . . .

. . .  and another PhotoPass at the Partners Statue.

We took a left turn at the hub and headed to the Christmas Shop.  Carol was anxious to pick up a figurine she saw last November but didn’t have room to take home on the plane.  Yes, she was in luck, Mickey and Minnie’s Christmas Tree Truck was still in stock.  She also spotted a wind-up set of drummers from It’s A Small World that would look good at home, so we decided to pick them up later, before going back to the campground.

As we rounded the corner on our way to It’s A Small World we noticed a very short line at the Haunted Mansion so we popped in to spend some time with the 999 Happy Haunts.

Our FastPass had us through the line at It’s A Small World in no time and I started snapping pictures.  The camera in my new Pixel phone continues to amaze me, so I took far more pictures than necessary.  Here are a few samples!

We strolled across Fantasyland toward Voyage of the Little Mermaid and as we approached Gaston’s Carol heard from our friends Masayo and her husband Mamoru who live in Japan.  They were just ahead of us at Gaston’s so we stopped for a short visit with them.  They’ll be coming to the campground later this afternoon and the four of us will have dinner at EPCOT before they head home to Japan tomorrow morning.

After our quick visit with Masayo and Mamoru we carried on to take a ride with Ariel and her friends.

After our undersea voyage it was time to get home to the puppies so we headed across to Frontierland where Carol stopped at Frontier Mercantile to look at pins while I chased some Country Bears out on the street.

We took a few minutes to enjoy two of our favourite treats, a Dole Whip Pineapple Float for me and a Citrus Swirl for Carol.


After our side-by-side his-and-her brain freeze we went back to the Christmas Shop and picked up that red truck and  the wind-up drummers.


Our return trip down Main Street took us through the Emporium before we crossed Town Square and exited the park.  Our cruiser arrived after a short wait and took us home to the dogs at 1:00 p.m.


We gave the pups a quick walk, enjoyed a sandwich at the camp site then loaded all three dogs onto the golf cart for a trip to the off-leash park.  Along the way we dropped off a ‘care-package’ of Canadian candy bars for our friend Hilda and her daughter Stephanie.


The dogs really enjoyed their chance to romp and run.  I take them out for a run almost every day at home, so they were long overdue!


Once we got back home the dogs were worn out and so were Carol and I; we all enjoyed a nap!


Later we sat outside reading while we waited for Masayo & Mamoru.  As we waited, the deer pictured on the right wandered past, along the railroad line.

Masayo sent a text message at 3:45pm, they had boarded the cruiser at the Magic Kingdom and were on the way.  I hopped in the golf cart and drove to the Marina to pick them up.

We had a nice visit with them at the camp site and Blue had another Japanese lesson.  Masayo started speaking to him in Japanese about five years ago and he seemed intrigued, so she continues every time we get together.  Carol and I often speculate that Masayo is really coming to visit the dogs, not the two of us!

We fed the boys at 4:45 then walked them along the railroad tracks and the canal, stopping for a few pictures along the way.

I think this photo is the proof we've been looking for . . . Masayo comes to visit the dogs and Carol and I are nothing but a means to an end! 

At 5:20 we hopped in the car and left for EPCOT.  We stopped for a PhotoPass at the park entrance and then walked through all the construction in Future World on out way to World Showcase.

We had a 6:15 dinner reservation in Italy at Via Napoli.  Carol and Masayo had eaten there before, but it was the first time for Mamoru and I.  It was very nice, great service, too much food, and a nice quiet area in the back of the restaurant where we could enjoy a nice chat with friends.

As we left the Italian Pavilion there was a PhotoPass photographer with an umbrella so we stopped for one final picture.


We drove Masayo and Mamoru home to Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Kidani Village after the dinner so they wouldn’t have to wait for a bus.  They fly home tomorrow and are picked up by Magical Express at 4:00 a.m. – ouch that’s early!


We were home with the dogs at 9:15 and spent the rest of the evening relaxing with them.

Saturday January 25


We were up at 6:45 and started the day as usual with coffee, a bagel, and newspapers.


Before long Carol left to do some shopping at WalMart and Walgreens.  While she was gone I worked the previous day’s episode of our trip report.  I had a boatload of pictures to go through and it took some time.


I was finished and sitting outside with the dogs when Carol got home about 11:00  She OK’d the report I had put together so I started formatting it for publishing to our little web site.

Before I had it ready to upload we had to leave for EPCOT – we had a reservation for 12:35 at Garden Grill.

It was a nice meal, comfort food.  We started with fresh rolls and salad.  The salad looked like the weeds I pull out of the lawn, but it was tossed in a nice honey-citrus dressing and tasted better than it looked.  Then came the main meal, mac & cheese, roast turkey with cranberries and stuffing, sliced skirt steak, mashed potatoes, French fries and green beans.  For dessert they served a mixed-berry shortcake.

The highlight of the meal was the characters who visited our table and posed for pictures with us.  Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale each dropped by twice!


The lunch was a package deal, it included tickets for priority seating at the Disney on Broadway Concert performance this evening.  We are looking forward to seeing four outstanding Broadway stars tonight!

This is the house where that dog never stops barking!

After lunch we headed to World Showcase to enjoy some of the Festival of the Arts kiosks and displays.

Our first stop was at the Thomas Kincaid kiosk where Carol found two prints that called out to her.  We waited in line for about a half-hour hoping to have the artist sign them, but it seemed to be taking way too long.  He was drawing characters on the back of each print and it required about 10 minutes for each sketch.  Carol counted six people in the line in front of her and each of them had several prints.  It would have been hours before she reached the front of the line and the signature just wasn’t that important!

This was the worst PhotoPass photographer ever!  She didn't even look to see how

we posed, she just said 'One, two, three' then CLICK!  One, two three, CLICK!

We looked through the Canada Pavilion and found the ‘hidden’ Figment picture.  There is a reproduction of a work of art by a famous master in each of the national pavilions and somehow Figment has worked his way into each piece.

In the Canada Pavilion - Deep Woods - Emily Carr

In the British Pavilion - The Blue Boy - Thomas Gainsborough

We found the Figment pictures in Canada and England but soon decided that it was just too busy in the park for our liking.  We usually avoid the theme parks on weekends.

Each pavilion around World Showcase has a unique Disney mural painted specially for the Festival of the Arts!

As we made our way toward the exit Carol asked, ‘Do you want to see the new movie at Canada?’  I said ‘Sure’

It was disappointing!  Martin Short has been replaced by Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara but they didn’t appear.  It was simply their voices narrating the story.


The story has changed very little in the new film and most of the film footage is the same as the old version.  The Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver skylines portrayed in the film are at least 25 years out of date.  The grain harvesting scene on the prairies show 50 year-old tractors and harvesters.


They could have done a much better job portraying our country!  I think I want Marty back!

We were back home with the dogs about 3:30 and I quickly finished the trip report and published it.  Then it was time for the dogs to get some exercise!  I loaded Blue and Jake on the golf cart and took them to the dog park where they ran until they were all out of steam and didn’t want to run any more!


When we got back home at 5:00 Carol had dinner ready for the puppies and sandwiches ready for us.  After a big lunch we were content with a very light dinner.


After the dogs were walked and their chores were up-to-date we hopped in the car and drove back to EPCOT. 


A gorgeous sunset was developing as we walked around the World Showcase Lagoon!

We had a FastPass for ‘Frozen Ever After’ at Norway.  It’s a cute ride featuring characters from the Frozen movies.

In the Norway Pavilion - The Scream - Edvard Munch

Time was approaching for the Disney on Broadway Concert so we headed toward the America Gardens Theatre and met our friend Karen from Boston at the fountain in front of the American Pavilion.

We lined up at about 7:20 in the special queue for ‘dinner package’ priority seating.  There were only a dozen people in line in front of us!


We chatted with Karen while we waited.  We haven’t seen Karen in several years so there was plenty to catch up on.

When we were admitted to the theatre we made our way down to the very front and found excellent seats, second row, on the aisle in the centre of the house.  A terrific spot for pictures . . . and I took plenty!

The performers were astounding, Kissy Simmons (Nala in The Lion King), Alton Fitzgerald White (Mufasa in The Lion King), Heidi Blickenstaff (Ursula in The Little Mermaid) & Gavin Lee (Bert in Mary Poppins).  They had us clapping and singing along throughout the 30 minute show.  It was a chilly evening and we were shivering before the show started, but not once it began!

The 9:00 fireworks show started just as we reached the parking lot and we were home with the puppies by 9:15.

Sunday January 26


We were up at 6:45; as usual Carol walked the dogs while I sipped coffee and read the news.


We sat outside for a bit and at about 8:45 I told Carol I was going in for  a bagel . . . 'How would you like Earl of Sandwich?' she asked.  ‘SOLD’ was my answer!

We parked in the Lime garage at 9:30 and walked to Earl's.  It was a bacon, egg & cheddar sandwich for me, a BLT for Carol.  Deelish!


I sat outside at Earl's while Carol shopped the Days of Christmas shop, the Art of Disney store and Pin Central.


When she came back, with a set of four It's A Small World decorations from the Christmas shop, we wandered on together, through TrendD and The World Of Disney store.  I came home with a snazzy new Hawiian shirt.  Nice!

It was a restful afternoon.  I finished yesterday's instalment of the trip report while Carol sat out with the dogs for a while.


She took the golf cart off to The Settlement and The Meadow to take advantage of the pin trading boards.  When she got back I was finished my chores so we loaded the dogs up and took them for a run at the dog park.


Then all five of us had a well-earned nap!


By 4:00 p.m. we were all sitting outside enjoying the fresh air, waiting for friends who we were meeting for dinner at Trail’s End.  Carrie sent a text, she, Francine and Becky were on the cruiser on their way over from the Magic Kingdom.  I drove to the Marina and picked them up in the golf cart and we sat outside the camper visiting until about 4:45.


Carol fed the dogs a bit early then all five of us walked the three pups down the railroad tracks and along the canal.

At about 5:30 we headed to Trail’s End where we sat for almost two hours, chatting as we enjoyed some terrific comfort food.


After dinner Carol and Carrie traded  a few pins on the trading board in the Settlement Trading Post, then we went home, swapped the golf cart for the car and drove our three friends back to their resort, The Boardwalk.

Carol and I were back home with the dogs at 8:30 and watched some TV before bed.  It was a restful day . . . but the dogs seemed to be worn right out!

Monday January 27

After our normal morning routine we left the three dogs in the RV and headed to the marina where we caught a cruiser to the Magic Kingdom at 9:00 a.m.

As we walked up Main Street Carol stopped beside the Jewellery Store to activate her Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game so we could pick up more cards before leaving the park.

We were heading to Fantasyland when Carol noticed that Cinderella Castle was open, so we walked through and snapped a few pictures of those amazing mosaic murals.  So many people walk past and never notice them!

We headed straight from the castle to Peter Pan's Flight where we had a FastPass.  It isn’t nearly as thrilling as the new high-tech rides . . . but it’s a classic and we love it!


Carol browsed through the gift shop at Mickey’s Philharmagic while I snapped a few pictures.

Then we wandered on toward the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and arrived well before our FastPass time, so we carried on to the Big Top at Mickey’s Storybook Circus.   Pluto was greeting guests outside the big tent.

Inside the Big Top the line was very short for photos with Goofy and Donald so we stayed for some PhotoPass pictures.


By the time we finished with Goofy and Donald it was time to ride with the Dwarfs.  It’s a cute ride but it’s short . . . it always seems to be over too soon.  The standby time when we boarded was 125 minutes, we would never wait that long, thankfully we had those FastPasses!

We crossed through Fantasyland and into Frontierland on our way to our next FastPass at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

We were a bit early so Carol browsed the pins at Frontier Mercantile then we popped through the breezeway to Adventureland and enjoyed a Dole Whip at Aloha Isle.  At least I enjoyed it, I had a pineapple float and Carol tried a pineapple and raspberry swirl.  She was disappointed, it wasn’t nearly as good as the citrus swirl she usually gets down the road at Sunshine Tree Terrace.

Then we went straight to ‘The Wildest Ride in the Wilderness’ and took a mad dash through Big Thunder Mountain.

As we exited Big Thunder Carol spotted a PhotoPass photographer near The Briar Patch so we stopped for a ‘magic shot’.


We ate at Pecos Bill’s Mile Long Saloon for the first time in several years.  I ordered the beef nachos and thoroughly enjoyed them.  Carol ordered tacos, beef, chicken and pork.  She enjoyed the chicken and pork but then next time she’ll skip the beef.

It was time to head home to the dogs, so we headed toward the exit, passing through the Emporium on the way.  As we approached the exit at Town Square we heard the distinctive music of the Move It, Shake It parade.

I dashed out and snapped a few pictures of the characters on the floats before we left the park..

We were back home with the dogs at 1:00 and I got busy assembling a couple of Mickey lamps.  One of them we were delivering to a friend here in the campground and the other was being picked up by a couple who bought it online.


The buyers, Gene and Nancy arrived with their dog Riley at 2:30 and were very happy when they took their new treasure home!


I delivered the lamp that was staying in the campground, then took Blue and Jake off to the dog park while Carol stayed home with Jak.  Then we all had a nap!


We had no dinner plans but Carol had a few things to pick up at the store so after the dogs were fed and walked we headed out and had a nice dinner at the Olive Garden.


After quick stops at the Winn-Dixie Grocery Store and Walgreens Pharmacy we were home with the dogs just before the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks started at 8:00 p.m

Tuesday January 28

Today there was a stunning change of pace; I had cereal for breakfast instead of a bagel.


It was a beautiful sunny morning so we took the boys out for some dog portraits.

We hopped in the car and left at 9:00 for Animal Kingdom where we arrived at 9:20

We spotted the handlers for the for bird show on Discovery Island so we stopped,  but the show had  just ended and they were rounding up a straggler who was perched on top of one of the shops.  It’s a tough job herding birds!

We headed to Pandora and used our FastPass to ride Flight of Passage.  Awesome!

We left the Valley of Mo-ara and followed the back trail to Africa.  The stand-by line for Flight of Passage stretched all the way from the ride entrance to the restrooms at The Festival of the Lion King, and then back along the same trail and past the ride entry point; the longest line for an attraction that we’ve ever seen!


The Disney app said three hours, bet it was more like 4 or 5 hours!


We stopped at Animal Tours and Tiffany booked an excursion for us, ‘Up Close with Rhinos’ for 11:00 on Thursday January 30th

Then we carried on through Africa and boarded the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch where we had a FastPass for the 11:30 Animation Experience.

A Disney artist leads you as you draw a Disney character.

Carol noticed that the character for our session was Hopper, the grasshopper from A Bug’s Life.


Carol was hoping for a cute character like Louis and Hopper just didn't meet her expectations!

We decided to hand in our papers and pencils and skip the session!

Then, as we walked toward the exit we bumped into two friends, Deb and Laura.  We turned around, found seats and chatted with them as we sketched.  My Hopper looked like a zombie grasshopper, Carol’s was quite a bit better, but on the way out the artist, Mike gave Carol the drawing of Hopper that he drew as he led us.  I think we’ll tell everyone that we did drew his sketch . . . better to be known as a liar than a bad artist!

We walked back out with Deb and Laura and rode the train back to Africa with them.

Our Disney artist - Mike

This is how Hopper is supposed to look!

Then it was time to get back to the dogs, with a quick stop at Property Control along the way.  Carol was hoping for some new Christmas merchandise, but there was nothing new.


The dogs were happy to see us when we rolled in at 1:15


After we had a sandwich at the picnic table we drove around the full hook-up loops to see if we could be comfortable back there; there is quite a price difference!  But after touring the three loops we decided we just wouldn’t be happy there.  We went back to our site and loaded the boys up on the golf cart for a trip to the dog park.  They ran until they huffed and puffed and couldn’t run any more . . . except for Jak, he’s too old to run much so he spends a lot of time socializing and butt-sniffing.


We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing with the dogs and at 5:45 struck out for the Magic Kingdom to watch the nightly fireworks and the castle projection show.

A beautiful sunset was developing as we stood on the dock waiting for our cruiser.


We had to wait a few minutes for the boat, which gave us time to enjoy the sunset before we boarded.

At the Magic Kingdom we went directly to Casey’s Corner for dinner.  I found a table while Carol went inside to order our food.  Yikes, the line-up was huge.  She pulled out her phone and used the ‘mobile-order’ app to order each of us a hot dog.  She joined me and we watched her phone as it counted down . . . when there were three green bars it was ready and she dashed off to pick it up.  Much better than standing in that line.

We had a FastPass for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin so we wandered off to Tomorrowland.  We arrived a bit early so we headed to Mickey’s Star Traders to browse a bit.  Yikes – they’ve redecorated and all of those wonderful futuristic hidden Mickeys that used to surround the upper walls as a valance near the ceiling are gone.  They’ve been replaced by what looks to be some very drab wallpaper.  Boo!  Hiss!  Why are they removing all of the magic?

We cashed in our FastPasses and rode with Buzz.  This time Carol won . . . I bet there’ll be a rematch soon!

We found a spot on Main Street with good sight lines and at about 7:40 settled in to wait for the 8:00 p.m. ‘Happily Ever After’ fireworks show.  We don’t often stay to see it because it’s so crowded, and the standing as we wait is so hard on our worn-out old legs, but it truly is a magnificent blend of light, sound and pyrotechnics!  WOW!

After Happily Ever After we forced our cramped legs to carry us as far as Casey’s where we sat to wait for the next show.  I went in and picked up a snack of corn dog nuggets and a coke to munch while we sat and watched throngs of people head to the exit.


At about 8:40 we headed up to the Hub and found a great place to stand in a very light crowd and get some pictures as we enjoyed the 8:45 ‘Once Upon A Time’ castle projection show.  Cinderella Castle comes alive with scenes from the Disney animated classics!

We had just enough energy left to make it to the dock for our boat ride home.  We boarded at 9:05 and our cruiser stopped at Wilderness Lodge on the way to the campground.  We docked at 9:30 and were back home with some happy dogs just a few minutes later!

Wednesday January 29

This morning we were up at 6:45 and had a very relaxed start to the day.  We were meeting friends Al and Jane at Wilderness Lodge for breakfast at Whispering Canyon Café.


We enjoyed a pot of coffee, gave the dogs a nice long walk and then left at 8:40 to catch a launch from the Fort Wilderness marina to the Wilderness Lodge dock.

Al and Jane were waiting for us there, and we waited a few minutes as Al checked his phone and watched the Spacex countdown . . . there was a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral.  There were clouds on the horizon but Al & Carol saw the flaming tail of the rocket through a few gaps in the cloud cover.  All Jane and I saw was the con-trail as the rocket rose higher.


We made our way to Whispering Canyon where the cast had us seated in no time flat.

Al and Jane are regulars there, every Wednesday is ‘Whispering Canyon Wednesday’ and they know all the cast members in the restaurant.  We sat for two full hours, nibbling and chatting before it was time to go.  It’s always a fun time when we join Al and Jane for breakfast!


Naturally there was shopping to do after breakfast.  Carol and I said goodbye in the Wilderness Lodge Mercantile Store and headed to the dock for our voyage home.

The launch we boarded stopped briefly at the Contemporary Resort Hotel before sailing on the Fort Wilderness.


We were back home with the dogs by 11:45.  Carol hopped in the car and drove to Booster Packs and Beyond and the Character Corner to look for some inexpensive pins to use as traders while I worked on updating our trip report.

I took a break about halfway through the update to take the dogs off to the dog park where they had a good run!


I was just preparing to upload the latest instalment of the trip report when Blue started barking.  It was friends Tom and Krista from New Brunswick.  They are camped in the 1700 loop and have dropped by a couple of times hoping to catch us, we have stopped at their site once, but until today we weren’t able to connect.  We sat outside chatting and before long Carol came home to join in the conversation.  Tom and Krista head for home on Saturday and before long headed off to Disney Springs to do some shopping.


Carol loaded up a big basket full of laundry and took the golf cart across to the comfort station and ran a couple of loads.


There was no time for a nap today . . . yes, it’s shocking!  By the time Carol finished the laundry it was time to feed the dogs, walk them and head to EPCOT where we had a two FastPass bookings and a dinner reservation.

We arrived at EPCOT at 5:55 – a bit too late to use our FastPass at Spaceship Earth, so we scampered back to World Showcase and caught the Friendship boat from Canada to Morocco.


We arrived at Japan just in time to check-in for our 6:20 dinner reservation at Teppan-Edo.  We were quickly seated and shared our table with a family of four from Atlanta and a family of three from Brazil.  We had a nice meal, as always, and enjoyed chatting during the meal with the family from Atlanta.

We finished dinner just in time to scoot over to the America Gardens Theatre and find a seat for the 8:00 p.m. Disney on Broadway Show.  The stars were Kara Lindsay and Kevin Massey.  Kara starred in the Broadway production of Newsies and Kevin played Tarzan on Broadway.  We were surprised to find out during the show that they are husband and wife . . . that explains all the kissing on stage!

After the show we hustled to Future World and Carol waited for me while I cashed in our last FastPass of the day and rode Soarin’.


The fireworks had just finished as we exited The Land pavilion and we joined the throng of thousands who were filing out of the park.


We were home with the dogs about 9:45 and enjoyed a bit of TV before bed.

Thursday January 30

This morning we were up at 6:45 and kept things moving fairly quickly.  We had a busy morning planned!


We followed our normal routine with the dogs, after they were fed we walked them along railroad tracks to make sure their chores were all done.


We left Fort Wilderness at 8:30 and arrived walked through the turnstiles at Animal Kingdom just before 9:00.  It was another cool and overcast day and there was a light drizzle in the air.

We headed directly back to the valley of Mo-ara to ride Flight of Passage again.

The standby line was already back to Tiffin’s!  The sign said the wait was 120 minutes but that was very optimistic.  I expect that it was already over three hours by 9:15 a.m.

The drummers were playing as we passed by on our way to the FastPass entrance.

Thanks to my wonderful trip planner, Carol, we bypassed that line, walked right in and enjoyed another great ride.

There is some very alien-looking and exotic plant lie in Pandora!

We walked the full length of the path leading to the Festival of the Lion King Theatre  and it was lined on both sides with the standby line for Flight of Passage – WOW!

The popcorn kiosk at Harambe had Simba popcorn buckets so we bought two.  We couldn’t be sure that they would still be available by noon when we would be passing by again!

We were early for our tour so we stopped at Kusafir, the counter service beside Tusker House and picked up a cinnamon bun.  Warm and tasty on a cool, damp day!

By the time we finished it was time to check-in for the ‘Up Close With Rhinos’ tour.  After we stopped at the kiosk, picked up our name tags and signed a waiver we were sent off to wait a few minutes near the big gate beside the Kilimanjaro Safari entrance.  One of the cast members, Conner, chatted with us while we waited.  Before long our driver, Morgan, arrived and she and Conner led us backstage to the bus that took us around the outside perimeter of the savannah to the Rhino Barn.

That’s where Rhino Handlers, Jess and Nicole joined us.


They started by showing us a big chart with the names, background and vital statistics for each of the five White Rhinos housed at Animal Kingdom.  There are two adult females, two juvenile females and one male, Dougan. 


We entered the barn, which was totally empty at the time, Jess and Nicole pointed our the key features of the barn and answered our questions about the Disney crash of Rhinos.  They can weigh up to 6,000 pounds, live up to 40 years, eat about 70 pounds of food each day, plus their ‘enrichment’ treats.


Jess and Nicole entertained us with stories about each of the giant creatures, describing the unique personality that they display and how they interact with each other.


Then we moved out of the barn to a large adjoining pen where we met the star of the show, Helen, a female White Rhino.  Helen is 28 years old and tips the scales at a dainty 3,978 pounds.  Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any pictures backstage so there is no photographic record of our visit, but it was amazing!


Nicole fed Helen several large pieces from a bale of alfalfa while Jess described Helen in detail and allowed each of us to come up, reach through the fence and touch the enormous lady.


I really hadn't contemplated rubbing and scratching a rhinoceros . . . it was never on the bucket list . . . but that’s what happened today!


I said that Helen’s skin felt like the bark of a tree; Carol said it felt like the rubber in a tire.  Helen had been wallowing in mud earlier in the morning and she was caked in dried-on clay.  Jess told us that her skin is about 3cm thick . . . that’s over an inch.  So let’s say that Carol’s partly right and I’m partly right . . . Helen’s skin feels like the bark of a rubber tree and she needs a huge bottle of skin lotion!


After each of the fourteen people in our tour group had a chance to rub and scratch Helen we boarded the bus and headed back to the ‘onstage’ part of the park. cast members then snapped some special pictures to commemorate our visit!

When we booked the tour it conflicted with a FastPass we had for Kilimanjaro Safaris so Morgan led us to the FastPass line and spoke to the cast member there . . . we were quickly waved through.


It was a good ride, we saw some animals quite clearly, but some parts of the savannah, especially the elephant compound, were blocked with netting so the newly introduced zebras can adjust to their new surroundings.

Before we exited Harambe we stopped to pick up one more Simba popcorn bucket.  We were home with dogs at 1:30.


It was a leisurely afternoon.  We had a sandwich for lunch, then took Jak, Blue and Jake to the dog park for a run.


All five of us enjoyed a nap, then we fed the pups a bit early so we could head out to the Polynesian Village for dinner. We checked in a bit early for our 5:20 reservation at ‘Ohana and were seated by 5:15.

I’m pretty sure that Carol didn’t ask to be seated in the ‘Screaming Child Section’ but that’s where we ended up.  It was noisy, but we had a great meal, as always!  During dinner we thought a few times of our friends Scott and Judy who were supposed to be dining with us.  Scott just loves the shrimp at ‘Ohana and this picture is going to be sheer torture for him!


After dinner we drove to Walmart on Route 535 to pick up  a few groceries

Home with puppies at 8:10 p.m.


We enjoyed a quiet night at home with the boys.

Scottie . . . this one's for you!

Friday January 31

It was warm enough this morning to enjoy coffee outside.  As I sat sipping and slowly waking up I listened to boat whistles and the cardinals.  Although we hear them all the time I haven’t seen a cardinal yet, but Carol has.  I’ve seen deer, turkeys, squirrels, rabbits, all sorts of birds and a lone armadillo . . . Carol doesn’t think it was an armadillo, she’s claiming it was something else, maybe a badger, a wolverine or a jackalope.


We walked the dogs along the railroad tracks then down beside the canal before leaving for Hollywood Studios at 9:15.


By 9:40 we had parked, cleared bag-check and were walking up Hollywood Boulevard.  Carol browsed through a few shops while I enjoyed some of the Hollywood ‘streetmosphere’.

Dorma Nesmond is always happy to pose for a glamorous photo!

The KPUT Radio truck was just pulling out and heading down Sunset Boulevard to cover some late-breaking news event!

We paused for a PhotoPass picture at the fountain at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine then shopped a bit on Sunset Boulevard.  We were looking for a Pixar themed Hawaiian shirt for me, but we had no luck.

Time was approaching for our FastPass at Slinky Dog Dash so we headed to Toy Story Land.  Wow, was it ever crowded!

As we approached the Slinky Dog coaster the Toy Soldiers marched past playing their drums.

Youch!  The standby line for Slinky Dog was 100 minutes . . . that’s an hour and forty minutes!  We sure were glad to have those FastPasses!

As we walked through the FastPass queue there were those Toy Soldiers again, playing for all the folks in line.  Disney does a great job of entertaining and amusing people as they wait in the seemingly endless lines!

We sat in the very back row and had an exciting ride on a cute little roller coaster!

We wandered through Toy Story Land for a few minutes, taking pictures.

Next on our agenda was the newest land at Walt Disney World, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.  We were hoping for a bright sunny day there, but today wasn’t destined to be that day!

We wandered around taking pictures and during the process we were constantly  reminded that we’re not really into Star Wars!  Although the area is extremely well designed and the construction is superbly executed, we felt a bit out of place.  Many of the guests were in costume and were brandishing their light sabres and other intergalactic bric-a-brac..

We headed to Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, the Standby Line was 60 minutes long so we headed to the Single Rider line and boarded the Falcon within 20 minutes.


It’s a fun ride on that old piece of space junk, but for Carol and I there isn’t a big WOW factor.

We wandered some more and stopped at Ronto Roasters where we shared an Endorian Chicken Wrap.  It was a bit spicy and somewhat too juicy, but it was tasty.

This rocket engine provides the barbecue power for Ronto Roasters.  Do you see the Endorian chickens on those spits?  They must weigh a hundred pounds each!

We wandered a bit more and stopped for a PhotoPass before we left Galaxy’s edge and headed toward the Hollywood Studios exit.

We left the park at about 12:15 and spent the afternoon in the campground with the dogs.


We had just finished a sandwich at the picnic table when Al & Jane texted.  They were in the area and wanted to stop by for a few minutes.  We visited with them for a while, then made a swap.  Carol delivered the Simba popcorn bucket that we bought for Jane yesterday and Jane gave Carol two beautiful painted stones, a yellow, green and blue one that Jane had crafted herself and one with a dog’s paw print design that was made by a Canadian artisan from Sault Ste. Marie who uses stones from Lake Superior. 


Don’t they look wonderful?

After Al & Jane left we puttered around the campsite for a while then took a soothing nap.


I went out to take the dogs to the park at 4:00 but it was just starting to rain so they didn’t get their exercise today.


After the puppies were fed and walked Carol and I hopped in the car and headed to Disney Springs for dinner.  We arrived at our destination, Blaze Pizza at 6:15.


The pizza was delicious; the thin crust was so good that Carol ate almost all of her crust.  I’ve never seen that happen before.

After dinner we wandered around Disney Springs enjoying the ambiance.  It was beginning to get crowded on a Friday night . . . weekends can get crazy at Disney Springs.

Carol stopped into the World of Disney store and returned a shirt we had picked up for me.

Naturally we felt compelled to stop at Ghirardelli’s for ice cream.

Since we were so close to the pin store Carol was compelled to stop in the see what was new . . . she picked up a large Funko POP figure that has been tempting her for a few days.


It’s a Skyliner car with Mickey Mouse stepping out the door.  It's very similar to the Skyliner popcorn bucket.

We were heading toward the parking garage to go home when an entertainer took the stage in front of the World of Disney store.  He was a professional yo-yo player and he put on an impressive show.


We were home with the dogs at 9:00 p.m. and watched some TV.

Saturday February 1

Rain, rain, rain!  No coffee outside today!


Jak, Blue and Jake had to wait until it eased up a bit at 7:15 before they could go outside for just a few minutes.


I finished yesterday’s instalment of the trip report while Carol booked our Early Bird tickets for Dayton Disneyana in June.

Then at 9:30 I drove her to the Holiday Inn on Route 192 for a pin trading meet.

Rainy days are no fun for 'Campground Dogs'

I was back to the campsite at 10:20 and spent a quiet morning inside with the pups.  It looks like a long and dull day for the dogs; they’re probably not going to make it to the dog park today!

I took the umbrella and walked along the canal behind the 800 loop hoping to see some critters, but they too must have been sheltering from the rain, there were no sightings today!


I walked the abandoned railroad tracks heading toward The Settlement and I got about half-way there when Carol sent a text, at 11:45 that she was all done trading.

I scurried home, let the dogs out one more time then drove back to the Holiday Inn and picked up my better half at 12:15.  She had a successful morning, she was very happy with the two pins she traded for and the Annual Passholder magnets she was able to get!

We drove straight to Disney Springs where we were meeting our Canadian friends Cheryl and Tom for lunch at Earl of Sandwich.  They were running a few minutes late so I guarded a table just inside the door while Carol got in line.  Cheryl and Tom texted their order to Carol and she had just picked everything up when they walked in the door.  The timing was perfect!

 We had a nice visit over sandwiches then went our separate ways at about 2:30.

Tom and Cheryl went off to browse some shops. Carol and I came back to Fort Wilderness to relax for the afternoon with the dogs!

The dogs had dinner about fifteen minutes early because we were heading off to meet Al and Jane for dinner at Toledo, the new ‘Signature Dining’ restaurant on the top floor at the new tower at Coronado Springs.  Just as the dogs finished there was a knock on the door, it was the Taylor family, Dan, Carey and their son Braeden from Arizona.  We met them a few days ago while waiting for a boat to the Magic Kingdom.  Braeden is an avid fan of Disney and wanted to know everything about the Fort Wilderness Campground.  We told them about the old railroad and that the tracks run right past our campsite.  We invited them to come over for a look, and they did.  We had a nice chat, then scrambled to get the dogs out before we had to leave on our way to dinner.

There was a traffic jam as we left the campground, this rafter of turkeys blocked the road as we approached the four way stop.  They weren’t highly motivated so we had to wait until the road was clear.

Just a few hundred yards later we ran across this horse and wagon on what appeared to be a training run.

We pulled into Coronado Springs at about 5:35 and found Al and Jane waiting for us on the 16th floor just outside Toledo.

Carol checked us in and we were seated very quickly.  Carol and I each ordered Tapas style appetizers, I had a blue cheese and honey mixture on a piece of very crispy toast and it was quite tasty.  Carol wasn’t sure exactly what she had, she described it as a potato omelette with olives on top.  She sneered as she described it so I assume that she didn’t like it.


The only menu item that appealed to me was scallops with hummus and some other stuff . . . it was okay.   Carol ordered the hanger steak which she really enjoyed.

It was nice to visit with Al and Jane and we had a terrific view from the 16th floor, but Carol and I decided, as we chatted in the car on the way home that it just wasn’t the sort of food we enjoy.  We’re glad we went to try it out, but it’s definitely a case of ‘once and done’.

Al and Jane felt the same way, just after we got home Jane sent a message, ‘Al and I would rather eat five times at Earl of Sandwich than once at Toledo’.  We couldn’t agree more!


We were home with the dogs at 8:25, just a few minutes before the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks ended . . . they were sure happy to see us!

Sunday February 2

I woke up to the sound of the coffee maker gurgling at 6:20 but I rolled over and suddenly it was 7:20 and Carol was just getting out of bed.  I guess we both needed a little bit of extra rest.


It was sunny and bright, but still a very cool day.  We fed and walked the dogs then headed to the dock to catch a boat to the Magic Kingdom.  It was 50º and a damp wind was blowing across Bay Lake as we watched our boat approach the dock.  It was a launch, not the normal cruiser.  That meant that we had to sit outside.

This picture of Carol speaks a thousand words!

We stopped for a PhotoPass before entering the park at 9:35.  There was plenty going on at Town Square.  The Trolley Dancers were performing in front of the Train Station.

All of the Main Street Transportation vehicles were running and Mary Poppins was riding in the jitney.

We walked up Main Street heading toward Tomorrowland and stopped for a few more PhotoPasses along the way.


Click on the white arrow in the middle of the picture to see some Disney magic!

We got to Tomorrowland at 10:00 a.m. and cashed in our FastPass for a spin with Buzz Lightyear and the Space Rangers.  Today is was my turn to win!

We wandered over to Space Mountain where the new ride vehicles (bikes) for the Tron Rollercoaster are on display.  Carol and I both managed to get in and out of the new bikes, but it wasn’t a pretty sight!

Our next FastPass was for Pirates of the Caribbean so we took a slow stroll from Tomorrowland, through The Hub toward Adventureland.  As we passed Cinderella Castle the Forecourt Show was underway so we stopped to watch for a few minutes.

The star-studded cast included Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Elsa, Anna and Olaf and more.

As we wandered through Frontierland some County Bears were interacting with guests.  Wendel posed with Carol.


I shot my first selfie with a bear named Shaker!

We took a ride through Pirates of the Caribbean and I gave my new phone a workout.  The camera performed pretty well in the low-light conditions of the pirate grotto!

It was about time to get back home to the dogs, but since we had to walk right past Aloha Isle and the Sunshine Tree Terrace we stopped for a pineapple float and a citrus swirl.

I wandered around The Hub and then down Main Street, snapping pictures while Carol shopped her way down Main Street, through the Jewellery Store, the Art of Disney and the Confectionery Store.  She found me a nice Hawaiian style shirt full of Disney characters.  I think it’s a keeper!

We caught another launch back to the campground, fortunately it had warmed up and we were much more comfortable than earlier in the day!


We had a sandwich at the campsite and then loaded the three dogs on the golf cart for a trip to the dog park.  After being cooped up in the rain all day yesterday Blue and Jake were happy to have a chance to run and chase the ball.  Jak was content to sniff his way around the perimeter of the park and socialize with a few other dogs.

Once the three boys were worn out we took them home left them in the trailer while we headed to a nearby pet shop and the Publix grocery store.  We picked up a ‘cone of shame’ for Jak.  He has a spot on his foreleg that he keeps chewing; we tried wrapping it but he’s pretty good at chewing off the binding so the cone is the next-best solution.  At Publix we picked up some junk food to munch during the Super Bowl game tonight.


Dinner was at Sweet Tomatoes, a place not far from Walt Disney World.  They specialize in fresh salads and soups with some fresh baked breads.  I really enjoy the extensive salad bar!


We were home with the boys just in time for the 6:30 kick-off of the football game.  Carol left briefly to take advantage of the pin trading boards at The Settlement and The Meadow but she was back about half way through the second quarter and we enjoyed the rest of the game together.


We’re not NFL fans but Al and Jane had convinced us that we should cheer for Kansas City, and it was nice to see their team win.


The Chiefs quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, will be honoured in a special parade at The Magic Kingdom tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.  I’m not sure if we’ll be there or not!


By 11:00 p.m. our nap-less day had caught up to us.  As we say in Canada, it was 'Lights out, flood the rink.'

Monday February 3

I slept in until 7:20, that’s when the dogs convinced me that it was time for their morning ablutions.


The boys were all finished when Her Majesty stumbled out from the Royal Bedchamber at 7:30.  She quickly fed the puppies and they were once again in a ‘happily ever after’ mood!

After showers and a quick bite of breakfast we walked them down the railroad line and hopped in the car to head to Animal Kingdom where we had FastPasses for Flight of Passage and Expedition Everest.

We stopped at the park entrance and posed for a couple of PhotoPass pictures.

Once we got to Discovery Island Carol gave me her magic band so I could use it at Pandora to ride Flight of Passage twice.  She has done two rides there this trip and that’s about her limit.  She browsed through all of the shops on Discovery Island and then walked across to Harambe Village and browsed a bit there too.

I walked to the Valley of Mo-ara and took two rides on the back of a banshee in rapid succession.

By the time I was done Carol was waiting and we made our way through Harambe to Asia and joined a long FastPass line for Expedition Everest.

Pumbaa is part of the scavenger hunt at Animal Kingdom

We always ask to sit in the front row and the cast member coordinating the loading of the roller coaster has us stand aside to wait for the next train.  Then we’re waved down the line to the first row.  As we stood in row one waiting for the train to arrive Carol overheard a young boy behind us, in row two, who was pretty disappointed that he didn’t get the first row . . . so we swapped with him.  He was thrilled!

Doesn't he look excited?

We wandered off to Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama to take a few pictures and stalk a few characters.

The evolution of Donald Duck

Scrooge didn't look too happy to see us!

When we spotted Scrooge McDuck I stopped to take a picture, then I noticed Carol talking to some people waiting in like to have pictures taken with Scrooge.  It was our friends Eric and Trisha from Euclid Ohio, so we stopped and chatted for a few minutes.

Then it was time to head home!

We were back at Fort Wilderness with the puppies at 12:30 and enjoyed a sandwich at the campsite before taking them off to the dog park for a romp.

We drag raced with a monorail on the way home.

They had a good run, then we cast aside our plans to head to the Magic Kingdom for the Super Bowl parade.  The puppies really wanted us to stay home for a nap.  It was very soothing for all of us!

Al and Jane went to the parade and helped celebrate their home-team’s victory.  These are two of the pictures they took!

Jake has been missing his ‘cuddle time’ with his mommy so she cradled him in her chair for a while before his dinner time.

Jak has been chewing at a ‘hot spot’ on his leg so he’s been wearing ‘the cone of shame’ for two days.  This is what a pouting Jak looks like.

Blue is pretty laid back, he’s always happy to just chill out on the couch.

We fed and walked them a few minutes early then headed off to Disney Springs for dinner.  We parked at the Lime Garage and walked the full length of Disney Springs to Splitsville, beside the AMC Theatre.

Carol ordered a bacon cheeseburger and I tried their taco bowl.  Both were delicious.  I think we’ll be going back to Splitsville . . . but next time we’ll park at Orange Garage.  It’s right next door!


The long walk back to the car helped us wear off a bit of our dinner.  We were back to Fort Wilderness at about 7:25 which allowed Carol time to visit the pin trading boards at The Meadow and The Settlement.


We settled in with the dogs at 8:00 p.m. and watched some television.  They were happy to have us home when the nightly fireworks began!

Tuesday February 4

We had two ‘firsts’ planned for today and we had to get moving quickly, so we set the alarm for 6:45 a.m.  It turned out to be unnecessary; we were both awake at 6:30.  I showered and used the wonderful new shampoo Carol bought for me.  It has a volumizer and a shining ingredient.  At my stage of life I have about three hairs left on my head, but it sure is nice to see them plumped up and gleaming!


We rushed the dogs through their morning routine and hit the road at 8:00.

Disney’s newest resort, The Riviera, is just a short drive away and we were scheduled to enjoy their ‘character breakfast’ for the first time.  It’s a lovely resort!

We were seated at Topolino’s Terrace, the signature dining restaurant on the 16th floor at 8:30 and enjoyed a very nice breakfast.  It was tasty, the room wasn’t crowded or noisy like some of the character meals can be, and the characters were attentive and animated.


Our server was Wayne, from New Jersey.  Wayne has served us before at Olivia’s in Old Key West.

After breakfast we wandered out onto the terrace beside the restaurant and enjoyed a magnificent vista of the Disney resort properties.

Down below was the Shyliner station and that was going to be our second ‘first of the day, we were going to ride it to Hollywood Studios.

Along the way we snapped a few pictures.  We stopped in the Library beside the lobby, it’s filled with some wonderful pieces of Disney history.  Be sure to visit the library when you’re at The Riviera.

Naturally, the boutique beckoned to Carol.

Soon we boarded the Skyliner and had a nice ride to Hollywood Studios.

I have to admit that I was totally wrong about the gondola system.  I didn’t think it would have the capacity to move enough people and would be plagued with long lines.

I couldn’t have been more wrong . . . it was very efficient and quite scenic as well.

We touched down at Hollywood Studios at 10:15 and Carol browsed through some shops looking for some ‘Ink and Paint Mickey Ears’ while I snapped a few pictures along Hollywood Boulevard.

Carol bumped into her pin trading friends Chrissie and Nancy in the shop and had a chat with them.

There were no ears to be found, so we carried on to Toy Story Land.

We were early for our FastPass at Toy Story Midway Mania so I carried on the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to get a few pictures under brighter skies.  Wow, it was crowded!  I tried to find scenes where the crowd didn’t interfere but they were hard to find!

I soon rejoined Carol and we took a spin through the shootin’ gallery with Andy’s toys.  The standby wait was an hour and twenty minutes . . . glad we had FastPasses!

This time I squeaked out a narrow win in a hard-fought battle!

As we were leaving we spotted the new marquee for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway which will be opening soon in the Chinese Theatre.

Then, just a few steps away Carol spotted the ears she’s been looking for!  Gotcha!

We boarded the Skyliner for our return flight at 12:15.

Here’s a reflected picture of Carol in her new ears!

She took a ‘selfie’ to give you a better look at her new treasure!


We were home with the dogs at 12:45 and had a sandwich outside as the puppies stretched their legs and enjoyed some time outdoors.  Our friends Eric and Tricia dropped by to meet the dogs and we visited with them for about an hour and a half before it was time to head off to dinner.

After we fed the dogs we walked them along the railroad tracks and Carol spotted some wildlife.

I went into ‘stealth mode’ and captured a few shots of one of the resident deer

She was pretty wary and kept a very close eye on the dogs!

By 5:15 we were at EPCOT and made our way past Canada and England on our way to France for dinner at Chefs de France.  We stopped to enjoy a few characters and a few ‘photo-ops’ along the way.

Our dinner was terrific.

We shared a wonderful bowl of onion soup then Carol had a filet done just the way she likes and I had beef bourguignon.  We finished up with some tasty profiteroles, hers with chocolate sauce, mine with caramel.


We stayed in France after dinner and enjoyed the Beauty and the Beast sing-along in the theatre; it was cute . . . but once is enough.

Then we saw the newly ‘restored’ movie Impressions de France.  The film is exactly the same as before but it has been very well restored and refreshed.  The colours were brilliant.

We scurried off to the America Gardens Theatre and sat in the third row just as the performance was starting.  The performers were Liana Hunt, from Newsies  and Adam Jacobs who was the first Aladdin on Broadway. It was our first time to see these artists and they put on a very entertaining act!

After the show we hustled to the entrance and were directly under Spaceship Earth when the nightly fireworks began.  We stopped for a special PhotoPass ‘magic shot’ then hurried home to the dogs.  They were thrilled to see us when we pulled in at 9:30 p.m.

Later in the evening Carol got a text message and a picture from our dog-sitter, Kim.  It looks as though Oliver isn't missing us at all!

Wednesday February 5

We had no need to rush this morning, our first FastPass wasn’t until 11:55.


We slept until 7:00 a.m. and then enjoyed a leisurely morning.  We walked and fed the dogs, then took them to the off-leash park for a romp.

I spent some time preparing the Trip Report.

Carol took the golf cart to the  Settlement to trade at the 11:00 a.m. pin board.

She was back at 11:30 and we hopped in the car and left for EPCOT.

Carol lined up for the pin board under Spaceship Earth and spotted our friend Allison from back home in Ontario.  She’s here for a week and we may bump into her again at Villains night on Friday!

In The Land pavilion we stopped to see the new 10 minute film Awesome Planet.  It’s extremely well filmed with wonderful scenes and a very powerful message about climate change.  Don’t miss it next time you’re at Disney!

We stepped into the FastPass line at Soarin’ at 12:17, it was a very long FastPass line but we were well entertained by two sisters from East Texas.  One of them had recently lost her husband and her sister was tired of all the mourning, she was trying to bring her sibling out of her shell.  Believe you me, neither of these ladies was in a shell!  They entertained us with tales of Texas horse-trading and educated us in the fine art of the East Texas slap-down.  They quoted a slap-down by author Larry McMurtry, ‘Clara’s got a very sharp tongue.  She’s tomahawked me with that tongue many times in the past.’  Our 35 minutes in line passed quickly thanks to those two!

We enjoyed a few photo opportunities as we headed from Future World to World Showcase, then stopped in England for lunch at Yorkshire Fish & Chips.

Little murals like this adorn some of the buildings around World Showcase

but only during the Festival of Arts


The portrait on the right is one of the classic works of art that

Figment has snuck into.  In this case, the Mona Lisa!

We spent the rest of the afternoon browsing the Festival.  Carol visited every kiosk along the way and walked through most of the pavilions looking for hidden character murals and the Figment portraits she needed to complete the Brush With The Masters scavenger hunt.

Carol bumped into her friend Megan at one of the kiosks between Morocco and Japan while she was buying a Dalmatian print by artist Rob Kaz.  Megan was working as part of in that same kiosk and Carol recognized her from several pin events over the years.  About seven years ago Carol desperately needed a Prep & Landing Sorcerer Card from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and could not find one to trade for.  Megan had one, and didn’t want a trade in return.  Then she gave Carol a whole bunch more cards that she was missing from her collection.  They have met at almost every EPCOT Pin Event since then.

Today Megan went into a tent out back and came back with a whole set of special Disney Fine Art bookmarks.

We stopped for dessert at the American pavilion, no it wasn’t apple pie, we had funnel cake with ice cream.  Yum!

The rest of the afternoon was more of the same, hidden murals, Figment portraits and festival photo-ops.

The model train display at Germany was all decorated for Festival of the Arts.

We slowly worked our way all around World Showcase Lagoon to the Port of Entry area where music was playing in the stage area.  I popped in while Carol was checking out a nearby kiosk.  Some acrobats were performing.

It was 3:30, time for us to get back to the dogs so we turned toward the exit.


The concourse between World Showcase and Future World was filed with chalk art which we enjoyed along the way.

We were home by 4:15 and relaxed for a few short minutes with the puppies, then it was time to feed and walk them.

We headed to Disney Springs and checked in at Art Smith’s Florida Homecoming at 5:45.  It was a very nice dinner, fried chicken for Carol and a burger for me.  As usual, we finished with hummingbird cake and ice cream.

After dinner Carol popped into the World of Disney store while I waited in a nearby chair.  She soon returned with the Ink & Paint pin she had been after.  Carol said, ‘You’d better get home and work on that trip report; the natives back home are getting restless.’


‘Judy?’ I asked.


‘No,’ she replied, ‘Curtis, he sent a text.’


So after a quick stop at the Winn-Dixie grocery store we went home and I got to work.


We were home with Jak, Blue and Jake at 8:15 and the previous day’s report was published by 9:30.



Thursday February 6

Jak decided that we needed to be awake at 5:30 a.m.  Carol didn’t hear him, so I poked her a few times . . . then she heard him and got up to let him outside.  I rolled over and slept until 7:00.  Sometimes it’s good to be me!


There was a severe weather warning for the day, with tornados possible in the afternoon, so we stayed at the campground until we could get a comprehensive forecast.  We puttered around the campsite so long that we missed the time frame for our FastPass at Avatar: Flight of Passage.


When we finally heard a full forecast it sounded like no rain or high winds would arrive until evening, so we left at about 9:45.  We walked through the gate at Animal Kingdom at about 10:15 and headed straight to Harambe to use our only remaining FastPass at Kilimanjaro Safari.


It was a bumpy ride and our driver barely stopped, so it was difficult to get good pictures.  That’s a shame because we saw plenty of animals.

When we finished the safari it was very hot and humid with strong gusty winds . . . time to get home to the dogs and batten things down at the campsite!


We stopped for a quick PhotoPass with Simba, Punbaa and Timon as we approached The Tree of Life.

On Discovery Island the macaws had just flown in for the ‘Winged Encounters’ show.  We stopped once again for a few pictures and then scurried directly to the exit.

After a brief stop at Property Control (no bargains for Carol today) we were home with the puppies at 1:00 p.m.


We walked the dogs, put away things that might blow around in the high winds/tornado, then had a sandwich for lunch.


We were expecting some Canadian friends to visit later in the afternoon so we laid down a bit early for a nap.  Unfortunately, it just didn’t seem to be working for either of us so we hopped in the golf cart and headed toward the 1400 camping loop to visit the Taylor family from Arizona.  We met them at the intersection of Cinnamon Fern Way and Fort Wilderness Trail . . . they were in their golf cart on the way to visit with us!


We turned around and came back home where we let the dogs back out and enjoyed chatting with the Taylors for about an hour and a half.


At about 3:00 p.m. Carol got a message from our Canadian friends Tom and Cheryl that they were on the bus from Animal Kingdom and would be arriving shortly.  We said a quick goodbye to the Taylors then Carol went on the golf cart to pick Tom and Cheryl up at the bus station while I stayed with the dogs.


We took them on a golf cart tour all around the campground . . . they seemed quite taken with the place.  They may be camping here on a vacation in the very near future!


Carol fed the dogs then Tom and Cheryl joined us as we walked them along the railroad track and down the canal.  They spotted two deer across the canal and took a short walk further down the track to see if they could spot more.


Once the dogs finished their chores the four of us boarded the golf cart and headed toward the Settlement for dinner at Trail’s End. 


About two campsites down the road from ours I pointed at a grassy area between two campsites and said, ‘One of the other campers told me that she and her husband often see one or two deer right there when they come home after dark.’


‘Stop,’ Cheryl said.  ‘Back up just a bit.’  And when I did she pointed to a deer in the thicket . . . looking directly at us.  I wonder . . . how many times have I driven or walked past that deer?

Do you see her?

We had a very nice meal, and a good visit with Tom and Cheryl then it was time to say goodbye.  At about 7:15 we walked them down to the marina where they caught a boat to the Magic Kingdom.  The 30 year-olds seem to have a lot more energy than we do!

I hung out with Carol at the Settlement Trading Post, picked the pins she pointed at from the trading boards when it opened at 7:30, then we headed home to spend the evening with the dogs.


They can always sense when bad weather is on the way and they were a bit edgy!

Friday February 7

It was a blustery, windy night.  I woke once to the rumble of thunder and the roar of wind but Carol slept all through the night.  Usually it’s the other way around!  We had a bit of rain, but not the quarter to  half inch that had been forecast.


This time Carol heard Jak when he started whining at 6:00 a.m. and I didn’t have to poke her.  She let him out and then slept for another half hour.  We were both up by 6:45.  I went out and looked around our campsite and the surrounding area, other than a lot of pine needles lying around, there was no sign of storm damage.

Carol fed the dogs, we both caught up on news on our computers, then walked the dogs.  At 8:30 we headed toward Trail’s End where we were meeting the Taylor family for breakfast.  They’re heading home to Arizona tomorrow.

After a nice breakfast and lots of chatter we said goodbye at 9:30 and headed to the marina where we caught a launch to the Magic Kingdom.

 It was a cool, breezy morning, and the ride was a bit ‘brisker’ than we would have liked!

Once we arrived at the park we headed to the Fire Hall to pick up Sorcerer cards, but the line was just too long . . . maybe later!

Carol spotted the Dapper Dans and a few Main Street characters so we stopped for a picture with them.  We crossed through Liberty Square and past the Christmas Shop on our way to the Haunted Mansion.

We used our FastPasses to take share an adventure with the 999 Happy Haunts.  It’s one of our favourite rides!

We stopped for a PhotoPass at the Haunted Mansion exit!


Carol browsed the pin selection at Frontier Mercantile as we passed through Frontierland on our way to Adventureland.  Holy Cow . . . look at that line!  The FastPass line stretched all the way up the hill and past the spitting camels at the Aladdin ride.  We spent 25 minutes in the FastPass line . . . Do you suppose that Disney is strategically overbooking FastPasses?

Once we finished our Jungle Cruise it was time to head back home to the dogs.

I took Blue and Jake to the dog park for a romp and then we spent a relaxing afternoon at the campsite with them.

Carol fed them at 4:30 and we took them for a nice long walk along the railroad tracks and canal.  Carol spotted this Blue Heron in the canal.  As we passed he struck quickly and caught a fish, gulped it down and flew away.  Our three vigilant guard dogs didn’t notice a thing!

Our boat to the Magic Kingdom docked at 5:20 and whisked us across Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon just I time for our 6:00 p.m. dinner reservation at the Plaza Inn.

We had a table with a beautiful view of Cinderella Castle and enjoyed a great dinner.  Carol had a Philly Cheesesteak.

When they told me that the Bangers and Mash was made with plant based bratwurst I quickly changed y order . . . I tried the meatloaf.  Plant based bratwurst?  Why??

We had FastPasses for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train so we wandered through Tomorrowland, picked up our Villain’s Party wristbands near Buzz Lightyear, then carried on to Fantasyland.  A night-time ride with Happy, Sneezy, Dopey, Doc, Sleepy, Grumpy, Bashful and Snow White is quite different than the day-time experience.  Lighting makes a huge difference!

It was almost time for the Happily Ever After fireworks so we headed to The Hub and found a good vantage point to watch and take some pictures.

It really is a magnificent show, the way they blend fireworks, lighting and music to capture all of your senses!

After Happily Ever After most of the crowd began to leave the park, only those of us who paid for the special ‘Villains After Hours’ party were allowed to stay past 9:00 p.m.

We took advantage of the reduced crowd to get some special pictures, like this one at the Partners statue.

The Villains party had a few special features including a surprise at Pirates of the Caribbean.  We headed to Adventureland and waited until 9:00 pm. To enter the Pirates attraction, to be sure we saw the special surprise.  Sure enough, a costumes wench greeted us in the line, a live pirate called to us from a parapet as the cannonballs splashed down around us near Captain Barbossa’s ship.


Later, in the village, Captain Barbossa taunted us from a bridge as we sailed under it.

We headed out through Adventureland toward The Hub and enjoyed some of the free snacks and beverages that were offered during the party.  (They weren’t really free – we paid $100 each for our party tickets!)

Crowds were extremely light as we walked through the park and we stopped for a few unique photo opportunities.

As we neared The Hub there was music playing, lights were strobing and pulsating . . . a DJ was playing and people were dancing!  We joined the crowd and swayed with the music.  We completely lacked the energy to dance!

As we waited for the 10:00 p.m. Villains forecourt show, ‘Villains Unite The Night’ to start I did some wandering and got a few pictures before rejoining Carol.

Soon five fearsome villains, Hades, Jafar, Evil Queen, Dr. Facilier and Malificent took the stage and spun a wild tale of suspense, magic and intrigue.

Carol and I are not big ‘villain fans’ but we thoroughly enjoyed this 25 minute show.

When Villains Unite The Night’ concluded we turned around, stepped a few steps back to the curb at The Hub and within a few short minutes the special parade, the wicked new ‘Villain’s Cursed Caravan’ began.

It wasn’t a long parade, but it was wonderful.  The villains included Gaston on horseback, Lady Tremaine in a horse-drawn carriage, followed by the Ugly Step-Sisters, then The Queen of Hearts and a troop of marching playing cards, Cruella De Vil and her two henchmen, Jasper and Horace, in a classic old convertible, Ursulla along with her eels marched behind, Oogie Boogie, Bowler Hat Guy, Captain Hook and the Big Bad Wolf were on a large float, then Malificent the dragon followed, escorted by a pair marching gargoyles and four demons on stilts.  The parade was wonderful . . . but next time we’ll watch from Frontierland not from The Hub.

We headed to Tomorrowland where there was another ‘after hours special effect’ added at Space Mountain.

Along the way we ran into our Canadian friend Allison and stopped for a picture with Oogie Boogie!

There was no line for Buzz Lightyear as we passed, so we stopped in for a spin.

I was thrilled with my score of 480,900 until I glanced over to Carol’s side.  She had maxed-out her counter at 999,999.  It was a good night for both of us!

We walked directly on at Space Mountain and we both knew immediately that we had made a huge mistake!

The seats that we had to slither and limbo into were going to be a huge challenge to haul ourselves out of.


The special ‘after hours effect’ they had added was nothing more than total darkness.  We didn’t see the streaking comets and meteorites that normally flash across the sky . . . we saw nothing (nothing but the sheer terror we felt inside!)

The first drop was cruel and unusual punishment for my arthritic left hip, and every bump through the rest of the ride added to my agony.  By the time we were finished I was in a lot of pain so I moaned and groaned as I struggled to get out of the car.  Carol on the other hand, laughed hysterically as she fought her way back to an upright position.  She saw my plight but was too convulsed with laughter to offer me any help.  She sat on a nearby bench trying to restore her composure while I extricated myself and limped over to her side.

I rode in her ECV scooter for the rest of the night . . . walking was just too painful!


I’m pretty sure that it was our last ride ever on Space Mountain!

We headed to the exit, stopped for a few pictures along the way and left the park at 11:45.  There were ‘Do Not Enter’ signs at the entrance to the dock where we catch the boat to the campground.


We had been assured that the boats would run until an hour after the party was over . . . but we had been misinformed.  That was a bit ‘un-magical’.


We waited for a bus and, after Carol’s ECV . . . with me riding it, was lashed down in the bus we were told that this bus would take us to Wilderness Lodge where we would have to transfer to another bus bound for The Outpost at Fort Wilderness Campground, then take a third bus to The Settlement where our golf cart was parked.  We were not happy campers, nor were the other 20 to 30 campers waiting in line with us.  We had all been misinformed about the boats and tempers were rising.

The bus driver called his dispatcher and within just a few minutes he changed from my sworn enemy to my superhero.  He stopped at Wilderness Lodge, dropped off a few passengers and then took the rest of us directly to the campground.  He bypassed the station at The Outpost and dropped each group off at their individual camping loops.  I got off at the bus stop shared by the 700 and 800 loops and took the ECV back to the campsite to let the dogs out.  Carol was the only one left on the bus.  The driver took her to The Settlement and to be sure she was safe, he waited until he saw her return in the cart.


I didn’t get the driver’s name, but I want to say thank you!  He brought a bit of magic back to a very un-magical development.


We really enjoyed the Villain’s Party, but not the trip home!  Bed felt good when we collapsed at 1:15 a.m. – several hours after I normally turn into a pumpkin.

This cute little girl was waiting near the golf cart when Carol picked it up at 1:00 a.m.

Saturday February 8

After that dreadful ride on the rocket-sled last night I took one of Carol’s magic pain-killer pills to help me sleep.  I tossed and turned a few times, found the least painful position for my hip, and decided to try the anaesthesiologist’s trick.  I counted backward  . . . one hundred, ninety-nine, ninety-eig . . . Zzzzz.  Wow, those things are good!


I opened my eyes and it was daylight, 7:30 a.m. and Carol was letting the dogs out.  I felt refreshed – not fully recharged, but refreshed.


We had no park plans for the day, we find the parks much too crowded for our liking on the weekend so today was intended to be ‘downtime’.

We caught up on the news and sipped hot coffee until the pot was empty.  I worked on the trip report in the morning; there were plenty of pictures to go through from the previous day.


The dogs enjoyed several nice walks along the canal, then Carol and I hopped in the car at about 11:30.  We stopped at Petco to pick up some kibble for the boys, just to be sure we had enough for the trip home, then went on to the Beach Club where we had lunch with Al and Jane at Beaches and Cream.

It was our first time in the newly expanded restaurant.  They did a nice job with the renovation. We had a good meal and ended it with really big banana splits; they we awesome. The only thing that wasn’t good was our server, he seemed to lack the Disney magic and wasn’t too attentive to our needs.

We were back home with the dogs before 3:00 p.m. and I took Blue and Jake to the dog park for a run while Carol took Jak for a walk along the canal.

She spotted a huge moth on a tree; the wing-span was about four inches (that’s about 10cm for our Canadian friends).

When I got back from the dog park Carol said, ‘You’d better finish up that trip report, there’s some chatter on Facebook about it.’


‘Curtis again?’




‘Nope, this time it’s Margaret in Atlanta.’


‘Well bless her heart.’ I said as we all laid down for a nap.


(That’s a Georgia slap-down folks, I wasn’t really blessing your heart was I Margaret?  LOL)

All too soon it was time to get going again!  After the dogs were fed and walked Carol and I hopped in the car and headed to the Museum of Military History on Route 192.


There was a colourful 'moonrise' as we left the campground.  Unfortunately, this picture doesn't really do it justice!

We joined the World Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club for their February meeting; Carol had heard about it at the Pin Trading session she went to last Saturday.  It was good fun; things were very informal.  President Arlen Miller welcomed members and guests and then he and Vice-President Jim Lord conducted a ‘show and tell’ session where they shared and described some treasures from their personal Disney collections.

President Arlen had gathered an impressive collection of Zorro VHS tapes and some old Zorro comic books dating back to the ‘50’s.

Vice-President Jim brought along some educational books produced by Disney, intended to help children to learn their ABC’s  by using some catchy Disney illustrations (nothing to do with the Phoenicians) and he’ll be sharing some PDF images of those books with Carol and I.  Jim also brought along some original storyboard sketches used in the production of ‘Mickey’s Trailer’ way back in 1938.  What a treasure!


There were several draws for door prizes during the evening.  I won the second draw and they handed me a Christmas themed popcorn bucket filled with a few small Disney trinkets.  Two draws later Carol’s number was drawn and she won an identical bucket full of goodies.

Arlen introduced the guest speaker for the evening, Zac Lessin, a Walt Disney World Pyro Technician.  It was fascinating listening to Zac describe how Disney designs and builds their spectacular pyrotechnic shows.  Each show takes years to design and implement.


Zac supervises the crew of 11 men and women, all pyro specialist, who set up the ‘EPCOT Forever’ show each day.  Each shell is laid out manually and the electric match in the shell is connected, by hand to the computer controlled firing system.  At ‘showtime’ the actual firing is overseen by a ‘shooter’ who can change things, based on weather conditions, crowd location, etc. to ensure that safe firing conditions are maintained.


Zac wasn’t aware of overall budget figures, but he did share a few statistics.  I didn’t make notes, so I’m quoting from memory but as I recall the shells used in EPCOT Forever cost $30,000 each night and those used in Happily Ever After cost $58,000 each night.  Zac didn’t give us any specific details about the new ‘Harmonious’ show coming later this year to EPCOT, but he did say that it would ‘blow us away!’


I sure hope he meant that in a good way!

We stayed for a few minutes after the meeting and I bought a DVD of the Retirement Party and Roast the chapter held for Disney artist Don ‘Ducky’ Williams.  We’ve met Ducky a few times and we’re looking forward to watching it once we get home. 


We chatted with a few of the members over a glass of lemonade before saying our goodbyes and heading off to Chick-fil-A for a late dinner.


We were home with the boys by 9:00 p.m. and I managed to finish the trip report for Margaret by 10:30.


Whew . . . the pressure’s off for now!

Sunday February 9

We were up at 7:00 a.m. and once again we had no specific park plans.  The theme parks are generally just too busy and crowded for us on weekends.  We thought that it might be nice to catch the Disney on Broadway show at the America Gardens Theatre in the evening, but even that was kind of up-in-the-air.

We enjoyed a very peaceful and serene morning.  I prepared and uploaded yesterday’s episode of the trip report while Carol did a couple of loads of laundry.  Then she went to the Settlement for bit of pin trading and when she returned I took Blue and Jake to the dog park while she walked Jak along the canal.

Just before noon I drove the golf cart to the Registration Office at The Outpost to ask about a couple of charges to our account and to complain about the whole boat/bus fiasco on Friday night.  I don’t think the young Millennial at the Concierge Desk understood my complaint at all and I didn’t get the sense that it would be passed on to management, so I guess I’ll be writing a letter when I get home.

We hung out at the campsite and had sandwiches at the picnic table for lunch.


We napped . . . that is to say, I napped for a bit.  Carol hibernated for the afternoon.


I took all three dogs out for a walk while she sawed logs.

Blue had a ‘Close Encounter of the Bird Kind.’

Carol had been feeling a bit peckish in the morning but she was refreshed after her marathon siesta so she fed the dogs a bit early and after we walked them we hopped in the car and headed to EPCOT.


We entered the park at 5:00 p.m. and caught the Friendship boat from Canada to Morocco.

We hustled across to the America Gardens Theatre, hoping to get in line for the 5:30 Disney on Broadway show . . . but they had just finished seating people and the theatre was completely full.

We headed off to Germany where we each enjoyed a bratwurst on a bun, and nudel gratin, a nice baked mac and cheese dish, then we shared an apple strudel.  It was all tasty.

We headed back to America and at 6:10 we joined the line for the 6:45 p.m. Broadway show.

It was a fun performance.   Most of the music was from productions that we’re not too familiar with, but the singers were talented and easy to listen to.

The young girl sitting to my right had a great singing voice and knew every word to every song.  She kept me entertained throughout the show.


The young man sitting to Carol’s left was a dancer . . . he was up and rocking with almost every song and kept Carol on full alert when he was swinging his arms!

After the show was over we took a slow stroll toward the exit.  We stopped in Italy and I took a few pictures, then posed for a special PhotoPass shot with an umbrella.

As we crossed the bridge between the Refreshment Outpost and China we spotted a beautiful full moon rising above the trees.  Then we noticed all the white birds roosted in the trees.  How can you not take a picture of that?

We stopped in Norway and enjoyed a snack; we shared a Troll Horn and a Rice Cream.  Yummy!

At the Mexican Pavilion Carol found one of the last three Figment portraits in her scavenger hunt, then we took a ride on the Gran Fiesta Tour.

Our walk toward the exit took us down the length of the main concourse where we snapped a few more pictures.


The chalk art is amazing, particularly this 3D image featuring Remy from the Ratatouille movie.

Leigh had several chalk art pieces on display, they included Disney's most popular animated chracters.



That big, bright, full moon appeared again, first we spotted it behind some palm trees along the concourse . . .


 . . . and then again beside Spaceship Earth.

There was one last PhotoPass opportunity as we left the park at 8:50 p.m.

When we arrived back at the campground at 9:00 p.m. these deer, two does and two sweet little fauns, were waiting near the entrance gate to welcome us.

Monday February 10

It was a beautiful morning, warm and sunny!  One of the few mornings where we could sit out and enjoy our coffee in the lawn chairs.  We took full advantage of it and watched the sun rise above the RV next door at about 7:45 a.m.

We had some FastPasses at Animal Kingdom, so once the dogs were fed and walked we made the drive to the furthest theme park from the campground.

It was 9:45 when we entered the park and we headed directly to the Na’vi River Journey for our first FastPass adventure.

It’s a slow paced boat ride through the colourful world of Pandora, home of the Na’vi people.

We left Pandora behind and took the back trail, past the Festival of the Lion King Theatre to Harambe.

In Harambe we boarded a truck for an excursion with Kilimanjaro Safaris.  It was a good day for animal sightings!

After our safari it was time to head out, we were scheduled to meet friends Al and Jane at Property Control at noon.

Of course, our walk toward the exit took us past the river where the otters frolic . . . Carol can never pass the otters so we stopped for a quick look!

Al and Jane were waiting when we pulled in at Property Control.  Al and I sat outside chatting while Carol and Jane shopped.  It wasn’t long before the ladies came out empty-handed.  There were no bargains today!


Al and Jane headed off to Earl of Sandwich for lunch but we decided not to join them, our puppies had been alone all morning and we hadn’t turned on the air conditioning before we left.  It was about 80º and getting warmer, so we decided to head home, turn on the A/C and have a sandwich at the picnic table.


We spent a relaxing afternoon with the dogs.  We all napped and later I took Blue and Jake to the dog park for a romp while Carol walked Jak.

The dogs had their dinner a bit early and we headed to EPCOT for dinner in China at Nine Dragons.

Dinner was terrific, we shared Treasure Spring Rolls and Potstickers to start, then Carol had General Tso Chicken and I had Honey Sesame Chicken.  It was so tasty that we brought home the leftovers which will be lunch tomorrow.

The Chinese acrobats were performing as we left the restaurant, but we scurried past on our way to the America Gardens Theatre.

Our favourite Broadway performers, Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland were appearing for the first time and we hoped to catch the 6:45 show.

The standby line had just entered and settled in place when we arrived, but we were fortunate.  There was still plenty of room.  We found seats in the third row, but quite a way from the centre.


What a great show!  All of the performers are good, but Ashley and Josh seem to have much more power in their voices than the others we heard!


We hope to be able to catch their next performance on Wednesday evening!

When the show was over we wandered the rest of the way around World Showcase and Carol managed to complete the Figment Portrait scavenger hunt before we got to the exit.

As we walked under Spaceship Earth we noticed that there was no line so we took a quick spin through with Dame Judy Dench and the Phoenicians before carrying on the the parking lot!

It was another glorious Disney day!

There were five rabbits munching on the grass just outside the EPCOT exit as we approached the parking lot.


We were home with the dogs just a few minutes after 9:00 and enjoyed an evening of television.

Tuesday February 11

We had nothing planned for the morning, so we decided it was time to do some exploring at Animal Kingdom.


We fed and walked the dogs and left in the car at about 8:45.  A large flock of turkeys were stationed near the campground exit, saying goodbye to guests.

We stopped for a PhotoPass as we entered the theme park, then headed toward Asia where we planned to walk the Maharajah Jungle Trek.

Carol noticed that the wait-time was short for the Mickey and Minnie Meet & Greet so we stopped there for a picture or two!

As we crossed the bridge into Asia we could hear the siamangs crying.  Actually, when they cry out you can hear them in almost every corner of the park!

There were plenty of animals to spot along the trail and we took our time and made a leisurely 45-minute stroll through this beautiful section of Asia.

Next on our impromptu plan was the Gorilla Trail so, after we stopped to watch the gibbons swing.

We snacked on some take-out egg rolls at Yak & Yeti then we walked the trail behind the Tree of Life from Asia to Africa.

Along the way we stopped for a picture with Russell and Dug . . .

 . . . and with Kaa!

We started our exploration of the Gorilla Trail at 11:20 and spent almost an hour wandering the trails, seeing all the wildlife.

My favourite picture is these two meerkats who are keeping a close eye on that zebra!

The Lowland Gorillas were out in force.  We saw this large male, a momma with her baby and two very playful adolescent males.


A bit further down the trail we spotted the huge Silverback Gorilla pictured below.

We stopped on our way back to the dogs and admired a cute anteater, then had a few ‘magic’ PhotoPasses taken.

We were home at 1:00 p.m. and spent a relaxing afternoon with the dogs.  Jak had a walk along the canal while I took Blue and Jake to the dog park.


We had a 6:00 p.m. reservation at Oga’s Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge so we fed the dogs a bit early and left for Hollywood Studios at 5:00.

Carol browsed her way through the shops on Hollywood Boulevard while I took a few pictures on the street, then we headed through Toy Story Land to Galaxy’s Edge.

We joined the FastPass line at Oga’s and it wasn’t long before we were called in.  We each ordered a Jabba Juice and sipped them as I took a few pictures of the intergalactic décor.  It’s an interesting saloon!

We stopped at the ABC Commissary to find that they’ve radically changed the burger that we used to really enjoy there, so we carried on to Backlot Express where they still serve a burger without pulled pork and jalapenos!  It was good!

Then it was time for our FastPass at Toy Story Midway Mania.  Toy Story Land looks nice when it’s all lit up at night!

It was a hard-fought battle today, but Carol reigned victorious in the end!  ‘I beat you, she said.  ‘For the first time, I beat you!’  She was a very happy Midway Maniac!

We headed directly for the front of the Chinese Theatre where we found a spot to settle and enjoy the two nightly projection shows.


The first, at 7:35 p.m. was ‘Wonderful World of Animation’ which lights up the entire theatre complex with still pictures and animated scenes from all of the classic Disney animated movies, and most of the Pixar movies as well.

It’s extremely well done!

After Animation concluded we waited a few short minutes and at 8:00 the ‘Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular’ show started.

NOTE:  Star Wars fans are not as polite and considerate as Animation fans.


During the Animation show almost everyone sat comfortably on the ground and those behind them had a nice view.  As soon as Star Wars began all the fans rushed in and stood directly in front of those who had been sitting there for over an hour.  There were cries of ‘Sit down!’ again and again, but none of the Star Wars fans seemed to hear.



The show was terrific.  We’re not huge fans of the Star Wars series of movies, but we both thoroughly enjoyed the projection show!




After the Star Wars show was done we waited a few minutes for the crowd to dissipate then wandered through a closed and empty park to the exit.  We were home with the dogs by 9:00 p.m. and enjoyed a quiet evening.


Wednesday February 12

Our Disney days are winding down . . . just two more sleeps before we hit the road to go home.  We had three FastPasses at the Magic Kingdom so we put the dogs through their normal morning routine.


When we took them out to walk them I put Blue’s lead on first, when the other two were ready to go Blue was nowhere to be found.  We called him and called him . . . but he didn’t come.


That’s unusual for Blue!


Then we spotted him on the golf cart . . . apparently he had other plans for the morning!

We arrived at the Magic Kingdom at 9:30, picked up some Sorcerer cards, then Carol browsed The Emporium while I walked up Main Street taking a few pictures.

The Main Street Transportation vehicles were still running.  The jitney passed as I exited The Emporium.

I spotted Disney Legend Tom Nabbe’s window above the Main Street Cinema.  We’ve met Tom a few times at Dayton Disneyana.


Mary Poppins rode past in the Fire Truck!

Just past Main Street Jewellers I turned right and a few doors down the alley I stopped in front of the Crystal Arts Shop to listen to the singing lesson.  Have you ever heard it?

I was waiting at Casey’s Corner when Carol finished up in The Emporium and we headed off to use our First FastPass at Peter Pan’s Flight.

It’s old, it’s low-tech but it’s a classic and we never miss it!

Next on our list was The Haunted Mansion.  We shared a few minutes with the 999 Happy Haunts then Ezra, the Hitchhiking Ghost, followed us home!

By 10:45 it was steamy hot - 87º with plenty of humidity.  There’s no better way to beat the heat than a pineapple float and a citrus swirl!

As we passed through Frontierland on our way to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Carol poked her head into Frontier Mercantile to check for new pins while I chased a few bears on the street.


Big Al had a few minutes available in his social calendar so he posed for a few shots with us!

Then we carried on to Big Thunder for a wild ride through the wilderness.  Tinker Bell surprised us as we left the mountain.

We had a few more encounters and photo-ops as we made our way to the exit and left the park.

We were back home with the dogs at 12:30 and had a restful afternoon.  It was too hot to do much more than rest.


Carol joined me on the golf cart and we took all three dogs to the dog park for a romp.  It was about 90º by then, so it didn’t take long before they were tired and panting.

We took a drive to the 1700 loop and found our friends John and Sharon from Ohio. 

They are here for a few days so we spent about an hour chatting with them at their campsite before heading home for a long overdue nap!

We had a 6:00 p.m. dinner reservation at Teppan Edo in Japan so once again the dogs were fed and walked a few minutes early.


We arrived at EPCOT at 5:15 and as we wandered through the Rose Garden we spotted some preparations for the Flower and Garden Festival which begins March 4th.  It’s an amazing transformation when all the grass around the lagoon becomes a floral mural!

As we approached the Friendship Boat dock near the Port of Entry Shops we spotted another of our favourite Disney artists, Don ‘Ducky’ Williams.  Ducky has retired and we really hadn’t expected to see him there.

It was nice to stop and chat with him for a moment or two before we had to rush off and catch our boat to Morocco.

We checked in for dinner just a few minutes early and were seated right away.

We shared our table with a family from Wales who were staying at the Polynesian Resort and had a nice chat with them over another tasty Japanese dinner!

After dinner we headed to The America Gardens Theatre.  The 6:45 performance was just ending as I joined the standby line for the 8:00 p.m. show.

Carol browsed a few of the art kiosks as I held our spot in line and at about 7:45 we were seated for the show.  It was our favourite singers again, Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland.

As always they put on a wonderful show.  It was exactly the same as we saw two nights prior, but it just doesn’t seem to get old . . . their voices are wonderful and they really seem to enjoy working together!

After the show we headed to the exit and were just getting in the car when the fireworks, EPCOT Forever, began.


That pair of does and their two fauns were grazing near the gate as we entered the campground.  Do you suppose that's their job?  Are they official Disney greeters?


We were home with the puppies at 9:15 and settled in for a bit of television before bed.

Thursday February 13

Our day of drudgery began at 7:00 a.m.  It was time to begin packing up for the trip home.


After a bowl of cereal and a quick scan of news on the computer we got started.  I dropped the rented ECV scooter off at the store on Route 192 while Carol started packing up our clothes and linens.


When I got back I took down the string of lights on the awning, the Mickey rope light on the tree beside the camper, then pulled up the rope lights that lined the sides of our concrete pad.  Everything was covered in yellow pollen and had to be wiped down before it was stowed away in the car.


Some threatening clouds appeared in the sky so we decided to take the dogs to the park in case it rained . . . they enjoyed their last hurrah at Waggin’ Trails.


We headed to The Settlement Trading Post for the 11:00 a.m. pin trading and we were the first (and only) people in line when they opened the board.  Carol found four pins she was looking for.


I did some more packing, and got the car ready for the ‘Jak-in-a-box’ setup while Carol took the golf cart to The Meadow Trading Post for the 12:00 p.m. pin board.  She scored two more new pins.


The dogs basked in the fresh air outdoors while we had a sandwich in the trailer, then we got back to work.

Carol handed me out the plastic tote bin, the laundry basket filled with junk and goodies, some vacuum-packed clothing and bedding and all of her shopping.

By 1:00 p.m. it was all done!  The campsite looked bare and the car looked almost full!


Jak’s box will be propped up with a folded blanket that is still on the couch so the three boys will all be cozy in the morning.


The foot-well area in the back seat will be filled up tomorrow morning with a cooler containing a teensy bit of food out of the refrigerator, our overnight bag and an overnight bag for the dogs.

The back of the car isn’t quite full . . . it looks like Carol miscalculated by about three cubic feet when she was figuring her shopping allotment!

We had no plans for the rest of the day  . . . and neither of us felt up to too much walking, so Carol started checking online to see what else we could do.  Nothing caught our interest so we decided to have a nap.


As it turned out, even the nap didn’t interest either of us  . . . we were both up within a half-hour.  It was a wasted afternoon . . . and that’s probably a good thing.  We were long overdue for a wasted afternoon!


Carol fed the dogs at 4:30 and when we walked them, in 90º heat, beside the canal where we caught the attention of a very territorial squirrel.  He chattered and waved his tail from a tree just as few feet from me . . . apparently we were invading his privacy.  I saw him, Carol saw him but of course the dogs didn’t.

Along the bank of the canal three large turtles were basking in the sun and as we headed out for dinner we spotted a deer standing beside the road, just past the dog park.

We left for dinner at Disney Springs at 5:00 p.m.  We hadn’t been back to D-Luxe Burger since our first visit over two years ago.  I don’t know why we hadn’t been back, the burgers are great!


They have a very scenic outdoor seating area but we ate inside to escape the heat.  I had a Classic Cheeseburger, Carol had the BBQ Cheeseburger and we shared fries and a salted caramel milkshake.  It was all delicious!

After dinner I found a comfy chair opposite the poutine shop and waited while Carol browsed the World of Disney Store and the Pin Shop. 


As I sat reading my book and waiting, a strolling piano rolled by.  It’s a self propelled platform that transports a girl who not only plays the piano and sings . . . she drives the roving vehicle at the same time.  Don’t try this at home kids!

Carol was back earlier than I expected.  She also wanted to visit the Christmas Shop one last time, but her knees were causing her too much grief.


She hobbled back to meet me at about 7:15 and we made it back to the campground just in time to visit The Meadow Trading Post before the pin board closed at 7:30.  I went with her so she could trade for four pins and finish her set of the newly issued pins she has been after.


We pulled into the 100 loop and I waited in the car while Carol dashed into The Settlement Trading Post where she traded for two more pins.


We were back home with the dogs just as the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom started lighting up the sky and irritating the dogs at 8:00 p.m.


We watched television for a short while and headed off to bed early.  We hope to be on the road by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow!

Friday February 14

We were both up and moving quickly at 5:30, and we both went out with the dogs in an effort to keep them as quiet as possible, then I had a quick shower followed by coffee and toast.


It was Valentine’s Day so I presented my sweet bride with a snazzy Disney card.  As you open the card a cut-out of Mickey and Minnie pops up, with Mickey holding Minnie in a tender embrace. 


As she put the unopened card down on the table, my hopelessly romantic Valentine raised her face, looked directly into my eyes and said, ‘Get out!  I have cleaning to do and you’re in my way.  Get out!


My dear, sweet Valentine’s tongue had tomahawked me good, so I went outside with the dogs where I belonged.


It was already about 75º and very humid.  I was sweating and the chiggers were biting my legs as I loaded the last of our stuff in the car.

I opened the door and asked if the garbage was ready to go - Yikes – I was tomahawked again!  A few minutes later Carol handed out the garbage which I tossed in a nearby bin, then I shook out the area rugs she had tossed out . . . but I left them sitting on the step.  No way was I opening that door again!  As they say in East Texas, ‘Three tomahawks and you’re out!’


I sat in the car and waited with the dogs. 


Carol always leaves the trailer cleaner than we found it and soon she was done.  We pulled out at 6:58 and were delayed by a traffic jam in the campground, a flock of about twenty turkeys took their sweet time crossing the road.

Blue normally sits up in the back seat for most of our first day on the road, but today he had laid down within minutes, before we even reached highway I-4.


Traffic was quite good through Orlando, even with intermittent rain showers.   We turned north onto I-95 at 8:30 and it rained a bit harder for a half-hour or so.


The rain had ended when we stopped for gas and walked the dogs walk at the FlyingJ in St. Augustine.  We were quickly back on the road but just a few miles north of the city, before we got to Jacksonville, we encountered a long slowdown and a very unusual accident scene.  First we spotted a crumpled SUV.  The front end was crushed and pushed right back to the doors.  A few hundred yards later there were 8 wheels, the complete set of rear wheels from a semi-trailer, leaning at an odd angle against a broken utility pole.  A huge rut in the asphalt began near those wheels and ended several hundred yards away at a semi-trailer which was missing it’s rear wheels.  We speculated about how that all happened . . . did the wheels fall off the trailer and smash the SUV?  Did the SUV hit the trailer and knock the wheels off?  Very strange indeed . . . and a complete waste of about 45 minutes.

We left Florida behind and crossed into Georgia at 11:00 a.m.


We stopped at Exit 49, Darien Georgia and had lunch at The Waffle House then walked the dogs again.

It was clear sailing under a sunny sky and we crossed into South Carolina at 1:05 p.m.


My eyes were getting a bit heavy so Carol drove for about 45 minutes while I napped.  We turned north-west on I-26 at 2:20 and soon stopped at a Shell station to gas up.  I took over driving again and we slowed down again to see three rear-ender collisions on the other side of the highway.  First we saw a pickup truck sandwiched between two cars, then a transport truck which had rear-ended another transport truck, followed by a simple two cars collision.  That rubbernecking cost us another half-hour!

We crossed the North Carolina state line at 4:45 hit Charlotte at the peak of rush hour.  Ouch, it was slow, slow, slow!


We stopped at Mooresville for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner at Chick-fil-A.  They didn’t have Carol’s favourite - chicken strips.  There were no mints either.  The explanation . . . they are a ‘test market’ store.  Wouldn’t you expect that a test market store would carry all the usual stuff plus the things they were testing?

Once we got back on the road rush hour traffic had dissipated a bit and we made better time.


We crossed the Virginia state line at 7:30 (that sign on the left says Virginia Is For Lovers) and climbed up that long, long hill into the Shenandoah Valley.


We pulled into the Red Roof Inn at Wytheville Virginia at 8:00 p.m.  Accidents, rubbernecking and Charlotte rush hour had cost us two hours!  Grrrr!

Saturday February 15

Poor Jake had a rough night.  He doesn’t like the floor in that hotel, he can’t get any traction.  When he tries to jump up on the bed his hind legs speed up to about 120 mph but his front legs are only going 12 mph.  He invariably strikes the bed about where the mattress and the box spring meet, then he slithers down onto the floor.  Slithering is a very embarrassing thing for a dog!


He panted most of the night and sprawled at my feet, meaning that neither of us slept very well.


Carol woke me at 6:00, ‘Go get me some coffee!’


She fed the dogs while I had breakfast and we were all ready to go at 7:03 a.m.  This morning there were no chiggers biting my legs as I scraped frost from the car’s windshield!


We gassed up at the nearby FlyingJ and were back on highway I-77 at 7:18  Just seven minutes later we turned onto I-81 and Waze showed an arrow pointing straight ahead on our dashboard monitor, '695 miles to Export Control/Canada'  It was a nice message to read, but a very long distance to contemplate!


There was a very pretty sunrise as the sun peeked over the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east of us.

I set the cruise control at 75 mph and we rolled steadily forward in light traffic and clear weather.


During the day we made the normal biological breaks for both dogs and humans, and a few gas stops.

West Virginia loomed up to meet us at 11:10 a.m.

Maryland followed quickly at  11:32 a.m.

We drove into Pennsylvania at 11:41 a.m.


Carol had snacked on chicken wings at Winchester Virginia so she decided on the Junior Whopper at the Burger King at exit 90, Fort Indiantown Gap, just north of Harrisburg.  I went for the full sized Whopper!


We were soon back on the road and ate up some more miles, then I spotted something odd.  'Look at that truck going the wrong way!' I said to Carol.


It was a fire truck going north in the southbound lanes.  There was no traffic southbound.  A hill blocked our sight of the accident, but the traffic backup was about 6 miles long and the emergency crews had just arrived.  We were sure glad it was over there and not on our side!


We made our final gas stop at the FlyingJ truck stop in northern Pennsylvania, then made a sprint to the border.

We crossed the New York state line at 3:35 p.m. and pulled up to Canada Customs at 6:10,  There were only three questions,


Are the dogs Canadian? Yes.


Any alcohol? No.


Any tobacco? No.



The Canada Customs Agent welcomed us home and waved us through.  We pulled into our driveway at 6:50 and Oliver wagged his tail as he greeted us at the door!


The car was fully unloaded by 7:05 . . . now where is Carol going to put all of that new Disney stuff she brought home?