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.
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
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
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?”
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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
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
By 7:35 we
were at the bottom and made great time through North Carolina with
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!
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
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
have a short hop, about 220 miles, and we plan to arrive at Disney’s
Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground before noon.
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
moaned, so I said no more.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
feels good to be settled!
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
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
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
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!
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.
happy bride with her new print and the artist who created it.
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
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
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!
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.
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
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
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.
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!
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
quick visit with Masayo and Mamoru we carried on to take a ride with
Ariel and her friends.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
As we left the
Italian Pavilion there was a PhotoPass photographer with an umbrella
so we stopped for one final picture.
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!
were home with the dogs at 9:15 and spent the rest of the evening
relaxing with them.
We were up at
6:45 and started the day as usual with coffee, a bagel, and
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.
of the meal was the characters who visited our table and posed for
pictures with us. Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale each dropped by
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!
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.
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’
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
have done a much better job portraying our country! I think I want
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
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!
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
The 9:00 fireworks show started
just as we reached the parking lot and we were home with the puppies
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
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!
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
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.
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
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!
through the gift shop at Mickey’s Philharmagic while I snapped a few
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
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!
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.
Gene and Nancy arrived with their dog Riley at 2:30 and were very
happy when they took their new treasure home!
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.
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
was a stunning change of pace; I had cereal for breakfast instead of
It was a
beautiful sunny morning so we took the boys out for some dog
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
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
carried on through Africa and boarded the train to Rafiki’s Planet
Watch where we had a FastPass for the 11:30 Animation
A Disney artist leads you as you draw a Disney
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
We decided to
hand in our papers and pencils and skip the
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 -
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
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
sunset was developing as we stood on the dock waiting for our
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!
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
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
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
We made our
way to Whispering Canyon where the cast had us seated in no time
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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’.
had just finished as we exited The Land pavilion and we joined the
throng of thousands who were filing out of the park.
were home with the dogs about 9:45 and enjoyed a bit of TV before
Thursday January 30
we were up at 6:45 and kept things moving fairly quickly. We had a
busy morning planned!
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.
directly back to the valley of Mo-ara to ride Flight of Passage
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.
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!
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 Handlers, Jess and Nicole joined us.
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
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
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!
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.
hadn't contemplated rubbing and scratching a rhinoceros . . . it was
never on the bucket list . . . but that’s what
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
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
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.
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!
we drove to Walmart on Route 535 to pick up a few groceries
puppies at 8:10 p.m.
We enjoyed a
quiet night at home with the boys.
Scottie . . . this one's
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
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.
approaching for our FastPass at Slinky Dog Dash so we headed to Toy
Story Land. Wow, was it ever crowded!
approached the Slinky Dog coaster the Toy Soldiers marched past
playing their drums.
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
We sat in the
very back row and had an exciting ride on a cute little roller
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!
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
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.
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
engine provides the barbecue power for Ronto Roasters. Do you see
the Endorian chickens on those spits? They must weigh a hundred
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
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.
After Al &
Jane left we puttered around the campsite for a while then took a
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.
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.
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.
into the World of Disney store and returned a shirt we had picked up
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.
Skyliner car with Mickey Mouse stepping out the door. It's
very similar to the Skyliner popcorn bucket.
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.
were home with the dogs at 9:00 p.m. and watched some TV.
Saturday February 1
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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!
were home with the dogs at 8:25, just a few minutes before the
nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks ended . . . they were sure happy to
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.
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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!
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
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
off to Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama to take a few pictures and stalk
a few characters.
The evolution of Donald
Scrooge didn't look too
happy to see us!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
the boutique beckoned to Carol.
boarded the Skyliner and had a nice ride to Hollywood Studios.
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.
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!
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!
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
After we fed
the dogs we walked them along the railroad tracks and Carol spotted
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
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.
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
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
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
We enjoyed a
few photo opportunities as we headed from Future World to World
Showcase, then stopped in England for lunch at Yorkshire Fish &
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.
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 DisneyFineArt.com 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
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.
train display at Germany was all decorated for Festival of the Arts.
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
It was 3:30,
time for us to get back to the dogs so we turned toward the exit.
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
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.’
replied, ‘Curtis, he sent a text.’
So after a
quick stop at the Winn-Dixie grocery store we went home and I got to
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
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
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
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.
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
stopped for a quick PhotoPass with Simba, Punbaa and Timon as we
approached The Tree of Life.
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.
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!
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.
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.’
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
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.
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
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!
arrived at the park we headed to the Fire Hall to pick up Sorcerer
cards, but the line was just too long . . . maybe later!
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!
stopped for a PhotoPass at the Haunted Mansion exit!
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??
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
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!
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.
advantage of the reduced crowd to get some special pictures, like
this one at the Partners statue.
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
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!)
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
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
fearsome villains, Hades, Jafar, Evil Queen, Dr. Facilier and
Malificent took the stage and spun a wild tale of suspense, magic
Carol and I
are not big ‘villain fans’ but we thoroughly enjoyed this 25 minute
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!
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.
‘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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.’
time it’s Margaret in Atlanta.’
her heart.’ I said as we all laid down for a nap.
Georgia slap-down folks, I wasn’t really blessing your heart was I
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
Arlen had gathered an impressive collection of Zorro VHS tapes and
some old Zorro comic books dating back to the ‘50’s.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
napped . . . that is to say, I napped for a bit. Carol hibernated
for the afternoon.
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
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
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
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
We stopped in
Norway and enjoyed a snack; we shared a Troll Horn and a Rice
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.
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
Leigh had several chalk art pieces on display,
they included Disney's most popular animated chracters.
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
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!
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
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
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.
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
acrobats were performing as we left the restaurant, but we scurried
past on our way to the America Gardens Theatre.
Broadway performers, Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland were appearing
for the first time and we hoped to catch the 6:45 show.
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!
five rabbits munching on the grass just outside the EPCOT exit as we
approached the parking lot.
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
We stopped for
a PhotoPass as we entered the theme park, then headed toward Asia
where we planned to walk the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
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
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
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
We started our
exploration of the Gorilla Trail at 11:20 and spent almost an hour
wandering the trails, seeing all the wildlife.
favourite picture is these two meerkats who are keeping a close eye on
The Lowland Gorillas were out in force. We
saw this large male, a momma with her baby and two very playful
A bit further
down the trail we spotted the huge Silverback Gorilla pictured
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.
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
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!
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.
Animation concluded we waited a few short minutes and at 8:00 the
‘Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular’ show started.
Star Wars fans are not as polite and considerate as Animation fans.
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.
DON’T BE A
STAR WARS FAN!
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
Wednesday February 12
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.
spotted him on the golf cart . . . apparently he had other plans for
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
Street Transportation vehicles were still running. The jitney
passed as I exited The Emporium.
Disney Legend Tom Nabbe’s window above the Main Street Cinema.
We’ve met Tom a few times at Dayton Disneyana.
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!
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.
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
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!
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
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
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.
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?
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
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
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.
basked in the fresh air outdoors while we had a sandwich in the
trailer, then we got back to work.
me out the plastic tote bin, the laundry basket filled with junk
and goodies, some vacuum-packed clothing and bedding and all of her
By 1:00 p.m.
it was all done! The campsite looked bare and the car looked almost
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.
back of the car isn’t quite full . . . it looks like Carol
miscalculated by about three cubic feet when she was figuring her
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
We drove into Pennsylvania at
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
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 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?