Thursday November 11th

 

It's been a frustrating 2 years for Carol and I.  We returned home from Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground February 15. 2021 and almost instantly Covid-19 turned our lives (and everyone else's) upside-down.  As we isolated ourselves at home it grew more and more frustrating as we had to cancel trip after trip.  We rescheduled many of them and then cancelled them for a second time, and a third time.

 

We did manage to do a bit of RV exploring in our home province but it has been eating away at us for far too long that we could not get to our happy place!  Month after month went by and the US border remained closed!

We had planned to leave Friday, but as often happens we opted for a head start.  The RV was all loaded up by Wednesday morning.  The clothing was all packed, the food was in the fridge, cupboards and freezer, the bikes were hung on the back and the tow car was hooked up.  Our Thursday morning was busy with a few last minute chores and appointments but we wrapped them up just before noon and pulled the RV away from home at 12:50 p.m.

 

We had been watching wait times at the 1000 Islands Bridge, about 25 miles east of our home.  When the US border first opened on Saturday the wait time was over 3 hours, when we left home the app on our phones said 3 lanes were open with a 30 minute wait time.  We were pleased to see no line at all when we pulled up at 1:20.  It was one of the most rigorous sessions we've had with US Customs & Immigration.  The officer we very pleasant and polite, but he asked about our vaccinations and wanted to see proof.  He asked about the dogs rabies shots, and had to see proof.  In the 16 years we have been crossing into the USA in our motor home it's only the second time we've had to show rabies certificates.  Our normal crossing usually consists of two or three simple questions but today it was twenty or thirty questions.  Fortunately it only took about five minutes before he handed back our Nexus cards and wished us a safe journey.

By 1:30 p.m. we were bouncing south on Interstate 81 heading toward our happy place.  Carol and I were elated in the front seats, Jake was morose on the couch and Jasper was frantic sitting beside Jake.  This was his first experience riding in the RV and he wasn't happy.  Carol held him in her lap for a while but he squirmed and whined so much that no one was happy.

 

We pulled off at a rest area and set up Jasper's crate beside the couch and popped him in.  The crate is his 'safe place', it's where he sleeps and where he goes when he feels threatened.  That worked like a charm.  He laid down and curled up, jumping up and panting occasionally when we hit a big bump.

 

 

At about 3:30 we reached Syracuse NY and pulled off at Mattydale where Carol enjoyed some retail therapy at The Christmas Tree Shop.  It's one of her favourite stores to browse and she has been missing it!  Today she made some great finds!

We headed back north just a few miles to Cicero NY and pulled in behind the Cracker Barrel Restaurant for the night.  Most Cracker Barrels welcome RV's and they're always quiet, well lit and safe.  Carol fed the dogs and got the motor home set up for the evening while I enjoyed a short rest.  Then it was time for our dinner . . . you guessed it - at Cracker Barrel.

 

We were back with the puppies by 7:15 and settled in for a restful night.  We've had a few busy days getting ready and bed is quite likely to come early!


Friday November 12th

 

It was indeed an early night!  By 8:00 last night our busy morning had caught up to both Carol and I.  We yawned as we put the dogs out and tucked them into bed.  By 8:30 Carol and I were tucked in too - and we didn't get up until 6:30 this morning.

 

It started out very quiet where we were parked behind the Cracker Barrel . . . until the rain started at about midnight.  It rained hard at times . . . very hard!  We were glad to have a fibreglass roof on the new coach.  It's much quieter than the plywood sheets and rubber membrane that topped off our first two motor homes!  It was still a loud drumbeat at times, and the frequent wind gusts had us rocking a bit.  We both slept restlessly, to say the least.

 

The dogs on the other hand slept like babies.  They were both exhausted after that first day bouncing down the highway!

We fired up the onboard generator and made coffee while the dogs ate their breakfast , then we wandered into the restaurant as soon as they opened at 7:00 a.m.  I don't think we've ever been disappointed by Cracker Barrel.

 

By 8:00 we were pulling out to resume our southbound trek on I-81.  The picture on the right shows the rain-covered Interstate from the Cracker Barrel parking lot.

Jake was once again morose on the couch and Jasper was quivering and shaking in his crate.

 

Not long after crossing a rain-soaked Pennsylvania State Line we pulled off at a FlyingJ Truck Stop.  It's usually our first fill-up as we take advantage of cheaper gas prices south of the border.  I inserted my credit card and my loyalty card twice, selecting regular unleaded each time before I noticed the piece of paper taped to the pump.  The had no regular and no premium fuel, only super-premium.  What the Hell?

 

We crossed to the other side of the highway and I pumped in $100 worth of gas, enough to get us to the FlyingJ at Carlisle PA.

 

As we drove south Carol called the truck stop in Carlisle to confirm that they had lots of fuel.  Yes - they did.

 

We suspect that the thousands of Canadian snowbirds who also crossed at the 1000 Islands Bridge the previous Monday also stopped at the first FlyingJ and ran them dry!

   

About 11:00 a.m. little patched of blue broke through the grey skies and our drive became a lot more pleasant.

 

We stopped at a rest area just south of Harrisburg PA and walked the dogs before having a quick lunch in the RV.  Leftover chicken and biscuits from last night's dinner.  Yum!

 

We gassed up at Carlisle and carried on south under pleasant sunny skies.

 

Even Jasper seemed happier, a couple of times Carol peeked into his crate and he was sleeping!  That's remarkable progress in only 24 hours!

Even Carol kicked up her feet and seemed more relaxed . . . until she turned and said to me, "I really don't like riding in this RV.  I enjoy it when we're sitting still and it's my house.  But when we're bouncing down the road and all my dished are jingling in the cupboards I simply can't relax.  It's just not comfortable for me and it never will be."

 

Then I drove on as she reclined her chair and took a nap.

Hmmm . . . is it just me?  Does anyone else detect a bit of mixed messaging here?

We arrived at our final destination, Shippensburg PA at 3:30 and found a nice quiet place to park, away out on the fringe of a Walmart Supercentre parking lot.

 

There was even a nice grassy spot beside the RV where we could toss the ball a bit and give the pups some overdue exercise.

 

Carol hiked off to the Walmart in search of provisions while I stayed with the dogs.  I had just given the pups there dinner when she got back with a few groceries.

 

We had a nice dinner then settled in for a quiet night with our books and computers.

 

At 8:00 we were both yawning so Carol challenged me to a game.  We carry a Poker Dice board game in the RV; we both enjoy playing it.  Carol smoked me, two games to none, then at 9:30 she said goodnight, packed up the board and tottered off to bed.

 

I turned on the TV, found the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game.  The Leafs were losing by a score of 1 - 0 to the Calgary Flames with about 7 minutes to go in the third period.  They scored to tie the game with about 5 minutes left, then in Sudden Death Overtime the Leafs star Auston Matthews scores a picture perfect goal to secure the win for Toronto.

 

I was happy when I hit the sack at 10:00 p.m.


Saturday November 13th

 

It was an early morning.  Jasper whimpered at 4:30 a.m. and I got up with him.  He dashed right out and did a pee, but he wasn't interested in finishing his jobs.  He 'dumps' best for his Momma. No matter how I urged and coaxed he wanted no part of it.  I took him back in and put him back in his crate.

 

Naturally he whimpered almost immediately and by 5:00 Carol was up to finish the job I had started.

 

We enjoyed a quiet morning, coffee, breakfast and showers in the coach before we pulled out at 8:00 a.m.

Although Jake is never too impressed with it, Carol and I love the Shenandoah Valley.  Especially this part of it where we travel in four states in under an hour.  We crossed from Pennsylvania into Maryland at 8:25, then crossed into West Virginia at 8:37 and lastly we crossed the Virginia State Line at 9:01.  Carol had to stay alert to get pictures of all the state signs!

 

It was sunny as we left but soon developed into another dull grey day with periodic drizzles.  The winds were extremely gusty . . . they sometimes pushed the RV up to two feet to one side or the other.  The coach is big and fills the entire lane of the highway.  There is never really two feet to spare so driving was difficult to say the least!

 

My arms, shoulders and powers of concentration tired quickly because of the winds so we made frequent rest area stops.

We turned from I-81onto I-64 at about 11:30 a.m. and had the wind at our backs for a while.  That was a nice relief! The sun had come out and it was a beautiful rest of the day.

We pulled off at an amazing scenic lookout area in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains and walked dogs, then took a few pictures.

 

Carol and the pups went back to RV to start making lunch while I stayed and snapped a few more pictures.  I heard a huge CRASH behind me - a strong wind gust had pulled the door right out of Carol's hands, overextended the steel strut that holds the door open and snapped the strut in two.

 

The door banged into the awning bracket just in front of the door and bent the top frame.  I ran back and found Carol frantically searching for dogs . . . she thought that they might have been sucked out of the rig by the wind . . . like a decompressing airplane.

 

Both puppies were frightened by the sound of the crashing door, but they were fine.  The door . . . well it was not so fine.  It would not close.

 

I fought with the door in the howling wind gusts and I quickly understood how it had gotten away from Carol.

 

It took a few minutes and a multitude of vulgarities, but I managed to Jury-rig a solution and I got the door closed and locked.

 

We had sandwiches in the coach then resumed our descent down the east side of the Blue Ridge.

The second scenic area gave another amazing vista so we stopped briefly for a few more pictures.

 

I-64 took us to Richmond where we drove through the heart of the city and turned south on I-95.

At 2:30 p.m. we pulled off at Colonial Heights Virginia where we planned to stay overnight at the Walmart.

 

Yikes!  The parking lot was posted everywhere with 'No Overnight Parking" signs - and the lot was jammed with vehicles.

 

Here's a handy tip:  If you are planning to buy a motor home and tow a car all over North America, a busy Walmart parking lot is not where you want to be on Saturday at 2:30 in the afternoon!

We consulted the RVPARKY app on our phones ( the one that told us we could park in Colonial Heights) and saw both a Cracker Barrel and a Walmart at Emporia VA, about 35 miles south of where we were.  After fighting the winds all day we didn't want to travel another 35 miles but there was no other choice

 

We pulled into the Cracker Barrel in Emporia at 3:15 and after walking the dogs we got to work on the door.  Luckily I had a spare strut on board and it snapped into place in just a few seconds.  Then I pulled out the step ladder from one of the basement storage hatches and climbed up to assess the damage.

 

We were very fortunate, the fix wasn't difficult.  Carol held my cane up on the inside of the door so that the rubber tip was between the door and the inner door frame at the exact spot where it had bent.  I climbed the ladder, held the handrail firmly with one hand while I pushed the top of the door with my other hand to try and straighten out the bend in the frame.

 

We got it right the first try!

 

Once the ladder and the tools were put away I rewarded myself with a short nap, then we went for dinner at the Cracker Barrel, just a few steps away.

 

Once again we were both exhausted after a busy day!


Sunday November 14th
 

We had a short drive planned for today, only 200 miles, so we didn't rush in the morning.  We had a leisurely coffee in the RV.  Carol played with the pups and fed them while I read our hometown newspapers online.  At about 7:30 we headed to Cracker Barrel for breakfast.   I was struggling with one of those little single serving sized packets of grape  jelly when the plastic tab broke off and I couldn't remove the foil cover.  I handed the packet of jelly to Carol and she couldn't open it either.  I said "That's why I order the old-timer's breakfast." and we both started giggling.  So did our server Kane who heard me as she approached.  Carol handed her the jelly and Kane opened it with no trouble.  We should be thankful that youngsters like Kane are always around to rescue feeble old-timers like Carol and I!

 

The couple in a camper near ours out in the parking lot, Frank and Judy from Auburn NY, were at the table beside us, so we chatted over breakfast.  Frank said, "When you're in a campground you have something in common with everyone else there.  You're all from somewhere else." 

 

Carol and I remarked later in the day that Frank's comment was absolutely true and also an interesting perspective on camping.

After breakfast we drove the RV across the highway and spent about an hour and a half in the Walmart Supercentre, picking up groceries.

We were on the road at 10:30.  Traffic was light, the sky was sunny and we made great time.  It was a great day to be heading south!

We crossed the North Carolina State Line at 10:45 a.m.

During the day we saw plenty of cotton fields.  In one huge field (not the one pictured) I even spotted a combine harvesting the crop.  The red combine stood out vividly in the middle of a field of white.

 

We pulled into the FlyingJ Truck Stop at Kenly NC at noon.  Carol walked the dogs while I  filled up with gas, then we had lunch in the RV before heading back out.

 

Carol put Jasper in his harness and hooked him to a seatbelt on the couch with Jake after lunch.  We were back on the road at 1:15.  Jasper did very well, he even fell asleep on the couch while we were travelling.  Our rookie traveller has certainly made good progress in just a few days.

Carol is trying to get a nice tan on the soles of her feet!

 

Pedro has signs for 50 miles along the highways north, south, east and west of Hamer SC.  They remind me a lot of the old Burma-Shave signs.

 

When you get really close you spot Pedro's Sombrero Tower.

We pulled into Camp Pedro at 3:00 p.m. and we were delighted with the quality of the campground.

 

It's a real tourist trap, with a campground, motel, 2 pools, several restaurants, several gift shops, mini-golf, a go-kart track, and a number of other ways to waste your money.

 

But the campground is very nice.  Large level campsites with concrete pads, full services, gated access, etc.  It was far nicer and better quality than we expected!

It felt nice to stop in a campground after three nights of 'boondocking'.  I plugged in the power cable, connected the water and sewer lines, dumped the grey and black water tanks, drained and flushed the fresh water tank (it drained quickly - about 1/2 cup of water was all that was left) then flushed all the interior water lines.  When I was finished Carol had everything almost set up inside.  She tossed out all the area rugs then swept the floor while I shook out the rugs.  By 4:15 it felt a lot more 'homey'.

 

We sat out with the dogs for a few minutes and chatted with some neighbouring campers from Baden Ontario.

 

Sunset was nearing when I grabbed a tennis ball and took Jake to the field across the road from us and gave him a few minutes of running off-leash.  Then Carol took the ball and tossed it for Jasper while he ran with a long retractable leash.  We're not ready to let him loose in a strange place yet.

 

After the pups had their dinner Carol pulled a frozen casserole from home out of the freezer and we enjoyed it with some toasted cheese buns for dinner.

 

We plan to watch a bit of TV and we'll quite likely retire early like we usually do on travel days!


Monday November 15th

 

We had a very peaceful, quiet, restful night at Camp Pedro . . . until 5:00 a.m.   That's when Jasper started whining.  Carol took him out and he did his business right away, but when she put him back in his crate and went back to bed herself, he was far from happy.  He whimpered and whined until she got up again at 5:30.  Jake and I stayed in bed until 6:15 and then joined the gang in the kitchen.

 It was a typical morning in the RV - coffee, read hometown newspapers, light breakfast and batten down for travel.

 

Carol had the two pups dressed in their harnesses and tied into the seat belts on the couch but Jasper decided he would rather ride on the dinette seat.  He hopped over with no problem, but his harness didn't give him enough slack to turn and jump back.

Carol lifted him back over and he sat down and rode calmly for most of the day.  He really has improved since last Thursday when we tried to climb to the top of Carol's head!

We pulled out of Camp Pedro at 8:30 to sunny skies and an almost empty highway.  The Welcome to South Carolina sign was just a few feet from the end of the ramp we used to get back onto I-95 southbound.  We both knew it was there but we both missed it . . . so I stole this picture from another site.

There was hardly any traffic at all and we made great time all morning.

 

We made a short rest area stop at about 10:30 and walked the dogs, then as we approached the Georgia State Line at noon we spotted palm trees for the first time.

We pulled into the Georgia Welcome Centre just a few minutes past noon, walked the dogs and then had sandwiches for lunch.

We didn't have to far to travel in Georgia, only about 70 miles . . . and that was a good thing!

 

We pulled off at exit 29 in Brunswick, filled up with gas at the FlyingJ Truck Stop and then drove to the nearby Blue Beacon  truck wash to get the rig and the tow-car all 'spiffed-up' for our stay at Fort Wilderness.

 

Wow!  The line of trucks was longer than we've ever seen it there!

 

We had a one-hour wait.  We joined the line at 2:45 and when they waved us into the wash bay and began the brushing and spraying it was 3:45.

 

It wasn't a complete waste of time, Carol took Jasper out and tried to run some energy out of him . . . Jake and I stayed in the coach and inched it ahead every time the line moved.  I got a few chapters of my book read while we waited.

Jake is a veteran traveller; he's been through this kind of wash many times and he just waits it out calmly.  It was a new experience though for Jasper and it was another situation where he was most comfortable sitting on the very top of Carol's head!

It was 4:05 when they waved us out of the wash bay and we headed to our campground, just a mile-and-a-half away.

Coastal Georgia RV Resort is one of our favourite stops.  The campground is quite new, the facilities are pristine, it's beautifully landscaped and well maintained.

 

It has been four or five years since we were last here and the growth in the shrubbery is noticeable.  There is more privacy and more of  sense of seclusion.

 

Carol said, "Sometime we should stay here for more than just one night."  I agreed.

 

Once we had the rig all set up and ready for our overnight stay, Carol fed the dogs and we took them to the off-leash dog park, directly across from our campsite.

 

They were both huffing and puffing when we left in the car for dinner.  We tried Zaxby's chicken sandwiches and we both really enjoyed them!

On the way home after dinner we popped into the nearby Winn-Dixie Supermarket for a few items and returned home to find Jasper in this position.  Do you suppose he's resting up so he can entertain us again at 5:00 a.m.?

 

We settled in front of the television and watched The Voice.  During the two-hour telecast Jasper moved only once.  He groaned, stretched then walked from one end of the couch t the other.  Then he flopped and fell right back to sleep.

 

Stay tuned to hear what happens in the morning!


Tuesday November 16th

 

Jasper must  have been excited about getting to Walt Disney World.  He was whining at 4:00 a.m..  Carol let him out and he promptly did his chores but when she brought him back in and put him in his crate he just wouldn't settle.  She soon pulled out our ultrasonic egg.  It works like a charm . . . when a dog whines or barks it emits an ultrasonic tone that is beyond the range that humans can hear but it's very unpleasant for dogs.  After a couple of yips from Jasper we found Jake in bed with us; he was quivering.  I'm pretty sure every dog within a five mile radius was sharing Jake's pain.

Just after 5 a.m. Carol whispered to me, "Are you awake?  Wanna get going?"

 

I thought, "Sweet thundering Jesus woman, it's five in the morning.  Leave me alone!"

 

But what I said was, "Let's see, if we get up now we'll be on the road by 7:30 and we'll get to Disney before noon.  Sure, let's go!"

 

Coffee, newspapers, bowl of cereal and it was time for me to unhook the house and get it ready to be a bus again.

 

Carol got the dogs and all the inside stuff done and we pulled out at exactly 7:30 a.m.

Traffic was light, it was a bright sunny day and we made great time!

We crossed the Florida State Line at 8:00 a.m. and decided not to stop for our customary glass of Minute Maid and a photograph.

At 8:30 we were closing in on Jacksonville.  The heart of this city has been under construction since we started RVing over 15 years ago.  We were a bit concerned when our GPS routed us through downtown on I-95 but we decided to give it a whirl.

Wow!  The construction is complete and traffic flowed beautifully.

 

The dogs were able to nap as we sped through the heart of this beautiful Florida city!

Just before 10:00 a.m. we turned from I-95 onto southwest bound I-4.  It was nice to put the sun at our backs instead of in our eyes.

We took a short break and walked the dogs in a rest area just before reaching Orlando.  Like Jacksonville, it seemed like Orlando construction would never end.  Now however, it looks like that day might soon come.

 

We breezed through the city with no stops or slow downs and before long the Disney signs started to appear.

At 11:17 we passed under that magical arch and it felt wonderful to be back in our 'happy place' after a two year absence.

 We didn't rush . . . we took it slow and easy!

 

We were relishing the feeling of being 'home again.'

 We soaked in all the familiar sights, sounds and smells!

And suddenly there it was . . . our home away from home!   Aaahhhhh!

 

Our campsite, number 714, was ready, but we had arranged to meet out friend Curtis in the overflow parking lot to transfer some cargo we had brought down from his home town in Whitby Ontario.

 

We chatted with Curtis in the parking lot for about an hour, then headed toward site 714.

 

Carol directed me while I backed the big rig into exactly the right spot, then we had a quick sandwich before unloading all the cargo bays and setting up our campsite for the next three weeks.

 

Carol emptied out most of the hatches in the 'basement' while I took the two bikes down off the rack on the  coach and hooked up our utilities.

 

Then we worked together setting up our gas grill, patio mat, lawn chairs, tables and of course our Mickey lamp post.

We were both out of steam at 4:45 when the dogs reminded Carol that it was their dinner time.

 

I laid down for a short rest while she fed and walked the boys and at about 5:15 we left for Disney Springs.  We had stop at Guest Relations to pick up and activate the annual passes we had purchased ahead of time.

 

 

Once that was done we walked to Deluxe Burger, directly behind Guest Relations and had dinner.  A bacon cheeseburger and a chocolate shake for Carol, a barbecue bacon cheeseburger and a strawberry shake for me.  We shared an order of fries.  It was a very tasty meal!

 

We were both exhausted, so we headed directly back to the campground to relax.

 

It's sure to be another early night!

 


Wednesday November 17th

 

We really need to work on getting Jasper's clock reset.  Once again this morning he had us up much too early!  We had breakfast in the RV then spent some time getting a few more things set up around the campsite.

 

We didn't think Carol had packed much in the way of Christmas decorations, but when she started trying to organize them along the edges of our campsite it seemed as if they had multiplied on our way south.

We had a lunch reservation at The Plaza Restaurant and Carol  wanted to meet with our friend Kevin who had picked up a special MagicBand for her.

 

I drove her down toward The Marina and dropped her off then went to check on our rental golf cart.  There was no one home to talk about carts so I went home, hopped on my bike and headed to the Marina.

 

Carol was already gone, so I waited and in about 10 minutes along came a Cruiser to take me too The Magic Kingdom.

The Cruiser delivered me to he Magic Kingdom dock at about 11:05 and I took a leisurely stroll up Main Street USA, enjoying the ambiance of the park, and in particular the special decor that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the park's opening October 1, 1971.

 

Carol and Kevin were waiting outside the Plaza Restaurant when I arrived at 11:30 and we settled at a nearby picnic table to chat a bit before lunch.  We have so many Disney friends and most of them we haven't seen or spoken with in over two years and it was sure nice to catch up with one of them!

 

Soon our table was ready, so we said goodbye to Kevin and headed off to enjoy lunch.

 

As you can see, Carol was very happy with the collectible Magic Band Kevin had picked up for her!

Carol ordered the meatloaf and I tried the new Monte Cristo sandwich.  They were both delicious.  My sandwich was almost as good as the one served at Disneyland's Cafe Orleans.  Almost . . . but not quite!  (I may have to have it again, just to be sure though!)

 

We ordered a banana split to celebrate the end of a delicious lunch.  We like our splits naked . . . no nuts, no whipped cream.

After lunch we wandered back toward the front of the park.  Carol had shopped her way up the street through the Candy Store and the Jewellery Shop when she arrived, so on the way out she went by way of the Emporium.

 

I wandered down the middle of the street snapping pictures while I savoured the sights, sounds and smells of our happy place.

 

Carol soon joined me at the Christmas tree in Town Square and we caught a cruiser back to the campground.

 

After a few minutes with the dogs we hopped in the car to pick up a few vital necessities.  First stop was H & M Rentals for a mobility scooter, then T-Mobile for a Wi-Fi hotspot.  When they heard what I was looking for they suggested that I try Walmart.  I'm glad they did, I found a great deal there.

 

So our stops were Home Depot and Walmart.

 

When we pulled back into the campground a four-legged welcoming committee was there to greet us!

 

After a big lunch we weren't very hungry so we tossed a few hot dogs on the grill and enjoyed a light meal with the dogs.

 

After dinner the pups enjoyed a tour on the golf cart.  Jake is a Disney veteran but it was Jasper's first time 'looping'

 

He seemed to enjoy riding around the camping loops checking out all the Christmas decor. At times he looked like a dog with his head out the car window . . . tongue and ears flapping in the breeze!

 

There's a lot of Christmas here now and after Thanksgiving I expect it will really blossom!  We can't wait!

We were back home at 9:00 p.m. and enjoyed a bit of television before bed.


Thursday November 18th

We spent a quiet morning at the campground.  While Carol worked outside arranging and tying down the inflatables a horse-drawn carriage came by.  I went out and scooped up Jasper to introduce him to his first horse.

 

The driver stopped so we could get up close and personal.  Jasper's eyes can be very expressive . . .today they were wide open and seemed to shout, "Wow, that's a mighty big dog!"

 

 

 

It wasn't long before Carol had the decorations just the way she wanted them, so I set aside the trip report pictures and we loaded the puppies on the golf cart for Jasper's first trip to the dog park.

 

He ran like a bullet.  He ran circles around Jake.

 

Carol held Jasper back for a few minutes while I tossed the tennis ball for Jake, then Jake and I took a break while Carol tossed the ball for Jasper.

 

Each of them was able to romp and run until they were huffing and puffing!

 

As you can see, Jake is not all that impressed that Jasper can run circles around him!

At 11:00 a.m. we hopped in the car and pointed it toward EPCOT.  This was our first and last opportunity  to enjoy the Food & Wine Festival.  As we pulled out of the campground this Thanksgiving choir was standing beside the security gate singing goodbye to guests!

Before we began our trek around World Showcase we stopped for a few PhotoPass shots.

Our first stop, just before the Mexico Pavilion, was Hawaii.  Carol picked us up a Kalua Pork Slider and the Teriyaki-glazed SPAM Hash.  The slider is always one of our favourites, and the Spam wasn't bad either.  I think it's my first taste of Spam in over 50 years!

Our next stop was China where we had another of our favourite dishes, the Pan-fried Chicken Dumplings.

Although it's a permanent kiosk, not an 'official' part of the Food & Wine Festival, we stopped at Joy of Tea for some tasty spring rolls.

 

They are the same as the ones that are served at Yak & Yeti in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

 

Nothing says YUM YUM like spring rolls eaten off the top of a garbage can!

The aroma as we passed Karamell-Kuche just drew Carol in like a moth to a flame.  Yes, their caramel corn is that good!

As we passed Germany the crew for the miniature trains were just shutting things down, apparently showers were on the way!

 

The town square in this mythical little German village is l decorated for it's Food & Wine Festival.

As we approached Hops & Barley at the American pavilion we knew there was something served there that we enjoyed.  I scooted off to a nearby picnic table and before long my precious bride was back with a Hot Beef Sandwich and some very moist and tasty Carrot Cake.

 

That's what we remember from years gone by . . . the carrot cake.  Delicious!

After the carrot cake we were both full so we made our way toward the exit.  Carol walked through the new Creations store that is replacing Mouse Gear.  She wasn't impressed.  There wasn't much merchandise to choose from and it just didn't have the sort of Disney Magic that we always felt in Mouse Gear.

 

I slowly made my way toward the exit taking pictures of a few of the special gold statuettes erected for the 50th birthday celebration.

 

There are fifty of the statuettes of Disney characters scattered throughout the parks.

After one last PhotoPass shot, and a bit more Chip & Dale magic, we were on our way.

We spent some time with our poor, lonely dogs.  After their dinner they decided they no longer had any use for us, so we headed off to Trail's End for our dinner.

 

A team of four-legged Park Rangers were on duty near the Settlement Bus Stop, giving directions to campground guests.

Covid-19 has made some changes at Trail's End.  It is no longer a buffet . . . it is served 'family style.  Diners receive platters of food, beginning with bread and salad.  Cornbread, goat-cheese biscuits and hush-puppies along with a salad of mixed greens and a nice bacon vinaigrette.

 

The next course is a platter with rotisserie chicken, roasted brisket, sausage, fingerling potatoes and green beans.

 

It was all tasty, there was nothing we didn't enjoy . . . but it wasn't the buffet.

 

I really missed the baked potato bar and Carol was left yearning for the fried chicken.

 

We hope they bring back the buffet in the future . . . and so did our server Joy who has worked at Trail's End for 23 years!

 

The grand finale was a sundae for two served in a big plastic cowboy hat.  A chocolate brownie lined the bottom, topped with strawberry and vanilla ice cream then chocolate sauce, whipped cream and chocolate covered bacon.

 

I do not like chocolate so we asked to have the sauce on the side.  Carol has long ago pronounced chocolate covered bacon to be disgusting, so we immediately cast that aside.  Then I took a big scoop of both vanilla and strawberry ice cream and handed the cowboy hat to Carol.

 

She raked everything but the brownie onto her plate and we both had what we liked!  NICE!

When we got back home the boys barely lifted their heads.  They were pooped.

 

So were we, so after a bit of TV we kicked them off of our bed and tucked ourselves in!


Friday November 19th

 

Today was the opening day of the D23 DestinationD event that Carol was attending at the Contemporary Resort Hotel.  D23 is the Official Disney Fan Club and Carol is a Gold Member.  DestinationD is a weekend long event that is held in Florida every other year.  This year's event is 'extra-special' because it focuses on the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World.

 

I have attended with Carol in the past, but since we're here in the RV with the dogs someone needs to stay behind.  That someone is me!

We were meeting friends from Canada for breakfast at the Contemporary before the event so Carol set her alarm for 6:00 a.m.

 

That really wasn't necessary since we had Jasper with us.  He had us all awake at 5:30.

 

We had our normal morning, coffee, newspapers, etc. before heading out at 7:15.

 

A doe and her fawn were grazing near the campground exit as we left.

We had a nice breakfast at Steakhouse 71. 

 

Pictured are:

Back Row - Gary, Becky, Francine, Alek

Front Row - Curtis, Carol, Carrie, Susan

 

Seven of them headed off to the convention area while I drove back to the campground.

It had rained all night and everything was soaking wet, so I stayed indoors and did some work on the trip report until the sun had dried things a bit.

 

At about 10:00 a.m. I took the dogs outside and they lounged in the sand and pine needles while I built a candy cane striped Mickey Mouse rope light for the campsite.

 

We brought all the parts with us, one large wire wreath ring and two smaller rings, from Michael's and a 12' rope light string.

 

The three wreaths are simply put together in the shape of a Mickey head and held together by plastic zip ties.  The rope light winds around the outside of the Mickey head and is also held in place with plastic zip ties.

 

By the time the rope light was done Jasper was a complete mess.  He had been laying (and digging) in the wet sand beside the picnic table I was sitting at.  YUK!  I picked him up, carried him inside and gave him a bath in the kitchen sink.  If I had done a bit of pre-planning I probably would not have found myself with an armload of high-energy wet dog and no towel to dry him.  That's a mistake I hope to never repeat!

 

I had a quick lunch at the campsite and then went out shopping.  I needed some PVC parts for our Mickey lamp so that meant a drive to Home Depot off Sand Lake Road near the Florida Mall.  Then I picked up some groceries from Winn-Dixie, adult beverages from ABC Liquor and a few other necessities.

 

I had only been home about a half-hour when Carol sent a text message.  Her sessions at the Contemporary had ended for the day and she was on the way home.

Carol had a great day at DestinationD.

 

There were lots of props and displays to keep the whole gang amused!

One thing she did say was that they all had an exclusive preview of the new Disney movie Encanto.

She said that the first few minutes were quite confusing as the characters spoke very quickly to introduce the family and the plot.  Once the actual 'movie' started she really enjoyed it.  The animation was awesome . . . the characters were almost real . . .and the story was captivating.

 

We'll be seeing it together as soon as we can!

 

After the preview our friends Curtis and Alek gave Carol a lift back to Fort Wilderness.

Shortly after she got home Carol said, 'I'm bushed; what do you want to do for dinner?'

 

"I'm not cooking,' I replied, 'How about Olive Garden?'

 

'No,' she said, 'I don't feel like going out.  We could grill some hot dogs.'

 

"I'm not cooking,' I replied, 'How about Olive Garden?'

 

Carol groaned a bit then pulled some leftover chicken casserole out of the fridge and nuked it for me.  Her dinner was peanut butter and jelly on toast.

 

We enjoyed a quiet night of television and headed off early for a good night's sleep.


Saturday November 20th

 

Saturday got off to a slow start.  The first thing we heard was Carol's phone alarm at 6:00 a.m.   Jasper had slept in!  We had coffee and caught up on the news, then left at 7:20 for the Contemporary Resort.  We met Francine, Becky, Carrie and Susan again and enjoyed a nice breakfast with them at Steakhouse 71.

 

I went back to the campsite and played with the dogs while Carol and the gang headed to the convention centre for the first full day of the D23 event.

Carol connected with plenty of Disney friends during the day!

 

The convention area is huge and the event sold out the first day tickets were available to buy, way back in July.

 

I puttered with lights and inflatables a bit and did  few minor repairs around the coach.  Then I made some inserts for the Mickey lamp.  They prevent light from the bulb in Mickey’s head bleeding into the ears to distort the colour of the ears.  It's a simple little fix that really makes the colours look a lot sharper in Mickey's ears.  He is after all  a very style-conscious rodent!

I had a hunch that there might be a few buttons left over from the special 50th Birthday Party for the campground that we missed a few nights ago.  I hopped in the golf cart, rode to the bike barn and snagged four of them!  Carol should be pleased with me!

On my way back from the Bike Barn I spotted a Segway tour as they turned off Fort Wilderness Trail and headed toward The Meadow Swimming Pool.

I fed Jasper his lunch and then went off to shop for a few items we needed.  As I drove along Route 535 heading toward Walmart I thought about Chick-fil-A and VOILA!  There was one right beside me.  I pulled right in and enjoyed my first Chick-fil-A sandwich in over 2 years  Yum!

 

Next stops were Dollar General, Publix and Walmart.  When I got home at 3:15 it seemed like the prefect time for a nap.  The dogs agreed with me, so the three of us stretched out for a rest!

 

We had a very quiet night.  Dinner was hot dogs n the grill for me, the dogs had kibble.  Then we settled in to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2 - 0.

 

Carol got home after 10:00.  She was exhausted after a long but satisfying day.  She showed me a few of her new trinkets and doo-dads then scurried off to bed.  She needs to be well rested so she can do it all again tomorrow!


Sunday November 21st

 

Jasper woke us up again this morning, but not too early!  Carol decided to skip breakfast with the ladies so that she could prowl through the Disney Archives exhibit and get some pictures.  So we each had a quick bite in the RV and I drove her to the Contemporary Resort.

Carol left me with a challenge, find her a special Limited Edition Pin at the Disney Springs Welcome Centre . . . wherever that is!

 

So I drove over to Disney Springs at 10:15 and found a huge line at the entrance.  This is not somewhere I want to be on a weekend!  But . . . I was on a mission!

 

It turns our that the Welcome Centre is where Guest Services hangs out, near D-Lux Burger, but they didn't have the pins.  They're only sold at Pin Central , , , so that's where I went next.

 

Poor planning again!  If I had come a few hours later I could have enjoyed a sandwich at Earl's.  Oh well . . . there will be time before we go home!

I went to Walmart looking for an 8' tall inflatable snowman Carol wanted but they were all sold out.

 

When I got back home it was lunch time so I fed Jasper some kibble, made myself a sandwich and when we were both done I loaded the boys on the golf cart and went to the off-leash dog park.

 

Today was Jasper's lucky day.  That white dog enjoys running too and the two of them did lap after lap of the area, taking turns chasing each other.

When the little white dog was worn out the three children under the canopy took over and kept Jasper in his 'black-bullet' mode for another ten or fifteen minutes.

 

He should sleep well tonight!

At about 4:00 p.m. I drove the golf cart to The Settlement to see what the Food Truck Round Up is all about.

 

There are a half-dozen food trucks in a circle not far from Pioneer Hall and Trail's End.

 

The menus look interesting.  What do you suppose is in a pizza cone?

Yup, that's going to do just fine for dinner!

As I headed back home I came upon a typical Fort Wilderness traffic jam.  Rush hour can be very entertaining here!

I fed the dogs just before 5:00 and at about 6:30 headed to The Settlement for dinner.  Looks like we have another six nights to enjoy the food trucks!

I had expected it to be busy and crowded, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I checked out a few of the menus and settled on the Apps truck where I ordered the Tender Burger.

They toast a kaiser bun then top it with lettuce, red onions, chicken tenders, cheese, bacon, two onion rings, ketchup, mayo, mustard and a house-made pink sauce.  It's served with a side of fries.  Very yummy!

 

As I waited for my burger another customer came past and gave compliments to the chef for the Columbian Burger.  I checked the menu . . . that may be my next food truck dinner.

 

I settled in with the dogs for another quiet night of television.

 

Yes, Jasper is snoring!

Curtis met Bret Iwan, the voice of Mickey Mouse!

 

The D23 DestinationD event ended with a gala party on Sunday night!


Monday November 22nd

 

Most of the day we lolled around and did nothing.  Carol has been on the go from before dawn until late into the evening . . . and the old gal just can't do that anymore!  Jasper woke her at 5:30 this morning then Jake and I got up about an hour later.

 

I had just finished my first cup of coffee at 7:30 a.m. when Carol announced that it was nap time . . .she had earned a day of sloth and recuperation!  Back to bed she went for another two hours.

By 9:30 we were both outside puttering around the campsite in a steady drizzle.  Carol draped some strings of white lights on the ground near our inflatable decorations and then climbed the step ladder to hang the rope light I made last Friday.  I dumped and rinsed our holding tanks then used to leaf blower to clear away a few bushels of fallen leaves.

 

We loaded a big basket of dirty laundry on the golf cart and went off to the comfort station, where we discovered that all of the machines were in use and a few other families were lined up ahead of us.  Change of plans - she hauled out the vacuum and did some cleaning in the RV.  Long-haired dogs and wet leaves can quickly make a messy house!

 

Maybe we'll have better luck with the laundry tomorrow.

 

We had sandwiches for lunch then hopped in the car for a brief shopping excursion.  We picked up a few items at Winn-Dixie, then a few more at Walgreens before returning home.

 

We pulled into our campsite at 2:00 p.m., put away our groceries and settled in with the dogs for a nap.  Drizzly rainy days are great for napping!

We had a dinner reservation at EPCOT's Nine Dragons restaurant so the dogs enjoyed an early dinner.   We left for EPCOT at about 4:30.

We stopped at Odyssey which now houses the preview centre, displaying all the changes and improvements planed for the park.  It's an amazing high-tech projection display.

At Nine Dragons Carol and I shared appetizers of spring rolls and pot stickers.  Her entree was Spicy Crispy Chicken while I enjoyed Honey Sesame Chicken.  Very good!

As we made our way toward The Land Pavilion Carol shopped her way through both the Port of Entry shops while I snapped a few pictures.

 

The EPCOT Christmas tree looks quite drab and boring during the day, but it's spectacular t night!

We have been at Walt Disney World almost a week and we haven't been on a single ride!  It was time to correct that oversight.  We took a spin through Living With The Land.

 

It has been a while since we've toured the greenhouses at night and the Christmas lighting was a spectacular addition!

We decided to take a trip back in time at Spaceship Earth and as we passed The Living Seas with Nemo we had an amazing view of the geodesic dome with all it's dazzling new lights.

 

Wow!  It's pretty impressive!

Our trip back in time represented our second ride in almost a week. . . we're not likely to break any records this trip!

We stopped for one more PhotoPass on our way out of the park, and were home to enjoy a quiet night with with the puppies by 8:30.


Tuesday November 23rd

 

Jasper is still operating on some odd clock setting.  Once again this morning he had Carol up at 5:00 a.m.  It took until 6:30 for Jake and I to miss her and get up to greet the day!  By 7:00 she had scampered off in the golf cart and had two big loads of laundry going at the comfort station.

 

By 9:30 we had showered, had a bite of breakfast and were ready to head out to Animal Kingdom for the morning.

The park was hopping when we pulled in at 10:00.  All the parks will be extra busy this week because of the Thanksgiving holiday so  we'll try to plan our time accordingly.

As we arrived at the Tree of Life the music for Winged Encounters started playing.  I pointed the camera up in the sky and blindly shot a few pictures.  The one on the left was the best of the three.

Carol had a few questions about the new DAS system, so while she chatted with Guest Services I roamed around snapping a few pictures.

Soon Carol was back; she had booked us a "Return"  time of 12:18 p.m. for Kilimanjaro Safaris. 

Carol grabbed a Coke and found us a table in the sunshine in front of the Safari entrance (it was a chilly 57º) while I scooted over to Asia and picked us up egg rolls and fried rice from Yak & Yeti.  It was delicious!

At 12:18 we hopped in the Lighting Line and within just a couple of minutes began our photo safari. The standby time was 120 minutes at the time.  Wow!

There were plenty of animals and we got some great shots!  I'll let the pictures do the talking!

Carol wandered through the Island Mercantile shops before we left the park and I snapped  few more pictures of macaws and fake but life-like animals while she shopped.

By 2:00 p.m. we were back to Fort Wilderness. 

The greeting committee was there to welcome us home.

We loaded the dogs on the golf cart and took them to the off-leash dog park.

 

I took Jake to the small dog side and tossed the ball for him while Carol took Jasper to the big dg side.  He found a few dogs who would run with him and before long his tongue was hanging out.  He ran so fast we didn't even get a picture of him!

 

We're hoping he'll sleep better tonight.

When dinner time rolled around we opted for food truck fare at the Settlement.  The dogs joined us for the excursion.

 

Carol wandered around quickly and made her menu selection, then she took charge of the dogs while I went and ordered for both of us.

 

We both opted for Apps Food Truck.  Carol had chicken quesadillas and I decided on the Columbian Burger. 

 

Carol took one look at my burger and said, 'Zip up your jacket; there's no sense messing up two layers!'

 

Wow - it was a tasty dinner!

 

 

 

After dinner we went back to the campsite, put on warmer clothes (it was 50º) and took the dogs with us as we looped the golf cart around the campground checking out the Christmas decorations.

 

These pictures show what the campers do at Fort Wilderness.  It has nothing to do with Disney . . . this is all stuff that campers bring with themselves and set up on their sites.

 

Some displays are absolutely amazing!

This snowman hangs on the Mickey lamp at our campsite!

Oh yes, after all that 'looping' the dogs both slept well!


Wednesday November 24th

 

Today Jasper had Carol up again at 5:00 a.m.   When I woke at 6:45 I had some vague and groggy memories of Carol crawling back into bed after letting him out to do his business.

 

'Did Jasper go back to bed?' I asked.

 

'No,' she replied, 'He's in bed with us.'

 

That's certainly not a good long term solution but should help Carol rest in the short run!

 

We relaxed over coffee, toast and cereal while we caught up on the days news. Then it was time to decide how we wanted to spend our day.

 

:The parks are incredibly busy because of the US Thanksgiving holiday so we decided that today was the day we should drive about 60 miles south to Lake Wales.  We wanted to take a quick 'preview look' at The Resort At Canopy Oaks where we plan to spend the entire month of January.

 

We packed the dogs into the back seat of the car and pulled out at about 10:00 a.m.  We went a few miles west on I-4 then south on State Road 27 to County Road 60.

 

Along the way we made two quick shopping stops at Home Depot and CVS.  Carol dashed into the stores to see what Disney Christmas decorations they had.   I was astounded when she came out empty-handed each time.

 

We arrived at Canopy Oaks just after noon and it was a very good thing we did.  When we booked the campsite almost a year ago we requested campsite #398 and they also assured us that storing our RV for about four weeks while we came home in the car for Christmas.  We found that they had put us in Site #2 and that storage might be a problem.  They hadn't been policing how people had been parking in the 'overflow area' and they seemed to be actively discouraging RV storage.

 

 

They gave us a visitor's pass and we drove around to take a look at the resort.  Our first stop was 'overflow parking' where there was plenty of room and little evidence of the willy-nilly parking they had described.

 

Then we went to site #2.  It was perfect!  A large site with a level concrete pad, brick fire-pit and picnic table.  A short walk from the back of the site will take us to the recreation centre, pool, hot tub and all sorts of other facilities.

 

On our way back to the check-in office we spotted a building, beside the Deli and Pizza Parlour, it had a big white Office sign on top.  As I walked up to the door a man walked out and locked he door behind himself.  We chatted for a few minutes.  Austin works at Canopy Oaks and the building was the Business Centre.  He directed me back to the check-in office and asked what our issue was.  When I described the storage issue he said to let the office know that he said it would fine.  Carol joked, 'I hope Austin's not just the pool-boy and he's overstepped his bounds!'

 

As we approached the office Carol said, 'Look, a Florida Sand Crane!'  It turned out there were two of them.  She dashed out to get some pictures.

 

They were standing in a shady area beside a small lake so the first few pictures weren't the best, but when they stepped out into the sun she got a few terrific shots!

 

 

 

 

Back at the office I mentioned Austin's name and all of our problems disappeared.  Apparently he's not the pool-boy!

 

Within just a few minutes I had paid in full for storage from December 8th to January 3rd when we check-in for our month-long stay at the resort.

 

On our way back to Fort Wilderness we made a few more stops.  First we pulled into Popeye's at Lake Wales for a late lunch of chicken sandwiches.  Then we made quick stops at Publix and PetSmart where Carol picked up some chow for the puppies.

Afternoon traffic was heavy and we didn't get home to the campground until almost 4:00 p.m.  Jake and I were pooped so we went for a nap while Carol loaded Jasper onto the golf cart and took him to the dog park for a run.

 

When they got there they met Lexie, a six-month-old Aussie-Border Collie cross.  The two pups were almost identical and both super-charged with energy.  After they ran flat-out for about fifteen minutes they were joined by Remy, a six-month-old Frenchie.  Now the black blur took on a slight beige/brown tint as the three of them ran, circled, jumped and romped.

 

Carol was so intrigued as she watched Jasper run that she neglected to take any pictures!

 

Jasper was the first to expire.  He went from full-speed to full-stop with no intermediate stage.  He just laid down in the dog park and watched the other two dogs as they flew past!

 

Once he got home he had his dinner and crashed. I got the picture on the right after I had to step over him, he wasn't moving!

Since we had a late lunch . . . we also had a late dinner.  Carol wrapped potatoes and onions in foil and roasted them on the grill while the sausages grilled beside them.

 

At 9:25 we loaded the puppies up on the golf cart again and took them to the beach at the marina to watch the nightly Electrical Water Pageant.  This show has run every night, weather permitting, for fifty years.

 

This year to honour the 50th anniversary a new segment has been added.

The anniversary segment was nicely done, but the dogs were unimpressed.  They were more interested in the ripples on the water and the critters swimming by.

 

We were back home at 10:15, watched a bit of television and then tucked into bed.

 

Hopefully Jasper is still tired from his big run and will let us (Carol) sleep a bit later!


Thursday November 25th

 

It was a nice day to sleep in!  Jasper co-operated - sort of!  He slept until 6:00 a.m. and when Carol brought him back into the RV he hopped in bed with us and immediately fell fast asleep.  Jake and I crawled out of bed at 7:15 and left the two of them sleeping soundly.

After a slow morning with the boys Carol and I went to the marina and boarded a cruiser to the Magic Kingdom.  We entered the park at 9:45 and Carol immediately booked us  a DAS return time for the Jingle Cruise at 11:04 a.m.

 

We wandered through the Confectionary Store and a few other shops long Main Street then cut through Cinderella Castle on our way to Mickey's PhilharMagic.  They have totally redone the film to freshen and sharpen the animation and at the same time added a new segment featuring characters from the Coco movie.  They did a great job.  It was almost like seeing it again for the first time.

We headed straight from PhilharMagic to the Jingle Cruise.  We boarded Garland Gertie and Skipper Michael entertained us with a lot of old corny jokes and a couple of new ones.  He did a terrific job!

When our cruise was done I lined up at Aloha Isle for a Pineapple Float while Carol headed to Frontier Mercantile to look at Disney pins.  She had just finished shopping when I arrived with my frozen treat.

Carol wanted to shop her way through The Emporium so I headed down Main Street to take a few more pictures.  I was about half way to Town Square when a couple of musical floats came along. 

When we met, as agreed, in front of City Hall Carol had a small tray of mini corn dogs.  The Emporium was so full of shoppers that she immediately scrapped her shopping plans and bought a snack!

We were back at the campsite at about 1:00 p.m. and had a quick sandwich in the RV before heading to the dog park with the puppies.  Lexie and Remy weren't there today, but the boys still had a good run!

Carol and I have felt from the start that Jasper is a pretty clever puppy.  Well, he proved that to be very true today.  Twice, when we  undid his lead so he could run up the steps into the RV he made a quick turn, ran to the golf cart and hopped up on the front seat where he patiently sat waiting for his chauffeur!  It seems that he's figured out that golf cart equals dog park . . .

 

We left at about 5:00 p.m. for the Beach Club Resort for our dinner at Beaches & Cream.  After taking a few pictures of the huge gingerbread carousel in the lobby we headed to the restaurant to check -in.

Ooops.  Our reservation wasn't for 5:45 . . . it was for 6:35.  So Carol had some time to shop while I waited near near the restaurant and read my book.

Carol wrapped up her dinner with a banana split and I enjoyed a sundae with strawberry and pineapple sauce.

 

 

We were home with the dogs at 8:15 and watched some TV before bed!

 

It was another great Disney day.


Friday November 26th

 

Jasper slept until 6:30.  What a great start to the day!

Carol took him out to 'do his business' and got some pretty pictures in the dog walk area along the canal behind the 800 loop.

Meanwhile Jake and I chilled in the RV.

Disney vacations are getting very complicated these days!  You have to pre-plan and pre-book everything.  You cannot go to a theme park if you have not booked it in advance.

 

Carol had pre-booked a visit to EPCOT today so at 9:30 we left the dogs behind, hopped in the car and off we went.

 

The park was just opening as we came through the Annual Passholder gate at 10:00 a.m. and there was Minnie Mouse waiting to greet us.

 

As soon as we were in the park Carol checked the DAS data on her phone and booked us a 'Return-Time' of 10:18 for Soarin'.

Carol stopped briefly in the pin store, then we carried on past The Living Seas to The Land Pavilion.

 

We arrived just in time to step into the Lightning Line and in just a few minutes Chief Flight Attendant Patrick was whisking us on a quick around the world tour!

 

Our plans included seeing the movie 'Impressions de France' at the France Pavilion so we started to work our way in a counter-clockwise direction around the World Showcase Lagoon.

 

 

Alice was posing for photographs as we passed the gardens at Great Britain.

When we arrived at the theatre in the French Pavilion we found that the movie only plays in the evening, so we carried on our explorations.

 

We followed the crowd that were streaming to the entrance for  the new Ratatouille attraction.  The entire area is new since we were last at Walt Disney World.

 

As I wandered around snapping pictures I somehow lost track of Carol.

 

I backtracked, looking in every direction when she suddenly appeared in the doorway at  La Crêperie de Paris and called my name.

The menu looked terrific, so we cast aside our lunch plans for hot dogs at the RV.  That lunch plan had quickly become a dinner plan!

I had the 'Classique' buckwheat crepe with ham, egg and swiss cheese.

 

Then I followed with 'Banane' for dessert, banana and salted caramel.

Carol had the 'Poulet' buckwheat crepe with chicken, béchamel sauce and mushroom.

 

She followed with 'Pomme' for dessert, caramelized apple and salted caramel.

 

As we were leaving the new Ratatouille entrance area Carol spotted a PhotoPass photographer with a new 'magic shot' so we stopped to check it out.

 

It turned out pretty well!

Just as we were approaching the park exit someone posted a picture of a brand new collectible popcorn bucket that had just been released that morning.

 

No home should be without a golden Christmas tree popcorn bucket with Mickey and Minnie on it . . .

 

Fortunately the popcorn stand was almost beside us as she read the Facebook post, so she hopped in line and within minutes was showing off her new prize!

Eagle-eyed Carol spotted another magic shot opportunity as we passed Spaceship Earth.  You stand beside a little globe that is at about eye-level, hold a pose for seven seconds, and somehow this happens!

 

We were back home with the dogs at 1:00 p.m. and Jasper was quick to let Carol know that his lunch was an hour late!  He quickly forgave her though, when the bowl of kibble hit the floor.

 

Before long we hopped in the car with the dogs and struck out to explore a few other campgrounds, close to Walt Disney World where we might stay in years to come.

 

Our first stop was Mouse Mountain RV Resort near Davenport.  I stopped in at the office and picked up a park map.  The campground has just been taken over by Sun RV Resorts and there is a lot of construction going on in the park.  Once we had made a complete circuit of the campground I turned and asked Carol, 'Well, what do you think?'  She quickly folded the park map and then tore it into itty-bitty confetti-like pieces.  My sentiments exactly!  No words were necessary.

 

Next we went to Topical Palms, just off State Road 192 east of I-4.  Once again we used the park map to poke around the resort.  We thought this might be an OK place to spend a month, but not somewhere we would stay for the winter season.

 

Our third and last stop of the day was Sherwood Forest RV Resort, just a bit east from Tropical Palms.  The map didn't get torn up at this one, but I think it was just because Carol lacked the energy!

 

We were back home just in time to feed the puppies at 4:45.  Since Carol and I had had a big lunch, our dinner hot dogs followed a bit later when Carol went out into the mosquito-infested wilds of our campsite to grill them up.

 

We enjoyed a quiet evening at home!


Saturday November 27th

 

Jasper started whimpering at 5:30 a.m. and Carol let him out as soon as she pulled on her sweater.  It was a brisk 39ºF out.  When they came back in Carol crawled back in bed with Jake and I.  Jasper soon joined in the family snore-fest!  Carol was still in bed, sound asleep at 8:15 when the two dogs started staring intently at me.  I soon figured out the message . . . breakfast was 90 minutes past due!  After I fed them they hustled back to bed with their Momma!

The rest of the day was pretty much wasted with non-Disney things.  Because of the Thanksgiving holiday the theme parks are incredibly busy and we decided that was not where we wanted to be today!

 

We hung out at the RV with the dogs until about 11:00 a.m. then left for Disney Springs.  Carol had a few items from trips two and three years ago that she was hoping to return.  She played the 'Covid-19/Closed Border' card to perfection and managed to get her money back for almost all of it.  Judy, you're stuck with those flip-flops but she did get them swapped for a bigger size!

 

I held down a chair near the poutine shop beside the Lego store while Carol tried to shop.  She didn't get to the Art of Disney Store or the Christmas Store.  They were just too crowded!

 

We wandered over to The Boathouse and at 1:30 p.m. we met some dear Disney friends we haven't seen in over two years and had a very nice lunch with them.

 

By 3:30 we had more or less caught up with their adventures and they had been told how we survived Covid-19 and the lock-down.  Carol and I drove home, loaded the dogs on the golf cart and took them to the dog park for a run!

Tails were waggin' when we got to the dog park and tongues were draggin' when we left.

 

'So, where's dinner?' I asked Carol

 

'Food trucks.' she replied, 'No, Olive Garden!'

 

Olive Garden it was.  We were back home, totally stuffed, by 7:45 p.m.

 

All four of us boarded the golf cart and went out 'looping'.

 

There are more and more Christmas decorations appearing every day! 

 

 It's the most wonderful time of the year!

When we got back to the RV at 8:30 it was a brisk 55ºF out.  We were glad we had turned the furnace on before we left!

 

After a bit of TV we tottered off to bed early.  Tomorrow we may try to spend a few hours in the morning at Disney's Animal Kingdom.


Sunday November 28th

 

Here's a happy note - Jasper slept in until 6:30 this morning.  Yeah Jasper!

 

Carol had made some plans for Animal Kingdom this morning but we weren't in a big rush to get rolling so we took our time.

Disney horses are training for the Holiday Carriage and Sleigh Rides that begin on December 1st and we've had a few of them go past every day.

 

It was after 10:00 a.m. when we left in the car for Animal Kingdom.

There were no PhotoPass photographers on duty as we entered the park but we still stopped to use their props.  We took pictures of another family and they took a few shots for us!

There was plenty going on at Discovery Island when we approached The Tree of Life.  Characters from The Jungle Book sailed under the bridge as we crossed over to the island and a variety of very life-like animal puppets were out entertaining guests.

The siamangs were howling as we approached Asia.  When they're howling you can hear them all over the park.

 

 

They were quite active today and drew quite a crowd.  Even as we were leaving the park, a few hours later, they were howling and prowling.

The lines for Expedition Everest were huge as we walked past to find our seats for 'Disney Kite Tales'

 

This new show takes place in the lagoon between Dinoland and Asia.

 

Live actors carry vivid kite-like puppets through the seated crowd while sea-doos pull bright coloured kites around and across the lagoon.

After each of the little vignettes the kites are dumped, some in the water and some on the tiers of the amphitheatre opposite where we were sitting.  There was even an amusing 'boink' in the soundtrack when the big kites hit the seats!

 

There are two people on each of the sea-doos.  One drives the vehicle while the other faces backwards and operates the kites through their intricate movements.

 

It's an interesting show!

Next on our agenda was Expedition Everest. Carol had used the DAS System to book us a return time of 11:03 and we entered the Lightning Lane at about 11:45 and in no time we were whisking through the Tibetan mountain chasing a Yeti.

As we headed toward the exit the scent of Yak & Yeti Egg Rolls wafted into our nostrils so we stopped for a quick snack.

 

Yum, they're tasty!

 

We wandered slowly toward the park exit.  There were plenty of PhotoPass photographers working as we approached the exit so we stopped and got some of the pictures we missed in the morning.

We got back to the campground at about 1:15 and after feeding Jasper his lunch and enjoying a short nap, the four of us hopped in the car to check out a couple more campgrounds where we might spend some time next year.

 

Our first stop was Lake Magic RV Resort at Clermont.  It was a definite 'maybe'.  There were some nice sites in their 'Elite' area.

 

Our second stop was at Rainbow Chase RV Resort at Davenport.  Nope, after a very quick look around Carol said, 'Take me home.  I've had enough!'

 

Another Park Ranger was on duty to greet us when we pulled into Fort Wilderness at 4:45 p.m.

 

We drove directly to the dog park, parked the car there and gave the boys a run in the fading late-afternoon sun.

We had grand plans for the evening.  We were going to head to the Magic Kingdom and watch the light projection show on Cinderella Castle, then stay for the nightly fireworks . . . but after a bowl of hot homemade beef-barley soup and a toasted cheese bun our energy waned, our determination wavered and we decided that all that excitement could wait for another night in the near future.


Monday November 29th - Fort Wilderness


Tuesday November 30th - Fort Wilderness


Wednesday December 1st - Fort Wilderness


Thursday December 2nd - Fort Wilderness


Friday December 3rd - Fort Wilderness


Saturday December 4th - Fort Wilderness


Sunday December 5th - Fort Wilderness


Monday December 6th - Fort Wilderness


Tuesday December 7th - Fort Wilderness


Wednesday December 8th - Drop RV off at Canopy Oaks RV Resort Lake Wales, Red Roof Inn, Savannah GA - 350 miles


Thursday December 9th - Red Roof Inn, Staunton, VA - 518 miles


Friday December 10th - Home - 585 miles