Monday October 16, 2023

 

Before we managed to get away from home, we both thought that the entire universe was conspiring to stop or delay our trip.  From minor health issues, motor home mechanical issues and a badly timed furnace - A/C breakdown we endured a hectic few weeks leading up to our departure.  The four-man crew installing our brand new heat pump/furnace system finished at 4:15 on Monday and we pulled out in the motor home in less than an hour!

 

Phew!

We don't like driving the RV after dark, but this time there was no real alternative.  We pulled away from home at 5:10 p.m. and managed to get across the US border in daylight.

 The sun was casting very long shadows as we left!

The down-slope of the first bridge across the St. Lawrence River

Climbing the second bridge across the St. Lawrence

The international border is between those two bridges pictured above.  We arrived at about 5:45 and there was not another car in sight.  That's rare, this is usually a busy spot.  A couple of quick questions from the US Border Agent and we were on our way, rumbling and bouncing southbound.

 

Time was of the essence so we didn't stop for dinner.  Carol made some very tasty peanut butter sandwiches while I kept the rig between the ditches and pointed toward Florida.

 

We weren't sure if we would be able to make it to our originally planned stop before fatigue set in, but thankfully we did.  After 226 non-stop miles we pulled into the FlyingJ Truck Stop in northern Pennsylvania at 9:10 p.m.  Carol and I were both tired and the dogs had absolutely had their fill of travel.

 

We fuelled up so we could get away quickly in the morning, found a good spot to park in the parking area set aside for overnight RV stays and let slumber overtake us.


Tuesday October 17, 2023

 

You would think that after the stress of the past few weeks we could have slept until sunrise . . . but NO!  We were both wide awake at 4:30 a.m.

 

That was frustrating.  We were parked beside a Denny's Restaurant and had planned to have breakfast there but they didn't open until 6:00 a.m.  So we turned on our generator, plugged in both the coffee maker and the toaster so Carol could make our breakfast.

In spite of our aversion to driving in the dark, there we were again on the road about 90 minutes before sunrise.  It was so early that we unfortunately missed some fabulous scenery in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania,

The sun was fully risen and skies were reasonably clear as we drove down through the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.  It's one of our favourite parts of the drive.

 

As you can see on the left, the navigator always finds the journey a lot more relaxing than the driver does!

We had hoped to see some stunning colours in the trees, but between driving in the dark and some dreary, cloudy skies we were disappointed.

We hit the Virginia state line at 10:45 and since we had started out so early it seemed like lunch time.

 

We pulled into the FlyingJ Truck Stop at Winchester Virginia and Carol picked us up some lunch from the truck driver's gourmet buffet while I filled the RV with gasoline.

 

We gave the dogs a short walk and got back on the road again!

Our plan was to drive 431 miles to Troutville Virginia and stay overnight behind the Cracker Barrel Restaurant there.  But one advantage to our early start was that we had the option to press on a bit further if we were up to it.

 

We decided to go for it, and we ended up covering 463 miles and pulling in at the Cracker Barrel at Christiansburg Virginia.

 

After a nice dinner we sat in the RV yawning, reading and fiddling at the computer before we toddled off to bed much earlier than we normally do.


Wednesday October 18, 2023

 

Once again we both woke up far too early but this time we forced ourselves to turn over and go back to sleep.  It was after 6:00 when we crawled out of bed and got ready for another day on the road.

We were seated in the Cracker Barrel Restaurant just minutes after they opened at 7:00 a.m. and enjoyed a hearty breakfast.

 

We were on the road before 8:00 a.m. and in about a half hour we left Interstate 81 and turned south on Interstate 77.

 

This route involves a slow 30 mile climb up one side of the Blue Ridge Mountains and then a steep 7 mile plunge down the other side.

 

This isn't Carol's favourite part of the trip . . . but the colours were nice!

This is the view from the very top, and it's breathtaking.

I think Carol finds the runaway truck lanes to be a bit concerning . . . and for good reason!

There are 5 or 6 of them on the way down and some had been recently used!

Carol and the dogs breathed a sigh of relief when we hit bottom and rolled into North Carolina.

 

At the bottom Carol said, 'What's that I smell?  Is something burning?'

 

'No,' I replied, 'It's probably from over-heated brakes on the trucks.'

 

Just seconds later we spotted about a half-dozen trucks stopped on the shoulder of the road, probably letting their brakes cool down!

 

Fortunately ours were fine!

 

 

There are some very rough and bumpy stretches of road along the way and when we hit them everything inside the coach seems to jingle, rattle, bang and pop.  This bothers all of us, but Jasper seems to suffer the most distress.

 

Fortunately he has an emotional support dog to sit on and draw strength from!

Typically the only really heavy traffic we encounter along our route is at Charlotte NC, but today we breezed right through!  Hardly a slow-down and not a single stop.

By 11:00 a.m. we were in South Carolina.  We stopped at the FlyingJ at Rock Hill where I once again filled the RV with gas while Carol went to the truck driver gourmet buffet and picked up some lunch.

 

We ate in the RV, walked the dogs and got back on the road by noon.

 

We pulled in at New Green Acres Campground in Walterboro SC at about 2:30.  There is a small dog park here so our first priority was to give Jake and Jasper some exercise.  They've been cooped up for three long days and they needed to run and romp.

 

Once they were tuckered out we set up our campsite and settled in for a quiet night.

 

Aahhh!


Thursday October 19, 2023

 

Finally, we enjoyed the relaxing morning we were looking forward to!  During our first three days on the road we covered 75% of the 1,405 mile long trip.  Now we have two full days to finish the last 25%.  Today had been planned as the shortest driving day since we have a few chores to do once we stop for the night in Brunswick Georgia.

We slept until almost 7:00 a.m., relaxed over coffee, toast and our online newspapers before we started converting our home back into a vehicle.

 

By 8:45 we were pulling out, southbound again on Interstate 95 in very light traffic.

 

By 9:30 we had travelled 54 miles and crossed the state line into Georgia.

North side of the Savannah River - Goodbye South Carolina

South side of the Savannah River - Hello Georgia

Do you see the motorcycle in the picture above?  We've seen hundreds of them in the last few days.  Biketoberfest Weekend in Daytona Beach begins today and it looks like it will be a well attended event!

 

We drove another 87 miles in light Georgia traffic before pulling off in Brunswick.  Before heading to our campground we had to do those chores I mentioned earlier.  First on the list was a bath for the RV and our tow car.  We joined a long line of trucks at the Blue Beacon Truck Wash and waited our turn.  In about a half hour we were getting sprayed and brushed in one of the two giant wash bays.

 

Jasper isn't a big fan of car wash bays and his phobia certainly carries over to truck wash bays.  He spent a lot of his time at Blue Beacon trying to climb onto the top of Carol's head!

 

Our next stop was at FlyingJ where we filled up for the last time until next April.  The fuel economy will be very, very good for the next five and a half months!

Our final stop on the way to the campground was at a grocery store where Carol stocked up while I stayed in the RV with the puppies.  She was back at about 1:10 with several bags of staples and a few frills, then we headed to the nearby Coastal Georgia RV Resort..

 

The campsites here are small, but they're level, paved and the facilities are right up-to-date.  The set-up went smoothly and by 2:00 we were sitting in air conditioned comfort enjoying a light lunch.

 

We fussed around a bit cleaning up the interior of the rig, then enjoyed a well-earned nap.

 

After dinner we took Jake and Jasper off to the dog park.

The off-leash park at the campground is very small, but the boys had a good time.  They were just happy to have a chance to get out and play!

 

It wasn't long before their tongues were hanging out, so we went home and enjoyed a quiet evening.

 

Tomorrow we check in at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground for a 30-day stay!  Yippee!


Friday October 20, 2023

 

Carol woke up at about 6:30 and immediately asked, 'Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?'  'No dear, but we're closer than we've been in a while!'

 

We didn't have much to pack up this morning, so we were on the road by 8:15.

Traffic was incredibly light and we made great time.

At 8:45 we crossed the Florida state line.

The construction is almost complete in Jacksonville.

The heaviest traffic we've seen yet was in Jacksonville.

We love seeing this sign!

We just can't get enough of it!

Suddenly we were in a different world!

And then we were home . . .

Our campsite wasn't ready when we pulled in at noon so we went to the overflow parking lot to wait for the text message telling us which site to set up in.  While we waited our friends Curtis and Alek came to pick up some stuff we brought to Florida for them and to drop off some treasures they'd picked up for Carol.

 

While the big swap was underway the text message came and soon we were off to campsite #715.  Nice!

 

 

We paused for a quick bite of lunch before we started unpacking our 'basement' cargo bays to set up the campsite and decorate it for Halloween.

One of Carol's favourite views at Fort Wilderness.

By 3:00 p.m. we had all the bays emptied out and a few things set up . . . but we were hot and tired so we took a break and struck out to pick up our rental golf cart.  Along the way we drove through a few camping loops to preview the decorations.

 

The campsite pictured to the right and below has over 100 plastic Star Wars storm trooper figures.  Some are 4 feet tall and some are 3 feet.  This Halloween they're all decked out in football uniforms.

The troopers will all be back for Christmas and they'll all be in pyjamas that depict Disney characters.  It's an amazing display, we'll post some night time pictures of it later.

 

We had a light dinner at Trail's End, hooked up a few outside lights at the campsite as darkness was setting in, then called it a night.

 

We'll sleep well tonight  and so will the dogs.  They seem to sense that we'll be settled here for a while!


Saturday October 21, 2023

 

As expected, we slept well.  We slept for about 9 hours . . . but since we had a very early start at it we were also up early this morning.  We relaxed over a few cups of coffee, some toast and our online newspapers . . . then it was time to head outside and put up some Halloween decorations,  We were out working at them by 8:15 a.m.

We worked away at it all morning, stretching rope lights down the sides of our concrete pad, testing inflatables and placing them just so, running about 12 miles of extension cords to make it all work, resting, sweating, hanging banners flags and lights.

 

We stopped at noon for a quick bite of lunch and then started in again for another few hours.  By 2:30 we were both exhausted so we moved inside to cool off (it was 87F) then we both enjoyed a shower and a nap!  (We showered separately but napped together)

 

 

By 5:15 the dogs were fed and we were in the car on the way to EPCOT.  There was a new Annual Passholder Magnet and a new pin that Carol just had to have.

While we were in the car on the way to the park Carol went online and booked us a dining reservation.  I'm not allowed to tell you where we ate because our friends back home have an acute case of Honey Sesame Chicken envy and it might cause them some severe distress and depression.  I will tell you though, it rhymes with Brine Flagons!

 

Judy - you wouldn't like it there . . . it was awful!

There was a beautiful sunset across World Showcase Lagoon as we exited the un-named restaurant.

We took our first stroll through EPCOT's newest attraction Journey of Water.  It's an interactive attraction, based on the Moana movie, that explains how water influences all aspects of our lives.  In several areas there are medallions in the concrete that you stand on and then make motions with your body to control the water.  It's educational, it's fun and it's refreshing on a hot Florida day.

The blue streaks you see in this picture are water jets that Carol activated by waving her arms.

The 8:00 fireworks at Magic Kingdom had just started when we got back to the campground so the dogs were especially happy to see us.  Every time we visit it takes a few days for them to get used to the sound of the nightly fireworks and they're not there yet.

 

We loaded them up on the golf cart and drove around a few camping loops to admire the decorations.  Halloween is still 10 days away but it's already pretty impressive!

Skeletons around the campfire!

The Sanderson sisters.

Do you see Cinderella, Snow White and Tinker Bell in the back?

The Sanderson sisters again!

Traffic around the campground is already becoming a challenge.  Many campers are already handing out Halloween candy every night and golf carts are touring everywhere.  So far the loop we're camped in seems to be the most popular and as a result it's the most congested!

 

We were back home by 9:00 p.m. and settled in for a quiet night.


Sunday October 22, 2023

 

This morning we puttered a bit more with decorations, then relaxed to enjoy our handiwork.

 

We drove off about 10:30 to do a bit of shopping and were home in time for lunch. 

After a relaxing afternoon at home we fed the dogs a bit early and drove off to Disney's Hollywood Studios for dinner at 50's Primetime Caf.

 

It's a retro 1950's styled place that serves delicious home-style dishes like pot roast and meatloaf.  Carol and I both really enjoy it . . . it transports us back to our childhood in the '50's.

After a tasty dinner we headed to Graumann's Chinese Theatre to take a death defying ride on Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.

 

Goofy is the engineer driving the train.  What could possibly go wrong?

Carol shopped her way along Sunset Boulevard while I snapped a few pictures.  I guess she browsed rather than shopped . . . she didn't buy a thing!

We watched Fantasmic for the first time in 10 years and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  They have added animated sequences from a number of new movies to freshen up the show.

As we were leaving Fantasmic and heading to the park exit the Wonderful World of Animation show was just beginning so we stopped to watch.  Music, lasers, fireworks accompany projected scenes from Disney animated movies.  It's high energy and very enjoyable!

The dogs were happy to see us when we got home at 9:30.  This time the fireworks at EPCOT were rumbling in the background . . . they'll soon get used to it!


Monday October 23, 2023

 

We had the best of intentions . . . we had planned to get up early and head to Animal Kingdom while it was still cool so we would see more animals on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride.  Alas . . . we weren't as ambitious in the morning as we were the previous night . . . so it was 10:30 a.m. before we got to the park.

As you might expect, Carol browsed some shops while I snapped a few pictures.

Once again she didn't buy anything.  Soon she joined me and we made our way to Africa and the Port of Harambe.

There are more shops in Harambe so I watched these African performers while Carol wasted some more time browsing while we waited for our Lightning Lane time-slot.

By 11:35 we were aboard our safari truck and keeping our eyes peeled for animals.

 

It wasn't a great safari if you count the number of animals we spotted, but it was terrific when you consider the great views we enjoyed with some of them.

This giraffe walked right over to out truck.

The three cheetahs were off in the distance but the sun lit this one up for us!

As we passed, the male lion woke up and moved to another rock.  Magnificent!

When our ride came to an end at noon it was blazing hot and we were pooped.  We hopped in the car and headed toward a WalMart store to pick up a few things we needed.  Along the way we stopped at Chick-fil-A for lunch.  Carol picked up our food while I searched for an empty table.  Soon I heard her calling my name.  She couldn't find her credit card so I had to use mine to pay for lunch,  Yikes!  A lost card is never good news.

 

After lunch we did our shopping then stopped at the Campground office where the concierge helped Carol track down her lost card.  The server at 50's Prime Time Caf hadn't given it back last night and it was now in a 'Lost and Found' pick-up area at Disney Springs.

 

We picked up the dogs and drove to Disney Springs where Carol retrieved the card, then we gave the boys a long overdue run at the dog park.

This 9 month-old Corgi really wanted to run with Jasper!

So did this 8 month-old Frenchie.  All Jasper wanted to do was chase his ball!

 

After some quiet time with the dogs at the campsite we headed to the Fort Wilderness Marina where we caught a boat to the Magic Kingdom.

 

 

 

 

We had a terrific dinner at the The Diamond Horseshoe Saloon.  All you can eat roast pork, beef pot roast and turkey.  Just like home cooked!

Once again Carol browsed her way out of the park.

I spent my time taking pictures.

The lighting and the Halloween decorations are magnificent!

We were home with the puppies at about 8:15.


Tuesday October 24, 2023

 

Today we had planned to spend the morning at Hollywood Studios but after sleeping in late, then savouring our morning coffee we agreed that a day of rest was in order.  After making the decision though, we really didn't rest much!

About 10:00 a.m. Carol kicked me out of the RV and insisted that I take both of the dogs too, while she cleaned up inside.  I could hear the vacuum cleaner slurping up dog hair as I cleaned car windows then waved the leaf blower around to clean the leaves, pine needles and cones off the patio.  Within 15 minutes the patio was covered again but I resisted the impulse to do it again!  I adjusted a few of the inflatables in our display and drilled a few holes in the sand to straighten some of the solar lights that were leaning at odd angles.

 

Then I relaxed!  I sat with the dogs and read my book until Carol finished up inside at noon.  We had a light lunch at home and then drove to Kissimmee to pick up a few necessities.  One thing led to another and we ended up visiting a half-dozen stores and shopped most of the afternoon away!  The dogs were very happy to see us when we pulled in at 4:30.

It was a great day to sit outside with a good book!

After dinner we loaded the boys up on the golf cart and drove around the camping loops to see the decorations.  Quite a few campers have torn down their Halloween decorations and gone home, but more are rolling in every day and most of them are busy setting up for the spooky festivities!

Some of the sites are absolutely amazing, and more and more are arriving daily.  By Halloween it will be mind-blowing.

 

We were back home at 9:00 p.m.

 

Our site doesn't compete with many of the ones we saw tonight, but we're pretty pleased with it!


Wednesday October 25, 2023

 

Today we got an earlier start and spent the morning at The Magic Kingdom.  We only managed two rides, It's a Small World and Peter Pan's Flight before it was time to head back home for lunch!

Carol had to stop at the pin store!

While she shopped I went to Aloha Isle for a Pineapple Float!

My favourite - a Pineapple Float

I waited for her at the Sunshine Tree Terrace where she picked up a Citrus Swirl.

Carol's favourite - a Citrus Swirl.

We were home by 12:30 and had a quick bite of lunch before taking the pups to the dog park for a run.

Friends Curtis and Alek were coming to the campground for dinner and a golf cart tour and while we sat out waiting for their arrival a horse-drawn carriage clip-clopped by.  Just another day in paradise!

 

Our guests arrived at 6:00 p.m. and we barbecued dinner before heading out to enjoy the decorations with them.

We wrapped up our tour at 9:30 and our guests said goodbye.  They're cursed with jobs and poor Curtis has to be up at 5:30 a.m. to got to work.

 

It sure is nice to be retired!


Thursday October 26, 2023

 

This morning we drove to a Lowe's store at Poinciana, about 15 miles away.

Carol had gone online and ordered a Disney themed Christmas banner.  Nearby stores didn't have them in stock so she ordered one for pick-up in Pionciana.  When we got there all the remaining Halloween stuff was on sale with 75% off.

There wasn't much variety left but we did come home with a couple of Christmas inflatables, some strings of lights and some coloured LED bulbs for our Mickey lamps.and a snazzy inflatable pink Unicorn Dragon, (There's three words I never thought I'd string together - PINK - UNICORN - Dragon)

We were home in time for lunch and enjoyed a restful afternoon with the dogs. 

Jake and Jasper were fed a bit early so we could head off to Hollywood Studios for dinner at the Roundup Rodeo BBQ restaurant in Toy Story Land.

Sid Cahuenga's One-Of-A-Kind Shop

Sid has some interesting movie props on display.

Chip and Dale were having a picnic beside the Hollywood Brown Derby.

The theming at Roundup Rodeo was amazing and we enjoyed our dinner there!

The food was good!  It's all-you-can-eat.  Three different salads followed by BBQ ribs, brisket, chicken and sausage.  A choice of four side dishes and dessert are included.  Yummy!

 

After dinner we took a spin on Toy Story Mania.  After a hard fought battle both Carol and I had sore arms, but I reigned victorious!

Our final ride of the day was the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

It was a bad decision.  Carol has been in treatment for orthopaedic lower back pain for months and this ride did her no good at all!  She may never ride the Tower of Terror again!

 

We were home at about 8:50 and had a quiet night with the dogs.


Friday October 27, 2023

We woke up somewhere between the crack of dawn and the crack of noon.  By 10:00 a.m. we were on a boat headed to the Magic Kingdom.

 

Carol browsed through the Emporium while I caroused on Main Street.

 

 

We connected again outside Casey's Corner and headed toward Frontierland to ride a Doom Buggy through the Haunted Mansion.  We stopped for a PhotoPass along the way.

Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts!

 

Next on our agenda was the Jungle Cruise so we headed to Adventureland.

As we were waiting to board the Jungle Cruise we ran into friends Kristen and Lynne.

Our skipper did a great job!

We want the redhead!

 

 

We had lunch at Pecos Bill's before heading home.

We enjoyed a quiet afternoon at home with the dogs, had dinner at home and then in the evening the pups joined us as we went 'looping' once again, to enjoy the amazing Halloween decorations.

A skeleton playing a pipe organ.

The world's biggest Jack 'o lantern!

The little blob in the lower left is me . . .

A haunted rock band!

We were back home at 8:45 with a pair of totally exhausted dogs.  Driving around looking at the decorations really seems to wear them out!

Saturday October 28, 2023

 

This morning we had breakfast with Mickey at Topolino's in the Riviera Resort.

Carol had steak and eggs with a side of Mickey waffles.

I had bread pudding brle with a side of Belgian waffles.

 

Mickey was very hospitable!

 

It's a great view from the 10th floor.  That's the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror over Carol's left shoulder.

There was a traffic jam at Fort Wilderness when we got back!

An archery lesson near the Bike Barn.

The Haunted Mansion display is taking shape in the 1600 loop.

 

This is a very creative use for old milk jugs!

Do you think Jasper was happy to put on his costume for the Halloween dog parade?

There was a good crowd in the bleachers at Chip and Dale's Theatre to watch the costumed dog parade.

Jake suffered an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction which rendered him immobilized.  His Momma was able to fix the problem and save the day!

These folks brought their horse to the dog parade!

 

The Hitchhiking Ghosts were the eventual winners of the competition!

Tinker Bell

Sally

 

We tried to get a nice family portrait on the golf cart.

Look at the eyes . . . they tell a story!

After the parade we had dinner at Crockett's Tavern.  Very good!

Then we did a bit of 'looping'.

 

We were home by 8:15 and enjoyed a quiet night with the dogs.  We hope they'll forgive us some time soon!


Sunday October 29, 2023

We normally try to stay away from the theme parks on weekends, but here we go again for the second weekend in a row!

 

This morning we were off in the car at 9:10 and arrived at Animal Kingdom by 9:30.

We spotted some new birds lurking near the shops on Discovery Island.

Yes, Carol browsed while I wasted time taking pictures!

Two otters laying on their backs, sound asleep!

 

We watched The Festival of the Lion King show for the first time in several years.  It was terrific, as always!

After The Festival of the Lion King we headed straight back to Harambe and boarded a Kilimanjaro Safari truck. 

You don't often see Hippos out of the water,  Seeing two is very, very rare!

The lion didn't wake up for us today!

When we finished our safari it was steamy hot and very crowded in the park so we headed home.  We were back at the campground with the dogs by 1:00 p.m. and enjoyed a quiet afternoon at home.

Carol drove around on the golf cart for a while as she solved a Halloween Scavenger Hunt puzzle.  She was able to redeem her completed entry form for a couple of snazzy Fort Wilderness Halloween decals.

 

She's a compulsive collector and this sort of thing makes her very happy!

 

We left the campground at 5:15 and headed toward The Polynesian Village Resort where we had a dinner reservation at 'Ohana.  It was yummy . . . as always!

He wasn't Don Ho . . . but he was entertaining!

 

Pumpkins carved by Disney cast members were on display and Carol voted for her top picks in several categories.  This was her overall favourite.

 

We were home by 7:30 and picked up the dogs to do some 'looping' on the golf cart.

Another talented rock band . . . Don't Fear The Reapers

The Haunted Mansion display in the 1600 loop is really taking shape!

The library.

Constance Hatchaway.

The grave digger and his dog.

Madame Leota and the floating instruments.

 

We parked our 'Doom Buggy' at home at about 8:30 p.m. and enjoyed a quiet night of TV.


Monday October 30, 2023

This morning we were up and moving in reasonably good time and arrived at EPCOT just before 10:00 a.m.

 

We wanted to have a closer look at the new Moana themed 'Journey of Water'  When we went through a few nights ago we were distracted by all the sights and interactive features that we completely missed Ti Fiti, the centrepiece of the attraction.

 

We stopped for a magical zoom picture just inside the park!

 

Carol is at one of the interactive features.  The higher she raises her arm the higher that water jet sprays!

 

 

This is Ti Fiti

After we exited the Journey of Water the Thunderbirds did a fly-pass.

The original Soarin' Over California is back for a short time.

If you're a Disney fan you can probably hear this dog barking!

We left EPCOT at noon and drove to Walmart where we picked up a few groceries and some granny pants for Carol and some jumbo briefs for me.  (Carol didn't want to do laundry yet!)

 

The dogs were happy to see us when we pulled in to our campsite at 1:30.

We enjoyed a quiet afternoon with the puppies and at 4:30 the four of us headed out to Fort Wilderness Trail, the main drag in the campground.  I had set our lawn chairs up on the side of the road at 8:00 a.m. to stake out our viewing spot for the Halloween Golf Cart Parade.

 

The parade is a big deal at Fort Wilderness and when you see pictures of the golf carts you'll understand why.

 

Most of the carts you will see are rented.  Folks make the cart decorations at home and install them on rented carts . . . and the results can be amazing!

The Stretching Room in the Haunted Mansion.

The top moves up and down . . . . it stretches!

Some people are so creative that they invent new holidays!

Cruella asked how much we wanted for our dogs . . . and Jasper growled at her!

This is not a golf cart.  It's a fire truck!

A horseless hearse!

A sunset lit the sky when we went to The Settlement for dinner.

Carol picked us up some chicken quesadillas at a food truck.

The winning golf carts were on display at The Settlement.

A hula hoop competition at Clementine's Beach.

Dancing crocodiles.

Fort Wilderness guest Jack 'o Lanterns were being judged.

 

We left the beach and went looping again. The Haunted Mansion display in the 1600 loop is still being 'tweaked' but it's amazing!

 

There were brightly coloured inflatables everywhere.

 

We have no idea who the lady on the right is, or what she's doing!

 

This inflated Jack 'o Lantern is about 25 feet high!

 

We were back home with the dogs at 8:30 p.m.

 

The Headless Horseman made a surprise appearance at The Settlement after we left to go looping.  Dang!  We were sorry to miss him.

 

I borrowed these pictures from our friend Jeff Lange at Mousesteps.com.  Thanks Jeff!


Tuesday October 31, 2023

This morning we boarded a boat to the Magic Kingdom at 9:45 and arrived at 10:00 a.m.  It's always a pretty ride across Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon.

There was a magical Mickey moment waiting for us in front of the train station . . . and then as soon as we entered the park the Dapper Dans serenaded us from a passing trolley car.

We encountered even more magic in the forecourt of Cinderella Castle.

 

The Buzz Lightyear ride broke down and didn't rotate for our picture.

We took a ride on the WEDWAY People Mover.  'Paging Mr. Morrow . . .'

Heffalumps and Woozels as sure as ya choosels!

Tater Tots from The Friar's Nook!

Carol has been admiring a Christmas ornament since we arrived at Walt Disney World and today she stopped at Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe and bought it!

 

We boarded our boat back to Fort Wilderness just after 1:00 p.m. and were home with a pair of happy puppies by 1:30.

While we were on the boat Carol discovered a new feature of Disney's PhotoPass service and it kept her amused all the way home!

 

One of the winning golf carts was still on display beside the Marina.

We enjoyed a quiet afternoon with the dogs and by 5:30 we had set out our table and chairs to greet the trick or treaters.

 

 

The sun was shining brightly and it was still well over 80 but the young children were out in force!

 

These kids from the campsite across the road made a deconstructed (and rather uncoordinated) Monorail.

Two young men in puffy pink Unicorn costumes!

Unlike our neighbours and their Monorail, this young fellow had his 'ship' together!

It was fun watching the American children as they rummaged through our bowl of Canadian candy.  They didn't recognize the Coffee Crisp or Aero bars or the boxes of Smarties . . . so most of them pulled out a Kit Kat which they were familiar with.  But a few kids got very excited . . . 'Oh, I love Smarties.  Why can't we have them here in America?'  A couple of parents from England were delighted to see the Aero bars . . . it took them back to their youth!

 

These small cultural differences can be fun!

 

We ran out of candy at 8:00 p.m. which was precisely when we ran out of interest in trick or treaters.  What a coincidence!

 

We estimate that we saw about 350 kids which is about half of what we experienced five or ten years ago.  Many campsites have been doling out treats every night for a couple of weeks, so that may account for the lower numbers tonight!

 

The dogs weren't all that fussy on the whole concept of Halloween so they were happy to see us pack it up for the night!


Wednesday November 1, 2023

Carol took the dogs out at bedtime last night and it had cooled down to 70.  We turned off the A/C and slept comfortably with the windows open.  Aaahhhh!

In the morning the security camera above our garage door at home in Kingston showed this scene!  Yuck!

 

We took advantage of a cool day and tore down all of our Halloween decorations.

 

A flock of four turkeys paraded past while we worked!

Jake stood guard under a palmetto to protect us from those wild turkeys

By noon everything was torn down and stowed away in the ''basement'.

Carol took another picture from the street.  It sure looks bare! 

Jake was on the prowl and looking alert . . .

. . . and then I spotted those pesky turkeys!

Jasper went to the dog park with Gary but Jake was too tired after all his guard duties so he stayed home to rest with his mommy!

 

After the dogs were fed we headed to EPCOT for dinner and ran into our friend Jonathan working at the Canada pavilion.

After chatting with Jonathan we headed to Morocco and met friends Mike and Ann from Pennsylvania at the Florida Blue Medicare Lounge for a short visit before we headed to Japan for dinner at Teppan Edo.

We've never had a disappointing meal at Teppan Edo.

We wrapped up our day with a ride at Ratatouille and were home with the puppies by 8:45.  We were both pooped after working on decorations all morning . . . we should sleep well tonight!


Thursday November 2, 2023

 

This morning we arrived at Disney's Animal Kingdom about 9:30 a.m. and made our way to Harambe Village for a Kilimanjaro Safari ride.  It was a cool morning and we were looking forward to some good animal sightings!

We saw plenty of giraffe, black and white rhinos and even the cheetahs were out walking around.  Elephants were scarce and the lion was distant . . . but it was a good excursion!

The hippo raised his head to breathe every few minutes!

The meerkats are just so darned cute!

Two silverbacks.  WOW!

Egg rolls at Yak and Yeti.  Yum!

A Komodo Dragon

We didn't see a single tiger today!

We stopped at the Disney Character Outlet on Vineland on the way home and Carol bought me a snazzy Fort Wilderness beach towel. We were home with the dogs at 1:30 and took them to the dog park for a run!

 

At about 5:30 we left for The Settlement to check in for the 6:15 performance of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.  This rollicking stage show, filled with song, dance and corny jokes, has run three times a day for over 52 years.  It's the longest running stage performance in American history . . . and for good reason.  It appeals to all ages and everyone has  good time!

 

I settled on a rocking chair while Carol browsed the Trading Post and checked us in for the show.

Toe-tappin' . . .

. . . and foot-stompin'.

We always make sure we save room for dessert . . . strawberry shortcake!

For the grand finale we all played washboards and sang along!  It turns out that I'm a washboard virtuoso . . . who knew?

 

We were back home with the puppies by 8:15 and since the Magic Kingdom fireworks were underway they were particularly happy to see us!


Friday November 3, 2023

There were no parks today . . . but we kept busy.  I spent much of the morning giving the car a deep clean.  It really takes a beating here with all of the sand and the sticky pitch that drips off the pine trees surrounding our campsite.  It took over an hour just to clean the windows!

 

Carol did three loads of laundry and then put up a few Christmas decorations . . . she said she wasn't going to, but no one believed that!

 

The dogs had a good day . . . just loafing in the sun!

Jake likes supervising our activities from his Fortress of Solitude under a palmetto bush.

 

After lunch we drove off the nearby Winn-Dixie store for a few groceries then relaxed for the afternoon.

 

Dinner was a humorous affair!  We went to the Saltgrass Steakhouse on Vineland Avenue and it was an absolute comedy of errors.

 

I ordered a Manhattan on the rocks and the server asked what kind of whisky I wanted in it.  I asked for rye whisky and she wasn't sure that they had any.  I said, 'I'm pretty sure that you do.'  so she went to check.  She came back and said that the only rye they had was Knob Creek, would that be OK.  'No', I said, "Knob Creek is bourbon.  Any Canadian whisky you can find will be rye."  She went off to check again and when she returned she told me that they had Crown Royal but it was bourbon too.  I was rapidly losing faith in the bartender . . . but I assured the server that Crown Royal was rye whisky and it would suit me just fine.  When the drink arrived it was straight up, not on the rocks.  No problem, they took it back and dumped it in a glass with ice.  It wasn't a bad drink, despite the difficulty getting it.

 

Carol's dinner was a complete mess.  The baked potato soup she ordered came in the form of a garden salad with bleu cheese dressing.  That got ironed out eventually but then her steak and shrimp dinner arrived as steak only.  When the shrimp finally arrived she didn't like them but her steak was excellent.  When the bill arrived they charged for Carol's steak and shrimp and also for a side order of shrimp.  Sheesh, what more could they get wrong?

 

Our food was good but our experience wasn't.  We may go back to Saltgrass someday but we certainly hope for a different server!

 

We were home with the dogs before the Magic Kingdom fireworks began,  They were happy!


Saturday November 4, 2023

Today was another non-park day.  We had some friends coming to the campground for a visit so we spent the first part of the day sprucing up our campsite.  I used the leaf-blower to clear away all the leaves and pine needles that fall every day while Carol toiled away inside the coach clearing up all the damage the dogs and I (mostly me) have done over the last two weeks.

 

Just before noon I hopped in the car and drove to Disney's Coronado Springs Resort to pick up Gary and Anita Schaengold from Dayton Ohio.  They were here for the Run Disney event at EPCOT.  Yesterday Anita ran in the 5K event and today she completed the 10K.  WOW!  If I tried either one of those you would have to call in the paramedics!

 

Gary and Anita are the primary organizers of the Dayton Disneyana event we attend each year in June and it was a delight to spend some private time chatting, just the four of us.  When we see them in Dayton they're always running in at least four different directions to take care of the hundreds of other Disney fans in attendance.

We sat on the patio and talked for a few minutes, then Carol set the picnic table for lunch.

 

After lunch we spent a couple of hours touring the campground on the golf cart.  We made our first stop at Tri-Circle-D Ranch.  All of the horses that you see working at the Magic Kingdom live at Tri-Circle-D.

Phil, a Clydesdale, was getting a bath when we arrived.  Carol was looking forward to seeing the newly born pony but the cast members told us he has just been weaned and was off in the pasture somewhere.  Maybe the next time!

We drove the golf cart around several camping loops and saw some of the Halloween decorations coming down and some Christmas decorations going up.  Seasons change quickly at Disney.

 

Back at the campsite we enjoyed sitting and chatting for several more hours until Anita started yawning . . . the 15K she has run in the past two days was beginning to catch up!

 

We didn't realize how the time was flying by, it was after 6:00 p.m. when I drove them back to their hotel.  The dogs were quite indignant!  It was 75 minutes after their normal dinner time!

Gary and Anita will be back in December for another Run Disney event and we hope to connect with them again.  Carol and I had a light dinner at home and enjoyed a quiet night of TV.

 

Sunday November 5, 2023

We boarded a boat to The Magic Kingdom at abut 9:15 a.m.

Mickey greeted us at the park entrance!

Halloween disappeared and Christmas appeared overnight.  It's amazing!

I picked up a pineapple float at Aloha Isle.

Carol enjoyed a citrus swirl from Sunshine Tree Terrace.

 

Skipper Meghan on Brrrrr Bertha was terrific.  Carol sent a message to Disney management describing how much we enjoyed Skipper Melissa . . . then she corrected it to Meghan!

Carol shopped for pins at Frontier Mercantile while I prowled around in bear country!

This picture just screams 'Disney Magic!'

Kids of all ages love to hold hands with bears!

This little girl was really enjoying the piano player and his ragtime tunes!

We were back at the campground at 12:15 and Carol stopped at the Settlement Trading Post to browse!

 

 

Christmas is popping up everywhere at Fort Wilderness.

 

After a nice visit with some friends from New Brunswick who are also camping at The Fort we headed to Disney Springs and had dinner at Blaze Pizza,

 

Carol browsed many of the shops at Disney Springs while I scooted around snapping pictures.

I think Donald and I have the same attitude toward shopping!

We were back home with the puppies at 8:15.


Monday November 6, 2023

Today we had nothing planned and that's pretty much what we did!

 

I was up enjoying a coffee by 6:45 but my precious bride and faithful canine companions didn't rouse until about 8:30.  I had some pleasant quiet time to read my online newspapers.  Ahhh!  Nice.

 

Carol decided that today was a good day to do a bit of running around so off we went.  The nearby Best Friends Kennel was our first stop.  Carol made sure that they had all the paperwork they needed for Jake and Jasper, then booked the boys in for a 'Spa Day' on December 13th when Carol and I will be going to the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT.  Canadian actor Brendan Fraser will be the guest narrator that night.

 

Carol came out of the kennel and asked, 'Did Sue stop and say hello?'  'Nope,' I replied, 'Who's Sue?'  While Carol was setting up the booking a stranger came up and introduced herself.  Sue follows our trip reports and wanted to say hello.  That hasn't happened for a while and she was so surprised that she didn't even find out where Sue is from or how she happened upon our little blogs.  It is a small world though!  Hi Sue, whoever you are and wherever you're from.  You brightened our day!

 

After Best Friends we headed north to Winter Garden where Carol visited Pin HQ.  It's a relatively new pin store that she hasn't been to before.

 

She came out raving!  She told me that she had found a pin which had been on her 'wants list' for so long it was a 'grail pin'.  It was released in January 2011, the first in a 2-year long monthly series, She has almost all of them now; just two more to go.

 

It was a Piece of Disney's Movies pin from the Snow White movie.  This series features an actual frame from the original 35mm film in the centre of each pin and the better the frame, the more desirable the pin.  This pin had a fabulous image of Snow White fully centred in the frame.

 

She said it was expensive . . . I said, 'I don't want to know.'

 

We're apparently going back to Pin HQ soon . . . 'Yes dear!'

We drove south on the Florida Turnpike to the Millennial Mall area and Carol shopped some more.  At Hobby Lobby there was a bit for Carol and a bunch for kids in Igloolik!

 

'The Christmas stuff is 50% off - let's go crazy!'

 

The socks, puzzles, slinkys, Rubik's cubes, crayons, stickers and cups pictured above and the bracelets on the right will all go into our friend Kim's Christmas stockings which she sends to needy Inuit children in Igloolik, a small Inuit village in Canada's far north.

 

We had a nice lunch at Culver's and headed on to our next stop!

At Home Depot Carol picked up a small potted poinsettia and a Donald Duck Christmas inflatable.  Donald will join Mickey and Minnie beside our campsite.

 

We were back home with the dogs by 3:00 p.m. and spent some quiet time with the boys.

 

We ate leftovers for dinner and watched TV in the evening.  It was a nice relaxing day.  Just what we needed!


Tuesday November 7, 2023

 

The dogs had a good run at the dog park before Carol and I headed off to EPCOT at 10:30.  We were looking forward to munching our way around World Showcase Lagoon and enjoying a bit of the Food and Wine Festival.

A Segway tour went past our campsite just before we left.

Carol's friends back home were complaining about rain.  She sent them this picture.

They replied, 'Shut up Carol!'

I waited outside the pin store . . . AGAIN!

Wall-E and Eva were lurking in the weeds!

At Flavors from Fire we sampled the Impossible Burger Slider

and the Smoked Corned Beef

The corned beef was great - the slider needs some real meat!

Everything served at the Brew-Wing Lab is prepared by Dr. Bunsen

Honeydew and Beaker.   What could possibly go wrong?

 

We tried the Pickle Milkshake and the Frozen Fusion. I liked the milkshake and Carol liked the fusion slushy.

 

We both like the Pan-fried Chicken Dumplings . . . but we were disappointed that the serving size has been reduced!

 

Our last dish of the day was Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese - very tasty but very filling!

A rock band from Frankfurt Germany started playing while we ate our raclette.

We had no idea what they were singing, but they were good!

Carol browsed the shops in Germany . . .

. . . while I watched the model trains!

 

We caught the Friendship boat from Morocco to Canada and were home with the puppies at 2:00 p.m.

 

Our friends Tom and Krista from New Brunswick picked us up at our campsite at 5:30 and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with them at BOMA in Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

 

We enjoyed lots of chatter and too much food!  The dogs were happy to see us when we rolled back in at 8:30.


Wednesday November 8, 2023

We enjoyed a slow start today and at about 10:00 a.m. hopped in the car and drove out to The Loop shopping area in Kissimmee. We made three short stops at Best Buy, Lowes and DSW before heading to Disney Springs where we had lunch at Earl of Sandwich.

The PhotoPass shop in Disney Springs has some really unique shots available.

The green background lets them apply some interesting scenery to the pictures!

The Haunted Mansion backdrop was fun!

I had the Holiday Special and Carol had a Tuna Melt.  Yummy!

We were home with the dogs by 2:00 p.m. and had a relaxing afternoon.  At about 5:30 we left on our way to Hollywood Studios.

Carol browsed a few shops while I snapped a few photos.  Then she joined me and we both took pictures while we waited for dinner at The Hollywood Brown Derby.

 

It was our first time there in about 10 years and we really enjoyed it.  The food was terrific . . . but the service wasn't.

Every time we ride Rise of the Resistance we enjoy it more!

The same applies to the Runaway Railway.  It just gets better and better!

We were home to some happy dogs at 9:30 and watched a bit of TV.


Thursday November 9, 2023

 

We hung out at the campsite most of the day.  Carol put Cheshire Cat away and replaced him with Donald.  It's a little more 'Christmasy'

 

After lunch some new campers pulled into the campsite right next to us.  It was our friends Tarek and Eva from Ontario.  We had a nice visit once they got all hooked up and settled.

 

We fed the dogs a bit early and at 4:45 headed off to EPCOT to continue our gastronomic tour around the World Showcase Lagoon.  

 

Spaceship Earth is easier to follow when you select English rather than Japanese.

The birth of taxes!

 

At Hawaii we tried the Pork Slider.  I took a small nibble and said, 'That's fire on a bun!'  Carol ate the rest!

Carol browsed.

I took pictures.

 

The Australian shrimp were good!

 

In Ireland we tried the sausage.  They were very good and the onion gravy was outstanding!

 

We watched the movie in the French Pavilion for the first time in quite a few years.  Since we've been to France twice since our last viewing we really enjoyed it more!

The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.  Been there - done that!

Sweets in the boulangerie!

We were home with the dogs by 8:30 and went looping!

 

There are more Christmas decorations appearing every day.  It's looking much less macabre and much more festive.


Friday November 10, 2023

Today we wanted to ride an early morning safari truck at Disney's Animal Kingdom so we were up bright and early.  (Don't laugh . . . 'bright and early' is a relative phrase and we're retired.  We don't rush to do anything!)

 

We pulled into Animal Kingdom at 9:00 a.m. - ZOUNDS - the parking lot was three quarters full!  The park had been open since 7:30 and the lot was filling fast!

 

We hoped that this would be a quiet week at the parks but it's Jersey Week.  That means that every school, office, factory and store in New Jersey is closed for the week and all of the 9,300.000 people who live there go to Walt Disney World.  Today those people, each and every one of them, went to Animal Kingdom.

As soon as we got into the park Carol booked us a Lightning Lane pass for a 10:19 a.m. safari.  The standby line for The Flight of Passage in Pandora was already 190 minutes long!

 

Carol went to visit the pin board on Discovery Island before we went to the Tough to be a Bug show.  As I waited for her a flock of screaming macaws arrived for the Winged Adventures show.  The macaw show takes place several times each day directly in front of the Tree of Life.

 

The cast member who narrated the show told us that macaws make lousy pets because they're very loud and they're professional poopers!

 

But they sure are pretty!

 

 

After the bug show we headed to Harambe for our safari.  The standby line for the safari stretched back to Tusker House Restaurant.  Sure glad we had a Lightning Lane Pass

 

Our safari truck driver had a reckless disregard for our personal comfort or our viewing pleasure.  It was the roughest, bumpiest ride we've ever had and she raced past the two lions posing on the rocks so she could stop about 150 feet away and expound on the warthogs that none of us could see.

 

Pictures were almost impossible because of the bouncing and jostling we endured!  It wasn't the worst safari we've experienced, but it was sure close!

'Are you lookin' at me?'

By the time our safari was over at about 10:50 we had had enough of the crowds and it was already 85 so we headed toward the exit.  The standby line for the safari now stretched back all the way to the bridge that takes you from Discover Island into Harambe.  We've never seen the place that busy!  I sure hope they don't all get our driver.  That would be a lot of disappointed people!

 

When we were leaving Animal Kingdom Carol suggested that we stop at the McDonalds nearby.  She wanted to check on the new '100th Anniversary' Disney toy series they have.  I waited in the car while she dashed into the restaurant to get her 'toy fix'.

 

She was gone a long time and I was growing concerned  . . . but she eventually showed up with a big tray full of food, four cups of Diet Coke and a huge smile.  'That's the most fun I've had all day!' she said.

 

I'm not sure that I'll ever understand what happened, but you had to buy something to get a toy so she bought two senior's drinks.  (Coke in very small cups)  Once she had that receipt she could complete a quick verbal survey and was then given a coupon which let her buy a bunch of junk food for a song.

 

The bottom line is she came out with two toys, a small buffet of burgers, fries and nuggets, an apple pie and four sodas and it all cost $7.49

 

Mark your calendars folks . . . today, at the tender age of 75, I ate my first Happy Meal!

We spent the 87 afternoon lazing at the campsite with the dogs!

Our neighbours Tarek and Eva went shopping and were putting up some brand new Christmas inflatables . . . Mickey, Minnie, Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger.

 

I don't know if it was peer pressure or 'keeping up with the Jones' but it wasn't long before Carol announced that we had to go to Home Depot.

 

Yup . . . we have some more Christmas stuff to put up in the morning!

 

On the way home we stopped for dinner at Olive Garden.

 

 

The Tour of Italy, Chicken Parmigiana, Fettuccini Alfredo and Lasagne.   We were home at about 8:30 and spent a quiet evening with the dogs.


Saturday November 11, 2023

When we got out of bed I couldn't see outside.  The A/C had been running all night and the windows were all heavily covered with condensation.  We couldn't see our own car parked right in front of the coach!

 

Carol had a pin trading event at the nearby Holiday Inn to attend this morning so we relaxed with the dogs and savoured our coffee for a while.

 

While the boss got ready to go to her event I went out and started setting up the new Christmas inflatables we bought last night.  The one I will always refer to as Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree (beside Mickey) was easy; I plugged it in and it blew itself up!

 

These three torturous Christmas balls were a different story.  We thought they were typical decorations with little built-in fans.  NOPE!  They're made of heavy vinyl and come with a silly little hand pump to inflate them.

 

I grabbed the big red ball and the hand pump and started pumping furiously.  Remember how the RV was covered with condensation when we got up?  Well, in just a minute or two I was too!  The humidity was about 199% . . . not ideal pumping weather.  When the red thing was about the size of a golf ball  had to take my glasses off, they were so wet and streaky it was impossible to see through them.  I can't see without them either but I can still pump, even when I'm blind!

 

After about twenty minutes of sweat and tears (no blood, fortunately) the red ball was all blown up and I went inside to cool off!  Camping can be an exhausting thing!

Carol was all set to go by the time I chilled out so we loaded her pin books in the car and drove to the Holiday Inn near Disney Springs.

 

I headed home and pulled my trusty 12 volt air pump out of a storage bin under the RV.  I sat in a lawn chair with my legs propped up comfortably while I watched the pump inflate the two smaller balls!  Alas . . . it was too early to sip on an adult beverage while I watched the little beauties inflate!

 

Meanwhile Carol was having fun with her pins!

 

 

This isn't the trading room.  It's the ante-chamber for the trading room.  She told me that the trading room was very big and very busy.  The ante-chamber is all you and I will see though; she was so busy trading that there was no time for more pictures!

 

She's easily distracted . . . Oh look, something shiny!

This is the stuff she brought home.

It makes her happy but I just don't get it!

I picked my happy trader up at 12:30 and when we pulled into our campsite I said, 'Look, I finished blowing up those two balls.  You can go and arrange them and stake them down.'

 

'Are you crazy, she replied, 'It's much too hot for that!'

 

'Gosh,' I said with all the sarcasm I could muster, 'I hadn't noticed."

 

We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at home with the puppies and rested up for the long night we have planned at Hollywood Studios.

We didn't know what to expect at Jollywood Nights.  This was the first event of it's kind and it was described as glitzy and glittery.  Carol had read online that plenty of people were dressing up for the occasion . . . and that proved to be true.  In one night I saw more sequins than I had seen in my previous 75 years!

 

The sky was ominous and there were showers in the forecast but we were hoping the rain would hold off until after 1:00 a.m.

 

 

We picked up our party credentials at the Mickey Mouse Theatre and then headed toward Toy Story Land where we had a quick bite at Woody's Lunch Box . . . a grilled cheese sandwich for Carol and loaded  tater tots for me!

We got the back row for our ride on Slinky Dog Dash!

The projection show was playing as we walked behind the Chinese Theatre.

We stopped, sat on a park bench and enjoyed a few classic movie scenes.

 

We watched a bit of the projection show on the Tower of Terror before joining the queue at the Theatre of the Stars for our first party event, the Disney Holidays in Hollywood Show.

Carol asked if we were in the Muppets Theatre.

We knew from the very start that it would be a high energy show!

A pig and a frog.

Princess Tiana.

Have you ever seen Minnie's bloomers?

Belle

A small combo played in the courtyard at the Tower of Terror

A Latin singer near the Commissary.

 

What was billed as a 'sing-along' turned out to be a terrific show!  A fifteen foot Jack Skellington puppet emerged to open the show.

A couple on stage opened gifts which led to movie scenes in the background.

Song lyrics were included in the projection.  Everyone sang along.

 

The giant Jack Skelligton puppet came out again to end the show!  There were two people, all dressed in black, behind Jack.  They used long black poles to animate him!

When we left the Hyperion Theatre at 11:45 p.m. after Jack Skellington's show it was pouring rain.  We stood in front of Graumann's Chinese Theatre and got soaking wet as we debated whether to stay for the 12:30 a.m. performance of 'Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam!' or go home.  We decided to head back to some dry clothes.  We were home by 12:30 . . . a very late night for us!

 

Our thoughts on Jollywood Nights - we had fun but it wasn't worth the money we paid.  They sold too many tickets and it was too crowded.  There were special food and drink offerings (at additional cost) but the lines were so long we didn't even bother trying.  We really wanted to see and hear a performance at the Jazz venue but so did the other 15,000 people there and the Brown Derby Restaurant only holds about 200 souls.  We were not among the fortunate few.  That event needs to be in a larger venue!

 

In fairness, it was the first event of it's kind . . . but there need to be big changes and improvements before we'll consider going again!


Sunday November 12, 2023

After a very late night we enjoyed sleeping in and then spent a quiet day at home.

 

Carol did a few loads of laundry and I puttered around with a few small repairs in the RV.  We left at about 5:15 and headed to EPCOT for dinner at Germany's Biergarten.

 

We stopped at the Christmas tree for a PhotoPass but we didn't like the result.  They zoomed in on us and didn't include much of the tree.  Fortunately I had already taken a few flicks of the giant tree.

 

It even has special decorations commemorating 100 years of The Disney Corporation.

 

Dinner at the Biergarten was great.  A German band entertained us with polka tunes, hand bells, a thither (a wooden xylophone-style instrument) and a pair of 14-foot alphorns!

Hand bells

Thither

Alphorns

 

We took a ride with Elsa and Anna in Norway before heading home.

Carol browsed the shops on her way out so I took a few pictures.

The effect of lights on Spaceship Earth is simply amazing!

When I got to the parking lot I pulled the car up as close to the park entrance as possible to wait for Carol.  I shared a nice view of the sparkling geodesic dome with an Orange County Deputy Sheriff!

 

We were home with the puppies at 9:00 p.m.

 


Monday November 13, 2023

Today was another non-park day.  We relaxed in the morning, visited a bit with neighbours Tarek and Eva and then just before noon headed out toward Disney Springs.  We were joining our good friends Deb and Linda for lunch at The Boathouse.

 

When we arrived Carol walked to The Co-op store to look for a snazzy new Disney themed bed for Jake.  No luck; they were sold out.  Meanwhile I walked to the Arribas Brothers store to pick up maps for the Christmas Tree Stroll.  There are nineteen elaborately decorated trees scattered throughout the shopping area at Disney Springs and you really need a map if you plan to see them all!

Today we only saw one, the Princess and the Frog Tree pictured on the left.  We hope to get back in the evening and see a few more of them!

 

Once I had the maps I waited for my charming and lovely bride at the Waterside Stage.  This is a happening place at night, but it was very quiet at noon today!

 

We met Deb and Linda at 1:00 p.m. and enjoyed visiting with them for a few hours over a nice meal.  We'll be seeing them again on Wednesday when they visit us at the campground!

 

Before heading home to the dogs we stopped at Home Depot where I picked up a couple of things I need and then Carol dropped into CVS Pharmacy where she picked up some stocking stuffers for needy children in Canada's far north.

 

The ten pairs of socks and thirty packets of jewellery on the right will go to our friend Kim back home.  She will use them to fill up some of the hundreds of Christmas stockings she sends to a small Inuit village away up in the Arctic Circle.

 

Our final stop was at the Meadow Trading Post, here in the campground, where Carol found the Disney themed pet bed she was looking for at the Co-op. 

 

We were home with the dogs just after 4:00 p.m. and spent a quiet night at home with Jake and Jasper.

 

PS - It's looking like Carol and I are a lot more impressed with the doggie bed than Jake is!

 

Tuesday November 14, 2023

When we woke up it was overcast, dismal and dreary.  It went downhill from there!

 

After coffee, cereal and my online newspapers I went outside for a bit.  I blew the leaves and pine needles from our patio then the dogs came out to join me while I put a new colour-changing LED bulb in one of our Mickey lamps.  Carol tidied up a bit inside then joined us on the patio at about 10:30.

 

At about 11:00 it started to drizzle and within five minutes the rain forced us inside.  Jake couldn't keep dry in his happy place/hidey-hole so he came in too!

 

This was our day to attend Mickey's Very Marry Christmas Party and the forecast called for rain all night long.  We decided that one soaking wet party a week was enough so Carol got on the phone to see what she could do about changing our ticket.  We weren't hopeful, but it was worth a try!

 

Within 20 minutes it was all done.  Our Tuesday party tickets were swapped for Thursday tickets and our dining plans were all changed to accommodate the new party arrangements.  I don't know if it was Disney Magic or if it was Carol's uncanny ability to portray a dazed and confused little old lady . . . but I'm thankful.

 

We haven't gone to the Christmas Party in quite a few years and certainly wouldn't be happy to see it ruined by rain!

As you might have expected, within an hour after Carol cancelled our party the rain stopped and although it remained cloudy all day, it wasn't unpleasant.  It's all good though, we needed a quiet day of relaxation and it was nice to spend the entire day at Fort Wilderness with the dogs.  Once they had finished their dinner Carol and I drove to the Millennia Mall area for some shopping and dinner.

Our first stop was Hobby Lobby where Carol picked up some more trinkets for those Christmas Stockings headed to Igloolik in about a year.

Carol joked as she came out of the store, 'I'm really enjoying this, but I may need an intervention.'

'Yes,' I replied, 'If you don't have an intervention I will have to rent a U-Haul trailer for the trip home!'

We stopped at a nearby Costco for a few grocery items then had a quick bite at Panda Express.  Our last two stops were at DSW Shoes where I picked up a pair of Sketchers then Carol blitzed a CVS Pharmacy where she made maximum use of a 25% off coupon and scooped up some more stocking stuffers.

 

After the evening's shopping the final score was Gary 1 - Inuit Kids 192

 

The pile on the right includes socks, slinkys, kaleidoscopes, puzzles, coloring books and a whole lot more.

 

Yup . . . it's definitely time for an intervention!

 


Wednesday November 15, 2023

As we ate breakfast this morning it started to rain.  'Are you still planning to go to Animal Kingdom this morning?' I asked.

 

'Meh.' was Carol's reply.  After a short discussion we came to the conclusion that we may both be almost 'Disneyed-out'.  Who would have expected that!

 

The rain didn't last long so I tinkered outside cleaning up the patio for a few minutes while Carol cleaned up inside the coach.  The dogs and the pine trees shed profusely and they never seem to stop!

 

I went next door and helped our Canadian neighbours set up their new Amazon Firestick so it will stream Canadian TV channels   They've been missing their Canadian news and TV shows.  It took about an hour to get them hooked up and familiar with the new device.  By that time Carol had the RV all spic and span.

 

We had lunch at home and spent a quiet afternoon with the puppies.

We decorated Jake's happy place for Christmas.

He likes the sparkling rope lights!

We were able to sit outside and enjoy our beautiful surroundings until about 2:00 p.m. when the rain started again and sent us indoors.

Our friends John and Erin from New Jersey pulled in at about 5:00 p.m.  We hadn't seen them in ten years or more so it was nice to catch up a bit.  We visited in the RV for a while then moved the party down the road to the Trail's End Restaurant.

 

After dinner we roamed the campground on golf carts checking out the Christmas decorations.  Christmas is still a long time away so there aren't many displays up yet and many of the elaborate ones that have been set up were dark and deflated because of the rain.

 

We still got a few pictures though!

Cousin Eddie's RV - 'Shitter's full Clark!'

John and Erin said goodbye just after 8:00 p.m. and went to visit their three dogs, Mojo, Lizzie and Daytona, who are vacationing at the Best Friends Kennel across the road from their resort, Port Orleans French Quarter.


Thursday November 16, 2023

Our campground neighbours invited us to join them for breakfast at the First Watch Restaurant in nearby Windermere.  We were up bright and early and headed out at 8:30 for the 10 minute drive to the diner,

 

What was a drizzle while we drove to the restaurant became a downpour while we ate!

 

Breakfast was delicious . . . we'll be going back to First Watch!

I had 'The Trifecta'

Carol enjoyed 'The Traditional'

After breakfast we shopped in the Publix Supermarket adjacent to the restaurant.  It was still pouring when we left Publix so we scrapped our plans for Animal Kingdom and headed back to the campground.

 

The rain had pummelled our inflatables.  A tripped ground-fault circuit interrupter had flattened them!  It was a sad-looking campsite.  Or maybe we were just seeing it through sad eyes!

 

We spent the afternoon reading, watching TV, napping and listening to the rain on the roof. 

 

Rain, rain, go away.

We have a party to go to today!

 

We left for the Magic Kingdom at about 5:15.  It was teeming rain as we made our way to The Settlement but the gods smiled on us.  The boat was just pulling in as we approached the marina.  We loaded up quickly and set sail!

This is what canine cabin fever looks like!

Thousands of soggy tourists greeted us as we entered the park at 5:45.  They were all leaving to make way for the folks who had Christmas Party tickets and were just arriving.

We had party tickets but Carol was determined to play the 'befuddled little-old lady' card again and switch us to another night.  I held little hope for success and I didn't want to be part of the great boondoggle so I roamed around taking some pictures of the sodden park and the saturated tourists.

 

Carol once again surprised me.  She swapped out today's tickets for tickets to the November 28th party.  I am amazed!  She looks so prim and proper but she's the Queen of Conniving!

People were posing for raincoat pictures!

The streets were 'shiny clean'

We walked through the shops on our way to The Plaza Restaurant

Uptown Jewellers was tastefully decorated!

We had a 7:00 p.m. reservation at The Plaza . . . but Carol worked a bit more chicanery and magic.  We were seated at 6:15 and had a very nice dinner as we watched the monsoon envelope Cinderella Castle.

 

We started by sharing some onion rings.

I had a light and sensible garden salad.

Carol had a crispy chicken sandwich with some kind of green French fries!

We finished with sundaes, Strawberry for me and Chocolate for my Princess!

It was still pouring as we made our way down Main Street USA toward the park exit.  Once again the boat was waiting; we boarded quickly and sailed away immediately.

 

The dogs were happy to see us when we pulled in just after 8:00 p.m.   They don't like the sound of the rain beating on the roof of the RV so they needed some cuddle time with their momma.

 

I needed some cuddle time too . . . but I had to wait my turn!


Friday November 17, 2023

It rained . . . it poured.  All night long!

No thunder or lightning, just lots and lots of rain.

 

When it was time for the dogs to go out before bed our patio was a raging river.  Water was flowing from the street in front of the RV out to the open sandy area behind us.  The river was ankle deep as it cascaded across our patio mat.  The dogs wanted no part of that and Carol had to do a lot of coaxing to convince them to leave their warm and dry couch.  Neither of them did the full job we expect of them, it was just a dash out, skip across the water to the sand, a quick piddle then a dash back up the steps and a towel dry!

 

It rained hard the entire night!  The weather overnight was worse than it was last year when we were evacuated from the campground because of a hurricane!

 

This morning as we sipped our coffee and looked out at the soggy campground in the continuing drizzle Carol said, 'I'm not going anywhere in the rain.'

 

We lazed inside for most of the morning until it eased up a bit.  I went out to dump and rinse our holding tanks then got the outdoor lights and inflatables going again.  Soon Carol was out as well and we wiped down all of our sopping camping gear.  Yuck!

 

At noon we took a break and drove to Flamingo Crossing where we enjoyed hot and tasty sandwiches for lunch at Firehouse Subs.  Carol had a hankering!

Back at the campsite we hoisted and folded our saturated 9' X 18' patio mat then draped it across the picnic table so it will drain a bit before we stow it away.  It's woven from solid plastic threads but it was holding a lot of water between those threads.  It was twice it's normal weight!

 

The soggy shoes were hung on the Mickey lamp with care, in the hope that drying sunshine soon would be there!

 

It was still drizzling in late afternoon and that prompted Carol to change some more of our plans.  She went online and cancelled our dinner reservation at EPCOT.  Tutto Italia Ristorante in the Italy Pavilion will just have to wait a bit longer for us to sample their wares.

After the dogs were fed we hopped in the car and headed to Disney Springs.  Carol stopped at the World of Disney store to return a Christmas music box while I wandered and took a few pictures.

We met at Earl of Sandwich and had a light bite for dinner (a BLT for each of us) then wandered around searching for the 19 specially themed and decorated trees in the Christmas Tree Stroll.  They were very hard to find!

Prior to last year the trees were all in the same area and guests walked directly from one themed tree to the next.  They were nicely illuminated so that photos turned out beautifully whether it was day or night.  There were special spots to pose for pictures with the trees and you would often see someone taking a picture of a family of strangers then the strangers returning the favour for them.  It was all very friendly and festive.

 

Now the trees are scattered, unlit and difficult to find.

 

The people taking pictures of the trees are outnumbered about 50 to 1 by the nitwits who sit directly in front of the trees to read their phones,  It's no longer friendly or festive.

The Mickey and Minnie tree - with a nitwit's butt to the left.

Close-up detail from the Mickey and Minnie Tree

We stopped at the PhotoPass Studio for some special shots.

The Frozen Tree

It was snowing in Town Square (the snow tasted kinda soapy)

The Nightmare Before Christmas Tree

 

I waited while Carol bought a purse at Vera Bradley.  If you know Carol you know that she never met a bag she didn't like!

 

It started to drizzle just after 8:00 p.m. so we headed to the parking lot and went home.  Will the rain never stop?


Saturday November 18, 2023

We got to work early this morning.  It's our last day at Fort Wilderness; tomorrow morning we leave for The Resort at Canopy Oaks where we'll stay until March 31st.

 

We had hoped to go to the Magic Kingdom in the morning but when we got up this morning it was overcast and dreary so we decided to get busy packing up in case it rained again!  There's a lot to do so we were both outside and working before 9:00 a.m.

 

It took us until 12:30 to tear down and pack away the Christmas lights, inflatables, patio mat, door mats, BBQ, rope lights, chairs, tables, flags, pennants, signs, the multiple timers and extension cords that keep everything running . . . and on and on!  We were pooped and sweaty when we finished.  The sun had broken through late in the morning and it was in the high 70's.

 

After refreshing showers we had a quick bite of lunch then our friend Curtis dropped by for a short visit before we pull out and head to Canopy Oaks.

 

We went to The Settlement and enjoyed a decadent Disney dessert, our first Mickey bars of this trip.  Carol got a bit over-enthusiastic and nibbled Mickey's ear before we snapped a picture!

The Settlement Christmas Tree

Carol stopped for some pin trading.

 

Cast members were walking this big black stallion around the Settlement and the 100 loop, probably training him for duty on the nightly carriage rides.

The Meadow Trading post was all decked out for Christmas.  Carol did more trading!

Have a Harley Davidson Christmas!

Carol managed to get a load of laundry done before we had to feed the dogs and leave for EPCOT.

 

After a busy day we were looking forward to dinner at Nine Dragons!

Olaf and Sven arrived today, just down the street from us!

We saw our first deer today.  These two does were posing as we left for dinner.

We pulled out of the campground at about 5:15 and arrived at EPCOT at 5:30.  The crescent moon was directly above Spaceship Earth as we arrived.  Do you see it over Carol's shoulder?

 

Today was Mickey's 95th birthday but there was no celebration and no special merchandise.  Maybe in another 5 years?

 

We stopped for a few PhotoPasses on the way to World Showcase.

A nice reflection across the World Showcase Lagoon

We had a nice dinner at Nine Dragons.

Our gag order is still in place - no pictures allowed!

The Christmas decor in the restaurant had an Oriental flair!

After dinner we took the Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico

Our last stop as we left EPCOT was Spaceship Earth.

These Eastern Scholars helped save civilization after the fall of Rome!

 

I have no idea who this dude is.  He was on a gloomy balcony just past those Eastern Scholars.

We were back at the campground at 8:30 and the lady on the right greeted us.  Strange - we didn't see any deer for a month and then three today!

 

We finished packing the last of our stuff away and by bed time we were pretty much ready to pull out in the morning.

 

As I dozed off to sleep it occurred to me that all of the stuff we packed away this morning has to be pulled out tomorrow afternoon.

 

AW CRAP!


Sunday November 19, 2023

It was a nice, relaxing morning, unlike most days when we're on the road in the RV.  We only had 60 miles to travel and couldn't check in at our next resort until 1:00 p.m.

Much of our 'pack-up' work had been done yesterday so we could enjoy a slow pace today. 

At one point I was puttering around outside when Carol poked her head out the door.  'Look,' I said, 'Where has this blue sky been for the past five days?'

We're normally gone by 8:00 a.m. but today we didn't get away until 10:45.  There were so many other campers leaving on Sunday morning that we couldn't get into either of the two 'hook and unhook' lanes.  I pulled off the road onto a flat grassy area that is used as a sports field and hooked the car on the back of the coach.

 

Looks like I should have cleaned the streaky windshield after all that rain!

Traffic was light and we made great time!

Our Disney friends will recognize this electrical tower on the west side of Disney World

Jasper is most comfortable when he's on the back of the couch.

We pulled into The Resort at Canopy Oaks at 12:15

Palm trees, ponds and fountains line the road as you enter.  Beautiful!

(even through a streaky windshield)

 

We pulled a lot of stuff back out of the 'basement' storage hatches under the RV and were partially set up by 3:00 p.m. when we ran out of steam.  It was 85 and we were pooped!

We relaxed with the dogs for the afternoon and enjoyed our first Canopy Oaks sunset as Carol was concocting a feast of wieners and beans!

 

We watched the Grey Cup game on TV and shuffled off to bed.

 

We'll be heading back to Disney for a few days at the end of March, 'see' you then!