Thursday, February 28, 2008

February 28, 2008 Lakeland, FL

We went to Lakeland today, just a short hop down I-4. We had lunch with some friends from the Montana Owners Club. They are full timers who spend their winters near Clearwater, FL. Glenn and Lorraine were the Wagonmasters at last fall's MOC Rally in Goshen, IN. They have been full timing for several years, now, and I learn a lot by picking their brains. We are similar couples - Glenn and I have no problem mixing in a group of strangers and Carol and Lorraine are both quiet and shy ladies. We have learned so much from them about RVing and the RV lifestyle and never miss a chance to learn more. While in Lakeland, we were near Joker Merchant Stadium, the Spring Training home for the Detroit Tigers. They were scheduled to play Toronto today but, since we were at lunch with friends, we will go to another Tiger game this spring. It is only a half hour away and the Tigers have so much that we want to see this year. They were very good last year and added some great missing pieces over the winter. I have to believe that they will make it to the Big Dance again this year. We have some friends here at Mouse Mountain from the Cleveland area so we may go together and see a Tigers/Indians game. Two contenders that should make for great baseball. We went to Karaoke tonight here at Mouse Mountain and some of these people are really good singers. It is not like the barroom singing that we have seen and heard in the past. These people are sober and just having a ball. I'd like to hear Carol sing at one soon. Maybe she will join the choir here at the park so that she can join in on the fun with these other folks and we can all benefit from her singing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

February 26, 2008 Lake Buena Vista, FL

News of an approaching cold front led by horrendous weather greeted our day today. The winds started early and the clouds were seen scuttling across the sky going different directions at different altitudes. We went to The Lake Buena Vista Factory Outlet Stores today, near Kissimmee. We had been advised that our Disney discount was good here and we were not disappointed at all. Carol needed some new Reeboks so we went to the Reebok store. She got two pair and I got a pair of sandals and we left not owing the farm. As we finished at that store, we walked to another and all of a sudden the power went out in the shopping center. When the power went out, some of the doors for the stores locked and some patrons were still trying to get out. As we pulled out of the lot, the traffic lights were not working and the busy highway did not want to slow down enough to let anyone into the stream of traffic. We drove approximately two miles before we were able to get back onto I-4, dodging traffic all the way. After we got home we learned from television that a nuclear power plant in Miami had gone down plunging much of Florida and other areas of the south into electronic darkness. We did have power at the campground, though, so all was well with us. Soon after we arrived home, the rains started. We did have tornado watches and severe thunderstorm warnings here but no problems befell us tonight. The hail and severe winds and rain were just north of us.

Monday, February 25, 2008

February 25, 2008 Disney World

Today was a work day. Beautiful weather. Got up to 77 today. Hollywood Studios was quite busy today - a lot of people were in the park enjoying the day with Mickey, Indiana Jones, Power Rangers, and a whole host of Disney characters, including me, of course. I don't go back to work until Wednesday so tomorrow Carol and I are going to see what kind of trouble we can get into.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

February 24, 2008 Bobcat?

We were pulling out of our parking space in front of Monty today when Carol noticed something coiled up on top of a motor home front tire a couple of doors down. We looked closer and still were not sure what it was. Florida is home to many different types of beasts and reptiles and a neighbor came over and said "That's a Bobcat!" He said that several had been spotted near here recently and he was sure that this was one. I took three photos of it (from a respectful distance) and then was startled to see the head pop up from the right side and then it took off, under the motor home and away. It was just a huge cat, not a Bobcat, but if you don't tell that we didn't see a Bobcat, either will we.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

February 23, 2008 Davenport, FL

It has been raining today but the temperatures are staying warm. Since the soil here is so sandy, there are no puddles and we do not have to shovel it either (ha!) We did some grocery shopping and are laying low for a while. Maybe catch up on some reading. Our grandson, Devin, began wrestling this year. This is the first time that he has tried this. Last night at a match, he got his first "pin." Congratulations, Devin. Great job.

Friday, February 22, 2008

February 21, 2008 Disney World Magic Kingdom

We once again had reaffirmed in our minds - WE DON'T EVER HAVE TO GROW UP! One trip to The Magic Kingdom was the only proof that we needed. Fortunately we were accompanied by some MOC friends that are staying here at Mouse Mountain in their own Montana. Now we hope that we can also share it with you with this journal of our visit. The Pixie Dust was being spread everywhere and the very large crowd was in a jovial mood. Kids were chattering and laughing, parents indulging their children and their own fantasies, and Carol and I seeing that we can still be very young. I had trouble keeping a large smile off of my face and Carol's knees, although difficult, were holding out better than could have been thought. We took frequent rest stops and saw a whole host of fascinating displays, attractions and just plain happy faces all around us. Just passing through the entrance brings the first feelings of relief and excitement. Then, after a beautiful boat ride to the park itself, we were met by a Disney Parade where we met the Disney characters. Goofy was, well, goofy. Mickey was his usual energetic, vivacious self. The Seven Dwarfs were, oh, small. The Pirates of the Caribbean were menacing. The Beauty was, of course, Beautiful; The Beast was beastly, Cinderella was princessly, and the whole cast was colorful and amazing as they danced and sang their way down Main Street to the sound of marching bands and their own singing. The weather was ideal for us - middle 70s and some cloud cover. It started raining at one time so we cut into The Tiki Club and were entertained by large flocks of talking birds. We then went across the courtyard and ate at a covered patio restaurant. By this time, the rain had stopped so we continued our journey. The Palace was huge, of course. Everything seems larger than life here. The photo in The Small World on the drive showing the little girl waving at one of the characters is typical of what we saw here all day. Seeing the interaction between the children and the characters is priceless. There were the scary parts too. We were accosted by the Wicked Witch and, during one ride in Fantasyland, Carol and I were riding in the front row of a boat and got a large wave of water hitting us when the boat dipped as we were being accosted by some witchly creatures. This did shut down my camera for the rest of the evening so we I had to stop taking pictures after taking ONLY 175 of them. There was a very impressive display where all of the Presidents of The United States were on stage at the same time. Different presidents talked at different times and the animation was amazing. The night ended with a bang, literally. There was a tremendous fireworks display over the Palace and Tinker Bell flew over the crowd from near the top of the Palace spreading Pixie Dust as she flew. Great stuff!!! Kids of all ages, some even older than I, all applauded and loved it. When we exited the park, we were part of a huge crowd but they really know how to move the people here. The crowd was always moving and we heard no grumbling all the way back to our truck. When we arrived, we took the tram to a boat that took us to The Magic Kingdom and when we left we chose to take the monorail instead of the boat back to the tram and then to our parking lot. The traffic was moving smoothly too. To sum it all up, a wonderful day from start to finish.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

February 18-20, 2008 Disney World

I have been working some long hours at Disney this week so the blog has not been updated for a while. I am going to get some sleep now and tomorrow Carol and I and two friends are probably going to go to The Magic Kingdom at Disney. We have been looking forward to going there for a while, now. Another day that we will be allowed to live our dream. A little Pixie Dust from Tinker Bell never hurt anyone. So, hopefully tomorrow we will have some interesting observations and photos for this journal.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

February 17, 2008 Davenport, FL

Yesterday and today we laid back. We went to dinner last night with some MOC friends at the Black Angus and it was great. What made it even better was my Disney discount at the restaurant. Today we went grocery shopping and saw the mamouth auction yard where this week they will auction off thousands of pieces of heavy construction equipment. A sign of the times with the burst of the building bubble caused all of this equipment to not be needed in Florida any more. People are coming from all over the world to bid on this equipment. We have watched this investory grow from extremely huge to mamouthly vast in the last couple of weeks. Cranes, semi tractors, heavy equipment trailers, large bull dozers, small Bobcats - it seems like it is all here. We saw a sign stating that the auction will be February 19-21. I work three days this week, monday through Wednesday. Tomorrow is an eleven hour day - Wow! I am not used to working for a living. Good thing that it is such a great place to work. We are hoping to go to the Magic Kingdom Thursday. It got to 82 degrees today but a "cold front" is supposed to start coming through tomorrow bringing the daily high to the low 70s and maybe some rain. The Space Shuttle is supposed to come home Wednesday but we will probably miss that because of work but we are aiming for a nighttime lift off next month of the next space shot.

Friday, February 15, 2008

February 15, 2008 Disney Hollywood Studios

We went to Disney Hollywood Studios today. This is the theme park that I have been working at but not able to visit as a guest until today. Wow! What a fabulous place. We started out watching Disney animated characters performing live. The kids were encouraged to join in and sing and dance with the characters and they were squealing with delight throughout the performance. We saw a grand parade of Disney characters and old cars. We watched a performance of young people performing High School Musical 2: School's Out. These kids had so much life and energy in them. They never stopped smiling and seemingly really enjoying their roles. They brought children from the audience to assist with several numbers. We moved to the music all the way through the performance. We then went to Lights, Motors, Action, Extreme Stunt Show. This showed how the vehicle chases and stunts were performed in many famous motion pictures. We saw the cars, motorcycles and speedboats doing various high speed stunts and they were being filmed as we watched. Then they played the film so we could see a completed product. This was after they showed us how they did many of these stunts. They showed how they could use their cameras and space to make it look like they were using all of a French town in just a small space to do these capers. Exciting, informative and fabulous. We then went to the Indiana Jones area and saw how the stunts for Harrison Ford were performed in the movie. Another breathtaking adventure. We then went on the Great Movie Ride. This is a ride where we were taken into the past and parts of many movies were played out by real actors on real sets and we were right in the middle of it all. Carol sat right next to the operator of the ride who was kidnapped and replaced by a "Gun Moll" right in the middle of a gun fight between the "thugs" and the "good guys." The "moll" who then was killed by a monster when she tried to steal a large gem in an Indiana Jones set. Mike, our kidnapped driver, then returned to thunderous applause and finished the tour. We finished the day with the light show Fantasmic. This was probably the most awesome display of lighting and special effects we have ever seen. We were in a huge outdoor arena and most lights were extinguished. Steam was produced and, somehow, colorful images were flashed into the steam and it was like looking at a smoky movie screen. Actors and dancers performed along with the images. The theme was that it was a nightmare by Mickey. After the monsters and ogres took over the dream, Mickey finally had enough and said "Wait a minute.This is my dream!" You know that when Mickey Mouse takes over, things have a happy ending and this was no exception. The lights, the fire and finally the fireworks were totally awe inspiring. Some really creative minds have worked on this. We are so happy to have seen a part of it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

February 14, 2008 Disney and Davenport, FL

Happy Valentines Day to all. Carol has honored me and said that she will be my valentine and so we are going to a Valentines Day dance tonight at the clubhouse. Sounds like fun. We missed going to Disney today because it was quite cool for this area and we were going to go to the nighttime fireworks and light show at Fantasia. It would have been downright cold there, after the sun went down and the water show splashing water into the crowd. Tomorrow the warmth is supposed to return so we will try again. A member of the Montana Owners Club asked for some photographs from the Disney campground, Fort Wilderness. We have never been there before so we decided to try a spin through there while on the way to another Disney store that we were going to shop at. This campground in in the Magic Kingdom and is beautiful. The sites are spacious and paved and there are trees and other flora and fauna all around. We only were there for a short time but really liked what we saw. I may try to work there next time, if I can get in. After we left the campground we approached a bridge crossing our road. It looked like any other cement bridge but then a boat crossed the road on the bridge. The bridge held water between two lakes. We will try to have the camera readier when we return there and also just keep it handy because we often just come upon the most interesting items. We saw some of the birds that we first saw in the Everglades - the kind that dive into the water to grab a fish and then have to stand on dry land and hold their wings out to dry.They do not have oil in their wings so the feathers hold water. It is so unusual and beautiful. Well, time to get ready to go dance once then watch the others finish out the night (probably by 9:15 around here).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

February 13, 2008 Disney World, FL

Last night's storms left us unscathed. We were very fortunate. The temperatures started dropping today and will get downright cool tonight (for Florida) when it is to drop to 42 degrees. Tomorrow it will be lower 70s and then warming up the rest of the week. Today was a work day at Disney Hollywood Studios. I worked at The Turkey Leg Restaurant and Eddies Pizza. This was the first time that I worked at more than one restaurant in the same day. Sunday, Rosies Restaurant opens after several months of remodeling and that will complete the triple play of restaurants where I wlll be working at as part of the Sunset Market Restaurants. Tomorrow, Carol and I are going to take our first trip into Disney to start a tour of the theme parks. I am getting as excited as a kid because this will be my first visit to Disney World as a visitor. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day so Happy Valentine's Day from Carol and me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

February 12, 2008 Disney and Davenport, FL

Today turned into a very interesting day. It started with clouds coming in and threats of rain, heavy winds and possible tornadoes starting this afternoon and going into tomorrow afternoon. We went to Disney with some friends and shopped at the Disney Store. We believe that we have nine grandchildren that will be pleased with that trip. Some gifts for birthdays and some just for the heck of it. Since we had a very bad experience years ago with an awning being demolished in a sudden storm, we brought the awning in before we left for Disney. Our timing was good because it was starting to rain as we returned. The winds have not been great, yet, but a tornado has touched down near Cocoa Beach, about 50 miles east of us. We saw on the Montana Owners Forum that the storm had passed by some members on the Gulf but we see that there are more storms forming in the Gulf of Mexico now. From there, they move our way. Clean living and love of puppy dogs should help to keep us safe. Thursday is Valentines Day and there is a dinner-dance here at Mouse Mountain. Helen, one of our MOC friends, is practicing to sing Karaoke there so we will probably attend.

Monday, February 11, 2008

February 11, 2008 Orlando, FL

Today was probably the most beautiful day of our stay, so far. The temperature went up to only 71 degrees and the humidity was very low. There was not a cloud in the sky. The combination made for a fire weather alert around Central Florida but we don't see how there could have been much of a better combination. Even the birds liked it. Their singing was much louder and sweeter. We went into Orlando, Apopka and Winter Park doing some work on a Boylan Agency matter. Orlando is a very busy town. The traffic seems quite heavy for a town this size but, considering that this town was placed on the map by Walt Disney when he put his dreams into action by designing and constructing Disney World, it is no wonder then that the world started beating a path to come here and live in a dreamland for a while. I have read that whether times are good or bad, people come here in droves either to celebrate the good times or disappear for a while in the bad times. They all seemed to be on the road today. Being retired and with the beautiful weather, though, we were not in a hurry so we just sat back and enjoyed it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

February 9, 2008 Davenport, FL

Although not as tough as in Michigan, things are mighty tough in the construction market in Florida. Here is an example. A large field at the intersection of I-4 and US 27 is the new temporary home for thousands of pieces of heavy construction equipment. The numbers are growing every day. As the construction market has slowed considerably, the equipment is being brought to this location from all around the area. In about a month there will be a large auction on this equipment and people from around the world are reportedly coming here to buy these cherry pickers, bulldozers, small Bobcats, earthmovers and all the rest. We will try to get a better shot of this field. We passed it last evening and saw the opportunity for this shot as we were entering the freeway. I am working one short day this week at Disney and just received my schedule for next week. Looks like the one day a week gig is done. I am scheduled for three days and it looks like some are also overtime days. As new as I am, I do not know if this is a short or long term trend. I remember when I was young and working my first job in a grocery store, I came home and probably complained about something minor. My dad said "You went there asking for work, didn't you?" and I don't think that I ever complained about work again.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

February 6, 7, 2008 Orlando and Cape Kennedy, FL

We saw the advertisement for the Arabian Knights Supper Club and we found some nice horse and unicorn statues on the property. Then, today we went to Cape Kennedy and saw the lift-off of the shuttle Atlantis. The weather was borderline and it was not known until the last minute if it were going to go today or not. The skies pretty much cleared and the show went on, seemingly fine, right on time. We were right across the water from the launch and had a great view of the entire action. Gosh, it was awesome. There were large crowds gathered throughout the area and we heeded advice to get there early. We were at a park along the water and, for about four hours, we shared a picnic table in a covered pavilion watching the crowds streaming into the area. We shared the table with a couple originally from the Chicago area and another couple that had driven all night from North Carolina to see the launch. The NC couple's daughter and son in law are missionaries and had been stationed for several years in primitive areas of Africa. The lady works for an airline so they flew over to visit and brought back many great stories of their time spent there. Their son in law contracted malaria for the third time so they are in the states now. Mama says that, since their daughter has eight children, she hopes that they stay here now. As we approached the 2:45PM scheduled launch time, the crowd began to buzz with excitement. A rumor was started that the launch was moved up an hour but I checked the Kennedy Space Center website and discovered that the time was still the same. We were maybe five miles from the lift-off site, right across the water. The wind was blowing from our backs toward the site so, when it all started, the noise, though heavy and loud, was not as loud and earthshaking as I thought that it was going to be but we know that it was very heavy and loud on the island. At blast-off, we saw the white steam billowing from the booster rockets and then the flames and the capsule itself. It continued to climb, up into and through the clouds, and then finally out of sight. It was such a tremendous relief that all seemingly went well that many yelled, shouted, clapped and danced when all seemed to be going well. This lift-off has been delayed for months now with mechanical difficulties and I do believe that we were surrounded by thousands of people who felt genuine relief that this mission started so well.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

February 5, 2007 Orlando, FL

It got quite warm today but the humidity wasn't as high as yesterday. A friend came by and tried to help us get our satellite dish set up. The tripod that we use is not very good so we finally ended up getting another at Camping World. My two weeks anniversary of employment with Disney was today and I was able to pick up my Main Gate Pass that will allow me to bring guests into Disney World. I will be able to use it to get Carol in and also our children and grandchildren if they can get down here. I will be able to use it on six occasions this year. Thursday, the shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift off at Cape Kennedy. We are an hour or so from there so we hope that we can get there and see it. The weather forecasters are talking 40% chance of rain that day but by Friday the front should have passed and, if Thursday is washed out, Friday should be a go.

Monday, February 4, 2008

February 4, 2008 Orlando, FL Disney

Today was a Disney day. I worked at Eddie's Sunset Restaurant. The restaurant specializes in pizza. I am really impressed at the food service here. The food is served rapidly but it is fresh and real good. If it doesn't look right we are told to "toss is" and don't serve it. That way, all are served quickly and receive good food. It got to 83 degrees today and sunny. The mornings have been very foggy but it burns off rapidly. It was amazing to me how I could be standing next to a pizza oven and the ventilation system was so efficient that it was not uncomfortable in the kitchen. I did not work the registers today. I put pizzas and sandwiches in the oven and made chicken Caeser salads. It is great working with so many positive people and seeing so many happy guests in the park. Some friends stopped by today and Carol went walking with them. She did one and a half miles. She has a friend here that will not be told no to a walk. She feels real good about it. Tomorrow is supposed to be very warm again so Carol and I will see what kind of trouble we can get into and still stay cool.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

February 3, 2008 Davenport, FL

We set up the bird feeder last night that was given to us by our neighbor, Sherry, from Grand Blanc. This morning I was on the patio reading the Sunday paper and heard a rustling from the feeder area. A squirrel was foraging for food in that area and suddenly smelled the sunflower seeds. It was hilarious watching the little feller trying to figure out where the scent was coming from. Soon the problem was solved and he climbed onto and into it and began feasting. He would leave and then come back. This went on for a couple of hours. Later we toured the area and discovered the park where my cousins wintered years ago. We discovered several really nice parks in that area. They were very clean and had nice sized lots. The units in them were all new or newer and grounds kept nicely. We are going to have to photograph some of the flora in this area. There are types that we have never seen before. After we returned home, we were on the patio and saw a sky-writer writing with smoke in the sky. He wrote some letters upside down but finally got out WIN WITH JESUS. For us it was also backwards. I just hope that the pilot, if he had been using instruments to fly for this caper, is not my pilot when I next fly commercial. We are getting ready to watch the Super Bowl. There is a Super Bowl party at the clubhouse but we heard that it was just another excuse for the residents to eat and we do not need another excuse.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

February 2, 2008 Orlando, FL

Today was quite a day. We went to Camping World to pick up some RV supplies. As we were leaving, we were accosted by either 500,000 or a couple of dozen geckos. These are the cute little chameleon like lizards that dart quickly about down here. They were running in front of us, climbing up and down trees and putting on quite a show while sunning themselves. We then left to go to Sam's Club for supplies. On the way we saw two police officers with their German Shepherd chasing a man into a marsh along the highway. There were dwellings on three sides of the marsh and businesses alongside the highway on the fourth side. The traffic was very heavy and I could not get the truck turned around in time to assist. I felt like a rookie again - the thought coming just a hair too late to take proper action. The dog was pulling hard and we heard no sirens later so we assume that all went well. After we returned home, we were sitting on the patio reading and watching the people walk by when we heard a siren come to what appeared to be the front of the park and then go silent. Carol said "That is close. I wonder if they are going to the Chili Cook off." That was the event going on at the recreation hall. When you get a group of us oldsters together, something as exciting as a Chile Cook off could very well call for something like an ambulance. Soon after, the EMS rig pulled up in front of us, stopped and two paramedics got out. The driver asked "Is this 113?" When advised that it was, he walked over to Carol and asked if she were OK. We asked what was going on and he stated that they were dispatched to 113 on a report of a lady feeling dizzy. The park manager then arrived and took them to C-113. Our next door neighbors then came over and remarked that we had not been here for a whole day yet and were already causing trouble (with a smile, of course) We hope that the excitement tomorrow stops with the geckos.

Friday, February 1, 2008

February 1, 2008 Davenport, FL

Today we moved from a temporary lot to our permanent location. We are now on site 113 at Mouse Mountain. It was a tight squeeze getting into our site but, with the help of half of the other campers, made it. Then we went to Disney and picked up my very first Disney paycheck. This has been a couple of weeks of "memory lane" time for me. I interviewed for a job, was hired, went to school for training, worked my first day in a Rapid Food Service job and now have my first paycheck. It has been more years than I can easily recall since I have done any of that. My schooling was forever ago, thought I had interviewed for my last job, received a pay check instead of checking profits and expenses of our business to see how much could be retained for household expenses, etc. It is all so different. Retirement is not easy. Had to find my way through the Disney Hollywood Studios Theme Park to get to the payroll location. All of Walt Disney World is so lush and seemingly unreal. We saw a resort hotel dedicated to the Swan and another to the Dolphin. A minature golf course that seemed like Tiger Woods would be challenged by. I had been in this area before but, since I have been on information overload, of course I had forgotten where things were. Part of my path went through the theme park and there were so many people there. It seems amazing to me that, during a school day, there are so many families with school age children here at any given time. This afternoon we heard a knock on our door and a friend said that Friday was pizza night and asked if we wished to accompany them. We went to CiCi's and I overstuffed myself. Carol and I both hate going to All You Can Eat places because we have trouble stopping. Tonight was no exception. Carol did much better than I did this time and I am miserable now. (sure was good, though)