Monday, March 31, 2008

March 31, 2008 Disney World

Today was the last day of my work at Disney World for this season. We had another very busy day but it passed rapidly. I worked with the guests for a large portion of the day and it was the perfect way to close out the season. It was a combination of happy/sad for the day - happy because, once I decided that this would be my last day, I couldn't wait for it to get here and pass and sad because I know that I will miss working with Mickey Mouse for another year. We will visit Disney a time or two before leaving this area and then on to our slow, meandering journey back to Michigan. It is exciting as we are planning what and who we will see on the return trip.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

April 20, 2008 Epcot

What a trip. Today was Epcot Day. The weather cooperated nicely - partly cloudy and a slight breeze kept it comfortably warm, in the upper 70s. This park is full of adult "toys." The attractions include all sorts of hands on scientific activities. There are beautiful fountains and flowers throughout the park. Nemo is here and we watched Crush the Sea Turtle as he talked with us and even answered questions from the audience. It was amazing how Crush talked "live" with audience members and even showed shock when asked an embarrassing question. We know this was not a set up because the questioner was a friend who was with us. There was a waterfall with water flowing in the opposite (upward) direction. We saw an outdoor concert by the 5th Dimension. One of the female singers was a member of the original group, 42 years ago. She did not sound or act like one in her 60s. This was a really fine show. Half of the park has an International theme. Countries from around the world showcase their crafts and food. We had supper at a Japanese restaurant and really enjoyed it. Like other restaurants in Disney, we didn't leave hungry. There was a spectacular fireworks, light and laser show over a small lake in the park. We were awed by the entire package. We now have seen all four theme parks of Disney World and enjoyed them all. There are portions of each park that we can call "The Very Best." Tomorrow is my last day to work at Disney this season. We are returning to Disney World Wednesday with some friends and then Thursday we leave Mouse Mountain for The Bees RV Resort in Clermont, FL. We will be there for three nights. This park is where we were staying when I first started with Disney so we will try to see more of this area before we leave. Maybe this weekend, we will go to The Gulf for a dip. That would be to the beach near Sarasota with the crushed quartz that is supposed to be cool to the feet even in the hot sun.

March 30, 2008 We're going to Epcot today

We leave at about 1:00 today for Epcot. This will be the last park that we have not visited yet at Disney World. Can't wait to see what we can see. Let you know tonight.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

March 29, 2008 Disney World Resorts

Today we took a trip to see some of the Disney World Resorts. We first went to the Polynesian Resort and were amazed at beauty of the flora around the place. From the front of the hotel to the lobby to the rear, looking out onto a lake, the colors and greenery were stunning. There were gardens in the lobby with waterfalls and flowers and growths that were simply amazing in their beauty. We lunched at a Polynesian restaurant and, as in other eateries in Disney, we did not leave hungry. From the Polynesian, we took the Monorail to the Grand Floridian Resort. This is reportedly the resort where high profile people, celebrities, etc go. This is luxury that we can only imagine in our wildest dreams. The lobby is gargantuan with large, dome-like skylights and two huge chandeliers. The beach with its stark white beach sand has small tents to shield people from the sun while on the beach. The restaurants and shops (shoppes?) were scaled high above what we are used to seeing, let alone entering. We then took the Monorail to the Contemporary Resort. This resort is in the shape of a large, long triangle with guest rooms overlooking both the shops and restaurants in the center of the lobby and the outside world. This is one of the less expensive resorts that has many shops and restaurants, too. Since there are possibly 16 resorts on the Disney World property, we still have many to go to see them all. Probably won't get that project done this year. Tomorrow we are going to probably go to Epcot and see what it has to offer. If it is anything like the other theme parks we have attended here, we will not be disappointed.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

March 26, 2008 Davenport, FL BOOM!!!

Wow! At about 8:25 PM, March 26, 2008, we heard a loud BOOM and the trailer moved a bit. We thought something had struck Monty. I went outside and the neighbor was parking his truck in front and at first I thought he had backed into Monty. When he was puzzled about a loud boom he had heard, too, we discovered that it was the sonic boom from the Space Shuttle breaking the sound barrier during its re-entry and landing at Kennedy Space Center, about 50 miles or so east of here. We saw the liftoff a while back during the fantastic, beautiful night launch and were rocked by the landing. We are so fortunate - we not only have seen history being made, we also felt it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

March 25, 2008 Davenport, FL

Disney has been super busy and crowded during Spring Break. Worked yesterday and today and it was non-stop all the time. Never knew this old guy could work so hard for so long. It is just great that I really enjoy doing what I do, most of the time. The time really flies when we are so busy. Work tomorrow and then again next Monday then not again until next year. Now that I am getting so close to the end, I am getting really itchy to leave so that Carol and I can get in some serious "touristing." We will probably go to one or two of the resorts later this week and then Epcot next week. We are also going to try to get to the Sarasota area, on The Gulf, where there is supposed to be a beach with a white, powdered quartz or shale that seems cool to the feet on a hot, sunny day. Maybe a trip back to Cape Kennedy and tour the space center and also the nature area. Came home from work today to a great Carol meal. Wow! What a life. Got a call today from Waldenwoods, the campground in Michigan that I will be working at this summer. Needed my shirt size for the shirts that they will supplying for us. That also got me thinking about the trip back to Michigan. We are ready to see the kids and grandkids. Talked to them Easter time but we are ready to see them all now.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

March 22, 2008 Davenport, FL

Oh, oh! Went to purchase a gift for our neighbors today who are celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary and discovered that I was missing a credit card. Nowhere in my wallet. No where in the truck. Came home and not able to find it there either. Carol couldn't even find it and you know, she can find anything. Called the credit card company and stopped purchases using my card. We went to Haines City and checked a restaurant we were at recently and to a Walt Disney store where we purchased some goods last Thursday. These were the last reported purchases on the card. No luck anywhere. Will get new ones now and we are grateful that no one else has been using it. It has rained lightly off and on today so this gave us a chance to look around the area again. Crowds everywhere. Spring break is on and going great guns. Wonder what, if anything we will do tonight. Saw the reports of added snow back home and it tired me out so much that I may take a nap now.

Friday, March 21, 2008

March 21, 2008 Disney World Boardwalk Resort

Today we traveled to Disney's Boardwalk Resort. This is built with sets taken from the original Atlantic City Boardwalk and has a 1930s-1940s atmosphere. The frontage is all modern, though, and inside the Boardwalk area is another trip into fantasy-land. In the main lobby of the hotel, there is a Merry-Go-Round that looks real in a miniature way. I took the photo with the zoom lens and it looks real. Just before we got to the elevator that led to the Boardwalk there was a Pedaling Piano. This was pedaled like a bicycle around the Boardwalk in Atlantic City while it was being played. Outside, whereas the Atlantic City Boardwalk fronts onto the Atlantic Ocean, this one fronts onto a lake. The Boardwalk had a myriad of shops, restaurants and night clubs all around it. There are pure white sands on the bottom of the lake and onto the beaches. We took a boat ride that took us to The Swan and Dolphin Hotels and Disney Hollywood Studios. This is the back way into the park where I work. The restaurants where I work are at the base of Tower of Terror. Where the tower is pictured here is a view from the water where our boat was. Back into the Boardwalk area, there is a very large swimming pool that even included a sandbar/beach that children were playing on. Who-da-think-it comes to mind so often as we see imaginations come to life here. Along the Boardwalk is also an old time Atlantic Dance Hall. Across from it is a Jellyroll Dueling Piano Club that features "dueling pianos" after 7:00 PM. We are going to have to attend these soon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 17, 18, 19, 2008 Disney World

These three days were spent working with Mickey. One more three day week to go, then the last day of March and then no more Disney for a while. I will probably have Goofy withdrawl. Tomorrow we are going to go shopping and also check out some of the other campgrounds in this area. Wonder where we will go the rest of this week. So many places to go and things to see and so little time to do it in. We are hoping to go to Texas next winter but I will have to work a short time at Disney to keep myself active with them. Either work a short time and then go on to Texas or Texas first and then back to Florida. Such decisions. And you thought that we had it easy, huh?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

March 15, 2008 Disney World Animal Kingdom Lodge

We have been hearing from other Disney cast members that the theme parks are not the only places to go to see some very interesting sights. It was suggested that we go to the resorts so today we started with Animal Kingdom Resort. The front of the lodge was magnificent. It was so large that it could not all fit into the picture frame. This entire lodge is done with an African theme. The lobby was huge with hand carved statues and figures throughout. The ceiling was three stories plus tall. In the rear is a park containing exotic birds, wildebeests and zebras. In the fourth photo, look back to the left and there are two zebras, behind the wildebeests. There were supposed to be giraffes, too, but we did not see any on this trip. The rear gardens were lush and tropical. Carol looks tiny standing there. In the entrance to the lobby, stones were colored and placed into the floor. It was described to us as something that is done in Africa. People color stones and place them on the floor to greet guests and so it was done here the same way to greet guests, too. I keep on being amazed at how this entire operation has been devised and put together - with little things like the colored stones at the entryway to greet guests just one of many items incorporated into the park. In the rear, overlooking the animal park, the rooms of the lodge all have balconies overlooking this park. What a way to wake up - a cup of coffee out on the balcony and the birds and animals below. Now we will also tour the other lodges around the park. There is always something to do here that is interesting and exciting.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

March 13, 2008 Plant city, FL

NEVER AGAIN will I go into an "all you can eat" buffet. Last night we went to CiCi's Pizza in Orlando with friends. This is one price pays all and besides we had a Disney discount. I could hardly move after leaving there and Carol said she was stuffed too. To make matters worse, today we went to Plant City, Fl, a small town west of Lakeland that advertises itself as "The Strawberry Capital Of The World." Friends met us at the Parkesdale Farm Market. They had told us about the delicious strawberry shortcake there. Oh man, they were delicious. We each had one and one of our friends had two. I thought about ordering another when I finished mine and am I ever glad that I waited before doing it. All of a sudden I felt stuffed and, here it is 5 hours later and I am still full. It still amazes me to find fresh fruit and veggies here in the middle of the winter. When we first came to Florida, we were amazed at road repairs being done in January, February, flowers growing and palm trees. This fresh fruit and veggies that we ate and bought to bring home today just add to the "wow" factor for us snowbirds. Sitting outside in 70 degree plus, sunny weather enjoying strawberry shortcake? Who-DA-thunk-it? not too long ago. TOMORROW the diet resumes, after eating Carol's great cube steak/baked potato dinner tonight, of course.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March 11, 2008 Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Endeavor Liftoff

We actually witnessed history at 2:38 AM this morning. We saw the last night lift-off of a space shuttle, The Endeavor, and one of the last lift-offs of this entire program. It was spectacular. We went with two of our MOC friends, Rich and Helen, and arrived last night around 8:30 PM so that we could get a good position. We went to a local park right across the Indian River from the launch pad. The pad was about five miles away but, because we were looking over the water, it looked much closer. We saw the event from the steamy start to the disappearance into the clouds. When we arrived, the sky was clear and about midnight, the clouds started coming in. They were not bad enough to scrub the mission, though, and it was grand. When we arrived, there were people around but we were actually surprised at the low numbers. Then, as the night progressed, the numbers began to swell. We had the park and a sidewalk behind us and a marshland and the river in front of us. This made for some beautiful shots of the booster rockets flaming images being reflected in the river. Although we were 5 miles away, it seemed much closer, probably because we were watching over the water. First came the smoke (steam?) then the flames, then the lift-off. OMG, as the kids would say, it was beautiful. The crowd, as with the crowd that we were part of for the last space shot a few weeks ago, cheered and clapped upon lift-off. A truly happy group of people from around the world. Because of our close proximity, we could see everything from steam to lift-off. Because of our distance of five miles and slight breeze over the water, it took a long time for the loud roar to reach us. The cloud cover was low so the shuttle disappeared quickly but grandly. Several minutes later, as we were leaving, we looked back at the pad and saw that it was still smoking/steaming. Also as we were leaving, we were amazed at how huge the crowd had grown into. It took us a long time to get out of Titusville proper and then another huge traffic jam on I-95 at the Orlando and points west exit, which was probably five more miles away from the main part of the original traffic jam. It took us an extra hour and a half to get home because of the traffic. It was truly worth the wait, though. We were able to photographically memorialize this experience, from our MOC amigos to the lift-off, and can share some of it with you now. ENJOY!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

March 9, 2008 Davenport, FL Mouse Mountain CG Talent Show

Today was the 2008 Mouse Mountain Campground Talent Show and Ice Cream Social. The evening started out with tons of ice cream being ladled out, followed by the show. The ice cream got people like me to attend and after listening and watching to the talent, Carol and I are both very glad that we attended. It started out with Randy, the emcee, being interrupted by a Minnie Pearl lookalike who wheedled her way into singing In My Easter Bonnet. Then our MOC friend Helen sang, another MOC friend,Cheryl, showed us that she is now a clogger, and the Mouse Mountain Floozies sang, followed by the Mouse Mountain Floozie Chasers. One of the cloggers is an 83 year old lady and one of the Floozies is 93 years old. These folks give us hope that maybe we can be productive for a few more years. There were other acts that only people in the park would know of but there were absolutely no bad acts. Tomorrow, we are heading for Kennedy Space Center for the Shuttle lift-off. The photo portion of this program is not working at this time. Hopefully it will be back on line so that we can put photos of the space shot in the entry describing the shot.

March 8, 2008 Sanford, FL Fleaworld

We went to Fleaworld of Orlando in Sanford, FL. It is advertised as "America's Largest Flea Market." We have been to a few flea markets but are in no position to judge comparative sizes of the markets but this one was, as Ed Sullivan used to say, "A really big show!" From the highway it didn't look like much. We even almost missed it at first pass. When we finally entered the parking lot from the side we started to get an idea that the frontage was like the tip of an ice berg, a small taste of what was hidden. There was a huge grid of pole barns, all joined together, that formed a gigantic maze of shops and stalls. For those of you from Southeast Michigan, like a Gibraltar Trade Center on steroids. We went with friends from the MOC that are also at our campground and of course couldn't get out without buying some "must have" items that may or may not be used now that they are home. This place even has an attached amusement park complete with rides and rides on a real elephant. Haven't seen an elephant ride since we took our grandson, Jon (he was Jonathon then), to his first circus and he rode the elephant a dozen years ago. The national cold snap has arrived in Florida. Friday the temperature was in the 80s and Saturday it was mid 60s and very windy, feeling much colder. Saturday night was supposed to get into the upper 30s and then a return to normal temperatures to return Monday. Sunday evening at the campground features an ice cream social followed by a talent show. Gotta go the social because I am an ice cream junkie. Then we will waddle up and watch our neighbors sing and dance. Should be great fun.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

March 6, 2008 Disney World Animal Kingdom

Wow, was it beautiful. Disney World Animal Kingdom is the great escape for city folks like us. When we first entered, some of the "bugs" were posing with the kids for photos. We traveled to "Deepest Africa" and took a safari ride through a large African park. So many large, fantastic beasts and birds roaming in their natural habitat and we were right there with them. At one time during our ride, we had to stop because an ostrich was standing in the road and was not quite ready to move on yet. A toot of the horn finally got it to slowly amble away. When Carol and I were married, we took the. kids with us for the second half of our honeymoon and one of the stops was the African Safariland Park, near Toronto. That was really nice but the Disney park was HUGE! I really wish my vocabulary was greater so that I could describe the raw beauty that we saw today. Since our friend Bob made us a great bird feeder that we keep stocked with sunflower oilers in Michigan when we are home, we have discovered that we really like looking at and listening to the different birds. Today was everything we have seen and heard before and multiplied by a large number. I don't believe that I have ever seen some of the colors before that we saw on some of these birds. Then there was the crane that was sitting down on its legs that were bent at the knees BACKWARD. The proud American Eagle that was part of a show in the park. There was a show called "It's Tough To Be A Bug" that was shown in a theater. This showed life as seen through the eyes and thoughts of bugs. There were animated characters and three dimensional effects that were unheard of not that long ago. We were watching the characters on the stage and butterflies and other flying insects would apparently fly right up to our faces and we even tried to reach out and touch them, to no avail, of course. Portions of the seats and seatbacks moved at times when the "termites and roaches were rushing out of the theater so as not to be stepped on." Carol really jumped at this, thinking something was passing under her bottom. The character parade was also fantastic - so many characters singing and dancing and really having a grand time. The baby chimpanzee that was "too pooped to pop" and sleeping after foraging and eating. The crocodiles that are menacing, just looking at them from a distance. The African Prairie Dog type animal acting as a lookout while the rest of its family searched for food. And, of course, the parade with Mickey and all his pals that is always a big feature of all the parks here. This was another perfect day.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

March 5, 2008 Disney

Today was the last day of the workweek with Mickey for me. Carol and I are talking of going to Disney World tomorrow. Maybe Animal Kingdom. I also got off for next Tuesday so that we can go see the nighttime liftoff of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. It is scheduled for a 2:28AM liftoff from The Kennedy Space Center. The night launch should be spectacular. We will watch from across the water and see the bright light from the boosters both in the sky and reflecting off of the water. There is so much to see around here - something for everyone. Today, we heard of a beach on the Gulf at Sarasota with sand made from crushed stone of some kind that is actually cool on the foot, instead of the white ground sea shells that are all along the Gulf shoreline. Maybe we'll try that in a couple of weeks. I gave my notice at Disney today that I will be able to work through the end of this month. Carol and I will then have time to do some of the things we want to do and slowly wend our way home. We hope to stop at Lexington, KY, on the way home. The Kentucky Horse Park is located there and one can see a working horse farm with thoroughbred horses being trained for racing. It is supposed to be a great stop. So much to see and do and so little time to do it in.

Monday, March 3, 2008

March 3, 2008 Lake Buena Vista and Davenport, FL

Today was a work day with Mickey. Also, tomorrow and Wednesday this week. Sunny and 80 degrees with tolerable humidity made it a beautiful day. Got home and found e-mail folder full with messages about the MOC Fall Rally. Looks like this is going to take some time. Oh, well. Guess I knew that when I accepted the Wagon Master job. Got some great people to work with and the list is growing. Wonder where we'll go this week? What new avenue to explore? The great part of being here and exploring new sights and places is that I am doing it with my best friend. What a concept - marry your best friend! Makes it a very pleasant life. Talked with the man who hired me to work at Waldenwoods today. He is camping in the Rio Grand Valley in Mission, TX. Heavy winds today but said that they are missing the large portion of the storm which is north of them. He talked of sunny and very windy with huge gusts. I saw a blurb on TV a little while ago about a large storm in northern TX and into OK, AR and TN. Hope it doesn't get this far south tomorrow.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

March 2, 2008 Orange City, FL Manatees and MOC Rally

We went to Blue Springs State Park near Orange City, FL. This is an area where Manatees gather during this time of year near large springs and the water temperature remains a steady 72 degrees year round. The water is The St.Johns River. After the waters of the Atlantic warm, the Manatees sidle, or whatever it is called that they do to move in the water, on out to the ocean. When we entered the park the Ranger said that they had seen 57 Manatees this morning. We didn't see 57 but we did see over a dozen Manatees, from babies to full grown adults. Manatees are called Sea Cows and are HUGE! One volunteer mentioned 3500 pounds for an adult. The "tiny" babies are about 800 pounds. This park is beautiful - The greenery is rich and the park is clean and orderly. We saw birds that were feasting on the fish in the St. Johns River. We saw a young alligator hunting along the shoreline. For a while, only its eyes were above the surface of the water, then it slowly rose to show us its length. We saw Gar and Australian fish. There were Talapia nesting under the platform we were on. Carol does not like the taste of fish but she likes Talapia and now she knows what they look like - grey with big, white eyes. And, of course, we saw the mammoth Manatees. When we returned home I had a message announcing that we were named Wagon Masters for the 2008 Fall Montana Owners Club Rally in Goshen, IN. What a trip this will be. I have been an administrator but never for anything like this. Carol has said that she will help in the background. The rally is scheduled for the end of September to first part of October so hopefully this will give enough time to learn a whole new ball game. During the summer, while working at Waldenwoods Campground, I will be trying to pick up as much RV and Rally information as I can. I was told that my job is to roam the campground and talk with the campers and so I will be asking them about rallys that they have attended and what they liked and didn't like about them. Should be a goldmine of information there.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

March 1, 2008 Haines City, FL

Today was a special day. We met with friends from Michigan, Tom and Angie, and had a great time. Tom and I used to run together and when I ran my first marathon, The Detroit Marathon in about 1984, Tom and his new bride, Angie, followed me around almost the entire 26.2 mile course on their bicycles. Since this is truly an international marathon, traveling through the tunnel under The Detroit River to Windsor, ONT and back across The Ambassador Bridge, they covered the entire American side of the run. They still talk of almost knocking people down with their bikes in an effort to keep near me and give much loved morale boosts. That is true friendship. I am addicted to almost everything including, in this case, running. I had gained a large amount of weight after quitting smoking and started walking and dieting. This led to walk and trot and then I called Tom and several friends to join me in January or February in a race alongside Lake St. Clair, a part of the St. Lawrence Seaway. This was a 5K run where all entrants received a medal or ribbon. Of course we all won our age groups and got medals. We were all in our mid 40s and 50s. I saw fliers for The Detroit Free Press Marathon on a table near the finish line and thought "If I can run a 5K, I can do a marathon." That is typical of my kind of thinking. I told my companions that day that I was going to do the Detroit Marathon. It was scheduled for that October. I then proceeded to tell all that I knew that I was going to do the Detroit Marathon. After blabbing to all of my plans, there was no way that this hard headed
Irishman could back out and so I trained and prepared to run the race. I dropped from over 300 pounds to about 190 over the spring and summer. Tom and Angie talked very supportively but then showed it by actually following me around most of the course. We laughed at that a lot tonight. A footnote is that, when the finish line came into view, several hundred feet ahead on Belle Isle, I began bawling like a baby because it was then that I realized that if I wanted to do it, there is nothing that I can not do. It is so refreshing to see our children and grandchildren as they go through the same realizations in different facets of their lives. Thanks again, Tommy and Angie, for the great memories.