Published: October 15th 2010June 27th 2010
On Thursday, June 10th, 2010,
we left Baton Rouge and programmed our Garmin to take us to Disney World in Florida. We were celebrating our grandson, Landan's 7th birthday and our daughter, Kim's 25th! Wow Kim~a quarter of a century ...!
Our family had visited Disney World during the park's 20th anniversary back in the nineteen hundreds
, no seriously, we went in 1991 when my children were 4 and 5 1/2. I had heard things had changed since then. The thing I remembered most was the HEAT, but I was pretty sure that had not changed. It was August when we made that first trip to Disney World and I didn't think June was going to be any cooler.
But nevertheless, the dates were chosen, plans were made, reservations secured and we were Disney bound. Randy, Landan and I were driving, splitting the trip from Baton Rouge to Lake Buena Vista (Orlando) into 2 days. Our RV allows us the option of leisurely travel and stopping when we are tired. Kim would be taking her "Step" for medical school and not able to join us until Sunday, when she would fly in from New Orleans.
We had planned
to let the morning rush hour thin out and hit the road by 9 am and that is what we did. Despite having been thoroughly warned that it was a loooong drive, we weren't 20 miles into the trip when Landan starting asking how far away we were from DW, but he eventually settled down and the first day of our trip was rather uneventful.
Stopping for the night at Walmart in Ocala, Florida, we enjoyed burgers and fries at Sonic which was conveniently located just off the Walmart parking lot. It was almost totally dark by the time we finished eating and made it back across the parking lot to our RV. Settling down a six, soon to be seven year old, who is on his way to Disney World for the first time, was no easy feat but he eventually fell asleep and we weren't far behind him. Friday morning, June 11th,
we awoke bright and early, fed Landan breakfast and quickly drank our coffee as we prepared to travel. Since we had driven much further on Thursday than we had anticipated, we were way ahead of schedule. Before leaving Walmart we filled our gas tank
at the Murphy Oil Station adjacent to the store then hit the road to DW. Our trusty Garmin advised us that we would arrive at the campground by 12:00!
Somehow amidst the excitement we neglected to exit the turnpike at the correct exit, and that threw us back about an hour by the time we had realized it. Could it have been the 6 soon to be 7 year old chattering non-stop from the rear of the RV???? Nevertheless, we managed to minimize our mistake and pulled through the entrance to Disney World by 1:00 pm and found our way to the Ft. Wilderness Campground Reception Center.
There was one motorhome ahead of us in the lane we chose and it was hard to keep Landan from bouncing off of the walls of the RV as we waited patiently for our turn to be checked in. When our turn came to pull up and register, we were greeted by a pleasant young man who unfortunately did not speak English very well but we were able to understand most
of what he told us.
We had been advised by the reservation clerk to let them
know upon check-in that we wanted wifi included on our site, a premium site is what we were told. He assured us "no problem" and assigned us site number 1906. He handed us a campground map, marked a line showing us where to go and sent us on our way. 2nd paved road to the right and follow the numbers to our site, sounds easy enough.
We found our site and were surprised to see that none of the sites were pull-thru sites as the young man had indicated, but luckily Randy has gotten very good at backing up our 30' vehicle. I got out to help direct him just to make sure he avoided the trees on either side and would be backed up enough to reach our hook-ups, then we unleashed (joking) Landan on Disney World. We had a nice site but I hated to see it was directly in front of the bathhouse on our loop of sites. Since we have a nice shower we never have to use the bathhouses and would rather have had a site further away. Sometimes the bathhouse noise can be sleep killer but we made the best of it.
Landan and our RV
At Fort Wilderness
While Randy was hooking up the electric and water, I was hooking up the cable for the tv and we were both SWEATING. Now it could be 50 degrees and Randy would be sweating but when I start to sweat, it is
hot. It was as hot as Nevada had been when we visited back in 2005 and that was really HOT!
During the heat induced rush to complete the hookup process, I heard Landan shouting about something and urging me to come see. Turned out to be a large lizard he had spotted on one of our trees. It was
a very large lizard and we soon realized that there were many lizards hiding on the trees around our site. That kept him entertained while we completed the hookup and that was fine with us. I even retrieved the binnoculars from inside so he could get a close up of his "new pets". After finally convincing him to come indoors to cool off, we set up the inside for the 4 days and 5 nights we would be at Ft. Wilderness.
We cooled off for an hour or so while I desperately tried
Landan & Randy
waiting for the "yellow" bus to take us to the Settlement
to figure out how to get the wifi. I could not connect so I gave up figuring I'd ask later at the information center. Randy programmed the front tv so Landan could watch a cartoon or two, then programmed the bedroom tv so we would be up to date on the headline news and weather while in Florida. At least the cable worked...
Before long, the three of us were starting to get really hungry. We had skipped lunch earlier figuring we'd check out one of the campground restaurants while having a look around the place. Our information packet indicated the bus we needed to take us to the Settlement area was a "yellow" bus so we locked up the RV and headed to the shuttle stop. We patiently waited for the "yellow" Settlement bus while we swatted horseflies and baked...still HOT.
After a brief wait along came the correct bus and we hopped aboard, not a moment too soon. The bus was like a walk-in freezer and it sure felt nice but just as we were getting cooled off, we arrived at the Settlement. Then it was time to find some food.
Ferry to the Magic Kingdom
After taking the bus from our campsite, the ferry takes us across the lake to the Park.
soon discovered that the Trail's End Restaurant was "the only game in town" so we approached the hostess and gave her our name to be placed on the waiting list. There weren't many people ahead of us and within 5 minutes they were calling for us. We had declined to purchase the Disney Meal Plan and found out we were in for quite a pricey meal. Since we planned to spend more time on the rides than at a table eating, we had opted to save the $400 plus on the Meal Plan and find a better use for that money.
An all you could eat buffet featuring barbecued ribs was the main course with a number of other dishes and sides to choose from. Randy and Landan ate several ribs but I found them to be less than lean so I decided on a salad, a few boiled shrimp and some vegetables. When we had our fill, we paid the hefty bill, left a nice tip and headed out to have a look around the Settlement.
The Settlement had a lot going on by then. It was later in the evening and beginning to cool
Randy and Landan
I was in the car just ahead of them. My car was slow and Landan loved ramming me as we were waiting to get out of the cars.
off which seemed to bring the campers out of their air conditioned campers and into the gathering areas. The marina is just down the walkway from the restaurant as is the Settlement Trading Post which sells gifts, groceries, snacks and beverages. There was some type of small theater type building which featured the famous Hoop De Doo show. Quite a large number of visitors were lined up for the show.
By the time we had completed our walk around the Settlement it was time to get back to our campsite so we could prepare for an early morning start at the Magic Kingdom and begin Landan's birthday celebration! Saturday, June 12th,
we awoke to beautiful sunny skies and Landan enjoyed his birthday breakfast while Randy and I sipped our coffee until it was time to begin our long day at the Magic Kingdom. We hiked up to the bus stop and waited for the Settlement bus to bring us to the Marina. It was already beginning to heat up outside and we knew it was going to be a hot day.
Upon reaching the Settlement, we headed to the conciegere's office for information on
which boat we needed to take us to the Magic Kingdom. The lady who assisted us was very friendly and helpful and gave Landan a 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY' button to wear while we were at Disneyworld. She told him to wear it the entire time and people would wish him a Happy Birthday and surprise him with other perks. Other than being told Happy Birthday a million times, he received no other perks. Then my question of how to get the wifi was answered...there was NO wifi on our site. There was however, a place by the pool that is a hotspot so I supposed that would have to do. We planned a pool day for Sunday so I shouldn't be too out of touch, for too long.
We were given the Magic Kingdom brochure and told to take the boat with the green flag. Everything at Disney seemed to be color coded, yellow Settlement bus, green flag boat...
Off to the marina and to stand in line for the green flag boat. Before long, the boat appeared across the bay speeding toward the dock where a large number of us were waiting. The Captain and
all of his crew were very pleasant and EVERYONE wished Landan a Happy Birthday. Believe me, this went on all day long. I thought Landan would never have left this Birthday button on for long, but he did.
Once the boat was loaded, we were off and the wind felt really good as we rode across the bay. There were birds flying all around and a person attached to a kite was being pulled by a speed boat. I assumed they were parasailing and it sure looked like fun. After what seemed to be about 15 minutes, we were pulling up to the dock at the Magic Kingdom and there were people everywhere
! What recession??? Certainly not at Disney World.
We all made it off of the boat and into the crowd of people, many who said "Happy Birthday" to Landan. After a while of hearing that, I started to look for other people, mainly kids, who had a Birthday button on and started saying it to them. Wow! That was fun! And we were HOT! It was only around 10:00 but it seemed like afternoon heat. Luckily for us, our job is outdoors so Randy
and I were more accustomed to the heat than some including Landan, but he was a trooper and hung in there with us.
After studying our map we decided to start out toward the back of the park and work our way toward the front in hope of avoiding some of the growing crowd, which didn't happen. There were hoards of people everywhere including Tomorrowland where Landan chose Stitch's Great Escape to start our day.
"Dark, interactive Alien experience" was how they described it, but I think we were all a little taken aback that all it entailed was to sit in a theater (a really nice air-conditioned theater) and watched Stitch be projected around the room for a while. When that was finally over, Landan was chomping at the bit to "ride something" so that is what we set out to do. And what do you think caught his eye? Space Mountain. Randy and I weren't sure if he would be tall enough to ride the roller coaster but it turned out that he was.
We must have stood in line at least an hour before we made it to the actual ride
He is wearing his HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUTTON!
but the three of us really enjoyed it. It was fast, dark, plenty of height and lots of sharp curves. What an awesome ride but unfortunately it didn't last long enough and then we were pulling back up to the deck to disembark.
Next on Landan's mind was the Tomorrowland Speedway. He wanted to drive a race car and so he did. I thought he would drive me around the track and let Randy drive alone, but Landan wanted to drive "Paw Paw" around and "Maw Maw" (me) would drive my own. So I loaded up in the car ahead of them and hit the gas. My car was slow and I thought Landan would probably ram me. Luckily I found out his car was as slow as mine.
Once we exited the Speedway, we headed toward Fantasyland where It's a Small World was located. That one was Kim's favorite attraction on our first Disney World visit when she was a child. We noticed that the line was really long with most of the wait in the sun, but decided to stick it out and probably endured an hour wait. The attraction had been
Randy & Landan
On Tom Sawyer's Island
renovated and was every bit as awesome as it was back in 1991.
Then Landan insisted on finding the Haunted Mansion which was his dad's favorite from years ago. Ryan was 5 1/2 when we were here before so they were close in age in relation to their Disney adventures. But before we left Fantasyland we took a detour to Peter Pan's flight. Landan is a huge fan of Peter Pan and he really enjoyed that. So did I.
As we continued on through the park toward Liberty Square and the Haunted Mansion, we snaked in and out of several souvenier shops taking advantage of the cold air. Time had progressed into mid-afternoon and it felt like it was a over hundred degrees. Being from Louisiana, we are accustomed to the heat and humidity but without the brief bouts of A/C and the water fountains placed around the attractions, we would have probably all experienced heat stroke.
We finally made it around to the Liberty Square and stood in a much shorter line to get into the Haunted Mansion. I tried to freak Landan out with all of the scary atmosphere around but he wasn't
taken from aboard our boat
falling for it. We rode through the attraction on a track with each group in their own small car and the cars swing around and turn back and forth to direct your attention to various scary ghosts. At the end, they project a ghost in the mirror so it appears that you have been riding with your own personal ghost! Landan got a real kick out of that.
By then we were pretty hungry so we consulted our map and decided on the Plaza Restaurant on Main Street. We made our way through Frontierland and headed toward the entrance to the Plaza Restaurant. It was then we noticed there was a hostess and we were advised there would be a short wait. We were handed a pager and told to expect a page within 5 minutes or so and within 5 minutes we were being paged and ready to go in and eat.
The moment the hostess opened the door, a flood of wonderful cool air greeted our hot tired bodies and we decided at that moment that it didn't matter how much it cost to eat, it was worth it for a half hour or
Tiger peering out at us
so of air conditioning. We were seated and promptly greeted by a young lady who rushed right back with our ice cold soft drinks. Whew, that was nice. Randy and I ordered cheeseburgers while Landan ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with apple slices on the side.
Despite the fact that 10 minutes earlier the three of us were about to drop from the heat, all of a sudden Landan and I were both cold
. Randy joked that we were never satisfied...
, so we finished our meal and left after paying for another hefty priced meal. Oh well, with that out of the way it was time to walk and sweat a whole lot more so we cut across the park and back toward Frontierland where we toured Tom Sawyer's Island then straight to Splash Mountain for the last part of the day. It was fantastic, fast, wet and wild, well worth the wait which was another hour and a half.
For the finale, we let Landan choose which ride he wanted to ride and no surprise to us, he chose Space Mountain again. Thankfully the lines at Space Mountain had dimished significantly and the
Landan LOVED this ride.
wait seemed to speed by. In no time we were up to the turnstile and we thought were about to board, when we were suddenly directed down a different row and toward another part of the platform and before we knew it, we were headed down a hallway toward an exit. WHAT???
Turned out the ride had malfunctioned and was immediately closed. As we neared the exit, there was an employee standing there handing out Fast Passes to all of us who had waited and been unable to ride. The Fast Pass allows you to ride another time without waiting in the long line. So we tucked it away in Randy's pocket and headed toward out the exit.
The time had come for us to leave the Magic Kingdom for the day. We were all hot, tired and ready for showers and relaxation so we caught the green flag boat back to the Settlement Marina, caught the yellow bus to the shuttle stop and then finally walked back to our campsite. What a day! Sunday, June 14th
was to be a "down day", a day to rest up from our first Disney Day and
await the late evening arrival of Kim. We had spoken the day before and she had completed her first STEP for Medical School and was officially a 3rd year med student. She felt happy with her performance and would get her grade within 6 weeks.
The three of us slept in with two of us sleeping a bit longer than the third who finally voiced his wishes for breakfast, so Randy and I drug our tired, sore butts out of bed, microwaved Landan a Jimmy Dean Breakfast Biscuit and headed outside to drink our coffee. We were sitting in our folding chairs enjoying what was left of the morning, when to our surprise...or should I say shock, a man cut across our campsite headed to the bath house.
I commented to Randy rather loudly that I was not happy about the mid-morning intrusion by this stranger man. I was not dressed for company (INTRUDERS
) but rather in my long nightshirt certainly never expecting a man walking 10 feet away from my outside coffee room.
I got over it and we made good on our promise to spend a good part of the
Randy & Landan
spending more money :-)
day at the Fort Wilderness Pool. The pool is located at the Meadows, which is one stop from ours. If it hadn't been so hot at 11:00 we would have just walked the half mile, but instead we patiently waited for the Yellow bus to haul us to the pool. Now just because we took the bus, didn't mean we didn't walk. They don't exactly drop you off poolside so by the time we got there, we were already hot and tired. Maybe I was the only one who was tired because I insisted on lugging our 5 lb dinosaur of a laptop to the Meadows so I could check a few things online.
Landan's face lit up as we crossed the bridge and were far enough down the path to the pool where he could see an awesome waterslide! He immediately took off running despite me yelling "WALK". He took off so fast that we never noticed he still had on his flip flops when he came down the slide and they flew off into the pool. He loved the waterslide, and that is what we did. He stood in line, slid down, we caught him and
then he did it all over again, and again and again.
Finally, when it seemed that Landan needed a rest (Randy and I did) I talked them both into going over to the Trading Post to hook up the laptop. Despite the fact that Landan did not go easily, we headed down the walkway toward the Meadows Trading Post. By then, it must have been about 1:00 and it was even hotter than when we walked the short distance from the bus to the pool and our laptop was no lighter. When we finally reached the store we all hurried inside to escape the killer heat.
We looked around a bit while the clerk was assisting other shoppers and when she finished I asked her about the wifi. She told me it was $9.99 to access the internet and that was for a 24 hour period. So even if I only used it for half an hour, I had to pay $9.99??? No way was I going to agree to that so no internet for me. Landan however, spotted a pair of blue water goggles that he insisted would help his eyes, so we purchased those
and trudged back outside toward the pool, with Landan carrying his blue goggles, and me carrying that damn laptop...
By the time we made it back to the pool it was even more crowded so we played around in the water a bit then headed back to the RV for a late lunch. Randy and I made the decision to walk the 1/2 mile back to our campsite loop, rather than wait a possible 15 minutes for the bus. It would be hot either way and while we walked we did not see a bus so we had made the right decision.
Lunch was over much too quickly and Landan was eager to go back to the waterslide but we managed to keep him at the campsite playing with binoculars and his Hot Wheels until our food had settled then agreed to take him back for an hour or so until time to get showered and dressed to go and meet Kim at the front, that later on that evening.
Disney had arranged for her to take a shuttle bus from the airport to Fort Wilderness. All she had to do was find the
Disney kiosk on the first floor at the airport and give them her name. The shuttle runs from the airport to all of the Disney Resorts and they couldn't give us an exact time that Kim would arrive at Fort Wilderness, we decided to be at the Wilderness Campground Accommodations building early.
Making the short trek back to the pool (minus the laptop), we let Landan slide a few hundred times before returning to the RV to get cleaned up and head up to the front of the campground to meet Kim.
Once we arrived at the Wilderness Campground Accommodations building, it was apparent that we had arrived much earlier than necessary and it was still super hot outdoors. We sat on the porch and relaxed in the large wooden rocking chairs until the heat was too much and we needed to cool off, then we wandered inside and sat on their comfy couches to enjoy the air-conditioning.
Over the next hour and a half, Landan played Chess with several of the young guests who were checking in with their parents, while Randy and I relaxed for a change. We were finally bored with
the wait and went back outdoors to wait on the shuttle bus which was due anytime and it finally arrived around 7:00 pm. Turned out Kim was the last guest to be delivered to the Disney Resorts which meant she was the only one checking in to the Fort Wilderness Campground. She had a private ride from the last Disney Hotel drop-off to the campground.
After greeting Kim we hiked the short distance to the campground shuttle pick-up and joined about 30 other guests who were waiting to board shuttles to different destinations around the Disney Complex. We were too tired to go anywhere except back to the RV. Kim was in total agreement.
The four of us waited a few minutes while several of the other resort buses picked up riders to deliver them to The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom or one of the attractions, for some evening fun. Finally the yellow bus pulled up, just in the nick of time. It was still very hot and we were ready to cool off.
As we went to board the bus, the driver informed us that she was taking the bus to the
Kim & Landan
Kim's first ride on the ferry since joining us Sunday
repair shop and there would be another bus along in a few minutes to take over her route. Now wasn't that just our luck??
Well, a few minutes turned into a few more minutes, then a few more, until all of the growing group of "campground" folks were tired of waiting for the bus which was long overdue. Landan was especially tired after exerting his energy on the water slide at the pool all day. He was also rather hungry and so were we. When the next bus pulled in without the yellow sign, I went to ask what was going on with the bus we had all been waiting for almost an hour. She went through the deal about the bus going in for repairs and we all told her we knew that. Wouldn't you think with all of the money Disney makes, they would have more than one yellow bus
for the entire campground???
To make a long story short, she radioed our displeasure and about 15 minutes later a yellow bus pulled up. We were worried that there may have not been enough room with all of the people waiting but we
all managed to fit, thankfully
though a few of us were forced to stand up. We were only a few stops down so no problem.
After making it back to the RV we ate a quick meal, took showers and lounged around until bedtime. We were lucky to catch the local news.
We awoke bright and early Monday, June 13th,
and quickly prepared for our 2nd Disney Day, and Kim's 1st. After some deliberation we decided to visit Epcot and then go back to the Magic Kingdom on Tuesday for the final day of our passes. So after gathering our necessities for the long day, we headed toward the shuttle bus. It was already hot by then and luckily the shuttle was not far behind, so we boarded, happy to get out of the heat which was already continuing to rise at an alarming rate.
Arriving at The Settlement we headed toward the concierge who would be supplying Kim with her birthday button
to wear to the Disney Parks for the rest of her stay. After thoroughly embarrassing her, we were on our way to the dock at the marina to take the boat to
the Magic Kingdom, at which point we would board a Disney Tram to shoot us to Epcot. We were all surprised to find the tram rather warm and not refreshingly cool as we expected.
Within a few minutes we were arriving at Epcot and eager to start our day. Soon after entering the gates of Epcot, we found a map of the park and set out to explore. The next several hours were filled with excitement, fun, a lot of walking and once again, plenty of heat.
Kim graciously offered to take Landan for an hour or so to give me and Randy a few minutes of alone time, alone with thousands of others but nevertheless, without a child in tow.
After making plans to meet up in an hour, Kim and Landan took off to check out the Imagination Institute, while Randy and I set out to explore on our own. As we walked around enjoying the sights, we noticed that a lot had changed at Epcot since our previous visit and before we knew it, we were due to meet up with the other half of our group.
Neither of us had realized that
we had walked further than we realized and we were both sweating bullets by the time we reached the Imagination Institute. We walked all around that place and never saw Kim or Landan so I tried calling Kim's cell phone, but got her voicemail. I should have realized it was so loud in that place there would be no way she would have heard the ringing.
Randy and I had wandered around that gigantic building for a good 30 minutes before Randy spotted them coming out of one of the exhibits. They had been making a video games of themselves and it had taken them longer than Kim had realized. So after finally reuniting, we enjoyed Spaceship Earth, Mission Space and Test Track before we made our way to a diner and ate a late lunch.
Once we had eaten and cooled off, our energy was restored and we headed off for some more of Epcot. Landan found the Seas with Nemo & Friends and sweet-talked Kim into taking him in while Randy and I walked around a bit. We met back up to start our journey through the World Showcase.
We started in Canada, then on
to The United Kingdom, France and Morocco. We stopped along the way to enjoy some ice cream before continuing on through Japan and America. The heat had really started to wear us down so we intended to hurry through the final parts of the World Showcase, Italy, Germany, China, Norway and Mexico but our timing was bad and when we were almost to the bridge from Germany into China, the drawbridge started to lift up blocking our escape from the World Showcase section of Epcot.
While chatting with some of the other guests, we learned there was a large piece of equipment that is used in the nightly show, that has to be moved into place each evening and the bridge had to be raised. I snapped a picture of it as it creeped by at a snail's pace...the wait was so hot. When the thing had finally passed and the bridge returned to street level, we high-tailed it through Norway and Mexico toward the tram. On the way toward the exit, we spotted one last thing we could not pass up, Soarin'.
We stood in another line for an hour and a half for the most awesome
ride I have been on.
Soarin' is a multi-sensory attraction for kids, teenagers and adults which simulates a peaceful hang-gliding flight through the sky over California.
It lifted us 40 feet into the air, we actually felt like we were flying up and soaring up in the sky with unbelievable views. The attraction boasts an "IMAX projection dome wraps 180 degrees" around you, so you're engulfed by the impressive scenery. Having left our shoes behind on the floor below our lifts, when we were raised up, our feet dangled down free and we literally felt the wind in our hair, the scent of orange groves, evergreens and even the sea breeze.
Special cameras on airplanes and helicopters captured many of the shots and the glider moves the same way the aircraft did, so it really felt like we were flying over famous landmarks such as San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Redwood Creek, Napa Valley, Monterey, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park, Camarillo, Anaza-Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego, Malibu and Los Angeles.
If it hadn't been such a long wait, I would've ridden it over and over. It was totally awesome!!!! Best ride ever for me!
Our goal then was to make it back to the tram, then the marina at Disney World, where we caught the boat back to our campground. We stopped briefly along the way to the marina so Landan could toss a few carrots that Kim had brought along, to a bunny that was nibbling on some lush green grass. The rabbit must have smelled the carrot because he immediately abandoned his grass in lieu of the carrots.
Tram to Magic Kingdom, Marina to the boat and wouldn't you know it, the line was so long we had to wait on the next boat. At least the next boat was larger and accommodated the rest of the weary crowd waiting to return to the campground.
By the time we made it back to the Settlement we decided to treat ourselves to the Trail's End Restaurant to avoid having to cook or clean. Being able to shower and then rest, sounded like a great idea to us all, so we headed to the restaurant and gave our name to the hostess. She handed Randy a pager and asked for his last name. There weren't many people there so we assumed it
would be a short wait, like the first time. Since there were no restrooms inside the restaurant itself, a restroom was available two buildings down so Randy and Landan went to wash up while Kim and I waited. When they returned, we did the same and then I had the hard task of keeping Landan's hands clean until we were seated.
Ten minutes went by, then twenty and before we realized it we had waited thirty minutes and people who had arrived long after we had, were already inside and we were the only ones still waiting. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?? Now Randy is for the most part very non-confrontational but at times I have no problem with confrontation, and that was one of those times, however we both made it up to the hostess at about the same moment to find out the reason for our lengthy wait.
The hostess said she paged us but our pager never went off and then she said she called our name. Well we were within 10 feet of her and out of the four of us, one of us would have certainly heard our name called. So we told her
never mind and turned to leave. Then she started saying she was sorry for the confusion, but there was no confusion on our part so we kept walking. We ended up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the RV and saved that $75.00. Their loss... Tuesday, June 15th
we were up and at 'em despite being fairly tired (exhausted) from the past few day's activities. Well, maybe it was just me and Randy...however, the Magic Kingdom was on the agenda, so after breakfast and coffee, we set out to catch the shuttle, then the boat to begin our final day at Disney World.
Since Randy, Landan and I had ridden many of the main rides on Saturday, we started with one we had missed which was Pirates of the Carribbean. There was about an hour wait but the attraction was nice and we enjoyed it. Before long Landan started with "I wanna ride Space Mountain" but neither Randy or I was interested in standing in the line with him for another hour and a half so we suggested that he and Kim take two of the Fast Passes we got on Saturday, and go on the
The 4 of us @ Splash Mt
We are on the left. I was taking a picture and so was Kim.
ride. Then Randy and I noticed that the "regular" line seemed much shorter than the first time we rode so we got in the line to ride again. Afterall, we had been so close the other night and it was really a cool ride.
Once the line moved up enough for us to get in the shade and to feel the AC that was inside the building, we cooled off enough to endure the rest of the wait and rode Space Mountain for the second time. While I really enjoyed Space Mountain, I would have given anything to ride Soarin' again...
Randy and I met up with Kim and Landan then we all set out to find the next ride; three out of four voted for Kim's old favorite, It's a Small World. Landan fussed excessively about having to ride the baby ride again but the line wasn't as bad as it had been on Saturday.
With that done, we cheered Landan back up as we marched off toward Thunder Mountain but along the way we began to hear actual thunder off in the distance. By the time we had reached the attraction, they were shutting
it down. No chances are taken at DW when it comes to safety. If they hear thunder, they know lightning could be close by, so they shut all of the outside rides down.
As the line emptied, the four of us had nothing better to do so we hung around the area in hopes that the weather would blow over and within half an hour, it had done just that! When we saw the attendant pick up the Disney phone, we assumed it might be a good time to get back in line and we were right. Only 2 others were ahead of us and we breezed through Thunder Mountain! In fact, it was so quick that when we exited the ride, Splash Mountain which is right beside Thunder Mountain, had little or no line at all. It appeared that the crowd still had not noticed that the rides had re-opened and so we raced to it. We enjoyed Splash Mountain even more the second time not having to wait an hour for the fun.
We walked around a bit more in Toon Town hoping we might catch a glimpse of one of the Disney characters but
none were around. The few we saw during our three days were all at the head of long lines and we had stood in enough lines to ride the attractions.
We were all getting pretty tired; the heat, crowds and lines had taken their tolls on us and we turned toward the front of the park. As we rounded the corner toward Main Street, we saw a show going on at the Castle of the Magic Kingdom. There was Peter Pan fighting with some pirates, then a dance with Cinderella and her prince and ended up with Minnie and Mickey Mouse dancing around. That had been really good timing on our part!
The time had come for us to leave and as we were walking out, I told Kim that Randy and I were going to pick up a birthday cake for her and Landan at the Trail's End Restaurant back at the Settlement. I needed her to keep Landan company while Randy and I ducked in to make the purchase. So when we made it back, she took him over to the general store to look around while Randy and I bought the cake. The only thing
Kim & Landan
7 candles on the left for Landan, then 2 and 5 for Kim's 25th! The cake wouldn't hold enough candles for them.
they did not have were candles and I hadn't thought to bring any along on the trip. The employee at the restaurant said she thought the store at the Meadows had candles. We caught the yellow shuttle bus, Kim and I got off at the Meadows while Randy and Landan continued on to the RV. He would get Landan in the shower and scrounge him up something to eat while Kim and I purchased the candles for the cake.
Our plan worked well except for the part where I got us lost hiking back to the campsite in the dark. So much for shortcuts...
After finally making it back to our campsite we surprised Landan with the cake. We had 2 candles, a little gap then 5 more for Kim's 25th and on the other side of the cake, 7 candles for Landan. Wednesday, June 16th,
was departure day. Randy and I asked Kim and Landan if they would like to take a day and spend at the beach somewhere along the Atlantic. Landan had asked about seeing the ocean and with the BP oil spill in the Gulf, it might be a while before we'd
Kim & Landan
Kim 25 and Landan 7
see any clean beaches on the Gulf Coast. Landan heard beach and ocean and he was in, as was Kim.
Northward toward I-10, then we took the coast road and drove until we found a suitable public beach to spend a few hours. Daytona looked nice but we wanted a less congested area to park the RV. It was a clear, sunny and hot by the time we arrived at our destination which turned out to be Marineland Beach just south of St. Augustine, Florida.
There were only a couple of other vehicles on the large lot so we had plenty of room to park and not be in anyone's way. We grabbed Landan's raft and blow up dolphin, the sunscreen, towels, camera, normal beach stuff and locked up the RV. The few hundred yards to the water was pretty rough but we made it. We saw several other small groups of beach goers lounging around but nothing close to crowded.
We found a place on some rocks to place our belongings and we rushed out to the ocean to cool off. When I stepped in I was surprised to find the water rather chilly
but my body adjusted fairly quickly. After the quick dip to cool off, I agreed to blow up the dolphin so Landan could ride the waves.
Upon returning to our rock, we noticed a foul smell and soon located a bunch of dead fish just on the other side of the rocks. What luck... I proceeded to blow up Landan's dolphin and was soon out of breath. Randy took over for a while and then we took turns until the big blue dolphin was sea worthy. We then turned our attention over to the green raft I had brought to ride the waves. Once again, Randy and I took turns until our raft was inflated and headed back across the hot sand to the ocean.
By the time Randy and I made it to the water's edge, Landan was hollering about something biting him and sure enough, there were thousands of tiny sand crabs on the beach just under the sand. After he bored of the dolphin (not very long), Landan spent his time playing with the tiny sand crabs and digging a hole deep enough to stand in up to his knees. We enjoyed the
Landan with his blue goggles
the goggles he had to have from Disney World. These dollar store goggles cost us $9.99 at DW. At least he still likes them.
water and the waves and I got Randy to walk along the beach with me to collect a few seashells for a friend of ours. Landan would have loved to have brought a few of those crabs home too.
I took a few pictures, Kim took a few pictures and before we knew it the day was drawing to a close. If we were going to find a campground before dark, we needed to get a move on and so we did. After hauling out hot, sunburned bodies (mine and Randy's) back to the parking lot, we used our outdoor shower for the first time to wash the sand off before we entered the RV. We had applied sunscreen but obviously Kim did a better job on herself and Landan, than Randy or I did on ourselves.
We hit the road toward the east and as we drove we started noticing some rather dark rain clouds that were accumulating off in the distance. Nothing ever materialized during our drive but it sure made for cooler driving conditions. Kim kept Landan busy on her Iphone playing doodle jump, while Randy and I enjoyed some quiet time. I think
Landan must have worn Kim out at the beach because she ended up napping for an hour or so.
Around 6:00 pm, we located the Suwannee Valley Campground in White Springs, Florida. For $25, we had a very nice, level site with Wifi included. There was a very neatly kept office/clubhouse along with a very inviting pool, but we would be leaving too early to enjoy it. So we all showered at the bath house to save time, ate and prepared to relax before turning in for the night, when we started hearing thunder. Within a few minutes, along with the thunder, we were experiencing torrential rain, high winds and bright vivid lightning. It rained probably 3-4 inches in a matter of minutes and then it was over.
During that time we noticed a horrendous leak under one of the windows in our almost new RV. Other than a bout of rain and hail in Amarillo the 3rd night we owned it, this was the first heavy rain we had experienced in this RV and we were less than happy about it. When the rain subsided Randy and I went outside to duct tape the areas that
Our traveling home
With duct tape on the leaking window...
looked to be affected.
Limited relaxation, then sleep. Tomorrow would be another day and we had a trip to the Florida Caverns State Park planned. In addition to Landan's desire to see the ocean, he had expressed an interest in seeing a cave some time ago, so we would be able to fulfill two more of his dreams on this vacation, the first being Disney World, of course. Thursday, June 17th,
we awoke to a much drier campground than when we had gone to bed. The Florida Caverns State Park, is located in Northwest Florida in Marianna so we set our Garmin. The park encompasses 1,300 acres and borders the banks of Chipola River with the main attraction being the cave. There are guided tours daily except for Tuesday and Wednesday. We paid a nominal fee for day use to enter the park and enjoyed sandwiches in the RV before taking the cave tour.
We purchased our tickets for the tour and were guided to an area where we listened to the Ranger give a short history of the area and the park itself. When that was over, we began our descent into the cave
to a depth of around 60 feet. It was musty and cool, just like the other caves we have toured. Kim and I brought light jackets along in case they were needed but they weren't.
There was a full group for our tour and Steve the Ranger was very knowledgable. It was easy to tell he loved his job. The tour lasted just under an hour and the four of us really enjoyed every minute of it. At one point Ranger Steve turned off the light set up in one of the rooms, to show us what complete darkness is. Despite how the eyes try to catch even the smallest glimpse of light, there was none, not until the light was turned on again.
As we moved from room to room, Landan was most fascinated by the many formations of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies. His favorite part was the "Touching Pole" where he and the other children, were encouraged to be hands on. I enjoyed the "Christmas Tree" formation but I think the highlight was the bat that was hanging from the ceiling in one of the rooms.
Randy & Me
listening to the Ranger
Caverns State Park also has a small campground, an interpretive exhibit and concessions. There are many activities available such as swimming, fishing, picnicking, canoeing, boating, hiking and bicycling.
There is abundant wildlife including Woodpeckers, owls, beaver, alligators and turtles that are known to inhabit the area. There is also a quaint little gift shop on site which we could not pass up and we spent a few dollars scooping up some souveniers on top of the fee we paid for the entrance and the cave tour. The time had come for us to leave if we were going to make it to a campground and get settled in before darkness set in.
After consulting several of our campground directories, we settled on the KOA in Milton, Florida. Upon arrival we chose a full hook-up site complete with cable and Wifi for a grand total of $33.00 which included our 10% member discount.
We were assigned a site toward the rear of the park and we passed several rows of motorhomes that appeared to be permanent residents, on the way to our site. The landscaping was pristine and the sites were level and paved at KOA Milton Gulf Pines
Landan at the "Touching Pole"
The only place in the caave you are allowed to touch.
RV Park. Although some say KOA prices are high, we generally find them to be a nice, safe and relatively worry-free stay. From what we saw of this KOA it was as close to immaculate as any campground could be.
By the time we had hooked up we were all starting to get hungry. Afterall, those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from lunch only lasted so long...The guest services directory they gave us came in handy as it listed several restaurants that appeared to be in walking distance. The ad for the Hurricane Grill on Hwy. 87 featured fresh local seafood and "Great Food, Great Prices" and immediately won us over.
It was still very warm out when we started walking at around 7 pm, and we really weren't sure how far it was to the restaurant when we saw a mobile RV washing service, so we interrupted his work momentarily to ask about our impending walk. He seemed very surprised when we told him we were on foot but he assured us the food was worth the effort. In fact, he said he was headed up to the Hurricane Grill when he completed his work on the
motorhome he had been hired to detail.
So off we went to find some prepared food. We had to walk about a mile down the road that led to the KOA before we even made it to the main highway and the first thing we saw was a Waffle House and at that point it was looking pretty good to me. After a quick discussion, we decided to walk a little further and if we did not see the Hurricane Grill, we'd go back to Waffle House, but as expected the restaurant was just a bit further down the highway.
There were only a couple of cars in the parking lot so we were hoping the wait would not be too long and when we walked in we were happy to see that our assumptions were correct. Other than a couple of guys shooting pool and a couple of guys sitting at the bar, we had the place to ourselves. The waitress greeted us promptly and took our soft drink order while we pondered over our menus. I decided on fried catfish, Randy chose fried Shrimp, while Kim and Landan ordered chicken. The food was served within a
most reasonable time and it was piping hot and really good. Good service and good food, made it worth the walk and before we knew it we were finished and walking back down the highway toward the KOA.
By the time we made it back to the campground, it was dark but the sky was bright, illuminated by a million stars, so Randy and I decided to take a walk after we had settled Landan down in the RV. Despite having just walked about three miles, we had been couped up in small quarters with Landan for almost a week and with Kim inside on her laptop and Landan watching Sponge Bob, we escaped to explore the campground gazebo we had seen earlier on our walk to the restaurant.
As we made our way across the campground to the gazebo we noticed that there was no one roaming around the place. Everyone but us seemed to be locked up tight indoors so we had the place to ourselves. We sat there enjoying the stars and the peace and quiet for a few minutes when our quiet was interrupted by a car that pulled in to the campground. Then
our peace and quiet was suddenly over
when the car made its way toward the rear of the campground where we were sitting. We watched for a few minutes as a couple got out and proceeded to possibly erect a tent with the assistance of their headlights, so we went back to star gazing. However, we were once again interrupted by some loud cries from the girl and we could see her jumping up and down. Then they really had our attention as they started heading toward us. of course
they were heading our way...
It was dark enough that we doubted they could even see us but it became apparent soon enough that they were checking out tent sites which were evidently located around, you guessed it, the gazebo area. They went from one site to the next carefully checking each site with a flashlight. I started thinking they had lost something like a tent stake from a previous night or something but when they got so close that I thought we might startle them when they noticed us, I spoke. I asked if they had lost something and the guy answered that they were trying to find
a site without ants. His girlfriend had been attacked on the first site they tried setting up on and they weren't having much luck on any of the other sites.
The girlfriend asked if we had "heard her weeping" during her red ant attack and we admitted we had heard some of it. Randy told them we had some ant spray on the RV if that would help them out. The girl asked "what do we do with the spray, put it on my legs?" We told them they could spray their site and kill the ants. I took off to go check on Landan and retrieve the ant killer.
I returned with the spray and we wished them good luck and left them to their task at hand. They thanked us and offered to leave the remaining poison on our campsite table but we told them to keep it and we headed back toward the RV. Being our last night, we needed to be ready to drive back to Louisiana the next day. Back at the RV, we tried straightening up a bit, gave up and readied ourselves for bed. Friday, June 18th,
Landan was awake bright and early and we were all forced to start our day at that point. He was eating and watching his cartoons while Randy, Kim and I put away the remaining items to prepare to travel. Before long we were unhooked from our utilities and pulling out of the KOA, headed west, toward home.
As we neared the Mississippi State line, dark rain clouds began to cover the sky and we made it to the Mississippi Welcome Center just as all hell broke loose. The wind blew like crazy, the lightning flashed all around and the rain fell so hard it was almost impossible to see outside. As we enjoyed our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we were cozy and dry inside. It appeared that the tape we had temporarily applied to the leaking window while we were in the rainstorm a couple of nights before, was holding for the time being. [:0]
Once the storm had passed, we hit the highway again headed toward New Orleans to drop Kim off, and then on to Baton Rouge to home. The remainder of the trip home went well and Kim was home safe and sound, ready to start her third year of medical school, which started in 2 weeks.
It had been a very nice vacation, shorter than normal for Randy and me, but we were looking forward to our trip to Tennessee this October!