It's taken me days of bad internet connections, fouled up camera software, and painful edits to determine that there is no way I can share this vacation in one post. It was two weeks. So, for those of you who really don't care about people's vacations, think of this as the home movies of the Grand Canyon that you can just turn off, skip, flip through. Or, sit back, and wonder what kind of crazy people we are, at 40 and 46 to haul ourselves off to Disney World and on a Disney Cruise for a child-free vacation. If you figure it out, let us know. So far the best we've come up with is "complete suspension of reality", and that's holding true.
Friday 18 January:
I have placed myself in the hands of Mr. Wonderful who says he will deliver me safely to our vacation destination. I have much work to accomplish, and his driving will allow me to focus on my knitting without distraction. We leave in the morning, early. My role as Navigator will allow me ample knitting time. Driving extends the knitting time much longer than a silly 3 hour plane trip.
Saturday 19 January:
We are on the road. A bit of a late start, we did not get out of town until 8:30am, and then it took us an hour to get past Northampton. We're slacking, big time. Stopped in Waterbury, CT to obtain what may be my last latte and use the restrooms of the Barnes and Noble. Then. It. Happened. I saw it. For the first time, in the wild, I saw it. I think I hyperventilated a little, got a little teary-eyed, the whole thing. (I am soft, but it's MINE.) 2-at-a-Time Socks, on a shelf, staring at me. And not hidden either, right smack in plain view. Crazy, man. I took a picture. There were two, and I wanted to sign them, but Mr. W. did not wish me to 'make a scene', and so we left. Amy will, I hope and assume, explain to him why he needs to MAKE me sign not STOP me from signing. I am supposed to make scenes, they tell me. So, whoever buys the two in Waterbury? You came this close to having signed copies! Sorry! You may blame Mr. W. The rest of the day passed relatively smoothly, until evening. Then the snow began swirling, and the untreated roads became so much fun to ride on, but we had no choice but to push ahead (reservations and dogged, stubborn determination). Driving down the eastern seaboard into a territory where snow is a rarity and the locals are completely unprepared for the stuff is not something to be undertaken lightly. There's some reactionary freak-outs countered with the fools who think it's not a big deal and drive faster to prove it. Disaster, really. We made it to Hopewell, VA later than desired, tired and hungry. Had dinner at a Ruby Tuesday where I enjoyed a well-deserved "Ruby Relaxer". I still do not know what was in this thing, but relaxation was definitely present. I hate snow. It's why I go south in winter.
Sunday 20 January:
Virginia canceled church. Seriously. They had at least a half-inch of snow. The news stations were focusing on this as a state of great emergency. They opened warming stations around Richmond. Black ice was reported, described, defined, shown, explained in every possible way. Futile, as I sense uninitiated locals will go push the envelope regardless. As Navigator, I demanded that we get on the road as early as we could and beat it south before they were out of bed and trying to drive. Mr. W. agreed. Really, we can laugh because we live in New England where snow, ice, sleet and freezing rain are the order of the day (take today, for example), all day, every day from December till March. But I can imagine for the uninitiated and unprepared, snow must stop everything. I finished my Be Mine socks (YAY!! Yarn: Franklin reject color, US2 bamboo 32" circulars, 2-at-a-Time, of course!), and began to design pair for Knit and Crochet Today. The pattern for them will be given as a free pattern on the shows website when "my" episode airs. We stopped for the night in Kingsland, Georgia, with dinner at an Applebee’s crawling with college kids. We stay pretty much with Hampton Inns on the road and all non-Disney vacations now. Mr. W. has discovered Hilton Honors points. He is actually a little obsessive about this. It helps that the one time we've strayed on the road to a Holiday Inn Express (last December in Emporia, Virginia; I will never forget), the fire alarms went off until my brain exploded and I demanded to be removed to the Hampton Inn next door. The Hampton Inn in Kingsland was a remodeled something else with exterior corridors, crappy lighting and a very bored desk clerk who we really annoyed by arriving and wanting to check in during a game of some kind. Not impressed. The room was, however, clean and the internet free. It worked. Hysterical moment: Mr. W. decides to trot into the little conveniance store for a beer, not wanting to pay Applebee’s prices. A very stern young woman informs us that there are no beer sales on Sunday in Georgia. For a moment we both felt like bad teenagers. She says we can go to Florida, fifteen minutes south. We're not that desperate. The kid at the cooler with us runs for his pick-up truck. I think he's heading south.
Monday 21 January:
Finally. After stopping in St. Augustine for some brief tourist wandering (sorry, no good pics, it was cold and cloudy) and a latte, we finally made it to Orlando. We had lunch at TGIFriday's and found our way to the Palm Parkway Hampton Inn in Lake Buena Vista. At last, I don't need my fleece and jeans. We ate at Downtown Disney just to get the feeling - Wolfgang Puck Cafe, where I had specially prepared gluten free sushi and a flourless chocolate cake that made me cry (Fine. So I cry over food. Wanna make something of it? Ask me when the last time I had cake is. You'd cry too, man, trust me.). Tomorrow we can check in at Port Orleans, where there is a fake river with a delightful boat, themed zydeco, and piped-in fake crickets in the evening. I feel like I am on vacation now.
Tuesday 22 January:
We checked in early, 9am, and were given a room assignment and our park passes. Our room was ready, which is unusual for 9am, but who's arguing? We parked the car (hallelujah) and made our way to 8901 Magnolia Bend, Port Orleans Riverside. I love this resort. I love the deep south feel, and the fake crickets (did I mention that?? I really dig the fake crickets. Wanna make me happy? Get me a recording of peepers and crickets overlaying unrecognizable zydeco and bluegrass with the occasional Disney theme song thrown in, similarly altered to reflect the deep south feel) I love the sweeping paths and gardens that feel all Scarlett O'Hara. I love to look across toward Alligator Bayou and wonder why we never stay there. Mr. W. will ask for a room change if they even try to put us over there. We walk past the main pool to get to resort center for coffee and buses. The pool is awesome for kids. It's called Old Man River. Makes me wish I was 6. There's a slide, hot tub, and a bar so momma can have nice fruity beverages while the life guards keep junior from drowning. Moms like it too...
For our first park I said "Whatever bus comes first, we get on, regardless." It was a Disney Hollywood (formerly MGM) Studios bus. I wanted to change my mind. But I said "regardless", and I stuck to it. MISTAKE. It was packed. So was the park. And we don't even really like this park that much (And why do we use the word "park" to describe a vast swath of concrete and plastic and shopping and stuff, anyway? That may be a whole other blog post). We ate lunch at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. We've been meaning to eat here forever. You're seated primarily in "cars" facing a big "drive-in" screen that plays old and very bad sci-fi movies, home of tomorrow clips, and some old cartoons and intermission clips. There are tables at the back, picnic style. We were 'hitchhikers' in a car already containing a family of three, mom, dad and small person of female gender who appeared to have been at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (say that three times fast!) earlier in the day. I had a really good salad and ordered a Year of a Million Dreams Blue Glow-tini (give me a couple more of those and I'll hit the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique myself - classic princess or diva princess, you think?). When it was delivered, the blinking blue "ice cube" in my glass caused the little (maybe 3 year old) one to become enamored. Her little face lit right up and she informed mommy and daddy that I had a blinking beverage. Repeatedly. And she stopped eating her pizza, dead stop. After carefully removing the adult beverage liquid from the thing, I gave it to her. She was too painfully cute. Trouble in paradise, however. The camera is acting weird. It makes things black with lines. I smacked it around and it's a little better.
Back for a swim after MGM - err, I mean Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park. Met a lovely Canadian lady at the pool who's determined to go home pruned and tanned. I can't blame her. If I were not obsessed with sunscreen I'd be doing the same. She appears to live in the pool, from 9am till 4pm daily. She says she was in the water over the weekend when temps were around 40F. Everyone thought she was nuts. But the pool is heated, and I'd have gotten in myself.
After nap, we headed for Narcoosee's at the Grand Floridian. Before we even ordered, we stood by the rail of Narcoosee's wrap-around porch and watched fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. I felt badly as we'd been seated, but the host assured us that it was perfectly fine for me to hang over the railing for a half an hour waiting to see Tink fly. Fireworks were excellent as they always are. Note: if you're looking for a good fireworks view but don't want to enter the Magic Kingdom, head into the Grand Floridian. Walk straight through the lobby, and out the back. Make a sharp left, go past the pool and follow the path toward the water, following signs for Narcoosee's and the boats for the Magic Kingdom. Park yourself on the boat dock, and wait patiently. The lights are not fully lowered as boats are still coming and going, but it's not a bad view. Also be aware that nightly in good weather there's an electrical water parade on Bay Lake, which is visible from the beaches of the Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian. This is a little-known about but very fun way to end a day if you're a resort guest, or if you're trying to avoid crowded monorails, or if you've got dinner at one of those resorts. Loved the food, although the environment was louder than I expected. My camera is having some sort of serious issue. It better fix itself. I smack it a lot, which is helping less and less. I took great pics of fireworks and Narcoosee's. They're all black and stripey.