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Old 05-15-2008, 09:25 AM   #11
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Columbia, MD
Posts: 852

The James Gang in the Conch Republic

At 3:00 AM my eyes flew open. I couldn’t remember grabbing the green rubber ball from under the lounge chair when we left the Mickey Pool yesterday. I jumped out of bed and rifled through the beach bag…no ball. I searched the closet and under the bed…no ball. This was not good news! I pulled on some clothes and ran to guest services to check the lost and found…no ball. I resolved to check back every day until it showed up! Of course, now that I was up, there would be no getting back to sleep, so I headed up to Deck 9 and got a cup of coffee. I strolled around a little bit, then headed back to the stateroom and read a bit of my book and wrote in my travel journal. I had scheduled a wakeup call from Mickey for 6:00, so I could run on a treadmill at the fitness center before our character breakfast. I’m supposed to be co-writing the story for “Open Air” with DH, so I had to keep up with my workouts to stave off the extra calories. I grabbed the phone on the first ring, then hopped out of bed and started stretching. I ran up to the fitness center which was scheduled to open at 6:30 AM a bit early. When I got there, there was another woman in workout clothes waiting in a chair outside the door, so I wasn’t the only crazy person! I was pleased when they opened the doors at about 6:20. They had really nice LifeFitness treadmills, and I hopped on one in front of the floor to ceiling windows and ran three miles into the ocean.

After returning to the room, showering, and waking the boys, it was time to head over to Parrott Cay.

I’d read many complaints on the board about the change in format. In “Mickey’s Island Jam” the characters come out three times and present three different shows during which they invite the kids to come up and join them. The whole thing concludes with the obligatory conga line which snakes its way around the dining room.

We saw Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Lilo & Stitch, and Chip & Dale.

This format was perfect for DS who doesn’t really care to sit still at a table and eat or wait his turn to do something fun (like have a character come to your table for pictures and autographs). While they won’t sign or pose at this breakfast, the characters are more than generous with the attention they lavish upon the children and will hug, hi-5, and tousle hair to your heart’s content.

After breakfast, we headed over to the OC at DS’s request for a bit, and DH and I took a walk around Deck 4, stopped in at Shutters to grabbed the Minnie picture from the terminal, then headed to Mickey’s Mates. While considering the purchase of a 6X8 DCL picture frame, my pager went off. “Joel would like to be picked up,” it warned me. I ran to check on the boy while DH stayed behind to buy the frame. When I arrived at the OC, I was informed, “Joel’s a little upset.” Upon seeing me, his sad little face collapsed into tears. Turns out, I had told him they would be making puppets in the evening to psych him up about going during our Palo dinner. Apparently, he figured the sooner he got there, the sooner he could make his puppet. The CM and I explained the concept of a “schedule” to him and then she told him that they were going to be making flubber and described what that was. DS decided that sounded ok. I met DH back to the room and put the picture of DS and Minnie in the frame. We picked up DS and his flubber when it was time to disembark at Key West. I had secured a stroller at guest services the night before, and we wheeled that down to the gangway at Deck 1. The plan was for me and DH to burn some calories by sightseeing on foot while DS sat back and enjoyed the ride.

We wanted to see the Aquarium, the Butterfly Conservatory, and the Southernmost Point, and I’d read it was about 2 miles from the north to the south of the island, so that would be about four miles of walking. The aquarium was a fantastic place. Being members of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, we’d grown accustomed to quickly breezing past large aquatic displays behind Plexiglas as DS hurried through to get to the escalators and ultimately the gift shop. In contrast, the Key West Aquarium is a fraction of the size, but DS found all the open tanks and ponds much more compelling. Upon entering, visitors encounter a large touch tank filled with starfish, sponge, conch, and other innocuous forms of sea life. DS loved holding a starfish and placing a tentative finger on anything else I presented to him.

It probably took us around 45 minutes to explore the entire aquarium, but DS was engaged the entire time. Upon leaving, I grabbed a small order of conch fritters from a stand right outside, we admired some roosters strolling in the plaza, and tried our luck at chatting up a grizzled old seaman who wouldn’t give us the time of day before heading south on Duval Street.

We progressed south at a rapid pace, finally arriving at the Butterfly Conservatory. After paying admission and being briefed on the procedure, we ventured into the butterfly room. DS was enthralled! He kept pointing out specimens that I should photograph and finally requested my camera in order to take some shots himself.

After the obligatory stop at the gift shop, we strolled the couple of blocks to the Southernmost Point and waited in line to have our picture taken. We encountered Linda and her peeps just finishing getting their picture taken, and after discussing the most efficient rout to the Blonde Giraffe and other forms of decadence, they headed off.

After our photo, we too returned north on Duval and made a pit stop in the very nicely air conditioned Blonde Giraffe store (the 90 degree temps had made DS, our rickshaw passenger, majorly wilt!) for some ice cream for DH and the much anticipated chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick for me. Unbelievable! Everything tastes better on a stick, doesn’t it? As we headed back to the pier, it started to drizzle and eventually turned to a steady shower. When we finally returned to our stateroom, the view from our porthole revealed quite a heavy downpour. The rain didn’t last long, and DS and I put on our swimsuits and paid a brief visit to the Mickey Pool while DH took a nap.

When we returned to the room, I found a little plate of beautiful canapés on the little dresser next to the closet…no card, no explanation. DH was just coming to, and when I asked him about it, he had a vague recollection of someone knocking at the door. We figured it had to be more goodies from DCL PR! We got DS into dry clothes and dropped him off at the OC. DH and I went over to the spa for our couples massage. Our technicians were Andrew and Alexia, and they were very good. I don’t think DH enjoyed the experience quite as much as I did. After returning to the stateroom and dressing for dinner, we went to Palo. Sylvester from India was our server, and we liked him very much.

We ordered three appetizers, the Tuna Carpaccio for me, Pizza Margherita for DH, and the Grilled Shrimp Salad to share. It was all delicious! Sylvester had also brought out the Antipasto Freddo for us to nibble on. For a main course, I ordered the Lobster and Mascarpone Ravioli, which was fantastic, and DH got the Tenderloin, which he liked very much, and Sylvester brought us out the Wild Mushroom and Hazelnut Risotto---very rich and flavorful! For dessert, we each got a Chocolate Souffle, mmmmmmm! After finishing dinner, we went back to the OC to pick up DS. There were some characters and photographers about, and we saw Dopey on Deck 4 right below us. We ran down to get a shot with him, but DS got nervous. I got in line anyway, and when it was almost my turn, DH tried to convince him to pose with us, but he got teary, so he sat this one out while we got a great shot of DH and me in our Palo finery with Dopey!

Next installment, Palo Brunch, a Day at the Spa, and Formal Night…
Cruises To Date:Jan. 25 - 28, 2007: 3 Night Bahamian on the Wonder May 3 - 10, 2008: 7 Night Western Caribbean on the Magic June 15 - 22, 2013: 7 Night Eastern Caribbean on the Fantasy June 13 - 20, 2015: 7 Night Western Caribbean on the Fantasy
Trips to WDW: 1972 - off site, 1974 - off site, July 1999 - Caribbean Beach, April 2010 - Pop Century, June 2012 - Pop Century, Dec. 2012 - Animal Kingdom Lodge, June 2014 - Pop Century
May 3-10 Western Trippie: June 15 - 22 Eastern Trippie
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