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Old 02-02-2007, 08:08 PM   #1
blestmom
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Holy heatwave, Batman! Mom + 5 kids do Disney [with PICS] -COMPLETED!!

Cast:

Me: 42 year old Disney-crazy mom
DS 17
DS 15
DD 13
DD 10
DS 8

When:
January 8-23, 2007

Where:
Off-site, Windsor Palms

Pre-trip planning:
I really can’t believe we’re going again. Coming from Alaska, this is getting a bit silly. But…what can I say? I love the place. Unfortunately my DH does not share my “Love of the Mouse.” But he does work 2 and sometimes even 3 jobs in part to support my Disney habit, so he is a sweetheart. He sends me and the kids on our way, and stays home to take care of the odd assortment of unwanted rescue critters that I seem to collect (as much as I collect antennae toppers and popcorn buckets…but I digress.)

Each trip we’ve taken has had some element of “free” in it…such as “free” rooms September 2005 (okay, not entirely “free,” but .93 cents is pretty darn close.) For this trip, thanks to my teenage boys' ravenous appetites (hence…double miles on our credit card for groceries) and their seemingly endless baseball and basketball AWAY games (hence…double miles for gas)…we easily earned enough frequent flyer miles for 6 tickets. All we had to pay for was hotel, park tickets and a rental car…plus a few trivial things like food, parking, and over-priced ride photos.

It seems these days earning your frequent flyer miles is easier than redeeming them. We called the airlines and gave an estimate of when we would like to leave. They finally found something around that day. Then comes the fun part of picking a return day. Since we’re traveling from Alaska and it takes an entire day of flying…plus a day to recover on each end…we usually try to go for 10 days to make it worthwhile. So we start at the 10-day mark and see what is available. No return flights available 10 days out. How about 11? 12? 13? Oh dear. Finally…they are able to find a return flight for us 16 days out. Hey…that’s okay with me. Book it!

This was in April. Back when DS#2 was 14. Fast-forward to our trip…and we have a problem. DS#2 is now 15, and although he is homeschooled, he plays sports for the local high school. It is his first year. Our trip has fallen smack-dab in the middle of basketball season. Not only is he playing for the freshman team, but also for the junior varsity. Let’s just say that the coach…and the kid…are not real thrilled with missing so many games and practices. Now major “Bad Mom” guilt settles in. Not only that, but my oldest son is missing his homeschool basketball team, and my daughters are missing dance. **Sigh** Aren’t family vacations important? Well…it’s already paid for and set, so we are going to go, but I promise both boys I will not take them out during a sports season again…lesson learned.

As part of DS#1’s homeschool, he is taking a Consumer Education class, so I assign him the job of researching and selecting a villa. In the past, we’ve stayed in the Fort Wilderness cabins. They are my very favorite place in the whole wide world. But as my kids are getting older, the lure of a game room, private pool, separate bedrooms, and a second bathroom is too great. I figured since they’re already a bit miffed about the timing of the trip, I’ll let them pick a villa. Plus DH likes the cost better. DS#1 finds a villa in Windsor Palms. It is our first time trying a villa. More on that later.

Travel Day: Monday, January 8
Okay…”technically” it is Monday, but our flight leaves at 12:05 a.m., so to us it really feels like Sunday night. We’ve had a terrible habit of staying up late reading and watching movies late at night, so we really aren’t tired…the night is just starting! My DH, however, is not thrilled with the time. We live 1-1/2 hours away from the airport. DH decides to drop us off 2 hours early. I really can’t complain, so we all wait patiently at the airport. My youngest son packed 19…yes 19…stuffed animals to take with him. They are all named. He shows his favorite…”Old Jack”…the airplane.



I am a veteran of flying with kids alone. My kids have been very good travelers. Our biggest challenge was deciding who sits where. This is equivalent to who get the front seat in the car. (Please tell me other families go through this!) At home, we have 2 stuffed pigs on the dash of my minivan (don’t ask) named “Stubby.” (Stubby #1 and Stubby#2 came with on the trip to help us find our mini-van at the end of the day in the parking lot...and to have a little reminder of home.) Tradition has it that whoever is ready to go for the days’ activities first gets to put Stubby in the front seat and claim that spot. Too bad we didn’t get to use the Stubby tactic for the airplane. After about 20 minutes of heavily debated negotiation, the kids finally decide who gets to sit where. They decided for the first leg (of 3) it will be “boys” and “girls.”



Before getting on the plane, I give the girls Dramamine. I really don’t like to do this, but my last trip report was titled “Planes, Barf and Pixie Dust.” Let’s just say it wasn’t a pretty sight, and my oldest son was on the verge of indecency as he kept shedding layers to give to his sisters who got sick on plane #1, in the airport during a layover, on plane #2…and so on. We also had a very short connection…only 35 minutes…in Salt Lake City. I was a bit nervous since the plane took off 45 minutes late, but hey…worry won’t solve anything so I really didn’t worry. Good thing, because the pilot made up the time in the air and we landed at the exact time originally scheduled. The flight was great, because they showed a football movie, “Invincible,” which was right up my boys’ alley. We made our connection easily in Salt Lake City, and got in to Atlanta. Then came the dreaded 4-hour layover. I really don’t know why Delta changed our flight…we originally didn't have this long of a layover. By this time, the kids and I were SO tired. DS#2 is quite the practical joker. He kept himself entertained by taking pictures of pilots. He would “plant” his sister in front of them, so as not to be too obvious. I think he took about 30 pictures of pilots. He chased them around the terminal. I asked him why, and he said, “Because it’s fun.” Okay. Whatever keeps him entertained.



The other kids slept.



We arrived in Orlando and went to get our rental car. I let the kids pick. They had a choice between an Uplander, a Grand Caravan, or a Kia Sedona. They picked the last, due to the larger trunk space. DH said we picked the worst of the three. Oh well…I liked it, except that I kept turning on the windshield washers whenever I wanted to switch gears.



We then proceeded to find our way to the villa. By this time it is dark. We got a little lost. Let’s just say the trip to the villa was interesting, and I now found out where Celebration is. It is very pretty, so I am happy that we got lost. We made it to the villa, tired but very excited. Everyone got settled in their room, we ordered a take-out pizza, the younger kids swam, and the boys glued themselves to ESPN (we don’t get that at home.) We are going to sleep in and get groceries tomorrow.



So far so good…

Next day: “Oops…I think we’re headed to Tampa…”

Thanks for reading!

Last edited by blestmom; 02-21-2007 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 02-02-2007, 08:17 PM   #2
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Sign me up! Sounds like this is going to be a fun trip and your kiddos are cute! I love how he planted his sister in front of the pilots, that is too funny!

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Old 02-02-2007, 09:10 PM   #3
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I'm in!
And yes, other families have the "Who sits where" fights. Looking forward to reading the rest of your trippie.
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Old 02-03-2007, 05:50 PM   #4
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Holy heatwave, Batman! Mom + 5 kids do Disney [with PICS] - Updated 2/3

Day 2: January 9, Tuesday

After such a long flight, we were very thankful to sleep in on our first day. Once the kids got up, we realized that we were starving. We didn’t even have any water to drink!! DS#2 and I headed off to get groceries. We followed some directions to the SuperWalmart, and easily spent $300 getting the necessary…and fun…groceries needed for the 2 weeks. On the way back, however, we somehow missed our exit. After traveling for what seemed an eternity, we started seeing signs to “Tampa.” Getting turned around was not going to be so easy. There was a lot of construction. We had to go another 20 minutes in the wrong direction, then had back. Ugh! Finally we found our way back to the villa. We started hauling in the groceries. It looked like enough food to feed an army…until I remembered that my two teen-age boys literally eat non-stop (in our house we joke that we have 4 meals a day…breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper. These guys come downstairs to the family room 2 hours after dinner with another FULL meal. And they are skinny as rails…)

After this, we headed to Downtown Disney Guest Relations to pick up our park tickets at the will-call. The boys then took each other on in a pool game. That started a 2-week tournament. They played pool every chance they got.



My other kids took another swim in the pool.

Then it was into bed and ready for our first park day.

Next day: Magic Kingdom…a perfect day!
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Old 02-03-2007, 06:11 PM   #5
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Day 3: January 10, Wednesday

One of the advantages of homeschooling your kids is not having to get up real early in the morning. Which is nice in Alaska…when it is pitch black at 9 a.m. But I was concerned about my kids…wait, let me re-phrase that…my teenagers being able to get up early enough to get to the parks at opening. They surprised me by being up and ready to go on time.

We left a little after 8:00 a.m. leaving plenty of time to get to the TTC and over to the Magic Kingdom. Except for one thing. Mom missed the turn. The sign for the Magic Kingdom was on the left side of the road, and we were all looking on the right. I had to go down to Gaylord Palms to turn around (I’m sure I turned on the windshield wipers a couple of time attempting to change gears as well.) Amazingly, we still made it to the Magic Kingdom just in the nick of time to see the opening. In all my years of going to Disneyworld, I’ve never been to the opening. It was SO cool! In fact, it was so cool I started to cry. But I didn’t want my kids to think I was too dorky and be overly embarrassed, so I said something about the sun being in my eyes and put on my sunglasses.



It was a gloriously cool but sunny day. That is my kind of weather. I love the sunshine, but really don’t like heat. I’d much rather have it be cooler than warmer. It was perfect. It was also very empty.



We started by heading over to Pirates of the Caribbean. We were so excited to see the updated version.



We quickly walked through the queue with no line. My son noted that the CM loading the boats sounded very much like Rex KwonDo (from “Napoleon Dynamite.” We kept waiting to hear about his six-week program, but…nothing.) We loved the new additions…Davy Jones, Johnny Depp, POC music. You always seem to get stuck at the end of that ride while they unload the boats in front of you. It is much more enjoyable now, as you get to see…and hear…Johnny Depp as you wait. *Sigh*.

We then went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Again, no line. The morning was great, and even my teens agreed to get up early most mornings to get to the parks at opening. They loved how uncrowded it was, and how much we were able to do.



We took the first raft over to Tom Sawyer’s Island. We split up in an effort to find a hidden paintbrush. DS#1 went off on his own. He said he thought there would be a paintbrush in a cave. I told him I seriously doubted they would hide one in a cave. When we caught up with him later, who do you think was holding a paintbrush?



Okay…I was wrong. Although the paintbrush wasn’t hidden “in” the cave, but right next to the opening. DS gave it to his younger sister to turn in for a certificate. That was fun!



I have to get a picture of the riverboat every trip. I think it is so pretty.



We then made our way through Fantasyland, and rode just about everything with no lines. Then it was off to the teacups. The goal of my boys is to get the teacup spinning at a dizzying rate, then stop, and go the other way! I’m not too much of a wimp, and I don’t mind going fast, but stopping and switching directions…ugh! Not for me. We agree to split up “boys” and “girls” for this one. I am SO glad I was not in their teacup.



While walking on the bridge from Main Street to Liberty Square, I saw what looked like Captain Jack Sparrow out and about. My kids asked if we could meet him, but I told them no, he doesn’t do meet-and-greets. Just then a Cast Member said that the line to meet Captain Jack was off to the side. I was SO happy to be proved wrong! There was only one other party ahead of us. I was so nervous…how ridiculous! My daughter and I went up first. He asked where we were from. I told him Alaska, and he said, “Alaska? Too cold…too many polar bears…no rum.”



Then he turned to my daughter and said, “Ooh…let me get some eyeliner tips…a little here, and off to the side…fabulous…got it.”



He then showed my youngest son how to be “tough.”



That was really fun. I think maybe it was a practice for the Pirate and Princess Party.

We had lunch at the Columbia Harbor House. We love this place, especially sitting upstairs. Unfortunately, they had roped off the upstairs, so we didn’t get to enjoy that part, but the food was good anyway. We rode just about everything and had a wonderful day.

We stayed until closing, and watched “Wishes.” I love those fireworks! I’ve never been able to capture a good fireworks shot with my little digital camera, but I just set it up on a railing and kept clicking away, hoping to get at least one decent shot. This was the best of the bunch.



And...



We headed back to the villa, ate dinner, swam, played pool and got a good night’s sleep, ready for Epcot tomorrow.

Next day: How about the Uncle Rico pose?
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Old 02-03-2007, 06:15 PM   #6
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I'm loving your report so far. Great job!

I can relate to so much of your TR already! The very long flights! The arguments about who sits where - believe it or not when we were planning our last trip my then 9 year old said that it was his turn to sit by the window on our way to the U.S. I said "what do you mean it's your turn?" and he somehow had calculated exactly who sat where on each flight we'd ever taken and how his brother had somehow snagged the window seat twice in a row etc etc. I too felt a lot of guilt about taking my boys when we did. Although they were only too thrilled to be going to WDW, they missed more school than I originally thought and missed music classes too. I'd still go again at the same time of course, lol! But we did pay a price.

You got lost too?! Been there! We couldn't, for the life of us, find out way out of Disney World. Managed it eventually of course but not before lots of stress and a few threats.

Keep up the good work!! Can't wait to hear more!
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Old 02-03-2007, 09:51 PM   #7
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Hi, I think I remember you from chat!
your report is great. You should enter
the picture of the castle with fireworks
in a photo contest..really, it is one awesome
picture! Can't wait to hear more about your
trip!!
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Old 02-04-2007, 06:13 PM   #8
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Day 4: Thursday, January 11

Today is an Epcot Day. Again my kids surprised me by getting up early. We get to the park right when it opened. It is pretty cool to pull into a very empty parking lot and just walk right up. The kids wanted to ride Test Track first, so off we went. This was our first time trying Photopass, and since Test Track’s ride photo is included, we decided to try a lot of different ‘poses.’ Our first pose was normal, but then my boys always tried to figure out some sort of pose we all had to do. Since there was NO ONE on the ride, they let us go around again. This time, the boys decided we would pose like Uncle Rico, when he was getting his ‘glamour shot.’ It turned out pretty good!



After the ride, the kids wanted pictures of themselves in their favorite cars.



Following this was a pretty relaxing…and wonderful…day at Epcot. Our first ride on Soarin’ was the front center row…pretty cool! I love that ride! We went on the new Nemo ride, and then to watch Turtle Talk with Crush. We also did Living With the Land and Universe of Energy. I also took the younger kids on Mission: Space (Green.) The regular Mission: Space hasn’t bothered me, or the older 3 kids in the past, but the younger two were a bit nervous, so I figured I’d take them on the tamer version. They really liked it.





In the afternoon, we meandered slowly around the World Showcase. Since we have a longer trip, we plan one day on starting in the World Showcase and really taking some time to explore the countries. We rode the boat in Norway, and watched the movies in China and France. I could tell the kids were getting tired. We had our one and only table service meal at L’Alfredo’s in Italy. It was very, very good. We enjoyed it. After that, we stayed to watch Illuminations. I had gotten a glimpse of the ‘globe’ being brought out earlier in the day…



and although it’s blurry, a kind of cool shot of it at night, too.



Then it was back to the villa, with more swimming, a game of pool, and off to bed.

Next day: Expedition Everest…Here We Come!!

Last edited by blestmom; 02-21-2007 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 02-04-2007, 08:05 PM   #9
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Day 5: Friday, January 12

(Warning: Lots of pictures!)

Today is Animal Kingdom Day! We are all so excited to try Expedition Everest! We get to the park again at opening (Wow! These kids have really surprised me getting up early.) We practically run to Everest. DS#2 is telling all of us that we are walking too slowly. Hey…it’s hard to navigate 6 people through a crowd at the same time. We rush to get fastpasses for Everest so we can ride again right away, and go to get in line only to find out…it is down for maintenance, and will be down for at least 4 hours. Boo Hoo! Well, nothing can be done about it. I suggested going to see the new Nemo musical, but the boys’ nix that suggestion. Instead they opt for Dinosaur, and then Primeval Whirl. We head over to the Safari, and grab fastpasses for that. Then we saw that a show was starting up at the Tusker House, so we stayed to watch it. It was pretty good.



After watching the show, it was time to go on the Safari. Wow…it was great! If you like to take pictures, I would recommend sitting in the last row. I just happened to get it, and I found out that if you miss a shot, if you’re in the back row, you have enough time to turn around and still get the shot. I’m going to ask for that row next. Here are a few pictures I got:

Elephant:


Hippos:


Flamingos:


Alligators:


Since it was still some time until Everest would be open, we decided to take our time walking on the trails and observing the animals. I am so glad we did! We really enjoyed it, and we learned a lot. Usually we just rush through here. What a treat to really soak in everything. Another thing…I know I’m just a big kid. Every year I get a new Pal Mickey for me. I really like having him at Animal Kingdom. He tells you a lot about the animals, and my younger kids really enjoyed learning about the animals. Here are some of the animals we saw:

Hippo:


Gorilla:


Tiger:


My son told the Komodo Dragon to smile...and he did!


Bats:


Isn't this meerkat just the cutest thing?




By this time, the kids are pretty anxious to ride Everest. Even though the 4 hours aren’t up yet, we walk by Everest and notice that it is open. Yipee! We are so excited!!! We still have our fastpasses, so we practically walk onto the ride. Oh my goodness! We absolutely love, love, LOVE Everest! It wasn’t scary, but exciting! We all run out and grab fastpasses so we can go on it again later. By this time we’re hungry, so we go have lunch at Flame Tree Barbeque…yum! Then we head over to Conservation Station. I took my younger 3 kids to meet some characters.



My older boys were on their own. Okay…those of you with teenage boys will understand this next part. My boys went over to the “hidden camera” video screens…the ones where you can pick an animal exhibit and then navigate the camera around so you can see what the animals are doing. Well…my boys decide that it is more amusing to watch the other tourists. So they set the cameras to show close-ups of other park-goers watching the animal exhibits. I have to admit…it was rather entertaining! While we were watching, the "Talking Trash Can" came over to my younger two. They were fascinated!



After taking the train back, we got to see Devine. I didn’t get a very good picture of her, but she is amazing.



We watched “It’s Tough To Be A Bug.” DS#2 wanted to know if you wear five 3-D glasses, can you see the show in 15-D?



We then got to watch another show at Tusker House. These guys were fantastic!





After that, we went on Primeval Whirl 3 more times, and Everest 2 more times. We decided to do Kali River Rapids last of all. I didn’t get too wet, but a couple of my kids got soaked.



We stayed to watch the parade.



I just love this picture of DD#4 watchiing the parade:





We then headed back to the villa. We were pretty tired. After dinner, we just lounged around swimming, playing pool, and watching t.v. We all agreed that Animal Kingdom was a very fun day, and that park is definitely one of our favorites.

Next day: Blizzard Beach
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Old 02-04-2007, 08:21 PM   #10
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Cannot wait to read more.
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Old 02-06-2007, 05:43 PM   #11
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What an awesome mom you are!!! More please!!!
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Old 02-06-2007, 06:10 PM   #12
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Glad you guys had a great trip. I loved the part how your kids focused the camera on the people watching the animals. Sounds like my kids, they never do what is suppose to be done, they amuse themselves with the craziest things. Except, I always say, there is someone who is usually not happy with what we do, but I tell them to suck it up, because tomorrow they may love what they are doing and their brother or sister may not like it. Every have one of those days?
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Old 02-06-2007, 11:04 PM   #13
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Day 6: January 13, Saturday

Ah…a day to rest! Sleep in! And we do. It’s been a great trip so far. Since we are here for such a long time, we got 10-day park passes with the plusses. So today we go to a water park…Blizzard Beach. We have never been to a waterpark before. I was wondering if we’d even get a chance this time, since the weather is January can be very cold. I can’t believe it when I hear the temperature is going to be 84 degrees! (That's why my son came up with the name of this trip report!!)

What a grand day to go the waterparks! The kids are excited, and we get there at 10:00 a.m. I was very pleasantly surprised by how nice it is. I should have known…part of why I love Disneyworld so much is the theming…it looks great, sounds great, smells great…the whole thing. The waterpark was no exception. I just love how Disney pipes in music all over the place. The kids had a great time. The older kids took the younger ones on some rides they could do…









...and they took them on the chair lift...



Then the older 3 kids did the Slush Gusher...



One thing I noticed that I liked…they did a good job of ‘disguising’ a lot of the working parts of the rides; for example, on an innertube ride, the chute to send the innertube back up to the top was so disguised, and fit into the landscape so well, that I didn’t even notice it at first. The park looked really clean and it was a great day.

We stayed most of the day, then went back to the villa for dinner. Since we had six ‘plusses’ to use on our tickets, we thought we would go to Disney Quest, since we’d never been there either. When we got there, however, it was packed. The CM at Disney Quest said to come back another night…that Saturday nights are usually pretty crazy there. We went back to the villa, swam, played pool and went to bed. Overall, a very relaxing and enjoyable day!

Next day: Quadruple B's: BBB & B

Last edited by blestmom; 02-08-2007 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 02-07-2007, 12:53 AM   #14
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Day 7: January 14, Sunday

Another restful day. Since it is MLK weekend, we decide to take another day off the parks and avoid the crowds. We sleep in, and make a really nice brunch at the villa. It is so nice to have a full kitchen, and not have to go out for every meal. Plus…I promised DH we would help keep down costs by eating at the villa...



The younger kids swim for awhile...



This afternoon, the boys go mini-golf, while I take the girls to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Downtown Disney. We get there right on time, and the girls are introduced to their Fairy Godmothers. They get to pick out which style they want. DD13 picks out the “Disney Diva” style, and DD10 chose the “Fairytale Princess” style. It was a lot of fun, and the Fairy Godmothers were great. Here are some pictures…



“Disney Diva”…










“Fairytale Princess”…










Afterwards, we go get a hot chocolate from Ghiradelli’…YUM! That place is so delicious.

We went back to the villa to relax…and then we went to dinner at Boma. I think I wrote we only had one table service meal…but I forgot about Boma! We have been there on past trips and really love it. My boys love the meat there…I love the salads. We all love the desserts. I got one of each dessert. It’s funny…I love chocolate, and I like the chocolate desserts there. But my favorite one was a little berry tart. Yum!

We went back to the villa, swam, and the boys played pool and watched ESPN.

Another relaxing and enjoyable day, and now we are ready to hit the parks again.

Next day: A most “terrifying” experience!

Last edited by blestmom; 02-08-2007 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 02-07-2007, 04:22 AM   #15
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Am LOVIN' your trip report! The pictures are great, especially the one with the castle and with the fireworks behind! BEAUTIFUL!
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