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Old 01-08-2011, 07:51 PM   #1
shadowryter
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Our National Lampoon Christmas Vacation~Day 17

Well we’ve been back for almost a month so I guess it’s about time to get this TR started! We decided (or dare I admit I decided) that it would be fun to go on vacation during the holiday season. I love Disney with all the Christmas decorations, the smell of gingerbread in the air and snow. Little was I to know that the snow could have been for all intents and purposes very real. But I’m getting ahead of my story so I’ll have to back it up a bit.

My little cast:
Daniel ~ DH~ Celebrating his birthday and our 21st anniversary.
Linda ~ Me ~ Trying to celebrate DH’s birthday as well as our 21st anniversary.
Heather ~ DD ~ fresh from a break-up from BF of nearly 3 years, need I say more?

Trip plan dates: Leaving December 1st ~ returning December 16th.

Where are we going?:

When we go on vacation we usually drive all the way down from Massachusetts stopping on the way to take in different sights. This usually takes 3 days down and back. This time we decided to try the Auto Train, stopping in nearby Lorton, Virginia…boarding the train the next day arriving in Sanford, Florida the following day. From there it was an 80 some odd drive up the coast to visit Saint Augustine, then leave the next day to drive 120 miles down the coast to spend the day at the Disney Marketplace only to drive another 50 miles or so to Port Canaveral where we would start our journey on the Disney Wonder for 4 nights, our first cruise of any kind. Have I lost anyone yet?

Next…four nights at the Contemporary Resort with a Bay Lake view and then on to Universal’s Royal Pacific, to take in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, finishing off with an Auto Train ride back to Lorton and a few hours drive home. A total of 16 days!

By now you are probably wondering why the title and it’s not from all the traveling. We actually got the name from one of our cruise mates on our cruise meet thread. Mommamouse, are you reading this? You see barely a month out from leaving our home for a vacation of a lifetime, anything that could go wrong did and it only got worse…

Last edited by shadowryter; 06-24-2011 at 05:59 AM.
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Old 01-08-2011, 08:20 PM   #2
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Sound like a lot of action. I am in.

I did look into auto train but not sure how well it work. Is it that much better than driving?
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Old 01-08-2011, 08:47 PM   #3
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Your title got me! Christmas Vacation is my favorite movie !
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:13 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by topdog View Post
Sound like a lot of action. I am in.

I did look into auto train but not sure how well it work. Is it that much better than driving?
Hello and welcome. I really liked the Auto Train. We originally decided to take it because of DH's back problems. I will have pics coming up.
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Your title got me! Christmas Vacation is my favorite movie !
Hi there and thanks for joining. Christmas Vacation is my fav too.Now I'm off to check out both of your TR's. Love reading them as much as writing them.
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Old 01-10-2011, 03:07 PM   #5
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Four weeks to go before vacation…I know I should have done a PTR!!!

You know how things are right before vacation. I’m trying to learn how to pack light. Ya right! Finishing up the last of my fish extender gifts and making magnets and tee shirts for the first time. Yes I realize I have created hundreds of designs for folks but now it was my turn. Reality has set in. So one night DH comes to me and says “Hon, something is wrong with the bathroom light.” So I went to investigate and when I flipped the switch I heard a buzz….pop. Not good. We both agreed we had to call an electrician. I was about to call when the icemaker in the fridge stopped working. Not a big deal…just buy ice, but then I saw water coming from under the kitchen sink. You’ve got to be kidding me. Forget the electrician for now dear... call a plumber. Turns out everything under the sink had to be replaced and when that was finished the faucet wouldn’t work so that was replaced also. About a thousand bucks later we were go to go and the icemaker worked again.

Two weeks before vacation:

DH who works nights and works very hard came home one morning with a problem. His on again off again back problem was on again and it was bad. By the weekend he could hardly walk and we were contemplating canceling our trip. Now this is why we decided to take the train to lessen the possibilities of back injury even though we switch drivers every two hours. So I made an emergency appointment with his chiropractor and prayed that he would be okay.
In the meantime we were planning on purchasing a new freezer since the old one had to be defrosted every 3 months and Sears had a great sale…a 22 cubic ft upright…$350 off the original price. I made my order online, delivery would be the Monday before Thanksgiving. Perfect!!!
The freezer was delivered on time and we started it up and transferred the food from the old one. I was a happy camper…but not for long. The day before Thanksgiving I went to get some things out of my new state of the art freezer and realized it wasn’t working. The light was out and my food was thawing. Yikes! I called Sears and it wasn’t something they could fix over the phone and the unit needed to be replaced but not until the following Tuesday. What??? Thank God we had kept old faithful, just in case.


Four days before vacation:

DH was doing much better. He had been seeing his doctor every other day and had an appointment the day before we were leaving. The freezer was coming tomorrow, we were all packed and now just had to wait. DH was given some new exercises to do for his back so I decided to help him out by showing him how to use resistance bands. So I got on the floor next to him and on the first leg lift hit my foot against the sofa cushion and….dislocated my little toe. This can’t be happening!!! By Monday we had a new freezer and half my foot was black, such a sexy look with black strappy sandals.

December 1st…We’re finally on our way...or are we???

Last edited by shadowryter; 01-10-2011 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 01-11-2011, 07:03 PM   #6
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Our National Lampoon Frigid Christmas Vacation with Disney and Harry Potter

We we’re up bright and early, little or no breakfast, car packed and kitty dropped off to my parents. It was misting out but we knew there would be more inclement weather ahead. I was a little bummed because my new sneakers refused to go on my feet due to my dislocated toe. Oh well at least things were starting to look up, after all DH’s back was feeling good, the freezer was working fine, we had ice and no more leaks We were off.

Not even an hour out the check engine light came on. Huh? But it went out so we were okay or so I hoped. Nope, back on again, blink…blink…blink…off and few minutes later…repeat. Now we did all the right things before we left, oil change, tune up, tires rotated, full tank of gas so what was going on. My DH who hates dealing with anything automotive looks at me and say. “Maybe we should turn back.” I don’t think so, besides it’s running fine now. Well the blink…blink…blink…repeat kept on repeating and then it would stop for miles only to start it again. At this point DH is driving without a break and we’re having a loud discussion as my nose is stuck into the SUV’s manual. Oh…oh…not so good news. Why is it when something goes wrong on the highway that you find yourself sandwiched between 18 wheelers in the pouring rain? I couldn’t make out the signs and even though we have OnStar, it wasn’t turned on but I had my AAA maps, just the direction section though. I used up all my ink on my magnets and tee-shirts.

The weather cleared a bit after a lot of rain, flooded roads, silence between myself and DH and blink…blink…blink…repeat. I looked around and didn’t recognize anything. There were no signs to tell us where we were until we hit a toll. We asked where we were and the nice woman said, “You’re on Route 80 West. You’re headed to the Pocono’s.” We’re what? Oh yes, some eighty miles off track and another 80 miles back. We pulled over and turned on OnStar and breathed a sigh of relief. Suddenly the dreaded blink…blink…blink…repeat changed to steady and the engine started to wrap and ping. Looks like we have a problem dear. We pulled into the nearest service station and it turns out we had a bad sparkplug wire not to mention the drivers wiper blade tore. After about an hour and $200.00, we were on our way…again.

By 3:00, we finally crossed into Delaware after a scenic tour of Pennsylvania and we were starving so OnStar directed us to Joes Crab Shack just a few miles away in Wilmington. I was really glad that we decided to book a night at the Country Inns & Suites in Woodbridge, Virginia before we were to board the Auto Train. Had we not, we would have missed it. After leaving Joes it was a little more than 2 hours before we checked in around 7 p.m. So what should have taken 8 hours, took 12. We were tired and so happy to be out of the SUV, too late for the pool and hot tub but just in time for free coffee and cookies. Yeah!
Much needed drinks...Catorgory 5-Hurricane & Mason Jar Sangria

Me and my Sangria

DH and DD's buckets of crab!

Malibu Shrimp...really good

Dark by the time we left

A quick stop at the Maryland House for Starbucks and a Christmas snack.

Lobby at Country Inns & Suites...Nice comfortable room

Free coffee and cookies

The pool and hot tub we never got the chance to use.


Next...Auto Train, here we come!
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:26 PM   #7
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alright!!! I'm excited to read your TR...I wonder if anyone else will do one!!

I didn't know you had the car issue...when I read the CE light was blink blink blink...I knew what that meant...I had a lot of issues with the blink blink blink light...that means YOU HAVE TO FIX NOW!!!
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Old 01-13-2011, 05:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MommaMouse411 View Post
alright!!! I'm excited to read your TR...I wonder if anyone else will do one!!

I didn't know you had the car issue...when I read the CE light was blink blink blink...I knew what that meant...I had a lot of issues with the blink blink blink light...that means YOU HAVE TO FIX NOW!!!
You're right MommaMouse, I could not believe it when I saw that light. The trucks like 2 years old and all the maintanence was done. Worse part was we were barely into Connecticut, not even an hour from home and Dan wanted to turn back. No way was that happening.Luckily we did stop and get it fixed right away or more like 4 hours later. But all is well.
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Old 01-13-2011, 06:26 PM   #9
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December 2...Auto Train here we come!

After a very quiet and comfy nights sleep we got up and DH and I went down stairs to the free breakfast buffet. They had quite a variety to choose from; scrambled eggs and bacon, juice, fruit, cereal, pastry and bagels and of course their famous make yourself waffles.

DH and I took our time over breakfast as I had requested a late check out for 1:00 since we didn’t have to check in for the Auto Train until 2:00. We brought breakfast to our sleepy DD and just relaxed until checking out, already feeling the sting of cold air and what was to get only worse.

The train was only 6 miles away and OnStar got us there in plenty of time. We pulled in to the booth, gave a nice woman our name and she had everything in the system. We pulled ahead and got in line taking everything out that we needed for the train ride because once your vehicle is gone…it’s gone. By the time we were walking to the terminal they were video taping the SUV. This is to note any damage so they won’t be held responsible for any dings or scratches before they take your car away. We stood in line for only a few minutes and then checked in. All they needed was my name and not the email with the barcode that I thought they had to have. Turns out they never use this piece of paper and some people have turned back just to get it. We were given the choice of a 5, 7 or 9 o’clock dinner. I chose 7:00 and then it was just a waiting game to board at around 2:30. Did I mention we were there by 12:30? DD and I checked out the terminal and took some pictures. When we returned DH and DD went to the little gift store and food place as he was hungry. At 2:30 the announcer said it would be about 10 more minutes and then it was all aboard!

Sign when you arrive at Auto Train

Auto carriers

Lorton Auto Train Station

Me

The longest passenger train there is


We went directly to our bedroom, up a tiny narrow staircase to the second floor, then down a narrow hallway and to where we would spend the night. There was a little more room than I thought. A long bench sofa-like seat with a chair across the floor, in between a little fold down table. There was a little sink area with a vanity mirror and small cabinets where you could find, towels and tp. Why you ask? We had a private bathroom and shower but I never realized that it was one in the same.
Our "Bedroom"

Vanity area

Yes folks you shower, where you potty...on the potty is best. Lid down.

After a while at about 4 pm we pulled out of the station and we were on our way. They offered free wine, cheese and snacks so DH and I went to check it out. The wine was L . It was labeled Blue Crab and I suggest that if you ever see it….run away!!!

We brought some snacks back to our room and then dragged out the laptop so we could see “How to Train Your Dragon,” just one of the movies DD brought with her. They started announcing dinner first a 5:00, three different times and then are time was announced. We left our room toting our carry on’s, yep…take everything with you because you can only lock the door from within. We made our way the dining car, bobbing and weaving all the way as the train was straight out. Our meal consisted of a small dinner salad, nothing spectacular, with a choice of Newman’s dressing and rolls with butter. We all chose the crab cakes with rice and veggies. Not the best I’ve ever had but pretty good. We had water and soda and I had the tendency to hold onto my glass that was rocking to the beat of the train.
Dinner Menu

Crab Cake dinner and chocolate cake for dessert



When diner was over we headed back to our room and turned and started to watch “Avatar.” A while later our porter returned to turn down our beds and this was when it got interesting. See we are all tall people. DH 6 ft 3, DD 5 ft 9 and me 5 ft 8 and it wasn’t really all that much fun crawling over each other though we seemed to laugh a lot, so we finally decide it would be lights out and it was only 10 o’clock.
DD wasn't too happy about this

Tucked in via a mirror

Next…Dawn already? Did I even sleep?
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:37 AM   #10
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Your DD sleeps with Stitch too? We're thinking about the autotrain but the price is the same as flying. If we do it, I doubt we'll get the room since we're a family of four. The menu looks okay. At least everything is included.

Can't wait for your next posting!
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Old 01-17-2011, 10:57 AM   #11
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Love your writing style and sense of humor! Can't wait to read more!
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Old 01-18-2011, 12:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PRmamiDEdos View Post
Your DD sleeps with Stitch too? We're thinking about the autotrain but the price is the same as flying. If we do it, I doubt we'll get the room since we're a family of four. The menu looks okay. At least everything is included.

Can't wait for your next posting!
It can be quite pricey...but I have a terrible fear of flying. We usually drive but DH wanted to try something different.
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Love your writing style and sense of humor! Can't wait to read more!
Welcome...Thank you for reading...more to come....
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Old 01-20-2011, 10:09 AM   #13
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December 3...On our way to Saint Augustine

I’m not sure what time I woke up. I only know it was the 3rd or maybe 5th time. It was still dark outside and I just sat there looking out the window as the scenery passed by. I was bleary eyed and needed coffee. A while later DH got up. He didn’t sleep either. We were quietly talking so as not to wake our DD when she chimed in. Nope…no sleep for her either. Worst night ever! Around 7 am we got our wake up call…ah…knock actually. We each took turns changing our clothes in the bathroom a feat that would give Elastic Girl a challenge.

DD stayed behind to take a shower so we went to breakfast. We figured we’d give her a few good minutes alone and lingered over coffee and conversation with the nice couple who sat with us. Deciding it was time to head back, I grabbed a bagel and some juice for DD only to return to find her very upset. It seems the handle on the shower was missing and she tried to turn it so hard that she cut the palm of her hand. We called the porter who told us that she was turning the knob the wrong way. She wasn’t because part of the knob was missing??? The directions also stated “push” for water when you actually had to turn the handle that wasn’t there. We sat and waited while she showered only to hear her frantically call from behind the door that the water which is suppose to shut off after 30 seconds was not shutting off at all. Water started to come through the door. It was getting hot, steamy and claustrophobic and all I could do was stand outside and try to calm her as she sobbed. (You can’t open the door when the water is too high. Well you could but then you’d flood the bedroom)

Soon we heard an announcement that we were 90 minutes ahead of schedule and would be pulling into the Sanford station at around 8:00. DD finally got out of the shower and after this fiasco was over we decided the Auto Train wasn’t for us but we still had a return trip to deal with. Around 8:30, the announcer said we were cleared to enter the station and we were finally off the train by 8:45. Once off the train we had to wait for our number to be called to pick up the SUV. We were about 20th in line and hopped into our car. The window was open and it was cold and I wondered am I in Florida or Massachusetts? From there it was about 80 miles up the coast to St. Augustine and a nice early arrival and that was fine with us.
DD so exhausted

We arrived in St. Augustine a little before noon. We (okay I) decided to return to the Hilton Historic Bayfront after a wonderful stay in ‘08. Despite the fact that then Hurricane Fay was making landfall and we were headed right towards her. My DH really wanted to go to Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum and it was only a few blocks away from the hotel so we stopped for a visit and I must say, it was really a lot of fun. Lot’s of oddities and interesting facts including a section on pirates. Arrgghh! We saw everything from the tallest to the smallest, a working indoor erector set Ferris wheel and a tribal ***** sheath. Yes you heard that right.
Ripley's Believe it or Not

Floating faucet

Love test chair

Erector set Ferris Wheel

Graveyard

Pirates display

After some shopping we headed over to the hotel and was able to check in early. The room was the same as I remembered except my little towel animal was nowhere to be found. Instead of a window with a view we had a door which led to a little balcony overlooking someone else’s back yard.
Hilton Lobby decorated for Christmas



Our room...2 queen beds but DD & DH were crashed on the other one



Our private balcony

We had lunch at Aviles Restaurant which is part of the hotel. The food here is wonderful. We each had a different sandwich which came with fries and everything was delicious though I developed a strange fascination with the little individual bottles of ketchup. Hey they were cute!

Steak sandwich

Shrimp Po Boy

Mahi Mahi Po Boy

Cute little ketcup bottles

When lunch was finished I thought it might be nice to take a walk along St George Street but DD and DH had other ideas. They wanted to check out the hot tub and somehow they convinced me to join them. The water was nice and warm but the air…not so much.
Pool and hot tub



Spending a whole 20 minutes in the water we were out and running for the door. I couldn’t get warm fast enough and we all bundled up and then it was on to St. George Street. We mostly window shopped stopping here and there for a little souvenir. We found a gelato shop that had the hottest guy trying so hard to sell us some gelato. I think between the 3 of us we sampled every flavor they had, finally buying a large with banana, mango and lemon to go. It was cool in St. Augustine but that gelato was soooo good! Can you believe that DH was clueless about the hot guy???
St George street

Bay across from the Hilton

Christmas lanterns

To be continued....
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Old 01-20-2011, 10:22 AM   #14
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After our walking tour it was time to repeat a favorite thing we like to do; a carriage ride through the city. This time it was much colder but the streets were lit with over a million lights to celebrate Christmas. We all wanted to ride. We took a look at the carriages and horses. My DD who wants to be a vet tech and loves horses chose a carriage with a rather large white horse, 19 ½ hands tall to be exact. We met his driver who did the hard sell but soon we were in the carriage, covered with blankets and heading out, our driver Ron telling us the history of the city as Rumsfeld aka Rummy pulled the carriage through the busy streets.
Rummy

St Augustine decorated for Christmas







When we returned from our ride it was time to get ready for dinner. We freshened up and headed back down stairs to Aviles, surprised when they asked us if we had reservations. Despite the fact that we didn’t and there seemed to be some sort of party going on, we were seated quickly and enjoyed a nice long, hot meal.
I've never seen a lighted menue before

We all ordered the Shrimp & Scallop pasta with sherry cream sauce...so good

After our meal I stopped by the front desk to ask a couple of questions before heading to our room for the night.

Next…What do you mean…you’re closing the streets tomorrow???

Last edited by shadowryter; 01-22-2011 at 03:50 PM.
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Old 01-23-2011, 05:52 PM   #15
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Really enjoying your TR!

I must have missed the pictures of of the tribal ***** shield and the hot gelato salesman!

Can't wait to read more!
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