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Old 08-19-2012, 02:27 PM   #46
shalom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lurkernj View Post
We're always rushing to the rides, and don't take time to notice the little things.
Yah, I have learned to just not even tour with hubby some places, because he just has this urgency to him, where he wants to go and do, and I much prefer the more laid back approach. Usually we just switch back and forth, and there's a sense where my day at MK was like that; we weren't dashing around like Geek dad can get, but we kept on the move pretty much until we got most of Ballet Giirl's things done. Then we just kind of wandered and did what was there. Either way, you give up something -- either you see a bit of a lot of things, or a few things in depth -- so maybe a combination approach is the best for us.

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Originally Posted by CatNipRules View Post
It's always fun to see what new little things they've added since our last trip.
I hope to get to that point one day. Right now we're more about getting to stuff before it's gone! Still freaking out about the FotLK maybe not being there by the time we get to Animal Kingdom. Although our odds are better going in January than they are for May, at least.

Last edited by shalom; 08-19-2012 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 08-19-2012, 02:55 PM   #47
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Second seaworld day

Thursday was out last day in Orlando. The Hermit wanted to stay home while the other kids went to SeaWorld – she values the chance to have a unit to herself – but I decided to go to SeaWorld for a half day, although I did want the afternoon for doing laundry and getting packed and all. But I wanted to pick up the shows I’d missed.

We did Pets Ahoy, which I quite liked – some people wonder why there’s a pet show at SeaWorld but it makes perfect sense to me in light of their efforts to rescue critters and raise people’s awareness to the plight of animals at the mercy of man. Sea creatures suffer for our acts, but for the most part live their own lives. Domesticated critters are totally dependent on us, so suffer even more when people don’t treat them well.

And we did Clyde and Seamore, or, as Ballet Girl calls it, The Show with the OTTER.



And there are some seals and walruses and humans in it too:



I would have liked it better if it hadn’t been WAY TOO LOUD. The sea otter, of course, was well behaved and quiet.

As we were leaving the stadium, a lady just ahead of us was talking to her kids about the show, and repeatedly called the otter a weasel. Ballet Girl made a visible effort not to correct her, and later, when I commended her for letting it go, she burst out, “I can’t believe she got it so wrong! It says right on the map “Sea Lion and Otter Stadium!” The only thing Ballet Girl doesn’t like about SeaWorld is their grave lack of an otter exhibit. Our local zoo put in a river otter exhibit this past year or so, which does make it easier to take.

Before I left SeaWorld for good, I went shopping, picked up a couple of mugs. One with an otter on one side, and some orcas on the other.





And this yellow guy, which was on sale:



While SeaWorld Son was debating his purchases, I got to see The Groove Chefs, who I enjoyed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYvUx_FPeeo

There’s apparently a comedy team wandering around as well, but of our family, only Mr. Cool has seen them, and he was woefully vague on when or where. According to this article, they are in the Waterfront Area too:

http://www.insideseaworld.com/laught...aworld-orlando

SEAWORLD TIP: The Groove Chefs and the Longshoremen perform in the Waterfront area periodically.

Shopping done, we all went home for lunch, then Geek Dad took most of the kids back to SeaWorld while I stayed home with the Hermit, did laundry, and sat out on the porch watching Lake Eve until the cigarette smoke from next door drove me back in.

Geek Dad and the kids did Blue Horizons again. This time, both Ballet Girl and Warrior Girl sat in the splash zone. They were surrounded by Red Shirts...



but survived somehow.



Although the false killer whale did laugh at them.



The dolphins were suitably lively:





And the parrots hit all their marks:







Considering her dislike of cartoon-ized animals, Warrior Girl had to steel herself in order to ride one of the goofy SeaWorld Carousel critters – it’s a dolphin, so she made the effort.



She avoided this one, even though it’s at pretty purple:



because she knows full well what it really looks like:


from here: http://www.animals-zone.com/7-unusua...-sea-creatures

Some kids got their pics on the orca statues:





SeaWorld Son demanded a few in front of the “lighthouse” by the entrance:



And that was the end of SeaWorld for this trip. And the next morning, we were leaving Orlando. But we did have a few more things planned -- a museum in Georgia, and Mammoth Cave our last day. Although we had not yet picked up the fact that we somehow never get to whatever we planned for our last day...
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:17 AM   #48
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THE DRIVE BACK and THE NASHVILLE FLOOD

Friday we got packed and got going, but not much else happened. Well, except the fact that we all agreed we loved Orlando and were coming back next year and staying longer. Technically, the kids and I agreed. Hubby agreed he’d had a good time, but was less enthused about the “coming right back next year” part. Saturday we were going to do the Tellus museum in Cartersville, Georgia and maybe something in Nashville, then Sunday we were going to do Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. The kids and I watched Ken Burns’ series on the National Parks, and, for all the moaning and groaning I got during it, it ended up having a fair impression on the troops, and Warrior Girl, especially, wanted to hit a National Park, and since we were driving right by one, why not?

I could not stay on focus for this post, so I finally just let myself wander off and made note when I got back to the trip.

NASHVILLE RAMBLING...

Nashville is one of our favorite cities. My parents moved to Tennessee shortly after Mr. Cool was born – they came to his baptism service, then headed out to Tennessee after church. My sister was living in Chicago back then, and she decided to run my two eldest and I down to see the parents that winter. We stopped at the Grand Old Opry Hotel, and walked through some of the atriums – well, the Hermit, my sister and I walked; Mr. Cool was still a babe in my arms. We didn’t see all the atriums, but the one we did walk through was lush and green and warm and wonderful. The Hermit was initially a bit wary of a waterfall over one of the pathways, then she decided that was cooler than cool. (These are someone else’s pics.)




From here:http://www.flickr.com/photos/ambrosi...n/photostream/

Since then we’ve stopped in Nashville many a time, although we haven’t done a whole lot there except drive around, eat, and point out pretty rocks and views and stuff. We did do Cheekwood Gardens when they had a dinosaur exhibit – I loved the gardens and art part, the kids liked the dinosaurs – and for a while we did the Parthenon and its surrounding park just about every time, because we did that one of the first times and certain of my children were Stern Traditionalists when young (i.e., if you did it once, you are obligated to do it every time ).

The Parthenon is a reproduction of the original in its prime; on the lower levels are a gift shop and art galleries and then upstairs they’ve got a statue of Athena based on the original, along with casts of statuary from the pediments. Greece may have the real thing, but the Parthenon in Nashville is intact. To give some perspective on the size of this statue of Athena: Nike, the goddess of Victory, who is standing in Athena’s hand, is six feet, four inches tall. It’s not surprising that Athena intimidated some of my chillins some years!



Not crazy about hubby's pic there, but then again, that’s not my favorite statue of Athena. While historians have a good idea of what the Parthenon looked like, all we know about the original statue of Athena is from written descriptions, so this is the artist’s best guess of what the original really looked like. I think he took the ancient critics too literally in making her so made up, but whatever. I do appreciate the artist's attention to details, for instance his work on the shield.



Athena was the goddess of wisdom; since owls were also associated with wisdom, Athena was associated with owls, but I am guessing it’s specifically the owl Glaucus in that painting.



All of which is hopelessly off topic, but we do love Nashville and hope to get back soon. If everything works out well with hubby finding a new job and all, Nashville and Mammoth Cave will be our second 2013 trip.

BACK TO TRIP

Anyhow, I can’t remember exactly where we stopped Friday night, but it was a Quality Inn and Suites somewhere between Atlanta and Cartersville, maybe Marietta.

Saturday morning, we hit the Tellus Museum in Cartersville, which is right off the highway, and, if you’ve got an ASTC membership, it’s free! It’s pretty reasonable otherwise, IIRC. It’s bigger than you’d think, being as how it’s kind of the middle of nowhere, with a small collection of dinosaur fossil stuff, and a big, beautiful collection of rocks. Including lots of pretty, sparkly rocks, like this one:


from here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alan_cr...n/photostream/

The guy who took that has a fair number of Tellus pics, mostly the fossil stuff and rocks, but he didn’t take pics of the whole museum. There are some displays in the middle there we really didn’t get to. Well, okay, that the Hermit and I didn't get to -- we spent about twice as long looking at pretty rocks as everyone else did. The photographer also didn’t take pictures of the parts my kids probably liked best, going on their joy once the Hermit and I caught up to them; a couple of rooms in the back where you can dig for fossils or pan for gems, and then take home what you find. It’s the only elevated fossil dig we’ve run across, and of course my back loved that part. I like to dig them up, but I don’t take any (although the kids sometimes raid my stash if I run across something particularly cool). So that was a nice morning break.

It was a little rainy at Tellus, but as we drove through Tennessee the rain got steadier and heavier – by the time we passed Murfreesboro, much, MUCH heavier. We have a bad habit of listening to discs and tapes and Ipods on the road, when sometimes we maybe should be checking in with the local radio stations. This was one of those times we should have been a tad more tuned in to the local news. As we approached Nashville, the traffic rapidly changed from heavy to horrific to stop-and-go to Just Plain Stopped. The only traffic moving was people working their way through to the shoulder and then down to the next exit to get off the highway.

We decided to join those taking the next exit, but of course we were a few lanes over, so it was still a long while working our way across. But we finally got to an exit – we got off on exit 60: Hickory Hollow Road, which parallels the highway and bit and then you hit Bell Road.. And this is what was happening on the highway at Bell Road:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5gYhLKwSp4

MORE RAMBLING...

The beginning of that clip was on the national news, but this one also shows a floating car cut the side of that building and the building kind of folds into itself, which wasn’t shown much but is kind of cool in a depressing sort of way. However, even when that footage was shown on TV, what no one ever mentioned is that the building got creamed on Saturday afternoon, then it kept raining. It rained pretty much the rest of Saturday and then, off and on, most of Saturday night, and it was still sprinkling off and on for most of Sunday. And it rained above Nashville – there were areas that didn’t get flooded until Monday, after the rain was over. I think flooding with sunshine is in some ways more eerie than flooding in a rainstorm – feels more unnatural, and yet more inevitable.

Nashville didn’t get the worst of it -- the Cumberland River was 62.58 feet high at Clarkesville; at Nashville it “only” reached 51.86 feet.

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ohx/?n=may2010epicfloodevent

I call it the Nashville Flood because that’s where we were, but really it was a huge event – 48 Tennessee counties were declared disaster areas on a Federal level. If anything, the western part of Tennessee got it worse, because it’s lower and flatter. Nashville is hilly, and a lot of the housing is built up in the hills. Here’s some aerial footage of the Dyersburg area, which is about a three hours drive west of Nashville:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBr29...eature=related

Even in local news, you mostly heard about Nashville and the Interstates being closed. Few people realized that chunks of I-40 were down due to flooding from Nashville all the way to the state border at Memphis, over 200 miles, and a bit of Mississippi got socked as well. Memphis had flooded streets, and a levee broke, flooding Millington Naval Base, but admittedly the flooding in Memphis wasn’t as extensive as it was in Nashville. There’s also the fact that no one filmed anything as visually interesting as a temporary school room floating down the road, so Memphis got ignored along with the rest of Tennessee.

So even in Nashville, where there was a fair bit of coverage, initially the locals still didn’t realize how big an area was affected – this guy in Nashville went out that Sunday thinking he wouldn’t see much flooding:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mob7y...eature=related

Admittedly it's not too bad where he was, but although I-24 got the most press, I'm pretty sure that wasn't the worst of it in Nashville, either. I'm linking to these pictures because they showed up so huge when I posted them here. But in this one, see that little pyramid to the right, just barely above the water?

http://www.tennessee.gov/tsla/exhibi...0_flood_05.jpg

That’s the top of this rain gauge (which, as you can see here, measures floods up to 50 feet):

http://www.tennessee.gov/tsla/exhibi...0_flood_10.jpg

And here’s a long shot (the flood gauge is in front of the stairs):

http://www.tennessee.gov/tsla/exhibi...0_flood_06.jpg
(All from this page http://www.tennessee.gov/tsla/exhibi...rs/floods2.htm)

The first picture was taken on Tuesday, May 4, the second two on May 11 – we were driving through on Saturday May 1. So after more than a week, the water was still 20 feet above flood level. Nashville got pretty clobbered.

BACK TO OUR STORY...

Once we got off the highway, we still didn’t realize what we’d stumbled into, and the route I’m going to report looks right but we weren’t paying a whole lot of attention at the time, so who knows?

We couldn’t get much of anywhere on Bell Road (cops had it blocked off in both directions), and ended up taking this tiny two-lane off into nowhere. We thought we were making progress because, although it was more stop than go, someone would come along from the other direction once in a while, and we figured that meant people could get through. Especially since there were semis coming through – no way could they be turning around, therefore they had to be coming from the other side, right?

In reality there was a cop blocking the way and sending people back; what made the process so slow that you only had a trickle getting through was that the road was so narrow; two lanes and no shoulders to speak of. Even with our little minivan, we had to work it around in stages. We never did figure out how they got the semis turned around; our best guess is the cop made people behind the semi turn around and get out of the way until the semi could back into a driveway or something. Sooo, we were back on Bell Road after another agonizingly long time in a row of cars going nowhere. Since we couldn’t go anywhere on Bell Road, we took Hickory Hollow back onto I-24, backtracking to the last exit. Everyone was turning left (I’m guessing their GPSs were heading them over to Murfreesboro Pike, which wasn’t going to get them anywhere I suspect but they – and we – didn’t know that at the time), however we’d had it with following the crowd and went right.

Which didn’t do us a whole lot of good, since we soon hit a good wad of traffic again and, after a while, realized the road was also dipping down. Which, we’d figured out by now, meant the odds were good it was flooded. Argh! But, surprisingly enough, when we got to the light at the bottom the road was fairly clear, and we went left on Nolansville Road, I think on the theory that if we could get out of the Nashville area it’d be easier to cut across to 65. If I remember rightly, this is where we saw lots of cars and trucks that had been abandoned – you had to drive around them to get through.

The road was intermittently under water, and it was very flooded to the right of it, with houses that were clearly done in and things. Those of us with out-of-state license places proceeded very cautiously; Tennesseans would often pass us and plow through a puddle that covered the road, letting us know how deep it really was. Sometimes we followed them, but at one point we were debating it, one of us thinking that area was just plain too deep and too huge and the other exasperated enough at that point to just go for it. And I honestly can’t remember which one was me!

We’d barely started the debate when a cop car passed us and pulled across the road, so that decision was made for us, and we turned around and headed back. When we got back to where we’d entered Nolansville Road we just kept going, since we didn’t want to join the people presumably still getting forced out of the Bell road area (there were still tons of people wandering around back there hoping to find a better way when we’d decided to backtrack on the highway).

Going northwest the road started to rise again, and now we could see unmistakable evidence that the water had been much higher earlier. Since it had continued to rain pretty steadily the whole time we’d been in the area, either someone had opened a dam or something downstream had given way, because you could tell by the debris washed up on side roads or driveways that the water had been considerably higher earlier on, a couple of feet I would think (although it can be hard to guess that sort of thing with a slow and gradual rise). The traffic here was much lighter, and we’d been stuck in traffic for something like four hours at this point (and the amount of ground we’d covered was pitiful), so we stopped at Taco Bell for a late dinner.

It was kind of busy for that late hour but not horribly busy, and a fair percentage of the people there were locals, so hubby got to talking to them and they worked out what would be the best route for us to take and told us how to get onto I-65 on high ground where it was likely high enough we could keep going, and we did exactly that. Our philosophy is that, if we’re not going to hang around and help, our job is to get out of the way. We didn’t even try to get rooms in the Nashville area; we just drove up to Bowling Green, KY and crashed.

Not surprisingly, we didn’t get going at all early the next day, and no one but Warrior Girl was at all interested in going to Mammoth Cave National Park. Plus, it was still raining – the main appeal may be the cave, but it’s a pretty park up top. Geek Dad gave in and said we were definitely going back to Orlando next year, and that we’d budget a trip to Mammoth Cave in there, and Warrior Girl decided she could live with that. So we headed home… and it rained the whole way.


Last edited by shalom; 08-21-2012 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:01 PM   #49
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How did I just see that you had a PTR? Sorry I'm so late to the party! I'm catching up now!
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Old 08-25-2012, 06:25 AM   #50
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Welcome! Good to have you.

I had something else to say, but the kids keep singing, "Turn around! Turn around! There's a human skull on the ground!" -- which they claim they stole from They Might Be Giants -- and anything else I had to say is gone now. I need to go get hubby back on track so he can get his thingie up so I can load the van, so I shouldn't be rattling around on the Internet anyhow.
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Old 08-27-2012, 12:24 PM   #51
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So I just got all caught up and realized your last entry was on the Nashville Flood of 2010. I actually live in Nashville - just a couple of miles from I-24 - and it was CRAZY! We were fine, but were homebound for a few days. But some of my coworkers were homebound for a week because of roads being closed. And of course I know several who lost their homes all together. It was the most bizarre flood, but didn't get much national attention because the BP Oil spill was going on at the same time. Opry Mills - the giant outlet mall located just next to the Opryland hotel - finally just opened back up just a few months ago. How crazy that you guys were traveling through as this was going on!!
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Old 09-03-2012, 05:54 PM   #52
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It was the most bizarre flood, but didn't get much national attention because the BP Oil spill was going on at the same time.
Even with the oil spill I thought the Tennessee floods oddly ignored. And now Issac's getting more press than the Tennessee floods did, even though the death toll is much lower (and hopefully will stay that way!). I guess floods aren't as exciting as tropical storms.


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Opry Mills - the giant outlet mall located just next to the Opryland hotel - finally just opened back up just a few months ago. How crazy that you guys were traveling through as this was going on!!
Glad to hear that Opry Mills is opened. The Timeshare resort we hope to stay at sometime in the next year or so (Wyndham Nashville) reopened a while back, too.

We seem to have a knack -- the next year when we went down to Orlando, we pulled off at an exit that looked to have lots of places to eat, only to discover they'd all been taken out by a tornado a few days earlier. Although that was Kentucky, I think. Still, that time we had the radio on, and it was flooding in Memphis.

I was starting to think we were a jinx for Tennessee, but we went through last week and the only Tennessee weather report I saw was that Isaac was bringing needed rain to Tennessee, so maybe we're not so bad for one of our favorite states after all.
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Old 09-06-2012, 11:21 PM   #53
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so I popped in after I saw your post on the PTR I just started... I can't wait to hear and see more. I love the Sea World pics...in all of our umpteen trips to WDW I can never seem to talk anyone else in to going to Sea World. My daughter and I had annual passes to Sea World San Diego before we moved to Florida, so I really miss it...
anyways I'll be checking in to see your progress since your trip is waaaay before mine
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Old 09-07-2012, 11:14 AM   #54
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I love the Sea World pics
Should be bunches of SeaWorld pics for our 2011 trip. I think. I remember bunches of them, but currently the computer is telling me I have nine photos, total, for that entire year. One of a park in Mishawaka, and eight of the dilapidated house hubby bought that year. Everytime we go on a trip some computer takes revenge on us when we get back, and we just got back from a trip to South Carolina this past weekend; hopefully hubby will knock some heads together this upcoming weekend and make the computers all talk nice with each other. And then my computer will be able to see all the pics stored elsewhere.

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...in all of our umpteen trips to WDW I can never seem to talk anyone else in to going to Sea World.
I have the opposite problem -- couldn't talk anyone into going with me to WDW last time. Okay, technically Mr. Cool finally took pity on me and, a couple of weeks before we left, said he'd pony up for a day at Epcot, and the Hermit said she'd tag along, but it didn't work out. But at first even Ballet Girl wouldn't go -- she wanted to go to SeaWorld because their dining deal gets her more food. Chow hound, that kid.

Last edited by shalom; 11-10-2012 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 09-08-2012, 03:43 PM   #55
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Joining in! I'm loving all your photos!

To link to a particular post ...

See the number in the right corner of the post in white? Click on that and it will pull up a page with that single post. Copy the URL. Come back to your post where you want to put the link, edit it, then click on the Insert Link button above. Post the URL of the specific post. When you click "OK", the URL will post with the hyperlink portion in blue. Start typing whatever you want the single post link to be called, IE: Our EPCOT Day or whatever. It will look something like this (but won't say "newreply"):

[*URL="http://www.disboards.com/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=group of numbers here"]Our EPCOT Day[/URL**]

Reading that, it sounds kind of convoluted, but I hope it helps some.

Look forward to reading more!
this was sooooo helpful...thank you both....can someone tell me how to put the link for my PTR in my signature?
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Old 09-09-2012, 08:20 AM   #56
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this was sooooo helpful...thank you both....can someone tell me how to put the link for my PTR in my signature?
You already know how to edit your signature, I'm thinking , so it's the same process as connecting to an individual post, except you do it with the URL for the first page of your thread.
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Old 09-10-2012, 02:56 PM   #57
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PLANNING UPDATE – Fidgety Financial Figuring

As of today, hubby thinks his job is secure through January, so, as soon as he’s talked to the ballet guys to verify dates, I have permission to reserve some units. But, while he was stalling, the price went up. Not by much, actually -- about fifty bucks a week -- but it's irritating. Temporarily switched me into Super Economy Mode, meaning I got to seriously thinking we can get something through RCI's Last Call, which means I have to wait until about a month and a half ahead before I can make the reservation -- assuming there's anything left to reserve.

But one of the weeks at VV@P is down to only one possibility, the other only two (i.e., the resort was offering check-in on Friday, Saturday AND Sunday nights – now we’re down to just one or two of those). Plus January is when the snowbirds move in, meaning that, when it comes to Timeshares in Florida, most places get full up fairly early. Since RCI doesn’t offer bunches of 2 BRs that will sleep 8, don’t think I’m going Last Call. Too nervewracking.

Assuming he hasn’t hiked his prices, renting points from a pal of ours would be even cheaper than Last Call, but would mean going back to Orlando Sunshine, the resort we stayed at in 2011, only in the other building. We really liked that resort, however I don’t want to stay there because it’s too far from Disney, and various other people are unjustly prejudiced against it for reasons I will go into later. I’m the decision maker, so it’s really about the fact that that resort is so far from Disney (more than double the driving time it’d take from VV@P), and that there are no direct bus routes to any of the parks. Not that Mr. Cool, the one most likely to use the bus, even WANTS to go to Disney, mind you. And he LOVES the bus route from Orlando Sunshine to SeaWorld. But this is supposed to be a Disney Parks trip, so what’s the sense of getting a resort that's right across I-4 from Universal?

Also, since we’re going on January, I was thinking we would do the Y.E.S. program (thusfar never an option in May), which would definitely save some money on tickets. From what I can tell, my three younger ones would probably enjoy the classes. I’ve heard that some teens think the classes are babyish, particularly the wide-age-range ones, but SeaWorld Son and Ballet Girl do not seem to sweat that sort of thing, so, somewhat ironically, the only one who might gripe about things being babyish is Warrior Girl. I’m thinking that, as long as the leader assigns her the role of “predator” rather than “sea turtle” in the “Disney’s Ocean Discoveries” course, we should be good.

Historically speaking, the Y.E.S. schedule for January comes out in October, I think I read, and until I see what they’re offering it’s still a “maybe,” but going on the offerings in years past, I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing it. One problem with Y.E.S. tickets is that you can’t bump them up if people decide they want more days at Disney, but the BIG problem is that they’re non-refundable, non-transferable -- and good only for the dates booked/listed.

Regular tickets are non-refundable and non-transferrable; it’s the “good only for the dates booked” part that unnerves me. We’ve traveled to the beach during hurricane season and otherwise done all manner of silliness, and have never gotten trip insurance because our regular insurance would cover accidents or sudden illness, and we figured we’d just use credit card or cash for the rest. If we couldn’t get to a vacation we’d reserved with points or rented, we’d just eat the cost (technically, if you cancel a points reservation if it's more than ten days out, our TS will return the points, but our odds of being able to reschedule and use them before they expire aren’t always stunner).

Since we don’t reserve hotel rooms ahead of time, and pay for our gas and stuff as we go, our reservations on a 2 BR TSs are usually the only part of the trip that we’d lose if we didn’t go at all – but, going on 2012 prices, five day basic Y.E.S. tickets for four people (the three youngest and their dad), that’s more than we’d pay for rented points for 12 nights. Not much more, admittedly, but essentially those Y.E.S. tickets would double our usual cost if the vacation falls through, so if we get them I guess I’ll be getting to know the InsureMyTrip site. Rah.

Renting the points would save us about $300 over VV@P. If hubby’s job weren’t in jeopardy, it’d be a no brainer – VV@P. Since we don’t know what our finances will be in six months, I’m waffling. Part of me says, even if he loses his job, it’s the last big blow out before the older kids move on and before we have to go austere, so go for it. The "sensible responsible parent" who resides in my brain thinks I should be going the cheaper route. My parents who reside in South Dakota think I’m crazy to be going in the first place.

Whatever I do, I need to make my mind up and commit to it this week. Last night, I was thinking I’d rent the points if the price is still that low. Today, I’m thinking I’m going to splurge on VV@P. No idea what I'll do when comes to actually committing the cash.

Last edited by shalom; 09-10-2012 at 09:04 PM.
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Old 09-10-2012, 04:10 PM   #58
eeyoresnr
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wow, did you sleep at all last night? my mind would have been wondering back and forth all night long (which mine normally does anyways)
can't wait to hear what you decide on
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Working on my ROAR! Jaxon's First trip to meet Mickey Mouse... Pre-Trip Report http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2988090
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Old 09-10-2012, 05:43 PM   #59
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Intro and Trip Down to Orlando, May 2011

Sooo, after our brief 2010 trip, the kids and I decided we had to go back to Orlando -- and stay longer -- in 2011. My original plan was that this would be the "non-Disney" trip, but, while we didn't do the parks, we did end up touring most of the resorts. However, the week before we left something happened with SeaWorld Son's camera, so I loaned him mine (I didn't like it anyhow), meaning I didn't have a camera this trip, which resulted in hardly any resort pics.

DATES: leave Saturday May 7, 2011-get back Sunday, May 22


The ROLL CALL for our second trip is pretty much the same as for our first, with one addition:

Zelda, aka, Zelda the Annoying, aka the Cat Who Smells Like An Elderly Dog, one of our six cats.



^ Zelda doesn't like having her picture taken so there aren't a lot of shots when she's facing the camera. And in those where she is, this next pic has her usual photographic expression (annoyed).



In the winter, she spends a lot of time snoozing in Warrior Girl or SeaWorld Son's laps.



Our cats don’t come along with us on vacation so they are not usually part of our vacation memories, but, although she didn't come along, Zelda was an exception to the rule on the May 2011 trip.

Something else that was unusual about this trip is that, the day before we left, Mr. Cool and Ballet Girl were performing in a production of Midsummer Night's Dream. Which is actually the first Shakespeare play I read all the way through; when I was fourteen and driving to Arizona with my grandma, I picked it up at a truck stop because it was the only non-romance, non-men's adventure book they had. Still not sure what it was doing there; I kinda suspect someone traded it out, even though that truck stop didn't actually have a book trade. But I've always been kind of fond of it, just for that reason (Hamlet is my favorite, though).

And Ballet Girl and SeaWorld Son were in a ballet version of it when they were much, much smaller. Ballet Girl actually danced in the ballet: SeaWorld Son kind of just ran across with an older male dancer who was doing leaps. I pity said dancer, because SeaWorld son and the kid who ran on the other side were bouncing off the walls by the time they got their make up on, which is why this pic is from earlier that evening. But they looked fine on stage and hit their cues and all, so probably the dancer in charge of them knew how to handle them.



Even that young, Ballet Girl was already a pro at keeping it cool backstage:



She was a fairy in the 2011 version, too, and also dancing all over, but that time she got some lines!



Mr. Cool played Theseus:



That group may have young performers, but they don't do the shortened versions for kids; I can't imagine having to memorize some of those speeches. The next time they did a Shakespearean play, Mr. Cool decided he'd rather work backstage.

I'm glad they did it, however I really would rather not spend the afternoon seeing a play, or have to peel the kids away from the after-performance celebration, the day before we go on a trip.

We got going early the next morning, though, early enough we'd crossed Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and were near Ringgold, Georgia by the time we were thinking about dinner. The "Food, next Exit" sign had bunches of fast food, but when we pulled off the exit ramp didn't have the usual sign telling us to go left for this or right for that. There was just a beat up old gas station across and to the right, so we went left. And, once we'd crossed back over the highway, this is what we saw to the left:



And to the right:









We'd heard about the earlier tornadoes in the midwest, but not about that one -- for that matter, it's not on the Wiki list of 2011 tornadoes yet! This website has some info:

http://okcstormwatcher.wordpress.com...-ef-4-tornado/

And of course the "beat up old gas station and abandoned buildings" were not old or long abandoned, either. I guess at that point we were just too highway mesmerized or something to realize what we were seeing. Although the difference in damage was striking -- the ones when we pulled off were beat up, but more in an "aged" way; we didn't see anything like that flattened and destroyed building in the earlier pic, for instance, or like this pole that's been bent in half:



Then, when we pulled back on the highway, it was like the tornado had sometimes "hopped", because there'd be a patch of trees flattened here while the ones on the other side were untouched and things. Very surreal. That write-up suggested at one point there were two tornadoes that merged, which seems right to me ; I suspect one had crossed the highway about where we pulled off, and the other shortly thereafter.

Last edited by shalom; 09-10-2012 at 06:01 PM.
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Old 09-10-2012, 06:48 PM   #60
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Trip Down Part II

We finally stopped for the night at a Howard Johnson's in Marietta, GA. Hubby gave me the choice between the nice place where you went inside to get to your room and the cheaper refurbed motel, and I figured for one night we'd go for the cheaper one, even though we'd be upstairs with no elevator. The refurb was kind of odd, because there some nice tilework in the bathroom, however they hadn't bothered with edging. OTOH, it was sparkling clean and the rooms had some interesting architectural details, like arches to define the bathroom area, plus we got connecting rooms for once, so that was kind of cool. I don't demand much of motel rooms.

Less cool were some of our neighbors about six doors down, who had a couple of little dogs. The dogs were okay, and allowed, but the next morning this guy, instead of taking his dogs down the stairs to do their business, walked them across the top of the stairs from his side to our side of the walk, and had them do it on the sidewalk up there. And of course the second floor sidewalk is sloped for drainage, so pretty soon there was a yellow stream across the walk between us and the stairs. So the kids had to carry the suitcases to the stairs instead of being able to just roll them.

Geek dad didn't like some sound the van was making, had called up our friendly mechanic the first night about it, and had decided he was going to run the van in that morning for a check and a likely quick fix. Took it to Firestone less than a mile up the road, which happily was open on Sunday mornings. Usually the Hermit is our Eagle Eye, but Ballet Girl sighted the Firestone first (and gloated about this right regular for the rest of the trip). We weren't first in line but they got through the guys ahead of us pretty quickly, then once they looked at the van they agreed with hubby's diagnosis and said it'd be a ten minute fix. So we left them with the van and the key and the kids and I walked across the parking lot to a shaded area to wait.

While we were hanging out by the trees on the slope there, someone sighted a caterpillar on Mr. Cool's sandal, and we ultimately coaxed it onto a piece of paper. It's the caterpillar for a tussock moth, and it's a good thing it was on Mr. Cool's sandal rather than his foot, because they can give a nasty sting.



Ballet Girl also updated her Trip Journal:



Then hubby joined us and said we should wander on down because they were almost done with the van. So we sat down in the Firestone lobby area to wait. And wait. And WAIT. What was wrong really is a ten minute fix -- if you replace the bolt when you put things back together. Apparently they didn't have the right bolt handy, so the mechanic just put the original one back in, which is a huge NoNo, and he quickly discovered why! The bolt broke and no one could get it out. So we were stuck waiting there essentially all day, while they kept trying this or that (without entirely admitting what had happened) to get the bolt out.

At lunch we walked down the street to a Subway, where we did not have the cookies:



I had an orchard chicken salad, while SeaWorld son had the meatball:



In the afternoon, we mostly hung out in the lobby area of Firestone, which had a TV, some magazines, and some kids books. I had no idea when the Hermit was little that I'd still be doing the same I,Spy book with her when she was in her late teens. We also talked to various locals while there car was fixed, which was often interesting.

Eventually the manager fessed up that they weren't going to get the van fixed and offered to put us up for the night. When we'd picked the Howard Johnson's we had coupons for two places -- the HoJo and a Drury Inn, and I'd told hubby we'd go for the cheaper one. We told the Firestone guys they could put us up in the Drury Inn. But we did offer them the use of our coupons.

The Drury Inn had a hotel layout rather than motel, and they had popcorn in the lobby when we got there and "Kickback" a bit later, which is kind of a hotel breakfast thingie only it's dinner. SeaWorld Son took some pictures while going up the elevator:



The desk and entrance are to the right, and the rest of the dining area to the upper left (under that overhang), then food and drink areas to the left. It was cheap cafeteria food but, hey, Firestone was paying for it, and supplemented with our snacky stuff from the car, wasn't bad. It was lovely to have our own space again! Most of us read books or got on the internet or whatever, but SeaWorld Son initially took pictures of his brother:



And when that got complaints, found a more cooperative subject:



The next day, hubby went to Firestone, but Drury Inn let us have a late checkout, and then let us store our stuff in a locked room back by the desk so we could hang out in the lobby or whatever. They were really good to us. We'd never stayed in a Drury Inn before, but you bet we've stayed in some since!

That morning the Firestone guys finally admitted defeat and said they'd have to send the van to a Dodge dealer to have them work on it. They offered to put us up in the Drury Inn until that was done, but Geek Dad had had it, and he read them the riot act. He doesn't scream or yell or swear or anything, but they definitely knew he was NOT HAPPY and that their offer was NOT SUFFICIENT. So they passed him on to Firestone's Claims department, or whatever it's called, and they worked out a deal where we got a rental van for the entire vacation and could head out to Florida that night.

So the Firestone guys ran hubby out to get the rental van, then hubby drove the rental back to pick us and all our junk up, we went back to the rental place to set me up as a driver, I think it was, then finally went out to the dealer where our van was, got the stuff we hadn't bothered hauling into the motel from our van into the rental, and we were finally off! The rental was a newer Dodge Caravan, so "just like ours, only better" and we remembered to grab the GPS and all our music and wires and junk, so even though it we were getting going more than a day late, we were pretty happy.

I think we'd crossed the Florida border when we stopped at a truck stop kinda place that had a Subway (half the family would live on Subway sandwiches), and a Dairy Queen. While the rest of them had Subway sandwiches, the Hermit and I split a bacon cheese burger and a German chocolate cake flurry, while SeaWorld Son had onion rings and a double cheese burger.



I said, "If you're going to take a picture of your food, do it before you start eating," but he insists, "Burgers look better that way."

And he took some pics of the gift shop:



Photographer after my own heart. I just need to convince him to take pics of architectural details, and we're set!

Last edited by shalom; 09-10-2012 at 08:27 PM.
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