DVC RESALES
DVC RESALES

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Old 08-22-2005, 01:24 AM   #1
gopherit
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The HHI report that reads like a novel...

Ok, I'm putting it all in one lengthy report - our trip to DVC HHI from 8/7 to 8/13. For those of you who have real lives and just want the final score, not the play-by play...

It was GREAT!

Need more detail than that?

Welcome homes: Don't remember.
Villa: #1412 2br NS near lodge; very clean, view of marsh. Ready at check-in.
And again, in case you missed it, It was GREAT!


Need more data still? Read on!

Any ??? just lemme know! I'll try to get some pics added on here pronto.

Cindy
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Old 08-22-2005, 01:26 AM   #2
gopherit
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The Preface

Consider yourselves duly warned -- This is a different sort of Disney trip report.

Two adults, three kids. That’s five people, six days.
No theme parks – though an occasional park bench.
No priority seatings -- unless you count getting first “dibs” on the comfiest seat at the kitchen table.
No rides, other than the those made via bicycle.
No MK or AK or MGM or EPCOT or BB or TL or DTD or DQ (whew!) or any OTHER typically familiar WDW acronym shall grace this post.

It was not your typical Disney trip.

And such a trip was not without its risks.

This venture required plunking down our precious DVC points on six nights in a Disney resort so far from the WDW action, it makes Old Key West and SSR and heck, the Homewood Suites on International Drive, look like they are smack dab in the heart of Main Street USA by comparison. Until this trip, those DVC points were for WDW USE ONLY, by Royal Family Decree! And lest we forget, my DH, amicably termed “Mr. Chicken Butt” at the time, was our most vocal protester, very certain this trip was an invitation ripe for disaster. His fear was understandably weather-born of experience in the wake of Hurricane Charley during our WDW trip the prior year. But while I understood his desire to avoid all things “coastal” in the merry maritime month of August, I nonetheless placed the fateful call 7 months ago to Member Services.

And thus our vacation from 8/7 –8/13 at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina was chartered. An Un-Disney Disney trip, if you will, and as I tried to explain to our family.

“But….Whatever will we DO in HHI?” asked my sons.
“And wherever shall we GO in HHI?” my daughter questioned.
“And to whenceforth shast we evacuate in high haste when the hurricane striketh?” wondered my poultryesque DH.

Egads, I’m surrounded by critics…. “Disney, this had better be GOOD!” was my frequent mantra as the questions grew and our departure time neared.

And now – as I write this – quite obviously, it’s all over.

The weather fears, as it turned out, were for naught, unless you count a few mild cases of sunburn. No violent storm surge came, no gale-force winds.

In summary, Disney (and Mother Nature) must have heard my earlier oft-repeated mantra, for the trip WAS good! Excellent, in fact, though not without some surprises (but that’s typical for any trip with us!)

So feel free to join me as I reminisce about our time at Disney’s Outer Limits – I’m going to try to keep this all in one thread, so if you’re game (or simply crumpled in a protoplasmic blob before your computer with no other life calling your name), let’s go!
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Old 08-22-2005, 01:28 AM   #3
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A Different Sort Of Disney trip - Continued


While the drive from our home to Disney’s HHI door is roughly 10 hours, we are also fortunate enough to have family members (note: that we actually like) planted strategically along our route, thus breaking our trip into 2 easy segments – 6 hrs for the first leg, stay a day or two, then drive the remaining 4 hours. (Or in kid terms, that’s three movies, a Happy meal, 2 bathrooms, followed by 1 movie, some radio, snacks in car, and one bathroom. ) Packing for the trip went better than expected, despite the fact the kids seemed to keep proferring forth new things to bring everytime I turned around – boogie boards, sand toys, skim boards, beach umbrella, books, gameboys, 2 puzzles with missing pieces, 3 stuffed rabbits, a talking Pikachu -- the list gets fuzzy (and really long!) from here. DH added to this with a plethora of edibles from Sam’s (where you can’t buy anything in units less than kilos, bushels, or pallet-loads.) Like Mr. Potato Head, I drew the line at Monkey Chow, and dared anyone to cross it, lest I have to put on my Angry Eyes! So with a van load full of kids, crap, snacks, and maps, we hit the highway and made good time to my mother’s home in upstate S.C. for dinner (or supper, depending upon what side of the Mason-Dixon your table typically resides). We stayed there 2 nights before restuffing our light green van again; we looked like a pregnant olive making our way towards the coast that morning. We pit-stopped with about 30 miles left in the trip for a quick lunch at Wendy’s – nothing to mention here, except all young girls must have been acting up that day. I had to escort my dd outside for a little mom-to-overtired-dd conversation around “behavioural expectations” and noticed 2 other moms doing the same thing. Something in the air or the chicken nuggets, I suppose.

Anyway -- We had no real problems finding the resort. Thanks to great pictures forwarded to me in advance by Scootersmom (thanks Colleen!), it was like Disney déjà vu – hey, wait a minute, haven’t I seen all this before? I always love that first moment when you spy your "home". And this moment did not disappoint -- very nice.

The next 6 days at HHI pretty much blended together, one into the next, with many of the same attributes, just in different permutations (i.e. beach first, THEN pool… pool first, THEN beach… you get the idea.) Therefore, rather that do a play-by-play, day-by-day account, I’ve broken the trip into several separate attributes to describe our overall impressions and experiences with HHI and our Non-WDW Disney Experience.

Check In It was smooth, and our room was ready at arrival at 12:45 pm. CM Jennifer said she had a “room with a view” for us. We had a 2BR villa -- #1412 near the front end of the resort. I admit it – I was bummed to see it was so “far” from the pool and Community Hall. And we had wanted 2nd floor, too. But hey, it was a 2br, non-smoking, non-handicapped, and it was ready – giddyup, let’s go. I convinced the kids this was really THE place to be, since it would be closer to the beach pick up/ drop off point. And it meant close parking to the villa (Anti-valet DH has gotta love that, right?) The grounds at HHI are very well kept, but one thing we immediately noticed – hmmm, everything is so much smaller than we thought! The lodge, the lobby, the pools, Murgie’s den, the Mercantile, basically the whole resort… It was like, Caution, Objects In All The Photos Are Smaller Than They Appear. Mind you, that’s not necessarily a BAD thing – meaning, our villa was closer to the pool than we imagined from just looking on the map, and we were MUCH closer to Shelter Cove than we had imagined, too. Nothing was really very far from anything, I guess! Bike riding was a breeze. But it was definitely something to get used to – I think I had spent too much time looking at that aerial view of Disney’s HHI resort and it just somehow looked more sprawling, like OKW and SSR combined, from that perspective. In contrast, however, the villa itself seemed bigger inside that what I had imagined, based on experience at other villas, looking at pics and square footage, etc. Go figure.

The Villa : As for the room and its view… After our VERY short drive to the villa (a speed bump and a sneeze and we were there) I got out of the car and looked at the marina across from our door. I thought, “Hmm… Is this the view the CM is talking about?” We went inside and I looked out of the back glass doors. The villa overlooks a small planked boardwalk leading back to the lodge. From there, it looks out across a fairly vast marsh. Or maybe this is the “view”? The one thing I couldn’t figure out for the life of me, though, when looking at the marsh was all the pressed-down brown stuff, like dead hay, at the area extending right from the boardwalk well out into the marsh. They looked like crop circles, I swear – who knows, maybe it formed a huge hidden Mickey from an aerial view. In any case, it seemed odd, all this twiggy marsh grass pressed down so neatly in flat, swirly patterns. (And we saw the same thing later over at the pier.) Our porch from which to view the crop circles and otherwise lush marshland was quite impressive – we had a long balcony, plus a smaller one off of the 2nd bedroom. 2 rockers and a picnic table, all in great shape. I will confess – I didn’t get a “shock and awe” experience with the marsh “view” – at least, not right away. For starters, it was mid-day. Sun was high, grass was green, tide was heading out, critters were resting somewhere shady. But the view “grew” on me, especially early and late in the day, as the sun rose and set. The birds (herons and such) would stand tall in the grasses. Boaters could be seen on the distant waters. Even though we were considered “ground level”, we were still up quite a ways from the ground (a nice staircase or 2). There was one view I could have done without, though -- our kids gasped in amazement to see a guy on the neighboring porch jump from his balcony down to the boardwalk to retrieve his fishing bait (I presume that’s what it was, since it looked like a gnarly old piece of squid. But hey, perhaps he had plans for some really rubbery fried calamari that night…) The kids thought the leap o’ faith from the balcony was way cool and debated “trying it” themselves – I quickly reminded them to think again, you little scurvy muskrats -- This ain’t Fear Factor. I was also displeased to see Mr. Jump The Deck and his companion smoking (cigarettes, that is – not personally ablaze, thank goodness). I am assuming it’s a non-smoking villa, as it’s adjacent to mine and mine is clearly labeled as such on the door, but hey, newbie that I am, what do I know? Fortunately, the wind was in my favor, so no smoke our way. We never saw them again after the first day. I think the thing that troubled me about the scene was watching them go in and out of the villa that day with cigarettes (and squid bits) in tow, so it made me wonder if the next occupants had vestiges of smoke in their room. ANYWAY – Smokin’ Squidman and Co. aside, we had no issues with neighbors except for the occasional Thunder on the Tundra living above us. I was really amazed – in all my DVC experiences, I have NEVER heard such loud feet. It must be something about the insulation between floors (or a lack thereof). It was truly impressive. DH said they were “like elephants.” More like “Lords of the Phants", I’d say. Flatley himself and a troop of well-heeled hoofers couldn’t have rivaled their rhythmic thumping. The villa itself was very clean, everything pretty much present and accounted for, though the bed linens in the 2nd BR looked a bit tired (lots of pulled threads and a notable 2” rip right in the top of my dd’s sheet). I was impressed with the bathrooms, frankly – coastal areas can have lots of mold issues, and I thought the shower and tubs looked pretty darn good. I did purge out the master tub Jacuzzi one night and was GLAD I did – ewwwwwww. That baby’s pipes needed a-cleanin’ - nasty. The kids thought it was great fun to come back from the pools at night and take their turn “luxuriating” in the “spa” while eating a Popsicle. (Yes, Popsicles and whirlpool baths -- we’re just weird that way. Actually, we’re just lazy that way – you don’t have to clean your sticky, drippy kid if they eat it in the bath – it’s like self-cleaning fun for all.)

The Grounds: The landscaping and flowers / shrubbery etc. around the Disney resort are beautiful. I was disappointed to see Bambi and Thumper were foliage fakes, though -- maybe that sort of shrubbery doesn't fare well there? Anyway, the big pots of plants, flowers, trees – all very bright and lovely. DH and I thought the potted assorted greenery were Bambi-fakes, too, but not so! They were very real, despite looking way too "perfect" -- that’s just how nice they are, LOL! And they are tasty too, though please know that's not by our own account. That opinion was registered by the rabbits living under the boardwalk right outside our villa. We watched with amusement in the cool mornings as 2 bunnies hopped up on the boardwalk to sniff the air and grab some brekkie out of the big clay pot planter. In an effort to “save the landscaping” (and treat the bunnies) my son threw out 2 baby carrots, which were quickly scarfed up. The only downside to this little nature reverie is that 20 minutes later, I found my dd crying in the bedroom, clutching her stuffed rabbit animals and wailing, “But I miiiissssss *sniff* I misssssss… sniffsniff … I missss Mister Bunnnnnnns!” Mr. Buns is my eldest son’s pet rabbit. He is a cross between a dwarf and mini-lop (the rabbit – not my son) and is incredibly spoiled by our family. He also firmly believes our dd is a rabbit too and is, in fact, the lagomorph love of his life. Theirs is a very special relationship, and a girl and her “bunfriend” are not soon parted. Or at least, not without a lot of tears.


Bug report: There were a few issues on Day 1 and 2 with ants in our kitchen which, while preferable to ants in our pants, was still not a feature we wanted. We did our part and kept the counter spotless and the ants got suitably disgusted and headed elsewhere… maybe over to Mr. Squid’s? Or possibly upstairs, where they were promptly crushed underfoot. In any case, the ants were particularly bad at the beach. In the upper dunes, they were EVERYWHERE. Hmmm, I had forgotten about that. Back 15 yrs ago when DH and I were on our honeymoon at nearby Kiawah Island, we sat down one night in the sand to ponder the wonder of our love and the beauty of the ocean (but didn’t ponder carefully enough where we sat). Let it suffice to say we didn’t share too long of a romantic moment…those mean little suckers can BITE. There we were, suddenly jumping up from our romantic clinch, grabbing at our clothes, hopping around, slapping ourselves, shrieking and squealing… It was “From Here to Eternity Meets Denny Terrio’s Dance Fever”. Result: Not Good. Rate it “R” for obscene language, adult situations, and really bad ant bites in lascivious places, and give it a double-itchy calamine-coated thumbs DOWN.

ANYWAY… so about those ants at the HHI beach. We noticed them really heavily concentrated up in the higher sand and around the stairs to the beach house. I felt badly for anyone not paying close attention – several folks laid their towels and such right on the anthills, especially when it was high tide. You had to really come into the damp sand to avoid them. As for the villa ant issue – we didn’t have any problems on days 2-5, and on the last day of our stay, Disney had pest control come in all the villas for their quarterly “treatment”, so hopefully that will also squelch any insect return there. Ironically, we didn’t see a single palmetto bug anywhere – I even looked for them, so I could show the boys, LOL! Little known bit of trivia on me – my main fear is things in multitudes. Big long snake? Not an issue for me. Palmetto Bug so large it has my dd’s sneakers on and is fixing itself a cup of coffee? Not a biggie – just makes it a better eventual target for a swift arm and well-rolled newspaper. But things in packs or multitudes – gives me the heebies, big time. Ants, yellow jackets, cub scouts – ooh, I’ve got cold chills already. Brrrr.

Bikes: Rented them from Disney, no problems. Got the tag-along bike for our dd, who of course protested loudly. (“But I don’t WANT to look at Mommy’s biscuits everywhere I go!!!”) Who could blame her for that? Call me Brer Rabbit and put me in my Fat Pants. But after a ride or two, she recognized she could just look elsewhere for a view and have a grand, leisurely time doing it, so what the hey! No pedaling required – it was like she had her own personal Rick-Shaw rental and I was her lackey. “Get yer biscuits movin’ Mom… let’s ride!” (Note – she didn’t really say that. I’ll bet she THOUGHT it, but she didn’t say it.) Speaking of moving bodies, we did ride the bikes a few times to the beach house– and I was pleased at what an easy ride it was. The kids loved riding around the resort, too, but I didn’t feel too comfy letting them just go off on their own, namely because one of our sons isn’t always observant of his environment (cars, pedestrians and other moving objects… not to mention the stationery ones, too!) Well, actually, it’s not that he’s NOT observant – he’s just TOO observant of other things and he’s looking elsewhere and distracted and next thing you know – WHAM. He’s walked into lots of doors, God luv’ him. Plus, being at the front of the resort, there’s a lot of come/go car and utility vehicle traffic past our villa. So it was as much for the safety of others as well as our kids that we only let the boys ride with an adult along! I think for the 2 adult bikes, 2 youth bikes and 1 tag-along, it cost $82 for the week. The bikes were in very good shape, too, as were the helmets. The staff at the rental window was very helpful – but more on that topic later, in its own special “topic”.

Disney Doings: Ok, there was WAYYY too much to do. It boggles the mind. We left many of our planned activities out. I never did really get to shop anywhere (probably to my DH’s delight!) We didn’t see too much of the educational historical / museum stuff either (possibly to my kids’ delight?) And we didn’t have to go to ANY medical centers or Quick Cares during our stay (much to MY great delight!) We did a few of the Disney offerings, including Kid’s Night Out, All American BBQ, Shadow’s Tales, Magic in the Den, evening campfire (3 of those!), Dolphin Watch, the Low Country Shrimp Boil, and the Unbirthday party.

Kid’s Night out was, according to our kids anyway, excellent. I hesitated over the price ($20 per head), but in retrospect, it’s reasonable, given that the pizza is ordered in from Papa Johns, the movie is an evening show at the nearby theater, and the CMs also give the kids treats and such to nibble during the movie, and the whole “event’ lasts 3 hrs long (versus $10 per head per hr at WDW). One thing that did trouble me, though, is that the CMs did not seem concerned with getting a number at which they could reach you. At many places like this, they give you a pager, in case you are needed. When I asked the CM about leaving a cell phone #, she seemed nonchalant about it, sort of, “Oh, you can leave it if you WANT to, but there shouldn’t be any problems.” Umm, I think that’s why they are called accidents – because they occur when you AREN’T expecting them. That made me a bit nervous. Couple that with my embarrassment to realize I did NOT know the kids would be leaving the resort until DH and I actually came to pick them up! When I had asked about Kid’s Night out, I was told “They get pizza and a movie, ages 5-12, $20 per child for 3 hrs.” Naïve me figured they would be holed up in the Community Bldg eating pizza and watching a video movie there – I had no clue the plan involved mass transport to a local movie theater. Mind you, I think that’s great for the kids – they got to see a current film (Sky High) on a real screen, and it certainly makes me feel like the $20 was a lot more reasonable. But that also makes me all the more feel that with the kids leaving the resort, driving to another public facility, etc., some sort of contact ability to the Mother Ship should be required. My kids’ school requires that much – Disney should too.

BBQ and Shrimp Boil: Both were quite good, though in retrospect I seriously doubt our kids got their moolah’s worth out of it. There is too much activity going on for that to ever happen! 9 bucks for my son to take a bite or two of a hot dog and wash it down with a swig of lemonade is pricey. Mind you, all of my kids found something to like about the meals – their favorite edibles were well represented – there just wasn’t the interest, relative to the action going on around them. We would have almost done better to just plunk out an extra $30 and let the the kids go on another Kid’s Night Out instead of the Low Country Boil, and let DH and I have another low-key evening together. Compared to the BBQ, the Low Country Shrimp Boil seemed sparsely attended, though. Perhaps that’s because it was Thursday, and the resort was starting to thin in anticipation of the Friday Night points-gouge? Or maybe folks would rather get their seafood at a local seafood restaurant, with more plentiful choices? Who knows. The food was good at both the BBQ and Boil – ribs, chicken, burgers, dogs, etc at the BBQ; shrimp, pork, gumbo, chicken strips, etc at the Boil. My youngest and eldest ate their weight in watermelon, I swear. They had someone painting faces at both events, but the paint came right off with water. Considering both parties were held right near the POOL, that was a bit of a bummer. Maybe they could consider those face “pencils” that require a bit of hand lotion to remove them – something that allowed the kids to still get wet but wasn’t too terribly permanent? Just a thought. All in all, I’m not sure I’d feel compelled to do either dining event again – we would probably just as soon eat in our villa or at a restaurant, then come over for the games. Mind you, I’m glad we did it, and certainly don’t regret it – it just might not be as important to try it next time.

Character Meet/Greet: Aha, fooled you, didn't I -- you thought maybe we had drifted into a WDW vacation, eh? Well, no Mouse and pals here, my friends. HHI does try hard to inject some “character” into their resort, though. They have elected not to rely on the obvious Disney spokesmodels for their resort. Instead, they have the whole "Shadow the Dog" low country legend thing going on, and in tandem with that, they have B’Lou Crabbe. I’m not sure if they have had the same B’Lou all these years, but I did notice that in the DVC planning video, if you look verrry carefully, there is someone dressed just like a trim version of B’Lou getting pushed into the pool in slapstick fashion. Somehow, I don’t see this B’Lou being as carefree and happy as the guy in the video if that were to happen to him. He seemed like a character you might find on the old show “Evening Shade.” Very likable, with a dry, subtle sense of humor – but maybe it was just something about the week we were there, the heat, what he had for breakfast, or the lack of reaction folks gave him – he didn’t seem like a very happy Crabbe. We first saw him over at the BBQ, but later got a better look at him during “Shadow’s Tales” on Thursday, when he and a certain golden retriever came over to the shuffleboard court to prove Yes, Virginia, there is a Shadow. And poor B’Lou Crabbe couldn’t get a lick of attention, it seemed, except what that dog happened to give him when she snagged a treat from him now and then. All the kids quickly crammed in around Shadow and totally tuned B’Lou out. The only “tale” they seemed interested in was the one that was wagging. I’m not sure any of the kids could even tell you a word of the “tales”, that’s how upstaged B’Lou was by the dog. They probably should have held the event in Murgie’s den, let him tell the tales, THEN produced the dog. It was rather hot and muggy out by the shuffleboard court at high noon anyway, and even Shadow was getting less receptive as the minutes passed. At the magic show, folks must have been hot and tired or comatose or something, because it seemed like B’Lou felt he was talking to a dead crowd. He kept making comments about the “silence” of the audience (and I have to say, it was pretty quiet). At the pool games Tuesday night, he came by us in the conga line and said, as he clacked 2 sticks together, “Do you know why I do this?” Before DH and I could respond, he added, “Because they PAY me to do it!” And he congoed off into the night. I know this – he’s gotta be one tough cookie, because they could not have paid me to wear his outfit in the Carolina summer heat. That standard issue Crabbe-shell (vest, long pants, heavy boots – fly-fishin’ gear) has gotta be stifling hot – especially in August at high noon in the Low Country humidity. Ick.

Campfires: The evening campfires were quite good – we went to 3 of them while we were there. Disney had two very lively young CMs from Scotland – Gregor and Chris – that were quite popular, especially with the kids. My own trio thought the antics of those two guys were hilarious. What I personally found hilarious is that even now, a week later, my kids are still singing the campfire songs – with Scottish accents! “Da Moooose, da Moooooose! Swimming in da wah-teh….” Apparently the Moose song was a real fave of Gregor’s, though barely tolerated by the other CMs. The anti-Moose CMs explained that they felt the ending was in poor taste (not to spoil it for you, but the Moose ends up dead.) Personally, the song didn’t bother me. I had greater reservations about singing the also infamous “Baby Shark” song wherein a swimmer loses various appendages and they perform CPR (or as my dd sings it, “Sleepy Arms”). My qualms with this otherwise cute song stemmed from the fact that (a) what’s described in the song is actually happening lately and (b) there was a young girl about 7 or 8 yrs old at the campfire who literally had no left arm. Granted, nobody said a shark did that – or a moose either, for that matter. Nonetheless, since the kid seemed unphased by the shark song and was singing right along, I can’t see how the moose song would be any bigger a problem. It’s no worse than “Go tell Aunt Rhodie” with the goose that croaks and all those goslings crying…Whatever. Hey, how did I get on this depressing subject, anyway? Oh yeah – Scottish campfires. Back to topic - ahem. Sooooo….. On the 1st night (Sunday’s campfire), the wood must have been wet from a brief rain, because the fire smoke was horrendous. Really bad and going everywhere. People were holding their eyes in pain, self and family included, and especially the CMs standing right by the billowing inferno. At one point, CM Chris, dodging the smoke as best he could, alluded to the earlier showers of the day and asked the crowd, “Because, aftah all, whot’s the wuhrst thing that can happen on vacation?” To which some smartie quickly blurted, “Ummm, a Bad Campfire?” (They left themselves wide open for that one.) The 2nd campfire (Wed.) was much better, at least in terms of air quality. There was less smoke, a new story, the Moose song (again!) and lots of fun. The 3rd campfire (Fri night), however, Gregor and Chris were not there (much to my kids’ great dismay). Not to be sexist, but something about “Boom-Chicka-Boom - Arnold Schwartzenegger Style” performed by an all-female cast just isn’t the same. There was one male CM there that night (Rich) that we had not seen all week, and I got the distinct impression he didn’t do the sing-alongs very often. He seemed like someone who had been coerced to fill a gap and felt dorky doing it. And yet, he did seem to know the basic songs, so maybe he is a regular and it’s just his way. (Anybody else seen this guy at a campfire?) When my kids cried out for “The Moose Song! The Moose Song!” Rich jumped in quickly and responded, “Oh NO you don’t – there will be NO MOOSE SONG – Not tonight! Not on MY watch!” He noted that he didn’t like the ending, and he wanted to change the words to it – so even though it seemed like he was just following behind the female CMs there, someone had at least briefed him on the music du jour, or the Moose song, if nothing else! He also said, “And no Freebird, either.” That Party Pooper…. As for the chow -- the smores were very tasty. I think that’s such a neat treat for Disney to provide its guests, and the kids of course loved it. Speaking of good things to nibble, I should also note that only on the last night (Friday) did we find the skeeters seeming to enjoy a taste of us… maybe all that smoke on Sunday had kept them away! (Sometimes even the thickest clouds have a silvery DEET-like lining…) When you consider that the whole resort is right by a marsh, this factor (the relatively low skeeter bite ratio) is even more impressive.

And more impressive STILL is how confounded LONG those wacky campfire songs can stay ingrained in your brain. My kids were singing the “Baby Shark” song all the next day (interspersed with the Moose one, of course). Going to a campfire every other night or so only further deepened the retentive powers. I am one of those sorts of people that, if I go to see a musical, I will feel compelled to say everything in song for the next several hours… days… perhaps weeks. It drives my kids nuts – but alas, they are my spawn, and so too are they cursed with the Singing Gene. It seemed like every bit of commentary in the days that followed lent itself to the Shark tune… “Let’s go eat…. Doot doot doot-dee-doo… let’s go eat… doot doot doot-dee-doo.” "Ride your bike... doot doot dootdeedoo! Ride your bike... doot doot dootdeedoo! " "Sunburn hurts.. doot doot dootdee-" oh, never mind,. you get it, right? Even now, home for over a week, my kids are still prone, for no apparent reason, to suddenly sing out, “I said a BOOM chicka BOOM!” My DH (lacking the necessary gene of appreciation) just shakes his head and says, "How long will this last?" Apparently quite a while. I heard my dd playing with the rabbit just the other day, and singing to it, “C'mon, Rabbit Style! I said a BUN-chicka-BUN! I said a BUN-chicka-BUN! I said a BUNNY-carrot-LETTUCE-carrot-LETTUCE-carrot-BUN! Uh HUH! Oh Yeah! One More Time!” That’s my girl. She’s got my gene…and THEN SOME.

BOAT TOURS: Some of my fellow DISer DVCers may recall how I debated long and hard on one particular event of this trip – Dolphin cruise or Beach Combing trip? Dolphin cruise or Beach Combing Trip? Aughhh! Dolphins: 2 hrs on boat, at $30 per head, with 10% DVC discount (so 27 X 5). Beach Combing is same trip, but add 1 hour on a island beach shell-gathering and an extra $20 per head (and no DVC discount – so 50X 5). In the end, I chose the dolphins… and in retrospect, alas, I chose wrong. I went with the dolphin cruise because I was very unsure of how my kids would handle the boat ride itself. I figured 2 hrs was long enough to test their stomach stamina on the water and that seeing the dolphins would be enough reward. Of course, I realize now that a boatload full of little water-chummers might have actually HELPED bring dolphins to us to make the trip more memorable, LOL. But my children’s newly discovered tolerance for watercraft is not what makes me think I chose wrong. It has to do with “sustained gains”. Let me explain…We had Kyle as our “captain” and he was excellent – he did his best to find the dolphins, and at one point sidled us up to a fishing boat and let the kids see / hold live shrimp. He was clearly quite knowledgeable about the area, the waterways, the fish and general sealife… But from our conversation, I quickly inferred that (a) the “friendly” dolphins that come close to the boats are the older ones who used to get hand-fed and (b) once those guys meet the fate of the Moose, that’s probably theend of dolphin touring as we know it. The new dolphin crop has no real reason to ever come up to the boats. We did see a few dolphins up very close on our tour. These were some of the “oldies” and both Kyle and Scott (and most any other boat driver we saw) knows them by name, that’s how distinct they are. Scott had taken another family out at the same time as us, and when we re-docked afterwards, my DH overheard him making apologies for the relative lack of dolphin activity as they got off the boat. We did see dolphins, but certainly none were coming up to our boat trying to shake our hands and audition for Sea World the way the pictures in the travel books represent them. Kyle told us that if we came back again, we should really try fishing instead – more excitement, and more fun for the kids. I later spoke with the family that toured with Scott, and it seemed they too had been told to consider a fishing trip “next time”. This family had never heard of the beach combing trip (These folks weren’t DISers, that’s for sure! And the Beach Combing trip is what was really advertised on the resort, both on bulletin boards and even on the resort TV station). Another family we t met later in the week also did a tour with Kyle, and he had recommended fishing to them as well. Now granted, they get more moolah on a fishing trip, and maybe some captains just like to fish more than they like to cruise around the waterway in pursuit of a dolphin. But what I meant about “sustained gains” is that I think taking an extra hour and getting something tangible out of the trip (even just one seashell) would have helped my crew immensely. They needed something to have and to hold to really make the trip a “wow” experience. Just the brief visit with the fishing folks (and getting to hold the shrimp and such) added greatly to their experience, so I think if they had something they could have brought BACK with them (as in ,all the way to WV, and let’s face it – that shrimp would have been mi-tee RIPE by now, so that wouldn’t have worked), well, it would have made a far bigger, better impression. You know kids – if there’s a souvenir involved, they’re “in”! We went to Harbor Town later that same day and what did our trio choose to buy for themselves? Sand dollars and conch shells. Yessiree, next time, I’m splurging on beach combing. I think fishing might be too long and tedious for little ones (my dd doesn’t last too long fishing from a pier… I can’t fathom her holding up long trapped on a little boat), but I’ll keep that idea in mind for when the gang is older. We were very happy with Kyle and would gladly take him as our captain again! Interesting side note – he was soon leaving for Indonesia, then off to Hawaii for the winter months. What a life – a job where you never have to wear long pants or even socks!

Unbirthday Party: On a last-minute whim, the kids signed up for the Unbirthday parties for their respective age groups. They enjoyed this immensely. DS was bummed he never got to “paint a dead fish” (gyotaku) but it just seemed like we were always doing SOMETHING as it was … (so much for “What are we going to DO”, huh!) While the boys went to the party, DH and I watched our dd enjoying herself in the pool. Several times we thought we heard thunder rumbling nearby. I was surprised they didn’t close the pool, as notable as the thunder was, and finally went to ask a lifeguard for confirmation (as in, hint hint – do you hear what I hearrrrrrr?). Well, the raging storm was even closer than I thought – because what we were hearing were all the 7-12 year old kids upstairs in Community Hall, at the Unbirthday Party, playing games and running around! Man, that was one ROWDY party. When DH went to collect the boys to take them to the beach, Evan was wearing most of the cake on his nose and cheeks. Ryan was a bit cleaner, though not by much. I took Caroline to her age group’s party and an hour later when I came to retrieve her, I understood how this came to pass, as I watched her personally eating her cake off a paper banner on the floor. She said she was eating it “like Shadow does.” The kids loved the parties. My sister confirmed that the parties must be universally popular, because while she was at Vero that same week, their Activities Sheet went so far as to remind people to limit themselves to only ONE Unbirthday Party per stay, LOL!

Meals: Aside from dining at Disney’s events, DH and I ate at Scott’s Fish Market (Shelter Cove) and we took a party of 9 over to San Miguel’s on Friday night. Scott’s was good – DH and I both had cups of the seafood gumbo. Mine had more seafood, his had more gumbo. As a token of my affection, I split the big honkin’ scallop that was in my cup with him. What can I say, I’m a giver. For dinner, I had the swordfish with the feta / artichoke topping while DH had the sautéed scallops. It was all very fresh and very good, with nice dining by the water. They had a guitar player who did the usual songs guitar players do (and 10 bucks and a beer says he’ll play Bye-Bye Miss American Pie before the night is through.) Pretty sure he played Freebird too, though The Moose song never did come up. San Miguel’s had good food, but a few oddities I am compelled to note. I ordered a Tecate beer and was surprised when they brought it to me… in the can! Huh? What’s with that? With a lime, no less, which let me just say doesn’t work too well. Kept blockin’ the hole of the can. Next time they should bring a glass (bottle or mug). Also – the menu says that only your first basket of chips / salsa is free – after that, expect to pay. Eventually we caved and asked for another basket of chips because we still had oodles of salsa left – they in turn brought us 2 baskets of chips and 2 more bowls of salsa, but none of that showed up on our bill. Maybe that clause is just for the folks who come drink and nibble chips all night and leave sans a meal, LOL! The food was good there, though I have been told umpteen times now by our more HHI-savvy friends we should try Santa Fe instead. One more thing to add to the “Next Time” list, I guess! By the way, we used our Restaurants.com coupon over in Sea Pines at Giuseppi’s and it worked fabulously well for us! Recall that this is the $25 coupon I got for $8 for the pizza place in Sea Pines (NOT to be confused with Giuseppi’s over near the Disney resort – this is a Giuseppi of a whole ‘nother breed.) Well, I was lucky enough to have a friend staying the same week as us over at Sea Pines, so she got a guest pass for us (saved us the $5 entry fee!) After some aimless wandering (for what sparse info those little tiny maps they hand out at the Sea Pines Gate will give you, they may as well hand you a rusty compass) we finally found Giuseppi’s – a tiny little place down the road from Harbor Town on Lighthouse Road. We ordered a large pepperoni pizza for the kids, strombolis for DH and me, and cheesy breadsticks for all, with big sodas all around. It was all very good, and there was oodles of food – DH couldn’t even finish his stromboli, and we had half a pizza left to take home and nibble that night as well. The bill would have come to about $44 – but we were spared $17 of that, thanks to the coupon. A pretty good deal! The boys were intrigued by the décor – the owners must be huge Pittsburgh fans. Steelers and Penguins and Pirates Oh My, as far as the eye could see. My dd wanted to know just WHO was this “Joe Green” guy, and why did he have to be so mean? Of course, being a total diehard Philly Fan, my DH wasn’t THAT impressed… but hey, looking at sports stuff (even if it was the wrong team) beats looking at a blank wall any day of the week, so for that reason, he liked it, nonetheless. Would he have liked an 8X10 of McNabb better ,yes indeed, but he’s a reasonable man, he can compromise. And his ‘boli was good, so no complaints there, either! (Everybody sing! "Food was good... doot doot doot deedo, Food was good...doot doot dootdeedoo...")

One thought for future trips – while on our aquatic journey with Captain Kyle of the Dolphin Tour, he pointed out to us that on the tip of the Disney resort resides one of the many guest grills and it is strategically located such that you are right on the end of the marina, looking out at the edge of the marsh and marina as it feeds into the larger water areas (down near bldg 30, if you’re looking at the map). He said if HE were staying at the resort, he would (a) get his food stuffs together and (b) drive or bike or walk – whatever – down to this point and fix his food (grill some shrimp and steaks, or even burgers and dogs – whatever) and eat by the water’s edge overlooking the marsh at sunset every night. The man makes a strong, valid point. I would surely give this a shot for at least one night on a future visit – so add THAT to the List, too!

Another thing to point out about HHI – apparently this is a real drinker’s town, because it seemed like every restaurant around came with the recommendation of “Oooh, it’s a great place to get a drink….” And just as many times this recommendation was then followed by the vehement qualifier, “…but DON’T eat the food there! Just get a drink and enjoy the view.” I don’t know how other folks enjoy themselves, but I personally LIKE to actually have food at dinner. I’m just crazy that way. Looking through the HHI restaurant guide and on-line reviews, you’ll find many places are judged on their (a) ambiance and (b) wine list. I guess food quality rates as a distant (c)… (of course, if you have enough of (b), then who the heck cares about (c), right? ) Anyway, it makes it difficult to choose a place because on the one hand, you want a place with some ambiance, but on the other, we didn’t want to land in a tourist trap. And many times, the very places on the prime property that were lauded for their view or atmosphere were the same ones that folks claimed were not as good in food quality. Puts you between a rock lobster and a hard roll in terms of choosing – and there are LOTS of places to choose from, too!

Groceries: We did our grocery shopping at Piggly Wiggly – I found the veggies and basics to be quite decent here. Meats, however, were somewhat lacking, but maybe I’m too picky. (We buy our beef by the half-cow from a friend who has his own beef cattle. Spoils you for anything else.) Couldn’t find a decent ham, either, so had to change my whole meal plan around. No harm done, but would probably seek out a different grocer if I was inclined to need more support from the butcher.

On the whole – we didn’t eat out a lot. And we didn’t really care. My eldest was determined to eat at Tide Me Over for some reason, though. This never did materialize for him, though I did end up getting lunch for us all on the day we left over at Signals at the Beach House (close enough – same type food, with some of the same people that were at Tide Me Over! Talk about job rotation -- those HHI CMs work every job, everywhere!) I have to admit, this was neither exorbitantly priced nor bad-tasting chow – in fact, as grilled cheese and fries and such fare goes, it was quite delicious. I think $4.25 for a grilled cheese, fries, pickle wedge and drink is pretty darn good, frankly. The fries were especially excellent for some reason! The kids scarfed it all down in seconds – they don’t do that at BK or Mickey D’s. Score one for Signal's in my book!

Hey, you're still here?

C'mon, let's do it, trip report style!

I said a BOOM chicka BOOM!
I said a BOOM chicka BOOM!
I said a BOOM chicka "I'm-writing-all-this-because-I'm-so-bummed-it's-over" Chicka-BOOM!

Uh huh...
Oh yeah...
One more time!

Last edited by gopherit; 08-22-2005 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 08-22-2005, 02:35 AM   #4
gopherit
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A Different Sort of Disney Trip - Continued Even More

"More report... doot doot dootdeedoo! More report... doot doot dootdeedoo!"



And now for the part of the trip report where I recount my experiences in people-watching…. Hey, what would a trip report be, without some commentary on the humanity we observed along the way? For starters, one thing happened on this trip that simply doesn’t happen to me – I met another DISer! A few months ago, I posted one of those “Who is going to HHI in August” threads and BWVDenise responded in turn that she and her DH and 3 kids would be there. Well, it was our first night at HHI, and DH had taken our eldest out for a bike ride, leaving me to get the two younger ones over to the campfire. When we got there, a crowd was beginning to gather, but no sign of DH or Evan. As I took a seat near the fire – er, smoking pit – I had a hard time convincing Ryan to STAY PUT. Ryan is my hunter/gatherer child, and if anyone strays froms the flock, he needs to know why, where, and if they are somewhere having more fun than him? It was a hard sell keeping him in a chair in front of billowing, burning smoke. As I tried to explain to him, even if his dad and brother didn’t show up for the campfire, there was no sense in me losing him, too! Around this same time, Caroline decided to add more issues to the embers of discontent by announcing that despite having JUST gone to the bathroom at the villa all of 65 seconds ago, she now needed to go AGAIN. Maybe smoke inhalation heightens perceived bladder fullness. I pointed to her where the bathroom was located, at the top of the stairs, but with all the commotion, she was having problems understanding me. I toyed with going with her, but knew if I left, Ryan would be outta there, off to find his missing family units. And Caroline was way too independent to be escorted my Mom -- ohhh no, she wanted none of that, she could “do it herself”, thank you very much. She had used the same bathroom earlier that day, and felt confident she could find it again. She got to the top of the open stairs and then just stood there, looking around, then back down at me, 15 feet below her. I then was put in the position of making a spectacle of myself, hollering, “Go that way! Keep going! You’re getting warmer! Warmer! No, colder, yes warmer – Yes, you’re there!” I knew where the bathroom was, and now so did she…Success! There was just one problem. I couldn’t recall which door would be the girl’s room – the left or the right? And she apparently had reservations about that as well. Did the door say Ladies or Women? She knew her letters, but I didn’t want to stand there like Vanna White, calling out consonants. “Ummm, look at the pictures on the door, choose the one with a girl on it!” I hollered. A male voice behind me then called out, “It’s to the right!” I turned to see from whence the wisdom came, and found a couple seated behind me. “There’s only one problem,” I sadly replied to them, “She doesn’t know her left from her right!” When I looked back up, she was making her choice for the door - the right one – whew, there’s one crisis solved. Within minutes of that, DH and our son showed up, and Caroline returned, and the campfire was about ready to begin. Around this time, the woman seated behind me asked if I was “Gopherit”. Ok, I must have looked really stupid, because I honestly drew a blank, and so she repeated it, and said, “From the DISboards?” Wait – yeah, Gopherit, that rings a bell – hey wait, yeah, that’s me, right? BWVDenise, I presume?

In retrospect, I must have sounded like a blithering idiot (my apologies, Denise and Dan!) – blame it on sleep deprivation! But it was very good to meet someone from the boards (and such nice folks, at that!) Their eldest son made friends with my eldest boy at Kid’s Night Out, and I want to do a little bragging about her ds, if I may! I overheard him telling my son and some other boys at the Tuesday night games, “It doesn’t MATTER if you win or lose, Evan – we’re ALL winners! EVERYBODY wins!” And he was saying it like someone who really meant it and lived it, too. I think that’s an awesome perspective for someone his age to have! I should also note that Denise’s other son and daughter were kind enough to allow themselves to be spit upon at the BBQ, too – talk about taking one for the team! Actually, they happened to be standing at the end of the watermelon seed spitting contest area and one of the seeds actually pelted her daughter on the head. I still can’t believe that one didn’t win – they gave the prize instead to the seed-spitter who hit her son on the foot! Too funny watching Mike initial Denise’s kids with the spitter’s initials. I personally liked my dd's aproach to the contest. She gives Mike her name, prepares to spit her first of three "attempts" -- and out comes a single simultaneous "blast" of seeds like she was a human 20-gauge shotgun. She sprayed the joint! Too funny! DH, being shy, stayed in the shadows, but suggested I enter the contest because I'm "full of spit" -- har-dee-har. When it was my turn, though, I was laughing and nearly swallowed my ammo! Nothing like having a bunch of people watch you spit -- there's a poised and charming moment! All I have to say is that it sure wasn’t ME that hit Denise's kids in the head/foot – there were some seriously high-powered pitoooeys out there that night. You definitely wouldn’t want to cross paths with THOSE folks in a dark, watermelon-filled alley one night. Anyway, we did cross paths with BWVDenise and her gang more than a few times over the course of the week, so Denise, if you’re reading this, I hope you enjoyed a safe trip back (and why in fact ARE you reading this when you should be posting your own report? Get typin!) I’m anxious to hear about your version of the week, LOL! And tell your son Evan says, “Hi!”


Other topics of human observation:

#1: Revisiting the great “Everybody plays, everybody wins” mantra shared by Denise’s son, I ask the question, what is it about offering a prize for a game that makes people act like idiots? We saw adults breaking rules left and right at the pool games and BBQ just so their team could “win”. With kids, I guess that will happen, but adults? And for what, a star-spangled inflatable can Coozie or drink coupon? Get thee to a Dollar Tree… and lighten up, ok folks? Don't make me put this lesson in a shark song for ya.

#2: What parent gives their newly-turned 17 yr old son their points to stay in a hotel with his best bud and two girlfriends? Or if not points – their credit card? There was a set of 4 teens hanging around the resort the week we were there – one was celebrating his 17th birthday. At the beach we witnessed a fair amount of PDA between Birthday Guy and his clutch-de-amour (enough to make our pre-adolescent sons go, “Oh icky!” ) and the BG’s buddy and his galpal, so we surmise (incorrectly or not) it was 2 couples together. I said to DH, “What parent gives their kid permission to come to HHI with his girlfriend and another couple for a week?” To which my once-a-teen-guy DH replied, “Ahh, but maybe his parents don’t KNOW he and his buddy brought GIRLS along…” Ok, always so VERY nice to know my DH was a teen-dog, too… In any case, I told my former-juvenile-rascal DH that no way Jose’ were any of OUR kids doing that (or at least, not with our knowledge and/or dime!) Seventeen sure seems awfully young to be set free in a pricey resort with your girlfriend and hormones and no supervision of any sort. The ‘rents should have come, too…‘Nuf said.

#3: The lifeguards need a tape recorder and a push-button, because they must have yelled “DON’T GO UNDER THE ROPE” about 135 times per hour. And I’m pretty sure it was to the same person, too. Seriously, I was amazed at the number of kids just left like free-range chickens at the pool. I would have paid money to find the parents of one kid in particular, because he (a) nearly drowned his own sister trying to use her as a surfboard in the deep end until my DH and I rescued her (b) tracked 3 kilos of forest debris into the pool every time he short-cut under the slide area (another no-no), and (c) taught my kids some words that could have waited until marriage (or until their first sneaking-off-with-my-girlfriend-at-age-17-don’t-tell-Mom weekend, at least). Ugh.

Which brings me to Human Observation #4: Ok guys, riddle me this: why is it that some dudes are compelled to rile up the wild side in kids, and then complain about it? It’s like eating a mess of bean burritos and then whining to me about your gas. Yeah sure it stinks, but what are you expecting ME to do about it now? The aforementioned CMs, Chris and Gregor, were frequently seen interacting about the resort not just with the kids and families, but also with each other. Often, this involved horseplay, such as pushing the other into the water, or mock-fighting, etc. I am no party pooper, and I admit it, these guys were fun to watch. However, they needed to realize that their every move was also being readily absorbed by all those little sponges that we guests refer to as our kids, who in turn, being kids, wanted to be JUST LIKE THEM. Cool. Daring. And whacking someone on the back. I watched as several kids followed Gregor in particular around like mice after the Pied Piper all week long. My kids have an uncle who plays with them in much the same way, and I am constantly remininding them before every visit, “Now kids, remember – BEHAVE yourselves. Even if Uncle Nick asks for it.” Because while it all starts out as fun, invariably, the kids will continue to “up it” one notch at a time until they are whacking and pawing and clawing at Uncle Nick, each other, and Lordy knows what else, like a bad WWF match gone wrong. On Tuesday at the Beach House, I commented to DH that I thought the lifeguard play might have gotten out of hand – the games were getting rough, especially the bucket relay, and my remark was vindicated when one kid took a huge bucket of water and tried to soak the lifeguards (note: while the lifeguards were standing at the open doorway to the inside of the beachhouse, and right beside all the electronic equipment). Not good. Mind you, I have asked this query of the menfolk namely because I didn’t see any kid try to pounce or pummel or soak the female lifeguards (and there were several), nor did I really see anyone try to wail on the red-haired male lifeguard (sorry, can’t recall his name), nor on the master of ceremonies CM Mike – just Chris and Gregor, really. There were 2 or 3 boys I noticed that really tailed those two lifeguards like hawks, and in such a way I thought certain a kid would eventually get hurt. Being a former lifeguard / water safety instructor, I still am prone to hyperventilate about stuff like this, and shout “WALK! NO RUNNING!” at complete strangers on pool decks. Call it my personal quirk – one of many. Anyhooo, I guess it was Wednesday night that the tomfoolery reached an all-time high. I had taken our eldest back to the room after the campfire to make cookies while DH had the younger two kids at the pool. Gregor and Chris got in the pool, and DH said the usual roughhousing between those two ensued. According to DH later that night, the Short-Cut-Slide kid was there along with his sister and many other kids, really dogging the lifeguards. I asked trepiditiously, “Uh-oh – were OUR kids involved?” “No, not like that,” said DH. “No, Caroline might have WANTED to be in the middle of it, but she didn’t stand a chance with that crowd. She’s too small. They had kids all over them, like you wouldn’t believe. Ryan tried to get in on the action, but it was just too wild and crazy in there.” The next day, we were at the pool and who walks by but Gregor. I come around the corner just in time to see Ryan spot Gregor too, and thump him on the back of his shorts (like TAG you’re it). Gregor, in turn, pitched or pushed – couldn’t tell - Ryan into the water, and Caroline, excited by it all, jumped with a squeal on her own volition. Evan is standing there laughing at the scene, and Gregor, smiling, leans over and nudges him and says something before walking off. I asked Evan what he said. Evan said, “He told me, “See those two kids? They were hitting me and it was really annoying.” Huh – ok, he’s smiling as he says it, wow, good for him, the lifeguards are finally putting the brakes on the kids, although hmpph, wish he had told Ryan instead of Evan, since it would have carried more impact coming from Gregor to “tone it down” and be more respectful. Telling Evan was like preaching to the choir. Later, in the pool games, I was playing with Caroline and Gregor came up and took Caroline under one arm and was playfully carting her towards the stairs. She was loving the attention, but I elected to give him a break and pulled her out, saying, “Hey, you, give him a break, you may need him to save your life sometime!” He turned to me, and said, “This one, she was really drilling me last night (or something like that). It was REALLY annoying.” There’s that word again – annoying. I somehow doubt that's Scottish for "very cute". Huh. I didn’t say anything in return – to be honest, I truly couldn’t tell if he was joking or not, although the way he then reiterated it, it did SEEM as if he wanted me to know, to “do something” about it, even if just as an FYI. I then went back to DH and asked sternly, “Now THINK -- Are you SURE our kids weren’t giving Gregor the ‘Uncle Nick’ treatment last night?” Well, DH says no way – and after listening to my account, he thinks maybe I misread Gregor and that he was just “joking”. “Look at her,” my DH said, “I mean, how big of a threat could SHE be?” I looked at my sweet little 5 yr old freckle-faced muffin standing there in the sunbeam all wrapped in a soft warm towel and I thought…

“PLENTY!”

(Hey, I’m her mom, and I love her, but she’s a spitfire when she wants to be!) But usually that’s only with her brother, so in agreement with DH, I found it a bit hard to swallow that she would have posed much of a problem – she tends to be skittish and shy with strangers, hovering around the edges of action until she’s more sure. And then DH brought up another point – maybe it was mistaken identity? There was another brother/sister team involved (remember Slide-Short-Cut boy and surfboard sister?) DH said that Slide Boy had an older sister also, and that she was REALLY digging in hard on him that night, too. With all the kids these CMs see in a day, week, season, year, it is certainly understandable that faces could start to all blend together after a while. We never did see Gregor again after that, so we didn’t get to investigate the issue any further. And mind you, my kids weren’t upset by his remark – I seemed to be the only one dwelling on it. I guess I had a myriad of things on my mind. Like, foul ball to tell me your issues but not tell Slide Boy’s parents! (but then, WHERE THE HECK WERE THEY, anyway? Maybe he wasn’t a real boy after all… maybe aliens left his puppet effigy in that crop circle and through a bad twist of Disney magic-gone-wrong, he just wandered up from the marsh?) And if it WAS a case of mistaken identity, well, I hated the thought of some CM thinking my kids were brats by putting some other kids’ actions on their heads. And if my kids WERE “annoying” (translation: brats), then I’d really like to know what they did, so I can explain to them what they did wrong, see if they could do anything to amend the wrong (i.e. apologize, etc.), discuss the whole “just because others were doing it doesn’t make it right” thing again, and perhaps also impart some parental wisdom on these young male CMs . I’m sure they never intended for the kids to get carried away to that extent – but horsing around with each other was like kindling to kiddie mayhem, and where there's smoke (as we know all too well) there's fire, and it can get out of control. I’m betting this wasn’t the first or last time, either, that it’s happened. There’s got to be a way to strike a happy medium and be playful but not have to worry about some kid dousing electronic equipment with water or gouging your eyes out. Maybe they just needed more training in that department - striking the right balance while maintaining control - and it will come with time. No doubt Disney has told them be nice to the guests even if they are utter brats, but they could avoid a lot of issues if they just watched their own actions with each other, I think. I don’t think I’m being parentally myopic – I know what kids are capable of, including my own – but I also know that there are events that can take kids to that level faster (and the CMs may need some work on avoiding that!) In retrospect on when Gregor told me that my dd was annoying, I later wondered if maybe I was just simply the first receptive parental face he found. I’m sadly betting there are some folks you couldn’t say what he said to me without a lawyer handy. And of course, first you would have to FIND the parents. One sidenote of praise, to end this on a high note (please don’t misinterpret what I’ve said here – we thought the CMs – ALL of them – were great!) DH and I were both very impressed / confused by all the jobs these CMs do at HHI! You just never knew where you might see them next. The same guy pouring your soda at Tide Me Over may show up with the towels over at the Beach House. The bus driver to the beach house may have been the guy who rented your bikes to you. The lifeguards were everywhere – resort pool, beach pool, Kid’s Night Out, campfires, rental/activities desk, teen party – you name it. It was impressive and exhausting, like a Disney game of “Where’s Waldo?” As my DH said, “Good grief – do those guys EVER get a day off? They work all the time, and they’re EVERYWHERE!” It certainly did seem that way! Kudos to them all!

Human Observation #5: My kids wanted me to be sure to write in my report that they felt people were “nicer” at HHI than the WDW resorts/parks. When we pressed them for details, DH and I discerned that part of this stems froms being able to interact more with the people than on a usual WDW parks trip. We saw the same people over and over again throughout our week. Our kids made friends with some of the other kids – this just doesn’t get a chance to happen at WDW, where families are often on a fairly tight schedule and even leisure time is “planned” and not usually too plentiful. My middle son said, “Well, the CMs at WDW just say, “Next…next…go…wait – ok, go…next…” but the ones here actually talk to you and are happy to see you.” They felt the same way about the other guests and kids. Maybe that again is the difference between having increased interface time with people (CMs and guests alike) versus a busy busy go-go park visit. The resort being so compact, the odds of seeing the same folks again over the course of the week were very good, too. As for CMs, I know there is ONE CM at least who won’t forget me anytime real soon (or maybe WANTS to forget me, LOL!). On Monday afternoon of our stay, I was getting ready to go out for a special 15th anniversary dinner with my DH. I was ironing my shirt in the master bedroom, watching Weather Channel, and I just about ready to peel off my still damp bathing suit and jump in the shower. DH had taken the kids out for a quick bike ride, and I heard the thump-thump noise that told me there was company (figuring it was the Dance of the Upstairs Fairies). I grabbed some clean skivvys from the drawer and glanced over to the wall to flip on the switch to the bathroom so I could do my strip-dash-and-wash routine and saw a CM standing right there in my foyer, a scant few yards away! I of course showed total composure with a four-foot vertical jump and scream, which prompted nearly the same professional response from the CM. “Oh my GAWD, “ I said to the equally startled CM, “I had NO IDEA you were in here!” She said, “Well, I knocked, but noone answered!” I realized that I had perhaps heard her, but with the TV playing and such noisy neighbors, never figured it was someone at the door. I confided to her, “You have NO idea how close you were to finding me in my birthday suit!” To which she added, “And I am so glad I DIDN’T!” She was mortified, and the two of us had a hard time separating the balloon bouquet and card she was delivering to us in honor of our anniversary. She had quite an array of balloons – there were more than a few of us celebrating that week. I wondered if she had ever walked in on anything more…well, compromising? In any case, I’m sure she is trying hard to purge the scare out of her mind. It was a very nice balloon bouquet, by the way, and the resort also put our names on the resort TV channel. BWVDenise’s ds had a birthday that week and his name was up on the TV resort channel too – just another special touch they add to special occasions at HHI!


Just as an aside -- and going back to the It's a Small Resort After All issue -- The mercantile shop was very small. My kids were delighted to be able to purchase some pins there, but I somehow thought it would be bigger inside. Disney DVC, if you are listening, the word of the day is: color. What is with the all-navy blue ensemble? Even royal blue would be a pleasant diversion. DVC members are about the most patriotic bunch of folks you’ll ever meet – so when it comes to DVC merchandise, if you make it, they will buy. Give us some red, some royal, anything, but for the love of Mickey, make it look DIFFERENT! The HHI women’s shirt was the exact same shirt I bought at SSR last August. Disney makes all sorts of exciting, detailed different DVC resorts – apply that diversity to the merchandise! * End of rant.*

As for other aspects of the mercantile… not sure why a whole wall had to be dedicated to pet stuff – wondered if Shadow had a say in that, haha. We tried to get DVDs there on Mon and Tues nights, but rain showers on Monday meant everyone scarfed them up. The DVDs didn’t start reappearing back in the mercantile until Thursday. The selection is very slim, but it’s still such a nice feature to have. I did pick one up on Fri. when my dd was feeling washed out and needed some extra rest time in the villa that morning. Another note: don’t use the penny press unless they get it fixed! We tried twice to get a decent penny, but it appears that the rools are too far apart and you don’t get a thin, well-printed penny. Ours stopped short with ‘HILTON HEAD ISL” both times. Caroline tried to get a Mickey and Minnie penny, though I think part of Minnie got lopped off. They really should put an Out Of Order sign on it until it is fixed, because I heard another customer complaining about it on Friday, a day or two after I had already brought it to their attention.

ODDS/ENDS: We didn’t do much else on the island in general. Our trip to Harbor Town only included the pizza place, a stroll through the shops at Harbor Town, and a trip over to South Beach area for shopping and ice cream at the Salty Dog. We were going to go up inside the lighthouse, but honestly, it was so hot that day, and our middle son had over-stuffed himself with pizza and was waddling around complaining of a too-full tummy at the time anyway. A burp and a trip to South Beach later, and he was suddenly well enough for ice cream. Ah, youth. Next time, I’ve already avowed that I’m going to try to get out more, see more of the island, do a bit more shopping… I’m adding it to the list right now!!

Lengthy list... doot doot dootdeedoo! Lengthy list... doot doot dootdeedooo!


Last edited by gopherit; 08-22-2005 at 11:03 AM.
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Old 08-22-2005, 02:49 AM   #5
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A Different Sort of Disney Trip -- Final Thoughts

Yes, that's right -- the novel is finally nearing an end. If you're still here, I commend you. If you're not, sorry I missed you, please write when you get a chance.

Comments on The Beach: My poor babies – living the entirety of their lives thinking that sandy section of land in Delaware where ocean meets turf is a “beach”. It was time to educate them and take them to a REAL beach. Their feelings:

(1) Wow, this sand is soooooo soft! And it packs, well, too! My middle son was delighted to learn he could make a “sandball” (just like a snowball, only.. well, sandier.) His sister/target – not so impressed with this finding. But she WAS very pleased with how well it makes sand castles. To each their passion.

(2) It’s so FLAT! And FIRM! They liked the solidity of the ocean floor under their feet, and the wide flat surface. Going to the beach in the evening towards low tide was a real treat, just to side the wide, vast expanse. No rocks jutting up anywhere – you felt like you could look downshore for miles and miles.

(3) Where’s the waves? It was a bit of a bummer to them to not have the waves churning as they do farther north. We had decent wave activity the first part and end of the week, but the ocean was so calm the middle of the week, one son said it was “lame”. Sigh. There’s no pleasin’ em. I frankly LOVE the lack of waves – being able to swim and paddle about in the water without getting dumped on my head along with 53 million sand crabs is my idea of oceanic perfection. But I’m raising a passel of boogie-boarders, so they preferred to go to the beach during high-tide and rougher surf. One thing they did agree on was that at least the waves don’t toss you as badly. Seems like those Dela-waves just roll you around like a rock tumbler and spit you out on a shell bed. Youch.

(4) Where are all the sand crabs? The kids were a bit miffed about the relatively lower amounts of visible sealife. There were very few sand “digger” crabs and coquinas and jellyfish (thankfully!) and horseshoe crabs and such versus their Delaware beach experiences. Mind you, I have been to the Delaware beaches when the sand crabs were so rife, I would come out of the water with oodles of them (little tiny ones) stuck to my Lycra* swimsuit (LOVELY – not). Felt like my suit was alive – gross. And the coquinas are usually so plentiful, I have pictures of our kids and their cousin scooping up huge handfuls of them in beds inches deep, like a major baby clamfest of sorts. We never did find a single sand dollar at HHI this trip. I tried – I remembered finding several of them when DH and I honeymooned up the coast at Kiawah Island. I didn’t see anyone else get any sand dollars, either. I really would have liked to have shown my kids what a live one looks like. Oh well – add it to the list! We did see one industrious fellow with a shovel one evening, digging in the sand. There were all these holes along the beach – he said he was digging for the sand dollars that lived beneath the holes. Now, maybe that’s true. But I didn’t recall them going as deeply as he was digging. Moreover, many of these holes had little brown pellets around them. Looked like chocolate sprinkles. That, as my Biology-major DH can tell you, is worm poop. He worked his collegiate summers at U of D down at the beach, studying such things (and probably inviting his girlfriend to visit him there, no doubt, without his parents knowledge…) ANYWAY…He told us kids about this work, and shared his worm knowledge, much to the kids’ great interest. It was really nice, being out on the beach at sunset – there was hardly anyone there, and it was cool and crisp. Very nice. As we were leaving, our son Ryan just shakes his head sadly as he watches the man, still digging in the sand, and says, “Imagine how disappointed that guy is gonna be when he digs and digs and finds no sand dollars at the end of all those holes… just a pooping worm.” It’s an image I won’t soon forget, that’s for sure. It BEGS for a shark song tribute... but I'll spare you.

(5) The beach house – This was really very nice. We really enjoyed having this haven from the sand. We really did NOT need a beach umbrella, nor blanket or chairs. We are very active folks, so when we were on the beach, we were in the water, or digging in the sand, or strolling / finding shells, or tossing a ball. No reason to take along that stuff. Also, we never once had problems (at either the Beach house or resort pool) getting chairs – tables even! We were able to play on the beach for 3 hours, then come up at about 1 pm to eat our lunch in the shade at a table. The kids liked the beach pool, though my dd found the shallow end a bit too deep for her liking. She is an excellent swimmer, but most of the pool required her to swim / tread non-stop. And because it is such an active pool (basketball, volleyball, kids jumping in), the water is choppy which makes her swimming / treading for long periods even more daunting. She enjoyed the water spouts, though they were non-operational one day due to power washing. Man, was that thing NOISY. I think it could have been classified as above the need for hearing protection. They must have used it all morning well into about 2 pm on Monday. The kids liked the ping-pong and foosball tables, and I found Evan one day checking out the NASCAR qualifying round on the big-screen TV in the Beach House. I also liked that if you wanted to, you could eat inside at Signal’s. If the weather wasn’t nice, I could see wanting that option. I wish Tide Me Over had that feature.

True Confession: I have to confess, I did something incredibly stupid during this trip. If you have ever read any of my prior reports or posts, I know I have mentioned more than once my unfortunate experience with leaving items behind in a VWL villa. Somewhere, right now, someone with Clinique Ivory Bisque skin sits wearing my opal ring and matching earrings. It was dumb of me to leave the items in the drawer, and odd that only these 3 items were missing (all of my jewelry, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals were left behind). I have always chided myself for leaving the items in the drawer, and in subsequent visits, I have been extra-diligent about checking drawers – EVERY drawer – at least 3 or 12 times before departure! Well, it was Saturday and I was packing when my dd came up and, as children will do, got me side-tracked mid-mission. I went to help her locate something, and when I came back, I thought I had finished the job. I hadn’t. A drawer had closed (and was never reopened) that contained some toiletries, my dd’s hairbrush, and a small white box with a silver necklace and pair of earrings. When I realized the mistake, we were already at my mother’s house and it was evening. I felt ill – I had done it again! And the necklace was a special one I had gotten on a trip to Canada. It was worth more in sentiment than value, I’m sure – but it was irreplaceable to me. I placed the call to the resort, they said they would look into it, and with my prior experience, I admittedly sort of kissed those items good-bye in my mind. They called me the next day and said they would ship the items to me – and every single item was in that box. I was so pleased, and so thankful that they did this. It has redeemed my faith… though not enough forme to EVER put ANYTHING in a bathroom drawer ever again!!! I told DH, next trip, TAPE THE DRAWERS SHUT!!

Leaving is not an art we do very gracefully anyway. We were able to actually clear out of the resort (granted, not COMPLETELY, though we didn't know it at the time!) by 11 am, though, and head over to the beach house for a few hours. After that, we headed back up the interstate to my mom's house again, and the next day, made the trek north to West Virginia.

ALong those many miles, we discussed what we loved most, what we would do more of, what we might do differently, and what we would do in the future. And of course, future trips were discussed in detail, not just to HHI but also WDW. I think that's one thing I love about DVC -- it always keeps your next vacation close in mind. Like a spoonful of sugar, it makes ending a vacation a little less bitter a pill to swallow.

As you can tell, with every little thing I write, I think of something else to add, and this could easily become a 16+ page epic. Hey, whaddaya know, it already is. You know, I think that’s the sign of a good vacation – that it’s so much on your mind you could prattle on and on about it forever (or is that the sign of needing a good psychiatrist? I get the two so easily confused). So I think maybe it’s best if I wrap up this thread (or at least, my commentary on it). The net result was an excellent vacation, though I have to say, this was nothing like a Disney vacation. In fact, it was so much unlike a Disney vacation, it seemed very weird to get a wake-up call from Stitch, or see vestiges of Mickey around like his effigy in the lobby, or hidden Mickeys in the rafters at the Beach House, or see Walt Disney World cups in the snack bars. This wasn’t WDW, it didn’t FEEL like WDW, and those elements sometimes seemed as out of place as a seafood restaurant in Kansas. (You know it’s possible for them to serve fish -- sure, they can ship it in and cook it and dish it up to you like anyone else, but will it really be GOOD that far from the actual sea?)

And that’s not meant as a bad thing, perhaps only to say, one cannot replace the other. It didn’t feel like WDW because it felt like HHI… and that’s ok! We were looking for a quality, relaxing family beach vacation, and that’s exactly what Disney provided. In the end, we found this latest Disney DVC resort to be kind of like a glove – on the one hand, WDW fits us very well. On the other hand, HHI fits us very well, too. They are both Disney, and they match up well – but they aren’t the same. And my kids want them both now! “Mom,” said my DS thoughtfully, “I think this would be a good thing to do every time we AREN’T in Disney World.” That boy may just be on to something – something very, very good.

Thanks for listening!

"Report is done....doot doot dootdeedooo! Report is done... doot doot dootdeedoo!"

Last edited by gopherit; 08-22-2005 at 03:01 AM.
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Old 08-22-2005, 10:08 AM   #6
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Cindy, I do believe that is the longest post I have ever seen!! Just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful compliments! We really enjoyed meeting your family and we were so sorry when it was time to go home.
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Old 08-22-2005, 10:50 AM   #7
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Wheewwww, I finally made it thru the whole report! Gopherit, you are absolutely hilarious! I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip. Someday, we are going to attempt a trip to HH too. I'm glad that you found enough to keep your family busy for the week. Enjoyed reading the report!
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Old 08-22-2005, 11:19 AM   #8
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Gopherit - I loved the report! We just got back on Sat. and I agree with almost all of your report!

My family has a place at Dewey Beach, Del. so I can relate to everything you said about Del. beach vacations. My DD was very disappointed in the waves at HH. She loved the sandy bottom but she wanted more waves. Our twin boys were fine with the HH beach. I was just glad there were no jellyfish. I have visited Del. in August way too many times when the ocean was filled with them!

We love being able to vacation at HH or DW.
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Old 08-22-2005, 11:27 AM   #9
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loved the trip report, can I hire you to do my reports??? Of course that means you have to tag along with us to SSR and OKW with a reporter notepad....

I am trying to talk DH into HHI--thanks for the report!!!
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Old 08-22-2005, 11:40 AM   #10
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Wheeeeewwwwww! That report must have taken longer to write than the trip itself! Enjoyed reading it - Thanks for taking the time to write and post it.

Best wishes -
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Old 08-22-2005, 11:51 AM   #11
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Wowsers! You should write for Disney! The pictures you paint in my mind are perfect - funny, informative, clever without being insulting and full of the fun you and your family experienced. I know your trip wasn't perfect, but what I came away with after reading (yep - every word) is that you still had a fantastic vacation!

Thank you for sharing. It makes me know that we will really enjoy our short stay in January and will be back at some point for a summer vacation as well (this is where adonitis MIGHT actually bite me - I love the beach and beach vacations!)

Laura
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Old 08-22-2005, 12:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BWVDenise
Cindy, I do believe that is the longest post I have ever seen!! Just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful compliments! We really enjoyed meeting your family and we were so sorry when it was time to go home.
Sorry -- didn't mean to make the longest reprot in DVC board history here, but like I said, I have real issues limiting myself to just a few lines! ANd BWVDenise, the feelings are mutual!

Thanks, ErinC and CarolMN -- kudos to you for hangin' in there through the whole thing, haha!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TerriBelle
My family has a place at Dewey Beach, Del. so I can relate to everything you said about Del. beach vacations.
Yup, DH's family has a place at Lewes -- we're talkin' the same language, my friend! DH pined for a real "boardwalk", I think -- the one outside our villa wasn't the same, LOL! I'll take 2 cute rabbits and potted plants over carny rides and crowds any day, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rozzie
loved the trip report, can I hire you to do my reports??? Of course that means you have to tag along with us to SSR and OKW with a reporter notepad....
Hmmm... cost of one notepad: $1.50
Three BIC pens: 75 cents.
Being able to visit SSR and OKW again: Priceless!
Just tell me when to pack my bags!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lllovelll
Wowsers! You should write for Disney! The pictures you paint in my mind are perfect - funny, informative, clever without being insulting and full of the fun you and your family experienced. I know your trip wasn't perfect, but what I came away with after reading (yep - every word) is that you still had a fantastic vacation!

Thank you for sharing. It makes me know that we will really enjoy our short stay in January and will be back at some point for a summer vacation as well (this is where adonitis MIGHT actually bite me - I love the beach and beach vacations!)
We really DID have a fantastic vacation -- I think sometimes I may lose that point in all the detailsdetailsdetails, but really, it was great. Interesting point about the addonitis -- I'm waiting to see how this works on my DH, LOL! I had really hoped he might see the merit in a HHI add-on. Unfortunately, we suffered from bad-timing in his car's demise (his Honda of 15 yrs blew up. We got it as a wedding gift to each other -- hope the marriage isn't headed down the same road, haha!) The car died a month ago, requiring us to buy a new one -- that ate up some capital. And the gas bills to feed it are gradually eating the rest, LOL! Nonetheless, doing the math, I could REALLLLLY see the merit in getting about 100 to 150 pts at HHI. That would give us 205 at BWV, then 100 or so at HHI. That's enough to do almost a week at Thanksgiving, or bank/borrow to do a nice 6 day retreat every other summer. The per pt cost is cheaper than more BWV pts in resale, it appears, and the dues are cheaper, too. Something for us to look at, perhaps in the new calendar year.... Have to find a new way to convince DH!

Hope your January stay is a good one -- I'd be curious to compare notes around the resort during an "off-season" visit versus peak summertime. I think fall and spring would be very pretty in that area, too.
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Old 08-22-2005, 12:43 PM   #13
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Just wanted to reply to the jellyfish comment.... we didn't actually SEE any, but my 11 y.o. did get stung toward the end of our stay. The lifeguard (who was extremely nice and my younger ds wanted my dh to MARRY ), then sprayed a combo of vinegar/sea water on it. He was fine and back in the water a few minutes later. That was nothing compared to the wasp problem we had outside our villa! Our younger ds was stung in the head walking down the stairs, and they were a constant bother on the porch. We called repeatedly and a contracted exterminator came and sprayed twice, but we finally picked up our own can of wasp spray to protect ourselves.
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Old 08-22-2005, 02:13 PM   #14
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Great report! I wanna go back!!!
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Old 08-22-2005, 03:15 PM   #15
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Gopherit, I forgot to mention that I totally understand about the shark song. We sang it at Bible camp this summer a million times, and DD6 sings it all the time now, making up "new" verses to it. DH begged her yesterday to "please stop! I hate that song, your driving me crazy!" She then broke out in "Stir'in the purple soup, CHa, Cha, Cha ,CHa (if you haven't heard that one, it's a real "jewel"). Unfortunately my girls got the "singing gene" from me!
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