trip was designed around one specific purpose… moving Ellen and
Richard to their new home. And on that end… mission accomplished.
Congratulations to both of you, and best wishes. (We will be down
soon for a visit.)
hours on the road to get there didn’t stop a vacation from happening
though… neither did the arrival of a POD… nor did some shopping
needs… and as a result, we have some thoughts to share.
certainly was a trip… it was great… and now it’s the traditional
“Best of…” column at the Backpack…
were your favorite things that we did on this trip?
ok… how about something like a free association game?
bowling… consignment-like stores… catching up on some reading,
including American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson (great
book, very entertaining)… and… and… and… ok. Something a bit more
specific may be in order.
answer is the Magic
Kingdom. Terry and I went over on the Thursday
of this trip and had a great time. In addition to really enjoying
the day, we also celebrated. Fourteen years ago… and we were off
by only one day… we were officially engaged at the Magic Kingdom.
(Happened on a ride that no longer exists… the Skyway, which we
rode from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland. The park was celebrating
its 25th anniversary that year.)
good answer would be the Bonefish
Grill. We had never been in one of these restaurants
before, and all of us were incredibly impressed with our meals…
from appetizer to entrée, beverages to service. (Ellen
and Richard have gone back since, and tried several different
dishes. They continue to be impressed by the place.)
big thing to understand is that we really weren’t looking for
too much adventure on this trip. We spent one afternoon picking
up a new mattress for the guest bedroom. Another day involved
hunting down some oranges. Several trips were made to different
stores for all sorts of home-related items, including keys, a
router for the computer/internet, and even a framed print bought
for the living room. (I think it was for the living room. It is
I hope you’re getting the idea that a fairly good amount of time
was spent kicking back, unpacking, and learning about their new
neighborhood. It wasn’t roller coasters and restaurants we’ve
always hoped to visit. One of the most exciting (and important)
efforts of the week involved determining the best Publix brand
ice cream flavors.
Magic Kingdom and Bonefish, both awesome… not exactly a tremendous
amount of competition for either of them.
yeah… you’re probably wondering. I vote for the Chocolate Moose
Tracks. I’m a fan of chocolate ice cream to begin with, and their
version uses peanut butter cups. (I’m not going to try and tell
you what should be in a traditional Moose Tracks or versions of
it… I’m mentioning it because I have seen it with caramel cups.)
I liked it. But I was dying to try Bear Claw. And Ellen and Terry
would vote for regular Moose Tracks. Richard… who doesn’t get
a vote… wanted vanilla. I know. Vanilla. There are some times
we give him the car keys and send him out on his own because we
don’t want to be seen next to him. Vanilla. That’s just crazy
place to eat (overall)…
tip of the cap to the Bonefish Grill for this one.
had a simply fantastic meal here. And… as I mentioned, Ellen and
Richard have already returned (for one visit it was to celebrate
Richard’s new job). It’s solidly in place as a must-do for our
place to eat (inexpensive)…
think I’m going to tell you about Five
Guys here. I’m not. Though it was very good,
and we went twice.
how about a hand for Sammy’s Pizza in Ocala?
(Since they don’t seem to have a web site, all I can do with Sammy’s
is point you to route 200… Highway 200 to be more specific.)
and Richard found it when they went down on one of the trips that
involved searching for and buying a new home, and in turn brought
Terry and I to it on this trip. And it is… pending an explanation,
and the understanding that we’ve been there once (Ellen and Richard
at least three times as I finish this up)… perfect.
small and has a really nice local flavor to it. We didn’t speak
to a ton of people, but had a really good time goofing around
with the waitress. You got the feeling that this was a place that
didn’t survive by being on a busy road… instead it did well because
it had a dedicated set of regulars.
reports that they have been having all sorts of troubles finding
eggplant lately. In the hopes of satisfying a craving, they went
to one place that had been recommended to them and it was awful.
Sammy’s came through though… serving up a good eggplant meals
(and other visits) will tell if this where-the-locals-go impression
is true. For now… happy to recommend them.
going to say the lights of Charlotte, North Carolina.
of the problems with the drive down was the timing. States I had
never seen before were, pretty much without exception, set up
to be part of the overnight segment. I feel pretty darn comfortable
saying that I still haven’t seen the places I had never seen before.
there it was… in the middle of the night… Charlotte.
an absolutely gorgeous city. We never left the highway and didn’t
slow down as we passed. But that was one of the prettiest nighttime
skylines I have ever seen.
Florida. You clicked on this because I promised a theme centered
on Florida. Hmm… I’m going to say an antique-consignment-something-or-other
store we stopped at.
kind of a story that goes along with this one.
of the unusual aspects of this trip involved the entire reason
for it… moving Ellen and Richard to a new home. That meant two
funny things: (1) Almost every day had a set of unplanned plans.
In other words, we had nothing set up to actually do on most days…
and yet deliveries, cable/internet, shopping for items and other
assorted tidbits were taking place, and some on a schedule. (2)
A learning curve based off of necessity and general conversation
was taking place… maybe this store had a chair for that desk…
that looks like a department store, but the name is one none of
us are familiar with, let’s stop and see what they sell… there’s
a book I wanted to pick up… we could use a bottle of wine for
dinner tonight… and any of a number of other boring and everyday
passing thoughts and ideas and stops. Essentially, we were looking
in plazas and at billboards and along the side of the road. We
were spotting small local sandwich shops, national chain restaurants,
and fresh fruit for sale. And that was just while we were out
found Pawn Stars and actually watched a couple of episodes.
Which of course led to the debate about some of the trash we had
all tossed over the years, and whether or not we needed to make
a trip to Vegas with some of our junk… and why Ellen and Richard
hadn’t caught the show before they moved.
end result… we spotted a couple of shops. Consignment-like arrangements…
some antiques… some stuff just interesting and for sale. And we
had a good time going through them.
seeing Pawn Stars and American Pickers with
seeing these stores and the aimless wandering around a house,
and in general we all found ourselves thinking about different
know, I never really thought about this before, so I found it
doesn’t print many picture books these days.
have a relative that loves those coffee table books… lots of pictures,
maybe some interesting historical tidbits, you know the kind.
birthday was shortly after our return and we hadn’t found a gift
yet. Easy enough… we’re heading to Disney World, we’ll find one
of their history-laden hardcover editions or something with some
great photography and get it for him. Perfect.
not so perfect.
of the cashiers knew exactly what kind of book we were looking
for and said that they hadn’t put any of them out in quite some
I could recommend that they had to do this, regardless of expense,
I would recommend…
greatest tourist destination ever built… the top theme park at
Disney World… and from this trip a very easy recommendation.
that impressed me the most…
I mention that I asked Terry to marry me at Disney World? Well…
we bought a brick to celebrate that event… part of Disney’s Walk
Around the World program. Thing was… in the past, I’ve always
written down the brick number so we could find it on our own at
the transportation center. Forgot to do that this time.
we entered the Magic Kingdom, I made a quick stop at City Hall.
I asked one of the representatives there if they knew where I
could find out about it. He told me if I could wait a short time,
he would make some calls and find the location for me. When I
told him I could stop back later, he told me it would be waiting
on my return and exactly what to say to make it easy for the person
I spoke with to find it. Within ten seconds of getting there later
that day, a form was in my hand with the general location highlighted
on a map and the brick number included too. (I wish I had written
his name down… because he was fantastic.)
this one goes out to the Disney World Cast Members… all of them
in general, those at the Magic Kingdom in particular, and to those
at City Hall especially.
that impressed me the most…
admit it… I’m a huge sap when it comes to these things… the evening
parade and fireworks get me every time. I absolutely love them.
the Main Street Electrical Parade and the Wishes fireworks.
I’m really glad we included…
our brick is, without a moment’s hesitation, an answer to this
question. Stopping at the entry of the Transportation and Ticket
Center to head over and find it is always a great thrill, and
has been on visits for more than a decade.
was also happy with several of the things we did with Ellen and
Richard… Sammy’s and Bonefish are two examples I’ve already shared.
I can definitely tell you that Terry and I are dying to get down
there to visit them again, do some exploring near their home,
and share some of the great things they’re finding without us.
I wish we had done, and suggestions from this experience …
White’s Scary Adventures.
likely to be gone the next time we visit the Magic Kingdom… in
part because of a new Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs attraction
being built nearby.
brings to mind how many things have changed over the years. My
first trip to Disney World was in 1979. Check out this list of
Mission to Mars
If You had Wings
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
a general list going back more than thirty years. Since 1997…
the first trip with Terry, Jay and Justin… the Tiki Room has been
changed… Jack Sparrow has joined Adventureland… and the Skyway
has left the property. The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter
opened a year or two before the 1997 visit… and then closed to
be remodeled to the less frightening attraction with Stitch.
Timekeeper came and went… Lion King too.
is no way we could have gone on each and every ride on this visit.
And… that wasn’t our intention. But if there is something you’d
like to see in the park… then by all means see it. Because while
things don’t rush into change at Disney World, things are always
this will be set up as a best of column, but you should always
warn people about the bad, so here is something I think we need
you want to hear the story of the wireless router… which in this
kind of a column, you don’t… there wasn’t much of anything bad
on this trip except that it ended.
did the things we had intended to do… added some things, like
the Magic Kingdom, that we kind of thought we might do but really
weren’t sure… and we never had amazing amount of open time that
should have been used for something other than what we did with
was a great trip with no real frustrations or problems.