Top to bottom along the East Coast
Bob and Terry on Tour 2016
New York to Florida, and points in between
Days Eight, Nine, Ten and Eleven – Florida – Relaxing in Orlando and then beginning the journey home


Last night, we ended our day with the Disney fireworks at the Magic Kingdom visible off in the distance. Not a bad way to end a day during this vacation.

It’s another treat from Orange Lake that most places off the Disney property can’t match. We’ve been fortunate to experience it on many occasions over the years, and from several different viewing spots around the Orange Lake property. (And it’s always pretty special.)

We are right in the middle of our downtime for this trip, but we are entering the final stretch in Florida. Quite early Saturday morning things will wrap up around here, and we’ll be on our way back up the east coast. For now…

Day Eight – Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Once again, we have a very laid-back day ahead of us, and another terrific example of what a solid resort with an Irlo Bronson address has the potential to offer you. (And, what Orange Lake offers virtually to perfection.)

For the second day in a row, I’m driving toward a post office location. Today though, Terry is along for the ride. We’ve prepped for a visit to one of the Orange Lake pools, but have plans to finish up a few quick errands before settling in waterside.

After the post office, we stop at a Walmart. I spot the DVD for the 2016 version of The Jungle Book, and we decide to pick it up for tonight’s entertainment. Along the drive back to Orange Lake, we visit a Subway for sandwiches that will be our poolside lunch.

Today we’re headed back to the East Village, and over to a second pool in that area. We set up shop, break out some stuff to read, and kick back for an extended stay. With very few people in the area—we’re actually the only two people at the pool for almost the entire time we stayed—we have some shade (umbrellas at a table), have our choice of lounge chairs to get some sun, and can move around in the pool and nearby spa however and whenever we wish.

It… is… glorious. There are several small lizards running around. I’m almost positive they’re called anoles, though I have no clue if they are the brown or green variety. We’re also seeing a lot of butterflies today and some other wildlife.

We head back to the room and enjoy one of the benefits of our unit, which is our own washer and dryer. I’m always of two minds at the start of any trip when it comes to laundry. I seem to have some sort of automatic immediate reaction that involves vacation being vacation, where dirty clothes should be packed away and handled once home. And then… that is quickly swept aside by the beauty of the setup in these units. The machines are right there. And by doing laundry every so often during our stay, I get added benefits like: (1) Packing lighter for the trip. (Who cares if you wear the same shorts on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday if they’re clean? Especially if it means less luggage to haul.) (2) Time the final loads correctly, and you arrive home with a good amount of clean laundry to put away instead of a massive pile of dirty laundry to wash.

We cook some meals in the unit. We play cards, watch movies, and visit resort pools. We even take pictures of the cranes and other visitors out on the golf courses, around the water features, or simply out for a morning stroll. The point being… we are not losing any time waiting around for laundry to wash. We are not heading down the hall to a laundry room that might be on another floor of the hotel, and then sitting and waiting for things to finish. We just toss stuff in here and there.

After moving some laundry through the process, we are changed and ready for dinner.

The visit to Bonefish Grille with Richard on Sunday has only rekindled Terry’s love of their corn and lump crab chowder, and she’s wondering if we can head that way to eat. I enjoy that chowder as well, so she gets no arguments from me.

Back in the room, we decide that Jon Favreau is deserving of the credit he’s getting… we loved The Jungle Book.

An end-to-end, jam-packed, barely time to catch your breath day? Nope. Not at all. And yet, for what we wanted, it was a day that would be impossible to beat.

Day Nine – Thursday, September 8, 2016

We’ve got a craving for the Holiday Sandwich… and that means heading back to Disney Springs to visit Earl of Sandwich.

(I’ve always heard it referred to as their Holiday Sandwich, and that’s what I call it. The Earl of Sandwich web site calls it the Holiday Turkey. Hard to disagree with the restaurant on it… though either way they’ll certainly know what you mean. And it is an AMAZING creation. Perfect combination of ingredients, in nice amounts, and nothing gets soggy or messy.)

On our way in… the almost impossible happens. We spot a license plate from Hawaii. That leaves us with Nevada and Alaska to go, which means we may actually have a shot at this. There are two places across the country where all of the license plates gather. (1) Disney World. (2) Washington, DC. We’re in Disney World. And on Saturday, we’ll be driving fairly close to the Washington area.

Our visit to Disney Springs is fairly basic. Coming in again from the Lime Garage area, we turn toward the World of Disney and stop in some of the older shops that have been a part of Downtown Disney for some time. And honestly… at this point, I’m finding myself a bit torn.

When I visited Disney for the first time, Lake Buena Vista was pure whipped cream and a cherry on the greatest sundae of all time for a kid.

The Magic Kingdom and Fort Wilderness? The mind of a child in the 1970s can barely contain the two concepts. Hot fudge… great ice cream… awesome.

Now there’s also a shopping village featuring restaurants and treats and shop after shop after shop after shop of unbelievable Disney merchandise? Incredible. Just incredible. Bordering on impossible for a child in 1979 to even believe it exists.

Over the years, through change after change, that Lake Buena Vista section of Downtown Disney remained a bit of a landmark for me. A few of the stores have changed their theme. Some have been redesigned. (Who remembers the Empress Lilly?) But the general layout always feels familiar to me. It feels welcoming.

One of my most treasured memories involves a special artist’s exhibit being held in the center of Lake Buena Vista during our 1979 trip, and my mother being overjoyed at purchasing a small figure that she had signed in front of her.

A first glance at stores bearing the names Columbia Sportswear, Lacoste, and Tommy Bahama… sure, I suppose nice enough… not quite as magical.

Still… as we leave on this afternoon for the drive back to Orange Lake, we are feeling significantly better than we did after our Monday visit to Downtown Disney.

Terry and I begin playing some cards, and she takes the first game without a count. As we’re reshuffling and thinking about starting a new game, she asks if I’d be surprised that she wants some corn and crab chowder for dinner.

I laugh and head out to Bonefish for a takeout order. We add to it with some leftovers we have in the fridge and settle in for the evening.

More Disney fireworks to cap off the night. The last full day in Florida is coming up…

Day Ten – Friday, September 9, 2016

Richard is heading our way for a bit. Sounds pretty good to us.

We’ve decided to head over to Disney Springs one more time, and on this visit the idea will be to check out the areas and newer shops we’ve never experienced before. Once Richard arrives, that’s exactly what we do.

One more time in the Lime Garage, and right out of the gate this is going to be a slightly different day.

We head to UNIQLO.

This is a Japanese clothing store. And to be perfectly honest, during our previous two visits to Disney Springs, this store was one I twisted into my “getting away from Disney magic” narrative about the renovations, remodeling and restructuring of Downtown Disney.

I wasn’t familiar with the name. Didn’t know the brand. And I had never been inside the store, here or anywhere. But just a quick reading of a few nearby signs and I decided it was part of the changes I wasn’t liking.

Today, I stand corrected.

We find UNIQLO has a nice assortment of Disney-related merchandise. And, as we walk around, we’re finding some interesting clothing and decent prices. I am fully impressed, and Terry and Richard join me in having fun, happy, pleasant reactions to the store.

Things aren’t perfect in transforming our attitude completely about Disney Springs, but this first stop does lift our spirits and raise our curiosity levels.

One of our other stops today is in Sugarboo & Co. It’s a fun store, with lots of great items that just about all fall perfectly into the categories of items you would never expect to find, didn’t know you wanted, and suddenly are considering purchasing.

This visit kind of wraps up with our stop in the Coca-Cola Store. And I think this one building is a great way of summarizing the new Disney Marketplace that is Disney Springs.

Are there cool things inside? Yes. A few. Is it Coca-Cola and Disney? Yes. It is Coca-Cola, and there is an overlap into Disney merchandising beyond exclusively Coke-brand items. For us, the biggest downside is a significantly overhyped rooftop beverage center that turns out to be massively underwhelming.

So… attempted summary… Coca-Cola… big name, Disney elements, solid presence, all combining to offer highs and lows. Yeah… that’s kind of my reaction so far this week to Disney Springs.

But perhaps it’s a bit simpler…

A few years ago, I seem to recall Samuel Jackson being asked about some of the critical responses to the new trilogy of Star Wars films being delivered by George Lucas. His reaction was brilliant. It was essentially to laugh. I remember it being a really quick, short response, something like: “It’s Star Wars.” It essentially was a message that told you to sit back, get swept away, enjoy it and stop trying to add heavy significance or overthinking to it.

I’m going to be ok with Disney Springs. I look forward to visiting again. It’s true… marketing and dollars and branding are far and away different from my youth. A certain magic is missing, and there is no denying that. Still… the Disney World property is one of the most amazing, fantastic, brilliant vacation and entertainment destinations on the planet. Sit back, get swept away and enjoy it.

We decide to try a LongHorn Steakhouse, and it’s pretty good. We’re not certain when the three of us will be able to get together again, so this is absolutely a meal being enjoyed for much more than the food. And it is a perfect meal to wrap up this portion of our trip.

Back at Orange Lake, we sit down to play some 3-way Canasta. And with the air getting a bit dusty as Richard prepares to head off to his home, all of us are feeling great. Today has been a good day.

We’re going to settle in early. The drive tomorrow is something we’re planning to kick off before 5am. But there is one more note worth sharing.

On Tuesday I sent an e-mail to Disney about our experiences with the person from the security group at Disney Springs on Monday. This afternoon, Carmen calls me back to apologize and discuss the incident. Meant a great deal to see it wasn’t swept to the side.

Day Eleven – Saturday, September 10, 2016

This is a strange day, and a strange way to wrap up a tour diary.

Some of it isn’t that strange. Starting out early in the morning isn’t too crazy. And, we’ve driven south to north before. But… consider…

With a few days ahead visiting with Jay, Justin, Rachel and Kim, the trip really isn’t over. We’ve got some vacation left, with plans to see the kids and then spend a night in Rhode Island before turning toward home. No work tomorrow… no easing back into our house… and yet the journal will wrap up today.

We’re out of the unit, double-checked at the offices before leaving, in the car and on the road by 4am. And quite honestly, I have zero clue how Terry does it.

When we left, we had packed a Camry from front to back for this trip.

It wasn’t an outrageous packing job. Not every inch of space was taken. The passenger seat could easily be reclined so someone could take a nap if they wanted. One item was a cooler. Another was a portable grill we had brought in case we wanted to use it in Orange Lake (and of course, we didn’t). Still… between our clothes, pillows, and some of these other assorted items… the car was loaded quite well.

One of the things Terry worked on with Richard involved some of the stuff around his house that belonged to Ellen. Nothing valuable monetarily… some shoes, clothes, and a few other items. He had asked Terry about it when we arrived. He had zero intentions of getting rid of a great deal of stuff, but having gone through a year without her he felt it was time for a bit of cleaning and didn’t want to throw these things away. The results completely filled the trunk.

Somehow, Terry has managed to get everything loaded into the car. Everything. It’s organized so we can move around a bit, we can reach everything we need (such as stuff for our stay with the kids) without needing to disturb anything else, and the car doesn’t feel overwhelming claustrophobic or heavy. Neat trick. (And, nicely done.)

We’re on the road before sunrise for a very interesting reason. And, it’s actually a confirmation run of our southbound experiment.

I’m going to place our original drive at 13 hours. That was home to Myrtle Beach. Adjust for restrooms and gas and food stops… adjust for traffic and stoplights… adjust for assorted other moments… and… there’s a reason the arrival time on the GOPS is just an estimate. 13 hours works.

We left early in the hopes to minimize travel during the darker, nighttime hours. We left early hoping to find ourselves a bit more refreshed. And, at the front end of the journey, it worked.

This time, Orlando all the way up, passing Washington and Baltimore, into the scenic and wonderful neighborhoods of the Maryland/Pennsylvania border region. More mileage. Best route head along some of the bigger cities that were avoided on day one. 14 to 15 hours. (And you know the routine… that’s without adjustments.)

Our hope is… traffic be darned… to arrive at our destination in the vicinity of 9pm. Once again, the experiment pays off with positive results.

We are well into Georgia (and approaching South Carolina) when we decide to stop to fill the gas tank. Terry offers to drive for a bit, which triggers the funny realization that as we get back on the road things have gone so smoothly that we’re well beyond more than 2,000 miles of driving on this journey and Terry hadn’t been behind the wheel for any of it yet.

We soon turn our attention to our options for eating, and decide on lunch at a highway-side Cracker Barrel. And following the meal, it is our return to the interstate and the northbound drive that brings us to wrapping up our travel diary with two final notes…

As we get on the highway, the car stops. As in, I begin the merge, look in my mirrors and turn my head a few times, hit the gas to speed up, and it stalls. I’m able to coast to the side of the road, shut things down, and get the car started again without incident. Seems like an isolated occurrence for the moment, with me concerned and looking for trouble but the car moving along for several hours with now issue. But, as it turns out, this won’t be the last time it happens… we have the excitement again in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and just before finishing up our drive into Rhode Island a few days later. Fortunately, each time I get the car pulled over without incident, and then restarted and moving once again.

My father got it looked at a few days later, and the description he gave me was that it involved a cable attached to the gas pedal, with the mechanic stunned we made it to Rhode Island from the first signs of trouble in North Carolina.

So… that was interesting.

And second… the license plate game.

When we left Orlando on Saturday morning, our chart remained at two missing states… Alaska and Nevada. As we approached Washington, DC, there it was… Alaska.

We never saw Nevada.

I have my doubts that Terry and I will ever get that close to completing the fifty-state-run on a single-trip. And, somehow, the hurdle that will be remembered for it ends up being Nevada.

Yes. We’re stunned as well.


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