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.
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
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…
Eight – Wednesday, September 7, 2016
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
moving some laundry through the process, we are changed and ready
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.
in the room, we decide that Jon Favreau is deserving of the credit
he’s getting… we loved The Jungle Book.
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.
Nine – Thursday, September 8, 2016
got a craving for the Holiday Sandwich… and that means heading
back to Disney Springs to visit Earl of Sandwich.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Magic Kingdom and Fort Wilderness? The mind of a child in the
1970s can barely contain the two concepts. Hot fudge… great ice
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.
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.
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.
first glance at stores bearing the names Columbia Sportswear,
Lacoste, and Tommy Bahama… sure, I suppose nice enough… not quite
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.
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.
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
Disney fireworks to cap off the night. The last full day in Florida
is coming up…
Ten – Friday, September 9, 2016
is heading our way for a bit. Sounds pretty good to us.
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.
more time in the Lime Garage, and right out of the gate this is
going to be a slightly different day.
head to UNIQLO.
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.
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.
I stand corrected.
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.
aren’t perfect in transforming our attitude completely about Disney
Springs, but this first stop does lift our spirits and raise our
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.
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.
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.
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.
perhaps it’s a bit simpler…
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Eleven – Saturday, September 10, 2016
is a strange day, and a strange way to wrap up a tour diary.
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…
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.
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.
we left, we had packed a Camry from front to back for this trip.
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.
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.
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.)
on the road before sunrise for a very interesting reason. And,
it’s actually a confirmation run of our southbound experiment.
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.
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.
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.)
hope is… traffic be darned… to arrive at our destination in the
vicinity of 9pm. Once again, the experiment pays off with positive
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.
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…
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
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.
that was interesting.
second… the license plate game.
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.
never saw Nevada.
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.
We’re stunned as well.