Home Sweet Home.

Earl and I are back home, our vacation rapidly becoming a fond memory. The smells of Florida air are long gone, replaced by the chill of late February in Upstate New York. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the area, with up to eight inches of snow predicted by this time tomorrow night.

Why do we live here again?

Tom is back home after a week with Gram, who took great delight in doting over her grandcat. I think he’s looking forward to visiting again, but not too soon as he doesn’t enjoy the ride.

As of last night, I gained just shy of 10 pounds on vacation. I would’ve thrown out a view expletives here, but in trying to stay Disneylike, I’ll just say “Golly gee, I have some work to do in the exercise department!”.

After discussion on the plane yesterday, Earl and I jumped onto a technology bandwagon today and are in the process of switching our phone service to Vonage. Let’s see, nearly $60.00 a month through Verizon or Sprint or $16.00 a month through Vonage. A no-brainer. Plus, it’s embracing the latest rage in telecommunications, VoIP. Mark my words, in ten years, everyone will either be on wireless or VoIP, and the nightmare of the Bell companies will be long gone.

I also picked up a MIDI keyboard for my PowerBook so I can go crazy on Garage Band 2.

I’m leaping into work with both feet tomorrow. It’s an on-call week. Plus, the tests for my surgery are on Thursday, with the surgery on the following Friday.

March is going to be an interesting month. But by this time next month, I’ll be good as new and feeling golden. So I guess it’s worth it. But I wish I could be honest when saying “I’m glad to be home”, but I’m really not. Earl is off on business again tomorrow. After being together 24/7 for the past nine days, that sort of sucks. But I guess it’s something we have to live with. I’ve been saying for the past month and a half that I wasn’t really feeling the winter/cabin fever blahs.

I think I lied.

Orlando International Airport.

I opened up my PowerBook to see if I could find any internet connectivity here at Orlando International Airport. I am sitting on the floor in row “B” at gate 120. When you’re a Southwest Airlines passenger, you get used to sitting on the floor to guarantee yourself a good seat on the plane.

I’m not able to connect to the internet here (bad airport, bad airport), however I did connect to the LAN at Mc Donalds.

Would you like fries with that?

Stretch, Rattle and Roll.

As I type this blog entry, Earl is busily packing up our stuff, saying that he’ll take care of it because he has better packing abilities than I do. I won’t argue with him there. So I’m in charge of the various electronic goodies, which I’m going to pack up as soon as I finish this blog entry.

We just got back from Downtown Disney after a relaxing evening. Cirque de Soleil’s La Nouba was out of this world. We bought the soundtrack CD, as the music of the show is absolutely incredible… full of life and energy, melody and harmony, all blending in a unique way. It’s the kind of music that I enjoy, and I will be enjoying the tracks on my iPod when we get home.

I’m all psyched up about staying physically fit again, maybe someday I’ll be the first old guy working Cirque de Soleil, bouncing around on trampolines or something. I think I’m going to start focusing on my yoga practice again and be all stretchy.

We had supper at “Earl of Sandwich”, which seemed appropriate, since Earl makes a pretty great sandwich when we’re at home. We wanted to see how this Earl does. 🙂

So now we’re packing up and getting ready for the journey home tomorrow. We’ve had a wonderful time, and we both feel energized and recharged, ready to take on the world when we’re back on our home turf. It’s much easier to experience life when you feel a little magic.

A Piece Of The Magic.

Earl and I just returned from our 10:30 appointment this morning with the Disney Vacation Club folks. Well, that’s not actually true, we finished our appointment around 2:30 p.m., after that we headed to the Polynesian Resort and then took the monorail to Contemporary, where we had lunch using the Disney tab. That’s one of the perks you get for owning a piece of the magic.

That’s right, Earl and I now own a fraction of a percent of Unit 44C of Saratoga Springs Spa and Resort here at Walt Disney World. We now have the flexibility to travel the world, Disney or otherwise, for a low monthly mortgage payment for the next 10 years or so.

I’m very excited about the venture and I think Earl is as well, though he’s the more sensible one of the family. I’m like a kid, easily dazzled by bright colors, bells and baubles, whilst Earl only sees how many dollar signs.

Now it’s off to Cirque de Soleil’s La Nouba at Downtown Disney. The skies are cloudy and rainy today, our hearts are full of sunshine.

Animal Kingdom.

Today we spent the day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Earlier in the week I had mentioned that I thought Epcot was my favorite theme park here at Walt Disney World. After thinking about it, I’ve decided that that’s not true. I actually enjoy all the parks with their varying offerings, and Animal Kingdom holds a special place in my heart. Because at Animal Kingdom, it’s all about respecting our Mother Earth and all the life she holds.

We took the opportunity to see as many of the animals that we could. We stayed away from the few thrill rides at Animal Kingdom and opted for exhibits and such instead. We did go on the safari tour, as it’s a great way to see all that “Africa” and “Asia” have to offer. I love animals and I’m like a big kid when it comes to the petting zoo.

We also took a peek at the live bird show where Earl was selected as a volunteer to have an owl fly right up in his face. It was really cool, though he couldn’t snap a picture quick enough. It’s amazing how these birds are able to fly right over the audience, inches above their heads and not disturb anyone’s hair.

We also hung out for the parade and The Lion King show, which serves as the park’s finale.

After Animal Kingdom, we headed back to Wilderness Lodge for supper at the Whispering Canyon Café, where’s it’s loud and rowdy and tons of fun. If you’re ever looking for a fun place to eat at Disney (and there’s a bunch to choose from), we highly recommend the family fun at Whispering Canyon.

Now Earl is catching up on his work e-mail, something I don’t have to do during vacation for the first time in over 10 years. I really haven’t thought about work that much during our vacation. It’s nice to be able to put those responsibilities out of my mind. I must admit that the geek in me appreciates the fact that Walt Disney World (like the mall-based Disney stores throughout the country) is running a mix of older and state of the art IBM point of sale equipment, apparently using a modified version of General Sales Application in the shops and such. Only a true geek like myself would find that fascinating!

Earl and I are going to relax on the lanai a bit, and then call it an evening. Tomorrow night is potpourri day, starting the day off with our Disney Vacation Club appointment and then checking out the other resorts via monorail afterwards. Tomorrow night it’s Cirque de Soleil’s La Nouba and shopping adventures at Downtown Disney.

Disney-MGM Studios

Earl and I spent the day at Disney-MGM Studios. Following the cue of the other parks, we decided to approach the day with a relaxed, casual pace. More importantly, I got to play “ham” in not one, but two shows!

We started off the day at the Indiana Jones Adventure, where there’s a huge effects show with 10 or so extras chosen from the audience. I was one of the extras, dressed up in my Middle Eastern outfit and following the directions of the assistant director.

I also got to hit the stage for the back lot tour, where I was one of the four extras that gets to play on a ship that’s being bombed by airplanes. I was head to toe in waterproof gear for this one, playing the captain of the ship with three directions – look through the binoculars, spin the wheel and use the telephone. All while the ship is getting bombed and we’re getting soaked. It was loads of fun.

We took a little lunch break at the Hollywood Brown Derby and then went to a couple of other attractions, including “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: Play It!”. Earl and I didn’t do well, we didn’t make the scoreboard. There were two contestants in the hot seat, a 13-year old girl who made it to 16,000 and a 16-year old boy who made it to 32,000. Both were brilliant!

For supper we headed to Spoodles on Disney’s Boardwalk. Spoodles features Mediterranean food and tasty sangrias. After supper, we walked all the way around the Boardwalk and the Beach and Yacht Club resorts.

Another wonderful day at Disney! Tomorrow it’s Animal Kingdom.

Smile! You’re On Candid Camera.

I’m guilty of something. Earl and I spotted this piece of eye candy at Epcot and couldn’t resist taking a picture. I know, it’s kind of stalker-like, a little creepy and probably rude.

All I can say is thank god for telephoto lenses.

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What Is It With New Jersey?

I’ve noticed this ever since our first Disney visit back in 1997. People from New Jersey are in a class of their own. I hate to generalize about the population of an entire state, but it can’t be helped. From their very distinct accent to their wild fashion sense (nothing says “Pretty” like a leopard skin print on an 80 year old Grandma), these people are out to make their world their way or no way at all.

A woman was screaming, at the top of her lungs in that traditional New Jersey butchering of American English, at a Disney cast member at the Stitch ride at Tomorrowland because it was “exactly” like the Alien Exterrorestrial Adventure. In actuality, it’s a redressing of the older ride and has been tamed down considerably to make it more family friendly. Why this upset her enough to make a cast member cower in the corner, I don’t know. Perhaps it was the fumes from her Aqua Net.

Then we have Mrs. Fingernails, who loudly demanded (love the accent, hun) a table at one of the fully booked restaurants, because after all, she spent a lot of her hard earned money and she was promised decent service. Apparently she had never heard of a reservation before.

Then we have Mr. Hairpiece who couldn’t believe there was no limo available to drive him from the Grand Floridian and why did he have to ride a monorail with everyone else?

I don’t mean to degrade an entire state, but I guess it’s because these Jersey folks only have Atlantic City as their claim to fame. They’re not really New Yorkers (they like to fake it though), they don’t really have Philadelphia to their credit (and have you seen Camden before?), so I guess they’re apparently going to eek out their own niche in Americana by just being rude.

Next time I’m in Pennsylvania and see that “Next Exit In New Jersey” sign, I’m turning right.

Epcot.

Earl and I spent the day at Epcot. I must not be a Disney traditionalist or something, because I think I enjoy Epcot more than the Magic Kingdom. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the Magic Kingdom, quite the contrary, but there’s just something about Epcot that’s special in my heart.

We tried out one of the newest attractions at Epcot, Mission: Space. This little thrill ride provides a near-astronaut like experience as you pilot your spaceship, with three other crew members, to Mars. It naturally takes place in a simulator, though it’s quite easy to forget that you’re really back on Earth while this is all taking place. I was quite nervous about the experience, having had a Near. Fatal. Date. Experience. back when Earl and I were first dating. I took him to the local field days (read “gala days” or “town fair”) and we rode the Paratroopers together. I had ridden the Paratroopers about a million and a half times, so I wasn’t worried about my well-being, but I ended up hurling my supper afterwards. Green isn’t a good color on me when I’m trying to impress my new beau.

Anyways, back to the present. My stomach held up well for Mission:Space, having followed all the directions given by the crew – face forward, don’t close your eyes and don’t look left or right, concentrate on what’s in front of you. And that I did. If my eyes were lasers, I would have burned a hole through the simulator monitor. But I enjoyed the experience, though vowing that once was enough for me.

As the day wore on, I would think about the ride and start getting sick to my stomach. It was as if my mind and body had been fooled during the experience, and now thinking back on it made it realize that “Hey, we were fooled! We were really spinning around like on the inside of washing machine!” So I’m trying not to look back on the experience. Typing this blog entry is making me queasy. Mind over matter and all that.

So back to Epcot. After Ellen’s Energy Adventure (another favorite of mine), along with The Crystals (they can stretch in very unbelievable ways) and other assorted goodies, we headed to the World Showcase, hitting all of the countries represented in the showcase. My favorite has always been Canada, and still is on this trip. I love their Cinema-360 presentation. Beautiful landscapes. Friendly demeanor. A cheerful population. It reminds me of how lucky we are to have such friendly neighbors to our north. Makes me want to drop a couple hundred loonies in their economy this summer.

We enjoyed a wonderful Chinese supper in, well, China, at Nine Dragons. We had an interesting appetizer called “Drunken Chicken”, that was very tasty. It was a cold dish in a wine marinade. Very good.

After walking around and enjoying the sights, we found our face on the “Leave A Legacy” display. We had our pictures taken back in 2000, and sure enough, there we were.

All in all, another glorious day at the Wonderful World of Disney. Tomorrow, Disney-MGM Studios.

What’s Up?

As I mentioned earlier, Earl and I are enjoying the week at Walt Disney World. It’s going splendidly, and I’m writing blog entries on my PowerBook quite often. The problem is, there’s no internet access in our room! This is a good thing, as I can spend more time with the Mouse and put my internet dependence behind me.

So on Sunday you’ll see a ton of new entries, all dated appropriately.

It’ll be fun for all!

Kongaloosh.