Coast to Coast

In early November we left Seattle starting our RV full time adventure. One of our first extended stops was in Eugene, Oregon to get our refrigerator fixed. It took some time to first attempt to repair it and once we found out that it could not be repaired order a new one and get it installed. Since we were living in the parking lot of the RV dealer we decided that it made sense to take a weekend trip out to Oregon Coast.

We headed to Tillamook and had a wonderful time at both the Tillamook and Blue Heron cheese factories. The Tillamook factory has an exhibit and factory tour and both factories had factory stores. We spent the night in Tillamook and then drove south on 101 south to Florence.

Along the way we stopped at the Pacific Ocean.

Pacific Ocean Tillamook Oregon Nov 2010

After our trip to the coast we returned to the RV Coral in Eugene and waited for the refrigerator to be replaced. Once that was taken care of it was time to head to Florida to visit with our new niece and met up with friends at Disney World.

Our trip took us thru California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and then into Florida. We made a number of stops along the way at places like Death Valley, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tombstone, Lake Havasu, Oatman, San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans, and Orlando. After our time with family and at Disney we headed to Malabar Florida. Malabar was to serve as our base for the Shuttle Launch.

We got here a few days before the Shuttle Launch so Wednesday we took a trip to Indialantic, Florida.  We drove about 3,700 miles from Tillamook, Oregon to Indialantic, Florida. It was  a wonder trip and here are some pictures of the Atlantic Ocean.

Atlantic Ocean Indialantic Florida Feb 2011

And yes you can get Starbucks right on the ocean in Indialantic, Florida.

3 – 2 – 1

When I was young the space race was going on in full force. Like many kids I was fascinated by all things space. I really don’t remember the Gemini missions but do have memories of the Apollo missions. I remember watching the launches and coverage on TV. I always thought it would be really interesting to see a launch of a big Saturn V in person.

The Apollo missions came to conclusion in 1972 and I headed off to college shortly thereafter. I was still interested in the space program but other things in my life became more important and I never got to go see a mission be launched into space.

For the past few days we have been parked in Malabar Florida. Today we got up early and headed about an hour north to the Space View Park in Titusville.  Space View Park is located less than 15 miles from the launch pad across the Indian River. The launch was scheduled for 4:50 pm and according to everything we read we needed to be at the park at least 6 hours before. We got there just before 10 am (7 hours before launch) and there were already a good number of people there set up waiting.  I went down to the front of the park and some of the people there said there were there since 5 or 6 am.

We spent the day sitting by the Indian River reading books, and waiting. We ended spending the day next to a group of people that included a man that works for NASA in Houston in the Shuttle program. It was interesting learning some more about the Shuttle as we waited. As the day went on the crowd got bigger and bigger.

About 30 minutes before the launch people started to wonder out into a shallow part of the river to get a good view of the launch.

Shuttle Launch River Crowd

Then it was time. From where we were we could not see the actual lift off. However the shuttle quickly rose and we could watch, hear and feel it climb. The rumble was not as loud as I expected but then again we were about 15 miles from the actual launch site.   As the said – “The final liftoff of Discovery, a tribute to the dedication, hard work and price of America’s space shuttle team.”

Launch of Discovery (STS133)

Discovery (STS 133) Climbs

Launch Trail from Discovery (STS 133)

 

Once we got home (hours later after a ton of traffic) we learned that there were some holds and they got close to the end of the launch window – we were lucky today.

Now THIS is family that does not like beige…

This morning Bill and I wandered over to Hollywood Studios to finish a few last things before we head out to the coast.  Hollywood Studios is a fun park. For those that have not been it is set up to be just like the back lot of a studio in Hollywood. They have behind the scene shows that show you how stunts work and other types of things in that theme. They also have actors that roam the streets performing. They are supposed to be actors in the Golden Age of movies.

As we were wandering down the street one of the street performer driving a car that looked like an old car from the 20s, dressed to the nines in a beautiful red period dress and a parasol. She pulls up looking at us and shouts, “Now THIS is family that does NOT like beige.” For those of you that know me you will laugh and picture me in my typical dress. For those of you that don’t know me… well here is a picture of what would lead to such a comment. LOL

No Beige

I think it may be one of the most accurate comments anyone has ever made about me. The only things I have that are beige are shorts to wear with my tie-died t-shirts. Grin…

Disney Fanatic? Well Maybe…

Walt Disney World, people often think I am a Disney Fanatic. In some ways I cannot argue this with them. I own a few T-shirts with the park logos or the cartoons. I own a number of the trading pins and some various other memorabilia. I also would choose to visit one of the parks over many other possible vacation options. I don’t have a kitchen full of everything Mickey. I don’t have a Mickey Mouse rug or sheets for my bed. I guess having grown up in Florida near the Mouse most of my life I have seen my share of true fanatics and I just don’t see myself in that roll. I do, however, LOVE spending time here. I can’t explain what the magic is in a way that would make someone that has never been here understand it. It is kind of like trying to explain the difference between blue and green to a color-blind person or maybe the flavor of an exotic food to someone that has never had anything like it. To me, Disney is the most Magical Place on Earth. This may be partially due to their marketing but I can also say it is due to experience.

I can walk around the parks and see things I do not see as often in other places. I am not saying the Disney is the PERFECT place on earth. Babies cry, kids throw tantrums, parents lose their minds, but in my experience people smile more, they laugh more, maybe even love more.

I am a people watcher. I LOVE sitting on benches all the places I travel and watching people go by. I like watching their interactions; I like watching their faces. In the past several months I have had the luxury to do this in some beautiful and amazing places. I sat for hours along the riverfront in San Antonio. I have sat at restaurants over-looking the Las Vegas Strip, I have sat and watched people go by in Phoenix, AZ everywhere I go I see similar things. Some people are smiling, most are not, some stair at the ground as they walk by, most stare at their phones texting, or emailing, or calling. They sometimes seem content, more often seem harried, very few seem happy. When I come to Disney I sit and people watch and I see something different. I see the amazement on children’s faces when Mickey Mouse comes around a corner. I see the laughter in their eyes when they ride Dumbo up in the air. I hear the screams of joy when the ride does something surprising.

The other day I took Bill to ride Dumbo. It is a ride most adults wouldn’t bother with but I think everyone should experience it once. We got on and rode it and Bill played with the lever that moves you up and down while we giggled. When we exited the ride a little girl about 5 years old turns to her dad and in the sweetest voice I have ever heard says, “That was AMAZING!” I giggled all the way home that night. The next night we stood on Main Street watching Wishes: the Fireworks Spectacular. I have seen this a dozen times now and even know all the words to the song (getting back to the fanatic thing heh) and so I stop and watch people’s faces. I listen to the gasps when something beautiful happens or the awes when something sweet occurs. I feel the tension when the Evil Witch takes over and the sense of relief when the music turns light-hearted again. I love the children when they see firework hearts blast in bright red over their heads and the adults too.  I love seeing couples hugging and snuggling smiling at each other enjoying the fireworks or the parade.

When we visit the Resort I always wear my Mickey ears, partially for me because as a kid my parents were never able to afford to buy me ears and it was one of the things I wanted most in life but the other reason I wear them is because people smile more when they see them. The percentage of adults that wear funny hats at the parks is sadly low and kids think it is fabulous when they see an adult who is willing to look like an idiot to have fun. Adults even like it. Today I was walking through the crowd tired and a little haggard and a little boy about 3 came around the corner, took one look at my ears and burst into giggles in that moment I went from exhausted to ecstatic. There was once again a skip in my step, that step being the 14,987th I had taken that day. People wear funny hats where in normal life they wouldn’t dream of it. They eat new things that if they were presented at home they wouldn’t touch. They are friendly (generally) and nicer. They are how they should be in everyday life. People talk to each other while standing in line, making new friends. They socialize in ways they would never do at the grocery store or mall. It really is magical. So I guess maybe I am a fanatic… but I don’t really mind, who could mind being addicted to something that brings smiles to so many faces?

Giving the Gift of an Experience

Living in an RV is often challenging when buying gifts. People don’t know what to get us… heck we don’t often know what to get each other. Space is limited. Something must go out for something to come in. A few years ago we started talking about gifts and how we love going places and so we started doing “gifts of experiences”. For anniversaries, Christmas (Hanukkah), birthdays we started giving things like: tickets to concerts or plays, for family we went on a big family vacation most expenses paid. We enjoy giving each other experiences rather than stuff. This is a great idea when you have such limited space.

Bill and I sat down with each other last year and talked about what experience we might like for Christmas. We really didn’t need to even sit down we both knew what would be the best gift given we were planning to spend a few months in Florida to see family (specifically my baby niece) and possibly returning to Florida next Winter for a work possibility. So we agreed rather than buying gifts this year we would buy ourselves annual passes to the Walt Disney World Resort. This will cover both of our birthdays, our combined Christmas budget, and our budget for Valentine’s Day and our Anniversary. We will probably pick up cards and small things for the actual days but our gifts to each other are the passes. We calculated that if you bought single use passes for around 10 days worth of visits to the park it would be about the same as the annual passes. My girlfriend and her family from Seattle are coming down to WDW to visit and so we had already planned to spend a week there with the family.

For Bill and I spending 10+ days at Walt Disney World is not going to be an issue.

So earlier this week we went down to Downtown Disney to pick up our passes and do a little shopping. We realized that our passes are now active and so later when we went down to visit my parents for a day and discovered we were a mere 15 mins from the parks we popped on over to watch the fireworks. It has been a struggle the rest of this week not to hop in the car and head on down. We are about an hour north of the parks until Sunday when we move the RV to the Walt Disney Wilderness Campgrounds for the week my friends are visiting, plus it is our little extra experience for Valentine’s Day, since neither of us has spent a V-day at the parks. I wish I could fly all my friends and family down to come play with us at the parks. I know from past experience that the larger your party the more fun you can have.

So we have agreed we will not drive down today because there are things we need to get done before we move on Sunday but tomorrow… I just may have to go and catch the Parade! Heh

If you have never been to a Disney park… you just can’t know what you are missing till you try it. Save up your funds and come on down! They always have deals going on and if you have small children they can get by quite inexpensively… well unless you buy all the stuffed Mickeys or Magic Wands! LOL

Whatever you do…

Have a Magical Day!

Have a Magical Day!