Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tonight was amazing.

We went back and forth about eating out. We wanted to go over to see a dinner show, but also felt like we really should eat at home. We drove over to investigate the options for spending the night in the parking lot of the Capone Dinner Show because the alcohol is included in the cost of admission; I didn’t want to drive after drinking, and Gary didn’t think I should just forgo the free rum. Spending the night there was not possible, so we drove on.

We stopped at a Ponderosa Restaurant. Gary went in to investigate while I parked. He came out rather unimpressed, so we got back in the camper (not before Joshua accidentally stepping in a puddle of sludge!) and headed to Cici’s Pizza.

After dinner I noticed that we were close to Disney so we decided to drive over to see if there was a place to park the motor home thinking that we could walk around Downtown Disney.

The first two lots were full, and realizing that we weren’t going to pay the admission for Disney Quest, we drove on. I remembered that the Floridian Hotel had the gingerbread house that I have been pining to see for many years, so I thought we could just drive by. I didn’t think they would actually let us in just to gawk, but I was wrong. Not only were we directed to a huge cast parking lot, but we were met by the hotel manager on a golf cart who drove us right to the front door. As if that weren’t enough, she found us a little while later in the lobby and told us that she wanted to be sure that we experienced her hotel’s magic, and handed us a bag full of the complimentary pillow chocolates. I didn’t count them, but I’m guessing there were 30 or 40 of them!

We took pictures of the massive Christmas tree and the amazing gingerbread house, then wandered out by the pool to have a look. We headed down to the beach to enjoy the hammocks, but before too long we could see the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom so we walked closer to have a better view. It was incredibly exciting for all of us!

Then we wandered around the gift shops inside the hotel, taking many pictures of kids in a myriad of hats. It was a blast. 

I have always wanted to go see the interior of the Disney hotel, the Grand Floridian in particular because of the gingerbread house. In fact, whenever I have thought about planning a Disney vacation I’ve been terribly torn because I wanted to see the Christmas decorations, but I also wanted to visit the parks at a time when it would be less crowded. I feel like my dream has already been fulfilled. What an exciting evening!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The days are flying by so fast with little time for me to reflect. Today we woke up in the parking lot at Cracker Barrel. We had dinner there the night before after a harrowing experience where we literally felt that our lives might have been in danger.

Today was spent at the Wagon Wheel Flea Market; an exhausting endeavor. We have been able to pick up a few Christmas gifts for the kids in the past few days, so that’s been nice.

Doing the shuffle every night has been really tiring. I feel like we spend hours looking for a spot, scouting it out, and setting up, even when we have a place all lined up. That is the part that is really hard for me. That, and the constant stress from injuries. I’ve already been to the ER and the walk in clinic, and have three children with visible contusions on their faces. I can only imagine what people think!

Molly waiting.

Despite being told by three different medical providers that she needed to be seen not only in an ER, but that it was important that we take her to be seen in a children's hospital, they did nothing more than admire her laceration before sending us on our way.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ft DeSoto (Heaven on Earth)

Palm Harbor. Walmart. Unremarkable. We just spent the night and got on the road the next morning. We were anxious to get to my father’s house because we were planning to park the motor home with a neighbor of his for a month. Everyone was looking forward to settling down and enjoying being in one place for awhile.

We texted my father to let him know that we were 45 minutes away, and he texted back that our parking spot was no longer available, but he had a lead on a campground. As we had looked into all the camping options prior to coming down (and only came to Florida because he had a place for us to stay!) we knew that wasn’t going to work out for us. So we stopped driving and spent the night in another Walmart, this time in Brandon, FL.

The next morning my father mentioned that he had other options, so we headed over to his city to see him and what he had to offer. His condo doesn’t allow motor homes so we pulled into a nearby shopping plaza and he met us there. We walked down to his condo and out to the water where the kids found horseshoe crab shells by the dozen.

My father’s plan B also fizzled out, so we headed to a campground to regroup and figure out our next step. We had neglected to budget for lodging as we used most of our monthly budget for gas and planned on having a free spot.

We ended up at the campground at Ft De Soto. We met a park ranger who told us some funny stories. He was very animated making them much more entertaining then they will be here.

One night he was working late and got a phone call about a travel trailer on fire. He rushed down to the location to find a man laying on the ground yelling that his service animal was still inside. The ranger ripped open the door and ran inside to find a very agitated kangaroo. Said kangaroo was not in the mood to be rescued and stood up on his tail and kicked at the ranger’s chest until he was bruised and bloody. He said he got his butt whooped by a kangaroo, which his coworkers enjoyed reminding him of often. Our ranger friend finally managed to get the kangaroo outside and the man yells, “what about the other one?!?!” Thankfully “the other one” was just a goat!

The beach is just amazing. It feels like heaven to be here.

Last night we were walking down to the beach around dinner time. There was a raccoon making himself at home in the picnic area so I told the kids to make a wide path around him. We ran into two gentleman who were off to the side looking.

“Excuse me ma’am, what IS that?”

“That’s a raccoon.” I told him, “and you don’t want to get too close to it.”

“Oh, I thought it was a pet. There were some people feeding it and playing with it but I’ve never seen anything like it before.

After talking with them for a few minutes we discovered that they were from Bangladesh and even though they had been in the US for a great many years (including time spent in West Virginia and an encounter with a bear) they had never seen a raccoon.

We walked further on toward the beach, where an older woman was shooing the raccoon away and her daughter was scolding her. “No Mom, move! I’m trying to take a picture!”

It was then that we heard the gentlemen from before yell out in warning, “MAAM! NO! Don’t take a picture! That’s a RACCOON!”

The kids and I could not help but to burst out in laughter.