Friday, June 21, 2013

Life After Disney

Collin’s Ten Year Old Trip Day 11
June 21, 2013
Collin requested a big bike ride today--after riding seven miles here before the Disney Cruise, he was inspired to ride at least ten miles today. Granddad and Grandma Gayl were all in on this inspiration.  They needed all the exercise they could muster to work off the Disney pounds they gained at sea.  

We started our ride around 10:30.  After a couple short water breaks, our first stop was at the Landings Harbor Marina, where we could watch the boat traffic while rocking on the porch of the marina and enjoying some light refreshments.  We already had logged seven miles on the odometer, and Collin had tons of energy to spare.  
We continued our ride on bike paths that passed lots of long lagoons, hoping to come upon a sunning alligator, but the alligators did not oblige us. We did see some egrets, a couple great blue herons, a sunning anhinga, and an osprey flying off with a fish in its talons, though.  

We decided to stop for lunch at the Tennis Center, where we ate out on the verandah overlooking some very good players in the midst of a competitive game.  At this point we had completed over ten miles of riding.
By the time we made it home, we had ridden 13.2 miles, at an average speed of ten miles per hour!  Collin amazed us once again.

Later in the afternoon, we played some more Rummikub, and Collin won a hard fought game.

Then it was time for  fine dining at one of our island Clubhouses.   We all dressed up in country club casual attire, and headed out. Collin says, “It was a wondrous meal, but Disney was better.”  Clearly, after you have experienced the fantasy of life on Disney, it is hard to return to reality.

On the way out the door, Granddad introduced Collin to what he called “the best part of dining at the club”-- the big bowl of free chocolate covered mints in the lobby.  Both Collin and Granddad reached in and grabbed a handful. 

Back at home, we worked to get packed up and to bed early--we have a pretty long drive ahead of us to Pigeon Forge tomorrow.  

Collin is the first family member to visit our Sea Dog house--we couldn’t ask for a more delightful, fun/funny, and considerate guest.  We are REALLY REALLY going to miss him when we pass him back to his Dad and brother tomorrow!

So Long, Mickey!

Collin’s Ten-Year-Old Trip
Disney Cruise Day 5:  Thursday, June 20, 2013
Technically, this is Day 5 of the cruise, but since we have to be off the boat right after our 8 a.m. breakfast seating, it hardly counts.  
By the way, we are in the Enchanted Garden again this morning--designed to evoke a greenhouse on the grounds of Versailles, our dining room host (server) told us.  Last night it was lit in warm orange colors with the “view” through the greenhouse glass panels resembling a beautiful sunset seen through the trees, and this morning the sky is dawn blue.  The light fixtures that seemed to have orange shades last night are now blue.  I think they were green at lunchtime when we first got on the ship.  

Here is Disney’s amazing efficiency--our dining room hosts, who finished serving us dinner last night at around 10 p.m., and stayed later to get their tables set up for breakfast this morning, were back at work (in totally different uniforms) hosting the first seating of breakfast this morning at 6:45, then serving us at 8:00.  They got us fully served and out of there before 9, and got busy prepping the dining room for 10:30 perfection inspection--lunch guests will arrive for the next cruise starting at 11:30.  (Here they are bidding Collin a fond farewell after breakfast.)

The room hosts (stewards) must have all the staterooms on the ship thoroughly cleaned and prepared for all the new guests by 1:30.  With a $2 billion ship to pay off, they can’t afford to have any downtime. 

Disney and U.S. Customs are efficient, and even though the process to catch a van back to the Radisson long term lot is chaotic, and includes a lot of very un-Disneylike ill tempered grousing (by others, not us), we still manage to be on the road back to Savannah by 9:30.  

We are too tired to have any big adventures or exciting activities on the way, other than long-awaited phone calls to Collin’s parents, who he hasn’t talked to since before we boarded the ship.  

Back home, Granddad goes into high gear with unpacking and laundry, so that just about all of everyone’s cruise clothes are washed and dried before we get to bed.  WOW!

We do take a break for dinner--Collin wants some real Southern seafood, so we head for Fiddler’s Crab House, where we share a big bowl of some of the world’s best hush puppies, and lots of good shellfish.  But, it is not really Southern seafood--the blue crab in my salad is the only thing that might have been caught in local waters--Granddad’s lobster and Collin’s snow crab are from much colder climes.  We are also the only ones in the place not ordering our seafood fried (the true Southern way to eat seafood, and just about everything else). 

We miss our Disney waiters’ tableside antics--no one at Fiddler’s Crab House makes us ketchup art on our plate or does tricks for us like they did on the Disney Dream.
Another fond Disney memory--Mickey at the wheel

Another Dreamy Disney Day

Collin’s Ten-Year-Old Trip
Disney Cruise Day 4:  Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Collin woke up early and hungry--to our great relief.  No lingering effects from yesterday’s overindulgence in everything that should be pursued in moderation--sun, the salty sea, and sweets.  
He enjoyed yesterday’s detective work so much that he wanted to do a second detective game this morning--this time finding the villain who kidnapped some of Disney’s dalmation puppies.

 Grandma Gayl went to a class on how to fold towels to look like animals in the afternoon while Granddad and Collin played another round of Goofy Golf.  Grandma Gayl learned to make a swan, a monkey, a ghost and a dinosaur, while Collin roundly trounced Granddad, making all his holes in just one or two shots.   


Then she and Collin got in line to ride the Aquaduck a couple times.  We almost hated to get to the top of the line, because the big screen on the pool deck was showing Mary Poppins--a great movie, and once you get near the start of the ride, you are inside and can’t see the screen.

Collin noticed an ad in the elevator for a place we had somehow overlooked on the ship--the Arr-cade.  Granddad figured out where it was, and the two of them played some cool games there.  Collin’s favorite was a “Need for Speed” car race simulator.  (Granddad was appalled that the increments of Arr-cade money that you could charge to your Key to the World card went up to $500, and hurt his brain imagining what could possess a parent to indulge their child in this much Arr-cade action over a four day period.)  

We actually had time to relax today.  We all sat out on our stateroom deck and enjoyed the view while drinking our beverage of choice, then we read and watched old Disney cartoons on television.  Just before dinner, Gayl and Collin used the instruction sheet she got in her class to fold a towel into a swan to leave for our room attendant along with his gratuity envelope.   


When we got back to the room, we found that our attendant had folded us a bunny rabbit, and given our swan a little face lift, too.


Since it was our last night aboard, there were lots of festivities, including a big gathering of Disney princesses in the rotunda.  Collin was sure that his little sister Annie would love to dress up like a little princess and hug all those Disney princesses, like hundreds of little girls on this boat. 

He considered himself lucky that he made it through the whole cruise without us forcing him to pose with any Disney characters.   He did consent to posing with a statue of Mickey, and he gave Granddad permission to photoshop him in to a picture of Donald or Pluto sometime later, if possible.

An Enchanted Day at Castaway Cay

Collin’s Ten-Year-Old Trip
Disney Cruise Day 3:  Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Yesterday we woke up docking in Nassau, today we woke up as the ship was docking at Castaway Cay, Disney’s own private fantasy island in the Bahamas. 

 There are two long sugar white sand family beaches with palm trees (and an adults only beach on the other side of the island), plenty of umbrellas and beach chairs for all, and many island adventure choices. 

Collin decided it would be fun to try snorkeling, another new experience for him.  We are proud of how adventuresome he is. 
We rented our gear and did some warm-up practice breathing with the snorkel and clearing water from it, then swam way out to explore Disney’s lagoon, which, of course, had a sunken treasure chest, a sunken ship, a huge anchor, and other evidence of pirates.  There were some colorful fish swimming around the wreckage, too.
After our snorkeling excursion, we had a beach cook-out lunch, topped off by serve yourself soft serve cones.  Collin made himself two picture-perfect cones, and said, “I think I am really getting the hang of this now.”  We agreed--he is getting a lot of practice, and it is paying off in perfection of technique. 

Grandma Gayl foolishly bet him a dollar that he would have another cone before we went to dinner, thinking that might be enough incentive to keep him from eating any more ice cream.  He managed to win a dollar and have his ice cream too--by having not another one, but another two cones before dinner (yes, that is four soft serve cones in one day).
Here is Collin on the Pelican Plunge, a swim-up super slide in the lagoon at Castaway Cay:

Back on board in the afternoon, Collin and Grandma Gayl rode the Aquaduck a couple more times while Granddad rested, then Collin and Granddad played a round of Goofy Golf while Grandma Gayl rested. 
We were all for going back to the room for a nap, but Collin was up for more action, so we tracked down a detective game we had seen other kids playing around the ship. Collin got a clue map and a Midship Detective Agency badge, then we followed the map to places on the ship where he could hold his badge up in front of a picture which would magically open, ask him to perform an interactive task by moving his badge around like a mouse to effect the screen, revealing a clue to solve his mystery.  It was very ingenious, and sent us scurrying to just about every floor of the ship, fore, aft and mid-ship locations, ten stops in total, before Collin could solve the mystery.

Back in the room, we got ready for our special pirate night dinner--donning a bit of pirate attire and applying temporary tattoos.  And then . . . . Collin crashed.  We made it to dinner, but Collin’s exciting day in the sun and surf, his four ice cream cones, and maybe even a little bit too much salt water in the snorkel, had caught up with him.  When his first course arrived he had no appetite and he came close to falling asleep on the spot.  So, Granddad tucked Collin in his bunk, he fell sound asleep right away.  (Duncan, his tablemate, almost made it to dessert before he was falling asleep at the table, and his dad had to take him back to his room, too--like Collin, he had four ice cream cones and hours of exciting adventures at the beach today). 

Granddad and Grandma Gayl listened to the music from the Pirate Party and watched the 10:30 fireworks and lightshow from our stateroom balcony--all that noise didn’t disturb Collin’s slumber a bit.   (Disney takes great pride in being the only cruise line in the world to offer onboard fireworks, and another cruise ship passed slowly by us at 10:30--we are pretty sure it was not a coincidence that their itinerary let them peek at our party.)


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dancing with Dolphins in Nassau

Collin’s Ten-Year-Old Trip
Disney Cruise Day 2:  Monday, June 17, 2013

When we woke up this morning, our Disney Dream was docking in Nassau, the Bahamas.  It was Collin’s first visit to a foreign country!

The highlight of the day was our field trip to Blue Lagoon Dolphin Encounters, where Collin and Granddad spent an hour swimming and doing tricks with dolphins. (There were only two available spots, so Grandma Gayl volunteered to be the observer/photographer.)

Granddad and Collin were in a group of ten people swimming and playing with two dolphins--Anty V and Soca, who we learned is pregnant.   They learned lots of other facts about dolphins, too--they can jump up to 25 feet in the air,  and they have 70-105 teeth, which they use to grab their prey, but not to chew, since they swallow their food whole.  You can tell a dolphin’s age by counting the rings in their teeth, like a tree trunk.
Both Collin and Granddad had the same favorite experience.  It was when they laid flat on the water with their legs slightly apart, and two dolphins each put their snout against the soles of their feet and pushed them very quickly across the lagoon--so fast that they rose out of the water on a big bow wake!

They also danced with the dolphins--holding them by their pectoral fins and shaking while the trainers sang “Macho Macho Man.”

The dolphins kissed them on the cheek, and they shared two very long kisses on the lips with them, too.  

Granddad and Collin each took a fish from their dolphin’s mouth, and fed the dolphin a fish.  Granddad and Collin each took a fish from their dolphin’s mouth, and fed the dolphin a fish.  Collin says “If you didn’t cooperate, the dolphins would splash you in the face with salt water, then they would make you do it the right way.  They smelled a little fishy, not bad, but definitely fishy. They had fish breath.” (No surprise--Grandma Gayl had a prime spot right by the trainer, and she got to watch how they returned to him after every trick to be rewarded with a big dead fish.)

Collin and Granddad spun in circles with the dolphins, and gave them big hugs.  There were many opportunities to pet the dolphins on their back and sides as they swam by.  Collin says that the skin of a dolphin feels rubbery and a little tough, and not at all slippery. 

The dolphins showed off their jumping skills and did other tricks, like waving goodbye to us with their tails.  The dolphins were very playful--they splashed water and spit water on both Collin and Granddad, and they had many vocalizations, including a very funny loud raspberry sound.

Our dinner continued the sea life theme of our day.  We ate in the Animator’s Palate restaurant, where the walls are lined with what look at first like drawings of animated marine characters, but as dinner began the drawings came to life, and it felt as though our restaurant was submerged within an animated aquarium filled with the characters from “Finding Nemo” swimming all around the restaurant.

Then Crush, the talking turtle, began interacting with the diners--calling out to someone at a table and making jokes about things happening in the dining room.  His best line was when a baby’s high pitched squealing interrupted his conversation with a big kid, and the turtle said, “Oh, I see someone out there is speaking dolphin.”  Everyone who had a Dolphin Encounter laughed uproariously.

Bon Voyage, Mickey!

Collin’s Ten-Year-Old Trip
Disney Cruise Day 1:  Sunday, June 16, 2013
Collin manages to squeeze in a morning swim at the Radisson pool before it is time to head over to the port to board the Disney Dream.  The pool reminds us of a Disney set--it is surrounded by tropical foliage and faux rocks, with several waterfalls flowing into the pool. 

We have a couple magical moments there, too--when Collin realizes he has forgotten his swim goggles, the lady at the hotel shop pulls out an orange pair for him--his favorite color, and a perfect match with his swim suit.  Then, when he returns to the pool, he runs into another kid with orange goggles and swimwear who will be Disney cruising.  We enjoy chatting with Jordan’s parents poolside, while the boys play in water.   (But, as it turns out, they have a drastically different cruising schedule, and we see precious little of them during the voyage.)

Low point of the day was probably our boarding of the ship, which involved many very long lines--a line to get into the gate to the port terminal, one to go through security, another line to register (where we got our “key to the world” cards), and one to board the boat (accessible by scanning our “key to the world” cards). 


We had lunch in the ship’s Enchanted Garden--our table was next to a big porthole through which we could watch all the action in Port Canaveral. 


Afterward we wandered all around the ship, exploring the many things to do aboard, and Collin decided that his first wish was to ride the Aquaduck, the world’s only water roller coaster on a cruise ship.  It is a very cool ride, with long clear Plexiglas tubes that span the perimeter of the ship high above the 11th floor swim and sun deck.  Two people share a raft, so first Collin rode with Grandma Gayl, then he jumped right back in line to ride again with Granddad.  Their timing was amazing--they were on the ride while we were leaving port, and there was a huge party with all kinds of music and dancing going on below, and lots of people, including Grandma Gayl, drinking fancy tropical Bon Voyage drinks in commemorative plastic glasses. 

We also made the first of many visits to the 24/7 soft serve machine to make our own cones.

 Next on the agenda--the “Golden Mickeys,” a live show based on the greatest Disney Movies.  My favorites:  a Tarzan rope act that was worthy of the Cirque du Soleil, and The Little Mermaid, featuring Ariel flipping her tail suspended over the stage, while all her colorful fish and lobster and crab friends danced acrobatically below.  The Lion King number reminded us of our time in Africa, just two weeks ago.  (We have already concluded that our African safari and this Disney cruise are at opposite ends of our enjoyable vacation spectrum--both wild in entirely different ways!)
After the show, it was time for dinner at the Royal Palace, where we met the family who will share our table for the rest of the cruise, and the two servers who will be waiting on us as we rotate through all the ship’s dining options each night.  Our fellow diners--Cheryl, her husband Allen, and their son Duncan--are from Houston, Texas, and are Disney vacation members, which is like having a Disney resort timeshare.  They have been on a Disney cruise before, and have been to Disney World and Disney theme resorts and activities way more than we can imagine possible while still maintaining one’s sanity (though they seem quite sane and normal otherwise).

Our assigned dinner hour is 8:15, and it was after 10 by the time we left the restaurant. 

There was great live music in the central hall and lots of kids and their parents dancing and getting their pictures taken with Disney characters, but we were just too pooped to party!

Collin’s favorite things about today:  the Golden Mickeys show, the Aquaduck, and our room--where our room attendant pulls a bunk down from the ceiling for Collin and decorates our bed with an animal made from an artfully folded towel while we are at dinner.  Collin also likes our big private balcony.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Savannah to Port Canaveral

Collin’s Ten-Year-Old Trip
Day 5:  June 15, 2013
Yet another driving day today, as we get in position for the main event--our Disney Cruise!

We started out late in the morning after checking, double checking and triple checking our bags to make sure we did not forget anything important (and eliminating excess baggage--we packed more for this four day cruise than we packed for two weeks in Africa).
Due to our lollygagging, we were still in South Georgia when lunchtime rolled around, and we knew the perfect place to introduce Collin to some real South Georgia eating.  We took him to Skipper’s Fish Camp on the shores of the scenic Altamaha River in Darien.  A shrimp trawler is parked at the dock, and you can play Cornhole while you are waiting for your food to arrive.  Collin also liked watching the turtles and fish swimming around in the ornamental pond on the patio.

Of course our route also included a stop for ice cream later that afternoon.

 We arrived at the Radisson Resort at the Port late in the afternoon, and were excited to find we had a great big suite, right by the fancy swimming pool.   (We didn’t actually go swimming, though--we decided to go eat first.)


We found a restaurant on the water, where we had great views of the boats entering and leaving the port (no cruise ships moving, though). 

After dinner, Collin decided he would rather play mini-golf than swim.  There was a kind of sad looking mini-golf course next to our hotel with a faded pink elephant beside a Ty-D-Bol blue waterfall.  The one advantage it had over the Adventure Golf Course we played in Pigeon Forge was that there were very few people on the course here, so we never had to wait to play a hole.  As Granddad observed, “During this trip we have now played the best mini golf course of my life, and the worst.”  

Collin was unfazed, and we all had a great time, in spite of the numerous maintenance shortcomings of the course.

Tomorrow we board the Disney Dream at 1 p.m.  We can hardly wait!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Blueberry Pancakes, Bike Riding, and a Backyard Barbecue

Collin’s Ten-Year-Old Trip
Day 4:  June 14, 2013
Granddad whipped up a big batch of pancakes--regular and blueberry--to start the morning off right.  Collin prefers the plain kind, with plenty of real maple syrup.   (Having Collin around is proving to be a great excuse for granddad to work lots of sweet treats into every day.)

 After that big breakfast, we needed to burn off some calories, so we hopped on our bicycles and took a ride around the island.  Collin’s goal was to ride five miles, but in true Glover fashion he exceeded his objective and rode seven full miles.  Collin says this is the furthest he has ever ridden in his life. 


After lunch, Gayl went shopping for supplies for our cook-out dinner tonight, and Granddad and Collin did errands, including purchasing ice cream and three different syrups for our cook-out dessert--make-your-own-sundaes (this was Granddad’s idea).

 When we all reunited back home, Collin helped Grandma Gayl make chocolate chip cookies (and sampled just one for quality assurance purposes), and he helped Granddad shuck our fresh Georgia sweet corn (a skill we figured he had practiced a lot  at home with his Papa’s fresh Indiana sweet corn).  

Here we are enjoying our back yard cook-out with our friends and their visiting grandchildren, Brandon and Rachel.

In the Swim in Savannah

Collin’s Ten-Year-Old Trip
Day 3:  June 13, 2013
Collin began the day with his favorite cereal, purchased just for him--Cocoa Puffs.

Then he test-drove his loaner bicycle, but it was too hot for a real ride.  He helped Granddad sort the recycling and take it to the recycling center, then reviewed photos with Granddad to choose some of the best ones to use for this blog. 

After lunch he requested a Rummikub rematch, and this time he won a game.
The temperature hit the 90s--it was definitely time to head to the pool for the afternoon.  Collin’s favorite things about the pool:  the big twisting slide and frozen Snickers at the snack bar.


Collin and Grandma Gayl worked on our Blog together, while Granddad had a conference with a friend, then we all worked on dinner together.  It was too hot to eat outside, but not too hot for Granddad and Collin to cook burgers on the grill.

After dinner, Collin requested another game of Rummikub, and beat the old folks again (while consuming his third bowl of ice cream for the day). 

On the Road Again

Collin’s Ten-Year-Old Trip
Day 2:  June 12, 2013
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to Savannah
The day started out great, with a big hot breakfast buffet at our hotel, then a stop at Starbucks for Granddad and Grandma Gayl and a stop at Krispy Kreme for the two Glover guys in the car who share a sweet tooth gene.  The perfect breakfast ends with a big box of Krispy Kreme donuts for dessert.

 We enjoyed scenic Smokey Mountain views along a great twisty road for a while, then settled into some more boring driving.  To be honest, the best part of the day was when we finally got home at dinnertime.   Collin is awesome<(Collin typed this in his favorite color, and Granddad and Gayl agree.)

Collin rode the elevator up with his luggage, and he has decided that he prefers it over the stairs (even though he has demonstrated that he can run up and down two flights of stairs more quickly than the elevator can climb just one story).

It was boiling hot here, so we stayed inside and played Rummikub into the night.  Collin says, "It was fun, even though I didn’t win."