Daily Archives: April 21, 2011

Catch Up, Part II

We decided that Wednesday was going to be the day we did a theme park.  We were in complete agreement that the park in question should be Universal; between the new Harry Potter attraction and a coaster that Mr Chili really wanted to ride, it seemed that Universal was the way to go.  We also found out that, because of the volume they were expecting (we’re not the only ones on April vacation, you know), the park was going to open at 8:00, so we bit the proverbial bullet and decided we’d get up early and try to get there as soon as they let people in.

Nearly $500 bucks later, we four had tickets (the TwoBlueDays, Bluemoon and Newmoon got their annual passes) and were making a beeline for Hogsmead.  After a bit of confusion, we figured out that we could leave the bags with Bluemoon (who’d been on the ride before) and could skip the line for the lockers (which snaked about a half a mile down the street and around the lagoon).  Mr. Chili bought the little girls some butterbeers, thinking that we’d have to wait forever, but once we figured out that we could go right in, they tried to finish them up quickly.

It turns out they needn’t have bothered.  By the time we got up to where the bag-free line began, the attendant announced that the ride had broken down and, if we liked, we could take a self-guided walking tour of the castle  I choked back my disappointment and took a stroll through the portrait hall (which was really pretty neat; the founders of the school – Helga Hufflepuff, Salazar Slitherin, Godric Griffindor, and Rowena Ravenclaw – were discussing the newest batch of students, and the effects were really well done.  From there, we moved into Dumbledore’s office, which was pretty well appointed (though I couldn’t find the pensive).  From there, we took a quick pass by the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, then past the Great Hall, then got spit out into the gift shop.  The ride still wasn’t running, and Gerry heard an attendant said that the attraction goes down a lot – sometimes for just a minute or two, sometimes for hours.  We decided not to hang around and wait to see which it would be today.

From there, I took Bluemoon’s place in line for Olivander’s wand shop so she and Mr. Chili and Newmoon and Beanie could ride on the coaster formerly known as Dueling Dragons – it was renamed Dragon Challenge for the Harry Potter theme.  I didn’t think Bean would want to do such an adventurous coaster, but she came off grinning like a fool and was the first to say “yes!” when it was suggested that the group go back to ride the other dragon.  They came back in time to get into Olivander’s to see a little show about a wand choosing its wizard, then got shunted into a too-crowded gift shop from which I just wanted to escape (I’ll do my souvenir shopping online, I think).

We decided, after the second coaster ride, to get the hell out of Dodge.  Our first stop was a snack; I grabbed a table while Bluemoon bought a couple of baskets of chicken fingers and fries for the whole family to share.  From there, it was off to Seuss Land.  Gerry’s got some much nicer pictures than I; go to his site and have a look around.

The girls got on One Fish, Two Fish, then I took them for a ride on the little elevated train that takes guests around the attraction.  Mr. Chili and Bluemoon were going to ride on the Hulk, but they found a 90 minute wait when they got there, so they bailed.  Once we got off the train, we headed to Toon Lagoon so Mr. Chili, Bluemoon, and the girls could ride the the Bilge-Rat raft ride.  Yes; they all came off soaked.

From there, we headed for another snack at Margaritaville while we contemplated heading to the other park so Mr. Chili and Bluemoon could ride this stupid thing:

When we got there, though, the ride was closed.  There are no words for their disappointment.  The day was saved, though, when, as we were walking away, we watched some cars moving through the ride – it looked like they were testing it to start it back up again.  They literally ran back to the ride while Gerry, Honey, the girls, and I made for the E.T. ride.

We got in fairly quickly and had a lovely time.  I think that the ride is more fun if you’ve seen the movie, though, and I found out (much to my surprise) that the girls haven’t yet seen E.T.  I don’t know how that happened – it’s aired nearly every Christmas – so I’ll have to rent it for them.  When we finished the ride, Mr. Chili and Bluemoon were at our exit, their hair all tousled and with huge, wide grins on their faces.  Not only did they get right in, but they got the first row.  That score pretty much saved the entire day for Mr. Chili.

From E.T. we walked to the Men in Black ride, which was quite a bit of fun.  Bluemoon got the high score in our car.

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After that, we were cooked, so we made our way back to the car (after stopping at a shop to buy the promised chocolate frogs) and had a truly wonderful dinner at a Cheesecake Factory on the way home.  We all slept like the dead last night.

Today was about shopping.  Mr. Chili wants a new wallet, so we had some (mis)adventures looking for the Fossil outlet store  We’re having breakfast for dinner tonight, and we’re thinking about taking in a movie tomorrow.

More later!

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Filed under family matters, frustrations, fun, Home and Family, road trip!, technical difficulties, vacation

Catch-Up Day

So!

I’ve been remiss in keeping up with the blog, but I think I can be forgiven; not only have I had little time to do much posting (because, after all, one must live a life in order to have something to blog about, right?), but also because I had sketchy internet service before I got to Gerry’s. Here’s what’s happened since I last updated.

After Washington, we made our way to a hotel just outside the Auto Train station, checked in, then had an experience at a Red Robin (the food was good, the service was awful – so bad, in fact, that they comped the whole meal because we had to wait so long). We had decided to try to visit Mount Vernon before we had to board the train, so we got up (reasonably) early the next day and made our way to the site. It was lovely. We toured the mansion first which, to be honest, was the most disappointing part of the whole experience – we were herded through the house like cattle, walking quickly past rooms staffed by red-vested volunteers reciting the same facts over and over as the crowds shuffled through. I remember remarking to Mr. Chili what a mind-numbing job that must be; “George Washington was six-foot-two, which means he had to duck down this staircase every day. Martha Washington was four-eleven, and could walk through the whole house with no problem.” I heard that three times in about 4 minutes.

The rest of the place was great, though. One is free to walk about the entire grounds (which are, admittedly, significantly smaller than when General Washington owned the property, but is still plenty vast enough to allow for a lovely morning’s exploration). There are a number of outbuildings – barns and smokehouses (and slave quarters) – to see, several orchards and gardens – both working and ornamental – to stroll, and an easy walk past both Washington’s tomb and a memorial dedicated to the slaves who lived and worked on the Mount that culminates in a walk past the Potomac that offers a spectacular view. Walking back toward the car park, one can take an opportunity to go through two museums (well, one museum and one “education center”). One is intended, we decided, for those visitors more interested in history; it’s stocked with original items from the Washington household, including china, furniture, jewelry, and letters. It’s a quiet environment, very tastefully appointed and cool, and I remember feeling a sense of reverence while I was looking at the exhibits.

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The other museum is clearly intended for school tours – it’s filled with life-sized models, there are videos playing around nearly every corner, and there are a number of interactive exhibits that invite the kids to touch and manipulate things (though one teenager (not mine) learned, much to her embarrassment, that there are motion sensors near Martha Washington’s wedding dress; they don’t want anyone touching that…).

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After enjoying the morning at Mount Vernon, we piled back into the car and made our way back to Lorton to have lunch and pick up a movie before we got on the train. Mr. Chili found a fun little restaurant in a plaza that had a RedBox, so we ate lunch, grabbed a copy of Hereafter to watch on the train (which, I have to say, disappointed me; I was expecting something much more suspenseful). Mr. Chili took pictures of his car being driven onto the train, then we boarded. We were able to reserve to “roomettes” across from each other, which was PERFECT. The little cabins afforded us both comfort and privacy, and though the adults didn’t get much sleep that night, we were all delighted with the experience. We have coach seats on the way back; I’ve put us on the wait list to be put in cabins if any are free when we go home.

We arrived in Sanford, Florida right on time on Tuesday morning. It took about half an hour to get our car off the train, then we headed straight to Chez TwoBlueDay, where we have been happily ensconced ever since. I’ll write more later to catch you up on our adventures at Universal yesterday; for now, though, I’m going to go love my family.

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Filed under road trip!, vacation