This is the second year we've had a family reunion at Fort Wilderness. We've all enjoyed going to Disney for many years and it seems like a natural place for us all to congregate. There's something for everyone here, and it doesn't seem to matter that we are all adults :-). The campground is the nicest one I've ever been in as well. Its only a two hour drive from our house, so on Sunday 1/26 we set off a little before lunchtime to make the trek over to The Fort.
As promised, a few pictures of our new coach set up at The Fort:
As you can see, the sites are quite spacious, and nicely wooded in between for a nice feeling of privacy, which is quite uncommon in private campgrounds here in Florida. We book what is called a premium site, with full hookups. Over the past few years Disney has re-done many of their camping loops to accommodate the bigger coaches that people have today, making the concrete pads wider, and angled easier for backing in. You can see the difference in the pavement from the original pad to the expanded area. There is a group of 8 of us here, a total of four sites, so we always have the chairs out and the corn hole game ready for action :-). One of the really neat features of our coach is the built-in LED rope lighting in the awning. No need to put up lights and take them down all the time, and the lights make it nice for gathering after dark!
Of course, being at The Fort calls for additional site decorating. I had the Fort Wilderness sign made for Al for Christmas, and he made the stand for it himself. We went for a trek in the Withlacoochee Forest one afternoon looking for pine limbs to make it with. I think he did a great job, very rustic looking. Our alligator lights up and moves his head and tail back and forth, very appropriate for Florida.
I haven't done too much personalization yet, but we'll be working on it. These are pictures of our living and kitchen areas. It is very nice looking out the back window at palms and trees. I have a lot of cabinet space, but I find it frustrating that rv designers never have shelves put in the cabinets. I hate piling things on top of each other, but then it feels as if so much vertical space goes to waste. I look for containers and shelving ideas, but nothing is made that is rv cabinet-sized.
I DO very much like the pantry. Three nice big shelves for all my groceries, and three lovely pull-out drawers for my pots and pans. Since I used to have to get down on all fours and reach into the back of a dark cupboard for my pots, this is quite a luxury :-).
So, that's our rig and our site...all good so far :-).
After getting set up and catching up with everyone, we had dinner plans to meet at The Trail's End buffet. We had a great time laughing over dinner, and lingered over dessert and coffee. Our first set-back of the trip occurred as we arrived back at the coach, and heard poor Casey howling and crying inside of the coach. There was also a note taped to our door that he had been carrying on the whole time we had been away. This just won't do at all, and we were quite surprised as he had been very good staying by himself while we were in Kentucky. The only thing that we could think of was with the coach being new and our first time staying in it, he isn't accustomed to it and thought we were leaving him there. Whatever his issue was, he was definitely having some anxiety issues that need to be addressed. I spent the rest of the night reading about possible solutions to the issue. We finally decided that the next day, while everyone went into the Animal Kingdom, I would stay here and try to get him accustomed to me going in and out, leaving him alone for short periods of time.
So, you ask, did this work?? Uh, NO. Onto Plan B. We certainly didn't want to split our time away from our families for the two weeks, so Casey was booked into Best Friends daycare for the days we were going into the parks and dinner together. Chalk that one up to an unexpected expense of the vacation, but a solvable problem at least. He did have a great time there, and played with many other pups, so at least that was a good thing. And we may have news later in the month on a new sister for him, which will hopefully help his loneliness issues. Jumping ahead a bit, towards the end of our stay here he does seem to be getting comfortable here in the new coach, and we left him by himself this morning for a couple of hours and he seemed to do fine, was sleeping when we got back.
We had a birthday breakfast with the whole bunch at Kona Cafe. Al's sister Susie and cousin Kathy were both celebrating birthdays, and a heart breakfast of Tonga Toast (banana stuffed french toast) was the order of the day.
Being so close to The Magic Kingdom, that's where we headed for the day to enjoy some of our favorite attractions. We all went on Pirates, Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, watched the birds and flowers sing in the Tiki Room, and went for a ride on the PeopleMover; well, some went for a ride on the peoplemover, other rode Space Mountain, but I don't do that one :-). Notice the nice blue sky and short sleeves; it doesn't last long!
Wednesday it started raining. And rained. And rained. So what do happy campers do when its raining? We pack up the cars and go to Camping World of course :-). I needed a new states map, as the old one was not removable. Of course a few other items made it into the cart as well, including a really comfy folding chair just made for relaxing and reading outside :-). A stop at Walmart was made made as well, and that was that exciting day. Thursday: Rain! Also the beginning of a cloud on the horizon, Al's sister Sue wasn't feeling well, having trouble catching her breath, so she went to the clinic to get check out. Thinking it was a touch of bronchitis and asthma, they gave her some antibiotics and prednisone and told to rest. So she went to bed, and we went to see a movie...Disney's Frozen, which was very good.
Friday: Rain! Sue was feeling a bit better, and we went to EPCOT for the afternoon. By then it was only drizzling, so we didn't get too wet, and had a very good lunch at Chefs de France.
Saturday we had a group BBQ planned at the campground. It had been forecast as a nice day. I woke up early in the morning, and what did I hear on my roof? Rain! OMG is it ever going to stop?? Well, it showered on and off in the morning, but mostly stopped for the afternoon and we managed to get our food and games in without getting too wet. We had our friends Jan and Ken from Bar Harbor join us for the afternoon, and had a great time catching up with them. I think it's so nice how, as your circle of friends grows each year, that you have a much larger range of life experiences to discuss with people. For instance, they had to deal with elder care issues a couple of years ago, and have given me some good ideas on how to help my mother get her affairs set up.
Sunday was drier, and we had a nice afternoon at the campground. Around lunchtime we had a quick visit with Bill and Nancy, whom we've known since we started out on the road; they were our neighbors at the Sevierville RV-Dreams rally in April 2011. They came into Disney for a quick 3 night stay after having coach repairs done down at Lazydays. Its always wonderful to see them, and hope to catch up with them when they visit Rainbow Springs in a couple of weeks.
We played a few rousing games of Marbles, cards and Jokers, and snacked all day on the leftovers from Saturday's BBQ. Oh and we also watched a little thing that some people called a football game?? :-)
The cloud is starting to get darker and closer however. Monday morning, Al's sister Sue is having such a hard time catching her breathe, that it is decided a trip to the hospital is in order. I stayed home here with Casey while they headed over. Of course, no trip to the ER is a quick one, but it IS quickly determined that there is more of an issue going on than just bronchitis, and she will be staying at least overnight. Al comes back in the afternoon, while his sister Ginny stays at the hospital until Sue gets settled into a room for the night. Meanwhile, we had a dinner reservation that night that we couldn't cancel, so his sisters told us all to go ahead over there. Its a fairly new restaurant in the newly renovated Fantasyland called Be Our Guest, and is set inside the Beast's castle from Beauty and the Beast.
Cousins Bill and Fred were clowning around with the gargoyles while waiting, and then we all had our picture taken with our host, The Beast. We also took pictures of our dinner and sent them to Susie so she could feel like she was there :-).
Another night we had pizzas at the Italian restaurant Via Napoli, which were very tasty...
and then we split a Frozen cupcake...chocolate cake with buttercream icing...yum!
Yesterday, we had made plans to be "tour guides" for Dan and Jonelle Anderson, who have never been to Disney...imagine that! Dan and Jonelle have been "stalking" our blog for awhile, and came out on the road full time this summer. We met them in Amazon this past fall, and I think we have a long-term friendship forming now :-). We had a great time exploring EPCOT together, and I think we may have spread the Disney magic to another couple :-). We visited many countries in the World Showcase, rode on several attractions in Future World, had a great lunch in China and of course, dessert at the Bakery in France.
Finally, at the end of a couple days of testing, it's been determined that Sue will be staying here with us in Florida for a few weeks. She has arterial blockages, and will be having a triple bypass early next week. That's the bad news, but the good news is that it was caught in time before anything very bad had happened. After the surgery in Florida Hospital Orlando, she'll be staying with us until strong enough to fly home.
And....it's still raining! Thursday, Friday, today....I know, it could be snow and cold, but still, its awfully dismal!
So, to wrap things up: it was wonderful to spend a couple of weeks with our family, we had some nice days, we had good food and good times. Trials and tribulations, but nothing that can't be worked through. Prayers for a successful surgery and speedy recovery will be most appreciated. Yes, we are making plans for next year's get together, you can never keep a good family down for long :-)!