Saturday, February 26, 2022

Day 3, 4 - Clermont, FL - TT

Friday (3) - After a Disney crowd yesterday, today will be quiet and probably too hot. At 11am, it’s already 79°F and sunny. The picture is just one more of the figures for the upcoming festival. 

The Friday food truck was here at the park and the owners recognized me from the last time we were here. And they remembered that I regularly ordered hot chai tea. They made a fresh pot for me and gave me a homemade coconut cookie to go with it. And didn’t charge anything!

The pool was relatively empty in the morning so I went in for a while to cool off. Afterwards, I went ahead and joined the first test session as my Internet seemed to be somewhat stable. By that time, it was already too warm to sit outside for the session. Even with both A/C units running, it was still a bit warm and muggy inside.

Saturday (4) - Led one of the early test sessions today before going for a walk around the park. On my way back, I noticed the blood donation busses were in the parking lot. I used to donate blood all the time but the cancer bit shut that down for a while. But no problem now as it’s been over five years. 

Around noon, I made up the Spam musubi. I had picked up the Spam over a month ago and had ordered the plastic mold on Amazon at least three weeks ago. I finally got around to it. The plastic mold made it really simple and fast.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Day 2 - Epcot

Thursday (2) - I thought that a middle of the week would be a less busy day at Epcot. It still seems a bit crowded. I rode on a couple of rides already and it is barely mid-afternoon. The Mission Space (lightweight version) was only a ten minute line. The single-rider line for Test Track was a bit longer but much less than the 70 min standby line. 

I then proceeded to pick up maple popcorn at the Canada before wandering to the International Entrance (Exit). Here, I hopped onto the Skyliner to the Riviera Hotel. No waiting at all for this “ride” in either direction. Plenty of covered seating at the hotel as it’s 82°F and very sunny. 

The wait for the Fiesta Grand Tour ride was relatively short and it was air conditioned. Whenever there is a light breeze, the temperature is ideal. Otherwise, it’s pretty hot in the sun. 

The crowds really are lower than some of the other times we’ve been here. The picture is just a random shot from where I’m sitting right now. You can actually walk around without needing to dodge all of the powered scooters and strollers. And, it’s possible to find shaded seating. I forgot to pack some ibuprofen so I stopped at first aid. Free ibuprofen and a chilled water dispenser to refill my water bottle. The ibuprofen is needed since I forgot to change to real shoes. I’m still wearing my sandals which don’t have much arch support. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Day 1 - Florida - TT

I guess we’re legit now that I have the license plate on the Jeep. I also brought back an oval “AK” sticker and put it on the Jeep. I had arrived at the hotel around 1:40am and headed back to the RV park around 10am. So I missed out on the free breakfast at the hotel. 

I opened up the front of the top on my way back this morning and the dog kept looking up. I think was wondering if it was a problem.

This afternoon, I joined into the first test session while sitting outside under the awning and it worked well enough. The Wi-Fi signal is lower so there are some audio drops. I’ll hop onto the afternoon session in about 45 min. The pool was really nice this afternoon. The small pool is now heated again and was nice and relaxing. 

When I got off the plane in Orlando, it felt incredibly warm and humid. It still feels that way. Tomorrow is supposed to be about the same. I went ahead and picked up an Epcot reservation for tomorrow and plan on going in the morning before it get really hot. No plans or reservations within Epcot. Just plan on wandering around and picking up some more popcorn from the Canada section. The maple popcorn is delicious. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Day 0 - Long Travel Day

Tuesday - Since I was still in Alaska this morning (after midnight), I’ll start counting days tomorrow. I arrived at the Seattle airport a bit after 5am. My next flight is around 3:30pm so it’s a really long layover. Alaska Airlines has a nice lounge in the north terminal and if you are waiting for another Alaska flight, you can use the lounge for a fee. If you pay the fee with the Alaska Air credit card, you get half off or $25. The food and drinks are provided and I could spend that much on food during the layover. Plus, it’s quiet, comfortable and fast Internet. 

I am not looking forward to the next flight. On the bright side, it’s west to east. The same as the prevailing wind. I’ve been sitting here for eight hours watching the planes land and take off. The majority of the planes seem to be Alaska Airlines with an occasional United and a very rare Delta.  The scheduled arrival is midnight. 

I joined the morning test session as the Internet was fast and there really wasn’t much else to do. 3ms ping with 171Mb/s down and 200Mb/s up in the middle of the day! With almost everyone around me watching videos.

Yesterday evening, I received an email from AT&T letting me know that my iPhone was no longer going to be supported for data after April 1st. Oh joy, another unexpected expense. I thought it might be a phishing email so I went to the AT&T store and asked. They said that the message really was from AT&T and they were baffled as to what was going on. It only applied to the pay-as-you-go plans offered by them and a lot of third party providers using the AT&T network. If you had a regular contract, then no problem. So now I have another phone. The cheapest, current model iPhone.  A mini with half the storage of my old phone. At least Face ID works. I used the store network to transfer the contents from iCloud including installing all of the apps. The whole process didn’t complete until I was on the Alaska Air boardroom Wi-Fi. The phone does have 5G but my pay-as-you-go plan doesn’t allow access. 

Monday, February 21, 2022

Day 0 - Fairbanks, AK

Monday - Today was errands. Had my yearly eye examination. Required since I am type 2 diabetic. No change (which is good) and the optometrist gave me copies of my prescriptions in case I wanted to get them filled elsewhere. 

The commercial DMV provider, UMV, was open today and I was able to get plates for the Jeep with a “P” tag. Permanent and no charge since I’m 65 or older. How can anyone complain about that. They were out of the “stealthy” plates which are black letters on a green aurora background. It’s hard to read. So, I got a bear plate which has a standing grizzly in the middle of the plate. This is my favorite style anyway and is the same as the RV, Prius, and the Ural. All with permanent registrations. No renewals or inspections. 

I then stopped at the university to see if anyone from benefits was in the building today. They weren’t but they did call me back on the phone. 

The next stop was Costco to look for a new suitcase to replace my old green one which is about ten years old. And, since I have some room, I picked up some Costco food items such as dried mushrooms, dried apricots, some of my favorite trail mix, ramen, and even a home Covid test kit. The tests were occasionally kind of hard to find in FL but sitting on the shelf in Fairbanks. 

I had lunch with a former colleague at Lulu’s, a local bagel shop. It used to be closed on Monday but not today. Good sandwiches as they bake their own bread in addition to the bagels. 

The car got run through the car wash as it had warmed up to 24°F by late afternoon. It really needed it. 

The next stop was Hungry Robot Pizza. There have been quite a few posts on fb as he was working on his Detroit style pizza. I had never heard of “Detroit style” pizza so I wanted to try it out. I also picked up one of their T-shirts. It was alright but had a thick crust and a lot of cheese. So not a favorite for me. But, now I know what a Detroit style pizza is.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Day 0 - Fairbanks, AK

It is a long flight from Orlando to Fairbanks. Note, present tense as I’m still on the trip. The five hour layover in Anchorage was especially unpleasant as I arrived ~2am and the last leg to Fairbanks is at 7am. it was a good opportunity to catch up on some podcasts and I did end up watching the movie Gravity. Which is, unfortunately, hitting kind of close to reality. It deals with space junk destroying multiple space craft, satellites, and space stations. 

This is sunrise from the window of the Alaska Air flight as we started the decent into Fairbanks. These peaks are to the east and are some of the higher peaks of the Alaska Range. 

This young moose was hanging out on the subdivision road and kept turning around to see if the Prius was a threat. 

Time to get ready for tomorrow’s errands. One appointment and, hopefully, the dmv-like business is open so I can get plates for the Jeep. I had two other stops plans but those were thwarted by tomorrow being a holiday. I didn’t know it was a holiday until 3am…

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Day 89 - Clermont, FL

Today there was a YouTube meetup at Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards in Clermont, FL. There was something like ten RV channels represented and I have only been following a couple of them. 

This is one of the newer channels @Liz Amazing and I enjoy their open and honest description of their full-time adventure. 

This is @LivinRVision with Michelle and Brian. We had met them last year at Harlingen just after the big freeze. They started in a class A DP and have downsized to a large Airstream which is now for sale. What’s next?

We originally met Mike and Bernie in Benson last year and talked to them often while we were there as they frequented the hot tub about the same time as I did. I didn’t know that they had a YouTube channel. @ Chasenourdreams

This is Tom of @Enjoy the Journey.Net. His wife Cherie wasn’t feeling well. I had met them a few days ago at the RV park when they first arrived. He is the organizer of this meetup. The venue selected was perfect. Plenty of room, sunny day, and outdoors.

We “know” this couple as @Nursing Our Travel Bug as the moderators on several livestreams that we join periodically. Natasha is a travel nurse (the reason for the name) and Bill. 

There were many others. 
BrazenBrits, LivinRVision, EnjoyTheJourney.Life, FIVE2GO, Switch It Up, Liz Amazing, Gander Flight / The RV Entrepreneur Podcast, Nuttin Adventured Nuttin Gained, Traveling Down The Bannisters, Fearless RV Living, Chasenourdreams, DownTheRoadWeGo, Our Epic RV Adventure, Nursing Our Travel Bug, RVenture Awaits, My Bucket List Day & The Ramblin Reardon.

Right now, I’m sitting in the Orlando airport waiting for my flight back to Fairbanks. Here to Seattle to Anchorage to Fairbanks. Arriving tomorrow morning. Ugh.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Day 87, 88 - TTO - TT

Thursday (87)
 - "TTO" is the commonly used abbreviation for Orlando Thousand Trails RV Park. Today, Bridget is off with her friends before dropping them at the airport this afternoon for their flight home. Of the three, one is her friend from high school, one was a work colleague of hers, and the third is an exchange student from Belgium. It was interesting to hear her comparison between the Magic Kingdom and Euro Disney in Paris. 

I plan on doing both test sessions but also dinking around with the RV. Right now, I'm running each solar panel on its own to measure the output. Periodically, I'll switch to the next panel. It just seems odd to me that no matter how sunny the day is, the system seems to top out at around 370watts. From the graph, you can see that the panels are roughly equivalent. Panel 2 was dirtier than the others from tree sap. After I reconnected all of the panels, I scraped the sap off of all of them and washed off most of the dirt.

Friday (88)
 - It's already been 88 days since I was last back home. I'll be flying out tomorrow evening for the eleven-hour (actual time in the air) flight back. I arrive in Fairbanks about 18 hours later. Florida is a long way from AK.

I signed up for the earlier test session. The later session is more problematic if I'm making dinner as it starts around 5pm and has run as late as 6:15 but that's unusual. 

It's just after noon now and there is the usual stream of RVs arriving and being led to their sites by golf carts. No one is allowed to check-in before noon at this park. If you arrive even one minute early, you are turned away. So the stores with large parking lots down the road usually have a bunch of RVs waiting. The picture is from when we arrived last week.

The last picture I thought was kind of interesting. I'm sure that most are familiar with the "pano" feature of phones where you slowly turn to the right and the picture builds on the phone. This princess float was long and moving from right to left. I set the phone on pano and started it while holding the phone still while the float moved. There are quite a few artifacts but I thought that it was kind of interesting.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Day 86 - Magic Kingdom

Wednesday (86) - We met up with a several friends of Bridget’s from back in high school in the Magic Kingdom. This is a benefit of the annual pass. We can go into any of the parks without any plan or expectations. 

Now, I’m waiting on  Main Street and another cavalcade went by. A lot of people for a short time then things quiet down again. I don’t think it’s as crowded as last week. 

Today gourmet snack was corn dog nuggets with cheese from Casey’s Corner. I didn’t order the fries but they came automatically with something. 

We are having dinner at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. According to Disney Food Blog, it’s generic Italian. I had the spaghetti with plant based meatballs. It was good but not spectacular. 

After dinner, we went on a couple of rides (Haunted Mansion and Peter Pan) then looked for a spot to watch the fireworks. This spot looked good. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Day 85 - Cirque Du Soleil

Tuesday (85)
 - Another cool night. The heat pump is getting a lot of exercise. My prescriptions were available for pickup at Walgreens which is about 1¼ mile walk from the RV so that seemed like a good excuse for a little exercise. I don’t know why I feel a need to have a reason to walk but something in me does. I seem to have a problem with just walking without going somewhere. 
After the early test session, we headed to Disney Springs for dinner and a show. We also went to Gideon’s Bakehouse for one of their half-pound cookies and a slice of cake. (For dessert later).

This is their cake selection. I picked a slice of the Eternal Flame cake (the one with the red icing!)

Right now, we are waiting for the Cirque Du Soleil show. No photos allowed during the show but here is the stage before the show started. It was a wonderful performance. I’ve wanted to see one of their shows since the late 80s. Very little dialogue, a lot of acrobatics, and a story line. A modern circus and more.

Here is the slice of cake. I had about a third of it for dessert after we got back from Disney Springs. Very chocolate-y. Maybe, over the top chocolate. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

Day 83, 84 - Clermont, FL - TT

Sunday (83) - The weather app on the phone says that we are in Clermont, FL. Actually, we are at the Orlando Thousand Trails again for the next couple of weeks. We were here back in December in an older area of the park. This time we opted for the new section with concrete pads. A little bit flatter but still needed blocks under the front tires and leveling jacks. 

Monday (84)
 - A clear, colder morning today. Something like 44°F in the early morning hours. It warmed up to 61°F by mid-afternoon which was fine for sitting around the pool. Our site is pretty close to the pool area which could be nice. Especially later in the week when it’s supposed to be in the upper 80s. 

Tried a test session today but the Internet (AT&T) is kind of poor. It works for YouTube when set for low resolution video. But Zoom is like 1fps. Here is one of the videos that were taken at WDW. 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Day 82 - More Disney

Saturday (82) - We used early admission at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and got in the standby line at Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The ride broke down right before boarding. They gave us a one-time Lightning Pass to return and skip the line. That was fair. It was one of the new trackless rides like Rise of the Resistance and Ratatouille. It was cute.

We then just walked around and ended up on a Cars ride. Basically a movie with a large animatronic car. Had “brunch” at Woody’s Lunchbox. (Tater tot nachos) We then headed to the Indiana Jones stunt show. 

Next show was a Beauty and the Beast live on stage show. An excellent way to be seated in the shade for half an hour or so. Plus, they are decent shows. I’m not really into the rides. Must be getting old…

In another section, they had a lot of Star Wars models and props from the movies. This is beyond the whole Star Wars section of the park. There was more to the day but this is enough for this post…

Friday, February 11, 2022

Day 81 - Epcot

We are back at Epcot with family visiting. It is really quiet and uncrowned this morning. We arrived before opening and walked around for a bit. 

We ended up in the France section of the World Showcase but the new Ratatouille ride was temporarily down. We went to another movie-style attraction featuring Beauty and the Beast. When we got out, I was almost run over from the stampede heading to the new ride as it was running again. We headed the opposite direction. 

I tried the chorizo empanada. This was one of the highlighted dishes as part of the Festival of the Arts going right now. It was pretty tasty but not as spicy as it could have been.

Another in our group tried the sushi donut in the Japan section. He said that it was alright but not standout. We had lunch at Seasons, a food court location near Living With the Land and Soarin’. I had the jackfruit gyro. I’ve never heard of jackfruit before but the sandwich was good. Mickey was hanging out in the area.

I picked up my popcorn bucket refill in the Canadian section. Maple popcorn. The re-fillable popcorn bucket is a bargain. At least a bargain by Disney standards. Mary Poppins was hanging around the area properly social distancing courtesy of some vegetation. 

Over 10k steps and it’s barely early afternoon. Right now I’m sitting under an umbrella waiting for a Canadian singing group, Alberta Bound. 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Day 80 - Magic Kingdom

Thursday (80) - We entered the Magic Kingdom around 9:30 or so. It wasn’t as crowded as it was last time. We headed for Space Mountain as the Disney Genie app said that was about a 50min wait. It was about 45min so it was pretty close. 

After Space Mountain, we went into the Carousel of Progress which was one of the very early uses of animatronic characters showing the advancement of technology over the years. It was good for a twenty minute rest. 

We went on a couple more short wait rides such as As 4D animated show and the riverboat. The next picture is the haunted mansion from the upper deck of the riverboat. 
We had another sit-down meal at Liberty Tree Tavern. It was another fixed menu (all-you-can-eat for a fixed price) restaurant. This time it was Thanksgiving-like. Too much food…

We had taken a boat from Fort Wilderness this morning and returned by boat. A slower but much more relaxing way to get to the Magic Kingdom.