Post Disney

I know, I know, I’m a HORRIBLE blogger.  We didn’t take pictures at Disney.  We didn’t post any “during the experience” information.  We simply had a wonderful time visiting the four parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios) plus the “Downtown Disney” shopping extravaganza.  We rode bikes, busses, trains, and boats to get around almost 50 square miles of Disney property.  Did you know there’s an actual gated community of HOMES that people buy so they can LIVE in Disney?!?!?  It makes The Villages look natural!  Yes, the rides and shows were fun, but you can read about them on someone else’s blog.

I was really impressed with the “small” details.  There were NO LINES at any ladies’ room I used.  And I could always find one when I wanted one, within just a few steps.  Now THAT’s important!  We didn’t see a single piece of litter the whole week.  Well, except for that bloody tissue at the foot of the escalator in the Contemporary Resort one evening around 9pm . . . but I’m sure there was a perfectly reasonable bit of drama behind THAT.  Every staff member (or in Disney-speak “cast member”) was cheerful, helpful, and sincere.  Most we spoke with admitted they even came to the parks on their days off to shop, meet friends at restaurants, and see shows . . . just like a “real” city!  Well, except for the cranky old man at the 1st gate into Fort Wilderness who acted like we were potentially illegal immigrants to his domain . . .  was I SUPPOSED to know exactly how the check-in procedure worked before I’d ever done it?  It was fascinating to see the engineering involved in moving thousands of people in tightly planned ways without them noticing.  The place is mind boggling!

There was one incident at the campground where a guest checking out with his 38′ motorcoach cut the corner of his site too close.  His site was one of those with a 55-gallon trash can near the front.  There was a can every 3 or 4 sites for the convenience of guests, and they were partially buried to prevent being moved by wind or people — or 38′ motorcoaches.  The can did NOT move, but it was caved-in and badly scratched .  We saw this as we left our site for breakfast around 8:30am.  By the time we got back from breakfast around 10am, a brand new trash can was in place and no evidence remained of the damage.  Scary efficient!

So, we’re back at our winter home base, ready for family holiday visits, and working part-time at the local flea market for cigar money.  We hope you and yours will have a lovely holiday and leave you with our single Disney photo.  That’s Donald (according to Disney the original angry bird) and it cost us $14.95 to buy the JPEG (can’t you just hear Donald spluttering!?!?)

Disney Holiday 2013

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OMG DISNEY!!!

We’re at the Fort Wilderness Campground at Disney for a week.  This is a big step for Everett & I as we 1) don’t like kids, 2) don’t like to be in crowds of people, 3) are not fond of using public transportation (i.e. not being in control of the ride), and 4) aren’t really “Disney People”.  We define “Disney People” as those who decorate their RVs with Disney lights, signs, and mouse ears.  Every T-shirt they own is Disney licensed.  These are the folks who start wearing their Disney Santa Hats with mouse ears on December 1st.  There are a LOT of those people here.  You should see the Christmas lights!!!  (no, we didn’t get any pictures last night, but we will, we will)

So . . . we will struggle to stay on our Fast Pass schedule and not snipe at the parents of crying children.  Or barking dogs – during Tyler’s dog walk last night one lady shouted over the hysterical yapping of her Tibetan Spaniel that “he doesn’t like other dogs, but he’s lovely with just people.”  Who could tell?

Everett promises not to be crabby about the sounds of fireworks from 3 different parks after 9pm.  I promise not to give parenting advice to anyone, regardless of how they’re struggling.  We both promise to make an effort to have a good time.  I booked this trip and I’m GOING to have FUN.  Can you tell I’m up too early?  Our breakfast reservations are for 8am.  Ugh.  I’m sure it will be an incredible, enchanted, happy, happy day!  But I’ll keep you posted.

The Art of Public Peeing

Public Bathroom StandardOne of the reasons given by many motorhome owners for being motorhome owners is the ability to pee in private even on the road.  Taking your own bathroom with you is, indeed, one of the reasons we wanted to RV.  Your own bathroom, your own bedroom, your own kitchen – just a different backyard whenever you like.  Great!  But popping back for a pee while doing 70 on a 4-lane highway surrounded by 18-wheeled tractor trailers just doesn’t appeal to me.  Especially when every state I’ve been in so far has been kind enough to provide many rest areas with perfectly stationary facilities.  This is one reason we tow a 5th wheel instead of driving a motorhome.

There are (or certainly should be) certain rules for peeing in public.  I recently posted “Men’s Room Mayhem – Number Two” (a re-blog from “Flying Here in the Middle of Somewhere”) and promised a follow up regarding us ladies.  Here ’tis:

The number one rule for number one on the road is DON’T WAIT TOO LONG!  Regardless of how many miles or hours your dear driver wishes to complete before day’s end, you must take a pee break while you still have the time to get out of the truck, walk to the restroom, and get those knickers down before the urge becomes the purge.  You can compromise with your dear driver by minimizing the amount of coffee, juice, water, etc. you consume on travel days.

Secondly, always CHECK THAT THERE’S A GOOD SUPPLY OF T.P. before taking a seat!  There are few things as awful as being stuck in a stall waiting for another lady to enter so you can beg her to pass some paper under the door.  Some of you may say, “well this one’s easy as I must line said seat WITH T.P. before going further,” but I’m afraid the rest of us must remember to check.  Just to be safe, I try to always carry one of those tissue purse packs you can find in any grocery store (note to Santa: they make great stocking stuffers!).

Kleenex Purse PacksThird – and this is an important one that greatly affects the rest of us – TAKE A SEAT!  I’ve seen the results of you one-leg-leaners and hoverers, so afraid of potential germs that you will not commit your skin to the plastic rim.  If you cannot overcome your fears or  take the time to become a seat liner (see paragraph above), at least have the decency to clean up your own splashes, drops, and puddles before you leave.

Next is NOISE.  Thou shalt minimize noise.  I realize many of you have never been to a public bathroom without a posse of your girlfriends, but that only works for restaurants and bars.  In travel rest stops we are each alone with our bladders and our thoughts.  This is not a place for conversation (which is part of why the T.P.-supply-begging situation noted in Rule 2 is so awful!).  Getting in, done, and out quickly and quietly is expected.

Lastly is LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAVE!  Be sure the flush completed its job, that your seat liners have been fully cleared, and the little corners of T.P. that ripped off before you could get a good, long, strip, have been flushed or put in the trash.  Have you zipped up?  Checked for a T.P. “tail”?  Gathered your purse, sunglasses, keys, and anything else you brought in with you?  Don’t forget to wash your hands.  Okay, now you may leave.

Fall Projects 3

It isn’t just people preparing for winter as the seasons change.  We’ve apparently got a black bear at the campground – I haven’t actually seen him, just the footprints in mud, claw marks on trees, and evidence of his forays into the dumpsters (i.e. trash bags strewn around and emptied of anything edible).  The night security man says he’s had to use his car horn and headlights to drive the bear away from the campsites and that the thing’s a menace.  But I ask you, if you were trying to get in a little last minute shopping to prepare for a long trip (like hibernation), wouldn’t you get a little irritated by store personnel trying to push you away from the best bargains?  And it’s not like there are a lot of campers at the moment – who wants to be in a tent when it gets down to 40 at night . . . and there’s a black bear wandering around looking for protein?

Everett and I are finalizing our plans for the 2013 snowbird trek to Florida.  We expect our workamping gig to be over shortly after Columbus Day and have mapped out our 1st day’s travel south to end in one of the few (very few) campgrounds in Connecticut.  We’ve agreed to not travel more than 5 or 6 hours on any day, thus decreasing our chances of death by spousal assault or tired-driver-syndrome.  Our goal is to spend a few late October days in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with a guided tour of Civil War sites and monuments.  It’s something neither of us has ever done and we feel drawn to do so.

Our next “real” stop (not counting the overnight stays every 250+/- miles) will be at Lazydays RV in Tampa, Florida, where we have an appointment November 4th for a general overhaul of our 6-year old 5th Wheel.  We’ve got a list of things we’d like them to check out and hopefully settle a minor difference of opinion between me and Everett.  I think we bought a used beauty of an RV with tons of life left in her and all she needs is the mechanical equivalent of a mani-pedi to feel fresh and ready to tackle the next 5 years.  Everett says no amount of make-up is going to turn an old sow into something you’d take to the prom.  I suspect he’s already shopping for another RV and, by extension, probably looking for an updated Ethel as well.  There should be lots of them in Florida.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

We have a winter rental agreement with the nice folks at the central Florida park where we spent last March & April, and will use that as a home base this year.  I’m especially looking forward to riding our fold-away bikes on the trails there and to spending Thanksgiving with Everett’s aunt & uncle who live nearby.

Our biggest plan is for Disney World in early December.  We’ll camp at Fort Wilderness and put Tyler Dog into Disney’s Doggie Daycare and act like kids every day for a week.  With luck, this may rekindle some sparks and lessen my concerns regarding the potential updating noted above.  Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if I were to get my own mani-pedi overhaul in the meantime . . .

Labor Day Weekend

“Welcome to camp, how can I help you?”

“We’re checking in for Labor Day Weekend.  Last name is Thompson.”

“Um . . . I don’t see a reservation under that name.”

“Well that’s ridiculous, I have my confirmation email right here.  I printed it out to be sure I had the right address for my GPS.”

“Ma’am, I’m sorry, but that email is dated July, 2012 – last year.  Our computer does show you were here last year, but there’s no current reservation.”

“Well where am I SUPPOSED to be?”

You know, I felt bad for her.  She’d worked all week, pulled her family together, packed the tent, and driven 3 hours to spend 3 days camping – but had no idea what campground she’d booked.  We were full, not a single site that I could put her on.  There are at least 10 other campgrounds within 15 miles and the best I could do was give her a list of phone numbers to call.  You’ve got to respect her attitude though.  She laughed and said it was all part of the adventure!

Labor Day Weekend is the riotous end to vacation season in New England.  It’s still summer time during the day with temps in the 80’s, but nights are starting to feel like autumn with temps falling into the mid- to low-40’s.  Plants have stopped growing and fruit is ripening for harvest.  The city folk are making their last forays into the country before kids go back to school and 4th quarter quotas demand attention.  It’s some interesting to see what people will do to squeeze the last bit out of the warm season.  As noted, every single one of 300+ campsites are rented.  The forest is full of tenters and trailers and pop-ups and motor homes.  The riverfront beach and the pool are both crowded with bikini-clad teens and some older women who should know better than to wear those things.  The boys are showing off for the girls, and the men are back at their sites drinking beer with their buddies and keeping the campfires burning from 9am to midnight.  The little kids are careening around the camp roads on bikes, trikes, and power wheels.  People who’ve never been closer to nature than their community square park are kayaking down the Saco River at great risk to life and limb.  Couples in color-coordinated Old Navy outfits and flip flops are starting their hiking adventures by attempting to climb Mount Washington (and didn’t they think I was crazy for suggesting different footwear and a backpack with winter jackets?!?!).  Families are trying to cram a drive over the Kancamagus Scenic Driveway through the National Forest , a visit to Clark’s Bear Trading Post, and the Conway Railway dinner train, all into one day.

I have to agree with Mrs. Thompson – it’s part of the adventure.  And what a wonderful adventure it is to live life to the fullest!

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Do you smell POO?

When I went to our “closet” the other day, I got a whiff that distressed my nose.  First, let me define “closet” as used by RV manufacturers.  Just inside our front (and only) exterior door, is a shallow (6 inch deep) compartment with controls for our sliders, power awning, fantastic fan ventilation system, A/C, propane furnace, water heater, etc. at the top.  There are 2 coat hooks on the back wall below the controls, the bottom (which is at roughly hip height) serves as a shelf, and there’s a door that closes to keep it all out of view.  We use this closet to store our jackets, dog walking supplies (leash, collar, tennis balls, poo bags, water bottles, flashlight, etc.), and all those things that in a sticks-and-bricks house would be left in a pile on the kitchen counter near the door.  One never knows what one will find in the closet.

Being one who never quite trusts her own nose, I called Everett over to analyze the situation;  “Do you smell poo?”

“Oh crap,” he shouted (I don’t believe it was intentional word play, but it could have been), “Have we got a leak in the sewer system?!?!?!”  Everett, as I’m sure you recall, is one of those people who always leaps first to the most catastrophic explanation for any oddity.  I blame his mother for having frequently sung him to sleep with the lovely lullaby “When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.”

Many hours later, not having found any sewage leaks, and after having removed every last item from the closet and piling them on the picnic table outside, we could no longer smell the odor.  Ah ha!  Something that had been in the closet must be the culprit.  We went through everything, sniffing each item carefully.  The tube of tennis balls didn’t smell good (have you ever sniffed new tennis balls? ick), and the dog’s wet-foot towel went into the laundry, but these were not the odor we sought.  One by one, we eliminated items and put them back in the closet.  Finally we came to Everett’s dog-walking jacket.  The good one he’d gotten at the outlet store.  The one he thinks makes him look like he’s back in high school wearing a barracuda with the little stand-up collar.  The one with a poo bag in the pocket FULL OF DOG POO!  Now, how does a grown man who thinks he’s looking cool manage to put a bag of poo into his pocket instead of the trash while he’s out walking his fluffy little cocker spaniel – and completely forget that he’s done so?  I’ll leave that to your imagination as mine is simply not up to the task.

Do you smell POO?

Do you smell POO?

 

The Big Picture & The Small (REDUX)

Happy summer!  It’s been far too long since I wrote to you, my friend, but working at a campground means that July is VERY BUSY.  Everett and I have been working opposite shifts and barely even seeing each other.  The camp is full of folks with questions and problems and issues needing resolution, and the phone has been ringing off the hook with more reservations and . . . well, folks with questions and problems and issues needing resolution.  I was beginning to get into a downward spiral of frustration with the general idiocy of city folk coming to the country for 3 days.  Then I realized that I was missing The Big Picture.

As you know, I am generally a small picture sort of person.  I love the minutia, the details, the small peripheral moments that – for me – make life a rich tapestry.  But sometimes (like July in a campground) you have to step back from those to look at what’s happening OVERALL to appreciate the full fabric of this wonderful world.

For example – An irritable woman arrived at the front desk around 8:30pm one evening.  Her family was already in camp, but she’d had to work later than expected and drive alone from Boston to join them.  It was hot.  She was alone.  She was tired, but still cranked from her day of work and traffic and worry.  She snapped at our staff and tried to hurry us through our (admittedly tedious) procedure of issuing her gate pass.  She snatched it from my hand when it was ready and was out the door before I could explain how to use it.  No surprise then, that when she tried to go through the gate it wouldn’t open for her.  She honked her horn and screamed out her car window as  I walked the 50 feet or so to the gate to help her.  “It doesn’t work!” is about the only thing she said that I can repeat here.  I took the pass and scanned it for her and the gate readily popped open.  She took a deep breath and I was sure I was in for more screaming.  But that tired, tense, anxious and frustrated woman simply took another deep breath and said, “Oh.  I moved too fast – it has to be done in CAMP TIME.”

I hope the rest of her stay with us was in camp time, and that she can dip into that pool of peace when she needs it back home.  I hope that all our visitors can take their big picture lessons from camp time back to their “real” lives.  And I hope that I retain MY big picture lesson to help folks get through the tough moments and the ignorance and negativity that makes lives harder – I need to be on camp time too.