Beryl Staves’ Journey Page 2

Continued from Page 1 – Beryl Staves’ Journey

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wow….can’t believe I have been on the road 2 weeks already !!
Today was day 2 at the Magic Kingdom. I needed to finish up seeing some of their attractions. And I appear to have become an unofficial Disney ambassador – I was doling out advice to all sorts of other 1st time visitors.

Loved the Haunted House – at the end of the ride, the ghost who joined me in my car also switched our heads, that was fun !!  – so I immediately went through a 2nd time to see what the next ghost would do. He was not as creative, but these ghosts definitely had more tricks than their California counterparts !!  Also, the hidden mickey plates on the banquet table were at a different place setting than in California !! (that’s for F & L)

I went on several more attractions eventually getting to the Carousel of Progress, a presentation Disney created for the 1964 New York Worlds Fair. Would love to tell you all about it but I used the time to have a power nap !!  Later in the afternoon, I got a great tip from a Disney staff member – the Hall of Presidents presentation is 25 minutes long, and a person can get in a really good nap there !!!

I managed to get through all sorts of attractions during the rest of the day, and a couple of times I waited for 50 to 55 minutes to enjoy the 5 minute ride !!  Really !!!  At 7pm, I was in position to see the “Main Street Electrical Parade”.  Once again, Disney rolled out all the goods !!  I’ve only ever seen bits and pieces of it on TV, and to see it in person was quite lovely !!  Of course, then came the battle to get through the throngs of folks who were now getting into position for the night’s fireworks display. I chose to get the hell out of there, and watch them from closer to the parking lot…..I got the music and narration without the crowds. That tip is only being shared with you guys !!

Yesterday, Sunday, I was at the Disney Hollywood Studios. I enjoyed it – took the backstage tour and got to see how action scenes are put together in a movie.

Went through a museum-like exhibit recounting Walt Disney’s life, that concluded with a short film – loved seeing all those Oscars on display !!

I took an animation class, and learned how to draw Tigger. Last winter in California I learned how to draw Grumpy. It’s always great using another section of the brain !

Went to the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – just like it sounds – with Harrison Ford’s stunt double the star of the show !!
Went to the Lights Motors Action Extreme Stunt Show – which showcased a bunch of stunt car drivers burning rubber, and pulling tight turns. Didn’t really learn much new there.
Overall, it was a neat park – but don’t need to return to it.

I am in wind-down mode for Orlando, as I have to be in Mesa for American Thanksgiving. I’m responsible for table decorations, rolls and cranberry sauce for 16 folks. Doubt the sauce will get made from scratch this year.

Tomorrow I will be going back to the Animal Kingdom, and Wednesday I have a dance class.

Do you really want to hear my watch has left a tan line? Lovely !!!
PS – Thanks for your comments….Beryl

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This is a continuation of my impressions of WDWR –

The Magic Kingdom – a prop maker’s dream  !!!  I always thought I would like to work in their costume department, but the props are fighting for first place!!  Disney doesn’t miss a trick when it comes to making sure you know you are in Adventureland or Frontierland or whereever. And then I came across cast members in their “Christmas outfits”.  Amazing !!!

To add to all these visuals – little girls wearing princess dresses (so cute) and little boys dressed up like pirates, Buzz Lightyear, and Woody the cowboy (so cute) !!

And then there were the parades – with the most amazing floats – even I had to check for jaw drops !!  And just as night fell, Cinderella’s castle was lit up in dark blue lights, then more lights making it look like it was covered in icicles !!!  Holy crap !!  Seriously wonderful. Even my imagination didn’t reach to that one !!

The park was packed, being an American holiday, so wait times for some of the attractions were an hour long. I commend all those little people who managed it. I just kept walking until I would see a wait time of 10 minutes, and managed to get on all sorts of rides – TEACUPS !!!!! It’s a Small World (not as nice as California) Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, riding the Disney train around the park, Country Bear Jamboree (uber-hoky but it had to be done !!) And then I caught a couple of stage presentations at Cinderella’s castle – more luck than planning.

Out of the park, stopped into one of those souvenir shops – and I’m glad I have grey hair already because it was a tad freaky seeing a table of alligator/croc heads with their jaws open. Really?  What kind of coffee table decor is that?? Quickly walked to another part of the store – something tame like fridge magnets and personalized mugs !!!

Saturday,  November 12
BEST DAY EVER !!!

The Animal Kingdom – is going to be my new favourite place!!

As soon as I got into the park, I headed for the Kilimanjaro Safari in Africa. You sit in these vehicles that are probably not unlike a real African safari vehicle, and off you go to see lions, rhino, giraffes, and all sorts of animals. I also saw lots of vultures, which surprised me but it works for them! I forgot to charge my camera last night, so it quit part-way through the ride. Guess I’ll just have to come back and do it again !

In the park are several walking tours, where one can see all sorts of animals. One of my favs was the marabou stork – 5 feet tall with a wing span of 12 feet – it looked like a stork on steroids !!

The park isn’t all seriousness; they have a Festival of the Lion King, which is a cross between Cirque du Soleil and live theatre. There is the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade with a Christmas safari theme ( only Disney could think of this and pull it off). And I got some up close and personal time with one of my childhood heroes – Jiminy Cricket !!  Sweet !!!

Story – walking to the gorilla enclosures, and I am wondering if I will see anyone I used to date. Just then a guy walking behind me starts making gorilla sounds.  I didn’t stop – ” Nice, and I was just wondering if I would recognize anyone I used to date”!  Well, his wife and I liked it !!

Story – first some background info so you get the visual – when I worked in the Pen, the inmates would try to gross out female officers by laying on their cots in the Bert Reynolds Playgirl pose when they knew we would be walking by.  Back to the batchelor gorillas – and didn’t one of them flop down on the ground in front of me in this same sort of pose! I couldn’t believe it !!!  It wasn’t his best look !!!

Story – today’s tee shirt had 3 rows of moose and the word Camooseflage on it. I wasn’t going to let that go by ! Eventually one of the park staff made a comment to me whereby I could come back with “You can see me?” She got it right away and was quite entertained. Once again, my work was done !!!

Had to have my face painted – I put it off yesterday, but life is too short not to have that kind of fun !!  I went for the Tinkerbell look, and pulled it off – partly because I DO have those proverbail brass balls !!  John and Mike, bar staff at Uno’s thought so too. Can you say free martini?

Also at Uno’s met a couple from Leeds who are over here on vacation visiting the Universal theme park. I’m 2nd generation Brit from Leeds, and was just there last summer, so we had a brilliant time together. Three hours later called it a night…

And I’ll call it a night here too……must encourage any of you who have not visited Florida to give it a try.

Epcot at Disney World. Photo from Wikipedia

Thursday, November 10

Woo Hoo  I am no longer a Walt Disney World virgin !!!
Yesterday was Epcot – it was impressive to see that big silver ball up close and personal.

Later in the day when all the crowds were elsewhere, I was busy asking a staff person about the “dangers” of the Spaceship Earth attraction – and there was another guy trying to ask the same questions at the same time. (What are the odds?) I noticed he was also wearing a 1st Visit button, and he was on his own, so I told him we should try the ride together  and be each other’s support group! That sounds a bit crazy – but workable.  Turned out Norman is from New Brunswick, and the reason he was there on his own was his wife dropped him off at the gate ( she had been there before and went shopping) and told him to have a magical day !!  Anyway, we went on the ride, and lived !!
Almost the next best place – a bunch of computer games designed to test reflexes, memory, etc.  This was the area that confirmed I am indeed a teenage boy !!  Nailed a computer game where you had to drive in a limited time. Got to the end of it to realize I had an audience (that was a bit disconcerting because it was women of my age with their grandchildren, and the grandkids were waiting to play)

The World Showcase with all the country pavilions was pretty impressive. Had to visit Canada first, and my only complaint would be the film  was too short. I can look at Canadian scenery all day long !!  The Canadian staff members had created an extra sign explaining the importance of why we wear the poppy. They weren’t wearing poppies, but I suspect it’s because it isn’t part of the official uniform.
Epcot is presenting the International Food and Wine Festival, so there was lots of booze from around the world to sample. Nice !!

Other tidbits – had a churro for my buddy FF, found quite a few hidden Mickeys, walked my feet off, and had a blast. Got into great conversations with some of the other countries staff. One of the ladies from France and I carrried on about the beauty of the French countryside as opposed to Paris, and one of the fellows from Italy actually comes from the same region (Puglia) as Rudolph Valentino – what were the odds in that?

Orlando and Walt Disney are so alike in how they are perceived by others. I know that when most Canadians think of Ottawa, they think of the federal government, and the idea that there is a city of people who do not work for the fed govt does not exist. Here in Orlando, it’s all about Disney……but I’m working at taking the time to explore and learn about the folks who live here.
Next stop – Magic Kingdom – I hear Prince Charming lives there !!!!

Tuesday, November 8

Hey folks …..

Another long day, and but since it was filled with nothing but leisure, not a bad thing !!!

Sherry, one of the women I met last night, and another good friend  of hers, met for breakfast first thing this morning. It was at a super little local place that no tourist will ever find on their own – so I was sooo lucky !!

Then I headed back to St. Pete’s to visit the Holocaust Museum and the Dali Museum.

Once again I was on a long causeway – it was so long, there was a sign at the start of it warning drivers to check how much fuel they had.  Seeing that did not inspire me !!!

The Holocaust Museum was heart wrenching – a boxcar from Poland used to transport Nazi prisoners is the centerpiece of the permanent collection.   A 2nd floor had an amazing exhibit about the Jim Crow laws. There was even a robe worn by a Klu Klux Klansman. The KKK was first established after the Civil War by Confederate veterans to “protect the southern way of life”. They were disbanded in 1869, but in November 1915 came together again.  At the premiere of D W Griffith’s very famous film “Birth of a Nation”, the KKK paraded through the streets of Atlanta to celebrate the opening.

On to the Dali Museum – I love Dali – the guy was brilliant !!! There were a couple of paintings that reminded me of Magritte, but then again they were both in the Surrealist school. The folks who built the museum have incorporated Dali’s style into the exterior grounds instead of keeping it just to the interiors – and it was all a joy to behold and experience.

Haslam’s Book Store – the advertising said they had over 300,000 used and new books. I figured it had to be a great spot to find my missing volume on Vermont and the American Civil War – but no such luck.   In a way, I hated leaving the Tampa/St Petes area, but  headed east, and not all that far down the road I saw my first mile sign for Orlando.  It took my breath away.  Yeah I know – I should be an adult about this – but it isn’t going to happen !!!  It’s easier to point a finger at the bucket list than admit my 8 year old personality is emerging again !!!! I found a hotel near the park, and I’m ready to explore !!  I doubt that you guys really want to hear me go on (and on and on) about me and the Mouse, so you get a break for a few days !!  I am hoping to connect with the photographer I met in Savannah, and if there is a story there, I’ll email it out !!  Otherwise , I’ll leave this until I am ready to hit the road again….and explore a few more states I’ve never seen before !!

The weather is warming up, and tomorrow it is supposed to be 80 – it’s OK to hate me!!!!   LOL

Monday, November 7

Today – Sarasota FL –
I was at the Ringling Museum complex first thing, so I could see what I wanted then move on to museum #2.

Seven hours later, (and no break for coffee) I was still at the Ringling museum.
First up was a 2 hour tour of their winter home – 17 bathrooms, no expense spared when built, and sitting on prime waterfront property to die for !!!!!  The house also had a pipe organ with over 2000 pipes hidden in the walls behind Flemish tapestries, and the works in the basement.   Soooo amazing !!

I saw my first banyan trees – really cool !!

Next – went into the first of 2 circus museum buildings. One held an exhibit of circus posters, and the other had all sorts of circus wagons, the railway car the Ringlings used to travel with the circus, costumes, and an interactive section !!

Luckily for me, there were no children about, so I had all the stuff to myself…..tried walking on a high wire only 2 inches off the floor, and impossible……but I did better working out the trajectory for the human cannonball, fitting into the clown car, and putting on a clown face.

Actually it took me back to a kids party in Gunton, when I waltzed in my clown shoes – oh yes, Ginger Rogers never did that !!
Anyway, moved on to the art museum – John & Mable Ringling had been prolific collectors of Italian art from many years of travel to Venice. It was also terrific.

But, as short as I have made this story , I spent the whole day wandering around.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge, St. Petersburg. Photo from Wikipedia

The thing is – there is so much to see in this area, I am now going to stay longer before I move on to Orlando. Someone suggested I take the Sunshine Skyway to St Pete’s…..she forgot to mention it was a causeway, then an extremely high bridge, then more causeway!!  One of my most favoutire things to contend with !!!  But  I found my way to The Pier, had conch fritters and a very dry martini for dinner, and had a great chat with Stacy (wait staff) who has had her picture taken with the Grey Cup. She’s even visited different parts of Canada… something rare down here !!

I drove into Tampa and got into some more trouble…..but I’m meeting Sherry for breakfast tomorrow with one of her girlfriends.  I suspect she wants to pick my brain about travelling.

So that’s it from me – no more clowning around !!!!!  (couldn’t let that one pass) !!!  Tomorrow for museum #2.

Sunday, November 6

Good evening intrepid armchair travellers and bon vivants…..

Today was all about the Florida landscape. Jacksonville is right at the top of the state, and I located an alternate highway, that turned out to run right along the ocean, so drove it all the way to Daytona Beach.
At first the juxtaposition of long needle pine trees next to palm trees was a bit disconcerting, but they both disappeared and it was all about sand dunes.

I have fallen in love with the architecture of their beach houses – a lot had Spanish influence and red tiled roofs, some looked like Cape Cods on steroids, some were modern, and some were just boxes with multiple garages and porches.  The colours were right out of a crayon box and popped against the blue sky!! And they were all large !!!
Back in the Carolinas, I was told there were alligators in the ponds that seem to be everywhere, so I kept looking to see if there was one half out of the water, and making his way to someone’s yard!!
The other architectural effect that was most entertaining were the mailboxes – a lot were your basic Home Depot special, but then there were the clever ones lokking like lighthouses, pelicans, storks, marlins, geckos, etc.  But just to add to the individuality, some of the posts were actually manatees, dolphins, and seahorses standing on their tails to hold the box portion at the correct height.

When I arrived in St. Augustine, I actually felt intimidated by all the tours they were offering to tourists, and in all sorts of vehicles. So instead I got some advice from Richard at the visitor’s center, and did my own thing. St. Augustine is Florida’s oldest town, begun in the 1500’s, which is amazing considering Chris Columbus only crossed the Atlantic in 1492.  A man named Flagler did a lot for the town and is known for building a railroad from there to Key West. I also saw some references to Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth.  This created a conflict for me as I saw a number of older folks – so their story was either that they had yet to drink from the Fountain of Youth, or they had and the magic waters hadn’t worked !!!!  Ouch !!!

I stayed driving south on the alternate highway “A1A” until I got to Daytona Beach.  What a trip!!!  I paid $5.00 to drive on to the beach, and eventually off at another street about 3/4 mile down the way. But inbetween I parked and headed for the surf. Remember the Carolina Shag I learned a couple of nights ago? – well I wanted to see how well I could dance in the sand. Seagulls and sandpipers were dancing with me, so I suppose I did well enough !!

After Dayton Beach, I shifted over to I-95 and what a dreadful highway that was….no scenery and it even had traffic jams!!  But I wanted to move further along the coast – the Civil War things are mostly behind me, and other experiences in front !! In about a half hour I’ll be putting the dancing shoes on again, and after that driving on to Miami.  I’ll be on the lookout for David Caruso……

FYI – I have an editor (SS) and these musings are going on a web site. (note to editor – please take out this section when you transfer the info!!)  I can’t believe I just said that !!!   LOL

Signing off for now…..Beryl.

Day 8, Saturday, November 5

Wow – yesterday and today were both long ones!!

Last night’s studio also has a Dancing with the Stars connection – Len Goodman, one of the judges, is a regular visitor.

Once I left there and was on the highway to Miami, I was listening to a Miami radio station, and suddenly realized they were talking about a club they were doing DJ duties at – girls got in free, and got free drinks between 11 and midnight.  Come on down !!!

OK – so I haven’t been a girl for a few centuries, but I fit into the general demographic, so put the club address into my GPS, and off I went…..  It turned out to be a great club at the American Airlines center in downtown Miami. I had a glass of wine and danced with a boy – actually he wasn’t a boy – I’d give him late 20’s. So now, I’m hyped about being in the city, and headed over to the art deco district to check it out !!!   Very nice !!!

This morning steered for Key West (most southern point in the USA). It looked like it would be a 2 hour drive, except the speed limits change constantly between 35 up to 55, and the cops patrol diligently, so 3 hours later, I arrived. When I first departed Florida City, I wasn’t sure what I was heading into, as both sides of the highway were fenced with off with those tall barbed wire fences you see around a prison! And then there was the sign saying “crocodile crossing” – when all this time I had been looking for alligators !!!  Who knew??
The keys were interesting to drive through. With the slow speed limits, there was lots of opportunity to look around and notice all the boats for sale. Way more variety than I have seen back north. But if you don’t like boating, then there are dive shops, fishing and kayaking excursions.  There were also lots of marine life murals painted on whole buildings. These have been painted by an artist named Wyland. He is so amazing for the realism of the works. I first came across his stuff when I was involved with the Winnipeg Murals folks, so it was special to be able to see them in person.

Key West is a lively village, and they seem to love tourists. Most folks were really friendly and helpful.  It made me feel as if this is what it must have been like for the hippy culture of the 1960’s – everyone seriously laidback and easy going !!  The place also made me think of Las Vegas, a circus for adults, only condensed to narrower sidewalks and the buildings closer together for walking ease.

The town had lovely old architecture, and most of it has been there since the 1800’s.

The Ernest Hemingway house was great. I loved the 6-toed cats, and the tour guide had great stories about Hemingway’s life while in Key West. He lived there for 9 yrs during the 1930’s, with his 2nd wife and their 2 sons. This followed his living in Paris in the 20’s with wife #1 when it was a haven for American writers, and preceded livng in Cuba with wife #3. Apparently half of his published works were done while he lived in Key West – he would write from 6am until noon, fish all afternoon, then hit the bar in the evening, and still found time to have affairs, and be a manic-depressive.

This weekend is the annual Parrot-Head Convention. These folks bring new meaning to bureaucracy – they have chapters, and planned events, and accreditation, and tend to group at the original Jimmy Buffett store/bar on Duval Street.

The other big event held daily is watching the sun set. Now I’ve heard of this before, and what is the big deal? But the guy at the visitor center said I would want to get to the beach at 6 in order to get a place for the sun setting at 6:45.  By chance, I found a bar with an equally good view, and good margaritas. Yes, the sun did set, and folks actually filmed the sun setting. Once it was below the horizon, everyone applauded and cheered, then got back to life !!

Heminway House, Key West, Florida. Photo from Wikipedia

For the foodies in this group – I had some coleslaw with mandarin pieces (lovely) and a grilled mahi fish sandwich (lovely) while a couple of pullets and a hen ran around the patio. Turns out they are protected under local law, and you can see chickens, hens and roosters all over the place. I also bought some locally made hot sauce that does not have any peppers in it. I would like to describe the after burn, but think it is best left as an individual experience !!  I also tried shrimp and crab quesadillas – outstanding !!!

There was lots more – but I don’t want to test your reading patience………thanks ……Beryl