Friday, December 2, 2016

Disney Trip 2016 - Animal Kingdom & Hurricane Part 1!

It was a bit rainy as we got up to head to Animal Kingdom early. On the bus ride over, we heard that all the parks would be closing at 5 pm and would be closed all day on Friday because of the impending Hurricane.

While we were still on the bus, I canceled our dining reservations for Friday and managed to get a Crystal Palace reservation for Saturday morning. We were leaving on Saturday and I had planned on just checking out and driving home in the morning. But I didn't want to miss out on the last park ticket we had, so came up with a plan to spend the morning in the Magic Kingdom on Saturday, provided that it was open.

Even with the Hurricane coming, I was determined to have a good time while we were in Animal Kingdom. Thankfully for us, Animal Kingdom has always been a half day park especially since neither Emily nor I wanted to ride the roller coasters and Dinosaur was down for rehab.

We went straight to Kilimanjaro Safari which was excellent even in the rain. We still got to see lots of animals! After that, we went to see Festival of the Lion King which is thankfully indoors. It's a great show and we had really good seats!

After the show was done, we booked it to Finding Nemo: The Musical. We had fastpasses for that and we made it into the also indoor theater just before the show started. Neither Emily nor I had ever seen it before and it was so cool! The songs were great and the puppets were very unique! I think it's now an Animal Kingdom must do for both of us.

Emily wanted to go on TriceraTop Spin (which is basically Dumbo with dinosaurs) and then play some of the carnival games at Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama. She actually won
two of them and got some stuffed animals as prizes! She was really excited about that!

She played in the Boneyard for a little bit and then started on her Wilderness Explorers trek! There are different stations around Animal Kingdom where kids can do activities and earn badges. Emily thought this was a lot of fun.

While we were in Dinoland, the rain had stopped. But it looked as if it was going to start again anytime. We had a reservation at Yak and Yeti for dinner but both of us were hungry so we went to see if we could get seated several hours early. It wasn't very crowded and they honored our reservation.

We had a great table on the 2nd floor. We were able to see all the people out in the rain since the rain had picked up at that time. The food was very good and once our tummies were full we went back out into the rain for one last ride.

I had to convince Emily to ride Kali River Rapids, which is one of my favorites. We were already
wearing our ponchos because of the rain so when we rode the first time, she hide her face in the hood of her poncho. But she decided she liked it!

We rode it again because it was getting to be in the afternoon and the park was getting empty. We had no line and we even got to stay in our raft after that to ride it one more time. Emily was especially geeked about that!

After we got very wet on Kali River Rapids we headed out. We stopped to get our picture by the Tree and Emily did one more Wilderness Explorer stop. We got back to our resort about 4:30-ish.

We went right to the food court because I wanted to get us dinner and something for the next day as well. The lines for all the stations were super crazy but there was also a spot that was selling box lunches. The line wasn't very long so we got four of them with some of our dining plan credits. We also
got four drinks as well to go with them.

The box lunches had a sandwich (we got 3 ham and cheese and one peanut butter and jelly), a piece of fruit (all apples I think), a cookie and a bag of chips. It was $8, if I remember correctly. The sandwiches all were good with a decent amount of meat and cheese and the fruit was fresh as well.

We only waited in line for maybe ten minutes. It took longer to get to a cashier to check out. From there, we headed back to the room. I went back to the food court and got our refillable mugs filled up and then we started to do what we could to get ready for the hurricane.

I filled up the bathtub and the sink with water just in case the power went out. I made sure the tablet and my phone had a full charge and also charged up my portable chargers. The cable went out that afternoon but we still had internet access so we watched some of Tangled on the tablet.

Someone from the resort came around and gave every room a flashlight, which was nice. Though it
scared me when he knocked on the door. I also put a bunch of towels in front of the door as well.

I stayed glued to the because there was a huge thread about Disney and the hurricane. From there, I learned that the resort TV was showing Disney movies so we turned off the tablet and started watching that. Emily ate her pb&j bagged lunch but I was starting to get a pretty wicked migraine because of the incoming storm.

When we went to bed, we still had power. It was very windy and rainy out, and the whole area was under a curfew. We had been instructed, via a voice mail, to stay in our rooms until the curfew was lifted.

I had no idea what we were going to face the next day but there wasn't anything we could do but get some rest.

Up next - Hurricane Part 2!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fire, Smoke and Rain

It's been an interesting Autumn here in Western North Carolina thanks to the wildfires. My house was never in danger, but places that are relatively close to where I live, like Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, were evacuated because of wildfires.

Since the fires didn't reach us, at first I didn't really think there would be much going on where I live. But as the fires and the drought continued, our air quality got very bad. Depending on the way the wind is blowing, we can get smoke. 

Last week I was taking Emily to an appointment, and the further we got into Asheville, the smokier it got. It's been making my migraines worse and I can't imagine how bad it is for people with breathing issues. Emily has often complained that they weren't allowed to go outside and play during recess because of the smoke.

Finally after months of little to no rain, we got some the other night. It was a very welcome sound and the fire closest to us was able to be 100% contained. But then I saw the news that Gatlinburg was on fire. It's still on fire with three people dead, the entire town up in flames and thousands of people evacuated. 

I've never been to Gatlinburg but it's one of the places I've wanted to visit. It's only a few hours away from here. We've passed by a few times on our way up to Michigan in years past. The pictures from there are horrifying to say the least.

So I continue to pray for rain. Rain to come wherever the fires are still not under control. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Browncoats Cry Tonight

This year has been full of death and despair. Most of the celebrities that have died haven't had a huge affect on me. Some made me sad, some made me feel old and some made me feel nostalgic. But as I was in line to get my ticket to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I saw on Facebook that Ron Glass had passed away.

I fought the urge to cry right there. For those who don't know, Ron Glass was a wonderful actor. He was Shepard Book on Firefly, among other things. Firefly and the fandom surrounding it has been one of the most tremendous parts of my life. I've met so many wonderful people and formed lifelong friendships because of it.

My husband, who likes Firefly, but isn't a Browncoat doesn't really understand why I'm so sad tonight. But I know thousands of fellow Browncoats are just as upset as I am.

I was lucky enough to meet Ron Glass at my very first Dragon Con in 2007. He was very sweet and I'm so glad I had that opportunity. For now, I'm going to go watch the episode "Out of Gas" and try not to cry too much.

Rest in Peace Mr. Glass - you are very missed!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanks for Being Alive

Thanks to my Timehop, I figured out that two years ago today was the day that I had my seizures. I don't remember the seizures, but thinking about fills me with dread. Just the fear and confusion that I do remember upon waking in the ICU the day before Thanksgiving is something I wouldn't want to go through again.

So I'm feeling thankful to be alive. I don't think the seizures would have killed me, but it's possible. It's more likely that my demise could have been brought about by all the falling down I did. I had a bunch of bruises that I didn't really notice until I got home from the hospital and one in particular was huge.

Sadly, because my many doctors still have no clue why it happened beyond the mass that was in my brain. And because they don't know what really causes the stupid masses that pop up every once in a while, it's hard to predict if or when another attack might come.

But I forge on, living my life. I'm in a lot better shape than I was even last year at this time. I try to do my best to be able to take care of myself and make myself stronger. This year, I started weight training and that has helped a lot!

There are a lot of things I'm thankful for this holiday season, but being alive is pretty near the top!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Disney Trip 2016 - Rest Day!

This is the 4th post of my Disney trip report! To start from the beginning, click here!

Since we hadn't gotten back to our room until midnight, we slept in until about 8 am. I've been to Disney in October several times before and I've always scheduled our rest day for the day after the Halloween party in order to sleep in.

After we did wake up, we got moving because Emily wanted to go to Disney Springs (formally known as Downtown Disney). We took the bus there, and walked a bit to get over to the World of Disney store.

My husband, who we called several times a day while we were gone, decided to give Emily an extra $20 in spending money and it was burning a hole in her pocket. But the first thing we saw when we walked into the store was that there was a visiting princess doing meet and greets. 

I had read about this before our trip and knew it was a fairly new thing. Because we were curious who it was and because there was no wait, we went to see the princess who turned out to be Aurora. Emily got her picture taken with her and then went off to look for something very specific she

She had seen a little bear stuffy from 'Brave' and she had to have it. I had to ask a cast member but we were directed in the right place, and Emily got her precious bear, that she named Bear. I got some pins, and was tempted by the Captain America ears, but decided not to get them.

From there, we went to the LEGO store. Emily played with some Legos and I got new lego keychains for my keys. We also had to get pictures with the different LEGO statues, which are all very cool!

We didn't really have much else we wanted to look at, so we headed back to the bus. Thankfully everything was well marked so we could find our way back. The whole area had pretty much changed a ton since our last trip.

Once we got back to our resort we had some lunch in the
food court. I had given Emily the choice of mini golf or swimming for after lunch and she picked swimming. Since we had quite a bit of time, we opted to go to the Big Blue Pool to swim. Emily also played some in the Nemo splash pad. 

The hurricane was coming closer but we only had a few sprinkles so far. The sky was a bit dark while we were swimming but thankfully no bad weather - yet. After swimming for a while, we headed back to our room to change for dinner.

We had reservations at the Whispering Canyon Cafe which is located at the Wilderness Lodge, We took a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then we rode a ferry boat to the resort. At this point, it was raining some so we had to ride on the inside of the boat. No-one could be on the outside.

It took us a bit to figure out what way to go but we got some help from some lifeguards that were standing around, waiting for the pool to be able to reopen because of the weather. The resort was beautiful! I would love to stay there someday.

We didn't have to wait very long to be seated. I had heard good things about this restaurant, not just for the food but for the fun games they play. Before we left for our vacation, I was told by several people to ask for ketchup. So I did that right away.

Our server yelled for ketchup and people brought us about 20 bottles of it! It didn't take too long before another table needed ketchup so Emily and I took our bottles over. Though Emily did keep one and hoarded it like it was her precious.

The food was really good and our server brought Emily a cupcake with a candle in it for her birthday. Then the entire restaurant sang 'Happy Birthday' to her. She was thrilled about that and still talks about it.

As we waited for our dessert, it was time for some fun and games. Emily took a horse on a stick and parades around the room with the other kids, as everyone else twirled our napkins in the air. It was a blast!

Once we were done, we decided to look around the resort a bit. It is beautiful! I'd love to stay there sometime. There was a bit of a break in the rain, so we headed back to the ferry to get back to the buses to get back to our resort.

It was really easy and not that long of a wait to use the other transportation options after we took the bus to the Magic Kingdom. Of course, all our meals that were at other resorts were at Magic Kingdom resorts. But it was nice not to have to use my car at all during the week.

Night was falling when we got back to our room, but the rain had stopped and it was clear and warm out. Since I knew the hurricane was coming, I asked Emily if she wanted to go swimming which she did. She really thought swimming after dark was a blast!

After swimming, we got to bed at a decent hour because we had to be up fairly early the next day since we were going to go to Animal Kingdom!

Up Next - Animal Kingdom & Hurricane Part 1!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

My Ghost Adventures - Knocks in the Night

To start at the beginning of this series, click here!

Even though I live in a haunted house, we have periods were there is no activity at all. And usually the activity we get isn't very scary. But a few days after Halloween, I did get a little scared.

It was evening and Emily was already in bed. I had been in the bathroom when I got very cold all of a sudden. It's been really unseasonably warm here in NC, so I knew at once that it was a cold spot. The hair on my arms started to stand on end so I finished up quickly and went back to my room.

I love to cross stitch but I generally only do it in my bedroom after an unfortunate experience where one of my cats got my threaded needle in his mouth. I got it out before he swallowed it, but it freaked me out. If they eat even the thread, it can give the cats issues.

So on this night, I was sitting up in bed watching TV and cross stitching. My orange cat, Sam, kept scratching at the door, trying to get in. I got up several times to shoo him away, but one time amid the pawing at the door, there was an actual knock.

It was 'knock knock' like a human would do. It wasn't a noise that Sam could have made. I got up, turned all the lights on in my bedroom and opened the door. No-one was on the other side besides Sam the cat. It freaked me out enough that I didn't go to sleep until Todd came home from work!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Disney Trip 2016 - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!

This is the 4th post of my Disney trip report! To start from the beginning, click here!

Our day dawned bright and sunny, which made me happy. Today was the day we were going to go to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and I didn't want it to rain. I've been to the party twice and had good weather, but I had heard horror stories about trying to do the party in torrential rain. In fact, that had happened earlier this Halloween season. This was what Emily was most looking forward to so I wanted it to go well.

But the party wasn't until the evening. We slept in a bit and then headed back over to Ohana for our breakfast with Lilo and Stitch, since this is the only place you can meet Lilo. It took us a while to get seated but we were pretty much in the same spot we were when we had dinner a few nights previously.

The food was very yummy, and we had a chance to eat before the characters arrived at our table. It took them a while to make their way around. Emily was very excited to meet Lilo and Stitch. Mickey and Pluto were also there in their finest Hawaiian attire.

After we had eaten our fill and met all four characters, we headed back to the resort. Emily swam a bit and then we both took a nap. She tried to tell me that she didn't need a nap but I knew she wouldn't make it halfway through the party without some sleep.

I dressed up in my Tightrope Girl costume and Emily put on her Jasmine costume, then we headed off to the bus stop. We had to wait a bit, but then we were on our way. We got into the Magic Kingdom a little before 4 pm and got our wristbands for the party!

We got our picture taken with the Castle behind us, and then used our Fastpass to meet Tinkerbell who was really sweet. We also went to get our special party Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card.

After watching some of the castle stage show, we went to Fantasyland. We rode on the Teacups, which made me very dizzy, and then went on the Pooh ride.

Then it was time to go to the Haunted Mansion. I had Emily take pictures of me outside of it while I was Tightrope-d up. I got compliments on my costume all night which annoyed Emily a little. She had gotten used to get all the attention!

It was nearing party time but Emily wanted to ride on Dumbo. It's one of her favorite rides and I love the view as we soared way up high. The music tolled while we were in that area of the park to let us know the party had officially begun. The gift shop right by Dumbo was the one that was selling the pins you could only get at the party.

They had several to pick from, but I chose the Hocus Pocus one. It's really awesome! We headed to the hub to get a spot for the parade. We nabbed a really close one that was right in front of the castle. Emily held our place and I went to get us a snack.

Thankfully the weather held out and we got to see the Headless Horseman take his ride in front of the parade. Emily loved the parade even though Dr. Facilier talked to her and freaked her out. I thought it was interesting since he's from one of her favorite Disney movies.

We didn't have to wait too long before the Hocus Pocus stage show started up. Even though I'm pretty short, I could see fine. Sadly, Emily is still a kid and she couldn't see very well. So I had to pick her up. My kid is eight and she's heavy! But I managed to hold her for most of the show (I had to take some breaks), so all that weight training I did paid off in a big way!

There was some time before the fireworks were going to start, so we went to Tomorrowland to have some dinner. When we had entered the park, we had been directed to a treat or trick spot and we got a special bag that already had candy in it. So Emily wanted to check out her loot as well.

After we ate, we had a bit of time left so we went on the Tomorrowland Speedway. Those cars are really hard to get in and out of when wearing a hoop skirt and a corset. Emily is a very poor driver, though she started getting the hang of it. She had a blast being able to drive, though I had to push the pedal because she's too short.

We got back to the hub right as the castle projection show started. It was really awesome, and neither
Emily  nor I had seen it before. Then it was time for Hallowishes, the fireworks show. This is my all-time favorite fireworks show ever, and Emily loved it as well.

I had wanted to ride the Haunted Mansion but Emily said that it would be too scary. So we pretty much hung out in Tomorrowland. We hit some trick or treat spots, a couple of them several times. At one, the cast members gave her several big handfuls of candy because she was wearing her birthday button.

We did pretty much all the rides we wanted to in Tomorrowland. We went on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, which seemed dated to me, but Emily loved it. Partly because she ended up kicking my butt by a large margin.

I wanted to ride the PeopleMover but Emily wasn't too sure. Once we were on it, she loved it! PeopleMover is really really relaxing, and the views of Tomorrowland are really great especially that late at night. We got to see the dance party from up high, which was fun, though Emily didn't want to go and dance with the characters from Monster's Inc.

The last thing we did was the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, which was funny. Emily thought it was much funnier than I did but it was enjoyable. There was about a half hour left of the party at that point but Emily was tired and wanted to go back to the resort.

I was actually surprised at how well she had done because it was well past her bedtime. The party was wonderful, and we didn't get rained on at all. I'm really thankful that I had picked that party because the ones later that week got canceled because of the hurricane.

Up Next - Rest Day!