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Keane's March 2012 "Let The Memories Begin... Again..." Trip Report - Part 1

Index

Note:
The text of this trip report was posted simultaneously to the Usenet group rec.arts.disney.parks on April 6, 2012. This is an expanded version with pictures. If you are reading this someplace else than rec.arts.disney.parks, or on my site keanespics.com, it was copied without my permission.

Miss Marie and Tink
Miss Marie and Tinkerbell. (Sometimes PhotoPass is worth the price...) Oh, this picture copyright Disney...
Cast:
Who: Me, Keane. Author, planner, survivor...
     Mom, aka "Miss Marie". Mobility impaired. Memory impaired, too.
     Jenny. Fellow Disney Junkie, and du...kind enough to help.
     Karen. My GPS. (A Garmin nuvi 1390)
What: Another trip to Disney World with Mom.
Where: Walt Disney World, Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village.
Why: Because of the positive response the last time I did this. And it's a trip to Disney World. Get with the program, please.
When: March 3 thru 11, 2012

<Disclaimers>

  1. Much of what is here is fact, mostly fact, or complete figments of my imagination remembered as fact. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
  2. This report contains a lot of innuendo and sarcasm. Anything else is a bonus.
  3. If you take something in this report seriously and get offended, I will laugh at you. I am not Disney. I compensate no one. And just how much did you pay to read this, anyway?
  4. Please remember to take all your personal belongings, and have a magical Disney Day! Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay...

Thank you. </Disclaimers>


Ah, here we go again...

Prolog:

Soon after leaving WDW last September, I asked Mom if she'd want to go again, and she said she would.

She did however, get the "Disney Crud", and got sick after she got back, which quelled some of her enthusiasm. Well, I wouldn't ask again for a couple of months. I asked again in mid-January, and she wanted to go.

Excellent. I wanted to get out of the cold. Disney World was an added bonus. Two bedroom villas are so nice...

Okay, it's sounding less altruistic all the time, doesn't it?


Planning:

This trip was in the back of my mind since we were there in September 2011. Nothing was really done about it until late January. Here's the quick timeline:

January 23: Jenny sends some e-mail. The only days she can make a trip, if I wanted to do one, was the first two weeks of March. I would have to make up my mind soon, otherwise, there are other plans she would have to make. (Translation: "Make up your mind. Fish or cut bait. There's another one about getting off of a pot, but this is a Disney trip report.")

Okay, went and questioned mom, yep, she'd go. She'd like to see Jenny again, too.

Aaaaand we're off!

January 24: Contact Laura, on the off chance she'd have points, before I try someone I don't know through a broker. Yes! She'd contact DVC. (I checked AP rates for a 2BR villa. No AKL 2BR at all. $3250 at SSR or OKW, $4124 at WLV, and a whopping (no AP discount at all) $6145 at BCV or BWV. Ugh...)

January 26: Laura makes the reservation for a 2BR at Saratoga. After the reservation has been made, she waitlists AKL, and as she does, a 2BR appears at Kidani for the entire time we want to be there. Yes! Get Disney confirmation. She tells me not to get her anything this time. Ooops. Too late. She'll want it when she sees it. BWAhahahahaha...

February 4: Ordered MYW ticket from Undercover Tourist and rent a scooter from Apple Scooter.

February 5: Booked Liberty Tree Tavern for lunch on Mar 5; Sanaa on Mar 7, Cape May on Mar 8 and Jiko on Mar 9 for dinner.

February 26: Finally decide to book Raglan Road for the first night there on Mar 4.

February 28: D23 offers tickets to a 3D screening of John Carter the week of March 5. Unlike Cars 2, which was previewed in three cities, John Carter will preview in a couple of dozen cities! Well. If I can't screen it here in Chicago, I find I can screen it on March 7 at 7:30pm at the AMC 24 in West Side, Downtown Disney. Tickets become available March 1 at 1pm local time.

March 1: At a minute past 1pm, I am redirected on to a site called seeitfirst.net, where I have to create an account, and eventually get the John Carter tickets. Well, the confirmation number. The offer sells out in a day. (Or it was only offered for one day.)

Jenny's pretty sure she won't be able to meet for lunch the day we leave, but since we're going to have a kitchen, she's going to give me some breakfast stuff, like farm-grass-fed chicken eggs, bacon, sausage... I'll also take her suitcase so we won't have to wait for the airline to puke it out at baggage claim.

That was pretty much it for the planning. I've done this before.

PiC is going to feed and water the cats. She is the logical choice, since she knows where everything is. She will get Mickey Rice Krispy treats and a trip to Fanniversary.

Now, when we last left our story, the trip with Mom to Disneyworld last September did an amazing job of waking her out of a fog she was in.

Strike while the iron was hot, so to speak. Well, the iron got pretty darned cold.

I won't detail the adventures I went through, but it was enough to tear your hair out. (I've seen me with only patches of hair. It isn't pretty.)

Mom's memory has become a problem. Short term memory. "Short", is a relative term. Larger events are retained, smaller events are not. I'm not going to dwell on that right now, it's too depressing.

So on with the show!


Day 0. Saturday, March 3rd. Departure.

All of my trips start to Disney World start on Day 0, since I won't be at Disney World until Day 1. So Day 0 is Day 1 on the road, and Day 1 is Day 2 on the road. That's just the way it is.

We leave at 5:15am, having mostly packed the car yesterday afternoon. 155,046 miles on the odometer, 40 degrees. It's supposed to be double that temperature later in the week down in Florida.

I make it through Chicago at this time of the morning, no problem. I am through Downtown, then Hyde Park, and onto the Skyway, and say goodbye to Illinois. I enter Indiana, and am Southbound on I-65, where I will stay for a while.

We stop for breakfast at a Cracker Barrel in Lafayette. They have a pretty decent sit-down breakfast. The last time, Mom didn't like the grits. This time, it's one of the first things she eats. Go figure.

I pass the place where I had to stop due to the blow out last trip, and mentally give it the finger. Not this time.

Rest area at Lebanon, IN
201203WDW_0003P03093
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280 miles, 11:30am (12:30pm ET) - Pull off I-65 to go to the rest area. Uh-oh. There are people in uniform ahead stopping everyone. Not police uniforms, but cammies with cabbage patch hats. No police cruiser, but a desert camo HUMVEE and heavy 6x6's. There's an army reserve unit near here, but these guys look like National Guard.

I am very politely informed the rest area is closed, as is the exit 5 miles ahead. No reason given. I really don't want to stick around and find out, either. The building with the bathrooms and vending machines is surrounded by yellow police "Do not cross" tape. Terrorist attack? Training exercise?

I see a big sign that sez "Staging area", and a 6x6 carrying cases of bottled water, with various other military vehicles and personnel. Considering no one even looks remotely panic'd or worried, makes me feel a lot better. :-)

I get back on I-65, and three miles ahead, traffic comes to a complete stop, and starts crawling at 5-10 mph. There is a bunch of posts dug into the median, and wire cable is strung though these posts, so a car going in one direction cannot cross the center grass median strip into oncoming traffic. Works like a Jersey Wall, but not as ugly. But far from pretty. But I digress.

The cable is ripped out and snapped in sections. Someone must have hit it, right? Then, I come across tree debris on both sides of the road. And non tree debris packed into little corners of the terrain.

Thoughts start to go through my head. Southern Indiana. Tornado. Lot of people died. There's a house with a tarp over the roof. And others that looks like they've been blasted with a shotgun, roofing tiles missing, pieces of siding missing off the houses.

We finally get to the Henryville exit, and the National Guard is stopping all traffic on the exit, and screening them to make sure they were allowed in.

Traffic is slow because the scene is one of utter devastation. It's not often outside of watching a movie that you see half a building. The part that's left looks perfectly okay. Many buildings are just gone. All the signs no longer have any signs in them, just empty frames. One of those massive Interstate signs is bent and turned 90 degrees.

Well, that was certainly different. I'm certainly glad I wasn't here yesterday.

[Truth in advertising sez that some of these pictures were taken on the third, the others on the 11th when we were coming home. I just grouped all the pictures here. Check the dates on the pictures.]

Tornado Damage in Henryville, IN
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I fill up in metro Louisville, right off of I-65. Gas is still 16 cents/gallon cheaper than Chicago. At 3.819/gallon, it would be the cheapest price I paid while the price crept up all week.

Tennessee 111
Somewhere along Tennessee 111.
I take my normal bypass around Nashville, and call Jenny. She can't come to Lebanon, much less have lunch. So I drive down to Gordonsville and drop some food off for her, and pick up her suitcase and the breakfast stuff.

After leaving Gordonsville, we drive down I-40 to Cookesville and head South through some very pretty mountain passes on TN-111. (See my Peaceful Pastures Trip Report and the return trip from my May 2011 WDW trip.)

Various Tennessee stops and TN-111
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We ate dinner at a place so bad in Chattanooga, I don't even want to mention it's name. So I won't! Anyway, after choking down some food, we got back on the road through some pretty congested areas, which weren't very congested the last time I drove this route in the opposite direction last May. sigh. The road eventually turns into a limited access expressway, and I soon find myself on I-75. Well, I certainly know how to get to WDW from here!

We end the day at 7:30pm (Eastern Time) at Adairsville, GA. Again. Same city I stopped at last time I came this way with Mom, where the Best Western had a bed in a Handicap room 4 feet off the ground. (Okay, it wasn't 4 feet, but it was high enough that she had to use the shower chair to climb onto the bed...) So we stayed at the Quality Inn this time, instead.

I forgot to reset Karen, so I have incomplete data. I travelled 680 miles in 13.25 hours, or an average of 51.3mph. The stoppage in Henryville, and the side trip to Gordonsville, not to mention breakfast and dinner, really cut into my travel time.


Day 1. Sunday, March 4rd. On the road, Day 2.

We leave Adairsville at 5am Eastern time, and head South down a dark I-75. One of the problems with staying here, is there isn't a rest area until you hit the by-pass to Macon, about 130 miles away. So you have to plan before you go, so to speak. We pass Marietta, but Lisa and Andy are on a cruise someplace. Lemmee see. One ship capsized, one ship adrift for days, food poisoning, passengers disappearing... Why do people cruise again?

The sun becomes a glow, and it is daylight by the time we pass Macon. I like Southern Georgia early in the morning for some reason. The orange sunrise light on the countryside is very pretty. Of course, it might be the sub-conscious knowledge I'll be at Disney World later that day. Trees are blooming, there are hundreds of white trees that dot the countryside, mostly around houses. Most would think they're pretty too, but it's driving my hay fever insane.

Rest area near Macon, GA
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Heavy Policing from Atlanta to Orlando. Aren't looking for small timers, letting those 10 over fly right by.

We stop at about 8am for breakfast at another Cracker Barrel in Perry, Georgia, about 1/2 hour after sunrise. Mom can't finish her bacon from breakfast, so she puts it in a biscuit and brings it along.

I can only make Lake Park, GA, before I have to get gas. It is $3.989, it still hasn't broken four dollars yet. I'd post what I paid for gas when I was a teenager, but that would make me more decrepit than I already am. As a result, I have well over a half a tank when I hit Ocala, so I don't do my usual stop for gas. I get on the Ronald Regan turnpike, and am happy to find everyone wants to speed today. I have noticed law enforcement has been less evident on the turnpike since they've expanded it from 2 to 3 to 4 lanes in places. Knock on wood...

Get off and take the 429 tollway to Western Way, and at about 2pm am passing under the Welcome arch. Iiiiii'm baaaack. There are hundreds of birds, maybe thousands, are circling CSR. Okay, maybe a little west of CSR. I've looked and it's some sort of sewage treatment facility. It's right next to bus maintenance. Hmmmm...

Karen directs us onto Osceola Parkway, and I'm soon at the guard house for Animal Kingdom Lodge. Welcome home.
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End March 2012 Trip Report - Part 1 of 8.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8

Revisions:
  • 04/05/2012 - Page Added
  • 12/31/2012 - Update to v3.1
  • 09/01/2014 - Update to v3.2