Newborn, Natchez, Noshing, Nashville, November
December 6, 2009
Our family had a little something extra to be thankful for this year – my new nephew Jack Stephen. Jack is the first child of my brother. He’s named in memory of my Dad, Jack, and in honor of his maternal grandfather, Stephen. My brother was a confirmed bachelor who hit the jackpot in his mid-40’s when he met his wife, Gina. Smart, fun, beautiful with an incredible family to boot. Really none of us could have asked for more. So, this year for Thanksgiving, we loaded up the car, put the bikes on the rack and set out on the 10 hour drive to celebrate with Jeff and Gina’s family and new son down in Nashville. And celebrate we did.
Gina’s Aunt is a great hostess and great cook. As with many great cooks, they have friends who are equally good cooks adding to the fun. What a feast we had – a foodie’s heaven! Two turkeys, one oven roasted, one smoked, two kinds of stuffing – including Gina’s family recipe of an italian sausage and bread stuffing that was almost addicting.
More and more food kept appearing on the tables….a couple of different sweet potatoes, the most amazing layered jello salad, several versions of cranberries, I loved the cranberry ginger chutney. Wines of the day were Pine Ridge Chenin/Vognier, Edna Valley Chardonnay, and Ponzi Pinot Noir. Blue Moon Honey Moon was available for the beer lovers. A bottle of Woodford Reserve was around. (any guesses what hubby and I were responsible for bringing). I forgot to get a picture of the dessert table – but it was equally impressive – two kinds of pumpkin pie, pecan pies. All so yummy.
Thank goodness with all that eating, we’d brought the bikes. Got in several good rides. A couple around Nashville in the Oak Hill/Belmont areas. But the most memorable was a ride along the Natchez Trace. Beautiful and challenging with the continual rolling hills.
Discovered that I’m a bit of a wimp riding over this famous bridge over Hwy 96. Heading out I stayed a decent distance from the edge. Coming back, a crosswind had blown up, and I was scared to death. Rode at almost the center of the road. Even once we got across and I got off the bike to take these pictures I never was able to stand next to the rail. Just a bit too freaked out.
The nice weather also provided an opportunity for a walk around Radner Lake.
Ended the weekend with a celebration of Mom’s birthday. A great trip, wonderful meeting Jack and spending time with family. Enough to wear a guy out!
They say Karma’s a bitch……
October 25, 2009
Or payback is hell.
But the brilliant thing is that the flip side to bad karma coming back and biting you in the ass is that sometimes getting what you deserve or earned is a good thing. And that appears to have happened to my son and I this weekend.
Last December armed with our first ever Disney annual passes, my son and I had a 5 day pre-Christmas trip to Disney World planned. This grown-up but kid at heart Disney fanatic has always wanted to see the parks and the resorts in their Christmas finery. Each day was well planned with dining reservations, carefully researched park plans to avoid the “extra magic hour” crowds, not to mention a list of shows and resorts to visit. And then the great snow of December 19th hit Milwaukee. Closing the airport. And for the next 2 1/2 days my very patient 9 year old son and I were in airport stand-by hell. Somehow our Friday 6am direct flight turned into a 7pm Saturday connecting flight through Atlanta. We tried to stand by on every flight in between. No luck. And then of course, our flight to Atlanta was delayed and we found ourselves stuck in Atlanta, a city we never planned to visit for the night. Sunday morning brought more stand by flights, and a melt down and tears from the grown-up, and continued brave face from the 9 year old. Finally at 2pm Sunday, 62 hours later we were in Disney.
And I swore I would make it up to my son. (OK, yeah, me too) Upon returning home, using frequent flier miles, timeshare points and of course knowing we had annual passes, I booked a Halloween trip back to Disney.
From start to finish this trip was a dream. Flights going and coming were on time. Car rental no line, no problem. Sure a 6am flight made an awfully early start, but we managed – and boy, did we manage getting all the highlights done.
Some of the highlights: While the parks were fairly crowded, it was primarily Food & Wine Festival attendees and folks with young children. Which meant lines for the attractions requiring folks to be over 40″ tall were not bad, not bad at all. So much so, we hit all our favorite rides, most with literally no wait. On rides like Everest Expedition, Test Track, and Rock-n-Roller Coaster we employed single rider strategy. If you aren’t familiar with this, some rides have a third line in addition to the normal line and the fastpass line. You will not be sitting with your party as they use the singles to fill in the odd numbered groups. However in most every instance we were in the same “car” or train or whatever that is called. Others, such as Tower of Terror (my #1 fav ride) simply had no waits. You could ride them as fast as it took to walk through the queue. All said in our three days, the final tally was Everest Expedition 6 times (son did 7), Tower of Terror and Big Thunder Mountain 5 times, Test track 4 times, Splash Mountain, Kali River Ride, andStar Tours 2 times plus a trip on the Great Movie Ride, The Backlot tour, Soarin’, Maelstrom, Mission Space, Haunted Mansion, Pirates……Oh, and I got to be one of the “actors” in the Pearl Harbor scene on the Backlot tour!
Of course, I had to get my fireworks fix. The first day we were worn out from our 6am plane flight and considered skipping fireworks. Instead we headed to Beaches and Cream for burgers and ice cream. Remarkably we had no wait for a table, and finished dinner just in time to walk in the back entrance of EPCOT and snag a great view at a spot between USA and Japan. The park was crowded but somehow, just as the announcer blew out the fires, there was a two person opening along the fence. The next night was Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party where we enjoyed Halloween Wishes from our fav spot front and center of the castle. Finally the third night, son wanted to repeat the Beaches and Cream / Illumination plan. This time we scored a spot between China and Germany with a perfect view of Illuminations but also a goo view of Wishes just to the left of Spaceship Earth – huge bonus for this fireworks lover.
One of my favorite memories was the morning after Mickey’s Halloween party, when my son in all seriousness asked, “Mom, did you feel like a kid again last night?” I replied, “What do you mean?”. “well, you were wearing a costume and went trick or treating”. And, yes, he was right, I did feel like a kid again, and both he and I thought that was pretty darn cool.
Finally, in keeping with family tradition of documenting our accommodations. Shots from the 1 bedroom unit at Wyndham Vacation Resort at Bonnet Creek. I own a decent amount of points in the Wyndham timeshare system (all purchased on eBay, which is a whole other story). Their new resorts are quite nice, and the point system allows me to book 3-4 night long weekends. (Like the one in November to Wyndham Glacier Canyon at the Wisconsin Dells or the December weekend at Wyndham Grand Desert Las Vegas – which will include doing the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon. The location of this resort is pretty incredible – within the World, next to the Caribbean Beach Resort, very close to EPCOT, the Boardwalk and Hollywood Studios. Will return to this one!