The Dash to Nashville – Escaping Hurricane Irma

Thanks to Hurricane Irma, instead of having a nice, relaxing beach trip for the next few weeks, we’ve had to change our plans and get as far north as fast as we can.

We left Orlando on Thursday, September 7, early in the morning. Since we have kids, we broke the trip up into three legs – 1) Fl/Ga Border 2) Atlanta 3) Nashville. Each leg should have been 3-4 hours each. Unfortunately, we were trying to leave along with hundreds, of thousands of other people. Our first leg took us over eight hours! We found out later that this was short compared to other people who tried to leave on Friday, who experienced 14-20 hour long drives.

At the Fl/Ga border, we stopped at an RV park, called Eagles Roost. I called a few days in advance for a reservation and super glad I did – we managed to get one of the last sites. Lots of RV families were leaving and this place was the closest, and nicest, places on the border.

And I could see why – this place was absolutely beautiful. The sites might be a little close for some, but we didn’t mind. Everyone we met was super friendly and the noise settled down pretty early in the night. The staff we very friendly and accommodating – the were really trying to help people find places to go. I wish we could have stayed longer, but this location was still in the danger zone, so we proceeded to Atlanta the next day.

We traveled the route to Atlanta with the same people from before who were all trying to escape the storm. So another leg, which should have been four hours, became nine hours! I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to get to our campsite – Shoal Creek Resort.

This place was amazing – beautiful campsites surrounded by trees and water. It was calming just to stand there outside of the trailer. It was so great that none of us, including the cats, wanted to stay inside.

Luckily, we stayed here two nights and were able to take advantage of the property. During our stay, we played near the lake, walked around, and had a wonderful cook-out – complete with s’mores!

Of course, while we were enjoying ourselves, Hurricane Irma strengthened and changed course. As we were preparing to leave, Atlanta issued their first ever tropical storm warning – with high winds and flooding expected. Luckily, we hadn’t planned to stay there to long and headed to Nashville.

We’ve been told that Rock island State Park is one of the best places to stay and they were right. This small campsite has lots of trails to hike and sites to see. The kids had fun exploring and playing. And we had another cook-out. These are quickly becoming my favorite part of RV life.

Next up, Kentucky!

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On the Road at Last

We did it! The house is listed, the trailer is setup, the car is prepped – time to get this show on the road. Of course. For our first time picking up and leaving, it took a little effort to actually leave:

  1. You have to stow everything! And with a very curious toddler around, you can imagine how hard it was to get everything put away. Damon had to go back at one point after we got into the car to pick up some last minute things
  2. Once things are stowed you can’t get to anything until you reach your destination (unless you want to squeeze your way through). So I had to prepare several snack bags for everyone in the car.
  3. Triple check everything! For an RV to work it needs to be plugged and hooked up to lots of things. Damon got in the car and almost drove off before he saw that the power was still hooked up. Then he forgot that the propane was still on. Lesson learned – do several walk arounds before leaving.
  4. Driving in rain is hard. Of course we leave just as one of our lovely Florida thunderstorms shows up, making it a little harder to steer the car (it’s very bumpy back here)

Not too bad for beginner, especially with two young children to care for as well. Hopefully we’ll get faster as we progress. For now, we are thrilled to be on the road, heading to Fort de Soto, Florida.

Home, Sweet Home … For Now

We bought our RV and SUV a few days before little-dude joined our family. We decided to take a small break from moving to adjust to being a family of four and allow me time to heal from child birth. 

Two weeks ago, we talked with our Realtor and are getting the house ready to sell. Which means we need a place to put the RV. After some research we found a cute place close to the house so we could be nearby while we sell the house and move into the RV. 

The actual trip to the RV resort was nerve racking for me – this made it real. Everything’s been abstract for months but actually seeing the resort made it real. And I have to admit, I’m still nervous. This is such a drastic change from what I’m used to. 

However, I’m also kinda excited – the resort is walking distance to parks, restaurants, and much more. Now we will have the opportunity to get out more as a family. 

It took some time to get the RV here as the place we bought it from kept “losing” our moving information. Thankfully, we managed to get the RV to it’s new home a few days ago.

We now have about half our stuff in the RV and spent our first official night. So far, so good. We still have some work to do, but it’s getting there.

Downsizing

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How do you fit a 1600 sq ft house into a 300 sq ft trailer??? The simple to say, but hard to do, answer is – DOWNSIZE. I’ve tried to put myself in a practical mindset – the more we sell, the more money we have to travel and less stuff to lug around. It also helps to remember that if we get rid of something, and want it later, we can always re-buy it.

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Now some of our stuff is a no brainer to get rid of, such as the furniture (since it’s included in the trailer), TV’s (we won’t need four in the trailer), my car (my Honda Fit can’t pull an 8,000 lb trailer), and kitchen stuff (I won’t need my fancy dishes any more).

Then it gets a little more difficult for me. We have cultivated quite the toy collection and play area in our house. I know, realistically, that our kids don’t NEED all these toys, but I do have a joy seeing them play with these toys. I didn’t have a lot growing up, so being able to provide these “things” for my children gives my great satisfaction.

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But then I’m reminded that what we remember most isn’t the actual toy we played with as children. We remember spending time with our loved ones and experiencing the world with them. And that’s what I want for my children – to experience value and love from those around them; not the things around them.

So while I know that downsizing my kids toys will be emotional for me, I also know that we are giving them an awesome experience.

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Now on the flip size, I am used to cooking in a 300 sq ft kitchen (which is the same size as our trailer). How am I supposed to cook in such a small space? Where am I supposed to store everything? I am used to having a lot of cabinet space, not to mention fridge space, to store food. I currently have three different solutions for my dilemma:

  1. Shop every few days, instead of once a week
  2. Stop buying in bulk and only buy what you need for a the meal (portion control)
  3. Grow fresh herbs and lettuce in a window

I have no idea if any of these will works, but I guess this is only part of what I’ll have to get used to going forward. On the plus side, it’s much easier to keep 300 sq ft clean than 1600 – especially with two kids!

The Great Movie Ride

A few weeks ago, the Walt Disney Company announced the closure of a beloved attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – The Great Movie Ride. While I understand the need to retire the attraction, I am saddened as it holds a special place in my heart.

In October of 2004, I’d been working at ‘The Great Movie Ride’ for a few weeks when I met a new person in the break room – Damon. He’d just transfer from ‘The Tower of Tower’ and was finishing his training for the ride. I remember this meeting because of how we clicked. I’d never felt an instant connection with anyone before. From then on, I constantly looked for him in the break room. Unfortunately, he kept getting assigned to ‘The Tower of Tower’, so I never saw him. 

Then in June 2005, we were both selected for be character trained for the ride (which means doing the gangster/bandit scenes). At this point, we were seeing more of each other each weekend and definitely had a crush on each other.

During training, Damon tried to help the trainer by grabbing a box of pens for our class. The next thing we know, Damon tripped and pens went flying across the room. He turned beet red and I thought he was the cutest thing ever!

After work, Damon invited me to his house to watch a movie. I don’t remember much about the movie. What I do remember is how comfortable I felt with him. While we were talking, he asked if I’d like to go out with him sometime. I said that sounded like fun (girl code for yes). Unfortunately, Damon didn’t speak girl code and asked me again. I explained that my answer ment yes and thus began our journey of being honest with each other.

So, as you can imagine, ‘The Great Movie Ride’ means a great deal to us. Which is why I was thrilled to get to go back one more time. Last night, the Disney Parks Blog hosted a meet-up at the ride and allowed us to walk the track! Not only did I get to relive some very fond memories but I got to take all the pictures I’d neglected to take while I worked there (lesson learnes + always take pictures).

What a wonderful way to close such a meaningful chapter of my life. I only hope it’s replacement will live up to ‘The Great Movie Ride’

My Heart is With Orlando

I have lived in Orlando for over 2o years. During that time I experienced several hurricanes – including Charlie, a category 3 storm, which did a lot of damage to Central Florida.

Hurricanes are very dangerous and can cause a lot of damage. We are unable to get back to our house before the storm hits, so we hope that everything is ok. Foruntatly, our contractor is doing some work and is keeping an eye I’m things for us.

This is a scary time for Florida. I hope everyone back home old days safe and that there is minimal damage.  We will see you soon

Big News!

So we have some big news – we are moving back to Orlando! I am so excited to get home. While I have enjoyed our adventures in Glendale, I definitely feel home sick and ready to leave. As we countdown our final days here I’ll be sharing some of our most fun adventures we’ve had here. 26 days and counting!

Backyard Adventures: The Crayola Experience

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While we currently reside in LA, our home base is Orlando, Florida. Last week we decided to take a trip home to catch up with friends, check on our house, and check-out some of the latest Orlando offerings. Since Damon needed to work during this trip, I decided to take mini-man to the new Crayola Experience at the Florida mall.
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I’ve had many friends check-out the experience since it opened and said it was a great place to take little kids. Since it was only $34, I purchased an annual pass as we would use it multiple times over the next year. 
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I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. p The space is large and filled with lots of activities. However, mini-man being the adventurer he is went straight for the climbing structures. I love that there are two separate structures – one for toddlers and one for older kids. The down side is they aren’t close which makes it hard for parents with two kids to keep an eye on both. I saw lots of older kids playing on the smaller structure and the toddlers were getting pushed aside. More than once I had to protect mini-man from these kids while other parents just sat by and played on their phones (a big annoyance with me).
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We left after a few hours as mini-man was getting tired, so we didn’t get to try everything. But that’s what I love about the annual pass – we can go back often and try something new each time. Can’t wait to go back.

Theme Park – SeaWorld Orlando

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I am a huge theme park freak. Growing up in San Diego, my family and I would often visit SeaWorld, Disneyland, and the zoo. Damon and I even met while working at Walt Disney World – so you could say theme parks are in my blood. I was so excited to take Mini-man to visit these same places.

After taking mini-man to a few theme parks I learned some very valuable lessons and applied them to this trip. Damon and I agreed ahead of time to only go for a few hours, see a show, see some animals, and leave. Keeping expectations simple is becoming the key to our success. (every time I spell success – the 1980’s song S-U-C-C-E-S-S from the ‘Secret of my Sucess’ with Michael J. Fox plays in my head)

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Anyways, we got to the park around 10am just in time to see my favorite show ‘Blue Horizons’ – an amazing performance showcasing the beauty and power of the Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin. We sat up high to stay out of the sun (in Florida, always seek out cover for shade or protection from rain). Mini-man loved watching the dolphins jumping through the air and was completely mesmerized during the show.

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One of the great things about visiting SeaWorld Orlando in October is their Halloween Spooktacular – included with park admission! We headed to the Bayside Pathway to partake in the festivities. The celebration offers trick-or-treating, a dance party, face painting, character meet-n-greets, and much more! Since Mini-man was under one, we decided to just walk the pathway slowly and do some trick-or-treating. This was fascinating to mini-man – he loved reaching into the bag and pulling out the candy to play with it. (don’t worry – Damon valiantly stepped and ate the candy on Mini-mans behalf). 

Since the pathway ends in Shamu’s Happy Harbor we decided to try some of the attractions in this area. Much to our suprise, there was nothing that mini-man could do! All of the rides required a child to sit in their own. And while Mini-man could sit on his own he couldn’t quite stay seated on his own. It really amazed me that a park that markets itself to kids, wouldn’t have anything for those who are under two.

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Afterwards, we were getting hungry and decided it was time to leave. SeaWorld has some amazing food, but it can be pricey and a little hectic. Little tip – there is a Wendy’s, Panera, Taco Bell, and Mellow Mushroom just outside of the park (no more than a 10 minute drive).

Thanks to our ‘keep things simple’ strategy, we managed to have a fun day with each other and create lots of amazing memories.