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02 July 2009

Vacation Day 7 - Friday, June 19

Today, our last full day of vacation, we decided to go to Cape Lookout, and we did it by way of Harkers Island.  I picked a ferry at a place called Calico Jacks Inn & Marina.  Harkers Island is a quiet little island nestled in the Back Sound behind Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks.  We took our time getting ready as we had made no ferry reservations, and weren't sure who was going with us, etc.  As it turned out, Bill and Lin joined myself, Emily, Adrienne, and Erin.  Thanks to the GPS, we took some shortcuts that cut our drive time to Harkers Island to about an hour and 20, and we arrived at the marina right about 12:15 - just in time for the 12:15 ferry.  But we hadn't eaten lunch, and the marina really only had snack food, so they recommended a restaurant about 2 miles down the road called The Fish Hook Grill where we could go get some carry out and maybe make it back for the 12:45 ferry.   They were busy but got our food together pretty quickly but we didn't make it back to the marina until about 12:50 so we missed the boat and would have to wait until the 1:15 ferry.  So we hung out and ate our lunch on the front porch of the marina.

The ferry arrived and took us over to the island, dropping us off at a dock near the lighthouse.  We signed up for the 4pm return ferry so we had about 2-1/2 hours to hang around.

A nice boardwalk ran from the doc to the bathhouse and gift shop, then to the lighthouse and keepers quarters and all the way across the island to the beach on the ocean side.  After checking out the gift shop and hitting the bathrooms we wandered over to the ocean beach for some shell hunting and some fun.  The waves were gigantic (some as high as 8 feet) and there were some surfers out in the water.  I never went in deeper than about waist deep, though yes, the occasional 8 foot wave did tower over me!  But since Emily couldn't go into the rough surf, we shortly headed back over to the sound beach for a swim (just me and Emily).  The rest of the gang went to check out the lighthouse and keepers quarters.

The water in the sound was WARM.  Very shallow, and a good 10 degrees warmer than the ocean... the top 2 feet of water must've been between 85 ad 90, it was very warm.  Emily and I had our goggles so we did some pseudo-snorkeling, looking for shells.  Of course there aren't a lot of shells in the sound but Emily did manage to find a "kitten's paw".  After about a half hour of tooling around the waters of the sound, we headed back to the ocean.  I wanted to get some time in the waves.

I managed to convince Emily to stay up on shore where the waves had already broken and just washed around her feet mostly, while Erin and I played in the waves and the rest of the gang hunted for shells.  They actually found quite a few cool ones.

However, the coolest shell was "found" by Emily.  A shell hunter in the water tossed a big whelk near her.  She didn't seem him toss it, but she did discover the shell laying there, and she thought she'd "found" it herself.  Who are we to tell her otherwise?  the guy who tossed it up near her had obviously found plenty of his own otherwise I suspect he would've walked it up and put it with the rest of his shells.

I wish we could've stayed another hour, as 4 o'clock rolled around pretty quickly, and we headed back to the docks for our return ferry trip.

Nothing else interesting to report.  Bob returned this evening.  We got home around 6:00.  It was Bill's birthday, so to celebrate we ordered take-out again from the Hurricane Restaurant.

Posted by rickroot at 9:05 AM | Link | 0 comments
24 June 2009

Vacation Day 6 - Thursday, June 18

I was very excited today about our planned trip to Cape Lookout.  We'd made reservations on the 8:45 ferry with Island Ferry Adventures and a guided tour with Port City Tour Company to visit Shackleford Banks, part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore.  Shackleford Banks is a 9 mile island at the southern end of North Carolina's Outer Banks, and is home to over a hundred wild horses, left by the sunken ships of Spanish explorers over 400 years ago.

the ferry dropped us off on the southern end of the island, and there happened to be a small herd of the horses right at the ferry dropoff, so we didn't actually have to go hunting for them.  However, we'd paid an extra $10 for the walking tour, so we followed our excellent guide Larry off into the wild, where we learned about the horses, fiddler and ghost crabs and other wildlife on the island.  We also spent some time on the ocean side of the island where the surf was quite rough, looking for shells.  The water felt great.

After the walking tour (about 2 miles I'd guess) and the shell hunting, we headed back over to the sound side for some swimming.  I was the only one with the sense to put my suit on when we left in the morning, so me and Emily were the only ones who went swimming.

I guess I should mention that this trip was just Adrienne and I, Emily, and Erin.  Bill and Lin and Marnie and Derrick stayed at the resort (and Bob had actually gone home Wednesday morning).

The water on the sound side was surprisingly deep.  It actually dropped off to 10' or more only about 20 feet offshore.

We got on the 12:20pm ferry back to Beaufort, and hit up Clawson's 1905 for lunch on the recommendation of our ferry boat captain.  Lunch was excellent.  Emily and I went into the General Store afterwards to look around, and on our way out, Emily tripped down the stairs (about 3 steps) and went face first into the sidewalk.  Very unpleasant.  Amazingly she survived the incident without any blood or broken facial parts.  And I really was amazed because after seeing her face hit the sidewalk, I thought for sure I was going to pick her up and have her nose be bloodied at the very least.   She managed to calm down after about 5 minutes but during most of the ride home she was telling us how certain she was that something was wrong with her.  My little drama queen, I love her!

I have no recollection of what we did for dinner that night.  I think Emily and I had leftovers while Adrienne and Marnie and Erin had dinner at the Hurricane Restaurant.

Tomorrow - back to the islands!

Posted by rickroot at 1:44 PM | Link | 0 comments

Vacation Day 5 - Wednesday, June 17

Today was our day to stick around New Bern.  We intended to go down to historic New Bern and have lunch at The Cow Cafe, a cool little place we discovered on Middle Street last time we were in New Bern, then visit Tryon Palace.  Tryon Palace was build in 1767 as the home of the Royal Governor, but it burned down in 1798 and wasn't re-built until the 1950s. 

Anyway, lunch was good, but as we finished it started to rain.  So instead of heading over to Tryon Palace, we shopped.  There are a lot of cool little shops on Middle Street, including The Pepsi Store which was supposedly the place where Pepsi was invented, then called "Brad's Drink".  The pepsi Store consisted of a soda fountain where you could sit at the bar an order a Pepsi for 50 cents, and a bunch of pepsi-branded merchandise.  It was kinda lame, actually.  Plus, I'm a coke drinker.  Coke Zero, actually.

We ended up spending a couple hours wandering up maybe 3 blocks of Middle Street before getting ice cream at the end of our shopping trip.  By that time it had stopped raining but it was very wet, so we just headed back to the resort.  We ordered take-out from The Hurricane Restaurant, which was onsite at the marina.  I wrote a review of this experience on Google:

We recently stayed at the Fairfield Harbour Resort, home of the Hurricane Restaurant. We had a large party and ordered carry-out from the Hurricane twice. Everyone in our party enjoyed their food. For my part, I had a full rack of ribs the first night, which were good... fries and slaw on the side. The second time I went with the Seafood Fra Diablo, which was shrimp and scallops over pasta with a spicy marinara sauce - also good. This isn'ta "top of the line" or fancy upscale restaurant, but as far as "resort/hotel restaurants" go it was good enough for us to eat twice at in a week. Of course, it has the convenience of being the only nice restaurant within 10 miles of the resort.

Off to bed early as we had a big day planned for tomorrow - our trip to Beaufort and Shackleford Banks.

 

Posted by rickroot at 7:02 AM | Link | 0 comments

Vacation Day 4 - Tuesday, June 16

Our original plans for Tuesday had been to hang around New Bern.  This would've allowed Emily and I to drive back to Garner for a 6pm swim meet - the first "real" swim meet of the summer swim season.  Unfortunately, because the trip to Topsail hadn't occurred on Monday, and Wednesday wasn't going to work either, we ended up going to Topsail Beach on Tuesday.  We left around 9am in a bit of rain, and it poured pretty hard at times... we managed to drive out of the rain but then back into it on and off.  As we drove down the main drag on Topsail Island (Hwy  210 / Anderson Street), there was some really high standing water on the road.  Thankfully we were in the pickup truck so it was no problem.  I think I did power wash someone's house going through one puddle.

We were visiting our friends, Bob and Debbie Grady.  Adrienne's dad and Bob have been friends for a long time, and Adrienne has been visiting the Grady's at Topsail Beach since the mid 80s I think. 

Marnie rode down with Bill and Lin for this trip, and left Derrick back at the resort with Bob.  It was raining hard when we arrived at their second row beach house on the south end of the island, so we went inside to relax for a while.  Eventually it did stop raining, so Emily and I went out to the beach for about a half hour to play.

Debbie made us one of her typical awesome beach lunches - a good ol' southern steampot.  Smoked sausage, corn on the cob, new potatoes, and shrimp, all boiled together.  And the shrimp was good and fresh too!  I love fresh peel-n-eat shrimp.  As usual, lunch was great.

Nothing much else to tell about Tuesday.  We headed back to New Bern around 5 o'clock.  We picked up Chinese takeout on the way home for dinner, and went back to our condo to play Blockus and Uno before retiring for the night.

Posted by rickroot at 6:41 AM | Link | 0 comments
23 June 2009

Vacation Day 3 - Monday, June 15

We had originally intended to spend Monday at Topsail Beach with our friends the Grady's.  A few days before the vacation though, we changed the plans because Marnie didn't feel it would be a good idea to take Derrick back on another car ride the day after driving to New Bern.  The trip to New Bern for them on Sunday was about 3 hours.  The trip to Topsail Beach was about 90 minutes.  So we rescheduled the Topsail trip for Tuesday.

Somehow, Monday we ended up driving about an hour and 15 minutes to go to Pine Knoll Shores (on Emerald Isle) to go to one of the North Carolina Aquarium's.  This would end up being the only time Derrick (20 months old) left the resort.  Everyone actually had a great time, and Derrick really loved the aquarium.  Marnie and Bob took Derrick back to the resort after a couple of hours and the rest of us went to Fort Macon State Park on the northern end of the island.  We had about an hour to kill before dinner, so while Adrienne and Bill went to check out the civil war era fort, Emily and Erin and Lin and I hung out on the beach.  Emily and I flew our kites and walked along the shore.  Because it's on the end of the island, swimming is not only dangerous here because of the currents, but actually prohibited.  They even say "no wading" though we did get our feet wet!

Finally 5:30 rolled around and we packed up the truck and headed to The Channel Marker, a wonderful seafood restaurant on the sound side of Atlantic beach.  This was our third trip to this restaurant and the first that it wasn't "awesome".  The appetizers were still great, my she-crab soup was awesome.  I thought the crabcakes were great but Adrienne said they weren't as good as last time.  I actually ordered a pound of peel-n-eat shrimp and it was overcooked.  Oh well.  I think we'll probably still go back.

After dinner, we headed back to New Bern for a good night's sleep.

Posted by rickroot at 7:58 AM | Link | 0 comments

Vacation Day 2 - Sunday, June 14

We had a limited schedule today for a couple of reasons.  We weren't sure when the rest of the crew was arriving, and of course it was Sunday.

After getting some breakfast, we headed out to the Aurora Fossil Museum in Aurora, NC - a very very sleepy little town about a half hour from the resort.  Sunday hours had the museum opening at 1pm and we got there around 10:30, but we were still able to dig in the fossil pit in the park across the street.  The fossil pit is a pile of rejected "stuff" from the PCS Phosphates mine.  We looked for fossils for about an hour and found numerous sharks teeth.

Then we headed up to Washington, NC, where we were going to go to lunch and maybe hit up the North Carolina Estuarium.  We had a bad lunch experience at The Meeting Place, then ended up heading back to New Bern as the rest of the family was going to arrive.  No time for the Estuarium.

Washington, NC is a pretty cool little waterfront town at the mouth of the Pamlico River.  They've undergone quite a waterfront restoration I guess, and the downtown area itself is quite cool.

One note, beware of one way streets.  Luckily for us it was pretty quiet, but we ended up driving about 5 blocks the wrong way down the one way "Main Street" in downtown Washington before we noticed.

Didn't really do anything worth mentioning the rest of the afternoon/evening.

Posted by rickroot at 5:01 AM | Link | 0 comments
21 June 2009

Vacation Day 1 - Saturday June 13

Saturday, June 13.  Emily had her "Red/Black" swim meet Saturday morning.  I woke up sneezing and with watery eyes.  Should be a fun day.  I ended up being a volunteer timer for the meet, which started at 8am and finished around 10:30am. 

We couldn't check into the hotel until 4, so we had plenty of time and no rush to pack up the truck for a week.  When you stay in a condo, you pack a lot more stuff.  Food, games, etc.  For me and Adrienne, Emily, and Adrienne's step-sister Erin, we took an amazing amount of stuff.  The bed of my pickup was pretty much full.

We finally took off around 1:30.  It's about a 2.5 hour drive to the Fairfield Harbour Resort in New Bern.  About an hour and a half in, I had to give up driving because the sneezing and watery eyes were just killing me.  I took a couple of benedryl and let Adrienne drive the rest of the way.

The benedryl didn't help, so when we got checked into the resort and unpacked into our super cool condo, I went back up the road a couple miles to a gas station and bought some Nyquil, then ordered some pizza for carryout at the Big Apple Pizzeria across the street from the gas station.  Nyquil is the only cold med I trust.  After eating some pizza, I went up to the bedroom and crashed.  It was only 8 o'clock.

The resort we were staying at was the "Wyndham Vacation Resort at Fairfield Harbour".  It's one of their older resorts - built in the 60s and 70s I'd guess from the architecture.  We had two units, one of which wee would not check into until Sunday.  The second unit was for Adrienne's sister's family, and her dad and step-mom.  But the unit we checked into on Saturday was located in the "Sandcastle II" part of the resort.  These were attached townhome style units that had recently been remodeled.

When you walk in the front door, there is a foyer and half bath, then up half a flight of stairs into the dining room, along with the full kitchen, living room, and exit to the "front porch" - the units surround a large pond, with a walkway around the pond and a few docks for fishing and such.  We had a beautiful view of the "lake".   From the dining room, up another half flight of stairs to a laundry-room which doubled as a jacuzzi tub room, and also the "master" bedroom - a double bed, desk, and full bathroom.  Up another half flight of stairs to the second bedroom and another smaller full bath, and then up another flight of stairs to a loft-style third bedroom with 2 twin beds.

About a 5 minute walk from this unit was the marina and the recreation center.  This was not really a public marina, but more a place to rent boat slips.  There was a restaurant at the marina, but no store or anything, so it wasn't the kind of marina where people would dock temporarily to load up on supplies, use the bathrooms, or anything like that.  There were a lot of big boats though, probably 80-90% of them sailboats of 30-40 feeet.  The restaurant, which we ate at twice, was not great but was decent.  Okay, we actually got carryout and took it back to the unit twice.

The rec center had a mini-golf course, indoor and ourdoor pools, tennis courts, and playground.  Amazingly, I didn't use the pool once.  I think Erin took Emily to the pool once. 

That's about all I have for "Day 1".  More to come!

Posted by rickroot at 7:51 AM | Link | 0 comments
20 May 2009

Rent my Orlando Timeshare this summer! Dates vary!

Those of you who have read my blog know I'm a Wyndham Vacation Resorts timeshare owner.  That means I've got points to be used at any of Wyndham's fabulous luxury resorts.

If you're looking to head to Orlando this summer, don't stay in a hotel!  I might be able to get you a one or two bedroom suite at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort - inside Disney Property!  Or at the Wyndham Star Island or Cypress Palms resorts - both within a few miles.

No timeshare presentation required - you're renting from me.  Rates as low as $75/night.

Lots of availability in July, August, and even into the fall.

Just email me, rick@webworksllc.com, if you're interested.

Posted by rickroot at 7:43 PM | Link | 0 comments
14 May 2009

Spend Christmas At Disney World!

Wyndham Bonnet Creek, 1BR December 20-27

Spend Christmas At Disney World!

AVAILABLE: 1 room deluxe suite, sleeps 4 at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort - "inside the gates" at Disney World!

$900 : December 20-27 (7 nights)

Dear vacationer,

My name is Rick, and I have some extra points in my Wyndham Vacation Resort account, so I'd like to rent them out to you. You will not be required to attend a timeshare presentation, it will be just like staying at a hotel.

A really, REALLY nice hotel.

Wyndham's Bonnet Creek Resort is their absolutely top of the line resort, and it's "inside the gates" at Disney World in Orlando.

Located right next to Disney's own Carribean Beach Resort, the Bonnet Creek Resort is right off Lake Buena Vista Drive, mere minutes from Disney theme parks and other attractions. The aerial photo to the left shows Epcot Center, and I've watched the epcot center fireworks from the balcony of one of the rooms at Bonnet Creek.

Aside from the usual Disney attractions, it's easy to get onto Interstate 4 from here, and take a quick trip to Seaworld, Universal, and other Orlando area attractions.


Unit Features
  • Full Kitchen
  • Washer/Dryer
  • Whirlpool Tub
  • Air Conditioning

Amenities
  • 2 Outdoor Swimming Pools
  • Lazy River
  • “Get Out & Play” Activities Program
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Outdoor Hot Tub
  • Game Room
  • Playground
  • Miniature Golf

Area Attractions
  • Magic Kingdom® Park
  • Epcot®
  • Disney-MGM Studios
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park
  • Downtown Disney® Area

Area Activities
  • Lake
  • Golf
  • Boating
  • Horseback Riding
  • Restaurants
  • Shopping
  • Masseuse
  • Live Entertainment
  • Water-Skiing
  • Jet Skiing

 


Terms and Details

No refunds are available within 30 days of travel.

Your full legal name must be provided at time of purchase for guest check-in.

The resort will require a credit card at check-in.

The images shown at the left are examples of the units in this resort. Your room may differ.

Pictures


The Wyndham Resort at Bonnet Creek


This aerial photo shows nearby Disney theme Parks!

Posted by rickroot at 1:29 PM | Link | 0 comments
21 April 2008

Going to Williamsburg this weekend

We're using some timeshare points with our Wyndham Vacation Resort timeshare to go to Williamsburg this weekend.  I got an email about a month ago saying that there were some points discounts for various resorts, and that included a 40% discount at the Wyndham Resort at Kingsgate in Williamsburg, a very nice older resort that has been renovated to be a "Gold Crown" style resort (like all of Wyndham's newer resorts).  Last time Emily and I stayed there last year, we were in a 1 bedroom lockoff, but even the half-kitchen had granite counter tops, and the TV in the living room was a flat panel!   Anyway, the 40% discount ran through the last weekend in April, so that's when I made the reservation for.

We filled out an educational leave form for Emily so we can take her out of school on Friday.  We're going to take her to Colonial Williamsburg.  We'll see if she finds it interesting.  I've never been there.

Saturday we're going to go to Busch Gardens and ride some rides!

The forecast for the weekend looks decent.. Partly cloudy and 78 on Friday, and then cloudy and 78 on Saturday - and only a 20% chance of precip both days.. then Sunday it says "Few showers" and a 30% chance of precip but we'll be coming home Sunday.  If that forecast holds out, I'll be perfectly happy.

Hey Steve, wanna hit Busch Gardens with us on Saturday?

Posted by rickroot at 9:54 AM | Link | 5 comments
18 March 2008

Weekend at the Wyndham Ocean Boulevard in North Myrtle Beach

So Adrienne and Emily and I, along with Adrienne's mom and step-dad, took a weekend trip to Myrtle Beach this weekend.  We used 66,000 of our annual timeshare points to stay in a 2 bedroom ocean view unit at the Wyndham Ocean Boulevard resort.

I've stayed at Ocean Boulevard before, with my sister, but not since it was completed.  It has four towers, three on the ocean and one across the street, along with 2 indoor and 2 (somewhat heated) outdoor pools, a (nicely) heated outdoor lazy river, and something in the neighborhood of 8 hot tubs scattered amongst the four towers.  Plus a game room with pool and pingpong tables, a computer lab, an ocean front "bar and grill", etc.  With a full kitchen and washer/dryer in the unit, it's a pretty sweet place.

Anyway, we arrived early Friday afternoon for our 2pm checkin, and since Adrienne was diagnosed with strep that morning, and Emily started complaining about her throat hurting on the way down, the very first thing we did was Adrienne took a nap and I took Emily to urgent care.  Great way to start a vacation!  Well, we got Emily on antibiotics too so the weekend went pretty good.  Jan and Bob arrived around 6:30pm and we all wandered down to Main Street in North Myrtle Beach - only 3-4 blocks from the resort - and had dinner at a seafood joint whose name I cannot remember.  It was pretty good though.  I was the only one that got seafood, and I got the soft shell crabs which were fantastic and apparently in season.  Biggest soft shells I'd ever seen!

Saturday morning, North Myrtle Beach celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a parade and a festival.  We walked up to Main Street again about a half hour before parade time and bought Emily a cool little duffle bag.  And she needed it too, because the parade was long and lots of the paraders were tossing out candy and beads.  Emily ended up with like 16 strands of green beads and a whole slew of candy.  As far as she was concerned, it was the best parade ever.

After the parade, we headed back to the resort for our vehcile, and drove up to Barefoot Landing (a few miles down US-17) to get a kite for Emily at Klig's Kites.  Klig's sells all kinds of kites, including some very expensive ones (like $300!) but we bought a nice little kite for Emily that was $25.  A lot more expensive than the $2.99 drug store kites, but flies a lot better and will probably last a lot longer too.

After shopping, we hit Joe's Crab Shack for lunch.  Nice place, good service, great food.  They "Pick Your Shrimp" special is a pretty good deal.  I had sunset glazed and malibu shrimp (5 of each) plus popcorn shrimp and a side of slaw for $11.99.  And it was all good.

Back to the condo for some kite flying, a little time in the ocean (BRR!), and a little more time in the lazy river before we headed out to Mutiny Bay Miniature Golf.  Emily has done mini golf before but never to real extravagant mini golf course, and this qualified.  We mini-golfed along the "rocky shores" of a pirate-infested "lagoon", and even witnessed an barrage of "cannon" shots between the pirate ship in the bay and the stone fortress around which we putted.  Emily was very impressed.

We followed that up with a light meal at Denny's (well, I had the french slam, but adrienne and her mom both had just soup).  Rushed back home just in time to get into the room before the nasty storms hit (including a tornado warning that was issued while we were eating dinner).

Sunday, we spent some more time in the indoor pool, and we tried to fly the kite but the wind was erratic and there were lots of downdrafts, making it dangerous to others for us to be out flying the kite.  We spent some time in the game room playing ping pong and had lunch at the pool bar before heading out to the NASCAR Speedpark, a go-kart racing facility.  Emily was only tall enough to go on "The Qualifier" track, which she did twice (at $3.23 each), and then we spent $5 in game tokens in the arcade.  We netted enough tickets for two tootsie roll pops and a "Magnetic Snakes and Ladders" game.  I guess $11 for an hour of entertainment for the 5 of us wasn't too bad (though the entertainment for the adults was watching Emily ride the go-karts).  She'd never been go-kart racing so she thought it was the coolest thing.

Jan and Bob left after that, and Adrienne took Emily down to the pool for a bit while I researched seafood restaurants.  We eventually settled on a place called The Sea Merchant which turned out to be pretty good and it was very close to the hotel (about 6 blocks down Hwy 17).  I had Grouper Parmesan, which was great.  Adrienne had the crabcakes, which were only disappointing when compared to the crab cakes we had at The Channel Marker in Atlantic Beach, NC.

Monday morning we checked out of the hotel and headed down Hwy 17 to go to Ripleys Aquarium.  It was kinda cool but very small.  We were in and out in about an hour.  Good thing the adult tickets were free, I don't think it would be worth $17.  The North Carolina Aquariums are just as nice - nicer - and cost a lot less.  Ripley's Aquarium is only 21,000 square feet, while the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is 93,000 square feet, while the Georgia Aquarium (which I went to in February while on business in Atlanta) is over 550,000 square feet!).

Overall, a great time, even though the weather was a little on the chilly side - low 70s on Saturday, mid 60s and windy on Sunday), and I don't think it was even 50 degrees when we got to the aquarium on Monday around 9:30am!

Posted by rickroot at 10:03 AM | Link | 0 comments
22 May 2007

More on the Fairfield/Wyndham Discovery Club

A little birdie told me that you should *NEVER* buy into Fairfield / Wyndham Vacation Resorts without doing their Discover Plan.  Even if you wanted to buy TODAY.

Here's what you do.

When you buy into the Discovery Club (which is essentially a Trial Membership), they give you 300,000 owner points, 12 months to use them, and 2 years to pay for them.  If you convert to a full ownership, you're not responsible for further payments on the discovery club, and every penny (excluding interest) goes towards your downpayment on the full ownership.

Now, what if you wanted to buy today?

Well, you go in and buy into the Discovery Club, make your $100 downpayment to get you into the program.  Then you go back tomorrow or next week or whatever, and convert your trial membership to the full ownership.  They REFUND you the prorated portion of what you've paid so far - AND YOU GET TO KEEP the 300,000 points (with no maintenance fees) under the same plan.. you still have a year to use them.

Chances are good that when you buy, they'll also give you bonus points too.  For example, if you buy 189,000 points, they might give you an additional 189000 bonus points with no maintenance fees to use in the first 2 years.

So if you've bought into the discovery package, you've suddenly got 678,000 points!  The 300,000 discovery points and the 189000 bonus points are essentially free (nothing's free, of course)

so why wouldn't you do the Discovery Club if you were planning to buy anyway?

Posted by rickroot at 8:54 AM | Link | 6 comments

Great Weekend in Williamsburg!

So, we headed up to the Fairfield Williamsburg at Kingsgate Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia this weekend.  Just Emily and I, actually.  The weather was pretty crappy on Friday, so we didn't leave here until around noon.  No sense in getting there too early since checkin wasn't until 4 o'clock anyway.  We drove up through Richmond and then down I-64 into Williamsburg.  We checked in and then headed to our room, Building 13, #101A.

The Kingsgate Resort looks like your average neighborhood of townhomes, for the most part.  The buildings are all 2 and 3 stories, and consist of 1-3 bedroom apartment style condos.  We were actually in a 1 bedroom lockoff in a recently renovated building.  Apparently, the Kingsgate Resort is being remodeled to Fairfield's "Gold Crown" standards.  The room was very nice - for a lockoff.  The kitchenette even had granite countertops!  The resort itself had great amenities.  Two large outdoor pools and a small indoor pool, plus a very nice hot tub outdoors.   There was a BBQ style restaurant onsite, mini golf, a large gameroom and an activities center.  Those things come in handy when you're staying more than 2 nights!

After we checked in, I gave my friend Steve a call.  He lives with his wife in Norfolk, and drove up to join us for dinner.  We went to Uno's Chicago Grille, which was maybe 1/4 from the resort.  It was pretty good, I hate the BBQ shrimp.

Emily and I then headed to the pool for a while before retiring for the night.  Saturday was going to be a big day!

Saturday morning, we headed out around 9am to go to Busch Gardens.  We stopped at McDonald's on the way in for breakfast, and walked through the park gates right around 10am, the official opening of the park.  We went on a few rides and Emily met another little girl named Taylor while waiting in line for one of the kiddie rides.  Emily and Taylor became instant friends, and so Taylor's mother Beth and I decided to let the kids hang out together for a while (apparently, Beth's fiance and sister were off riding the Griffon).  The kids went on a few more rides and then we all went on "The Big Bad Wolf", a full-blown hanging rollercoaster with a nice steep 100' drop.  Rides only had to be 42' tall and both girls were well above it.  Both girls cried at the end too, but Emily said it was fun - though she didn't want to go on it again.  It was definately the biggest rollercoaster she'd ever been on, and the first one with a shoulder bar.  Previously, she'd been on the rollercoasters at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom, but they're pretty tame and only use lap bars.

We parted ways with Taylor and her mother, and Emily and I headed back to the lockers to get her shorts on, drop off anything that we wanted to keep dry, and hit the water rides - Escape from Pompei and the Roman Rapids.  Wow, did we get wet on the latter!

We had lunch and then went on some more rides, but by around 5pm, Emily was worn out and was ready to go back to the hotel, and since we couldn't go on the biggest rollercoasters, we'd pretty much done everything anyway, so we headed back to the resort for dinner and a dip in the pool.

Dinner at the onsite restaurant was less than stellar.  They didn't have a kids menu at all, so I just ordered sides of baked beans and applesauce for Emily.  There were onions in the beans, which she wasn't very happy about.  I ordered a full rack of wet ribs with cole slaw and hush puppies.  I had to chew the meat off the bones, some of the BBQ sauce was still cold (they'd clearly thrown the BBQ sauce on pre-cooked dry ribs)... the cole slaw wasn't very good, and the hush puppies were doughy.  I ate the ribs, some slaw, and some of Emily's beans.  But after we were done, I told the server (we actually sat at the bar) that I wasn't impressed, and the manager was standing next to her while I told her.  He comped the meal and I left the server a suitable tip.  It wasn't her fault the ribs sucked.  The restaurant had apparently only been open a week and they still had some kinks to work out.

The next morning, I attended "the sales pitch."  It wasn't required, but they bribed me with free breakfast and $70 cash.  As a Discovery Club Owner, I didn't have to go through the full 3 hour presentation or whatever it is these days.  I actually sat through a 10 minute presentation by a senior sales representative in a room full of "fixed week owners".. more of a Q&A session where Fairfield is trying to get them to convert to the points system, then I spent about a half hour with the sales rep, whom I actually liked very much.  We didn't like the sales rep we spoke with back in January, so I'm happy to have found someone who can convert our Discovery package to full ownership when it expires in July.  All told, I was in and out in about an hour, with a full stomach and $70 cash in hand.  Can't complain about that.

Emily and I headed over to Water Country USA, and spent about 5 hours there.  They have no height restrictions at all on their rides, though some of the slides required that children under a certain height wear a life jacket or ride with an adult.  That's great, because some water parks simply don't let the younger kids go on the bigger slides.  For example, at Wet-n-Wild Emerald Point in Greensboro, NC, many of the rides are restricted to 45" or even 48".  Emily was scared of the bigger slides at first, but we worked up to them, going on some smaller slides first - and of course she was happy to ride on any slide where she could ride WITH me.  We only went on two slides that she had to go on by herself - the Jet Scream, in which you ride in a single tube, and the Nitro Racer, where you ride laying stomach down on a mat.  That one she didn't like.  Too fast for her!

We headed back to the resort around 3:30 pm (my feet were killing me, walking around barefoot all day!), and Emily and I both took a nap.  We didn't get check out until after 6pm (We didn't actually have to check out until Monday, but I had to work).

It was a great daddy-daughter weekend!

Posted by rickroot at 7:57 AM | Link | 0 comments
17 May 2007

Off to Williamsburg VA this weekend!

Emily and I are having a daddy-daughter weekend.  We're heading out after lunch tomorrow to Williamsburg, Virginia.  I got 3 day passes to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.  The three day pass actually costs less than two separate days.

Emily is big enough to go on all but the five largest roller coasters.  They actually opened their new drop coaster, The Griffon, earlier this week.  I'm probably not going to get to go on it =)  But we'll have a ton of fun anyway, and we'll have to wait in a lot fewer lines since all the long lines will probably be for those 5 roller coasters.

We're driving up tomorrow where we'll be staying at the Fairfield (Wyndham) Kingsgate Resort.  Probably hook up with friends Steve and Melissa (currently living in Norfolk).  Do Busch Gardens on Saturday and Water Country USA on Sunday (sunny and 83).

Should be fun!

Posted by rickroot at 10:01 PM | Link | 0 comments
08 May 2007

Upcoming Trip to Atlantic Beach (North Carolina)

So, Adrienne's folks are coming to visit for a week, and we decided a trip to the ocean was called for.  It's May, so the water may be a bit cold still, but it'll still be enjoyable - and even swimmable for me maybe.  We'll see.

Anyway, we're going to Atlantic Beach, North Carolina.  This will be our second trip to Atlantic Beach, a destination we like because it's easy to get to (only about 3 hours from Raleigh) and we like the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium, which is just down the road from Atlantic Beach.

Atlantic Beach is just south of "the outer banks" of the North Carolina coast.  The beach actually faces directly south - here's a satellite image.

We'll be spending the night at the Sheraton Atlantic Beach, which looks to be a pretty nice hotel.  It's oceanfront, we'll have an "ocean view" room, they have an indoor and an outdoor pool too, which will be nice to swim in since the ocean water will likely be kinda cold still.  It should be about 70 degrees, while it usually maxes out around 80 degrees in the summer.

One of my favorite things about going to the ocean is FRESH SEAFOOD!  Last time we were in Atlantic Beach, we enjoyed The Channel Marker Restaurant, located at the bridge on the sound side of the island.  It was awesome, to say the least.  Adrienne had what she described as the best crabcakes ever there.  I had some broiled fish platter I think, but what I remember was the crab dip, which was awesome.  They also put crackers on the table with port wine cheese.  Yum.

This time we might try The Sanitary Fish Market in Morehead City.  Numerous people recommended it.  I think it has a funny name.  It's more expensive than The Channel Marker, but looks like it's more of your "classic" southern fried fish restaurant.

The weather looks sketchy - mid 70s, scattered thunderstorms.  I think it depends in part what happens with that big ol' low pressure system hanging off the coast.

Posted by rickroot at 10:42 AM | Link | 0 comments
15 April 2007

Our visit to Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, and the Biltmore Estate

Well, we're back!  It was a short vacation, but very enjoyable.

We left Friday morning as soon as my mom and dad picked up Emily.  The were taking her to the NC Zoo in Asheboro.  We headed west and after about 4-1/2 hours, arrived at our destination - the Fairfield Mountains Resort in Lake Lure, NC.  We checked into our somewhat dated 2 bedroom villa.  It was nice, but definately built in the late 70s!  It had at least been somewhat remodeled since then.  The master bath had a gigantic jacuzzi tub.

From our balcony, we had a gorgeous view of nearby Bald Mountain, the golf course fairways, and Lake Lure was visible in the distance.

After having lunch at the little bar-n-grill at the golf course, we headed down the windy road around Lake Lure over to Chimney Rock for a quick visit.  We then checked out the menus at a couple nearby "fine dining" establishments, including the 1927 Lake Lure Inn, and the Point of View Restaurant.  Both looked good, but we decided on the Lake View Restaurant back at the resort.  But it wasn't dinner yet, so we headed to the little village of Chimney Rock for about an hour of shopping in the various stores.  Adrienne and Lin picked up these cool magnetic bracelet / necklace things.

Dinner at the Lake View was awesome.  We had a table at a window overlooking the lake.  The food and service were fabulous.  I had baked stuffed shrimp.  Adrienne and Lin had the Halibut special, while Bill got a seafood platter.

We got up Saturday morning, had breakfast at Legend's (the bar-n-grill at the golf course), then headed up the road to Asheville for our visit to the Biltmore Estate.  None of us had ever been there.  We parked and got to the house around 10:45 am, just in time for our "rooftop tour", which Adrienne had scheduled for us.  It was a guided tour consisting of about 20 patrons and a guide.  We saw several parts of the house on the way up to the roof that aren't part of the normal 62 room tour, and I got a few cool photographs from the various balconies and rooftops that we went on.  The rooftop tour took about an hour, and then we had lunch near the Stables.

Around 1 o'clock, we did our audio tour of the house, which was really cool.  The main tour - that you get with your daily admission - is 62 rooms.  I think we paid an additional $8 for the audio tour, but it was definately worthwhile.  The Biltmore Estate is really an amazing house.  Fully electrified when it opened in 1895, every room had lightbulbs, and it even had its own telephone system.  Heck, even some of the closets had lights that came on automatically when you opened the doors!  Yes, even back in 1895.

The most amazing things to me were the two lane bowling alley and the indoor pool - complete with underwater lights.  In an age when few people had electric lights in their house, George Washington Vanderbilt had a 70,000 allon indoor pool with underwater lights.

After we completed our audio tour, it was a visit to the winery for a wine tasting.  I don't like wine, but I had a glass of exceptionally tasty grape juice.  I don't believe it was Welch's.

Around 4:30 we headed back to the parking lot and our feet were killing us, so we headed home.

Dinner Saturday night was at Larkin's on the Lake, another fine dining establishment.  We had stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer.  Adrienne and Lin both had the crabcakes for dinner, while I had the prime rib, and Bill got a rack of baby back ribs.  Again, we had a beautiful view of the lake while we ate.

Sunday we headed home, and I'm freaking exhausted!  Yet here I am blogging.

Here's the link to the photo album online:  http://picasaweb.google.com/rick.root/Spring2007TripToLakeLure

Posted by rickroot at 9:00 PM | Link | 0 comments
12 April 2007

Off to Lake Lure for the weekend!

So, Adrienne and I, along with her dad and step-mom, are going to the mountains this weekend.  We're leaving bright and early in the morning, after mom picks up Emily - yes that's right, a vacation with only adults!  YAY!

We're actually going to Lake Lure, a recreational lake in the mountains just south of Asheville, and we're staying at the Fairfield Mountains resort.  Much of the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing was filmed at Lake Lure, so if you've seen the movie, you've seen Lake Lure.

Anyway, I think we're going to visit Chimney Rock tomorrow, then check into the resort, and head out to Larkins on the Lake for dinner.  Saturday we're going to the Biltmore Estate, then Sunday we're coming home - though if we get the chance I might look into stoppping to see my cousin Jennifer in Charlotte - she just had a baby boy!

It's unlikely that I'll do any blogging until I we get back!

Posted by rickroot at 8:51 PM | Link | 0 comments
23 January 2007

2007 Family Trip to Disney World

Pictures are on Google now!  http://picasaweb.google.com/rick.root/2007DisneyTrip

Like last year, we once again decided to make a trip to Disney World in January.  It's a good time to go.  January is a dry month, and it's relatively slow at the parks.  And we don't have to fight the traffic on I-95 that you normally see during "high times" like spring break, christmas, or thanksgiving.

Day 1 - The Drive

Anyway, we drove down Saturday morning (January 6).  Made the trip in about 10-1/2 hours, which isn't bad.  Incident free, and Emily was pretty good too.  It took her a whole hour to say "Are we there yet?"

We left at 6am, and so after we'd been driving for an hour or so it started to get light, and Emily looked up from her movie (she was watching CARS on my Creative Zen Vision) and said "Wow, it's day!  I didn't know we were driving all the way to daytime!".  That was pretty funny.

We stopped at south of the border for coffee and picture taking (you'll see them in the photo gallery above).

I won't bore you with the details but there were a few highlights.

Day 2 - Animal Kingdom

One of the things we like to do at Disney World is character breakfasts.  I had arranged for breakfast at Animal Kingdom on Sunday at "Donald's Breakfast-o-saurus", a counter service restaurant for lunch and dinner that they convert to a fantastic breakfast buffet in the mornings.  Our reservation was for 8am, which was actually an hour before the park opened.  The spread was awesome too, I should've taken a picture of the buffet itself!  (There are pictures of Emily with the various characters that were at this restaurant - Pluto, Goofy, Mickey, and Donald).  Cinnamon-swirl french toast, breakfast quiche, chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits with gravy, and cheesy potatoes with peppers were among the many offerings.  There was also a cold bar with yogurt, cereal, fruit and such things (we nabbed a couple of bananas for the road)

After breakfast, we wandered back out towards the Tree of Life.  The park wasn't open yet, as it was only about 8:55am, and we wanted to find out when the first showing of "It's Tough To Be A Bug" was and if we could get fast passes.  After conversing with the nice lady for a little while, I asked when the first show was, and she said "We'd love for you to be our First Family".  So she took our name down and asked which Lion King show we wanted to go to - we'd get VIP front row seats for it, so we picked 1 o'clock.  Then she tooks us back to the exit of the Tree of life theater, and sent us inside, where they seated us - and only us - for the first showing of the day.  Yeah, we were in the theater all by ourselves!  It was really cool.

We also took Emily on "Dinosaur" which was a huge mistake because the ride was scary - very scary - especially for a 4 year old.  There were no warnings about it being scary, but emily cried for 5 minutes after we got off that ride.

We were surprised later to find out that Emily was tall enough to go on the 44" rollercoasters, and there was one such ride at Animal Kingdom - the Everest Adventure, a fairly large coaster by Disney's standards, though like Big Thunder Mountain at Magic Kingdom, it does not have a steep (or large) first drop.  We did end up going backwards at one point, which was unique.  Emily was a bit dazed by the experience, but at the end of the day she said it was her favorite ride.  She's a thrill seeker (that's my girl!)

The rest of the day at Animal Kingdom was fairly uneventful.  I took lots of pictures of animals, and we went to the petting zoo and stuff.  Emily had a great time.

BTW, it was sunny and 85 degrees that day.  HOT!  I don't go to Florida in January for that kind of weather.

Day 3 - Magic Kingdom

The director here at work mentioned something about riding in the front of the monorail, which I didn't know you could do.  So since we had to ride the monorail today, I asked when we got to the monorail station if we could ride in the front, and they said sure, just go wait over there.  When the monorail arrived, we got to go in where the driver sits, right in the front of the whole thing.  It was pretty sweet.  The front only holds 4 people, and that's all we had, so it worked out well.

Not much to tell about this day except that we got to see Ariel in her "human" form, wearing her white wedding dress, and Belle in her yellow ball gown.  Last year we'd only seen Belle in her blue and white dress.  she looked good!  Belle has always been my favorite Disney princess.  Emily likes Ariel the best though.

Emily did go on Space Mountain.  She said she doesn't want to go on it again until she's a little older.  It's not a particularly smooth ride.

We did another character dining experience, this time dinner at the Liberty Square Tavern at 5pm.  It's nice to sit down for a meal after a long day at the park.  This meal was served family style - they bring you all the food on the menu and you eat whatever you want until you're full.  It seemed incredibly wasteful and I said something to the server like "You guys must waste a huge amount of food here!"  He responded that they do, but it's all turned into fertilizer!  Go figure.

Amazingly, Emily managed to survive the entire day without taking a nap.  We left after the parade but before the fireworks, so we were there from 9am to 7:30pm.

Day 4 - At The Resort

Okay, on Tuesday we decided to take a break from the parks, and hang out at the resort.  It was only 68 degrees, but sunny, and I'd promised Emily I'd take her to the pool.  We went to the pool by building three, which included a really cool waterslide.  Emily was afraid at first, but after watching me go on it, she decided she was brave enough, and that was all she needed.  She must've gone down that thing 30 times in the 2 hours we were at the pool.

Thank god it was heated.  Being in the water was fine.  Getting out kinda sucked.

We also went to Downtown Disney for some Ghiradelli chocolate and ice cream.  I got a sunday with hot fudge, caramel, and strawberries.  It was very good, as always.

Day 5 - Epcot Center

Today it was sunny again but windy and only 62 degrees.  A good day for Epcot, if you ask me, because so many of the attractions are indoors.  Emily was excited about going on Soarin' again (the flying seats, as she called them).  She also really enjoyed Turtle Talk with Crush.  Let me share her conversation with Crush

Emily:  What kind of turtle are you?
Crush:  That's a great question little dude!  I'm a green sea turtle!  Do you know why my shell is green?
Emily:  Umm.... because you're a green sea turtle?

The crowd laughed - as did Crush.

Once again, we had a sit down meal but this time without characters.  I made dinner reservations for the family to eat in the San Angel Inn, located in Mexico.  I've probably eaten there 5 times now and it's always good.  Sadly, the river board ride was closed.

Day 6 - Seaworld

It warmed up into the low 70s - and sunny again - but still not warm enough for me to sit in the "Splash Zone".  Seaworld is only open from 9am - 6pm this time of year, and the place was pretty empty!  We went straight to the dolphin cove first for an opportunity to feed the dolphins, which was pretty cool.  Most of the rest of the day was spent going to shows.  That's what Seaworld is mostly about, anyway.  emily absolutely loved Shamu, and the only souvenir she brought home from the vacation was a shamu stuffed animal and a seaworld t-shirt.  I hadn't been to Seaworld in over 5 years, so it was pretty fun.  Emily also enjoyed the kids rollercoaster they had, but she's nowhere near tall enough for the Kraken.

Mom and I were plenty tall enough though.  The Kraken is a good sized coaster with lots of loops and stuff, but it's very well designed and smooth as a baby's bottom!  It's a great ride, that's for sure.

Day 7 - Resort Day 2

Thankfully, it was much nicer today for hanging out at the pool - sunny (again) and mid 70s.  Nothing else to tell, really.  We cooked dinner in the room tonight - meatloaf, rice, and corn.  Nice home cooked meal.

Day 8 - The Drive Home

The ride home ended up being about 12 hours.  Why?  Well, we had to stop a lot more often to go to the bathroom for some reason.  Plus, we stopped and sat down for lunch.  We also stopped again at south of the Border to buy fireworks (um, only the legal kind, of course), and to take a ride up in the big sombrero.  Emily and Adrienne also got ice cream there.

Finally, in Aberdeen, we got pulled over by a copy who apparently had nothing better to do than ticket people with expired registrations.  Thankfully her inspection was current!

Nice way to end the vacation, eh?  Welcome back to the real world!

Posted by rickroot at 11:01 AM | Link | 2 comments
17 January 2007

The Fairfield (Wyndham) Discovery Club is a fantastic deal

Whether or not you buy!

Back in January of 2006, my wife and daughter and I visited Disney World, and we brought my mom along because she let us use her Fairfield Resort membership to book 5 night's at the Bonnet Creek location on Lake Buena Vista Blvd, right next to Disney's Carribean Beach Resort.

My mom - and both sisters - are owners with Fairfield Resorts (currently in the process of changing their branding to Wyndham Vacation Resorts), so we'd been through their timeshare presentation before, so although we didn't have to go through a presentation this time, I joined my mother for her 45 minute "update" presentation, and then told the sales lady that I'd like to join the Discovery Club.

The Fairfield Discovery Club is a plan that they don't tell you about until about 3 hours into the full presentation if you go through one.  They don't tell you, because NOBODY would buy before going through the discovery club plan if they did.

You see, the Discovery Club is sort of like a "Trial Ownership".  You pay a certain fee, they finance it at a good interest rate (8%) over about 2 years, and they give you 12 months to use 300,000 points, which is the equivalent of a "VIP" status owner.  Then, if you decide to buy, every penny you paid towards the principal (not interest) goes towards your downpayment, making your initial vacations practically free.

They also freeze the price for you, so as long as there is available inventory when you finally purchase, you pay the same price as the day you sign up - the prices at Bonnet Creek for the level we're going to buy have already gone up 10% or so.

If you don't buy.. well, you've paid $2500 for some really nice resort vacations.  For example, we used 291,000 points to get 7 nights in a 2 bedroom deluxe unit at Bonnet Creek in January, 3 nights in a 2 bedroom deluxe unit at their Lake Lure location in the North Carolina mountains in April, and 3 nights in a 1 bedroom "standard" unit (full kitchen still but no jacuzzi tub) in Williamsburg in May.

The 7 nights in Orlando - on disney property, in a 2 bedroom condo with full kitchen and a jacuzzi tub in the master bedroom - was easily worth the $2500.  2 pools, a lazy river, water slide, 4 hot tubs, 2 childrens pools, a playground, minigolf, lots of activities for the adults and the kids, etc.  They are really really nice resorts.

But if you *DO* buy.... well, let me give you an example.  Adrienne and I have to "convert" by July 28.  We'll have only made 16 or 17 payments of $101 each.  In order to entice us to convert, they offer to waive the remainder of our discovery club payments - so essentially we will have $1500 to put towards our downpayment, and we will have spend maybe $100 (in interest) taking 3 really nice vacations.

If you ask me, the Discovery Club is a good deal whether or not you plan to "convert" to full ownership.

Posted by rickroot at 10:00 AM | Link | 10 comments
29 January 2006

Back from the Happiest Place On Earth

Today, we returned from Orlando, where we spend 3 full days at Walt Disney World.

Instead of flying or driving, we decided to take the train, which was only $80 round trip per adult (and less for Emily).  It's a fairly tolerable trip - 14 hours overnight - but the return trip was less than pleasant because we were at the front of the car, which makes it exceptionally loud and bumpy.  Plus, the door in front of us didn't close properly so it kept banging and making noise all night.  Emily slept pretty well from 9pm to 6am, but Adrienne and Erin and I did not.  Oh well.  At least we had today to rest up.

I took a couple hundred photos, you can download the zip file here.  The photos are all 1280x960 and so are suitable for nice 4x6 prints if you want to make some prints.

Anyway, our train arrived in Orlando around 11am, we picked up our rental vehicle and then picked up Mom, who flew in for the trip.  Then we headed to our living quarters for the rest of the week - the Fairfield Orlando at Bonnett Creek.  We were booked in a 2 bedroom deluxe suite, thanks to my mom.  Don't confuse the Fairfield name with Fairfield hotels, they're definately not the same!  This resort is the only privately owned resort in the heart of Disney property, and let me tell you it's pretty sweet.

That evening, we went to Downtown Disney to do some shopping and to give Emily her first taste of Disney.  She was pretty excited.

We spent the next day at the Magic Kingdom, starting with breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table, where Emily got to meet numerous princesses.  Most of the rest of the day was spent in Fantasyland and Toontown, riding rides and meeting characters.  The night came to an end around 7:30 when it got too cold for Emily in just her little Cinderella dress.

The second day was also spent at Magic Kingdom.  We started the day a little later, taking the 10:20 bus instead of the 9:20 bus, and we made sure to dress Emily warm enough for the evening festivities, including the Spectromagic Parade and the fireworks.  By the end of the day, she was so worn out, she fell asleep in my arms around 8:35 while we waited for the bus, and she did not wake back up.  She was out for the night!

We ended up doing all of Magic Kingdom except for Tomorrowland.  We probably could've pulled off the whole park in two days had we been there open to close both days, but I'm not sure Emily could've handled it!

We spent day 3 at Epcot Center, which is my favorite park.  Emily enjoyed the rides, and we got to meet a few more characters, including the Beast, and Alice.  We also got 2 beautiful silver pearls from one oyster in the store in Japan - very cool!

Overall, this was a great trip, and Emily had a fantastic time.  4 was the perfect age to take her!

Posted by rickroot at 5:53 PM | Link | 1 comment
25 July 2005

Back from the Beach

We visited Topsail Island this weekend.  When Adrienne was little, her dad had a good friend whom he taught with at Eastern Michigan University who had a vacation home on the island.  This was back in the mid 80s.  Anyway, Adrienne and her family took several summer vacations at Topsail Beach, and since we moved to North Carolina, they've been kind enough to invite us down to visit as well.

When we went to Myrtle Beach earlier in the year, Emily was afraid of the ocean - as she always has been.  The waves scared her.

However, she is obviously over that fear now, as she found playing in the waves was a lot of fun.  I've always enjoyed it too =)

At any rate, Adrienne and I also had dinner at Latitude 34, an "up-scale" restaurant on the south end of the island.  We had eaten there for our first anniversary back in 1998, though it was under different management then, and a different name - Beauchaines.  The menu is fancy, but being an island restaurant, you don't have to dress up to go there, thank goodness.  Who takes fancy clothes to the beach?  Well, the service was great and the food wasn't too bad either.  Check it out if you're in the area.

We had a great time - I'm really glad that they invite us down, it's always a pleasure to visit.  I think next year we're going to plan a week long trip and rent a place with Adrienne's dad, step-mom, sister and brother-in-law.  Plenty of nice 4 bedroom second row places nearby for around $1000 a week in the summer.

Posted by rickroot at 1:55 PM | Link | 1 comment