Our 1st Family Trip to Disney World!

Well, it has been almost a week since we returned from our week-long vacation to Disney World and I have just finished going through all 750+ photos.  I thought I better put some memories in writing before they start fading away.  Next on the agenda will be printing some of the best photos, creating a photo book, and making a video.

Some of my favorite photos can be seen here.

Sydney and Kamryn arrive at Epcot!

We arrived Sunday morning around 9:30 AM and our room (I mean, our wonderful two-bedroom 1,100 sq. ft Town House) at Old Key West Resort was ready!  We checked-in, unpacked, ran around our new home screaming how awesome it was, and then settled down enough to head out to Epcot.  We arrived at Epcot around 11:00 AM.  We took a lot of time on this first day to visit many characters – Daisy, Stitch, Chip & Dale, Aladdin & Jasmine, Marie from Aristocrats, The Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, Goofy) at The Character Spot, and Duffy the Bear.  We also rode Soarin’, which was an instant favorite.  Kamryn & Sydney jumped up and down screaming, “That was sooooo cooool!”

The family @ Hollywood Studios

Day 2 took us to Hollywood Studios.  Our family favorites here included Toy Story Mania, Beauty & the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Fantasmic.  Michelle was brave and rode Tower of Terror and Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster with me.  Kamryn was brave and rode Star Wars Tours with Michelle and loved it.  The girls also met Woody, Buzz, Sully, and Mike Wazowksi.  And, this was the one day we let them get their face painted.

We then visited Magic Kingdom for the first time on Day 3.  Magic Kingdom was much more crowded than the other parks, but you could still move around.  We started the day eating breakfast at Chef Mickey’s in the nearby Contemporary Resort.  Breakfast was great and each member of the Fab Five came to our table to visit.  As soon as we arrived at Magic Kingdom we went straight back to the line for Rapunzel.  We knew ahead of time that this would be the longest wait, but it was a favorite of the girls, so it was worth it.  We waited a little over an hour.  Favorite rides this day were the Tea Cups, Goofy’s Barnstormer Roller Coaster, and It’s a Small World.  We also watched the show at Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor.  Kamryn was getting increasingly brave and rode Splash Mountain while Sydney took a nap.  We also had front row seats for the parade.

Kamryn rode Expedition Everest

Wednesday brought us to Animal Kingdom.  This was the favorite park for both Sydney and Kamryn.  Sydney because of all the animals, including those that she could touch!  Kamryn because she rode her first REAL roller coaster – Expedition Everest!  Michelle was glad that Kamryn took her place.  We also loved the Finding Nemo and Lion King shows.  The girls were able to meet Pocahontas, Baloo, King Louie, Rafiki, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger!  We also spotted Divine, the vine lady in the tree.

By now we were getting a little tired.  I had a sore throat all week and was losing my voice. I just figured it was God’s way of slowing me down a little bit so the rest of the family could keep up with me.

Our last two days took us back to Epcot and Magic Kingdom.  We were able to ride Soarin’ and Test Track two more times at Epcot.  Test Track took over Soarin’ as the girls’ favorite ride.  We dined with the princesses at Akershus, saw Illuminations again and visited China and France.  Our only regret of the entire trip was that we didn’t spend more time visiting countries.  The girls enjoyed coloring their Duffy Bear in China and wanted to continue to other countries, but our night was ending too soon.

Sydney's favorite ride!

The family @ Cinderella's Castle

At Magic Kingdom, we rode Peter Pan’s flight, watched Mickey’s Philharmagic, took some special pictures and visited the princesses and Micky & Minnie one last time.  Michelle and I rode Space Mountain, which we could have both done without.  Kamryn wanted to ride Astro Orbiter, but it always had a 45-60 minute wait and she chose not to wait that long.  It does not have a Fast Pass option.

My favorite memory of the entire trip wouldn’t have happened without Kamryn falling and getting hurt.  When it was their turn to meet Jasmine and Aladdin, she went running and tripped over the foot of a woman backing up into her path.  (Side note:  the only thing that really frustrated me on the trip was people not watching where they are going or stopping in the middle of a path.  It’s fine to look around at the sights, but move to the side and stop.)  OK, sorry.  Back to the story.  Kamryn tripped and went SPLAT on the concrete, scraping her knee.  She then cried and went to sit in her stroller.  The Cast Member accompanying Jasmine and Aladdin told me where we could get first aid and that Kamryn could come back to the front of the line as soon as she felt up to it.

Aladdin & Jasmine heal Kamryn's knee.

That was very nice, but it wasn’t enough for Jasmine and Aladdin.  After they spent some time with Sydney and signed both books, they went over to Kamryn at her stroller and knelt down beside her.  They talked to her about how they heal wounds in their Kingdom.  They put Camel spit on it and rub their hands together over it until it feels better.  (They did this by the way as they were telling her about it.  I’m not sure where they got the Camel spit from.  I didn’t see a Camel.)  They also put a band aid on her knee and gave her a special Jasmine & Aladdin sticker.  They spent at least five minutes with her and then helped her out of her stroller to come take a picture.  It was priceless!

Sydney & Kamryn sit down with Aurora

Kamryn’s favorite memory was riding Expedition Everest.  She even bought a stuffed Yeti to remember it.  She also loved meeting Rapunzel and Chip & Dale.  Sydney’s favorite ride was Test Track, with Soarin’ being a very close second.  She loved meeting all the princesses, but especially Aurora.  She also grew pretty fond of Minnie.  The favorite show for both girls was the Lion King at Animal Kingdom.

Kamryn holding Tinker Bell!

Michelle’s favorite moment was the way we all acted when we arrived at our villa at Old Key West.  She said we (including herself) acted like “a bunch of hillbillies going on vacation!”  Michelle really liked Star Wars Tours and Test Track, as well as the Finding Nemo and Beauty and the Beast shows.  Judi’s favorite ride was her scooter!  Besides that, she enjoyed Soarin’ (although she had her eyes closed most of the time), Kilimanjaro Safari, Finding Nemo and Beauty & the Beast.  She also loved the whole Disney experience and watching the girls have fun.  My favorite ride was Aerosmith’s Rockin Roller coaster, and I really enjoyed riding Expedition Everest with Kamryn as well.  My favorite show was Mickey’s Philharmagic, but I also liked Beauty & the Beast and Finding Nemo.

It’s hard to put a value on staying on site, but it’s hard to beat unless you plan on visiting other attractions around Orlando.  The bus transportation around Disney is better than I expected and makes getting around very easy.  And although I love taking my own pictures, I’m glad I also pre-purchased the PhotoPass CD.  They provided us many extra photos that we wouldn’t have otherwise and a few magic shots that are pretty cool.

Our last photo with Mickey & Minnie

It was a wonderful trip!  We all had a great time and are settling back into the real world.  I’m sure the girls would go back tomorrow, but we’ll probably take a few years before we try to go back.  Kamryn appears to be ready to be my riding partner from now on, while Michelle and Sydney take in all the shows.

Kamryn & Sydney are Five!

Kamryn & Sydney at Great Wolf Lodge

I can’t believe Kamryn and Sydney are five years old today!  They have really grown up over the last year.  I looked at this year’s birthday as their first milestone, so we tried to make it extra special.  Although they didn’t seem to remember, we discussed some options for their birthday a couple of months ago.  They wanted to have a party with friends, but they obviously indicated that they would love to go to Great Wolf Lodge again even if that meant skipping a “Birthday Party.”  They had so much fun in the spring, that we decided to surprise them for their birthday – and boy were they surprised!
The beginning              A little farther along.            Almost complete!Kamryn not wasting any time.          Sydney looks a little excited.             Inside their new playground.We had also been planning to get them a playground for our backyard.  I knew trying to get it done during Christmas would be difficult and practically impossible to make it a surprise.  Fortunately my Dad and Father-in-Law agreed to work on it while we were out of town at GWL.  Even though there were a couple of setbacks, they managed to have it completely finished in time for the big reveal Tuesday night.  I knew we wouldn’t be able to keep them from seeing the backyard for two more days!  So, with all the grandparents present, we showed them the completed playground and had a little cake and ice cream.Birthday Number 5                    Blowing out their candles.I sure hope they remember their 5th birthday.  If not, I have plenty of pictures to remind them. 🙂  Now to get ready for Christmas!

Coach K’s 903rd Win!

I guess I first became a Duke fan at the age of 5 when Duke played Kentucky in the 1978 championship game. We lived in Texas at the time and soon moved to North Dakota. I can still remember an advertisement for Duke University that played during the game. They talked about how their athletes were more than athletes, they were some of the brightest students in the nation. At least that’s the way I remember it. That really sunk in even though I was so young. I thought, “Wow, these guys are smart AND good at basketball.”

Then, we moved to Goldsboro, NC in the summer of 1984. I was so excited to learn that we were only an hour and half way from Duke. Because I had lived so far away from North Carolina, I didn’t understand the rivalry between UNC and Duke at first. This will be shocking to those who know me well, but I actually wore some UNC T-shirts when we first moved to North Carolina. However, I soon learned that I had to choose sides and choosing Duke was an easy decision for me.

Being a Duke fan is not always easy. Duke football has been frustrating and the lacrosse case was pretty upsetting. However, I have remained a loyal Duke fan for some 30 plus years. Watching Coach K set the NCAA record for all time wins was fun and has made me recall all the other times being a Duke fan has been great. Beating UNLV in 1991 and then winning the first national championship will always be my favorite memory. However, beating Kentucky in the best game ever in 1992 and then going on to win Back to Back championships was pretty special too.

If you are a Duke fan, or even if you are not, I hope you enjoy watching Duke’s tribute video, “America’s Best Coach.” I LOVED IT!

Apple forcing me to move my website and photos

Well, Apple has stuck it to a lot of us by doing away with MobileMe and converting to iCloud.  This might sound great to newbies, but they are not just improving things, they are doing away with web hosting and the photo gallery.  So, my website no longer has a home and all the time I spent on my photo galleries is going to be thrown away.  This is the first time I’ve really been frustrated with Apple.  So, I have decided not to pay another company for parking my website.  I’ll just modify this free blog to look like a website and point my domain (dukeroom.com) here.  I’m not going to do that immediately, so you may still find my old website if you go to dukeroom.com.

More important than the website to me is a new home for my photos.  I think I have decided on SmugMug.  They seem to give you the most bang for your buck and have a lot of cool features, while keeping it pretty simple.  They also give me unlimited storage of full resolution pictures.  So, not only can I share my photos with you, I can also use it as a backup.  You can find my photos at dukeroom.smugmug.com.  I also included a link (Photos) at the top of this page.

I’m not really much of a writer, so the blog entries may be few and far between.  However, I’ll try to do at least a few a year to update on the family and maybe some of our trips.  I did do a couple of blogs on my old site that I’ll probably repost here for safe keeping.

Thanks for following and please feel free to offer suggestions.

– David