Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 35 Another Day at Disney

This is most of the cast of the show we watched on Main Street. The dapper fellow on the right is Scoop Sanderson. You can see the fire cheif on the left and in the background on his right is the mayor. Two of the 1890s ladies are also in view as is one of the three sax players that accompany them. The show involves nice singing and (bad) jokes. It is a lot of fun,.

We were up early. I (Mel) did not sleep particularly well. We are now in the Bay Lake Tower Villas. The place is beautiful. We got ourselves together and ate breakfast. We wanted to make it to early opening hours at the Magic Kingdom. We walked from our building to the entrance and watched the opening show and then went in.

The place was pretty empty. We have observed that families with young children do not get them up and out very quickly so if you are in early you can do lots of rides with virtually no lines. We did about 6 rides in a couple of hours, watched a long show on Main Street, and did some pin shopping. All these things required walking to different parts of the park so by 11:30 it was hot and we were tired.

We had made an appointment to attend a member event for Disney Vacation Club members so we went back, and had soda until the time. We then spent a couple of hours at the event. This event was held on The Top of the World. That is an observation deck on the 16th floor of the Bay Lake Tower Villas. The views are spectacular. Florida is pretty flat so you can see Sea World, Universal Studios Park, and downtown Orlando, as well as super views of the Magic Kingdom itself. We have access to that room by virtue of staying here on points and may use it to view the fireworks on night.

 We are now back in the room, chilling. I worked a bit. Papers are coming in and I graded a couple.  Debbie is doing laundry and reading.

At about 4:30 pm I got a call from a writer for our hometown newspaper in Cortland, NY. I had emailed the writer for the Living section and told her about our trip and gave her our blog address. She called to do an interview by phone. We talked for about 30 minutes or so. I emailed her two pictures of our bike and trailer.  I have no idea what she will do with the information but I hope someone at home buys a couple of papers if a story appears about us.

At 5:00 there is a pin-trading session in the Towers and at 7:00 there is one in the Contemporary. We went to both.  We got a couple of good pins for our collection.

Today’s ride: No miles.

Debbie’s emotionometer:
Good spirits, although Mel was tired all day today. We had the morning at Magic Kingdom and the afternoon and evening at the hotel. Lots of good pin trading. We are planning to watch a movie DVD tonight that we borrowed from the DVC library.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 34 Bay Lake Towers and Animal Kingdom

We saw a lot of giraffes and one juvenile was nursing. We have never seen anything like this before here.

We were up relatively early. I worked a bit and Debbie did laundry. We did not bring much in the way of clothing and the heat down here requires frequent washes.

This was to be the day we packed and rode over to our new accommodations so we packed. We should have done that last night but we were too tired. We finally got on the road at about 8:00am and biked the 5.6 miles from Old Key West to the Contemporary, the sight of check in for the DVC at Bay Lake Towers.

We road up, parked the bike and went in to register. A woman came over to us. Her name  was Judy and she was  a “greeter” and facilitator. She was blown away by what we had done and had to see the bike. We took her out and were soon surrounded by a small crowd of onlookers including the hotel manager, Patrice, who gave us a balloon bouquet saying “Celebrate!”. They helped us through the process of getting settled. A bell person helped us with getting  our trailer into our room. Patrice even brought out a camera and took our picture. They were all very nice and very helpful and supportive.

We went up to our room. It is beautiful. We changed and got ready to go out. First we went down to the “cafĂ©” and got our refillable mugs and had a couple of sodas. Then we went out to grab a bus to Animal Kingdom.

It was hot. We did less at AK than usual. With no grandchildren with us we have no incentive to rush and burn the candle at both ends. We did the safari ride, the Nemo show, and the Lion King show. On the Safari we got a wonderful picture for my granddaughter Julia. We ate lunch. We also described our ride countless times. We had been given buttons that said, “ celebrating bicycling from NY’” and that was a conversation starter. One cast member was so impressed that she gave us each a free Mickey ice cream sandwich. We also did a bunch of pin trading, and were able to get a lot of the pins we were hunting.

We decided to leave about 3:45. It appeared that the afternoon storm was developing. It has not hit yet. We are back at the room. When we arrived, we found a little “congratulation” present, including the picture that Patrice had take in the morning, a photo album, and a disposable camera to replace the camera we lost. Thanks, Patrice, you rock! We did a bit of cleaning up, I worked for a bit, downloaded some pictures, and wrote this blog. I only have my cell phone for digital pictures so they are not all as good as they might be. We will go out to dinner somewhere in a bit.

Today’s ride: We rode 5.8 miles at 8.9 mph. We were on the bike for 39 minutes which give the heat and humidity was more than enough to get soaking wet. The trip stands at 1376 miles.

Debbie’s emotionometer:
We are pumped by the kindness and powerful reaction we got at check-in here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 33 A Day at the Magic Kingdom

When we got back to the room today we found the following package on the bed with a note of congratulations on our retirement. The contents were fruit, tea, cups, and an alarm clock all in a Mickey-shaped basket. We we have not retired. I think they mean our ride down here. What a nice gesture.

Yesterday we returned to find a balloon bouquet with a discount photopass card attached. Also a very nice gesture.

Neither of these was in any way expected but very much appreciated..

We slept a bit later, not much. We got up and cleaned up. I got online and did a bit of work. Then we got our act together and set off.

First there was breakfast and a run through the shop to do pin trading. We had decided to go to the Magic Kingdom again so we boarded the bus bound for there. We got in about 9:15 and started pin hunting. We seemed a bit more rested than yesterday.

We spent the morning pin trading and doing rides. We made it a point to be on Main Street at 10:45 to greet one of our favorite characters - Scoop Sanderson. He plays a reporter for some local late 19th century newspaper. There is a cast of characters that sometimes appear with him including a “mayor.” Today it was just Scoop and a lovely young lady in 1890's garb. In addition to his comedy role, Scoop is a pin-trading expert. We traded with him of course.

After Scoop there were some rides and then lunch. After lunch we did a few more rides and wandered around talking to people. At around 2:00 pm we started to hear the rumbling and noticed that parts of the sky were darkening. We thought the afternoon storm was coming so we decided to go back to our room to sit it out. We left, took the bus, and just made it as the rains started.

I worked for a while. Debbie read. After a couple of hours we started to get hungry so we set off for Downtown Disney to eat at one of the Wolfgang Puck restaurants. It seemed to take forever for the bus to arrive but before too long we were at the restaurant having a very nice meal (Disney Dining Plan).

After dinner we “window shopped” at the pin store. We then went out to wait for the bus which took forever to arrive. The ride back to the room took almost 45 minutes. One reason was that we ran into a traffic light that would not turn green. The driver had to call in for help to get it fixed. We met an interesting couple on the bus and talked about grandchildren and digital cameras.  Finally we got back.

Tomorrow we check out and ride over to the Bay Lake Towers for the rest of our stay here.

Today’s ride: None, just many miles of walking.

Debbie’s Emotionometer: Disney is great. Nobody was Grumpy today.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 32 Old Key West At Last

We got up early at the Hawthorne Suites. Neither Debbie nor I slept well. No reason. The room was great, the bed was comfortable, the air conditioning worked well. I particularly slept very poorly. That might explain why I dragged all day.

We got up, did the usual. I got online and did a little work and checked to see if there were comments on yesterday’s blog. Debbie did the laundry because the machine had been busy the night before and since we were up at 5 and breakfast was not until 7 there was plenty of time. Then we packed and loaded the bike. One bad thing. We lost our camera. We have no idea how or where but it is gone. I will be limited to my cell phone for the rest of the trip.

We had the Hawthorne’s very nice breakfast, checked out, and road the 3.7 miles to Old Key West. When we got there, the folks out front that help guest were amazed at our trip. They said we could check everything if we could not get into a room right away and at 8:30 am we did not think a room would be available.

We went in to check in and the woman at that was helping us was also amazed. She did have a room but it was second floor. She then proceeded to juggle things and gave us a choice of first floor rooms that were immediately available. We took the one closest to the bus stop. What good luck.

We first took our refillable mugs out back and sat and had some soda. Then we rode over, put the bike in the room and unpacked. After a brief rest we took Disney Transportation to the Magic Kingdom where we spent most of the day. It was hot. We did a bunch of rides and a lot of pin trading. Then we went over to Epcot basically for dinner although we did two rides there too.

As we left Epcot we could see the storm developing. While we waited for the bus we could see lightening strikes that appeared to be 4-5 miles away. When we got off the bus back at Old Key West it was just starting to sprinkle. Within a minute or so of getting into the room, the skies opened up with a downpour you could almost not see through. There were also plenty of pyrotechnics and claps of thunder. I am glad we got in, just.

Back at the room,  I have done some more work and am writing this blog entry. It is not the last one but with the exception of the ride over to Bay Lake Towers on June 21, the ride to Walt Disney World is history.

Today’s ride: We rode 3.7 miles at 8.9 mph. We were on the bike for about 28 minutes. We are 1370 miles into the ride.

Debbie’s emotionometer: High spirits! Love Disney!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 31 We Did It!

We got out on time this morning at about 6:10 thinking we had about 48 miles to get to the Hawthorne Suites on the Palm Parkway. We did not want to take a chance on not getting to Disney today so when we added to our reservation, we just added two days. So we are here, about 2 miles outside one of the entrances in a nice two room suite.

The ride from Umatilla was difficult. The road was rolling and curvy. We could not seem to get the bike above 9 mph except when were going down hill.

We stopped for second breakfast at a Subway near Sorrento, FL. We also bought a lot of water because were unsure of what might be up the road. We had gone about 18 miles. That’s not a lot but we were pretty tired and hungry.

We cruised (or struggled) on. We stopped for lunch at noon a Sam’s Club in Ocoee (a suburb of Orlando). We had gone about 38 miles. It appeared that a thunder storm was imminent so we decided to sit it out there. We heard thunder but the storm never really hit so we left. The sky looked threatening and we even got a few sprinkles, but never the real storm.

The road after Ocoee was no easier. Just getting to the correct street was a challenge. There was major road construction at the intersection and there was considerable traffic. We just had to wait it out for our opening. Then it was more of the climbing the same 50-100 foot hill, over and over again.

We made a stop about 7 miles later. According to our best estimate, looking at the map, we had 7-10 miles to go. So off we went.

Something changes. All of a sudden (it seemed) we were cruising along at 13, 14, 15 miles an hour. We did most of the last 8 miles at that speed. It was really fun. Maybe it was a reward or compensation for the difficult ride earlier that day. Who can say?

We finally arrived at the Hawthorne Suites and got a room. The desk manager, Jason, was extremely friendly and helpful. He had no problem finding a safe indoor place for our bike.
We got a great suite, cleaned up, and ordered out food. I did my work. We feel great, if a bit tired.

The “end of the ride” is bitter sweet. On the one had, it is over and we have been successful. Success was always an empirical issue as I had gotten an injury on two of our previous long-distance tours. On the other hand we are not getting up early to ride a long distance tomorrow. The trip is over. Now we do Disney.

Today’s ride: We rode 53.1 miles at an average speed of 9.2 mph.  We were on the bike for5 hours and 43 minutes.  We are 1366 miles into our trip. If you want to be technical about it, we will not be to the first of our Disney destinations for another 5 or so miles. We will be staying at Old Key West for two nights and the moving to the Bay Lake Towers for six nights.

Debbie’s emotionometer:
Mixed. We are feeling good about having accomplished our goal, but feeling a little let down that the journey is over. However, there is Disney for the next week, and that is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

An added note about the scenery today and weather today. It was cooler today because of the cloud cover much of the day. The down side of that was the threatened thunderstorms. In terms of scenery, we went by lots of horse farms and ranches, and saw lots of signs advertising pigs for sale. If anyone wants to buy a pig, we can tell you where to go. We also saw two large birds walking by the side of the road that were maybe 4 or 5 feet tall. They were brown with straight pointed beaks. There was a bit of red on the side of the head.  They had a crown of feathers on top of their heads. We had never seen anything like them before and wondered if they were wild or had escaped from a bird farm. We also passed lots of lakes. This part of Florida is quite pretty and more rural than we had expected given its closeness to Orlando.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 30 Through the Forest

After a rest day the world did not look quite so gloomy. We were up and into the breakfast by 5:45 am.  A quick eat and we were off at 6:10.

Sadly the initial half mile was uphill. That is a tough beginning for someone who warms up as slowly as I do. As it turned out, the road was not as flat as the previous several days. In fact it was rolling. The trouble is that on our fully loaded bike with the trailer, we don’t roll so well.

The ride from Palatka to Salt Springs was challenging. We had to climb over a couple of steep bridges as well as deal with the “rolling” terrain. The picture is a view from one of those bridges. We had been told that there was nothing between Palatka and Salt Springs and that was accurate. We were also told there was not much in Salt Springs. That turned out to not be too accurate. There was a resort which we did not need. But there was also a little restaurant that served quite good plate-sized pancakes. We had a nice waitress who kept bringing us water so we could top off our camelbacks. We talked to lots of people who were amazed at our trip. We met a couple who were on a Harley trike and who understood our wanderlust.

Finally we were off. It turned out to be a tough ride. The terrain was definitely rolling. There was nothing between Salt Springs and the end of the Ocala National Forest about 30 miles away. Well, there was a porta-potty at about the half way point. It was hot.

Finally we came out of the forest and there were several minimarts. We stopped and drank and ate a bit. We got information that there was basically one motel about 5 miles down the road in Umatilla. After our break we took off.

The next several miles were very difficult. The terrain was no longer rolling. It was consistently uphill and there was a pretty good headwind building up. It was miserable. Add to that, the usual late afternoon thunderstorm appeared to be arriving in the early afternoon.

We got into town, asked for directions and found the motel. The office was closed and there were phone numbers on the door. We put the bike undercover just before the storm hit. I called a couple of the numbers and got the owner who came over in about 15 minutes. We checked into a room. It was very 1950s but huge with a full kitchen. The woman upgraded us I suspect when she heard that we bicycled from New York. She said that her husband, an attorney was from Hornell, NY. We chatted for a while. She checked the modem to make sure the Wi-Fi would work. Then she offered to let us use her washer and dryer for free. Wow.

My son-in-law just sent me this link which I had managed to miss. It is a link to the article written about us by the reporter we met in Richmond Hill, Georgia.

Today’s ride: We rode 58.9 miles at an average speed of 9.4 mph. We were on the bike for 6 hours and 12 minutes. We are now 1313 miles into our trip and the end is in sight.

Debbie’s emotionometer: Good mood most of the day. Grumpy the last 5-6 miles as we desperately needed to eat, drink, rest, and cool off after 30 miles of no services. After resting, drinking, and eating the mood improved. There was also some anxiety about the approaching thunderstorm with us still on the bike. Fortunately, we won that race and got under cover before the storm broke.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 29 Our First Complete Rest Day

We got up and ate breakfast. We both had gotten up in the middle of the night, perhaps as a result of the raging thunderstorm outside. We both could not get back to sleep very fast. We were pretty tired.

We got the bike out and set up. The Inn’s breakfast opened early so we ate there. Then we got on the bike to ride. I (Mel) felt terrible. I am pretty sure it was profound fatigue. We got about a quarter of a mile, not even out of the parking lot and decided to turn around and take a rest day. We went back and the front desk person simply canceled our checkout and we stayed.

We went back into breakfast and had coffee. I got online and graded a discussion that had come due the previous night. Shortly after finishing we went for a walk and ate lunch at Sonny’s BBQ.
Debbie had checked out the movies so after lunch and a stroll through the mall, we saw The Karate Kid. It was a pretty good remake.

After that we went beck to the room and watched a movie, ordered a pizza, and chilled.

That’s all folks!

Debbie’s Emotionometer:
Tired and grumpy (Mel) until we called a rest day. Then we were in good spirits. What does that tell us about this bike trip? It looks like two more riding days to Disney World. We will hopefully land there on Friday.