Friday, March 30, 2012


So, let's pretend that I don't have a full-time job and I don't attend school part-time.  We'll just pretend I'm some slacker who has nothing better to do than sit around all day.  What would I do?  

I think my days would start around 9-ish.  I'd eat breakfast and chill with the dog.  There'd be reading.  Lots of reading.  And TV/movie time.  And video games (even though I'm terrible at them).  And time on the computer, of course.  I'd have more time to cook and bake.  And with all that free time, I might actually exercise now and then.  And, if I could motivate myself to go anywhere alone, I could go take pictures whenever I wanted.  Nothing would be rushed, and things would get done when I was ready to do them.

Now, back to reality.  My day starts at 7:30 when I let the dog out and get my computer all ready to go.  Breakfast normally occurs sometime between 8 and 9, and is eaten while I work.  I usually have some kind of frozen food or leftovers for lunch around noon and then take my official lunch break at one (during which I typically play video games or do chores).  I work until just after four and then I usually take a post-work nap to revive myself.  After that, it's a combination of finding/fixing/eating dinner, watching TV with Hubby, doing homework, keeping up with FB or Skype, and a few video games here and there.  By 11, I'm usually brushing my teeth (if not already in bed), and then (if I'm awake enough) I have time to read a bit before I go to sleep.

Weekends are only slightly different.  Instead of work, I do homework all day (alternating with naps, puppy cuddles, and computer time).  But the same general stuff applies.  

I'm not really complaining.  I like working from home (even if I'm not crazy about my job), and 7:30 isn't nearly as early as most people probably get up for work.  I do get time to do some fun stuff in between, but weekends are mostly blown because on weeknights, all I want to do after work is relax, so homework gets piled up for Sat and Sun.  It's not bad, but I do look forward to the day when it's only work and not work + school to worry about.  Too bad it'll be another 4 years...

This blog post really didn't turn out the way I thought it would.  Not going to bother posting on FB.  Whoever reads it, reads it.  No one will be lost or missing out if they skip it.     

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Keep Both Eyes on the Puck

It's for your own safety.

Last night, Hubby and I went to a Milwaukee Admirals game.  (For those unfamiliar with the Ads, this is our local AHL team.)

Now, I will be the first to admit that I don't know dick about hockey.  Here's the extent of my knowledge:
People hit a puck with a stick and try to get it into the other team's goal.  

OK, I know a few other things, too, I suppose.  Like, it's OK to slam someone into the wall (in fact, checking seems to be encouraged, at least by the crowd), but if you do something too naughty (hooking, slashing, tripping...), you get sent to the penalty box (which means power play for the other team).  

Anywhoozles, I don't care.  Without knowing anything about it, hockey is damn fun to watch.  It's fast-paced, semi-violent, and exciting.  What else do you need?

Well, going to an Ads game reminds me of going to a minor league baseball game (Mallards, anyone?).  Any time there's a small break, there's some kind of contest or trivia going on.  And between periods, we get to watch random fans do ridiculous things to win a prize.  Also, Zambonis.  Need I say more? 

Last night was pickle night (apparently today is pickle day?), so most things were pickle-related.  There was a pickle-eating contest, pickle trivia, and even pickle relay races on the ice.  Hubby got to wear a paper pickle hat, which made my whole night.  And I learned things!  Like, Cleopatra apparently attributed her beauty to eating pickles.  Who knew?  

My favorite part of any Ads game is the mini-blimp that putters around before the game and between periods.  I always want to find the guy/gal who controls it and ask if I can give it a whirl.  It just looks like fun!  Plus, it drops coupons on people.  What's not to love?  Add a pirate ship to the mix and you've got one heck of a show, my friends.

The game was a close one, and it came down to 4-on-4 sudden death OT.  With mere seconds left on the clock (the main clock said 3.1, but I've heard it was more like 4.5), the Ads scored for the win.  It was pretty insane, and a TON of fun to be there for!  If you want to check out any of the highlights, you can go to the Admirals TV page for videos.

Aside from the normal hockey related things, other items of interest included:
  • A little girl in the bathroom whose mother wanted her to hurry up so they didn't miss the game.  "OK, the game's going to start!  Let's get going!"  Little girl pops out of the stall.  "Ta da!!"  I told Hubby about this, observing that small children are instantly 400 times funnier when they're in a public bathroom.  This prompted Hubby to ask, "What was that little girl's song?"  And thus I began singing, "I love potatoes!"
  • A little boy (maybe about 5 or 6?) across the ice from us who was dancing up a storm all night!  He even busted out the sprinkler.  I was thoroughly impressed.
  • An awesome older lady got to ride along on one of the Zambonis.  She spent the whole time waving to the crowd and smiling.  That woman is my new hero.
  • One of the poor girls involved in a pickle race kept mooning the stands when she bent over for a pickle.  Not good.  I'm pretty sure that would be one of my worst nightmares come true.
  • David Greuber was sling-shotted down the ice into giant boxes of Uncle Ben's.  If you're from Milwaukee, you know who David Greuber is.  "One call, that's all..."  I was glad he didn't win the contest.  That man annoys the piss out of me.
So, it was a fun night with the hubs, and we agreed that we definitely need to go watch more hockey games!  Maybe I'll learn something about it one of these days...  


Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games: The Odds Were in Their Favor

I should totally be doing homework right now, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.  And I gotta gush!

Hubby and I went to see Hunger Games last night.  I had bought my tickets a month in advance (because I'm a huge nerd) and we had chosen the 9:45 show so we could go out for a nice dinner together beforehand.  We wound up grilling steaks and eating at home instead, but it was definitely a nice dinner.  :)

We got to the theatre probably 15-20 minutes before showtime.  We grabbed some popcorn (Hubby's an addict) and drinks and went to find seats.  It wasn't as crowded as I had anticipated!  We decided to sit fairly close to the front (primarily because we didn't want to deal with the teenagers toward the back) and had our whole little row to ourselves.  

We got to see some fun previews.  The upcoming Spiderman movie looks pretty intense, though I still don't understand why they're making it so shortly after the other trilogy ended.  What To Expect When You're Expecting actually looks like it could be good!  The cast is stellar, at least, so if it's not good, that's just sad.  And, of course, there was a short preview for the next Twilight movie (which some people actually booed at; I didn't think that was necessary, but it was a little funny).  

And then it was time.

From the opening shot through the end of the movie, I'm not sure I blinked.  I didn't want to miss a single detail, a single moment.  District 12 was almost exactly as I had imagined it: the fence at the edge, the Hob, everything.  The colors and outrageous fashions in the Capitol were beyond what I even imagined.  And the arena was equal parts beautiful and terrifying.

Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as Katniss.  Beautiful and strong, she represented everything that Katniss is in the books and I was routing for her just as fervently as I had while reading.  Liam Hemsworth is a little too pretty boy for my taste.  I kind of pictured Gale as being a bit more rough around the edges with an ooey-gooey center, you know?  But that's just me.  Everyone was so gung-ho about Josh Hutcherson from the get-go as Peeta, but I wasn't convinced.  Until I saw the movie.  He was wonderful, playing the perfect counterpart to Jennifer's socially awkward, but well-intentioned Katniss.

I still say that Woody was damn near the perfect Haymitch, though I expected a little more of a struggle with him.  And I was very pleasantly surprised that Lenny Kravitz did such a great job as Cinna.  


If you haven't read the books and/or seen the movie, you might want to stop reading now and come back another time.

OK.  Last chance.  Going once?  Going twice?  Gone.

The Good
I already pointed out some of the good, but here are a few other things I just have to praise.
  • The screenplay, for the most part, stayed very true to the story told in the book.  Sometimes when books are adapted for screen or TV, you get some weird things going on where you're going, "WTF?  That never happened!"  I was never seriously upset about the changes that were made (perturbed, yes, but not upset) and the story line itself stayed intact.  
  • The use of the Hunger Games commentators and media.  I was wondering how they would explain certain things, since a lot of the book's descriptions are in Katniss' mind as she narrates.  The commentators during the games did a great job of getting some of that settled, as did the film shown at the reaping.
  • The outfits.  Katniss is, after all, the girl on fire!  And the movie did not disappoint.  In my mind, the first outfit (in the chariot) was a bit more elaborate, but I think I liked the simplicity in the movie.  The effect was stunning.  And the dress with the flames was actually breathtaking. 
The Bad
OK, nothing was REALLY bad about the movie, but there were a few things that bothered me.
  • The mockingjay pin.  In the books, the pin is so significant.  It's a symbol of one of Katniss' few friendships back home, and then becomes all the more important when she finds out it was owned by a former Hunger Games tribute.  In the movie, she just stumbles across it at the Hob and then gives it to Prim to keep her safe?  WTF?  We don't even give Prim much thought in the book until her name is called at the reaping, but from the opening, we're so focused on how scared she is.  It comes as no surprise when Prim's name is picked because we've done the whole, "Oh, it'll never happen!  You'll be safe!" thing.
  • Avox?  What's an Avox?  Not a damn thing about them (save for an early reference that Katniss makes about the Capitol removing their tongues as potential punishment).  Maybe they'll get into it for the second movie, but I was definitely disappointed they were left out. 
  • Cinna's team.  In the book, we get way closer to his team of crazy stylists, and they play rolls in the next books as well, so why did we just gloss over them?  Hopefully that will also be remedied in the next movie.
  • The pivotal moment when the announcers tell the tributes that two of them can win if they're from the same district, and Katniss automatically cries out for Peeta.  In the movie, she just barely whispers his name and then goes to find him.  In the book, it's this point that they use to explain when Katniss really begins to love Peeta (at least in her interviews).  She calls out for him without first thinking about giving away her own position, and this hushed version felt less special to me.
The (In)Different
There were a few other things that were tweaked in the movie that weren't necessarily good or bad.  Just different.
  • The parachutes.  I understand it would be hard to explain the thought process Katniss goes through to figure out the timing of the parachutes, so the little notes were cute.  They totally skipped the one that has the sleeping serum for Peeta (so Katniss can slip out and get his medicine), but still made it work.  
  • The mutts.  Actually, I'm a little glad they didn't make them so strongly resemble the fallen tributes as they had in the book.  That was effing scary, and because we didn't spend as much time focusing on each tribute in the movie, it might not have had the same effect anyway.
  • Rue.  She was more timid than in the book.  It was endearing, and did make her a lot like Prim (one of the main reasons Katniss takes to her so well), but I missed the line where she tells the audience not to discount her.
  • Haymitch.  Not nearly as sloppy drunk as he is in the book.  I kind of thought Woody could've played more into that, but I also understand that Haymitch isn't the focus of the story.  Plus, this way we didn't have to see him puking and Peeta having to clean him up.  That's a win.
  • Post-games.  They didn't go through the process to heal the winning tributes, nor did Katniss and Peeta have much of  a falling out at the end (you know, once more for the cameras).  The emphasis was on the games, and that's OK, but some more dialogue between the victors could've been helpful in setting up the next movie.
In all fairness, I don't know for certain there will be follow up movies, but, c'mon.  You can't leave with President Snow just walking away and expect me to think that's that!  Even without reading the books, that just screams, "Unfinished business!  Sequel's a-coming!"

All in all, I definitely encourage you to see the movie.  Reading the books first will give you a greater appreciation and understanding of what you're watching, but if you prefer just to see the movies, then happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor!                

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Race Home

Saturday morning marked our last few hours of Disney magic.  We woke up, packed up and went to put things in the car for the long drive home.  Hubby pointed out that it was a little sad going past Bestie and C's room, knowing they weren't there anymore, and I had to agree.  After one last sweep of the room, we closed the door behind us for the last time and headed for the car.  I finally broke down crying.

"We'll be back, hon..."

"I know.  It's not even that.  I'm just gonna miss [Bestie] so much.  I didn't realize just how much I missed her..."

I managed to stop crying long enough to get in the car and head to the resort's food court for breakfast (yay for Mickey waffles!).  After a brief stop at the gift shop (where I got my Haunted Mansion pins that Hubby had promised I could get), it was goodbye Disney, hello 20+ hours of driving!

We hadn't decided yet if we were going to stop somewhere for the night or just drive through.  On the one hand, sleep is good and we knew we'd be tired at some point.  On the other hand, if we weren't home by noon on Sunday to pick up the puppers, we wouldn't be able to get her until Monday!  It was a conundrum for sure.

Hubby drove the first couple hours, and then handed the wheel off to me so he could get a nap and do some of the later driving.  Unfortunately, this resulted in me driving through Atlanta, which was not on my list of things I wanted to do.  It wasn't actually terrible, but we did hit some traffic, and in a stick, stop-and-go is never fun.  

The one thing we had to look forward to was the Marietta Diner.  We had decided that we wanted to try to stop at a restaurant along our trip that had been on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  Lo and behold, the Marietta Diner was along our route, so we made it a plan.  The place was packed when we pulled in, but the wait only ended up being about 20 minutes.  The worst part of the wait, I'm sad to say, wasn't that I had to pee or that I was so hungry I thought my stomach was eating itself.  Nope, the worst part was the Girl Scouts.  

I hate to admit that, because I am a Girl Scout!  But these girls were nuts.  They were Brownies (those brown sashes give it away every time), so they were younger girls, and they were selling cookies outside the diner.  When we approached the door, one of the little girls drawled, "Wanna buy some Girl Scout cookies?"  We politely declined and went to stand around and wait.  A second girl came and asked us, "Wanna buy some cookies?" and again, we declined.  At that point, I noticed that one of the girls was opening the door to the restaurant, jumping onto it, and riding it as it closed, all the while yelling, "Girl Scout cookies!  Get some Girl Scout cookies!"  The rest of the girls were running up and down the crowd, trying to peddle those damn cookies to anyone they could find.

I have respect for Girl Scouts doing booth sales, I really do, but these girls didn't make me want to buy cookies.  They made me glad I didn't have children.  They made me seriously happy when our name was called.  But they did not make me want to help them out.  

Anywhoozles, Marietta Diner has one of the biggest menus I've ever seen, and picking something for dinner was way more difficult than I had anticipated.  I ultimately chose a chicken parmigiana sub, which was delicious, but I only ate about half because the real thing I was after was dessert.  Marietta Diner has desserts up the wazoo.  For real, it's nuts!  We had a HUGE slice of peanut butter chocolate pie (with Reese's on it, of course) that we couldn't even finish between the two of us!  We had noticed everyone who left had a bag with leftovers, and we were no exception.  

It was at that point that we really decided that we were going for it: we were going to drive straight through the night.  We took turns driving and had to stop at a few rest areas to get out and wake up a bit, but eventually we made it.  We got to the place Maxi was being boarded around 7 AM, but they didn't open until 9.  We headed home to take a two hour nap before we went back to pick her up.

As long as the drive was, it was worth it when we got to see our puppers again.  We had missed her something awful, and I'm sure she missed us, too.  Vacation was over, and soon it would be back to work and school and all that reality bullshit, but there's something satisfying about being home again and sleeping in your own bed that somehow makes it OK. 

Oh, and my favorite part?  Cheshire Cat made it all the way from Disney back home.  He's one hell of a cat!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

One Last Magical Day

Sorry for the delay, folks.  I'm finally over whatever sickness it was that I had (we're thinking it was Strep, but I don't know for sure because I've never had it before), which means I've been furiously catching up with work, homework, and housework.  Doing pretty well on the first two, but our house still looks like a disaster zone.  Eh, we'll let this one go Meatloaf style (2 out of 3 ain't bad!).  

So, Friday the 9th was our last day of Disney.  We decided to try and make it as epic as humanly possible and our goal was to head to Downtown Disney for a few hours before spending the whole rest of the day at MK (minus our reservations for dinner at 'Ohana).  

Downtown Disney isn't really a park so much as it is its own little town.  There are three parts to DD, but we really only ventured through the Marketplace on this trip.  The Marketplace, as its name implies, is full of shopping.  There's a Lego store, a store dedicated to Christmas ornaments, another art store and, best of all, the World of Disney.  World of Disney is sort of like an entire mini-mall of Disney stuff.  They have clothes, toys, jewelry, kitchen stuff, food, books, movies, music...  I could go on and on.  Essentially, if you want it, they have it (with the exception of my puzzle; I'm not saying they didn't have it, necessarily, but I sure didn't find it there, and I looked HARD).  

While at Downtown Disney, my only true goal was to go to Wetzel's Pretzels.  You see, my last name is Hetzel (my married name, anyway), and I was determined to get a picture with Hubby and caption it "Hetzels Eating Wetzel's Pretzels."  Perfect, right?  The pretzels were delicious, and Bestie did snap a photo for us, though I have yet to see it.  My secondary goal was to get some good shopping in, since we were heading back to the resort before we went to MK.  

I may have gone a little nuts, but thankfully, we had saved up for this trip and Hubby is good to me. :)  I got Mickey ears that light up with fireworks, a picture frame, a Wall-E and Eve ornament (Hubby and I like to get ornaments whenever we go on a trip together; might've been inspired by Bestie and her hubby), a Cheshire Cat antennae topper, a Jungle Cruise glass and a t-shirt for hubby!  Woohoo!

While we didn't get over to Pleasure Island or West Side on this trip, it was still a successful trip.  While we waited for the bus, I asked Hubby if he had any money, as I was eying up the vending machine.  He said he only had two dollars, but that the pop cost $2.75.  It just so happened that I had grabbed 3 quarters from our change at the hotel that morning, so I figured it was fate.  I went and bought a Coke and just as I took a step away from the machine, a second Coke dropped out.  Cautiously, I grabbed the second bottle and as I walked away, a THIRD bottle dropped!  Holy cow, man!  I hit the Coke machine lottery!

Standing there with three bottles in my hands (and a confused look on my face, I'm sure), I said, "Would anyone like a Coke?"  A man in front of me shrugged and put out his hand.  He and his wife split it, and his wife was very thankful (she wanted to get something to drink before her kids insisted on sharing it).  I gave the other bottle to Bestie and C, and we all agreed that it was bound to be a good day.  

It sprinkled on us a bit at the bus stop, but eventually our bus came and whisked us away.  After a short break at the resort, it was off to MK!  The order of events is probably a bit off, but that afternoon, we did:
  • The Monsters Inc Laugh floor - Like Turtle Talk with Crush, this is an interactive attraction that's bound to entertain you, no matter what age.  
  • The People Mover - A slow, gentle ride that guides you through some of Tomorrowland.  
  • Carousel of Progress - If you're ready to just sit in the dark for a bit, this is a perfect stop.  Just be warned that you will leave with a song stuck in your head.  "There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow..."
  • Space Mountain - Only Bestie and I braved this one, but it was a blast!  I hadn't been on it since I was 17, and having Bestie giggling in the seat behind me the whole way made the ride that much better.
  • Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe - A pretty fun quick service restaurant.  There are 3 "bays" to choose from; one serves primarily chicken entrees, another is strictly burgers and the last is random sandwiches.  While you eat, you're serenaded by Sonny Eclipse, an alien lounge singer that looks sort of like a dinosaur with a bad hair piece.
Eventually, it was close to dinner time, and we took the boat over to the Polynesian resort.  'Ohana was the first place we ate on our honeymoon, so it was sort of fitting that it was the last Disney dining experience we'd really have on this trip.  As we promised Bestie and C, there was food galore.  Starting with coconut-pineapple bread, the food just keeps coming every 5-10 minutes or so.  There's a salad, pot stickers, chicken wings, veggies, lo mein noodles, and eventually some of the best meat you'll ever eat.  On ginormous skewers, Cast Members bring around shrimp, pork, beef and chicken, and slide it onto your plate so you can chow down without ever getting up.  

Dessert is an amazing bread pudding with caramelized banana sauce, served a la mode, but Bestie also got us some ice cream to celebrate (C had gotten a promotion while we were on vacay, and I had joined a national honor society just before we left for FL).  By the end, we were seriously stuffed.  

We wandered down to the beach to watch Wishes from across the water, then checked out the beautiful art store at the Polynesian.  When we took the boat back to MK, we were the only 4 people aboard.  Our captain was very friendly and knowledgeable, sharing with us that Cinderella's Castle is 189 feet tall.  Why not 190?  Because air space guidelines require that you put one of those red blinky lights on structures that tall, and Walt didn't want to have that take away from the magic.  :)

On our way in, we caught the Main Street Electrical Parade, which I don't think I've ever seen before in its entirety.  After that, I know we did Splash Mountain (which was just as fun as I remembered) and one last time on the Haunted Mansion.  We also tried to hunt down some more ice cream for Bestie, but we were SOL.  Boooooo.

We said goodnight and goodbye to MK and took our last bus ride back to the resort.  Since Bestie and C were headed out earlier than Hubby and I were, we had to say goodbye before we went to our room for one last sleep at WDW.   

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Best Thursday Ever.

So, as you can see, by Thursday of our trip, we had been to each park at least once.  Whatever will we do??

Oh, right.  Go back for more!  Wooooo!  

Thursday morning we had early breakfast reservations at Chef Mickey's, which is at the Contemporary resort.  Since we weren't sure we'd be able to catch a bus that would get us over there by 8:05, we decided to drive.  We piled into Bestie and C's rental car and were greeted at the parking lot by a lovely British man.  Bestie and I agreed that he had the best accent ever and we wanted to take him with us, but alas, it wasn't to be.

The Contemporary, unlike Caribbean Beach or even Coronado Springs (where Hubby and I stayed for our honeymoon), is all indoors.  Once we got in, it was escalators ahoy!  They have the really skinny ones, so we had to go up single file (suddenly I'm thinking we should've pulled a Brady Bunch and started singing...).  

Once we got checked in, it wasn't too long of a wait to get seated (it may have felt like forever because we were hungry and could smell food).  Bestie and C hadn't been there before (or, at least not for breakfast; I can't remember for sure), but Hubby and I were seasoned pros at this point (er, yeah... after having been there once...  a year and a half ago... whatever).  I loaded down my first plate with every tasty thing I could find: fruit, cottage cheese, breakfast pizza, bacon, croissants, and - best of all - grits.  

I may be a yankee (Wisco born and raised!), but dammit, I have southern blood running through my veins, and you just cannot get good grits in the north (with the exception of Cracker Barrel; they do a pretty good job).  So when I find them, I go nuts.  My second trip up to the buffet was for a doughnut and a bowl full of grits.  Nom nom nom.  (In case you care, I'm a butter and salt kind of gal; I take after my daddy.)  By the time we left, I probably had grits coming out of my ears, but I was happy as a clam!

Chef Mickey's, like Tusker House, is character dining, so we had Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Pluto all stop by our table to say hi!  Bestie wanted pictures with them all, so I took on camera duty.  I told her it wasn't a problem, but that I wouldn't be getting up for any pictures because I had food, and nothing was coming between me and my food (particularly my grits).  Thankfully, I have a bestie who wasn't in the least bit offended, and was just happy I was willing to take pictures for her.  :)

After breakfast, we decided to take a ride on the monorail, since it comes through the Contemporary (yep, through it).  We hopped on and just rode that darn thing around in a loop!  From the Contemporary, your next stop is the TTC (Ticketing and Transportation Centre).  Then it's on to the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian.  Last stop is Magic Kingdom, and then you're back at the Contemporary!  

We drove the car back to our resort, and then after a short break, hopped a bus to Animal Kingdom.  As we were approaching, I went to grab my Key to the World and...  uh...  Crap!  It wasn't where it was supposed to be.  I freaked out, but Bestie, ever the optimist and Disney queen, just suggested we go to Guest Relations to see what they could do.  A few questions later (my resort, where I'm from, etc) and I had a brand new card.  Phew!

Our main goal was to hit up the Dinosaur ride, since we had missed it earlier in the week, but we started by checking out some nature trails along the way.  Once we got to Dinosaur, Hubby opted out, but C hadn't been on it before, so the 3 of us headed onward.  I, for one, love this ride.  1) I've always had a thing for dinosaurs.  Blame my dad.  2) On my honeymoon, I totally realized that it was Hodges from CSI that does the intro and voice!  3) I know when the picture is coming up, so I can be properly prepared with a thumbs up.  

The rest of the AK experience is a bit of a blur.  I don't think we did any more rides, but we did go check out the nature trails in Asia.  We got to see flying foxes, tigers, and all sorts of animals just hanging around.  I had to go see my hippos on the nature trail, so Hubby and I left C and Bestie to sit and chill while we hoofed it through the African jungle so I could visit my hippo friends.  Thankfully, they were being pretty playful, and kept swimming past the window.  It's murky, and there are a TON of fish in there, but it's cool to see it anyway.  Especially when they seem to be playing tag or follow the leader, and both wander past!  

I think that's about all we did (except for getting more frozen Coke/other pop; that was something we did at least once a day) at AK, and soon it was off to Epcot.  Our first goal was to find lunch, so we headed toward the World Showcase.  Upon entering Epcot, we found the Flower and Garden Festival in full swing.  There were flowers and plants everywhere!  And the topiaries were insane...  It was just beautiful.

We had lunch at the Cantina de San Angel, which is a quick service restaurant in Mexico that serves tacos and nachos.  Getting a table was INSANE at this place, and the food was only so-so (although, I did really enjoy my cantaloupe popsicle!) so I don't know if I'd go back again, but I'm glad we had the experience. :)

We wandered from country to country for hours, with my only real goal being to visit the wall of Pocky in Japan.  (OK, it's actually just a wall of candy and snacks, but there's a whole section of Pocky and it was calling my name.)  We ended up getting some really delicious ice cream in France (go figure) while Bestie looked desperately for the magic rose.  Sadly, we couldn't find it.  Our best guess is that it's going to be a part of the new Beauty & The Beast restaurant (soon to come!) and that it's just not on display until then. 

At some point I got my Pocky (and a bottle of watermelon Ramune; love that stuff!), and we encountered the Canada pavilion where a band was playing in kilts (the band name was Off Kilter - is that not hysterical?!).  It was a bit of a mindf*ck, so we stopped and watched for a minute or two.  We also stopped in at The Art of Disney, where they have AMAZING artwork to drool over.  

One of the funniest things that happened, happened while I was in the bathroom right around England.  There was a little boy standing there with his grandmother (mom was in a stall) and he was holding her hand, jumping up and down chanting, "Monorail!  Monorail!  Monorail!"  (Not like The Simpsons; more like a little kid excited for ice cream or a pony ride.)  From in the stall his mom says, "I spend the money, get the kids down here to Disney World, where they can do anything and what does my son want to do?  The Monorail..."  She didn't sound annoyed or put out; I imagine she was smiling and shaking her head instead.  I turned to the boy and told him that I rode the monorail this morning and it was pretty awesome, so I understood!  :)

Hubby was shocked (and a bit excited) that we didn't have dinner reservations that night.  When I suggested we order pizza (which we had thought about doing the night before, but we weren't ALL that hungry), I think he was downright giddy.  The four of us snagged our little table at the resort and Hubby ordered us a pizza and breadsticks.  We spent a few hours out there, eating, drinking and talking.  It was practically perfect in every way. :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

One Big Effing Hat

Each of the four parks has an identifiable thing to call its own.  Epcot, as we discussed, has the giant golf ball.  Magic Kingdom, of course, has Cinderella's castle.  Animal Kingdom has the Tree of Life.  And Disney's Hollywood Studios has a big f*cking hat.

On Wednesday, we headed out to see that 122-foot-tall beast of a hat (that many of us lovingly refer to as the BFH), as well as the park itself.  The smallest and (in my opinion) least exciting of the parks, DHS (formerly known as MGM) was probably the shortest bus ride from our resort (even though Caribbean Beach Resort is in the Epcot Resorts area), and we were there before we knew it.

Since Bestie and her hubby are pretty big Star Wars nerds, we pretty much bee-lined it to Star Tours.  This ride was recently renovated and since none of us had been on it since it got a face lift, we were pretty curious to see the changes.  

Poor Hubby, alas, will never step foot on this ride again.  Star Tours is one of those rides in which you don't actually go anywhere, but you feel like you're flying around the galaxy, bumping into things on different planets and such.  The experience is enhanced by 3-D glasses and sometimes it's easy to forget you're just sitting in a room with a bunch of other folks.  Except that I was already concerned about Hubby after the Expedition Everest experience, so I glanced over at him only to find that within minutes, he was covered in sweat.  

I have to admit that of all the rides we encountered on our trip, Star Tours was the one that actually bothered my stomach a little, and if my stomach was doing flip-flops, I can only imagine how my hubs was feeling.  So, while Bestie and her hubby checked out the shop, Hubby and I went outside and got some fresh air.  We decided something nice and slow (or, not moving at all) would do us all some good after that.

From Star Tours, we headed off to my favorite DHS attraction: Muppet Vision 3D.  This is one of the only things I remember clearly from my first trip to Disney at age 9, and it's probably because I grew up in a very Muppet-oriented family.  We watched The Muppet Show, had all the Muppet movies, and I've probably seen every episode of Muppet Babies at least twice (and had the Muppet Babies keyboard so I could play the theme song!).  DHS is the only place in the parks you'll really get any Muppet love, and if it weren't for this attraction, I might skip DHS altogether.  

We stopped at the Muppets store after the movie and Hubby was nice enough to let me get a Muppets t-shirt and a book.  Yay!  What can I say?  I love me some Muppets!

Again, things get a little fuzzy, but from what I can remember (and what photos help me remember), the rest of the day went something like this:

  • Lunch @ the Backlot Express (simple, but tasty).
  • The Great Movie Ride (good, but one of the cast members who was part of this was a TERRIBLE actress, and we can only hope she was filling in for someone that day).
  • Toy Story Mania! (Hubby opted out of this one, but Bestie, C and I had a blast).
  • One Man's Dream (a museum-y exhibit and movie about Walt Disney and how it all came to be).
  • Streets of America (not really an attraction so much as a place to wander around and chill a bit).

After all of that, it was time for dinner at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre.  I wasn't sure what exactly to expect from this place, but it was a real trip!  Most of the booths/tables are set up as if you were in a convertible at the drive-in; they're made to look like cars and two of you sit in front and two in the back, all facing the screen where they're playing some terrible old sci-fi movies.  We, however, got a table that had a car front and rear end, but the middle was a normal table so none of us would have to turn around to talk to the others.  The food was surprisingly tasty AND I got an awesome drink with a glow cube in it (that I got to keep, thank you very much!).  This was the only place in all of Disney that I got carded, but it was totally worth it.

We had planned to go watch Fantasmic (fireworks DHS-style) after dinner, but as we headed in that direction, the announcement came on that the show was now standing room only.  Since it's a pretty long show, we decided it would be best for all of us if we skipped it and headed back to the resort to chill for a bit.  The four of us had a great time sitting around and talking for awhile before we headed to bed.  The next morning we had early reservations for breakfast, so a good night's sleep was definitely needed.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Animal! Animal!

Hey, ho!  Sicky McSickSick here!  Ugh.  I missed half a day of work yesterday and all of today (which, when you work from home, means you're either playing hooky or really effing miserable).  My throat is in slightly less pain today, but, now I can't lie down without having a coughing fit, so, yeah.  Fun!

Doesn't mean we can't continue our journey through Disney, right?

Our second full day (Tuesday, March 6th) was spent at the Animal Kingdom, quite possibly my favorite park!  If you've never been, parts of it are like a ginormous zoo, except you don't usually have to look through cages and wires (with a few exceptions, of course).  Other parts have rides, restaurants and shops like the other parks, and the whole thing is tied together by the magic of Disney.

We started at Tusker House for breakfast.  It was our first time there, and I'm already thinking for our 5 year anniversary (the next Disney trip we're planning) that we should go back.  Why?  Two big reasons.

1) It's Character dining that counts as only 1 table service meal per person (Cinderella's Royal Table was similar with the princesses, but it "costs" 2 table service meals per person).  You start by taking a picture with Donald (in his safari gear, of course) and then upon being seated, you can see Mickey, Minnie, Daisy and Goofy all making their rounds (and yes, they WILL stop at your table!).  Too fun!

2) It's a ginormous buffet.  For reals.  Bagels, fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, doughnuts, croissants, ham, quiche, and more await you, and for a 9:30 AM reservation, it really wasn't the madhouse that I had expected.  All the food is nice and fresh (warm when it should be, cold when it shouldn't) and, of course, tasty.  (Not to mention the super tasty juice they bring you!  Man, I could live off that stuff!)

Two memories were made that morning.  The first was when I may have startled our waitress.  Every cast member's name tag shows where he or she is from, and our waitress just so happened to be from Wisconsin.  I was so excited I shouted, "Sconnie!"  Thankfully, the others were there to explain that we were all from Wisconsin (at least, in part) as well, so we bonded over the sad loss of the Packers and the awesomeness of being in Florida without snow.

The second was when they brought over the picture of the 4 of us with Donald.  Now, unlike Cinderella's, the picture they take at Tusker House is NOT included with the meal.  The package (one big photo and 4 smaller ones, I think) cost about $38, and since Bestie had a cast member take the same pic with her camera, we declined.  But, before it was taken away, C noticed something interesting: "They covered my shirt!"  Indeed they had.  C was wearing a Coors shirt that day, and instead of blurring it out or (Heaven forbid) leaving it alone, they covered it with the Disney 2012 logo.

After breakfast, we went on my favorite AK ride, the Kilimanjaro Safari.  I won't bore you with tons of details, but on this ride, you get to go on a safari through the park, where you can see anything from giraffes to warthogs to hippos (yay!) hanging out in what looks like their natural habitat.  Again, sort of like the zoo, but seriously cooler.

We spent some time on the nature trails after that, checking out more animals from around the world and enjoying the beautiful day.  It wasn't too hot, but we decided we'd go on Kali River Rapids.  I freakin' love this ride, and I hadn't done it since high school, so I was all gung-ho.  The signs along the line say, "Caution: You WILL get wet.  You MAY get soaked."  Guess who got soaked...  Yep!  Hubby and I were pretty well drenched (at least from the back).  And since I refuse to go anywhere in shorts, I was wearing full length jeans, which do NOT dry out very quickly.  Or at all.  I had a serious case of wet-butt for the rest of the day.  

In an attempt to dry off (and since I'd never been on it, nor had Hubby), we headed toward Expedition Everest, the mountain ride in AK.  Bestie and her husband love this ride, so we were hoping Hubby would enjoy it, too.  Well, about 2/3 of the way through the ride or so, we came to a stop.  At first I assumed they were helping someone on or off the ride who needed assistance, but we just weren't moving.  At all.  And eventually a voice told us that the expedition was over for right now and to hang tight and wait for a cast member to arrive.  

Now, as much as I am curious about the last third of the ride, this was possibly one of the coolest things to happen.  We got to do an emergency ride evacuation at Disney!  Too cool!!  Hubby, one the other hand, was just happy the ride was over with.  It seems that no, this was not the kind of ride that his body could handle, and he was feeling pretty miserable by that time.  We did an evac through the mountain itself, and while we weren't allowed to take photos (even if some dumb girl did with her phone, ugh), it was an experience I'll never forget.  How many guests get to see the inside of a Disney ride like that?  

After grabbing Hubby some Dramamine, we parked ourselves on a bench and had some treats (mmmm... Mickey Ears).  I think that was when we decided we'd head back to the resort, change, and then hit up Downtown Disney.  By the time we were back at the resort, I asked Bestie if she'd kill me if I said a nap sounded really good.  We all agreed we could use a break, so we said goodbye and goodnight.  

Hubby and I wound up napping for a few hours before hopping on a bus to Epcot for our date night dinner at San Angel Inn, the table service restaurant in Mexico.  I'll probably end up doing some kind of review on San Angel later, so for now, I'll just say 3 things:  1) They did an amazing job making this place feel small and intimate.  2) Everything I ate was pretty freakin' awesome!  3) Beware: Tequila shots here can be expensive.  There's actually a $50+ shot you can get!  Aye yi yi...

Since we had a later reservation, we pretty much headed straight for the bus when dinner was over.  The wait for the bus was ridiculous.  Not because of the bus itself; it was there pretty promptly.  But we had to wait to load a scooter on to the bus (it was being shared by an overweight couple presumably on their honeymoon who just couldn't hoof it through the parks like the rest of us tubby folk), and then a wheelchair (which was being used by an elderly woman, so no grief there).  It actually took so long that a SECOND bus for our resort came up and parked behind it, and the whole line of guests actually cheered when the driver opened the door to let us on.  

All in all, it was another successful and magical Disney day!  Again, I encourage you to check out my Bestie's blog (The Disney Hippy) for a different perspective. :)  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's A Small World, After All

Ack!  No.  Not the ride.  That is one ride I refuse to do as an adult.  I endured it 3 times in my life; that's more than enough for me, thanks.

I'm talking about the World(s) of Epcot.  And I guess after walking all day, it doesn't really feel so small.

After a quick breakfast at the resort, we hopped the bus over to Epcot on Monday morning.  (For those who are less familiar with Disney, that's the one that has the giant golf ball.)  Since the entrance takes you straight to Future World, that's where we began our day.  

When this day began, I had no idea how we were going to handle things.  Bestie (M) has a muscle disorder that makes stairs and inclines especially painful, and I knew that there was a possibility of getting her a wheelchair while we were at Disney (and, of course, also the possibility that she would be too stubborn to get one).  Little did I know the magic of the Guest Assistance Pass/Card.  I have been forever ruined.  The GAC lets people who have difficulty walking for long times, issues with stairs, etc still have a magical Disney experience.  It's sort of like a fast pass, only you don't have to come back at a certain time.  The best part of this pass is that you can take your whole party along so you don't end up getting separated!  

Test Track has always been one of my favorite rides, and since Hubby's a car guy, it's a pretty sure thing that you can find us there.  Bestie and her hubs like it, too, so off we went.  We sailed through the fast pass lane and got to hang around looking at car stuff.  Hubby, of course, was trying to explain certain functions of car parts, but I was too busy taking pictures and talking to Bestie to really take anything in.  

Hubby has a bit of a weak stomach when it comes to turns and jolting around, so as much as he enjoys Test Track, it's best that we only go one it once.  Things get fuzzy after that, but I know, in some order, we did:

First, I love that Patrick Warbuton does the intro thing.  He makes the world a better place.  Also, this ride has me convinced that Disney is, in fact, run on magic.  I don't know how else they could make you feel like you're actually flying!
Club Cool
The Coke sponsored, air-conditioned building where you can try pop from around the world.  There are some tasty ones (I like the apple flavored one, Hubby enjoyed watermelon), but watch out for Beverly.  Also, you can buy regular coke OR coke slushies here.  Nom nom nom.

Living With The Land
Hubby's favorite ride.  You get to see all sorts of awesome plants (including a 9 pound lemon), some cool fish (tilapia, anyone?) and how Disney (and others) are using the two together to produce healthier fish AND plants for all of us!

Turtle Talk With Crush
This is an interactive thing that you would probably think is aimed at children.  I guess it technically is, but trust me, they know how to keep the adults entertained, too.  Hubby and I hadn't seen this one before, and it was pretty hilarious!
The Seas w/Nemo & Friends
So, you hop in a little clam-mobile and slowly travel through the seas, looking for Nemo (can't that damn fish stay in one spot?).  All your favorites from the movie are there: Dory, Marlin, Crush, Squirt, Mr. Ray and others appear while you search for the world's most famous clown fish.  You'd think he would have a harder time hiding with all that publicity...

Spaceship Earth
This is the ride that takes you inside the giant golf ball.  No, really.  It's true!  Spaceship Earth takes you on a journey through our past and into what could be our future.  It’s a very slow, but very cool ride that empties into an equally awesome building (Project Tomorrow) where you can test out video games and other “futuristic” technologies.

Electric Umbrella
A great restaurant for lunch.  If you’re on the dining plan, the best part (to me, anyway) is that you can use your “dessert” to get a fruit cup!  Don’t get me wrong.  I frickin’ LOVE desserts.  But I knew we were going to have some awesome desserts at dinner, so it was nice to have the option at lunch. 

The Seas
In the same building as Crush and the Nemo ride, there is a HUGE aquarium (and a bunch of smaller aquariums).  You can see fish, sharks, dolphins, manatees, and more in these aquariums!  Bestie’s favorite was probably the cuttlefish (which, btw, is pretty crazy and cool - we saw it change colors right in front of us!), but I think mine were the jellyfish.  Something about them is so surreal…

Eventually we decided it was time to make our way to World Showcase, so we took the ferry across (which was really convenient, actually).  We stopped outside Germany for a bit and walked through Italy.  We went into the “American Adventure” pavilion and got lucky enough to catch the Voices of Liberty doing their thing.  They have some amazing talent and a lot of fun, so it was definitely a pleasant surprise.

Dinner was at Les Chefs de France in, of course, the France pavilion.  We spent some time trying to teach Bestie some French (in particular, “I am a hippopotamus” and “Can I sharpen my pencil?”), but it wasn’t really working.  We totally made fools of ourselves in front of some native French speakers, but hey – it’s Disney!  I’m supposed to be a fool.  Anywhoozles, the food was excellent.  I had a wonderful French onion soup followed by half a chicken, which I ordered in French.  Of course, our waitress said, “Oh!  You speak French?”  I froze before saying, ”Un peu!” (“A little!”) so she didn’t try to bombard me with the language I gave up learning about 10 years ago.

My dessert, as predicted, was amazing.  It was a strawberry cream cake with raspberry sorbet on the side, and it was just Heaven.  The French definitely know how to do dessert, and for that, I thank them. 
The best part of this dinner was when C (Bestie’s husband) came back from the bathroom and told us there had been a little girl singing, “I love potatoes!” in a high-pitched voice.  The rest of the vacation, we would spontaneously burst out with, “I love potatoes!” and then try to get as high as we could.  It was most excellent.

After grabbing a Grand Marnier slushie to go, we headed toward the entrance and caught a bus back to our resort.  I think this is the evening that Bestie and I soaked away in the hot tub for awhile as our menfolk got drinks and talked amongst themselves.  If so, it also makes it the night that I beat both my hubby and Bestie’s hubby at air hockey.  That’s right.  I’m an air hockey champ, yo!

I walked Bestie back to our rooms and we each headed off for bed.  Our husbands came back shortly after we did, as I’m pretty sure they were exhausted, too.

Oof.  Well, I apologize for the length of this one, kids.  I’m sick and this was a nice break from reality.  :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


And so continues the tale of our awesome Disney vacation...

Sunday, we got up and ready around 8:30.  We came downstairs to find that I (of K & I) had made us an awesome breakfast of bacon, fresh fruit and cinnamon buns.  This is a man who knows how to play host!  We were sad to leave them (and their two little furbabies), but we were so appreciative of all they did for us.  We're already trying to plan another trip to the South so we can visit again!  

From Atlanta, it's about another 7.5-8 hours to get to WDW, so onward we went.  Hubby wound up driving the whole thing (because there was NO way I was driving in Orlando; I can barely handle traffic in Milwaukee!), and I played navigator.  I found it interesting that billboards in that area don't seem to be utilized in quite the same way they are up here.  Most of the billboards around us are for PSAs, cash for gold, chain restaurants, and clothing lines/stores I never knew existed.  But in that stretch, things were a little different.  

First, and most noticeably, only about half of the existing billboards were in use.  There were a TON with "Available Now" on them, and some that just had remnants of an ad from long ago (or maybe last week; it's hard to tell).  Next, of those being used, there were 3 types that stood out the most: religious/political messages, pecans, and strippers.  Pecans are, of course, very southern, but holy wow.  Every other billboard was for goo goo clusters or fresh pecan picking!  Kinda nuts (pun definitely intended)!  The ads for strippers were usually pretty hilarious.  There was one joint in particular that apparently had the motto, "Strippers: Need We Say More" and used it on every single board.  They also had deals (and parking!) for truckers, which I suppose is nice.  Cater to your audience, right?

But then... then there were the ultra-conservative, churchy ads that I just don't take kindly to.  And these made up a LARGE number of the signs along this stretch of the interstate.  "Prepare to meet thy maker!" one of them said.  Really?  Is that a threat?  Or...  I dunno.  The ones that really get me are the anti-abortion ads.  I don't want this to turn political (Puppies & Rainbows!), but suffice it to say I was ready to get out of there. 

When we finally started seeing the signs for Disney, I was beyond thrilled!  We were almost there!!  By the time we pulled into our resort, I was bouncing in my seat and grasping all my confirmation papers, because there was NO way I was going to screw this up, dammit.  I was at Disney, and I was there to stay.  End.  Of.  Story.

Thankfully, check in went quickly and soon we were in our room, unpacking for a week of magic and fun.  A nice cast member stopped by with some gifts for us (darn that bestie of mine!), including little Mickey and Minnie stuffed toys and a set of Nightmare Before Christmas ornaments.  We'd been told to text C's phone when we got there (M's hubby; M's phone was about to die), but hadn't heard back yet, so we just settled in and were pleased to be out of the car.  When our room phone rang, we both just looked at one another.  Hubby was closest, so after a few rings he answered.  It wound up being M telling us that they lost C's phone, but that M's phone was alive and we could call when we were ready to head to Magic Kingdom for the evening.

Words can't really describe the overwhelming feelings that followed.  I was reunited with my bestie after a year of being apart.  I was at the happiest place on Earth with her, her husband, and Hubby.  I had no work or school to think about for a week.  And I was about to go eat INSIDE the freakin' castle, FCOL!  For a few moments there, everything in the whole world felt perfect.  I don't think I could've stopped smiling if I had wanted to.

Dinner was wonderful and fun.  M and I each got a magic wand and the guys got swords.  We each got a wishing star and M and I got to keep our menus!  As we ate, princesses strolled around, visiting each table.  We were greeted by Aurora, Snow White, Ariel, and Belle during dinner, and had gotten our picture with Cinderella before the meal, so things were pretty magical from the get-go.  Even more magical was that a few tables over from us, a couple got engaged.  How freakin' amazing would that be??  (The sad part was that the bride-to-be didn't look all that excited; in fact, she looked pretty 'meh' about the whole thing.  Poor guy went through a lot of planning to get that put in place, and she just continued on eating after he put the ring on, as if nothing had happened!)

Magic was everywhere, and I was in such a good place.  So, it should be no surprise that when Wishes (the fireworks display set to Disney music and quotes) came on and we could see the fireworks from our table, I couldn't help but cry.  It was perfect.  Absolutely everything I had hoped for and more.  

After dinner, we did a few rides and found a few souvenirs, but we were all pretty exhausted, so back to the resort we went to get some sleep for a whole exciting day at Epcot! :)

For M's take on the day, check out her blog here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Back to Life, Back to Insanity

I'm pretty sure that one of the only times I'm actually sane is when I'm on vacation.  Particularly at Disney World.  There's something within my brain that clicks when I'm there, and there's this beautiful realization that being a Disney nerd is not only acceptable, it's encouraged!  No one's going to judge me when I cry during Wishes or squeal when I get to keep my menu from Cinderella's Royal Castle.  It's more than a vacation from work; it's time spent in my own true reality.

So I'm sure you can all imagine that I'm missing Disney pretty badly right about now.  I actually started missing it before I even left, since my bestie and her hubby left before we did.  Hubby was the first to note that it felt kind of sad walking past their room, knowing they weren't there anymore, and I had to agree.  We didn't leave the property for another hour or so at that point, but I already missed it.

Of course, that doesn't mean I can't re-live the experience!  Here's a taste of how things started.

Fri, 3/2/12
Hubby and I left the house around 3 to drop the puppers off to be boarded.  It broke our hearts, and we have vowed not to leave her again for a good, long while, but it was our only option.  As we drove to the facility, the rain/sleet combination turned into ginormous snowflakes.  Thank goodness we didn't leave any later, or things might've gotten ugly.  As it was, we saw 3 or 4 accidents before we were even out of the Milwaukee metro area!  Regardless, we made it safely to Indianapolis and stayed at the Hilton for the night (thanks to Hotwire).

Two things of note in Indy.  1) People seem to think that temps in the 40s is damn near unbearable.  You can't imagine how many people were whining about how cold it was.  Hubby and I were in sweatshirts going, "Uh, we just escaped a blizzard...  This is nice."   2) Downtown is almost as confusing as downtown Madison.  There are one-way streets EVERYWHERE, and some streets aren't labeled (or at least weren't labeled very well, since we never found the street signs).  Not cool, Indy.  Not cool.

Also, the Hilton, not as swanky as you'd hope.  Low quality TP, beds weren't that comfy, and TV channels were limited.  That aside, the room was really nice, especially for the price.   

Sat, 3/3/12  
We left around 9:30 or so and headed on our way to Atlanta.  While driving, we actually went past one of the towns in Indiana that was hit hardest by the tornadoes, Henryville.  You hear about the destruction on the news, and you see a picture or two, and you think, "God, how awful!"  But when you actually see the devastation...  It's a whole different feeling.  I started crying.  There were semi trailers that were ripped open, buildings flattened, cars overturned, paint stripped from houses...  And that was just what we could see from the interstate.  We didn't even realize what we were coming upon until Hubby noticed some guys at a nearby rest area dressed in full fatigues.  National Guard was out to help people, and boy was help needed.  

Driving past Henryville really slowed us down (not just because the town itself was nearly destroyed, but because people had to stop to gawk), but soon we were back on our way.  I took over driving at some point and eventually we got to Atlanta to I and K's house.  They took us out for some awesome BBQ at Fat Matt's Rib Shack and then we talked and relaxed for a few hours before heading to bed.  The bed there was the best we had during our entire trip, if you can believe it.  And they have such a great house!  We're already trying to plan a road trip down that way so we can visit again. :)

Stay tuned for more...