Preparing to RV fulltime, RV travels before full timing

December 2012 – the whole Disney trip – our first RV on the road experience!

Roy and I decided in November to make our first RV trip a trip to Disneyworld around Christmas. The last time we went to Disney was three years ago at Christmas and it was so beautiful at Christmas that we thought it would be great to make our first official RV trip to see Mickey!! We checked with Madisyn’s mommy Liz and she said she could go with us so we made the reservations at Ft. Wilderness Campgrounds at Disneyworld. Several very helpful friends gave us good tips and information about staying there since we’ve never been to Ft. Wilderness before. There was a lot to do before leaving our sticks house and hitting the road. What was really nice was that we didn’t have to pack – what a difference that made. We didn’t forget one thing, because everything was with us! We loaded up lots of special snacks and food for Madisyn, and us!! We left Sunday after church and headed to Milton, Florida to pick up Madisyn. We meet her mommy in the Walmart parking lot near their home. Madisyn jumped out of her car and ran to see us and Dora. She got used to the RV on her last visit with us so she was very comfortable being in it.

After playing for a while we all went to sleep. As weird as I thought it would be sleeping in a Walmart parking lot, it was no different than sleeping at home since we were in our own bed! Knowing that the lights we saw through the curtain were Walmart lights was a bit odd though but we slept well! In the morning Madisyn woke us up with her puppy singing Christmas music. We all showered in the Walmart parking lot, ate breakfast, and headed off to Disney.

We strapped Madisyn in her car seat in the passenger seat (we called it her throne). Her eyes were big and amazed at the big windows and sitting up so high! A 7 hour trip from Milton to Ft. Wilderness turned into a 9 hour trip with multiple stops for various things including stretching our legs.

Lesson one learned is that trying to walk through the RV on a road that is not extremely smooth is like trying to walk on a cruise ship during a storm. A seriously queasy stomach is sure to follow.  Also, learned that I don’t travel in the RV too well when trying to walk around, getting up and down, fixing lunches, getting drinks for the Princess and her Paw Paw.

During the two hours that Madisyn napped in our bed, I sat in my passenger seat in the front and felt fine. Since that’s where I’ll be sitting when we’re really traveling I should be fine. Princess Madisyn needed her throne to be safe, so Grannie just stayed queasy until we got there. I’ve decided that’s one of the best purposes of the windows behind the sofas is so they can be cracked open for a queasy passenger, it sure helped!

We thoroughly enjoyed looking out all the windows and seeing everything from a bigger, higher perspective. The weather was beautiful except for about an hour of rain.

When we got to Disney we checked in through Dora’s driver’s window – very cool and convenient! The campground is huge and it took us quite a while to find our spot. We saw lots of Christmas decorations throughout the park, at least half the RVers brought Christmas blow up and light-up decorations that they set up outside and on their RVs, and the campground did a lot of decorations also. We found our spot which required a lot of driving through narrow curing pathways in the dark. Roy only tried to take out one car that wasn’t parked properly but otherwise handled it all masterfully.

We stayed at 1444 in Big Bear Run in Fort Wilderness Campgrounds. There were fruit and other trees and bushes all around us giving us total privacy. 50 amp hook-up, water, barbeque pit, and bright orange picnic table on our cement parking pad. We were maybe 200 feet from the bus stop where we caught the Disney bus we took throughout the campground to the ferry which took us to the Magic Kingdom. At the bus stop, there was a picture of a missing dog named Quincy. Madisyn felt so bad for Quincy and every time we stopped there she’d touch his picture and say Quincy I hope they find you. She has such a sweet loving heart.

To get to the ferry we took a short bus ride that dropped us off at the Wilderness restaurants. Outside of Trails End Restaurant, they hung several hula hoops and on six occasions Madisyn stopped and practiced her hula-hooping skills. The first night we ate at Trails End and Roy enjoyed it so much he said I could just leave him there and come back Thursday to get him. It was a buffet dinner of all great home-cooked food, salad bar, dessert bar, potato bar, and sweet tea in a mason jar. It always seems like when a restaurant serves you sweet tea in a mason jar that the dinner is always delicious. The price of the meal was way too high but we enjoyed it all the same! We headed back to the bus and on the way there stopped at the playground and at the hula hoop station for Madisyn to have fun.

After a good night’s sleep, we woke up at 7:30, ate breakfast at the picnic table while visiting with Squirley who came to visit. He later followed us to Disney and that thrilled Madisyn! We took the ferry which was a fun experience in itself. Madisyn had never ridden on a boat that big and we sat outside on the bow. It’s a beautiful ride to the Magic Kingdom on the ferry. We took it slowly once we got off the boat and entered the Magic Kingdom to let Madisyn take it all in. She knew the names of all the characters she saw pictures of as we entered, and couldn’t wait to meet some of them. The first stop was to meet Princess Aurora, Rapunzel, Princess Jasmine, and Daisy Duck. A stop was necessary at one of the vendors to get her some sparkly Minnie Mouse ears – hot pink of course! Then on to the Mad Tea Cup for a ride and other rides in the morning.

We headed back on the ferry to Dora after lunch and took a long nap then headed back to the Magic Kingdom in the afternoon. Madisyn wore her Cinderella dress back to Disney after the nap and was just delightful. Seeing her skipping or running (which she did quite often) in front of us was so precious. Her childish joy and exuberance were contagious making Roy and I almost skip along with her. She’d twirl around in her dress causing those around her to just ooh and aah and of course we the proud grandparents smile, just loving it! Since she had her Cinderella dress on we went back to meet the Princesses and get their autographs. Cinderella was there this time and we got a video of Madisyn meeting her looking just like Cinderella. They sat on the floor visiting and then hugged. It was truly a magical moment for this little girl who thinks that was really Cinderella. We rode Dumbo the Flying Elephant a few times, took some pictures, and then headed off on the bus for Hollywood Studios so we could see the Osborne Family Lights and see the snowfall on that street. When we walked around the corner and there it was, Madisyn’s eyes lit up. She could hardly stand it when it started snowing and she kept trying to lick it up with her tongue as it fell. The lights covering every square inch of every building that flashed with the music kept her dancing in the street for quite a while. We took a video of her doing her ballerina dancing in front of one building with an audience watching her. Disney is truly a place where a little girl’s dreams do come true!

On we went to Epcot around 8 pm to watch the 9:30 Illuminations firework exhibit. It was cold so we bundled up and found a place to catch the show and just huddled for a while. The show was beautiful as always and Madisyn enjoyed every minute of it except that her fingers were plugged into her ears to keep the loud fireworks noises out. If someone has never seen this firework show, it’s much more than that. It’s a very moving experience about the world coming together in peace. The end of the show features the song “Let there be Peace on Earth”. Everyone joins in and for that moment you do feel that peace on earth could be possible. It’s a beautiful way to feel at Christmas time. After all, Jesus is our Peace, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all felt that way. We didn’t get home until 11 that night and Madisyn was still awake. Within minutes of hitting the bed, she was sound asleep and slept until 9 the next morning.

It was a little harder getting going on Wednesday our second day there but once we hit the beautiful clear wind on the ferry we woke up and were all looking forward to our day. Madisyn again wore her Cinderella dress and was the center of attention a good bit of the time. There were lots of other little girls with their princess outfits on and they tended to gravitate together and make friends. Anyone who has been to Disney knows the wait is long for the rides. Even though at Christmas the wait is considerably less (maybe 15 for most rides, 40-60 minutes for a couple of rides), the princesses would gather and visit, complimenting each other on their gowns and fixed up hair. Madisyn and Roy were selected to participate in two events together. One was when Madisyn met Belle (who is her favorite) from Beauty and the Beast and Roy was the Knight in the skit. It was one of the new attractions at Fantasyland and was a perfect child-oriented event. They also participated in a street skit where a Lady in Waiting and the Gentlemen’s Gentlemen (not sure if that’s what he’s actually called) were teaching the children how to curtsey, and various other important technicalities to palace life! A group of street clowns had a child’s interactive skit she was in, and very much like her daddy was more interested in the bright posters behind her than in the clowns!

The star event of the visit was of course “It’s a Small World”. She loved it so much she immediately wanted to ride it again so of course, we did that. Actually, we did most things twice and some even three times. This was Madisyn’s time at Disney so, within limits, we tried to do what she wanted. We ate a delicious lunch at Pinocchio’s house where we enjoyed a nice rest to the constant go go go. After lunch, we made our visit to Belle’s Mansion for the skit there and met Ariel in her Grotto. The carousel was a big hit and it is so beautiful I felt like a princess on it, though I was just the photographer! We flew in the sky with Peter Pan and by that time it was getting dark so we bid farewell to the Magic Kingdom, much to Madisyn’s deep despair. She was very cooperative throughout the trip except for when we were leaving and we fully understood the tears that fell as she walked away, waving bye-bye to Mickey. At least we knew we had introduced her t the magical, marvelous world of Disneyworld, the happiest place on earth. After our last ride on the ferry, by 7:30 we were all ready for bed and our last night at Disney with Dora!

The morning we were to leave we all slept until 9 am, which means all of us slept at least 12 hours last night. Madisyn and I went out back of Dora and picked some grapefruits from the tree behind us. It was a great place to stay. By 11 we were waving goodbye to our little cement parking spot and heading back to reality.

On the way back we ran into about two hours of rain. Roy drove very well through the storm. I feel so much more comfortable with him driving in Dora than in one of our regular vehicles. I learned from our trip going to Disney not to roam around when the RV was moving so I didn’t get queasy!!!!!!! Yeah, big relief – Dora would have been for sale when we got home if that hadn’t stopped! Paw Paw taped several episodes of Dora the Explorer while we were at Disney and we made good use of them keeping the little chatterbox occupied on the long ride home. We also enjoyed the movie Cars on this trip. Madisyn is napping on our bed right now so I’m enjoying some blog writing time.

We’ll be at Madisyn’s in a couple of hours and will spend the night at Walmart again before heading back to Hammond in the morning. It’s been a wonderful trip and we are both so thankful to have been able to have this experience with our granddaughter Madisyn. We’ve been to Disney several times over the years and this one was like going the first time. Everything was new for her and we got to experience that. She’s only 3, almost 4, so she may not remember all the details of our trip but we believe we’ve created some lasting memories for her of how very much her grandparents love her and how special she is to us!

My next blog will be a bunch of pictures from our trip – please check them out!

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