Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas with the Mouse

We are still in St. Augustine, at the Elks lodge. Today we rode to lunch at the Sunset Grill on the beach road (after discovering that local favorite The Oasis is closed for renovations), then headed in towards town. Just before the bridge, we stopped at a walk-in clinic -- Louise is still pretty miserable, and, suspecting a sinus infection, she needed to get a script for some antibiotics and have a professional take a look.

Considering we just walked in, it all went pretty quickly. They even scrounged up a full ten-day course of antibiotics out of office samples once they heard we were cash customers (our insurance deductible is very high -- we've never hit it yet -- so we just pay for all our medical care out-of-pocket from our health savings account).

When we were done at the clinic, we crossed the channel at the Lion's Bridge crossing, spanned now by a funky temporary lift bridge (and the lift segment looks very temporary, indeed) while the historic Lion's Bridge is undergoing refurbishment, a project which started soon after our last visit here. We stopped in at the Castillo San Marcos, now in its fourth century, just in time for a nice ranger-led tour. Afterwards, we rode around the historic colonial downtown on our scooters, with its narrow cobblestone streets rattling our teeth. That pretty much wiped Louise out for the day, and we came home to leftovers for dinner.

We've had some change in plans since I last posted. In the time between my last email exchange with them on Friday and our decision Sunday night, the trawler school dates of 12/22-12/26 got snapped up by someone else, so we've requested 1/5-1/9 instead. That ought, at least, to make kenneling or otherwise caring for the pets somewhat easier, but it cuts short our time in the keys. It also left us a bit adrift for Christmas week.

I was still ruminating about that, as well as whether or not to go ahead with Disney reservations for later this week, given how crummy Louise has been feeling, when I got an email that solved both problems. It turns out that good friend Jim Lewis, from Infinity Coach, and his family will be spending next week at Disney World -- he just happened to check in here on the blog today, and noticed we were nearby.

Now, Christmas week happens to be the most expensive week on Disney's menu -- campsites at Fort Wilderness which go for $52 per night this week will be, instead, $94 per night next week, which rankles me a bit. That said, I'm just glad they still had availability, and we've booked ourselves for four nights from Monday through Thursday, checking out Friday. We also purchased a pair of two-day park passes, which will cover two of the three full days we'll be on-property -- plenty for us. Somewhere in all of that, we should find ample opportunity to get together with Jim, Cathy, and the boys. Of course, I expect the resort and the theme parks will be considerably more crowded next week as well -- who knows, we may end up sitting around the campfire at our site.

Spending the holiday at Disney almost certainly means we'll be treated to a good deal of holiday spirit without having to expend much effort of our own. We'll likely eat our holiday meals in the restaurants scattered throughout the resorts, and I will probably make those dining reservations in the next few days, as I know some of the more popular venues fill up. Recommendations for which Disney restaurants are the best for holiday dining are welcome. (Most off-property choices are probably out for transportation reasons -- we'll be using Disney's buses to get around, and we certainly don't want to do any holiday imbibing while out and about on the scooters.)

All of this means that we now have a full week to make our way to Orlando, and so we will be slow-rolling south from here. We may even extend another day right here in St. Augustine, as we've just scratched the surface of the things to see and do, and it would take at least a month to put any kind of dent in the enormous list of eateries in old town alone.

In other news, we now have something of a plan for the weeks following TrawlerFest at the end of January in Stuart, Florida. We've been planning for some time now to attend a wedding on the big island of Hawaii mid-February, and, while we've had the hotel arrangments more or less covered with my huge inventory of Hilton points, we had not made flight arrangments because we didn't really know where we'd be. That's changed now that we've committed to the Stuart TrawlerFest (I paid the registration last night).

There are really only five gateway cities in the continental states for flights to Kona: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, and Phoenix. If you want a non-stop, you have to fly from one of those cities, and if you don't, you'll fly through one of them anyway (and/or connect through Honolulu at the other end). Given that we were going to be in Stuart, Florida just two weeks before we needed to be in Kona, I looked at fares for each of them in order of proximity to Florida. Chicago and Denver had outrageous fares, even for connections (non-stops were sky high), and, even though they were closer to us mileage-wise, we could have serious issues with winter weather trying to reach either of them on a two-week deadline. They would also make for a chilly week of bus storage, requiring either hookups or a lot of diesel.

Of the remaining three, it turns out (surprisingly, at least to me) that Phoenix Sky Harbor actually had the lowest fares. Perhaps even more astonishing is that those lower fares were for non-stop flights. All good, because Phoenix is a good 400+ miles closer than Los Angeles. So when we wrap up with TrawlerFest, we will be spending the next two weeks working our way to Phoenix. We'll return from Hawaii on February 18th, which will be a perfect time to drop down into Mexico for a month or so (unless we get a better offer).


  1. if you guys want to spend some time in the TX Hill Country, ,y wife's family has a ranch near Lampasas (Topsey is the closest on the map). We're not always there, but you are welcome to park and enjoy some Texas weather. (and maybe see some wildlife)

  2. glad you are going to bussing 2009 I think the bus nut community is looking forward to seeing "ODYSSEY"

    I know i am

    uncle ned

  3. If you were at Anaheim (or Tokyo) I'd recommend Club 33, but there isn't one at Orlando.


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