Monday, November 8, 2010

Mouseward bound


We are parked at the Elks lodge in Delray Beach, Florida (map). We had a great, if all too brief, cruise to Grand Cayman, Roatan (Honduras), and Cozumel (Mexico) and enjoyed some great diving in the Caymans and Cozumel. The three ports were on successive days and we opted to take a break on Roatan rather than dive three days straight. The ship also stopped at Eleuthera in the Bahamas but we did not even disembark.

We arrived back at Port Everglades Saturday morning, and took our hosts out to dinner at their favorite Italian restaurant that evening. I had figured to get rolling Sunday morning, but Louise caught some kind of cold our last day at sea, and was really feeling too crummy to want to move yesterday. Instead I rode over with Steve to check out the most recent modifications to his Neoplan Spaceliner, including a repower to a Series-60 and B500 from the same powertrain we have in Odyssey. As part of the repower he also switched over to a glass dash, which is very whizzy.

We spent no time at all on our cruise thinking about plans for the interim period between our return and our next firm commitment, which is a trawler training cruise out of Vero Beach mid-January. Louise will be doing that with her friend Steph, leaving me a bachelor for a week. In any case, other than having a list of bus projects that can consume at least two weeks, and requiring some quiet downtime in a project-friendly spot, the intervening ten weeks is a blank slate, and so we spent a good deal of yesterday discussing possible plans.

One of the things we said we might do while we have some time to kill in Florida is to spend a few days at Fort Wilderness, the luxurious campground at Walt Disney World we've enjoyed in the past. Yesterday I finally got the chance to do the appropriate research, as we knew from previous experience that the rates swing wildly up and down throughout the holiday season. It turns out that this week and next week are the last two weeks of the "value season" -- the lowest rates of the year -- with a handful of weeks around the holidays being somewhat reasonable as well, and next year's value season beginning the week after New Years, but after the annual price increase.

After lining up the various rate windows at WDW with the other possible events we could put on the calendar, as well as the chart of average monthly temperatures and precipitation in Orlando, we decided to do Fort Wilderness next week, rather than later. While this means I won't get my two weeks of quiet downtime before we need to be there, it does maximize our chances for pleasant weather as well as minimizing our cost and the possibility of a schedule conflict. I made firm camp site reservations this morning, one of the very few times I have ever made reservations in six years of travel.

With a 15% discount code from, I was able to book a site for about $50 per night (plus tax), which is normally astronomical for us, but is an incredible deal at Disney. Considering that a stay at Fort Wilderness gets you the same perks as any other Disney resort, such as extra hours at the parks and access to the free transportation system, it's really the least expensive way to do Disney.

So we will be checking in there Sunday and will remain until Friday, which ought to be plenty of time to have a nice relaxing visit. We'll probably only visit the parks two or three of the four days we will be on site, but the transportation system will give us access to dining venues throughout the complex, and we'll have the scooters out as well, which can get us off-campus if need be.

Having set that as our destination, we decided to mosey slowly northward and set our sights here on the Delray Elks as our first stop, having found it to be a pleasant stop in the past. This morning we took on water and emptied our tanks, and got under way about mid-day. The lodge here is willing to let us stay till Friday (they have an event on Saturday), and I signed up for three nights. That should give Louise some time to recuperate, and I can make at least some progress on the ever-growing project list.

The West Palm Beach lodge, north of here, allows stays of two nights, and that can take us right up to Sunday morning if need be. That said, I'd like to find someplace closer to Orlando for Saturday night so I can pull a scooter out and go hunting for discounted park admission tickets, available from several retailers in the area.

We have no concrete plans beyond our week with the mouse, but I did put a few tentative items on the calendar. This will be the last year of the annual bus conversion rally in Arcadia over New Year's, and we will probably go to that to catch up with friends. Cruiser Expo in Stuart, which we attended last year, is the weekend before Louise's training cruise, and that's a good possibility as it will be close by. And we are giving some thought to doing the pre-event training the week before Trawler Fest. All of that would pretty much fill up January, leaving us just five weeks unspoken-for after Disney.

Those five weeks, of course, happen to include both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Neither of us has any family nearby, and I was unsuccessful in persuading my cousins to come down and meet us at Disney around the holidays, so we'll probably be looking for someplace to stay each time where we can get a holiday meal without any of the busy work. Last year we had great success at a casino for Thanksgiving, although that particular venue has since discontinued its RV parking, and we opted to go on a cruise over Christmas, which makes no sense this year having just returned from one.

The picture for after Trawler Fest, which again this year coincides with my birthday, has been even fuzzier than that for the preceding two months, but we learned today that our proposed panel for the South by Southwest conference has been accepted, and we are now committed to being in Austin, Texas in mid-March. That at least gives us a target and a timeline, and we will be leaving Florida for points west at the beginning of February.

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Welcome back y'all. I love mouseville as well, even if it is a hugely expensive place, but cheesy as it sounds, I believe in Walt Disney's old dreams & approve of all the family oriented stuff they do. I also agree if you can get a decent rate, it's always cheaper to stay on the property.

    Have fun y'all,


  2. Have you considered the Brandon, FL Elks a bit away from the mouse but closer than West Palm.

    Rod Bahnson

  3. You are probably already aware of this too, but some supermarkets, Marie Callenders/equivalent cook your feast for you and let you pick it up. If you were able to tie down where you'll be for the holidays, that might be another option.

    Btw, we're now FTOTR, though I'm still blogging old road trips. I'm not caught up yet.

  4. @Rod: Brandon, while closer to Orlando, is actually pretty far out of the way when coming from Fort Lauderdale. We'll be coming up the east side of the lake; at an operating cost of around $0.65 per mile, it makes no sense to go that far out of our way. Kissimmee also has parking, if we need it, and we have a secret stealth spot in eastern Orlando as well, so one way or another we will be covered.

    @Linda: Thanks for the suggestion, and welcome to full-timing.


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