For Andy and me, the trip to Disney World was more about getting together as a family than exploring Disney. We stayed in the Saratoga Springs Resort area, spread out in four suites. Andy and I spent a good bit of time simply walking around the resort. The day after Thanksgiving, we took a four mile walk around Lake Buena Vista while the children and grandchildren went to the Animal Kingdom section of Disney World.
One side of the lake, across from our resort used to be called Downtown Disney, but now there are several sections with different names. It is all shops and restaurants. And, it was very crowded. We weaved our way through the crowds and made our escape at the far end. We did stop to see several cars driving around the lake.
We took some time to watch the water birds along the shore. This one of a Common Moorhen in the grass is my favorite picture even though it could be sharper.
We came to a putting green and the golf course on both sides of of the canal that connects the lake to the rest of Disney.
This squirrel was next to the sidewalk near our room. It was surely accustomed to tourists taking pictures; it did not even flinch while I snapped a picture just a couple feet away.
On Saturday, the grandparent generation and adult children went to Epcot while Joanne and the grandchildren spent the day at the pool with cousins. There were seven of us moving at a glacial pace. We couldn’t decide what to go see. Then we had to discuss where we were going to eat lunch. Andy and I decided to go wherever Mike wanted and he chose Germany. The large buffet was a delicious choice.
We walked around the lake some more and came upon a stage where a four-person a cappella group was singing Christmas songs. Margaret and I stopped to listen. Andy and Andy found a park bench farther away. The next group was a gospel choir dancing and singing Christmas carols in the hip hop fashion. I really enjoyed their high-energy performance, but Andy said they were just screaming.
Son Andy suggested that we take a boat ride across the lake.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that he was aiming for the Italy exhibit. He had voted for it for lunch. They have the most charming pizza ovens named, from left to right, Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna. One of the pizza chefs told Kathy that they are 800 degrees F.
Many of the turtles had come up on shore to bask in the sun.
We loved to walk across this foot bridge across the lake within the resort.
We drove to the Grand Floridian resort inside Disney for lunch. This is one of the most beautiful hotels. They set up this gingerbread house in the lobby every year for Christmas. There was a line of people buying stuff from the two sales ladies inside the house. Maybe they were selling gingerbread cookies.
When Paul lived in Orlando, he went to the Grand Floridian cafe often. All the staff came over to greet him. This is our waitress Rola, who is from Lebanon.
This was my lunch view out the window.
Monday was the day for our seven-hour drive back to Marathon. Before we hit the road for the long trip, we stopped in nearby Kissimmee to visit Ken Brooker. He was a campground host in the Cataloochee Valley section of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We drove over the mountain to visit him, but he was not there. He drove over the mountain to visit us in Big Creek, but we had gone out for groceries. We could not call ahead because we did not have a phone signal in the mountains. This was our day to actually meet each other in person.
We were admiring the huge Live Oak trees in Ken’s neighborhood and he took us into the back yard to see a large tree, part of which had fallen on his house during Hurricane Charlie. Andy was the first to notice the bear that had been carved into the stump of the section that broke off.
Andy stood close by for scale. Here is a closer look at the bear.
Then Ken and Andy posed for a picture before we went inside to swap stories about campground hosting in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
It was a great, if short, visit. But, we had a long drive ahead of us. We vowed to visit each other when we are both in the park next June.
We got home after nine o’clock that night.