My Impromptu trip to Orlando, part 2



The rest of my story about my most recent trip to Orlando -

We left off Monday morning with a Game of Thrones hangover and nothing on my schedule all day. I spent most of it wasting time in some of my favorite ways - talking about tv on twitter, eating donuts I only eat on vacation, petting the dog and chatting with people via the (type)written word. When Adrianne got home from work we ran to Publix to get stuff for dinner.

puppy lilly, all grown up

My brother grilled out in the crazy rain for us and we tried to find a movie he wanted to show me. It was his bedtime before we made it through one. I curled up with my iPad and read every twitter post about Game of Thrones while I continued to listen to podcasts.



On Tuesday morning, my first friend from the DCP Adam brought his wife and his super tiny baby to pick me up and take me to Disney breakfast. 



We ate at The Wave, an underhyped restaurant tucked away on the first floor of the Contemporary. We had talked about eating there or at Trail's End. Both are buffets that cast members get a good discount on, but they had never been to The Wave so that seemed like the best choice. I've done their breakfast buffet a few times in the past and am a fan of the sweet potato pancakes. It was good and they were glad they tried it, but unanimous consensus was Trail's End is better (just in case you were looking for a Disney breakfast recommendation).

Dianne came to pick me up that night when she got off work. We were looking for something quick and tasty for dinner so she took me to Tijuana Flats. Delicious giant tacos, great guacamole and an entire hot sauce bar to can check out. I didn't even think I liked hot sauce until I tried some of those. 

On Wednesday, we went back to the parks. My two Disney goals for this visit were to see the new fireworks at the Magic Kingdom and check out the new land of Pandora at the Animal Kingdom. I was determined to get both done that day.

My DCP roommate Dianne (who I was staying with) had to get a different roommate since I left so now shares an apartment with a guy who works in the Festival of the Lion King show at the Animal Kingdom. He's one of the always entertaining Tumble Monkeys, and he is such a sweet guy, he put us on a VIP list for the show.




We sat on the front row and this was our view. I've seen this show many times but wow, it looks different from down on the floor. I mean it's always fantastic in this theatre, but the different perspecitve was exciting. For example I noticed the costumes in that show. They are so intricate and fascinating. It's the kind of attention to detail that gives things depth and make them interesting.




After the show we were rushed out by an usher behind the theatre for a chance to chat with these kind animals and have our pictures taken with them. Huge thank you to these guys (who will never read this). That stilt walker? Yeah. He's way up there. 



After the show we rushed to Pandora to ride Flight of the Navigator before we headed out. I wanted to slowly wander around the new area, drinking it in, but it was way too hot for that kind of nonsense. Next time I go I will check out every inch, but in August? No thanks. So we headed straight for the ride.

The wait time was over an hour, but we were prepared for that. I'm pretty sure it's always that long. Since the main point of my trip was to visit we figured chatting in line (and we had some great chatting) instead of in her living room would be fine.

On the left below you'll see a hidden Mickey Dianne found. It's in the queue, near the entrance. The other shots are from inside.


Let me just say that ride was incredible. Incredible. I screamed and laughed and had the best time. It was way worth the wait and I can not wait to ride it again.

After the ride we headed out to the Magic Kingdom. It didn't feel anything like fall but I love these decorations the most




We realized we hadn't eaten. Fireworks time was close so we decided to eat at the closest place - Cosmic Rays. Not either of our favorite places but they have chicken and fries so there we were. It was insanely crowded. Beyond. Dianne was going to grab something somewhere else and meet me back there but decided not to because of the crowds. She hung out with me while I ate but as we fought the crowd back to Main Street she decided she was going to bail. The crowds were pretty out of control, but I was willing to endure them for new fireworks.

I found a pretty good spot in the middle of the street outside of Starbucks. It was so hot I found myself wondering "Hmm, I wonder what would happen if I passed out right here" but I was fine.

The fireworks were amazing. I am a fan. I didn't take any pictures because I wanted to just experience it since it was my first time. It was gorgeous. I felt inspired. And fireworks!! There were lots and lots of them. I loved it. And honestly, seeing fireworks all alone on Main Street is probably the very best way to see them.

I knew Dianne had been waiting for me. And I know right after fireworks at the MK is a crazy rush time, especially with this many people watching. But I also knew I as already halfway down Main Street, and I knew that one person in a hurry can cut through crowds pretty quickly when motivated. I didn't leave early, but as soon as the show was over I booked it out of the park and out toward the ferry. I made it on the first boat out of the park, and then onto the first tram to the parking lot. Trust me, I was super proud of myself. I told just about everyone about it and no one seemed as impressed as I was. Whatever. I consider that quite an accomplishment.

I was firework drunk by the time I made it to Dianne's car. I was still so excited and in love with everything. Dianne said later she had never seen me like that and I admit it was kinda crazy. I couldn't stop smiling. I was glowing. I was in love with the world. And I wouldn't stop talking. We were in our pjs checking FB one last time and I kept stopping her to tell stories about every friend who had posted. Firework drunk. It's a thing.

Good day!

There were a couple places I was hoping I'd get to eat on this trip. One was Flippers, another Via Napoli, and another D'Luxe Burger. None fancy, but oh so good. My flight out wasn't until early evening so Dianne suggested we stop by Disney Springs for late Burgers!


We left for the airport after that. She dropped me at the skycap and he got me all checked in. I hate saying goodbye, but it helps knowing I'll be back in January.



I had to check in with a Princess before they let me leave the city. 

Oh and here's my favorite TSA story ever.
The lines were crazy. Once you got past the person who looks at your id the line snaked around for about ever. There was a sign that said the wait was about 45 minutes. I like to be super early to everything flights so I wasn't worried but I bet some people were. I heard a worker guy ask someone how long the line was, and then he shouted out for everyone to empty their pockets, keep their laptops on their bags and leave their shoes on because they were bringing in a canine unit!! The mood of the crowd instantly changed. A dog? Suddenly we were all excited and chatting with each other. Really? We can leave our liquids in our bags as long as we get sniffed by a dog? What's the bad part? 

When we made it to the dog, he was inside a little rectangle made from the stanchions. His handler was there and the dog would walk around sniffing us as we made our turn past him. After that the rest of security was as breeze. Can was always just have dogs? Seriously.




Hello from Texas, where things are not messed with.

20160226_214459I'm pretty sure she bought that picture just for me :)

Good morning from Texas, where it’s going to be in the 70s today. At the end of February. This is not quite as exciting as it might regularly be because it will also get to 70 in my home town 8 hours north of here, but still. I’m wearing capris and sandals and a tshirt, so there’s really nothing at all to complain about.

I’m visiting my long time best friend Deb for the weekend. In line with my super power of making any trip longer than it needs to be, I stopped in Tulsa (perfect half way point) to visit my baby sister and her babies for one night on my way down and will stop again on my way home. It’s 3 hours and 46 minutes of drive time from my door to hers, and then the exact same number of minutes from her door to my friend's. How perfect is that? I wish I was also going to Ft Worth to visit my family there on this trip, or even Lubbock to visit my DCP roommate but I need to be home Tuesday night. Really, if I didn’t have any responsibilities, I’d also like to visit my 1st grade friend in Dallas and a high school friend in Abilene - but if I didn’t have any responsibilities how would I be able to afford to do all this? I wouldn’t, so I’m just happy to be able to enjoy this long weekend.

Waking up this morning was incredible. I didn’t have to think about my chores for the day, or feed any dogs, or worry if my kid might call me because she was having health issues. I just woke up with a big dog cuddling in my bed, turned on my “Junior High School Girl” playlist and enjoyed the morning. I even sang along without my kid telling me I was flat (I’m always flat). It was beautiful, really. When I felt ready to face the world I got up and chatted with my girl and danced around like a big dork — and then she gave me some reject clothes from her closet that I absolutely love. I need to do this a lot more often.

I have no idea what the plans are for the weekend. Who needs plans when you’re with your best friend ever? We might go to an art walk or a flower and garden show, or drive around and look at north Texas, but as long as we can relax and talk and talk and eat and talk, I will be very pleased.

I hope you’re having a great weekend, people. Call your best friend if you can’t hang out with her (or him). And enjoy the weather if it’s warm. I love you guys.



Sleep overs are still good.

Last month, as a late birthday celebration, I went to Kansas City and spent the night with the girl who has been my best friend since 1980.

This is one of her dogs, Willie Nelson. He thinks the guest bed is his, so we shared. 


In the morning we went to her favorite breakfast spot, "You Say Tomato". We met up with a friend of her's that she's known so long I know him too. And then a couple I had never met before. I had a biscuit with mushroom gravy which I enjoyed, and part of some gooey muffin topped with delicious pecans. I liked that better. I ended up talking about my family reunion. It was a good time.




When we were hungry later, we went to Rosedale Barbeque.
As you know, Kansas City is a BBQ town, and although Rosedale isn't one of the biggest, as you can see it has been around a very long time.
My grandpa and a few of his brothers worked at Rosedale. And then my dad worked at Rosedale. And many years later, my dad opened his own BBQ in Kansas City. It was never one of the biggest names, but it was a respectable and popular place to eat. I don't like to go there anymore since he died, but I love going to Rosedale.





The inside reminds me of familiar.




Here's my turkey sandwich and some fries.



Just before I got to my friend's on Friday, she had picked up her current foster dog from the vet. He was in bad shape. He was sick and starving and had more than a few puncture wounds. He was scared, but he was sweet.





He doesn't have a permanent name yet, but he is a lover and I really love him back. I sure hope he finds an amazing time after he's all better.


** All these photos are from my phone (Samsung S4 and unedited).

recent life according to my phone pix

Trying to sum up the crazy that = my life right now is way too big of a task. So I decided to let my phone tell the story, with pictures from the past couple weeks.

The 15th was Hannah's birthday. We did several things to celebrate. One was buying her this totally cool Doctor Who belt that is made with an old car safety belt buckle.


We also stopped in the Disney store. When the worker lady heard me mention her birthday, she made H this button. (It says Elizabeth because that's what the girl goes by now with everyone but her family)


One day I was feeling a bit overwhemled with home repairs, they money they involve, my crazy dogs and many other things. I remembered this quote I love and decided to write it up in my journal. I love it because it can be so true - but at the same time, compared to the problems of Camille Claudel and so many other people, it helps me not take it all to seriously.

i have all sorts of problems and feel discouraged.

In the middle of that week, my best cousin Angie and her son Tyler came to Lawrence to visit me. I had a super good time all day long. When baby niece #1 saw this picture, she said "That's Shelly with her friends."



Angie and Spike made a sort of uneasy alliance. Angie got brave and decided to hold him to get their picture together.


Friday of that week was Alan's birthday, and he wanted to go to this old car place and look at a lot of shiny old cars.


After that we had dinner. Since people are complaining lately about how they don't want to see pictures of people's dinner all over the internet, I thought I'd share a picture of what used to be my dinner. Actually I just didn't think to take a picture until it was all gone. It was delish.


To cap off the exciting birthday adventures, we checked out used books. I was surprised to find a second edition copy of the Rick Steve's travel book that has since helped me and countless others tackle a trek through Europe. It's changed a lot over the years. I didn't want to have it, so I just took a picture of it.

europe through the back door by rick steves

And then it snowed. At the time it seemed crazy that it was snowing on April 23rd, but now that's it's snowing right now on May 2nd it doesn't seem quite as remarkable.

snow on april 23

 The next day it was warm and sunny again. Both my dogs were on watch.



A couple days later Hannah had that bad seizure. The dogs watched over her the next day while she rested.


That weekend we were watching the latest episode of Doctor Who. Watching the credits, I thought "Oh, huh. That Mat spells his name like my friend Mat King.... Wait a minute!" Weird. I'm pretty sure it wasn't my Mat King because he gives me a hard time about loving the Doctor. But you never really know, do you?




Birthday Dining Report

When some Disney obsessed fanatics like myself get home from a trip to the parks, one of the things they do is write a Dining Report. They talk about where they ate and what they ate, and they often show pictures of their plates full of Disney food. I haven't written one yet (although I am considering making a Better Late Than Never report from my last trip), but love reading them and fully intend to write a great one when I get back from our trip this December.

In the midst of celebrating my birthday this year, I realized I was doing a lot of eating out. I thought it would be a fun idea to make a dining report of my birthday celebrations, and here it is.

Birthday Dining Report, 2012

My first birthday date was with the eternal BFF on Friday. We decided to return to El Potro, my favorite restaurant in town. I didn't take any pictures of this evening. I don't know why I always forget to take pictures when i'm with Deb. Maybe because we're too busy talking. Maybe because I think she hates having her picture taken.

I did take a picture of the temperature sign outside the bank on the way there though. It was crazy hot.

it can't really be 108?!

If you've been reading this blog long, you've probably seen pictures of their food before however, and this time it tasted just the same. Oh, and you'll see more in this very report, near the end.

The first time I tried El Potro was with Deb. I think someone else was with us as well. It may have been Hannah but i kind of think it was Alan. It's somewhat new, on 31st street between Kasold and Iowa. It's next to Sonic in the building that used to House Backyard Burgers.

This restaurant kicks ass.
I've read a lot of mediocre reviews of this place and some of them have valid points. It is a bit noisy, and they don't play any music so there's nothing to drown things out. The menu is huge, but since I always get the same thing it's always good. Maybe some of the dishes aren't as tasty.

Of course they bring you chips and salsa. The chips are light and crunchy. The sauce isn't the best in town, but it's not bad and you can occasionally notice a taste of cilantro. They give each person their own little bowl, and they bring a bowl of white cheese sauce for the table. I am not really a big fan of cheese dip, but I mix a tiny little bit into my sauce and that's pretty good.

I got the El Vaquero Tacos, which I always get. It's 3 tacos in soft corn tortillas filled with chicken, chorizo and a slice of avocado. Oh my goodness it's delicious. It comes with your choice of black, refried or barrachos beans and some mediocre seasoned rice with vegetables in it. The serving size is pretty big, even without the rice and beans it was more than enough.


Sunday I went to lunch at Free State Brewery with a couple of friends I went to Ottawa University with, way back in the 80s. Kevin and Michele were some of my best friends there. They met and fell in love while we were students, and several years later I went to their wedding. All these years later they are still married, and in fact seem happier than ever. Keven let me know that was because he had finally grown up, stopped being stupid, and realized Michele was always right. He said he knows now the key to being happy is to make sure Michele is happy. Go Kevin. You may remember last summer Michele took me to see Styx at Starlight for my birthday.


kevin and michele at free state

Kevin and Michele ordered some delicious bruschetta for appetizers; Smoked Salmon and Peach Brie. I skipped the salmon of course ("nothing from the sea"), but the peach and brie bruschetta was amazing. Peaches and onions and brie and basalmic vinegar. Oh my. I kept thinking about if for days. I still want some now.

I tried a Brewery Burger for lunch, substituting their amazing onion rings for fries. I thought I remembered this burger being really tasty, but this time not so much. The texture of the meat was way too smooth, and I wasn't sure it was all beef. There was only lettuce and a pickle to dress it up, no onion or tomato so it was really kind of sad little burger. The onion rings were amazing. We had to wait quite a while for the side of ranch I asked for when we ordered. Kevin was on his way to get up and ask for it when the waiter came by with it. I was glad to have it because I ended up only eating half the burger and filling up on the tasty rings.

We walked around downtown after that but eventually I needed to head back to the homestead. It started with the lightening and thunder. I was worried because it was so hot I had left my car's windows down, but I still decided to rush into Java Break for an iced White Cow since my car was conveniently right next to the coffee shop.


Sunday I met my girl Jen at Zen Zero for a very early dinner ("old lady dinner" Jen called it). When Zen Zero is not out of long beans, I usually get the Asian Long Beans; with onions, ginger, and mushrooms in a hoisin sauce. That night, however, there was an asparagus stir fry on the specials board and I decided to try it. It was pretty good, but I wasn't entirely in love with the sauce. I saved about half of it and an entire strip of chicken to eat later, but then I ended up leaving it all in Jen's fridge, where it may or may not still be today.

our table when we were done

We stayed a long time talking and no one there tried to rush us out or acted annoyed. That was good. Then we hung out at her pad where all kinds of things happened. It was a great time.

me and jen, just before it turned into my birthday


Tuesday was my actual birthday.
Alan came over in the afternoon and when I couldn't think of where I'd like to lunch, he suggested Wheatfields, which was perfect.

Alan had the Roasted Chicken Breast sandwich with some veg on a baguette. He liked it just fine. I had my most favorite #9. Turkey & Cranberry Relish "Turkey breast roasted daily, accented with garden greens, fresh mayonnaise on Walnut Sage bread". I'm telling you that bread is magnificent, but every part of it was good. Turkey, mayo, lettuce, cranberries too. It was supremely delicious and I was so glad he had suggested it.

incredibly good sandwich

We walked around downtown for a bit after that and decided to stop in at Silas & Maddy's for some home made birthday ice cream in a home made waffle cone. That's hard to beat. I had something called Rock Chocolate Jayhawk. Here's a look:

i love a waffle cone soaked with ice cream

When it came to dinner ideas, I was out again. I asked Alan to decide that too, since he'd done such a great job with lunch. He suggested we try Genovese. It's run buy a guy who runs some other Lawrence restaurants I dig (notably Zen Zero, previously mentioned), and it's Italian so it seemed like an brilliant choice.

It's in a huge space downtown. It's split up so there are 3 floors without ceilings, which is nice and open and airy. But that combined with the stone walls makes it one noisy place to eat. At first we were seated on the enclosed patio, but it was crazy loud out there so we asked to move. It wasn't very full so that was no problem. Even at our new table it wasn't exactly cozy or private or romantic. I could hear just about every conversation around us clearly. Alan had to keep asking me to speak up because he couldn't hear me, but I didn't really want to shout and have everyone know my business. So that was frustrating and certainly detracted from the feeling of the evening.

The food was great though. My favorite part was our appetizer. Fried baby artichoke with shaved parmesan and a lemon caper aioli. They were super yum. I want them all the time.

appetizers are often my favorite part of a meal

I enjoyed the peach bruschetta so much at Free State the other day I decided to try to pear pizza. Pizza Bianca it's called, with grilled pears, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, gorgonzola and truffle oil. Very nice as well. Tart and cheesy, and heavy on the onions.


Since I knew we were going to celebrate it up with the tiramisu for desert, I boxed up a few artichoke hearts and half the pizza. I loved that they wrote their name and the date on the box. My birthday, right there in black and white.


The tiramisu was pretty good, although not as good as my favorite. It could have used some more Kahlua I think. It came in it's own little glass, which made it weird to share. It was rich and cold and tasty, and I was happy to have it.

a cup of tiramisu


Wow. That's a lot of celebrating!
But it didn't even stop there.

The next day for lunch, Alan and I stopped by my favorite Mexican place El Potro. Yes I had just been there on Friday, but that was almost a week before!

chips, cheese and salsa

Lunch specials were in action so I decided to branch out and try the Pollo Ixtapa. "Chicken breast slices sautéed with wine, onions, poblano peppers, pico de gallo, mushrooms and topped with white sauce."

too much greasy sauce

The white sauce was really just like the free cheese sauce they give you; way too thick and dense. It was so very heavy and not ideal for lunch on such a hot day. There were hardly any mushrooms, which had been a big selling point to me. The chicken was good though. If I were to get it again, I'd ask them to leave the white sauce off. More likely I'll just stay with my known favorite.

alan's salad

Alan got the taco salad which looked really good. I might try that some time if I'm looking for something different.


There was one more birthday dinner before the whole thing was through. My mom came to town to see me Thursday morning. By that point I had eaten about everything I like in Lawrence, so I let my mom and Danny pick where we'd have dinner.

my mom and danny outside the restaurant

We ended up at Hibachi Grill, which is a big Asian buffet. I don't really love it, but it's agot a lot of choices and I'm never sad to go there. They have 10 tables of food (although 4 are salad and dessert), a sushi station (which I skip because "nothing from the sea"), and a grill area with a limited number of raw items to hand to the grill master. I went with my usual: lots of green beans, egg drop soup, low main with added sweet and sour chicken, green beans and mushrooms. For my final birthday desert I had some red jello.


And then I was so full that I never ate again.

So hooray for my birthday, and all the people that helped me celebrate it. And hooray for Lawrence restaurants, who probably wondered what their spike in sales that week was.

Good Food and Old Friends

The day is all waiting ahead of me, in a good way. It seems like I have a whole day to get done some of the stuff I'd like to do, but when I stop to think about it, it really isn't.

First of all it's 10 am and I just got up a bit ago. Well that's not exactly true. I got up at 5:20, to make sure Hannah was up and that she and Danny got out on the way to the bus on time, but then around 6:30 I crawled back into bed and let the phone tell me a story till I fell back asleep. I woke up at 8:30 and thought "Oh, I'll just lay here for a minute before I get up" and then it was an hour later.

And then I remembered when I got last night, D & H told me the brakes on the Saturn are no longer working. They are squishy and don't really make the car stop. Apparently this has been going on for a week but Danny just decided to tell me last night. Of course I told Alan and he told me not to drive it till he can look at it. It's possible it's leaking brake fluid, which may or may not be worse than having the cylinder bubbly or something car talk, but I'll have to wait till he can come over to see.

I thought he was going to come over today to check it out, but the weathermen say it's going to be all rainy (and kinda cold) today so he's rainchecking that idea. He'll be over tomorrow. Which is fine, but means Danny will have to come home at lunch so I can have the other car because I have Jane at 2.

The biggest drag of the car situation is that I was kinda hoping to go into KC to visit with my best room mate ever Steffanie today while she visits the mall with her mom and daughter. Cars are super annoying sometimes. While it's true they beat walking in a spectacular way, it's also true that they come with their fair share of troubles. It's possible we may be getting a new (to us) one this spring. That would be very nice. Our cars are quite old and troublesome.

So, get the car at noon and take Danny back to work. Stop at the store for some pita chips so I can eat the hummus Leah sent home with me last night for lunch, Jane at 2, pick D up from work at 4, pick H up at the bus at 4:30 (unless she calls with some other time), and then meet up with my best Debra at 5 for dinner and girl time.

I'd really like to shove some Project Life time in there, but I don't know. I guess I have some time before lunch. Maybe I could do it. But there's also a fair amount of tidying up that needs to go on, and laundry waiting to be put through the machines so we'll see.

Now about last night - First of all I can not even believe that out of 5 ladies having dinner and a swell time last night none of us thought to take a picture! How crazy is that!?! Oh, what a regret. Dang. And you know last week when I went out with the Copples I didn't get a photo either! I am failing at documenting my life. I really need to get on the ball about that.

Anyway, the good part.


Me on the way. I was determined to take lots of photos of the night.

I headed into KC just before rush hour and managed to show up at Leah's while she was at the store. I chatted with her husband and got to know her dog, Ruby, who is very sweet. Leah got home and got things started for dinner while I made some really yum hummus for the first time. So good and creamy and garlicy.

Soon Steff and her family showed up and Steff and I put the pizzas together. There was lots of chatting and remembering and laughing and all the good stuff that happens when old friends get together. I had a beyond lovely time. I love those girls a Lot.

And way too soon it was time to go. On the way home I realized about the photos, so when I stopped at a light I snapped a quick picture of myself while I still had the happy friendship glow about me. I made it home in time to hear all about Hannah's day (and the bad car news) before I hit the sack so I could wake up early this morning.


Hooray for good food and old friends!