An Evening at Wilderness Lodge

We’ve been craving a martini at Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge for some time now. It would be a nice change from hoofing it around a hot park – air conditioning, peace, quiet, ah…

We each had a dirty Ketel One Vodka martini, the Oregon White Cheddar Chardonnay Cheese Fondue that comes with 3 pretzel breadsticks and grapes, and the Asian Sticky Wings. The Cheese Fondue is amazing and the wings are quite tasty, although tonight they were especially salty.

We noticed the famous Artist Point Mushroom Soup is on the lounge menu along with the Berry Cobbler (we’ve had the Cobbler in the lounge before), but we decided to save those two items for our final Artist Point dinner at the end of next month right before it becomes the silly Snow White Character dinner. I mean, did they have to convert it completely? How about special occasions or just until 8 pm or something like that?


We noticed Artist Point was quite busy last night so maybe it hasn’t been hurting or maybe everybody is just booking it now because they know time is running out but it seemed like there were many families with the stroller brigade crowding the restroom area. Obviously, Disney World is going after the family dollars above all else.

After our lovely little meal and drink, we walked the grounds and while it’s as beautiful and mostly peaceful as ever. We stopped with another couple to get some photos of a rabbit hiding in the flowerbed and took turns taking photos of each other.

Later on our way to what was once the Trout Pass Bar, we were almost run over by two New Yorkers when I paused for two seconds to take a photo. People seem to be storming over to Geyser Point – that place is always a madhouse these days – and the smores area is making it even more crowded.

Note: Rich is standing in front of where we last sat on stools and enjoyed a glass of wine before our last meal at Artist Point over Thanksgiving 2017. Sigh…

We did enjoy another lovely walk over to the cabins – wouldn’t we like to live there? Wow! Of course, we love Wilderness Lodge and in some ways really hate to see these changes impacting that peaceful experience it used to be. It’s sad that the Trout Pass Bar is now a nail salon – I mean, a nail salon by the pool? Seriously? Oh well, I may have to give it a try for old times’ sake.

It was such a beautiful night and we were wishing we were staying over, but, alas, it was soon time to go home. But first we had a quick look around the gift shop and then out to the parking lot to retrieve our car to begin the drive home via the Windermere townhome for old times’ sake. After all, when we lived there, Skipper, Lovey, and Buddy were still with us. It wasn’t such a bad life, now was it? 🙂

Back when the townhome community was new. The trees in front of the townhomes are so huge now, it makes the neighborhood seem much more crowded.

Welcome Home to Florida

We caught an early flight out of Las Vegas yesterday morning and as the plane circled over our former home, heading out into the open desert, I said something like, “What a pile of dirt!” – lol!

It had been an emotional roller coaster revisiting the place we’d called home for 9 years. I was reminded not only of the excitement we’d had flying in from San Francisco and staying in different hotel properties, but also living there. I was also reminded of why we felt compelled to leave.

The flight on Southwest was pretty good going back – the service was quite attentive – and before we knew it, we were landing in Orlando via over Tampa to avoid some storms. What a sight for sore eyes! I mean, literally! All the greenery and water! What a contrast from the Las Vegas desert.

And I began to feel a renewal of my original love for Florida as we drove the hour back home. So pretty. So peaceful. Sunny but not too sunny. Hot but not too too hot – even the humidity is a welcome relief from the oven-like temps of Vegas. Maybe that was the point of the trip for me. For Rich, well, he had a very productive week at work. Everybody so excited to see him. They’d love to have him back at headquarters but I don’t think I could live there again.

We’re definitely looking forward to getting back to Disney, and especially for the Food & Wine Festival. Rich’s brother will be here for that – looking forward to reconnecting like we did on our trip in 2010. What a year that was – doing the F&W Festival with our Disney friends and family. Looking forward to seeing who we can meet and connect with this year.

We stopped at our little downtown deli and Rich got us some sandwiches to take home because neither of us wanted to prepare food. We noticed a musician set up outside the market/deli area and we stopped for a listen and offered a tip. I took some video and captured a pic of that. What a fabulous welcome home!

A Day in the Neighborhood

Last night I had the strongest martini I’d ever had – wow! I could barely get out of bed this morning. I don’t think it had anything to do with how amazed I was that the view of the Las Vegas Strip from my bed was lit up all night long – lol! You don’t see that in Florida. How soon we forget what a place is like.

Rich brought us some coffee and breakfast from Starbucks in the lobby and then I rode with him to work to have the rental car. So today I drove through the old neighborhood just to see it. Not much has changed in the almost 16 months since we moved away. The new emergency room was finished and open and I hear it’s pretty awesome.

i couldn’t get inside our gated community (although it looks like they’re still having problems with the gate), so I just did a drive by and then drove to our favorite park and walked a bit of the trail. I was overcome by the feeling of being home. Of course, to my psyche, Skipper and Lovey are waiting for me in the house – not on the Rainbow Bridge. I could have stayed for hours but I had to get back to the hotel to get ready for lunch with Rich and our friend John.

So nice to see a familiar face – lunch at Lola’s was awesome! Rich then dropped John off at work and me back at the hotel.

I remember how difficult it is to live here – the heat is so intense as is the sun blinding. The best part about Vegas is staying in a hotel casino in a separate world than the harsh reality of the desert. Still, there are so many memories here, so many things that feel like home.



“Highlights of SoCal” Birthday Trip/Cruise, Day Five

Who: Rich and Kathy
Where: Los Angeles to Ensenada cruise, Disneyland Resort, Newport Beach
What: Carnival Imagination, Residence Inn, Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
When: July 11-16, 2018
Why: Kathy’s Birthday Celebration (Catching up with SoCal)

We got up early, Rich brought us some coffees and pastries while I showered, and we made our way to the Theatre to wait for disembarkation. We were off the ship by about 7:15 a.m. We saw our friend April and her friend again and we chatted once again. She wished me “Happy Birthday” again – really fun girls!

We had so many ideas about what we might do this day since we were flying back to Florida until the next day. One popular idea was to go to Disneyland if we got off the ship early. Well, we were off early but we were exhausted so we drove to Newport Beach.

It was only 8:30 am but already all parked up. So we drove to Huntington Beach and had breakfast at Norm’s – where our favorite pancakes in the world awaited and the friendliest, hometown experience.

Then we went to Mass at one of our regular SoCal churches. We were blessed to have been part of a baptism. So far, we were really feeling at home again.

We also drove around some of our favorite neighborhoods and when our hotel wasn’t ready early like we’d requested, we drove to Corona del Mar, hoping to enjoy the beach there. Nope – parking full. We ended up taking the ferry to Balboa Island, although there was quite a line of cars ahead of us.

This was a favorite childhood hangout for my family, including my mother who used to hang out there as a teen. My novel, Letters on Balboa Island, was inspired by all that.

Exhausted from getting up early and driving around, we decided to park at our hotel and wait in the lobby for our room. They’d offered a pool view room but we waited for our water view room.

We ended up ordering room service – burgers and wine – and relaxed and sipped and watched the sun set over Balboa Bay where I used to go with my family to watch 4th of July fireworks!

Spring Cleaning

This weekend was another hellacious weekend. Stuck in limbo, not able to move forward at all. Worry, worry, fret, fret. House hunt day and night. We both had fitful nights sleep – both worried about going if we get a yes. Suddenly, we’re terrified of the whole idea of moving to Florida – we’ve done it twice and left twice.

This morning we talked it out and calmed down, eliminating Windermere or “Winder Fear” as we’re calling it. While there are some lures to that choice, it would probably mean close to an hour commute twice a day for Rich, and then I’d be home all day without a car.

I also have Lake Mary fears, although both Lake Mary and Windermere are highly-rated for places to live. I don’t know why I have Lake Mary fears. Maybe because of the hospital scare, and losing Buddy – both in Seminole County. I know that might seem a bit silly, but there it sits. I want to steer clear of either place.

The last time we lived in the Orlando area, Rich was working in Lake Mary and we lived nearby. That was very nice for sharing the car and for me getting out and about – even to Disney if I wanted.

I scoured the Lake Mary homes, but they’re in high-demand. When we started our search, there were several possibilities, but while we wait, they’re being snapped up.

I did find a property in a gated community that sounded familiar to me. And then I remembered driving by that neighborhood when it was just being built – isn’t that wild? Maybe it’s a sign. It would mean a short commute for Rich, and I’d have the car for the day on days I wanted/needed it.

There’s a lovely church in the area that would work for both properties. We went there last time. The convert priest has the very same background as Rich, growing up.

This area would give us normal life with access to the beach and Disney. We would be living halfway between Disney and the beach, just not Cocoa Beach, the way I’d imagined.

The latter house is a bit remote, but close to Rich’s work, and it has that Tampa Bay house vibe to it, complete with woods view, although the house is a bit big for us. We were trying to downsize – lol! But what we really want is a single story so just that in itself will be an improvement – it’s much harder to maintain a two-story house like we have now.

In the meantime, we’re continuing on with spring cleaning, stuff that needs to get done whether we stay or go.

We’ve done touch-up painting and baseboard repairing from when the renters were living here. We’ve scoured the closets and drawers, although we would need another round should we go.

Today the landscapers arrive for a general spruce up. We thought they’d never fit us into their schedule, but, finally, today is the day. We still need to schedule a few repairs: the front gas burner on the stove, the master bath toilet handle, the laundry room fan.

Writing this post, I’m getting a lot more excited by the possibilities of going. We’ll see…

Living the Luxury Resort Lifestyle in Las Vegas

The latest decision we had to make was, “Should we go ahead and sell the house and move into a luxury resort condo rental if the plan to leave Las Vegas falls through or should we take the house off the market until there is a real getaway plan in place?”

Entertaining the possibility of selling and staying until we can make our getaway at a future date, I searched online and found a few fabulous rental condos with views of the Las Vegas Strip.

Turnberry Towers is within walking distance of what was once the International where Elvis used to perform, and my friend invited me to stay with her and her parents during that first summer Elvis appeared. I used to stay there several times a year on business trips to Vegas from San Francisco back in the 1980s (and watched them film Elvis and Me from my room overlooking the pool).

My novel, The Tom Jones Club, came from so many of my Vegas experiences.

I interviewed for a tech writing project in Turnberry Towers when they were building Fontainebleau on the Strip (the project folded before the building was finished). But when I realized it wasn’t for me, I stood up, told them so, and left. They were so flummoxed that somebody would actually do that – lol!)

This one actually faces the Hilton (what it will always be to me), and not the Strip, which, for me, is best because I prefer the morning sun over the late afternoon west-facing view during the summer months. Once the sun sets, the view of the Strip is amazing, but until then… brutal!

Two or three years back, Rich and I attended the last Elvis Festival there and we got a private tour of the famous Elvis Suite and the famous story of the dressing room where Elvis and Barbra Streisand sat on the floor and discussed the possibility of Elvis starring in A Star is Born (the Colonel blew that opportunity).

The pool inside the Elvis Suite at the International aka Las Vegas Hilton aka the Westgate

So, yeah, wow! How cool is this? Well, after thinking about it, I decided it would be cool for about a week or two at most. I mean, how many days/nights can you spend in a casino? About 3 days/nights we learned from our San Francisco to Las Vegas weekend getaway days.

Now for a little blast to the past…