Snowy Range Pass

Snowy Range Pass

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hollywood Studios Park

Hollywood Studios Park was the second’s day activity. This was also a well laid out park with theme being Hollywood during the art deco period and the film studios making all their films on back lots and sound stages. Needless to say there were plenty of replica shopping and dining places, as well.

We enjoyed looking around at the sets and skylines and we did get a bit of the feeling of the good ole days. The two most enjoyable shows/demonstrations were the shooting of actions scenes for several movies. The most recognizable was the Indiana Jones Stunt show. Here they performed well known scenes from the movies and allowed you to see how they did the various routines. The second was a car stunt show depicting auto scenes in a small French town that will be used in an upcoming movie. At the end of the show, they played some of the action scenes from the movies in their final form. This allowed us to see how the stunts we saw were actually put to use in the movie.

We also saw the Beauty and the Beast musical and an exhibit on the development of the Walt Disney Company.

Despite the daily dose of bad economic news and speculation of doom and gloom, this was not apparent in this rather expensive park setting. The parks and resort accommodations are all nearly full and it is shoulder to shoulder in the park.

Disney vacation

On Tuesday, we rolled into Disney World after a short stop in Ocala, FL and plan to be here a total of eight days. The campground is well laid out with many amenities, as you might expect. We decided on a five day park pass, as Disney is running a special for military members that will last most of the year. It certainly is a very nice gesture on their part.

We started the adventure at the Animal Kingdom Park, since we have not been there before. If you accept a few basic facts about Disney parks and amusement parks in general, you can enjoy yourselves without getting annoyed. There are always ten times as many stores as there are attractions, all activities are designed to separate you from your money, and there will be way too many people around you for your personal space comfort factor.

From our perspective, the most interesting part of the park was indeed the animals in the “preserve” and the several research stations that you can visit to learn about the lives of these animals in the wild. The preserve is well laid out with an enjoyable jeep ride thru the large acreage to see the animals as they might appear in the wild. The ruins of an Indian palace and the tree of life we also found very interesting.

We wandered the park and took in all the structures and exhibits in the Asia and African sections. Anneke again looked at something she could do for a part time job in the Asian section. Those who read these pages regularly may recall some thoughts on part time work in Nevada.

We took in several shows including the Lion King musical, visited a few shops and watched the parade before calling it a day.

Friday, January 23, 2009

De Funiak Springs, FL

We spent five nights in De Funiak Springs, FL on our way east and south. The RV resort was on one of the many lakes in the area and was very pleasant. De Funiak Springs is clearly past its heyday, but doing its best to hang in there. The town was founded around the “open pond”, when the railroad decided to make it a stop on its line. Thus, in the early 1880’s, the town was founded and named in honor of the president of the railroad. The open pond is a unique lake formed by a huge circular sink hole filled by an underground spring.

It quickly became well known when it was chosen as the winter home of the New York Chautauqua. See more on this from 22 Aug 2007:

It quickly became a center for culture in the Victorian style with many well off folks from the north establishing homes around the lake. Today the town boasts of 250 homes and other buildings on the national historic register.

The town is also home to the oldest library in the state operating from its original building. The library was established during the first decade of the town. The railroad station now serves as a community museum, where those interested may have a guided tour from the manager. It turns out that she was originally from Toledo, Ohio!

Before leaving the area we had a nice chat with the owner of a general store outfitted as it would have been in the early 1900’s. She gave us the latest on the town’s issues and also recommended we try the H&M hot dog establishment around the corner. This is a very small place, cooking area counter and five stools all in about 120 sq ft, that serves a number of old fashioned lunches heavy on the grease, but very tasty. It remains as it was when it started in 1947, I guess on the theory of not fooling with success. It worked for us. I think I can safely say it is the smallest restaurant I have ever eaten in.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Henderson Beach State Park

A few days ago we moved a short distance to the Henderson Beach State Park in Destin, FL. This is small but beautiful park on the beach with the campground nestled in the dunes behind the beach. Despite the coldest temperatures of the season, we managed several long beach and nature trail hikes. For the rest of the time, we relaxed and made ready for our next move a bit north, as we make our way east and south.