Disney World and Universal Studios

I finally got to take Elek to Disney World and Universal Studios. It turns out we picked a great time to go, after holiday crowds and after the cheer leading competition in the winter. We went to Disney World from Jan. 1 – Jan. 4. The crowds were there, but not enormous and the weather was pretty cooperative. On average it was in the mid 60’s each day. It sprinkled a couple of days, but we had rain jackets. I think I was over-prepared. I had a small first aid kit, disposable ponchos, two pairs of tennis shoes each, blister bandages, some stuff to reduce friction, among other things. I barely used these things at all.

We stayed in the All-Star Movies resort in the Mighty Ducks building. It was nice enough since we weren’t there that often. Buses went back and forth to each of the Disney kingdoms about every 20 minutes which made it convenient. We typically would go in the morning, come back after lunch to rest up and then head back out around 5 for dinner and the evening. I highly recommend staying “on campus”, though I would probably opt for the Art of Animation resort next time.

We purchased both a meal plan and the photo package. If your child doesn’t care about the characters (mine doesn’t) then don’t get the photo package. Also while the meal plan saves you some money, it reduces the number of options you can get in each place. If I did it again I probably wouldn’t have gotten the meal plan. We didn’t have either of these at Universal Studios.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom

We got to the Magic Kingdom around 3:30 PM Jan. 1 since Delta changed our flight to get in at 2 something instead of 10:00 AM. Spend most of your time in the Magic Kingdom. The highlights there were Peter Pan’s Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, Thunder Mountain, and the people mover in Tomorrowland. We also went on the Jungle Cruise which was full of puns, the Liberty Square Riverboat, Stitch’s Great Escape, the Haunted Mansion (which I remember), Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor, Swiss Family Treehouse, Tomorrowland Speedway, and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. Elek’s favorite there was the Barnstormer, which is a smaller roller coaster. Every night there is a massive fireworks display and we witnessed several parades with all kinds of characters. Once you learn how to use the fast passes they’re a really good idea and a huge time saver. We ate at Tony’s (Lady and the Tramp), which was pretty good.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

We came here Jan. 3rd and saw the Indiana Jones stunt show, Muppet*Vision 3D, went on the Great Movie Ride, and went on Star Tours a couple of times which was my favorite there. That night we ate at the Sci-Fi Diner which was really cool and I highly recommend it!

Disney’s Epcot

Elek and I went on Mission Space first. We did the low intensity which was nothing so we thought we would try the high intensity. Well Elek almost lost his breakfast as it was really intense! The other rides we rode were Journey Into Imagination With Figment, Spaceship Earth, and Test Track. Unfortunately Soarin’ was closed for refurbishment. Elek absolutely loved the Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure where it was like a mystery/scavenger hunt around the different countries in Epcot. The firework show here was amazing! We ate at Teppan Edo in Japan and it was really good. I got the sake flight which only reaffirmed the fact that I like dry sake.

We then took an Uber to our other resort which was called Cabana Bay. It was retro and very cool! They had a large (heated) pool, water slide, and hot tub.

Universal Islands of Adventure
Elek really enjoyed the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade, the Flight of the Hippogriff, and the Jurassic Park Discovery Center. We of course had to buy a “magic” wand and perform the spells at shop windows throughout Hogsmeade. I think this was Elek’s favorite part. Keep in mind in order to ride the train you will have to get park-to-park with your tickets. Elek played one of those basketball fair games and made two out of three shots so he won a Jurrasic Park basketball! We ate outside of the park at Yard House for dinner which has a massive selection of beers on tap and food. I got the short rib tacos and they were amazing.

Universal Studios
This was our last day and the Harry Potter world was incredible! There were many more spells to perform. The dragon above Gringotts breathes fire every so often. We rode on the E.T. Adventure and Elek rode the Woody Woodpecker roller coaster about 20 times. We both tried some butterbeer ice cream which was really good. I think by this time we were both pretty tired and ready to come home. I was disappointed that the back to the future ride wasn’t still there, but I did manage to get a picture of the car.

the (un)caged bird

you were not caged as perceived

a wondering and gliding spirit

merely attracted to the like

a connection which passes current understanding

the cage was never closed

in fact, there is no cage

you must completely open your heart before you can see


the short term future is still unknown, little bird

the long term was determined long ago

everything will return

to one

Have you ever?

Have you ever
just stopped and asked yourself “Wait… what the fuck am I doing?!”
just turned someone off in your life like a switch?
realized over a quarter century has whizzed past and have no idea what you’re doing?
realized that you don’t know what your purpose in life is?
admired other people for making changes that appear good for their soul?
been aware of your potential yet have no idea how to reach it?
wanted to go cliff diving?
wanted to go white water rafting?
wanted to go out west again?
wanted to excel at disc golf?
felt your self worth questioned by someone you love?
wanted to meet people like you, but just can’t seem to place your finger on how or where?
not known how to express yourself?
been numb to your feelings?

I have.

blueberry fields forever

Last Saturday, we drove down to Nesbit, MS to Nesbit Blueberry Plantation. Diana and I had been wanting to do this for a while and it’s a good thing we did last weekend. Nesbit Blueberry Plantation is only going to stay open for the season another couple of weeks. None of us have ever picked fruit like that before. They had us tie buckets around our waists so we could pick using both hands. They also encourage you to eat the blueberries right off the bush. Elek had a wonderful time doing just that. They only cost about $11 per bucket full. The blueberries were just delicious!

untitled – the poem

This is a poem I wrote many years ago.

How do you know when you see someone’s soul?
When it peaks from behind their eyes
Feel it penetrate your every defense
Touching your heart at the core
Words don’t need to be said
Your heart starts at every movement
Intense suspense
Waiting for what could be real
Eager anticipation
For new developments
Unexplored territory
Like a child taking its first steps
Slowly into the unknown

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parents letting go

This morning I was reminded of what Diana and I will eventually have to do as Elek grows up. We’ll need to take steps slowly and cautiously to let Elek experience the world for himself. This is hard for many parents and understandably so. So back to this morning.

I was driving home, down our street from dropping Elek off at daycare and I saw four boys that were clearly walking to Peabody school which was about 2 blocks away. One of them was crying with his jacket pulled part way down. One was next to him comforting him by putting his arm around him. Another was close and then there was the ever-present straggler bring up the rear. I thought to myself “What in the world are they doing? Why is he crying?” Then a few seconds later I saw a woman hiding behind a car and tree watching these boys walk to school. I imagine that’s his mother making sure he got there safe.

Sometimes as children we’re not ready to be independent, but the time has come. That must be really hard for that mother to watch her son walking off slowly, crying. But she knows as do I that once her son has done it a couple times it will be like second nature to him. I suppose sometimes we all need a push out of the nest of comfort.

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