Akaka Falls

See the World for Free

The idea here is to TRAVEL THE WORLD regardless of time or budget. It dawned on me one day that even if I had unlimited time and money (which I definitley do not), I still couldn't see everything in the world that I'd like to see--I'm simply not going to live long enough to do it.

But I had a bit of brain wave and soon after the travel envelope was born. This is an actual physical envelope. I typed the name of every country in the world, plus every state in the US on little slips of paper which I then put into the envelope. In the beginning we (myself, my husband, Dave and daugher Catherine) would draw out a slip at random at the beginning of the month and that's where we would go---at least in our minds. We grab some books about the country from the library and put them in our bathroom to look at. We also check out some videos about the country if any. We check it out on googleearth, listen to the music, try the food, maybe even attempt to learn a dance or celebrate a festival.

After the first two years we discovered that even virtual traveling can be tiring, so we travel now whenever I happen to be in the mood.

It's great fun. I especially love it when people I meet have been to the place I'm "visiting" in real life, or get excited and have some virtual adventures of their own. I hope that anyone who comes across this blog will feel welcome to come with us on the trip!

You have a standing reservation to see it all!

Oct 30, 2012


Oct 2012--the BEST vacation. I'ma huge Disney fan and have been to Disneyland a number of times, but never to Disneyworld. I've always dreamed of not just going to Disneyworld, but going for a good long time and really seeing everything. Because Catherine is a cast member, I got to do exactly that!! 10 days at the parks plus a day of travel on either end. I kept a little notebook and kept a list of what we did everyday. Keeping the list helps me to be able to recreate the days in my mind and keep the flavor of each day intact. The thing I love about Disney is the atmosphere--whereever you are, whereever you look it's beautifully landscaped and beautifully detailed. Disney puts you in places as you imagine and wish they should be. When you're in frontierland for example, there isn't any dust and dirt and poverty. It's beautiful, with fun shows and rides and happy humor. Maybe someday after I retire, I'll get to work there myself. In the meantime--here is our vacation or, the best receipe for exhaustion I've ever seen.

<>October 16

Left around 8 p.m. to drive to the Comfort Inn at the SLC airport. Nice place! We stayed there because they let us leave the car and that was cheaper and more convenient because our flight left so early.

Oct. 17

Got up at 4:00 a.m. to catch flight. To our great relief the plane left on time (American Airlines had been in the news with some problems). Made our connection in Dallas no problem and arrived in Orlando only 20 min late. Disney's Magical Express is the best thing ever.

We brought 2 huge suitcases--one for ourselves, and one for Catherine to fill up with stuff for us to bring home for her. We checked the bags in at SLC and they arrived in our hotel room later that day. Fantastic!!! The buses themselves are fun with videos welcoming us. As a bonus, there was a high school age choir that broke into song as we went. We met Catherine at the All Star Music Resort--one of the cheapest of the Disney properties.
Seeing Catherine was definitley the highlight of the trip. She looked great! As we hiked to our room there was a game of Simon Says going on by the pool.
Catherine was so cute--and loaded us down with presents--jackets, buttons, waterbottles, rainponchos, bear clothes, cookies and souvenirs for family at home. By this time it was late afternoon, so we took our first Disney bus to Downtown Disney. We ate at the Earl of Sandwich (Utah needs one of these restaurants),
and looked at some of the fabulous stores--the lego store
, Giradelli store (free samples), and World of Disney where we bought Mickey ears. From there we went to the Polynesian Resort, got Dole Whips and then went outside to watch the fireworks and water parade. After that, we took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom to catch the bus back to our hotel. Alarming crowd there, but the wait wasn't too horrible for the bus. Got to hotel at 11:00 p.m. Orlando time dead beat, but set the alarm for 7:00 the next day.

Oct 18

We took the bus to Hollywood Studios where we met Ruth, who gave us one of her passes, took a bus to the Contemporary again, then the monorail to the Magic Kingdom!

Here's what we did. The Haunted Mansion, Haunted Mansion again going through the interactive cemetery, The country Bear jamboree, Lunch at Peco's Bill.

As you'll see, food is a MAJOR theme throughout this whole trip. I've listed quite a bit, but believe me, it's nowhere near the amount we really ate. I love this picture from the Buss Lightyear queue. It pretty much sums up how we felt about what we ate.

Splash Mountain, Big Thunder, Pirates, Pirate gift shop, ice-cream sandwiches, the giraffe gift shop,
jungle cruise,
tiki-room, Swiss family tree house, lots of shops sprinkled throughout the day--some with wonderful cast members.
Monsters Inc, Buzz Lightyear, Peoplemover, Spacemountain,
Carousel of Progress, Astro Orbiter, Pooh--found that the new Fantasyland was having a preview.
So we got to see Gaston's Tavern
and have Le Feu Brew, and go on the new Little Mermaid ride. Then to Philharmagic, Small World, Big Thunder, and browsed the shops on the way out. We were beat, but scheduled for the Hoop De Doo Revue dinner show at 8:30. Took Ferry to Fort Wilderness and saw the show. Fantastic fun! One funny highlight for me was when the cast was trying to energize the crowd by yelling, "Are you hungry??!!!" "We said, Are you HUNGRY??!!!" This is about 9:00 p.m. and one kid yells back "Not really!!". The Hoop Dee Doo is great in it's own right, but was made twice as funny because we were so silly with exhaustion by then.

Oct 19

Slept in. Catherine got us into EPCOT and then had to go to work.

We got fast passes to Soaring, then went on Living with the Land, Circle of Life, Journey into imagination, Imagine works,Nemo, Turtle talk with Crush. We were hungry so went toward World Showcase and began to explore the food samples--this was expensive, but so fun.

Cranberry Bog on the way to World Showcase.

From Austrailia we had lamb with pesto; Scandinavia, swedish meatballs with lingonberries; China, Mongolian beef in a steamed bun; Africa, spinach and paneer cheese pocket--this was the best deal for the money and was delicious, but it was 90 degrees outside, and this came straight out of the deep fryer. Next was the CHEESE stand, my favorite.

They served little samples of three kinds of fancy cheeses; Germany, Dave had a brat and apple strudel, I had another cheese tray. Dave finished off with an Italian ice-cream cookie sandwich.

We went back to Soaring with our fastpass, then Spaceship earth, and Mission Space. Our friends from Iowa happened to be there and we met up with them at the Lotus Blossom Cafe in China where we had dinner. We roade the Maelstrom with Elaine and Bill

then said goodbye and roade Rivers of Mexico. Catherine was coming to the park at 9:00 so on our way to meet her, I had an italian ice-cream cookie sandwich and Dave had a strawberry and chocolate ice-cream cone. I had some different samples of cheese from the Ireland stand. Met up with Catherine and rode Soarin before going home. Sprinkled throughout all of these days were visits to too many gift shops to list.

Oct 20

Catherine had to work so we were on our own. We took the Disney bus to the Disney car care center (of course Disney has it's own car care center, to pick up our rental car. We also rented the GPS which was a very smart move. Drove to Universal Islands of Adventure and went immediatley to the Hogwarts area.

Rode Journey to Hogwarts (fantastic ride),
then browsed shops a little, Dave had a butterbeer and I had a rock cake. Then we rode Dragon Challenge, played in shops some more and left the Hogsmeade area.

Here's a tape-measure cat from Madame Malkin's. Went on Posidon's Fury, which has a heck of a ride front.

Dave wasn't feeling too great by this time. We found a peaceful bookstore in Seussland and had a rest.
I think he should have rested longer, but he claimed he felt ok, so we rode Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges. Stopping to meet Betty on the way which I think helped Dave's recovery.
Oh my gosh! Catherine was wise to advise us to wear rain gear and crocs, I have never gotten so soaked on a water ride, since we were already drenched, we then rode Dudley Do-Right's RipSaw Falls and then the Jurrasic River Raft Ride, we took a look at the Camp Jurassic kid's area, then were back in the Hogsmeade area. Dave had some pumpkin juice and a pretzel. The Hogwart's frog choir was there too and we stayed and listened.
Went to the 8th Voyage of Sinbad stunt show, then the Seuss train ride adn the Seuss Carousel.
Had dinner of Cornish Pasties and Butterbeer at the three Broomsticks. The park closed early at 7:00. So we got back to the hotel by 8. Catherine was there by then so she and I took a swim in the guitar pool and the piano pool at the resort.
It was a little chilly, but we were determined.

Oct 21

Back to Universal--Catherine had the day off and could come with us. On our way to Hogsmeade we met Spiderman.

There wasn't a line yet--only one little boy of about 6 who was talking to Spiderman. That had to have been the happiest boy in America just then. His eyes shone like stars and you could see this was a dream come true for him. We had a good chat with Spiderman too. We went to Hogsmeade and road Journey to Hogwarts again and then shared some pancakes and an "English breakfast" at the Three Broomsticks, which came complete with Black Pudding. The pudding wasn't as horrible as one would think, just a little dry. It wasn't a large portion, but more than plenty for the three of us.

A word about breakfast. The plan was to take breakfast food with us and eat at the hotel to save money. It worked great in Aruba, but not quite so well this time. Disney resorts (at least the cheap ones) don't have coffee makers! We brought along our own little electric kettle to heat water for oatmeal,as well as some bagels and peanut butter, Catherine brought fruit and juice. It would have been ok, except Dave bought the wrong kind of oatmeal that needed to be microwaved. Using the hotwater gave us a marginal result. As a result our breakfasts tended to be on the light side, which was ok, because that meant we were always ready for an early lunch which is good theme park strategy line-wise.

Anyway, Catherine and I rode the smaller rollercoaster--Flight of the Higgogriff. Then we all shared some cauldron cake and pumpkin torte. Next was the Cat in the Hat ride,

and I rode the giant Incredible Hulk rollercoaster with Catherine--my very first coaster where your legs dangle. I like it. Then the Spiderman ride--the sound went off toward the end,quite funny. Then the Jurrasic River Ride, lunch at the Jurassic Cafe, Dudley's Rip-Saw Falls then the Bilge Rat barges twice--why not? we couldn't get any wetter. We then went to the other Universal Studios park where I found out I had made a huge mistake. It was already about 4:30 and they were closing at 5:00 for Halloween Fright nights! We ran and rode the Despicable Me ride and I couldn't resist a shirt for Dave that said, "Minion of the Month--Dave". I don't think Dave would have bought it, but he's being nice about it. We also ran onto the Curse of the Mummy ride, before the park closed.
Since we had time, we went back to the other park and rode the Seuss train, Posidon's Fury, and then had a good talk with a magic fountain.
The fountain was just singing to itself "I ain't got no body, an no arms, and no legs etc." Then then fountain said hi to us--we were the only ones around. Catherine told the fountain that she was in 22 grade, and the fountain figured out that even if she were to become a doctor, it shouldn't take anywhere nearly as long as 22nd grade! Pretty funny. I asked the fountain if it could sing us another song?

"Sure, I'm a litte teapot short and stout, I don't have a handle, I don't have a spout.."

we finished the day with one last trip on Journey through Hogwarts and then ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, which was just right there and is advertised as the world's largest.

It must be, there was every memento from every possible start you could think of including a whole room dedicated to just Woodstock. I'm not a rock fan, but the Hard Rock Cafe chain is a lot of fun just the same. As usual, we went back to the hotel and slept like the dead.

Oct 22

This was a semi-day off. We slept in and then packed up to move to the Pop Century resort.

Love disney for moving our luggage for us! Catherine had to work so Dave and I went to Blizzard Beach---every bit as cute as the travel channel shows.
My favorite thing was the lap around the lazy river--it felt divine to be off me feet.
It's a good thing I was thinking "day off" because this was the one theme park we did not do right. We didn't get there till 1 and then Catherine was able to get off early and come too, so we had to meet her in the front with her stuff, but she was delayed and the park closed at 5. Still, I think we went on every slide that we wanted to. Catherine and Dave did the giant slide--I passed, I don't like the dropped feeling and besides, I figure I rode the biggest waterslide drop in the world when I was a teen and we went to Las Vegas. Otherwise, I feel as though I saw everything--happily in a waterpark, the theming is all around you and not hidden in "rides," except the lazy river which had some cute things like a cabin where the occupant had a cold and would sneeze out big sprays of water.

For dinner we went to downtown Disney and ate at the T-Rex restaurant which is exactly the same as the Rainforest Cafe only with dinosaurs.

Terrific fun! This turned out to be my favorite restaurant of the trip. There is a very cool ice-room in the middle,
but we got to sit in an even better place deep in the lush jungle. There were occasional meteor showers too, and the tortellini hit the spot exactly.

Afterward, we browsed around downtown disney in a leisurley way and ate huge ice-cream sundaes at Giradellis.

Oct 23

We returned the rental car then picked up Catherine who had slept in, and went to EPCOT.

We rode Spaceship Earth, Finding Nemo, Turtle Talk with Crush (Catherine had never seen), and then we took a minute to see the live manatees and saw part of a demo with live dolphins. Then we went on Soarin and Living with the Land. And THEN came the food. LOVE the EPCOT food and wine fest only thank goodness we don't drink because we would have been broke! We had: Sweet and Sour pork sliders in Hawaii, Greek cheese w/ pistachios and honey in Greece for me, and souvaliki for Dave and Catherine. We shared a wild mushroom Beef filet mignon from the expensive "Le Cellar" restaurant in Cananda, tray of 3 kinds of cheese in Ireland, Stopped to browse in England and saw the World Showcase players put on a funny interactive skit. We had to shout "Rubbish!"
a lot. Then creme Brulee and fancy mac and cheese in France and a waffle with fruit and a box of chocolate truffles in Belgium. Ater that I found a quiet spot in Morocco and fell asleep on a bench for a little while in a mosaic covered room. Catherine left for her class on Disney history. I probably slept for 1/2 an hour. Then in Germany I pulled Dave into the Karamel Kuchen and had a caramel apple oatmeal cookie and a skewer of grapes dipped in caramel and chocolate, Dave had a chocolate dipped pineapple skewer, we took the boat ride from Germany to Mexico (kind of silly, a very short ride and we had just walked from Mexico to Germany to take the boat), we rode Mission to mars (more intense this time), them looked a bit at innoventions where we saw a safety kind of ride/show on how to prepare for hurricanes. I managed to lose my 3-D glasses--a neat trick since they gave them to me immediately before the show, but it was still fun. We rode spaceship earth, and looked at the Art of Disney Shop. Catherine came back and then it was time for more food if you can believe it. At Terra we had chocolate cake with frozen passion fruit, ropa Oleja w cilantro rice at the Carribean, a beef empanada and beef skewer with chimichurri sauce in Argentina, shrimp on the barbie, and lamington chocolate and coconut cake in austrailia, I braved the cured salmon, herring adn shrimp salad in scandanavia while Dave and C had the swedish meatballs, We rode Maelstrom, then had potstickers in China, Lettuce wraps in south Korea, Cheese at the Cheese station, Pierogi and Canoli in Italy. Then we saw Illuminations, bought a large Mickey Statue in Art of Disney and had it shipped home, went to package pickup and waited in a long line for the bus. Amazingly, none of us had stomach aches. Admittedly the portions of everything we ate were very small--just samples, but still! I did have one weird reaction--my ankles for about two inches above my socks turned red, itchy and a little swollen. The herring maybe? Or maybe my whole body really wanted to complain but was just too tired to manage it.

A word about the Disneyworld mousekeeping staff. What wonderful people! They often did cute things like this:

Oct 24

Hollywood Studios, where Catherine's working today! We finally got to see the shows where she's working and has seen 1000 times. First stop was Disney Junior. Catherine wouldn't watch it with us. I can't say I blame her. It was a darling show--I loved all the things that fell down on the audience--bubbles, shiny paper gold doubloons and streamers. Terrific show and it was great to see all the little kids reactions, but 500 times through the show is probably enough. Catherine did join us for the Little Mermaid show.

I felt like a real VIP here. The crowd was huge, but the rope came down for just us. She said we were lucky and got "phenomal-Ariel," she WAS good. Apparently other Ariels have cowboy twangs and other issues. Since Catherine has been having trouble with her hip, she had a "Guest Access Pass" that let us all into the front of any line. This was especially helpful with Toy Story,
there's no way we could have ridden it as often as we did without that pass. On this first attempt I scored 84,900, Catherine 110,500 and Dave 92,900. We next rode the Tower of Terror. And then it was time for lunch at the Brown Derby.

Oh my. This was a special treat for Catherine. The restaurant had been pumping scent into the park the whole time she's been working here, but is so expensive that she'd never been able to eat there. The Brown Derby is modeled after the famous Hollywood Brown Derby and the prices ARE amazing. We went all out each getting an appetizer (about $15 each), main dish (about $35) and dessert (about $8). Luckily, Catherine had a 50% off coupon which saved us $85 on the meal!!! The only problem with the restaurant, was that instead of being filled with glamourous diners, it was filled with tourists dressed like us. I wrote down what we ate, because there is no way I would ever remember it--and I still don't really know what we ate, but trust me it was good. Here's the menu:


Dave--Cobb Salad. This was invented at the Derby. They chopped all ingredients very fine.

Me--Brie, Midnight Moon and proscuitto cake w/ Tete de Moine petals and an olive-roasted vegetable salad.

Catherine--Crispy phyllo Napoleon of Bleu Affinee, Wild mushroom Duxelles, grilled portobello, golden chanterelles and a fig reduction.


Dave--Sterling Silver Pan-seared Mojo Marinated Pork chop, Carmaelized Manchego cheese and a Mango-tomatillo Salsa over a bed or crispy Boniato, applewood smoked bacon, sweet pepper and apple cider jus.

Me--Duck two ways. Duck Pastrami over a pear and melon salad w/ white balsamic, honey, and a vanilla reduction. Duck Confit w/ Farro Risotto and spicy onion and citrus jam.

Catherine--spit roasted American Bison w sauteed beets tossed in an herb-shallot vinagrette,,forest mushroom, white truffle croquette, and a cocoa espresso BBQ sauce.

Dessert--I don't have the fancy descriptions here. Dave had the famous grapefruit cake, Catherine had one of the most delicious berry cobblers I've ever seen, and I had a creme brulee with chocolate dipped biscotti.

We came out full, but not overly so. Time for more rides!

We went on the Great Movie Ride, then Dave and C saw the Indiana Jones stunt spectacular. I made a valient effort, but just could not stay awake. Then Star Tours, Muppet 3-D, then the Lights, Motors Action Show--a car show that I enjoyed much more than I expected to.

Out on the streets was a band, "Mulch, Sweat and Shears." Awesome---raking with purpose!
Toy Story again--me 111,200, Dave 118,300 and C 114,000. Rockin roller coaster, Tower of Terror. Then it was dinner time. This was one of the few glitches on our whole trip. I had tried to book the Sci-Fi diner online but was told I couldn't reserve and most likely wouldn't have any trouble. Wrong there! It was so full they weren't even using the waiting list anymore. Prime Time Cafe couldn't get us in until really late. We decided on a quick dinner at Pizza Planet--ok, but they could have decorated it MUCH cuter. We also spent some time under the big hat where they sell pins. Dave loved the hat.
Then we saw Muppets 3-D, did Toy Story one last time--Me 90,500, Dave 120,700 and Catherine 147,100 and then finished up with Fantasmic--somehow getting ideal seats right in the middle.

Oct 25 Magic Kingdom! and Mickey's Halloween Party We knew it was going to be a big day so we planned for sleep. Slept till 8. Catherine wanted to check on getting hair glitter. It cost more time and money than we wanted to spend, but the lady asked if we might like some free pixie dust? SURE!!!

We both got quite a load of glitter for FREE! She made our day and I think we looked great. This time we started with the Jungle Cruise, then the tiki room, Pirates, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder, the Sleepy Hollow Tavern for waffles--both with meat and with nutella and fruit, the Hall of Presidents
(Saw a band play while waiting), the Haunted Mansion,
Tom Sawyers Island--Dave and C started a checkers game while I was in the bathroom and actually played the whole thing out.
It was fun to feel relaxed enough to do that.
Jungle Cruise and then using terrific self-discipline, we went back to our hotel for a nap so we could enjoy Mickey's Halloween party. Speaking of Halloween--I thought we were obsessed Disney/Halloween fans, but we don't even come close to some of the others. Look at these Halloween windows that guests decorated for their hotel rooms.
These people have spent a fortune:
We hadn't thought to decorate our hotel window--we thought we were doing well to have costumes. But our housekeeper put our bears to good use and surprised us with our own window.
After our nap, we changed into our costumes. Catherine did a great job on my hair.
Catherine was Jake the Pirate, I was one of the ghosts from the Haunted Mansion and Dave was that mighty super-hero Nap Man.
Once back at the park we thoroughly enjoyed the costumes of the other families. Here's one of my favorites:
Did the Jungle Cruise again, and the Haunted Mansion. Then waited in a big line for candy (they are very generous), saw the parade (excellent--especially the grave diggers),
rode Small World, Buzz and saw the Hallowishes fireworks, then Philharmagic, Peter Pan, Ariel, Pooh, Space Mtn, Pirates, and finished with the Haunted Mansion. We got back to the hotel at 1:30 a.m.

Oct 26

A Day off. At least for me and Dave. Catherine had to work, but we all slept in and the Catherine and I explored the resort

Check it out! Tie-dye cheesecake! and hopped in all three pools
before she had to go to work, giving Dave some time to get some work done himself. After Catherine went off we bought the most overpriced snack of the trip ($16 for some crackers and cheese!) and took the bus to Hollywood and the ferry to the Swan and Dolphin resort so we could play Fantasia Mini golf. I'll make a separate page for that golf course--super cute! Good thing we weren't in a rush. It took us an hour and a half to get to downtown Disney!!! We ate at Earl of Sandwich then wandered around meeting Catherine at 8:30. We bought quite a bit of fun stuff! The best purchase being the nearly 5,000 piece lego set of London Bridge. It doesn't get cooler than that. We had late night sundaes at Giradelli's to end our "day off".

Oct 27

Animal Kingdom Catherine had to work during the day alas. So we used the Unoffical Guide plan for AK. First stop though was to go with C to Hollywood so she could get us in the park and then we park hopped to AK.

We got fast passes for Everest and then rode Primeval Whirl--must say that that area of the park was a disappointment--it felt like Lagoon, not Disney. Was glad to leave that land. Then rode Dinosaur, Everest and the Kali River Rapids. Lunch at Anandapur Local Food Cafes (chinese food). Then saw Flights of Wonder (Hogle Zoo show is better), then walked on the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Took the train to Rafiki's Planet Watch. (That's where WDW perfect napping spot is--a little room where you listen to nature sounds--figures that I found it when I didn't want to nap), Train back to Africa and the Kilamanjaro Safari,

(Check out this "Bloat" of hippos"

then the Pangani Trail. Saw It's Tough to be a bug, and the Festival of the Lion King then rode Expedition Everest again. The park closed early, so we strolled out by way of the gift shops and trees filled with birds.
Then we went to Hollywood Studios to spend our last evening with Catherine. Must say that Animal Kingdom was one of my favorites.
With the exception of the dino-land part I just loved being in that kind of environment. The Safari was wonderful and the shops were really fun.

Hollywood was great too that night. We saw the Art of Animation and did the little Art class while we waited for Catherine. Then we saw the Walt Disney "one Man's dream" which I loved. Then Toy Story of course (it really is a stupendous ride) Me: 118,200, Catherine 137,200 and Dave 124,900. We took a minute to look at the handprints at the Chinese Theater then finished our whole trip with dinner at the Sci-fi diner (we had reservations this time). HILARIOUS!! One of the highlights of the trip for me. We ate in an old car at a "drive in" under the stars where trailers for all kinds of B monster movies and commercials from the 40's and 50's were playing. It was a wonderful way to end our trip.

Oct 28

Home again. Slept in, but felt that I could sleep for a week and not properly catch up. The packing went pretty well--it's always a little nerve wracking to see if everything will fit (it did--sort of). We ate at the food court and got our luggage--with magical bell-hop help-- to the magic express area in the nick of time. I really hate the ends of vacations. It was doubly hard to say goodbye to Catherine. The only glitch on the way home was that I lost our camera. This wasn't as much of a tragedy as it could have been--luckily, I'd been using Catherine's camera almost the whole time, but there were some video's of mom that I'm sick about losing. But the flights went well, the car was fine and the cats were happy to see us. I had taken the next day off which was a very smart thing to have done. I don't know when I've ever been so tired! Looking back, I think it took me a full two weeks to feel fully normal. I can't wait to go back.