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Archive for December, 2008

Close call

Winter has arrived with a bang, pretty much all over the country. Here in Massachusetts, we have almost 15 inches of snow and it has finally stopped snowing after 2.5 days. It started on Friday afternoon and just stopped late Sunday evening.

I don’t go courting trouble in this type of weather, but there were a few important errands to run on Saturday. We don’t celebrate Christmas, so I don’t have a lot of gifts to buy, but I still needed to do the minimum – gifts for the kids teachers in school, the piano teacher, the cleaning lady etc. And we have only two days left to give it out. I probably shouldn’t have put it off so long, but … Considering the weather wasn’t any better on Sunday, I just headed out on Saturday afternoon. The roads were not fully cleared but it was drivable. The driving to the store and shopping was pretty uneventful, but it was quite slow since it was all crowded and the parking lost were very messy. While coming back though, about 4 miles away from home, my Honda CRV, just veered off to the left lane because of the snow and ice. I frantically steered right and it want left and I over corrected and before I realized, the car just spun around and I crashed into the snow back exactly perpendicular to the direction of the traffic. I was so lucky because I was right next to a street light pole. It would have been a LOT worse if I had crashed into it. My mouth was dry and heart was racing. This was my first time in such a situation and I think I do panic easily. Lots of cars did pass by me slowly, and I sat there with hazards on. It was about 5.15 pm (dark!) and I contemplated calling PK to come bail me out of the mess. Then I calmed myself down and when no cars were around, I slowly backed off of the snow pile and ever so slowly eased back into the road and drove at less than 25 mph the rest of the way home. It took me a few hours to recover and was thankful it all ended well.

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A trip to DisneyWorld

Magic Kingdom

 Before it becomes a distant memory, here is a quick recap of our DisneyWorld Trip.

 

Since we used up most of our vacation days for the year this summer, this had to be a short trip. Which meant we couldn’t see or do everything that we wanted to. But then, standing in lines all day (not just for the rides, even for food or other treats), for so many days, it was enough.

 

 

On the first evening, we visited Epcot, only for a few hours though. We were tired from travel earlier in the day and so it was a short visit. Most of the thrilling rides were closed or were near closing time, with lines of 45 minutes to an hour’s wait. So we did a few kiddie rides like the one from Finding Nemo. I wanted to stay for the “Illuminations” fire works show, but it was a chilly night and everyone was exhausted, so we skipped it and went back to the hotel.

 

The next morning, PK did go to the local Circuit City for some black Friday deals (yeah, I know, we were supposed to be on vacation, but it was his choice), but he was back by 7.30 am. He picked up a one TeraByte External hard drive, some SDHC cards, DDR2 RAM, wireless mice etc, in case you are curious J. Around 10 am, we took the shuttle from the hotel to The Magic Kingdom. PK was blown away by the scale of it all. You get dropped off by the shuttle at the ticketing center. Even if you drive yourself, you park here. Then you have to take a monorail ride or a ferry ride of several minutes to get to the park itself. It was CROWDED! The minimum wait even for the least interesting rides were at least 45 minutes. And all the character meet and greets were well over an hour’s wait. It was disheartening. Also, we didn’t find out about the FastPassuntil late in the day, so we couldn’t take advantage of it. Even with that, there are limits, you can not hold passes to several rides at one time. We saw a few live performances and the kids enjoyed the 3D movie. They make the experience too real – in windy scenes, they were blowing a gust of wind in the theater, in rainy scenes, they sprinkled water etc. SK wanted to go on the “Dumbo, the flying elephant” ride but it had an hour’s wait. The surprising thing was, it wasn’t only parents with young kids waiting! I would have thought groups of adults didn’t care for such rides. The only characters we met were the Disney Princesses. I chose them because for an hour’s wait we got to meet three favorite characters instead of one. There was Cinderella, Belle (from Beauty and the beast) and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty). I had thought SK would be thrilled, but she looked more curious and in awe rather than elated. I think she was extremely tired too since she didn’t nap. After that, we did some boy stuff, like the speedway car rides, the Buzz light year ride etc.

 

We didn’t find too many options for dinner. We managed to find garden burgers and fries after some looking around. After dinner, we saw the fireworks which was quite good. The Castle and Main Street really looked very beautiful, all lit up in the night. The park was open till midnight but we headed out around 10 pm since the males in the family were complaining of aching legs.

 

 

Saturday’s stop was at Animal Kingdom. I liked this park since it is sort of unique. Also, it is much smaller than Magic Kingdom, so it was easier to get to the different parts of the park. Our favorite rides here were the Kali river rapids, Expedition Everest, Dinosaur and Kilimanjaro Safari ride. Crowds were thinner here and with the use of FastPass, we were able to do most of the things we wanted to. We met Donald duck, Mickey, Minnie and Goofy and SK was absolutely thrilled to meet them all. In fact, she has never seen any TV shows or movies of them – just a few books here and there, so I was surprised that she enjoyed meeting them so much. Her face absolutely lit up and she wouldn’t stop talking about it for days. Also AK was a bit shy to pose with Minnie in the picture, but she (or was it a he, who knows?) hugged him and AK was thoroughly embarrassed. It was sort of cute. He spent the next hour begging me not to tell anyone or show the picture. Here too we saw a few live performances. Of them all, I liked the “Circle of Life, Lion King Show”. Great songs, dances and colorful costumes. Also, the park closed at 8 pm, so we got to go out for a real dinner.

 

On the last day, we went to Disney’s Hollywood studios. Much of the day was lost to thunderstorms, rain and strong winds. Our favorite ride of all the four parks was here – The Tower of terror. We liked it so much in fact, PK reserved fastpasses to go a second time, but we didn’t. First of all we had to take turns since SK is not allowed on most of the so called “thrilling rides” and AK was scared of this one too and didn’t want to go a second time. So, it would have been just PK and me, solo, taking turns. The Aerosmith Rock n roller coaster was pretty good too. It was frequently marred by technical issues though, so we had much longer waits. The new Toy Story Mania was a huge hit too. AK’s biggest desire in this park was to meet the cars, but they left earlier than the time we were told, so we missed them and the Incredibles. We met the Monsters. We did catch the Fantasmic show too. Good thing we went to the earlier performance. The second one was washed out.

 

 

Another service I liked is the PhotoPass. It costs an arm and a leg to download a copy of every single picture, but at least the option is there. I wish itw asn’t so expensive. Most of our vacation pictures is a combination of one adult and two kids depending on who is taking the picture. It is not a pleasant thing to always ask people around to take family pictures, so we have very few of those. This service allowed us to have more than a few pictures with all of us in it, so I will probably download a couple before they expire. 

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Ice storm havoc

The ice storm which pelted the North East on Thursday night has wrecked the daily lives of over a million people all over New England and upstate New York. Our work site was without power much of Friday. Most states have declared a state of emergency. We were lucky that we have had electricity at our home through out. Many others have been out of power since Thursday night and some are still without it after 72 hours. Portable generators have been completely sold out and hotels are all booked for the weekend. Our friends from Merrimack, NH spent the weekend with us and went back tonight to a hotel near their home hoping they will have their power restored on Monday. Here’s wishing everyone can stay warm at their homes, in hotels or the temporary shelters that have been setup …

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