Really, has it been about 2 months since our last update? Wow...time really does fly when your working! Ok, I know most of you full time working folk are rolling your eyes about now, but man it has been a minute since we both were in the full time working world, and we didn't expect to be again, at least not now.
Rick has been helping out at a restaurant in The Villages while I work on taxes this year with the intention of strictly part time, maybe 3 days. However, as it goes in food service, they are short staffed and the talent pool is sorely lacking, so Rick has been working full time, even a bit of OT, these last two months to help them out.
February 1st and I was easing back into it, shaking off the cobwebs, planning on working about 20 hours a week. No problem, I got this. Well then a week in, I was asked if I could work some more hours since one preparer was not coming back this year. Ok, sure. Well a couple more hours has turned into close to 40 hours ever since!!! I was wise this year and bought an office chair to sit at the dining table rather than in the recliner and my back is much happier. I usually work a couple hours and then take a walk and that seems to do the trick of keeping everything feeling pretty good. Before you know it, it is 3pm and Rick is coming home. One thing I have discovered that makes the day humm right along, pun intended, is a SIrius XM/Iheartradio station called Yacht Rock. It is soft rock from the 60/70/80's and makes preparing taxes just flow. Crazy I know, but whatever works, right?
Now all work and no play is not what we set out to do and we certainly have been able to slide in some really great times visiting with family and friends...and Mickey!!
In January we explored a bit of The Villages and it's restaurants and recreation centers. Our favorite rec center is the Eisenhower Rec Center. They have a very nice military memorabilia display and were still decorated for the holidays. We also had to visit the squares, enjoy the live bands and see the lines of golf carts.
We decided to take advantage of the limited capacity at Disney and bought the FL resident 3-day pass. At the end of January we went to Epcot during the Festival of Arts and found some really cool displays where we could be part of the art.
It was surreal to see the park soo empty and we were able to walk right on to most of the rides without a wait, even Soarin! It was a beautiful day and we made the most of it! We decided on a wonderful German dinner and do to Covid, the buffet was brought to you, as much as you want. Paired with some flight of beer and wine, we were uncomfortably stuffed by dinners end! Good thing we had to walk all the way through the park, out to the parking lot!
We finished off January and began February with a visit from my Dad and Stepmom, who are selling their home in WI and moving to the Villages. There was lots of open houses, some good food, lots of card games and oh yeah, we went to see some manatees in Crystal River. At first we saw one here, one there and then we saw the motherload! There were over a hundred, pushing two hundred, they just stopped counting. It was a cool day following a colder day, which pushed the gentle giants in to the warmer spring fed waters. We also took them to see one of the oldest live oak trees in the south. We couldn't even get the entire tree in the picture!
Once we said good-bye to the P's, we took a day trip down to Bradenton, near Tampa, to visit with our Rv'ing friends, Mike and Terri. It was a rainy, dreary day but that didn't stop us from going to get some delicious BBQ at Mission BBQ, catching up and taking a tour of the area.
Our next adventure was to Hollywood Studios in February. We could see that the attendance was higher than Epcot, but still less than normal. Star Wars has opened since we had last been to the park so we really wanted to make sure we hit those two rides. Rise of the Resistance has such a high demand that even during Covid times there is a virtual queue that you need to get into in order to even have a CHANCE to get on board. Your first chance at the queue is at 7am and you do not need to be in the park to get in. The second chance is at 1pm and you must be in the park. Both of these virtual queues are accessed through the Disney World app. SO at 7am I was ready and was hitting the button consistently starting at 6:59am. Unfortunately it was full in one second! Wow! My hopes were dashed and I was not feeling real good about our second chance either. Dang it!
We got to the park right at opening at 9am and the there were lines to get in. Although, not like normal operating times. We were able to ride all the rides we wanted, including Tower or Terror and Rock n Rollercoaster, with small wait times. 35 minutes was the longest and that was for Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway. The wait was definitely worth it! This is a newer ride and the technology they put into it really was fantastic!
Well 1pm rolled around and I begrudgingly got my app up and was ready to try again and by gosh we got in the queue! Albeit way down the queue, so my hopes were not high since the park closed at 6pm. Well about 4pm, we finally were notified our number was up and we hurried over to get in line. There was still a 30 minute wait but we were able to sit and have some yummy Tatooine adult beverages prior with a little people watching so we were rested and ready! Again, similar to the railway, new technology was similar in parts, included holograms and was outstanding! It was about 20 minutes long and was not just sitting in a cart...I'll leave it at that not to give away too much. It was another beautiful day at a Disney park!
If you are feeling a Disney theme here, just wait! Next up, we had the opportunity to meet up with RV'ing friends at Old Key West Resort, which is one of the Disney Vacation Club Resort, for a weekend at the end of February. We had a fantastic 2 bedroom villa overlooking the lagoon and golf course. It was just the kind of R&R the Dr ordered! A fantastic dinner, drinks and cards. Being the early riser I am, I snuck out onto the patio to watch the sunrise and all of the birds that were visiting the water. We even had turkeys strut past! Thank you again Mike & Terri for a wonderful weekend!
Our final Disney adventure for the spring was a stay at the Pop Century Resort for a couple days and a trip to Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs in early March. We scrambled to get this in before spring break started and Friday the crush of spring breakers were beginning with a bang!! We were able to get FL resident discounts on the room and decided to go for it. It was a really nice resort and was on the new mode of transportation, The Skyliner. We enjoyed some time at the pool, took a stroll around the resort checking out all the Pop memorabilia and riding the Skyliner. We enjoyed a delicious Italian dinner on the Boardwalk and a beautiful sunset.
Our day at Magic KIngdom started off much like Epcot, with very light crowds and at times we had areas of the park to ourselves! Parades and character meet and greets were cancelled but they were still able to have some guest interaction from afar.
By early afternoon, wait times were 30-45 minutes, with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train pushing an hour. The park was definitely getting busy and good thing we were able to get through most of the rides we wanted to go on and ended the day with the ever popular Space Mountain. That ride never gets old!
We then made our way back to the hotel to relax a bit before a night out at Disney Springs. This was by far the largest crowds we encountered in any of our Disney experiences. It is probably because it was the start of spring break and Disney really can't limit crowds. They do have stands for temp screenings before entering, just like they did at the parks. We did a little bit of shopping, listened to some live bands and then had dinner at the House of Blues. Another great dinner! A late brunch the next morning at The Grand Floridian resort was also scrumptious! The food at Disney really doesn't disappoint!
Our last outing was a his and hers kinda day. We each picked something we wanted to see in Ocala and made a day of it. We started with Rick's choice to go see the Big Daddy Don Garlits Museum. It was amazing how big the museum was and how extensive his collection is, not only in drag racing but cars in general, especially vintage. One building was devoted strictly to his vintage car collection that is rotated often.
The afternoon was then my choice and since it was such a beautiful day, I choose a visit to Sholom Park, which is a beautiful park with lots of paved walking trails. It was a great way to close out the day.
Whew...well looking back I guess we have done a good bit, in between working! No wonder we are exhausted! :-)
Well that wraps things up for mid-January to mid-March. We hope you enjoyed reliving the memories with us! We have a month left in Lady Lake and are definitely feeling "hitch itch" as we Rv'ers refer to the urge to explore new places.
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