Disney Recap Day 1

Well… we’ve been back for several days and I think I have fully recovered enough to tell you about the trip.

Of course, they had to practice a bit before loading the buses.  Gotta love a marching band in the snow in Ohio.   🙂


The bus ride down was uneventful – that is after we got all the horns/drums loaded, all the uniforms stacked under the bus (that was fun because they kept slipping and had hats and shoes in the bags so they didn’t lay flat) and then all the luggage stowed as well.  Now really, tell me what do you really need to take that fills a LARGE suitcase when you are only going to be gone for 6 days and 2 of those will mostly be on a bus?  Oh My Goodness!  I have no idea what some of those kids (girls?) took but their suitcases where huge and heavy.

We did watch our share of movies on the way down: Pitch Perfect (I don’t ever need to see that one again), Batman Returns (eh… napped through most of that one), Elf (always a holiday goody),  The Croods, and Journey to the Center of the Earth.  Then there was much sleeping.  The bus drivers were going so fast that we ended up in Florida 3 hours ahead of schedule.  Yes, you read that right, 3 HOURS!!  So… we stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  Cracker Barrel was not prepared.  Thankfully we weren’t in a hurry.  They quickly called in other workers and made the best of it.  One of my children didn’t get what she ordered in all the confusion, but she lived.

Our first stop was Blizzard Beach.  On a 90º day it would be wonderful.  On a 70-something day not so much.  The kids played and swam and slid.  The directors napped.  The kids were told that this was their shower for the day.  LOL!


Then we headed to Hollywood Studios for the afternoon/evening.   I saw a few shows and wandered around with some other chaperones.  We did not ride either the roller coaster or the Tower of Terror.    That was fine.  The new Pirates Show/Adventure thing is lame, so not worth the time.   We did stay for the evening show.    Fantasmic is my favorite of the evening shows that Disney puts on.  Here some of the kids (including Lydia) standing in line for Fantasmic with Tower of Terror behind them.

IMG_1447 IMG_1458

Now we head back to the hotel and this is the fun part!

At the hotel the kids are to get with their roommates and then they are assigned their rooms. They have to get their luggage from under the bus and all their carryons and get to their room.  It is now almost 10pm.  Lights out/curfew/tape-on-the-door will happen at 11pm.  There are only a few lists of assigned rooms and I am handed one by the director.  That is fine.  Even though I wasn’t the chaperone that was “assigned” to do tape-in I don’t mind.  I am then handed the roll of tape from the mom who was assigned that duty.  Hmmmm… she could have just asked for the list if she had planned to do the job.  But, oh yeah, she didn’t really do too much chaperone-y on the trip, but that is a whole other story.

So about 11pm my roommate and I head out to tape all the girls doors.  I think there were 20 of them (or something like that) on 2 floors.  The girls were on 4 and 6 and the boys on 5.  Some rooms were waiting on pizza delivery or chinese.  So we told them we’d be back.  We made our rounds, taped the doors, came back to the other rooms and by now it is 11:45pm.  The security guards are there and are worried about how they might get to the doors of a couple rooms because they have 2 rooms that are on the corners but inside a little lobby like area.  So, an extra door to go through to get to the room door.  Only the rooms hold the key to that door.  So… as good chaperones, we tromp down to the front desk to get keys to those corner rooms so we can get inside that “lobby” and thus get to their door.    Once we get the keys we go back to our room to get a pen so we can write on the keys which one goes to which room.  As we leave our room to figure that out.  WE LOCK OURSELVES OUT!  By now it is quickly approaching midnight.  We giggle our way down to the lobby to get a key to let ourselves back into our room.  Label the other keys and head to bed.  It was close to 12:15am.  Wake up time was 6:30am.  OH yeah…. had to ask for a wake up call because the clock in the room was set an hour ahead (didn’t conform to daylight savings?) and there wasn’t a way to change the time without unscrewing the back and the front desk never did that even after I asked them to.

We both (and all the chaperones, I’m told) slept like logs because after 20 hours “sleeping” on a bus sitting upright, laying down felt really good!!!  There was no issues with the kids staying in or escaping from their rooms.  The security guards (Roscoe and Bob – may not have been Bob, but I know one was Roscoe) were nice guys.  They had reading material and sat on the balcony/hall all night and probably wandered around too.

Day 2 came early and I will blog about that later.   🙂


Nature Hike

I had the pleasure of leading a nature hike at Camp Wanake this morning for a 6th grade camp (I get to do it again tomorrow).  I had 17 kids, 2 teen counselors, and 1 adult with the group.  I was told that yesterday, the leader of the nature trail hike completed the hike and 2 other activities in 1.5 hours and had to kill time for half an hour.   Well… I wasn’t going to do the one activity (micro habitats – or something like that) because I didn’t want to.  I thought it sounded boring and not something my 6th grade scouts would enjoy, so 6th grade students at camp probably wouldn’t either.    I knew that just walking the nature trail took me an hour and 15 minutes over the weekend, so I wasn’t worried about filling the time because there would be plenty to talk about on the way.

I did the hike like I generally do a hike with my scouts.   Point out interesting things, trees, plants, etc.  and then further down the trail when we see it again, quiz them to see if they remember what it was called.

We started the hike at the big Catalpa tree – checking out the the huge leaves, the funny finger-like seed pods, and the fabulous nest of bees that have been living in that tree for decades. catalpa20speciosa20fruits

From there we started on the trail up towards Vesper Hill.  I pointed out the pokeberries that are right by the God is Nigh sign.  Talked about how it is poisonous… how the native americans and pioneers used it for a clothing dye… how they even cooked the berries into pies but that isn’t recommended because they are toxic.  pokeberry

Further up the trail past the scotch pines, I point out the fuzzy vines (my scouts know exactly what those are!!!) pivine

WhiteSnakeroot_04094and then some white flowering plants.  The white flowering plants are white snakeroot, also a poisonous plant!!  Mainly poisonous when eaten by livestock (cows) and then it makes their milk toxic and humans can get “milk sickness” from drinking the milk.  Not so much a problem these days but still shouldn’t eat that plant.  At this point, the kids are certain that anything and everything they touch will be poisonous.  LOL!  I told them, just don’t eat anything you find in the woods!!

Finally we get to a plant that they can touch… Jewelweed/Touch-me-not!  The seed pods were in great popping mode and we had fun with that.jewelweed

We talked about the black walnuts and how they would stain your hands if they opened them up.  We talked about erosion.  We looked at the damage from the summer wind storm.  Talked about how a forest is a living, changing, growing organism.  Saw tree roots from a tree toppled by the wind.  Saw some fabulous cherry wood (again as a result of storm damage).   Looked at decaying logs and talked about how the forest needs the decomposition to provide nutrients for the next generation of trees/plants.  There was a quick hum of “circle of life” by the one counselor and a reminder that one could eat the bugs in the decaying log like Timon, Pumba, and Simba did.   🙂

We looked at tulip tree leaves (my favorite tree, just ask my scouts)tulip-poplar-leaves

and sassafras tree leaves (we found all the different shapes).sassafras We talked about the things you can make with sassafras – tea & root beer mainly.  We talked about the importance of sassafras to camp counselors for fire starting – especially for 1 match fires.

We looked at Knoll Pond and examined the cattails.  Noted that while there are plenty of poisonous plants, cattails aren’t one of them and they can be eaten like celery, or you could make cattail pancakes.

We were impressed by the naturalists who took the time to bring unusual plants to circle Knoll Pond to provide food and shelter for the winter for the animals.  Like the Autumn Olive bushes (the berries weren’t as ripe as this photo)autumnOlive

and the Bald Cypress trees.  Neither of those plants being native to Ohio makes them extra special to be seen at Wanake.  We also looked at Lycopocium (ground moss) which is one of my favorite plants too.  It is rare and getting close to being protected (may be protected in some areas) because of the encroachment of humans.


Our hike took us full circle, with me quizzing them and giving them “bonus points” along the way.  They aren’t sure what the bonus points are for….  LOL!  I told them to tell their science teacher something they learned about nature on the hike and maybe she would give them some.

We ended up back at the frog pond where they captured a few frogs to play with.  No one was willing to kiss any.   😦

Then we made frog cookies.frogcookie

When we arrived at the frog pond, there was only 15 minutes left of the 2 hours.  So they didn’t have too much time to play and make their cute snack.  I think they had a decent hike.  I kept them talking and learning and earning “bonus points” for almost 2 hours.  It was a nice hike and a nice group of kids.   Hopefully the ones on Friday will be as fun.   😉

Aren’t we glad that my biology degree and that wildflower college class come in handy occasionally??

****none of the photos are of the actual plants we looked at today, I didn’t want to drag my camera along while I was in “teacher” mode.  They are all thanks to the search-ability of the internet.****

Amish Country

Took a brief respite to Amish Country (Walnut Creek/Sugarcreek…etc… Ohio) Sunday afternoon to Monday.  Nothing is open in Amish country on a Sunday, but since this was more of a mental/sanity restoration holiday and also a celebration of my birthday and using a gift certificate from 1998 that was given to us when we were serving at Cambridge Faith church, it was OK.

We stayed at the Carlisle Village Inn.  http://www.dhgroup.com/en/wc/wc-carlisle-inn.php


We were on the 3rd floor in the “Pleasant View” suite.  Here is the view from the balcony.

Since nothing is open in Amish country on Sundays… food might be an issue.  The smokey smelling desk clerk told us there was a pizza place that delivers, however… Wayne had already arranged to have some snacks in the room.

IMG_0571Some Amish cheese, Troyer trail bologna, mixed nuts, crackers, apple butter and chocolate.   That would hold us for the night.

The best part of the suite?  The bathroom… sorry, Abi & Liz, I think it is larger than your bedroom.

IMG_0572 And yes, that is a jacuzzi tub!

We rested, watched a movie and enjoyed the scenery and the snacks.  I’m not certain that my sanity is fully restored since I still have issues and children to deal with at home. But it was nice to get away, albeit briefly, and not think about all those things that cause such pain and heartache.

We cruised around Amish country briefly this morning, but we don’t really need anything.  We already have a dining table, 6 chairs, desk, hutch, entertainment cabinet, highchair, bed frame and some other little things made by the Amish.  We aren’t in the market for any furniture.  We don’t need quilts since my mom will make them for us.  I was in the candle shop about 30 seconds and had to leave because of the massive headache the odors gave me.   It was just a beautiful drive through the country.

Now back to the world.  School starts and a routine can begin.  I prefer having a routine than the chaos of summer.   Tomorrow is Liz’s last first day of school.  Bittersweet.  She has even started filling out her college application.  I missed senior year day-to-day excitement with Abi   😦    so I’m planning to try and enjoy it with Liz.