Travelogue of the Trip That Irene Canceled, Part 2

Back on September 8th, I posted the first half of our travelogue of the trip that Irene canceled.  I meant to post the second half, but got side-tracked.  So here it is:

Thursday, September 1st:

Thursday would have started with a light breakfast (either something packed with us or at the Pop Century’s restaurant).  Then, we’d head over to Epcot.  We might have gone on a few rides, Test Track and some other favorites, but our main draw would have been in the World Showcase.  Here, we’d have brought out our Hidden Mickeys guidebook and browsed through the countries, looking for Mickey shapes hidden in various places.  There would have been many photos taken as we found Mickey Mouse hidden in the most unlikely of locations.

As lunch approached, we would have headed to the San Angel Inn in Mexico.  When we last went to Disney World, we brought the boys on the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros.  They loved it so much that we wound up riding it two more times.  The beginning of the ride takes you through the San Angel Inn facing a big pyramid.  This seemed like the perfect spot to have a nice, romantic lunch with my beautiful wife.  (The “Grilled fillet of fresh Mahi-Mahi prepared with capers, olives, bell peppers, spanish onions and tomatoes, seasoned with white wine, and spices, served over a bed of poblano rice” sounds mouth-watering.)

After lunch, it would be time for more rides and hidden Mickey hunting.  As the day ended, though, we’d hop on board the Monorail to go to the Grand Floridian.  Once there, we’d have eaten at Narcoosee’s.  Here I’d likely have gotten the Spring Vegetables dish (Delta Asparagus with Meyer Lemon Sauce, Sautéed Baby Vegetables, Wild Mushroom Quiche, and Toasted Cous Cous with Spinach and Preserved Lemon).

Friday, September 2nd:

Friday would have likely seen us going to the Magic Kingdom.  Here, we could have gone on Small World, Haunted Mansion or any other ride and have been seated side-by-side.  (Something that we haven’t done in years.)

Both lunch and dinner would have been in the Contemporary Resort.  Lunch would have been at The Wave.  (The Vegetarian Cuban Sandwich with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Bulgur Wheat Salad sounded fantastic.)  Dinner would have been at the California Grill (possibly the Handmade Fettuccine with Sautéed Chanterelle and Summer Mushrooms, fresh Buttermilk Ricotta, Tiny Basil).

Saturday, September 2nd:

Our last full day at Disney would have been spent back at Epcot, at least for part of the day.  When considering restaurant options, I had initially written off France as not working with my dietary restrictions.  However, once I looked at the menu for Les Chefs de France, I fell in love with a few of the options.  A big contender would have been the Lasagnes de legumes du soleil a l’huile d’olive au thym (Zucchini, eggplant, onions, bell peppers and tomatoes baked into thin layers of pasta).

Dinner would have been at Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.  My last dinner at Disney World would have been House-made Yukon Potato Gnocchi with Heirloom Carrots, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Fresh Ricotta, English Peas, and Sweet Corn Nage.

Sunday, September 2nd:

On Sunday, we would have packed up, grabbed a quick bite to eat and caught our Magical Express ride back to the airport.  Part of us would have been reluctant to leave, but part would have been happy to see the kids again.  We would have been relaxed and refreshed and ready to restart our parenting duties.

Ah, what could have been had Irene not ruined our plans.

Travelogue of the Trip That Irene Cancelled, Part 1

I wrote briefly about our cancelled trip before.  Normally, writing is very cathartic for me.  Yet, I wasn’t feeling any better.  After putting some thought into it, I realized two things.

One, I knew, intellectually, that there were roads closed and flooding and loss of life due to Irene.  Still, when I looked at our house, I saw a lack of damage and thought “It wasn’t that bad, maybe we *could* have made it work.”  That doubt in our decision to cancel ate away at me.

Two, I had geared myself up psychologically for this time off.  I was looking forward to waking up beside B without any little guys barging in.  I was looking forward to walking hand-in-hand with her without having to keep an eye on where the boys were.  I was looking forward to eating beside her without worrying about getting home before bed-time.  I was looking forward to going to sleep beside her without having the boys sleeping in the next bed over.  No worries.  No responsibilities.  Just B and I enjoying each other’s company for five glorious days.

Instead, the entire trip evaporated into nothingness thanks to Irene’s meddling.  I needed some time to grieve for the trip-that-never-was.  I had even intended to write this last week, but it was too painful.  Now that a bit more time has passed, here’s a quick overview of what could have been had Irene not intervened.  (NOTE:  We might not have done things exactly as described here.  I’m mostly imagining how things might have gone with our dining reservations as anchors.  With luck, we’ll reschedule soon and I’ll be able to make real blog posts with our real travels.)

Sunday, August 28th

With Irene not a concern, we packed the car up early and headed down to see my parents.  The boys hugged Bubbe and Grandpa and we had some fun shopping, eating out, and talking.

Monday, August 29th

We began the morning with breakfast at my parents’ house and then had a leisurely day together.  We ate lunch at a Greek restaurant near my parents that we love.  (Their spinach pie is to die for and I’m perpetually trying to replicate their chickpea recipe.)  As we tucked the boys into bed, we said goodbye to them knowing that this would be the last time we’d see them until we returned.

Tuesday, August 30th

We woke up very early and my father drove us to the airport.  After checking in and getting past security, we had some breakfast in the food court (or perhaps something we took with us from my parents’ house).  Then, we got on our flight and we were off to Orlando.

After landing, we boarded the Magical Express for the Pop Century hotel.  We quickly checked in and left our carry-on bags at the hotel.  Then, we headed over to Hollywood Studios for our lunch reservation at the Hollywood Brown Derby.  I ordered the Coriander-dusted Grouper with Cauliflower Risotto, fresh English Peas, crunchy Sunchokes, and a Yellow Tomato Coulis.  It was fabulous.

We spent the rest of the day in Hollywood Studios and I made good on my promise to ride the Rockin’ Rollercoaster with B.  (Given my fear of falling, I typically avoid fast, winding, flipping rollercoasters.)  We had some snacks to hold us and then saw Fantasmic.  We returned to Pop Century tired and hungry, but very happy.  A quick stop at the Pop Century food court for dinner (and Tie-Dyed Cheesecake) and then we headed to our room for the night.

Wednesday, August 31st

We woke up Wednesday morning for our first full day at Disney.  After grabbing a quick breakfast, we headed back to Hollywood Studios.  Getting there when it opened, we quickly headed for Toy Story Mania.  After quickly procuring some fast passes, we rode the ride together.  Then, once the Fast Pass time arrived, we rode it again.

As noon approached, we went to our lunch reservation at Mama Melrose’s.  We went here during our honeymoon 10 years ago so this was going to be an extra-special lunch.  I opted to get the Wood-grilled Tuna over a seasonal Vegetable Risotto, warm Vine-ripened Diced Red and Yellow Tomatoes, and Olive-Caper Butte.  Yum!

We stayed in Hollywood Studios for a bit longer and made sure to stop by Starring Rolls Cafe for a cupcake.  When we went there in March, they had, sadly, just closed for the day so I was never able to get my cupcake fix.  This time, however, I got to try not just one cupcake but two.  (B ordered one and I ordered a second and we split them.)  Delicious!  Yes, I took photos of it all.

After awhile, we left Hollywood Studios and bus hopped to Animal Kingdom (Hollywood Studios to Animal Kingdom lodge to Animal Kingdom).  To be honest, this is the Disney park in which we had the least number of places we wanted to visit.  We went on the safari and a few more items.  With our half-day at the park ending, we caught a bus back to the Animal Kingdom lodge.

Normally, this would mean dining at Boma.  We *love* Boma.  But we decided to shake things up so we (*gasp*) were NOT eating there!  We were eating at Jiko.  It was tough deciding between the great options, but I finally decided upon the Aleecha, Shimbra Asa, Inguday Tibs with Goat Cheese, Cream Ethiopian Vegetable “Stack”, Chickpea Cake, and Spiced Mushroom-Spinach Roll.

Stuffed, we bus hopped back to our hotel for some much needed quiet time and sleep.

Coming next week, part 2 of the Travelogue of the Trip That Irene Cancelled!

Self-Inflicted Hurricane Wounds

We were lucky and didn’t get any damage directly caused by Hurricane Irene.  There was a brief loss of cable/Internet, but no power outage.  Despite the trees making us nervous by swinging wildly, no limbs came crashing down.  There was some wetness in our basement, but not big flooding.  The latter was caused more by a lack of waterproofing in some areas.  Add that to the giant Things That Need To Be Fixed Around The House.

The major “damage” was the loss of our planned 10th anniversary trip to Disney.  Thankfully, we got a full refund from Southwest and Disney and are trying to figure out how and when to reschedule it.  More about the trip in another post.  For now, I want to talk about the one piece of damage that occurred.  The self-inflicted hurricane damage.

We heard about people putting bags of water in their freezer pre-hurricane.  The theory is that the water will freeze and 1) keep your freezer cold should the power go out and 2) give you water to use should you lose water.  So I did this.  I took four gallon sized Ziploc bags, filled then with water and carefully put in the freezer.

As the hurricane passed, I began to think about what to make for dinner.  Since we still had power (but weren’t sure if this would last given the blowing trees), I decided to quickly heat some frozen meals.  I went to the freezer and tugged.  It wouldn’t budge.

Our refrigerator is one of those models with the fridge on top and a freezer drawer on the bottom.  At times, items will get wedged in there making it tricky to open.  I immediately though of the water bags and figured that they expanded and got stuck.  So I tugged more.  B came over and we both tried.  She got nervous that the entire fridge would fall on me.  No matter how much I pulled, though, it wouldn’t budge.

Finally, I gave it one last big pull and heard a cracking sound as it opened.  I looked and immediately saw what went wrong.  One of the bags had sprung a leak.  The dripping water ran all over the freezer drawer’s track and formed a solid ice block.  I took out the ice bags and tried to figure out how to remove the ice without thawing the entire freezer.

My solution was to get our hair dryer out.  I set it on the highest and it worked wonderfully to melt the ice off of the tracks (and anywhere else I found it).  Finally, the freezer was fixed and I closed it.

Except that it wouldn’t close right.  The formally-iced-up side closed fine, but the other side was still open a bit.  After another 10 minutes of trying various things, I realized that the tracks weren’t aligned right.  I pushed the freezer shut until it clicked back into place and now it seems to be working fine.

Lesson learned: Next time I put a bag of water into the freezer, put it in a bowl to catch any leaking liquid!