Tuesday, September 24, 2013

WDW Trip Planning continues

What I didn't explain in my last post was that there was a communication problem when I purchased the Universal tickets.  I either misspelled JT's last name or the lovely lady at Universal misheard me.  Either way, once printed I immediately spotted the error and sent off an e-mail.  I asked if they could resend with the correct last name or would there be a problem with her using the ticket as is.  They do make you show ID when you use an electronic (e-mailed) ticket so I was concerned. 

Well, Universal gets top marks for being prompt in their reply.  The e-mail was sent late Friday evening and mid morning Monday I had a reply.  JT could use the ticket as is and their system has the correct spelling noted.

Naturally because I'm an over planner I have printed both my e-mail and their reply.  Both JT and I have copies.  Just in case.

Planning what to take:

Mom and I have shared hotel rooms before.  No issue with closet and dresser drawer allotment.  JT and I have shared hotel rooms in the past and again no problem.  JT and Mom have gone on a trip together and it worked out well.  But this is the first time SB is coming with us.  Lets just say that we do not pack the same way.

In a casual conversation with SB I mentioned that the rooms in Pop Century have one dresser with 3 drawers and one night stand.  I offered to take the lower drawer so she could have the top one and we would share the middle one.  That was when SB realized she would have to rethink what she plans on taking.  She is used to travelling alone and not having to worry about sharing closet space etc.  Plus when she travels with her husband, he really doesn't care where is stuff is.  (My husband is the same.)

I'm really glad that this issue came up in conversation prior to the trip instead of once we were there.  That could have gotten "interesting".   As SB mentioned, she is not used to travelling with another woman who would reasonable expect her fair share of storage space.  This is an example of why it is good to talk about things that seem to be of no importance.   What a person takes on a trip to wear is kinda important. 

Mom and I take very few clothes.  I need that space for all the brochures and souvenirs after all.  Mom doesn't buy much, but she likes to have room to take my over flow.  (Isn't she great!).  We do go to the laundry mat (3 of them at this resort).  So JT and SB could do the same so they don't have to pack as many clothes.  The issue is that both of them have to be careful what type of laundry soap they use because of chemical sensitivities.  TSA can get upset when you bring that kind of stuff in your luggage.  Putting some of the stuff from home in a container is a no go.  So now we are on a hunt for travel size packages of the type of soap they usually use.  Mom and I use the Purex sheets that have the soap and fabric softener all in one.  Fortunately we bought a lot of it when we could.  I haven't seen it for sale in ages.

Off to help JT pick out new luggage......

Monday, September 16, 2013

Universal Tickets

I admit that I love the planning stages of a trip.  It seems to add to the anticipation for me.  Once at my destination, all plans are forgotten and we go for the fun.

For me it's all about options.  If you don't know activities are available, or what sites there are to see, etc. then you have missed opportunities.  I'm not saying that I want to do everything that I read about.  I just don't want to be on my way home and hear someone talking about the fun they had doing and seeing things that I didn't know were there.  And what I really do not want is to be one of those people who come back from a vacation and say that there was nothing to do, and they don't understand why people go back.

So in the spirit of planning and anticipation, I called Universal Studios on Friday.  My concern was that SB wants to go there for two days while the rest of us are going for one day.  What we couldn't figure out was if I purchased all the tickets would SB be able to go on the second day without me.  The site indicated that she would need to have the credit card that purchased the tickets with her.

Turns out that rule is for "will call tickets" not for e-mail tickets.  But after the lovely lady at Universal cleared that issue up she asked if she could assist me any further.  So I asked if I could purchase the tickets through her and still get the on line price.  No problem.  So I purchased the tickets.  One more thing done!  Nope.  When I received the e-mail tickets and printed them out, JT's last name was misspelled.  I'm still awaiting an answer to my e-mail request for correction.

We will take a cab from Disney to Universal when it's the four of us going.  Four people is the break even point between taxi and Mears Bus Shuttle costs.  When SB goes on her own we will have to arrange for Mears to pick her up and bring her back.

Only thing left is travel insurance.  That's something everyone will have to do for themselves.  But I know I'll keep on reminding everyone until they get it.  Yep, definitely an over planner.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Getting ready for a trip to WDW

Getting excited!  In approximately 2 months I'm on an all Ladies trip to Walt Disney World!  And what a fun group of ladies to travel with.  My Mom, and my two BFFs.  Our guys are staying home.  We'll make it up to them, I'm sure.

We picked (okay, I picked) the dates for our trip by crowd level.  I first checked out my copy of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.  Next the Disney World Touring Plans site, which I naturally have a subscription to.  We will miss Food and Wine at EPCOT and will leave before the Candle Light Processional which is sad.  But the crowd level will be between 2 and 4 out of 10 except for weekends while we are there.  We shouldn't have to wait in long queues.  Also, the room deals are excellent. 

I listened to my favourite Disney podcasts.  Kept a close eye on Twitter where I follow a lot of WDW experts.  Finally free dining was announced for our chosen vacation time.  (I'll post about dinning in the World another time.)

As soon as free dining was announced I used my gmail phone to call direct to Walt Disney World.  (Disney does not have a 1-800 number and I'm not about to pay long distance if I don't have to).  The Ladies  had given me the go ahead to get things rolling.  As always, it was fun talking to the cast members there.  Tickets for the Mickey's Merry Christmas Party were purchased at the same time.

Next we had to keep an eye on flight costs.  We noticed that West Jet finally came down in price so we quickly booked.  Love West Jet.  They are really, really patient with people like us who just can't seem to make up their minds.

So now we are all booked: rooms, dining, park tickets and flights.  Just have to get travel insurance and tickets for the Universal parks.  Then all that will be left is to pack! (I really wanted to go to Sea World as well.  Everyone else felt that we have enough planned already...darn.)

I've been to the World 3 times and Mom has been there twice.  She's the brave one who loves the rides.  I ride, but I cling to her in terror.  At least on the roller coaster style of rides.  Our Star Tour record is 7 times in one trip.  Mission Space...no problem.  Our biggest challenge will be which rides to encourage our friends to go on.

JT has never been to an amusement park, while SB has visited WDW for a few hours.  Rides are not her thing.  Nor are 3D movies.  Because of vision issues, 3D just doesn't do a thing for her.   So I'm really hoping that both of them will be up to riding Soar'n as that's Mom's favourite and she really wants to share it with them.

The shows, shopping and dining will probably be our main focus.  That and touring the different resorts.  SB spent maybe an hour with us on a previous trip at a Disney Resort.  So she's really looking forward to finding out what it's like to stay at one.  JT has never been to anything like a Disney Resort so this will be fun!

We chose to stay at Pop Century, not just because of the great value but because two of us know our way around it.  So there is the comfort level, especially for Mom.  There are over 2,800 rooms here along with 3 swimming pools and loads of paths to enjoy.  I'm sure JT and SB will get to know the layout quickly. 

Now to make a new back pack or tote and maybe a jacket for everyone (Minnie Mouse themed of course).  Hopefully I can get them made.  Right now the weather is so inviting that I'm spending more time outside walking than in front of the sewing machine.  But that can be considered training for all the walking we will be doing.  I'm not going to tell the Ladies about the jackets or tote bags just in case I don't get them made.

Touring Plans
For Walt Disney World crowd calendar, touring plans and loads of other info!

Some of my favourite WDW podcasts to listen to:

The Dis Unplugged
Be Our Guest Podcast
WDW Radio
WDW Today

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Amazon, Fitbit and walking in the heat

I had no idea how easy it is to return items to Amazon.  I sent the Fitbit with "issues" back to Amazon following their return policy.  Except I sent it by registered mail.

Amazon had a new Fitbit out to me before they received the one I returned.  They have now acknowledged receipt of the return and have credited my credit card with almost the entire dollar value that the registered mail cost me.

My new Fitbit works great.  Syncs with my iPad immediately and is counting steps accurately.  (I wore an old pedometer for the first few days to compare.)

Now for walking in the heat.  It's been between 26 and 31 degrees (C) here.  That's a bit warm for walking.  Tuesday I got in over 14,000 steps.  Yesterday it was over 17,500.  At least Tuesday's walk was in the morning for the most part.  Yesterday's was in the mid day.  Naturally there is a quilting story here.

I first walked to the local mall to get my Kindle Fire screen protector put on.  The guys at Ghost Armour always do a good job.  I made the mistake upon returning home of checking my e-mail.  A news letter from my favourite quilt shop said that they received a certain fabric.  Can't mention what it is as it will be used in a quilt that is going to be a Christmas present.

So off to the quilt shop which is quite a walk.  At 1 in the afternoon.  By the time I got home at 3:30 I was wilted.  Nothing got done the rest of the day.  But I did get the fabric and there was only a half bolt left so it's a good thing I went when I did!  Now for another walk to a different store to get some more fabric to use in this quilt.  That will be my walk for today.  Fortunately it's cooler and I won't be forgetting to bring water.

Anyone looking for some inspiration in getting healthy?  Check out these sites:

Nerd Fitness

Don't let the name or the home page scare you off.  It's a great site with common sense attitude.


Any health issue, hobby, interest, you name it, you will find information on it.  Or a group of people to team up with to keep you motivated and informed.

Both of these groups are free to join.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fitbit update and Weekend Traveling

Amazon came through with a new Fitbit for me.  So far (knock on wood) it is syncs up with my iPad as well as DH's laptop (the only device that uses Windows in this family). 

I'm hoping they received the Fitbit I returned by now.  I really do not want to be charged for a second one.  What fantastic service from Amazon though.  I received the new one four days after I asked if I could return the first Fitbit. 

I've managed to get in around 10,000 steps each day since receiving the new one and was able to log the steps in with the app!  Considering my knee is really aching from when I twisted it, that's pretty good.  I do have to be careful walking and going down stairs is a right royal pain!

Now on for my September Long Weekend trip report:

One of my BFF's invited me to come along on an all ladies trip to Stettler, Alberta to ride the Steam Train from Stettler to Big Valley.  We stayed at the Urban Cottage Spa bed and breakfast.  Our hosts: Buddy the dog along with his partner, 2 year old Gabrielle and their staff (mom: Tara, dad: Mike) took great care of us.  (There was another pup but for the life of me I can't remember his name - and he was so friendly too!)

There was some communication issues due to cancelling and re booking (a few times) because of health issues, etc within our group.  Tara and Mike were not expecting us to arrive until Saturday.  It was a surprise to them when three women landed on their doorstep on Friday evening (although Buddy didn't seem to think it was a big deal).  They quickly changed any plans they had in order to put us up for an extra night, and even managed to change the day of our train trip from Sunday to Saturday to accommodate us.  I'm truly grateful for all their efforts.  That was a lot of phone calls and running around on our behalf.

We were escorted by Tara and Gabrielle to the train and Mike made sure he was there to pick us up upon our return.  Buddy kept us safe on all our rambles on the country roads.  When we walked on the side of the highway though we were on our own.  Buddy doesn't do highways.  (Happy Birthday Gabrielle).

There was a robbery on the train trip!  The robbers collected change from all the passengers and they ended up with a $600 donation for the children hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary.  During the show the "robbers" were shot off their horses.  All of us got a chuckle when we noticed that the horses did not seem particularly upset at their riders laying on the ground.  In fact, the horses immediately began to graze, paying no attention to their "injured" owners. 

After visiting the shops in Big Valley, we enjoyed a buffet with roast beef, potatoes, veggies, fruit and of course cookies.  It was noted that while the young boys in front of us didn't seem to be able to manage using the vegetable serving spoon, nor the salad tongs, they were very dexterous with the tongs for the cookies.....once they were told they couldn't use their fingers.

On the way back to Stettler we had musical entertainment along with some stories and jokes. 

My DH is one of a kind.  He drove me down to meet up with the "ladies" on Friday and picked me up on Sunday.  He not only stopped at two quilt shops along the way, he also bought me some really neat items at each stop.  I'll go into more detail on a later post.  For now I will say that while I really do enjoy the Camrose Quilting from the Heart store....there is some serious competition in Stettler for my vote as the best shop yet.  Caroline's Homespun Seasons is a lovely shop and just as friendly as the Camrose store.  I am looking forward to getting back to both.

Alberta Steam Train

Urban Cottage Spa

Caroline's Homespun Seasons

Quilting from the Heart