The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

December 14, 2008

Zero to Sixty in Just Twelve Hours

Filed under: Wanderings — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 10:30 pm

Technically, it’s actually 31 to 67 in twelve hours, but if you manage to throw a Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion in there somewhere, you can probably get away with calling it zero to sixty.  After a moderately harrowing day of travel, I made it to Disney World at about midnight local time, and I’m posting from my (shockingly huge) room at the Hilton right now. I have to figure that when the day starts off with a harrowing drive on roads with an inch of ice on them (fortunately it was only a shuttle ride from the airport hotel in SeaTac, and we had a driver who wasn’t a maniac) you have to figure that things can only get better. They eventually did, but not before the plane sat for an extra hour at the gate waiting to be deiced, which caused me to miss my connecting flight in Chicago. Fortunately, that’s the point where things started getting better, as I got quickly booked on the next flight into an exit row (the one with the extra legroom, as long as you don’t mind having to save everyone’s life if the plane goes down in flames) and even though it took a couple extra hours to get out of Chicago (I wonder if a “donation” to Friends of Blagojevich would have helped?) I made it here, and was greeted by 66-degree weather at 11pm, a freakishly large hotel room (just don’t ask about the view) and four days of Disney to look forward to.  Assuming, of course, that I don’t completely zonk out in the middle of the Haunted Mansion or something like that after the combination of sleep deprivation and three hours of jet lag has me trying to make it to rope drop at what my body would consider to be 5AM.

There will, of course, be plenty more later, but I don’t know how much posting I’ll be doing here over the next few days (I’d like to not run the bill up on my phone’s data tethering too much…)  I’ll save the bog industrial-strength trip reports for when I get back home.

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December 13, 2008

Fleeing From a Winter Wonderland – I’m On Vacation! (Well, Sort of.)

Filed under: Wanderings — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 8:32 pm

Well, there’s still the pesky matter of actually reaching the sunny and (not so) exotic destinations to which I am apparently headed, but as of right now I am on vacation.  Currently, this means that I am spending the night in a hotel near the airport to save my parents the need to make a drive to the airport at 6am tomorrow on potentially icy roads.  Since the picturesque (hah) city of SeaTac isn’t exactly what I’d call a popular tourist destination ((it’s got the airport, does that count?) there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to do around here right now.  The place does have a pool (if I’m feeling ambitious enough to go swimming and/or ambitious enough to go through the parking lot in sub-freezing temperatures to get there due to renovations on that floor,) and it’s also got what might just be the last free Internet access I see for the rest of this trip (it’s a wired connection, how quaint), so I might as well use it.  Outside my fourth floor window, I’ve got a great view of the rental car lot next door, and a bit to the west of here I can watch a bunch of lights that look like they might belong to airplanes as they approach the runway.

Since I haven’t got a car here, there aren’t really any restaurants within walking distance, and I don’t think I  particularly care to try walking anywhere in this weather anyway, tonight’s dinner comes courtesy of one of the two non-chain pizza places that’ll deliver here without ordering $18 worth of food items I can’t pronounce the names of.   This lovely meal features Lasagna, Minestrone soup, garlic bread, some sort of sparkly lemonade stuff and cheap plastic utensils that seem incapable of even making a dent in any of the stuff..

Fortunately, I come vaguely prepared for such occasions.  It’s not pretty, and i should probably have  checked to make sure that packing tape residue isn’t too horrendously toxic before I actually used that knife thing, but in a pinch, it’ll do.

  

On the other hand, apparently my SwissCard isn’t so well equipped for opening bottles, especially not a bottlecap of the old-school non twist-0ff variety.  Which brings me to a little challenge:  Given this bottle of lemonade, and the contents of a relatively basic no-frills hotel room (so you haven’t got a minibar or anything like that) and not a bottle opener or anything even close to one in sight, What would you use to open this bottle?  I did eventually manage to get it open, and later on I’ll explain how, but let me tell you, the stuff definitely wasn’t worth $1.75 and a broken fingernail.  I assume that generations of drunkard frat boys have gotten this whole thing down to a science, but not having ever been a drunkard frat boy has left me with little practical knowledge on the subject. 

Anyway, assuming that the whole Winter Wonderland bit out there doesn’t interfere with things too much, I should be flying out tomorrow morning, and arriving down in Orlando sometime in the evening.  Right now I’m seeing some light snow out the window, although what exactly happens overnight remains to be seen.

December 3, 2008

I Hear They’ve Got a Mouse There or Something: My Disney World Pre-Trip Report

Filed under: Wanderings — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 8:07 pm

(Image source: themeparks.com)

About a week and a half from now, I will be on my way down to Orlando to spend a few days at Walt Disney World, and hopefully get a chance to enjoy a little bit of decent weather in the process (since lately it seems like there are two choices of weather available up here:  Partly cloudy and 53 degrees, or rainy and 47 degrees.)  I booked my plane ticket and hotel to get there a couple of weeks ago, and I just went over to the Disney Store up at Alderwood Mall today to get my park ticket.  Aside from arranging an airport shuttle to get to the hotel when I get there, I should be just about set now.  Since I’ve got to figure out something to do in order to pass the time until I actually leave (and try to make sure that I’m actually getting the trip planned out,) I decided that I would go ahead and put together a pre-trip report here. 

To people who know me,  the idea of me going and taking a vacation to Disney World might sound a bit… uncharacteristic.  After all, I haven’t ever really been a big fan of Disney stuff in general, and most of my recent vacations have been spent doing things like going to national parks (I was able to get to both the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone last year) and taking nice long drives down seldom traveled backroads, hitting every tourist trap along the way.  I’m far more likely to spend my vacations taking photos of abandoned gas stations in the middle of nowhere than I am to be relaxing on some beach somewhere.  For some reason, I just can’t relax when I’m on vacation.  I also generally travel solo when I’m on vacation.  Aside from the obvious reason of being chronically single, I also suspect that my idea of an interesting vacation would probably bore most people who would actually travel with me to tears.  So taking all that into consideration, why would I fly across the country to go see a mouse?  To be honest, I’m not entirely sure.  I suppose that I’ll probably figure it out once I get there though.  Mostly at this point it would be nice to actually take a vacation for once after ending up staying here and dogsitting every time someone else goes on a vacation.  I’m half tempted to get a couple of dogs of my own and drop them off at my parents’ house to take care of while I’m gone.

Another personality trait that I have which seems to come into effect mostly when I’m on vacation is that I seem to have some sort of mental timer that’s constantly reminding me that I’ve got only 63 hours of vacation time left, so I better make sure I’m using it.  This means that I tend to overdo things on occasion, and eventually end up hitting the proverbial wall at some point.  When I went to Disneyland back in early 2006, this meant that by the third day I was there, I got to the point where I didn’t really feel like doing a whole lot, and ended up sitting out a number of the rides everyone else went on.  I suspect the fact that it was raining for much of the day before didn’t help, since it made it difficult to find a place to sit down anywhere in the park.  On the other hand, the rain also made the lines a lot shorter on a lot of rides, so even if it does rain it’s not a big deal.  I also have a tendency to not be able to suspend disbelief in many cases, so this means that if I see something really interesting in one of the rides or shows, I’m more likely to find myself trying to figure out how they made the effects than I am to just admire it because it looks cool.  This tends to make places like Disneyland as much a museum to me as a theme park.  In some ways, this can be a blessing and a curse, and because of it people might think I look bored when I’m there.  In reality, I just have a slightly different definition of what’s entertaining than some people, but tend to think it’s not entirely necessary to scream your way down a roller coaster to find it fun.

As it stands right now, my plan is to take a morning flight to Orlando on Sunday the 14th, with an hour layover in Chicago along the way.  With about 7 hours on the planes, an hour in Chicago and 3 hours lost to tine zone changes, it’ll take pretty much all day to get there, and I should be getting in around 7:30pm that evening.  I’ll be spending four days there, then flying back on another early flight on Friday the 19th, with another hour layover in Dallas.  This time around, I’ll get the three hours back that I lost on the way down so I should get back in a bit earlier.  I will be staying at the Hilton at Downtown Disney, which from the info I’ve read is a nice place, and a bit quieter than some of the Disney-owned properties.  I had thought about flying back on Saturday, but the flights seem to be significantly more expensive since that starts to get into Holiday travel.

Beyond that, I pretty much don’t have anything definite planned at this point.  Since I’m going to be traveling solo, I suspect I’ll probably be eating mostly counter service, since I am a bit hesitant to make dining reservations for one.  I also have not been to Disney World before, and don’t really know what to expect yet for a lot of things.  I also haven’t been keeping up on my Disney lately, so I think I’m stuck somewhere back around Beauty and the Beast or so as far as being familiar with the movies (although I did see about half of Wall-E not too long ago.)  I suppose I should probably make some sort of attempt to catch up on the stuff before I go, just in case there’s some quiz to get in or something like that.  My mostly childless current existence doesn’t provide a whole lot of incentive to watch those types of movies, and  since I don’t really watch movies in the first place, I haven’t paid much attention to such things lately.  I suppose that if I can get most of the plot of a 2-hour movie out of a 5-minute theme park ride, it frees up time to do other things.  Of course, there’s the slight risk of getting It’s a Small Worldstuck in your head for the rest of eternity by doing that, but I don’t think that it’s actually driven anyone to insanity just yet.

Anyway, one way or another, I’m determined to enjoy this trip, so I should probably figure out a way to do so at some point before I go.  Since the hotel I’ll be staying at charges $10.95 per day for Wi-fi access and I’ll probably be tethering off my phone for an Internet connection while I’m there, I don’t expect that I’ll be doing too much Blogging from there until I get back.  I should also try to make sure I’m not seeing the place from behind the lens of my camera (another mistake I’ve made on vacations before,) but I do suspect that I’ll put together some sort of trip report, probably after I get back.  In the meantime, I should probably try to get at least some idea of what I’m going to be doing while I’m there…  Now what was the name of that mouse they’ve got there again?

November 24, 2008

If the Open Road Calls, Tell it I’m Busy

Filed under: Wanderings — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 12:37 pm

 

As I mentioned briefly in the previous post, Thanksgiving is going to be on the road this year.  After having spent the last fourteen Thanksgivings here in Washington, this year’s festivities will be down in Provo with Jason, Heather and Brooks.  Of course, this means that we’re going to have to get down there somehow, and in this case, that somehow involves a 14-hour drive each way, in an 8 passenger SUV with myself, my parents, Jacki, Terence and their two sons.  Of the recent roadtrips that I have taken (within the last couple of years or so,) for most of these I have been on my own, and I can’t recall the last time I was on a roadtrip of more than a couple hundred miles with that many people in one car.  It should be… interesting.

To be honest, unless I’m the one driving I’ve never been all that great at dealing with the whole roadtrip bit.  Part of this has to do with the fact that I just can’t sleep in a moving vehicle much smaller than about 50,000 tons or so, be it a car, an airplane, an RV, or just about anything else that isn’t stationary.  This isn’t as much of an issue when traveling during the daytime (which I tend to prefer,) but at night when there’s no scenery to speak of and a good 600 miles to go in order to get to the destination, it can make for some rather boring travel.  Although a significant portion of this particular trip will be during the daytime hours.  I have yet to see what the effect of adding a couple of toddlers to the equation will be, but something tells me that it should make things… interesting.

Fortunately, this time around I should be bringing my typical array of gadgetry along for the ride, which should make the trip a little bit easier to deal with.  Based on checking coverage maps for Sprint, it looks like I might even have EVDO through the I-84 corridor in Oregon this time around, which means that I might even make a Blog post or two from the road.  I figure that one way or another I’ll get through the trip just fine, but if anyone out there happens to be reading this from Boise, be ready to rescue me if needed…

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