Snowbirds

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Wikipedia defines Snowbirds as, “”a North American term for a person who migrates from the higher latitudes and colder climates of the northern United States and Canada in the southward direction in winter to warmer locales such as Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or elsewhere along the Sun Belt of the southern United States, Mexico, and areas of the Caribbean. Many “snowbirds” are from either the Northeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, or Canada.”

So, basically it’s somebody who runs away from winter and desires to have an early preview of Spring or Summer. Is that us????

Well, right after I retired in 2016, we headed to Florida to partake in some Spring Training Baseball, and to use my Disney Retiree benefits at Walt Disney World.  Were we Snowbirds???  Unknown.

Then in 2017 we were part of the Kenny and Chris journey to the West Coast.  We started in Atlantic City, had a stop off in Walt Disney World, and continued to New Orleans and Boser City, Louisiana.   Were we Snowbirds???  Not quite.

Then last year, in February of 2018, we traveled down the Gulf Coast of Florida, journeyed down to Key West, spent time with my cousins in Barefoot Bay, and then spent 5 days in Walt Disney World.  Snowbirds??  Who knows.

But, this year, we had a plan.  We started with our children and grandchildren in Raleigh, North Carolina, they journeyed south through Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, before we entered the Sunshine State, and what we hoped was a preview of Spring/Summer of 2019.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not on our side, and although we were heading south, we woke up to temps in the teens, 30s, and then the 40s.  It was not till we were in Florida that the thermometer hit the 50s, but it still wasn’t WARM!  

img_1150-1Our plan this year was 3 weeks in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, which we’d fallen in love with last year.  We rented a condo right on the Gulf of Mexico, and were expecting gorgeous weather and warm temps.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature was laughing her ass off at us! The first week we were here, it was cold and the foggy!  Come on now….we’re in Florida!!!  WTF!!!!  But not to be dismayed, we did other stuff.  We went to Walmart, Publix, and got the stuff we needed for the condo.  We visited Total Wines and More, so at least we could drown our sorrows!  

Then the sun came out and life was good!!  Temps in the 70s, sunny blue skies, and wonderful views of the Gulf of Mexico!!

So, as I write this, we have been in our condo for a week and a half, about halfway through our stay.  Susie’s cousin Debbie and her friend Janice have already visited us, and we had a great afternoon by the pool, and then a wonderful night at Crabby Bills!

Tomorrow, we’re expecting our cousins Jeanne and Walt.  We’ve got lots of plans for things to do with them, and we are looking forward to hours of talking and just having fun together!  

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We went in the pool last night after dinner.

Next week, our daughter Krissi and her fiancé Mike will join us.  Again, lots of fun things planned, as well as enjoying the beach, sun, and warm temperatures!  

So, are we Snowbirds??  Well, we’ve already rented a place a couple of blocks down the beach for ALL of February next year.  I’d say, yes, we are Snowbirds!!  What do you think???

Next year’s condo!!

Those People

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FYI…we’ve become “those people” who lunch at Costco (come on..two huge hot dogs with sauerkraut and all the toppings, plus 2 sodas for $3.20 including tax…why not?) and who run off to Florida in the winter!

Susie retired in 2013, and in just a couple of weeks, it will be three years since I left WABC on January 29, 2016.  In February of 2016, we headed down to Florida for a few days at Disney World, and to catch a couple of the Mets Spring training games.  It was a real treat to experience a bit of a preview of the Summer of 2016, and I guess we got bitten by the bug!  In February of 2017, Susie and I participated in the  southern swing of the “Kenny and Chris Relocating to LA Tour”, and spent some time in Disney World with the boys, and then New Orleans with the boys and Krissi and Mike, before they headed off to California and we headed back to winter.  Last year we toured a large part of Florida, heading down in February and starting at Indian Rocks Beach on the Gulf Coast, traveling down the Gulf Coast, then across the state, down the Keys to Key West, up to Hollywood, then to my cousins in Barefoot Bay, and we ended up with 5 nights at the Boardwalk Hotel in Disney World!  All told, a little over 3 weeks away from the winter!

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23d34fcc-bfe6-455b-98e7-d47076bcdfa0So, this year, we are being pigs!  We leave this Saturday with our first stop being Raleigh, North Carolina, the home of our oldest and his wife, and our 2 grandchildren!  It will be Christmas #3 for Susie and I, this time complete with Christmas Eve traditions of Shrimp Sauce over Linguine, and Lobsters stuffed with Baked Clam Stuffing!  After a couple of days there, we start slowly making our way to the Sunshine State, with stops in Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, and Darien, Georgia and our favorite shrimp place, B&J’s Steak and Seafood!  

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Last year we fell in love with Indian Rocks Beach, Florida and we’ve decided to return to the scene of the crime.  We’ve rented a condo right on the Gulf Coast for 3 weeks, and we look forward to a lot of warmth, sun, surf, pool, and fun!  During the course of our time there, our cousins Jeanne and Walt will come to visit, as will Krissi and Mike for a long weekend!  We only hope our favorite Florida bartender Lindsey, who we met at our hotel bar last year, is back on her feet and we can spend some quality time with her!

After that, it’s off to the East Coast and a 3 day stay at the lovely Doubletree Resort we really didn’t take advantage of during our stay there last year in Hollywood, Florida.  More pool, sun, warmth, and Tiki Bar time we hope!  Then we are off for 5 nights with our cousins Jeanne and Walt at their place a little further up the coast in Barefoot Bay, Florida!

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Although a stay at Disney World has been a part of our last 3 escapes from winter, we decided to pass on it this year.  Even with my Disney  Retiree benefits and discounts, it’s still an expensive stay, and that 3 week condo rental is costing us enough.  Plus, we were so disillusioned by all the crowds there last year, and the attractions that broke down, that we think we’ll take a year off, and decide again next year.

So that’s it.  If you did the math, you’ll have come up with five plus weeks away this year.  We hope to be in warm weather for the better part of 5 weeks, only dipping out of shirts and flip flop weather on the way down and back up.  I told you we were being real pigs, but there is nothing like that Summer Preview you get from spending some time in warmer climates, when it’s snowing at home!

Ahhhh…RETIREMENT!!

The Magic Kingdom

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Let me start by saying that both Susie and I have been coming to Walt Disney World, since very soon after it opened. In fact, when Susie and I started coming to WDW, the Magic Kingdom, Fort Wilderness, the Contemporary Resort, and the Polynesian Village was all that existed.

We headed out to the Magic Kingdom this morning, arriving about 11 AM, with a fast pass for the Jungle Cruise at 11:25 AM. We have been on the Jungle Cruise probably 30-50 times over the years, and as one of the legendary rides that dates to Disneyland, and one of the original rides in WDW, there is a lot of history on that ride for us! We remember going on it when it was an E Ticket ride! It is the Magic Kingdom to us, and if we can go on it, we do!!

Well, that was one of the last rides that worked for us! We couldn’t get a fast pass for Pirates of the Caribbean because it’s closed, because some people didn’t like the red head scene, so the ride is being revamped. Don’t start me.

Then we had a fast pass for the Haunted Mansion, a ride we love and remember riding shortly after it debuted at WDW. Guess what??? Ride temporarily closed..sorry. It was closed for 5 hours…we never got on it!

So, a stupid ride (well not really a ride), but something we love was next! Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room! If this was a ride at the New York World’s Fair in 1964, we’d call it an “air conditioned/seat ride”. It’s something we do every year, and we were able to do it this year!!

So since we couldn’t get on the Haunted Mansion, we did the Hall of Presidents. It was closed last year due to the election, so this was a brand new show, and it was very different, but very good. Unfortunately, our current President looks like an ass in audio animatronics too! (And the heaviest one! He was huge!)

Then, we were off to a ride I’ve loved since the NY Worlds Fair. No, not, It’s a Small World, but Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress! I remember it as the GE Pavilion at the World’s Fair, and come on….Jean Shepard does the voice acting!!! How could that not be a favorite for me!! Guess what…the ride broke, and we sat there for 10 minutes till they got it rebooted!!

Then to our last fast pass, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and guess what happened? It too broke down!! As were were getting to the end of the ride, it stopped and after trying to reboot it 3 times, it was discovered that our car had come off the track! It was our fault!!!! In case you’re interested, Susie beat me!

In short, the Magic Kingdom was a zoo today! There was a 45 minute wait for the WED People Mover, a ride that, but one other time, have walked right on. We didn’t wait today, but use that as a yard stick to how busy the park was. Did we have a great time today? I’m sorry to say we didn’t, and this is what we think are the reasons for that.

#1 – We have an institutional memory of this place that goes back to the 70s. Not to sound like two old farts, but we remember the “good old days”, and that’s not always good!

#2 – We are 40 years older than when we first started coming here…trust me, that makes a HUGE difference. (Our minds say yes, but our bodies say NO!)

#3 – The park is getting old! Rides like the Carousel of Progress (by my count 54 years old), the Haunted Mansion (at least 40+ years old), Pirates of the Caribbean (again 40 + years old) are showing their age, and breaking down. Hell, even the monorails are starting to look old!

#4 – There is more of everything at WDW, including people. Has the park reached it’s breaking point?

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Now don’t get me wrong, thanks to my Disney Retiree status, we don’t pay for parking and get into the parks for free, but is there a breaking point? We were talking to Tim the bartender at the Boardwalk Bellevue Lounge tonight, and he too wondered when the point will come that people will say NO to spending $160 for a park hopper and find long lines and broken rides.

Saying all the above, let me end by saying we still love this place and always will, and at these prices, how can we not come back! Tomorrow EPCOT, or perhaps a few hours by the “ Quiet Pool”. Stay tuned, and find out!

Welcome to Walt Disney World

So, just about exactly 2 years ago, on our first visit to WDW after I retired, I said the following in our blog:

“So, as we say good-bye to our second full day at Walt Disney World, I have to admit that I am conflicted. On one hand, I have a strong hatred towards Disney/ABC, because 8 years ago, CEO Bob Iger (himself a product of the American Broadcasting Company), decided that ABC Radio was not a core business of the Disney Company. That started a chain of events that saw WABC and all the ABC O&O radio stations, as well as the ABC Radio Network, being sold to Citadel Broadcasting. After spending 2.7 Billion Dollars for us, Citadel ultimately went bankrupt, which then saw Cumulus Media “merging” with the bankrupt Citadel. That meant we now worked for Cumulus, a company run by two brothers who ultimately burdened Cumulus with so much debt, that the stock dropped to pennies, and is now in jeopardy of being delisted by the stock exchange. Can you say history being repeated? So, the last 8 years have not been kind to WABC, many of the people who were a part of our work family, and my personal sanity.

Now on the other hand, 8 years ago, when Disney decided to send the ABC Radio stations into oblivion, I had worked for the company long enough that I was able to “retire”. That meant that although I would continue to work for WABC for 8 more years, I was able to start collecting my ABC/NABET pension, and was considered on the books as an official Disney Retiree.

And what does that mean, you may ask. Well, it means that as a Disney Retiree, Susie and I have a lifetime Main Gate Pass.. That means that we can get 4 people into any of the parks around the world for free! Yes, I said for free! It also means that we can reserve a room at a Disney property for half off the going rate.  But wait, I’m not done yet…as they like to say on infomercials. Then there are the discounts. At present, we get 35% off merchandise, which makes ridiculously priced Disney items reasonable (like a $49.99 sweat shirt really being $35) and 20% off food items at many restaurants. Sweet deal, huh?”

So, now with 2 years of reflection, you know what? I just tell everybody that I retired after 40 years at ABC!  Citadel, who?  Cumulus?  You mean the cloud?

Well here we are again in WDW, for the third year in a row.  Five nights in a Boardwalk garden room, with Club Level access, at a 50% Castmember discount!

Club Level means that we have access to the Innkeepers Club, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and snacks, plus access to the concierge staff for anything we need.

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Innkeepers Club Lounge

Had a great dinner tonight in Trattoria al Forno, with a great waitress Andrea!

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Walked the Boardwalk a bit….

And ended the night at the Belle Vue Lounge with a couple of drinks!

See you tomorrow!