Pre-Trip: New Year's Eve '08 Edition
December, 2008

Well we're back. After two months of broken leg/hip rehab, Christmas preparation and celebrations, a mid-Winter cleaning and erecting of the long-debated home theater system, Grandpa Mohawk and I snuck down to Disney to usher in another new year. Now when we first became DVC members, I swore I'd never set foot on Disney property during the insanely busy premier seasons (Christmas and Easter). But then these crazy DISers started tempting me with tales of NYE SSR style and on a lark we gave the idea a go last year. It was a resounding success that included introducing Disney World to my landscaper cousin (who has nicknamed himself Experiment 626.1 for these blogs but is better known as "White Knight Cousin" for all his efforts helping put Humpty Dumpty GM back together again in October). This was to be a repeat of that trip with hopefully a few more improvements (like Southwest Airlines NOT dropkicking my powerwheelchair battery and turning it into a nice paperweight).

I once had it all planned. I was going to ship bottles of Meade down to SSR for the resort pool party. There was to be a big DISmeet. But I regret to say this year things just got away from me. See after our rollercoaster trip in October and the slow but steady recovery that followed at home for GM, I just didn't have time or inclination to plan much for Disney. And as Thanksgiving came, my mind was totally focused on preparations for CHristmas and the family celebrations we host.

There was the annual train garden to erect. It's a tradition GM and I started 12 years ago and always seem to build upon every year. This year we brought out two of the 4 trains in our collection (Polar Express O gauge and Disney Monorail HO gauge). Our garden is a mix of Magic Kingdom and Celebration with little scenes in just about every corner. We have Princess Parade leading from Cindy's Castle with rides and even a Swiss Family Robinson treehouse. In the village center there's Santa taking Christmas wish lists from the kids as an 11 person choir serenades the audience of onlookers. There's even a snow play area leading direct from the Wildnerness Lodge inspired stone cabin. While other corners house the great snowball fight and forest wonderland from Polar Express. This year, I also added a special TrainSounds system to give the kids the authentic feel of a magical train on a midnight ride to FantasyLand.

All told, the garden takes us about two weeks to erect and stays up through all the winter snows. We put it in a glass-enclosed patio room with colored lights dangling from the walls, white lights dangling waist-height from the surrounding outside deck, and a gas fireplace adding heat and glimmer to the room. You can see why we don't like to take it down right away. My nieces and nephews look for it every year and I admit GM and I have even more fun playing with it when they're not here.

So once the train garden was complete and the tree & stockings hung along with all the presents obtained, we barely had any time to think of our New Year's Eve plans. Fortunately the airline tickets were purchased months ago and we still had our Annual Passes. All that was needed was to check the weather forecast and pack appropriately. To our dismay, the balmy 80 degree weather of Christmas week evaporated to low 70's for New Year's. Mickey must know we are coming. In all the Decembers we have visited Disney, it has never been pool weather.

Oh well. We pack our suits anyway along with the fleece pants, sweaters and t-shirts. We're set to be there for 3 nights only, Tuesday December 30 to Friday January 2. I decide I can part with my laptop for a few days and take a real vacation. (Being a web techie means always being at work when you have internet access, but this time my clients got all their work requests in early.) GM vows to travel light so we combine our clothes in one tiny suitcase. I picked up a few of these packing cubes from eBags on sale and limit myself to three for all my clothing (one large, one medium and one tiny). GM also takes his blue scooter on the plane along with my power wheelchair and thus saves himself the rental fee.

Now he's had two months of physical therapy since being home and has gone from using a walker to walking without even a cane (though I make him bring one just in case). As the cold set in up here in Maryland, his arthritis aches increased as did my rolling back spasms. We really needed a getaway to our magical place.

Day 1: December 30