Judging by my email (which I will get around to answering, I promise) it was noticed that I kind of dropped off the face of the livejournal earth. It wasn't intentional. I've been really busy lately, with work and kids and such. Plus I've got both the high holidays and my daughter's bat mitzvah coming up, and am prepping for those. The kids and I spent a wonderful vacation week in Virginia in August (Colonial Williamsburg for a couple of days and visiting friends in Charlottesville the rest of the week) and that threw me off, too, both with being away and with busy times to come back to. So, consider this notice that I'm alive and well and living in Brooklyn.
For the past month or so I've tried to keep up reading my f-list, but not always managed to. And I haven't posted for some time. I'm on fanfic writing hiatus until I finish transferring all my stories to my new website, and itching to get back to writing. I'm so not a website designer and so much a story teller, so I want to get back to what I do best. I've got over 100 stories on the new website, so I'm hoping to get that finished soon and get back to writing fiction, but said bat mitzvah is still looming, so it may be a while.
Next up is a series in my post-X2 sequence, sequel to Returning Spring. It will be the third and final series in my version of the Phoenix Saga. I know some of what happens but not everything in it. It will have "Summers" in the title, to go with the seasonal theme and to indicate that it focusses on Cyclops. After that, I have two more series waiting in the wings - one about Alex's integration into the X-Men (it will be a bumpy ride) and one revisiting the early days of the X-Men as told from Charles Xavier's point of view (now that he's dead, I miss him).
As to the third subject line topic, I just got back from a totally spectacular time at Walt Disney World (WDW), celebrating my 50th birthday, which occurred on Friday, September 16. I realize this was not a really grownup way to mark reaching half a century, so I was kind of unsure whether or not to do it. Still, when I thought about what I'd like to do, going to WDW with my kids was top on the list. So I decided to go for it and maturity be damned.
We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge, which I’ve wanted to do since it opened. The short version is that the whole experience was wonderful. We all had such a great time. We went on the special safari ride only for people staying there; went on tons of rides; swam a lot; ate really well, and saw tons of animals. It was a lovely way to mark a significant birthday. For those who want to know more than that, it's behind the cut.
Our flight left at 6:30 on Friday morning, so we had to leave home at 5:00 am. Round about Thursday night I started wondering if getting up at 4:30 was really how I wanted to celebrate my birthday, but I got into the spirit of it very quickly. By taking such an early flight we really had pretty much the whole day at WDW. And since it was off-season, although we showed up in the hotel at 10:00 our room was empty and ready for us.
The hotel could not have been better. All the WDW hotels have a “theme” and Animal Kingdom Lodge is themed as a hotel on an African wildlife preserve. The hotel itself is just beautiful and full of gorgeous African art. We loved the hotel pool, the lounge, the lobby, the restaurants. Our room was large and comfortable and had plenty of space and beds for us all. We had a “Savannah View” room, so our French doors let us out onto a balcony overlooking the preserve. We saw giraffes, wildebeest, ankole cattle, bongos, zebras, pelicans, marabou storks, ostriches, crowned cranes, waterbucks, vultures, and hornbills out our window! Yes, I kept a list :-). The service in the hotel was extraordinary and many of the CMs (Disney staff are all “cast members”) are from Africa and happy to tell you about their home countries. They have CMs whose only job is to be knowledgeable about the animals and answer questions, too. We had a spectacular birthday dinner at their restaurant, Jiko, and the Jiko staff all signed a birthday card for me, with their countries of origin and a congratulatory phrase in their language. We also found a surprise waiting for us in our room when we got back from the parks on my birthday: a cake that said “Happy 50th Birthday Dale,” with candles and presents.
There’s a special safari ride at Animal Kingdom that’s only open to Animal Kingdom Lodge guests and we went on that Sunday morning. The regular ride is a story ride, with the story being that you’re on a tour of a game preserve but you take a detour to catch some elephant poachers. The standard ride is quite fun (and we did it, too) but it keeps to a schedule – there is another jeep chasing poachers right behind you and another and another. So you see a lot of animals, but you don’t stop (unless a giraffe walks across the road or something). The special safari tour is before the park opens. You go in through the back of the park and see all the parts that aren’t open to the public, like the barns where the animals stay at night and the places where they grow the plants the animals eat. Your guide is one of the zookeepers and you get much more info about the animals. For the safari tour part itself you go in the same jeeps and along the same route but they stop any time you want and give you much more info. It’s about twice as long and was just fascinating and worth getting up early for!
We spent three days at the parks, going to all of them but Epcot. We rode on tons of rides, saw day parades and night parades, fireworks and shows. It’s off season and we just walked onto almost all of the rides, sometimes even having to slow ourselves down just to see the fun stuff along the ride line. Most of the rides were so empty that when we got off they asked “Would you like to go again?” and we just bypassed the line. We went on the Dinosaur ride 4 times in a row that way, on Kali River Rapids 3 times, on Star Tours a few times, too. I think the longest we waited was 20 minutes, and that only once.
Last time we were there was 3.5 years ago and Zara wasn’t doing roller coasters yet and Kendra just started going on them during that trip. Doran loves roller coasters and so do I but I hadn’t gone on any that time, because of needing to be with Zara. This time we all went. We had a great time on Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Disney roller coasters and other thrill rides are mostly just my speed – not too scary.
The one that’s supposed to be the scariest is the Rock’n’Rollercoaster, which was new last time we were there and only Doran had gone on it. This time we all said we would give it a try. We asked Doran what it was like and he nonchalantly said, “It’s a Disney coaster – not too scary.”
Then, as we’re standing in line during the preshow, they say in that voice that says it’s foreshadowing the ride, “We’re going to turn the music industry upside down.” Kendra and I look at each other and then say simultaneously “Doran!” He’s kind of looking away. “Does this ride turn you totally upside down?” I ask.
Still not making eye contact, he says “Maybe.” Anyway, it was very exciting. You go upside down three times. We got the picture because it was so funny. Doran and Zara are in front with big grins on their faces. Kendra and I are behind, teeth gritted and looking terrified.
Other fond memories:
- Kendra sitting on the balcony talking on the phone to her friend and saying, "A zebra just walked by" and the friend saying "What!?" so loudly we heard it in the room
- Zara falling asleep on the bus back to the hotel from the parks and before I could wake her Doran lovingly picking her up and carrying her into the hotel (she's too big for me to do that anymore)
- My enormous kids still enjoying a "character dinner"
- My gaydar going off constantly with so many queer CMs
- Waking up in the morning and having coffee while I watched the animals out our window
- Wearing an "It's my birthday" button and getting more attention in one day than in the previous 50 years
- Laughing, singing, eating, hugging, swimming and just hanging out with my kids
Yesterday we didn’t go to the parks and just hung out at the hotel. I went around and looked at a lot of the artwork. We all enjoyed the pool and hot tub and lounge. I had a massage. We got home late last night, tired and happy. The kids went to school this morning with notes saying that they had to miss school for two days due to an "out-of-town family celebration." I need a mood choice of "tired and happy."