Aug 12, 2012





“Aren’t you Karin from the DISboards?”


We both were up early that day and decided to finally get out of bed by 5am. Tom made some coffee and we sat out on the patio sipping it.

Then while Tom took a shower I put all the things we would no longer need at the moment into the purple box and packed the fold-up bag we had brought with things we had stored in the box previously. Once Tom was done, I took a shower, then we packed up all our stuff and and around 7.45 we took our Owner’s Locker box back to luggage services to be taken back to the warehouse, then went back to the room, checked for forgotten items and headed down again to check out of our home for the night. We rolled our luggage over to the rental car desks and got in line. There were only 3 other people in line ahead of us and in no time it was our turn.

We had a prepaid reservation voucher and all we still wanted to buy was a Sunpass so we could use the toll roads on our way to Key West. In the end the employee talked us into buying roadsafe as well, and even though we did not need it this trip it was a reassuring feeling to know that there were no other costs coming our way in case of an emergency. After about 10 minutes we were handed the paperwork, given an isle to look for and told to pick “any colour we liked”. Woohoo, we got to pick a car, what a change from Hertz that assigns you one. Or so we thought. Again, we rolled our luggage across the street and over to the Dollar section of the rental cars and there we looked for the section we were told to look for. Well, the section was empty! We had booked a convertible and there was only one in the section opposite, so we took our paperwork and went to ask on where to look. We were pointed towards the convertible we had seen before and told it was the only one they had. Okay, pick any colour – we picked silver! And a silvery Mustang Convertible was ours. Tom opened the trunk and we put our large suitcase in, then tried the big bag we had, no way would it fit. So we took both items out, put the suitcase in and shoved it to one side, then put in the foldable bag, which fit nicely and we were even able to squeeze in the carry ons.

Tom took the top of the car down and put the large bag in the back seat, we fixed our GPS and were soon on our way towards Walt Disney World. Being able to use the Sunpass lane made the drive short and easy and before we knew it we were on Hotel Boulevard and going towards Downtown Disney.It was just 9am when we drove into the parking lot and easily found a parking space very close to the “Once upon a toy” store. There is only one way to officially start off a vacation and it is by having a meal at Wolfgang Puck’s Express. So we quickly headed over there, no one in line in front of us and since we already knew what we wanted we didn’t even have to look at the menu board. We ordered, applied the AP discount, took our glasses and filled them with Diet Coke on the way to a nice table, where we placed our number stand on the table. A server came by very quickly and brought out some cutlery and in no time our breakfast arrived.

Tom had ordered his favourite, Wolfgang's Breakfast Pocket, scrambled eggs, peppers, Niman Ranch Bacon, onions, mushrooms, mozzarella and cheddar cheese baked into Wolfgang's pizza dough and I had gone for MY favourite, the Smoked Bacon Pizza, scrambled eggs, tomatoes, mozzarella and cheddar cheese and Ranch Dressing. It was just the perfect breakfast. We both loved it and did our best to finish our breakfasts. Tom succeeded, I had to give up after three quarters of the pizza. Once we had finished breakfast, we walked through the “Once upon a Toy” store, then proceeded over to the World of Disney. There were two things I wanted to take a look at. We walked through the other stores, then finally hit the World of Disney, which was blissfully uncrowded. It didn’t take long and I had found what I needed to buy. Two years ago we had seen next year’s calendars in the shops when we arrived and decided to buy before we would leave again. By then they had pulled all the calendars out of the stores and I had to order them online, which was quite a pain. So, ever since when I see a calendar I buy and I had not bought one the day before at the airport. So here we were, happy to know they had the calendar at the World of Disney too. We strolled through the store checking out all the new items they offered and then went over to the section where they have all the Dooney and Burke bags. We were just approaching the display behind the register when I heard a voice behind me, asking, “Aren’t you Karin from the DISboards?”

We both turned around and there was this young girl coming up to us. She looked somewhat familiar, but I could not place her at that time, so I told her, that yes, it was me and she told us that we had been on the same cruise and in the same Fish Extender group last summer. Now that rang a bell! She then pointed out that she had been cruising with her mum, who was over there. And then I knew it, she was “Melmar’s” daughter. We all hugged and chatted and they told us that they were spending their summer vacation at WDW and had driven all the way down from Massachusetts. It was wonderful seeing them again and after a few minutes we found a nice cast member who took our photo, so we had proof of our meet. It was sad to have to say goodbye again, but they were on their way and we needed to get going too. We had a “quick” look at the Dooneys and then decided to just pick up the two calendars, a Disney CD, since we had forgotten ours and two antenna toppers. Shoppin g done we headed back to the car – put the topper onto the antenna and got into the car. Within a few minutes we were waving goodbye to Walt Disney World and on our way to Key Largo. We drove onto the highway and drove and drove and drove some more. About an hour and a half into our drive we stopped at one of the rest stations to have a snack and were shocked to see how overcrowded it was. There was construction going on and we decided to just pick up a drink and some sweet treats and headed back to the car.

We still had a long way to go and were looking forward to having a late lunch at Miami’s Bubba Gump. All morning we made good progress until there were signs that the highway would be closed at a certain exit.

We didn’t even think much of it and just went on, still looking forward to be in Miami soon and then the traffic got heavier and heavier and then it stopped completely. We sat and waited, and moved forward a bit and sat and waited and moved forward a bit more. Time went by and an hour had passed sitting in a traffic jam. There was no end in sight and minutes were ticking away. After almost two hours we saw what it was all about. The whole highway was closed and every single car had to get off, BUT there was a stop sign at the end of the exit. Now, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but in the meantime it had started to rain. Well, rain might not be the right word.

The heaven had opened up and it was pouring. Once we had left the motorway the GPS always directed us back to the highway and had trouble connecting as it was raining so heavily. We first had gotten into the wrong line and drove in the wrong direction. So, after we had turned around we had to play it by ear and just use overhead signs to find our way towards Miami. It was still raining cats and dogs and thank god, we were driving slow as suddenly a van pulled over into our lane and all Tom could do was hit the break or otherwise the other car would have gone straight into ours. It took me a while to get over the initial shock and we went on slowly.

About 20 minutes later the rain started to become a little lighter and we were finally heading into Miami. With all the time we had lost we decided to drop the idea of a late lunch and just head on to the keys. We kept driving and once we had left Miami and had gone past its airport, the skies started to turn blue again and the sun was shining again and we felt much better instantly. We drove on until suddenly an advertisement grabbed my attention. I told Tom to get off the highway and exit right here and there. He had no idea why, but followed my lead and once he saw where I was directing him, he was as happy as I was. When we approached, we even saw that the “Hot Now” sign was on.

And yes, I had found a Krispy Kreme along the way. We parked the car, stretched our legs and headed inside. This was a brand new shop and smelled wonderfully of freshly baked doughnuts. There were quite a few guests and we got in line and ordered a dozen Glazed Doughnuts, some Coffee and some Diet Coke and found a table to enjoy this wonderful sweet treat. The doughnuts were wonderful, warm and soft and they melted in your mouth. We were hungry, since we had skipped lunch, so we both had two of them.

And after a visit to the restroom we headed back to the car to get on with the rest of our drive. By then it was already 4pm and we still had about an hour’s drive ahead of us, but traffic was light, the skies were blue and we made good progress and finally we arrived at Key Largo, our destination for the night. We had booked the Courtyard by Marriott and we had to drive through most of Key Largo to get there. We had never thought that Key Largo went on for so long, but finally we saw the hotel on the other side of the road. Tom made a U-turn at the next traffic light and we drove into the parking lot a few minutes later. We parked the car, picked up our paperwork and headed to the front desk.

The welcome was warm and friendly and we were handed our keys and told to park in the garage under the hotel. So, we did as we had been told und found a parking spot close to the elevator, hauled all our stuff out of the car and up to the elevator, then into the elevator and finally from the elevator to the room on the third floor. The room was very nice. It was spacious and friendly and had a lovely balcony overlooking the pool. It looked just like the room we had seen on the internet. We rested for a little while, then decided to do some shopping at the nearby Publix. By then it was late, we both were getting tired and we just threw out the idea of going out to lunch. Since we were going to Publix anyway, we were going to pick up dinner there.

So we headed back to the car and drove up the road to do some grocery shopping. The supermarket was a large one and we strolled through, pushing our shopping cart, picking up items along the way. We even found a bottle of Silverado wine, the winery that belongs to Diane Disney Miller. Shopping done, we loaded everything into the car, drove back to our hotel and hauled our loot upstairs. We sat outside with a drink for a while until we were really hungry and went inside, put all our picnic dinner foods on the table and started to dig in. It was nice to have some down to earth food. Once we were full, we sat outside for a while again, but it had gotten dark and we were both dead tired.

So around 9pm we went to bed, tried to watch a little TV, but the jet lag caught up with us fast and we fell asleep.