So I’m getting antsy to get down to Orlando. As much to start the geekfest of Lotusphere as to also get in some warm weather. It looks like the freeze in Florida is about over and the temps will be in the 70 to 75 degree range during the conference. This will be my first year staying at the Dolphin. I’m not sure what to expect being closer to the action, although I’ve been at the Boardwalk Villas the last 7 years, so I wasn’t THAT far away. It should be nice to just drop down for breakfast in the morning. I’ll miss the free internet though. I don’t think that the wireless will make it all the way up to a room, so I’ll have to hit one of the wi-fi spots downstairs for updating the iPod Touch apps and such. Staying at the Boardwalk Villas as a DVC member allowed me free internet access. Very nice.
So I bought a Belkin surge protector, the same one that Rockey Oliver reviewed in his blog . Allows me to forego the charger for my phone and iPod, as well as providing 3 protected outlets for laptops and battery charger. I also bought two 6-outlet powerstrips to share the all too scarce outlets in the session rooms. It’s always a hunt for the floor outlets and they now police the sessions to yank anyone’s charger out of the wall outlets.
My session planning is done (well, as much as it can be ahead of time). I can access my schedule from a mobile device, or without connectivity, I’ve downloaded and imported the .ics calendar file into my work Notes calendar. I’ll have both my personal BlackBerry and my bank BlackBerry with me. I only have data on my bank BB. And my personal BB has all my personal email access. In addition, I loaded my schedule on my iPod Touch. Of course, since it’s a personal device, there could be no synching with bank system. And since iTunes will only sync with Outlook, I had to *gasp* use Outlook to import the .ics file and then synch to the Touch. The Touch DOES present the schedule the nicest of all the devices. The only problem is I can’t change the schedule now unless I go through the whole process again, and my personal laptop has Notes 8.5.1 running on Ubuntu. So I’ll really have to use the browser in one of the devices to access the Lotusphere Online schedule if I want to have the current schedule and make changes to it real time.
So . . . power access – CHECK. Confusing scheduling options – CHECK. ScottEVest jacket to carry all this stuff – CHECK. Owner’s Locker scheduled for delivery – CHECK. Too many receptions and such to attend – YEP. I’m gonna need a vacation from this conference for sure.
Took quite a while to pack. FILLED the Owner’s Locker tub up to the top and still had stuff left over. I’ll take out the dividers when we go back down and see if I can get it all in next time we’re there. I think we’ll have to get a second locker. I wanted to go over to Hollywood Studios to get an AP Limited Edition Star Wars pin for Chris at work, but we were just too late in leaving to make it over. Sorry, Chris.
The ride home started off nice enough. A little overcast in parts but the rain didn’t really come down until Pam started driving (as usual). I took a nap and then we drove until we needed fuel again. 43.7 mpg – gotta love it. Check out the little FUELLY widget on the side to see what my average MPG is. We stopped for the night at Holiday Express again. I didn’t tell the clerk that we wanted a regular room so . . . we got a suite. Only $10 more per night I think, and we were too tired to go back and argue.
Got a pretty good night’s sleep and we were back on the road at about 8:00am. Rolled home around 3:00pm and called to see if we could pick up Teddy, but there was no answer on the home phone so we left a message. Should have called the cell phone, boarder always has that one with her. Finally she called back around 6:00 and said to come on over and pick him up. He was glad to see us! Funny, but it didn’t take him long to zonk out on the floor . . . I guess the anxiety left him and he finally really relaxed. Also, with no other dogs to play with, I’m sure he felt like just winding down. That made THREE of us
Only 76 more days until next trip!
John post flight
Tuesday morning we went to Downtown Disney for some shopping. Pam saw the Characters in Flight balloon floating over the area and wanted to go see it. When we got there, she wanted to go on it, so I sucked up the courage and we went on. There is a great write up on AllEars.net about the whole experience so I’ll point you there for a description of the balloon and such. Just let me say, “DO IT”! I’m a wuss, and truly terrified of heights if I get even the smallest feeling that I could fall. But I felt completely secure on this ‘ride’. It was great to be up 400ft and see all around. All the way up to Orlando, and all the areas of the resort. The only complaint is it is a 10 minute ride, and you spend almost 4 or those minutes going up and down, which by the way is smooth as silk.
We then spent LOTS of money and came back to OKW for a dip in the pool. After the pool, we came back in to shower and hang when I remembered that Tuesday nights were ‘Wine nights’ at Epcot with Owner’s Locker. Pam and I went over early and went to Yakitori House for some Japanese counter service. I had never been there before, but it was suggested to me by a co-worker. Thanks Chris! I really liked it.
Me and John van Meter from Owner's Locker
At 7:15 we went over to France and sat way back in the shade to keep cool. At 7:30 sharp, John van Meter from Owner’s Locker showed up. We went over and introduced ourselves. John bought me a glass of wine and we sat down to talk with him. Within 15 minutes Beverly and her daughter Emily showed up. Within the next hour we had about a dozen people there, all having a great time. Matt Roseboom from Orlando Attractions magazine was there too. I didn’t get everyone’s names, but there was Rouxchef from the Owner’s Locker boards with his family and there was Lisa. 3 other ladies showed up, one of whom had just received her Masters of Education. GRATZ on that!
Another great view of Illuminations from next to the wine kiosk at France.
Almost 11:00pm on Wednesday as I write this entry about the start of our trip on Saturday morning. We had a problem with Internet access until Pam got a tech up here yesterday to fix the problem. Anyway . . .
We dropped our Labradoodle, Teddy, off at the groomer that boards him on Saturday morning around 7:15. Got home and while Pam was showering, I packed the car, washed the windows and even gave it a quick polish with the spray wax.
We got on the road at 8:30 and made it all the way to Exit 53 in South Carolina around 8:15 pm when we pulled into a Holiday Inn Express for the night. We had stopped for fuel about a half an hour earlier and the stats are all on Fuelly.com. I think we averaged about 43 mpg on the way down. Not too bad for our first long highway trip. I’m really impressed with the VW Jetta TDI. Lots of power for a little 4 banger diesel engine. The diesel fuel was 3 – 5 cents cheaper per gallon than regular unleaded, so that felt even better.
We took off at 8:30 Sunday morning and pulled into Old Key West Resort at Walt Disney World around 1:00pm. I had checked-in online on Friday so they would have everything ready when we pulled in, but I wasn’t confident that we’d have a room ready since check-in time is 4:00pm. But we lucked out and our room was ready. That was great since we were to be at Epcot that night for a D23 Event (more on that next entry).
After we got our room keys, we picked up our Owner’s Locker at Bell Services. The locker was empty since we just joined, but we had brought a lot of stuff down to fill ‘er up! For those that don’t know, head over to Owner’s Locker to get the low down. Here’s a quick explanation though. For a fee, we rent a ‘locker’ (large lockable plastic tub). It stays down here and Owner’s Locker stores it for us. They drop it off when we check in and pick it up when we leave. We store all sorts of stuff in there that we use each time we come down. Now we don’t have to drag the stuff back and forth.
We started unpacking and got ready to head over to Epcot for the D23 Event.