Friday, September 21, 2018

Fall 2018 Theme Park Trip-Day 2

Well maybe day 1.5? I left on a Thursday. My usual shuttle company that I have used before went out of business last year so I was left scrambling looking for a new company. With such short notice, I used Uber. With tip is was still cheaper that one of the shuttle service one way charges.

My trip started with a long overnight flight from HNL to EWR or in other words Honolulu to Newark. When I arrived at EWR, it was on a Friday hence what really to call the day. Although, the start was very reminiscent of another trip that I took in 2010 which ended up with major repercussions for me. They said they were needing 124,000  lbs of fuel for the flight. Unfortunately, we had a slow pump. We were supposed to be taking off and we were at 27,000 lbs and still trying to get more. We ended up moving gates to get a different pump. They sent out two updates via text. Eventually we left almost a full hour after we were supposed to. I had 1 hour 45 minutes between connections and the new landing time cut that down to 25 minutes. Fortunately they were able to push a bit and get us there and gave that to about 25 minutes before the boarding began.  Even though the gates were are away, made it there 15 minutes before boarding would start. Praise be for minor miracles!

As someone who has a license, but not a car, I'm spending all sorts of time fooling around with the car trying to figure out what's where and how does it work. All these new fangled  doo-dads.
So it's trying to figure out how to adjust the wing mirrors, adjusting the seat, adjusting the steering column, trying to find if it has a USB port, trying to find how to wash the windshield, how to pair the car with blue tooth and finally, how to pop the hood to be able to check the window washer levels. The USB in the car wouldn't charge the Pixel faster than the battery would drain while using GPS.  Also challenged to control the volume on the device or pause the playback without having to pick up the phone and fingerprint in instead of  dealing with the lock screen.

With the GPS, I finally made it to Dollywood about 12:30. It was hot and humid. I got to the parking lot and changed from jeans to shorts because it was so hot. Once inside the park, looked for the first sit down place so I could plug in and get a bit of charge on my phone. Finally after 15 minutes the phone was charged enough that I started my day at the park.

I was so excited to be there. Being on In The Loop we had Pete Owens, the PR Director of Dollywood, on a number of times talking about the park. It was wonderful to be there to finally experience it myself. My first ride, Thunderhead, a fairly small compact woody. I use a fanny pack at the park and decided to keep it on. I was worried the whole time as I had so much packed in it. After I got off and went to my next ride, they have cubbies there where you can place your items. I used it. OMG, I felt so much better knowing that I couldn't lose my fanny pack. As I was impressed walking around the park and the quality of the staff. I felt like I was in a concierge level service location.Instead of just acknowledging you being there, they asked questions. When I responded, I ended up getting in several conversations with the staff. It was fun! When I go back tomorrow, not sure how crowded it will be as I guess Tennessee is taking the Florida Gators and many people will stay out of the park to watch the game.

Tomorrow will be more focused on the shows as I was able to get most of the rides done with many of them being walked in. In many ways I think Dollywood is like Knott's Berry Farm in that they have lots of historical cultural information to share and I want to take in those details as I also plan to do with my return trip to Knott's.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Just a couple of days to go before heading out to the mainland.  Really excited about this. The hotel and car reservations are all taken care of. Have several tickets purchased, but not all of them at this point. Looking to see about discounts for some of the attractions.

The first week is pretty well planned out. Dollywood and Pigeon Forge then to Boston to visit family. I had the suggestion to go to Six Flags New England or Canobie Lake Park while in New England. Unfortunately, they are on their fall schedules and not open weekdays while I'm there.

Spent time over the weekend buying some gifts. Not wanting to cart around on the different legs, it will be easier to pack and ship some items rather than trying to bring with me on the plane. Food goodies are nice because they can get eaten and you don't have to dust them over the long haul.

Great Job! CardWorked on the recognition card. When I've talked to people about the idea I haven't received any negative feedback. People really like the idea. It will also help to keep me focused on looking for positive during the trip.  Last time I only gave out half a dozen. This time, I'm hoping for more. Bringing 50 cards with me. I'll bring the softcopy with me in case I need to make more but might need to find a Walmart or something to find the card stock on which to print them.

Since I started planning the trip and knowing that I was going to San Diego I was trying to get in touch with an old college buddy. We lost touch a number of years ago. I would send them my Christmas card and one year I got it back in the mail as deliverable. The old email addresses and phone number went stale. Lookups for name searches didn't work. Facebook negative.  Finally, I did have a  family member name of someone I didn't know. Was able to find them on FB and reached out. They in turn were able to get me some contact information. After doing the Belmont Park roller coaster, we're going to get together. It's been over two decades since we last communicated and I look forward to catching up with them.

One of my concerns for the trip is my diet. I haven't been doing sugars and grains for a while now.  I know there are going to be days when I'll be going outside that range. I just need to remind myself not to do it every day. Last year after doing the marathon I ate whatever. One months later there was a 20lb difference. I don't want that to happen on this trip so I need to be a little more judicious with my choices.

Finally I was trying to decide what to pack as the weather is going to be different in the mountains of Tennessee vs the shore of Lake Erie, New England then Florida and Southern California. Living in Hawaii for so long has thinned out my New England blood and have decided that some long sleeve garments might be necessary as below 70 could be considered cold for me. Stupid, I know, but five locations on one trip forces some choices.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Looking back it's been two years since my last post. Time to fix that.

Well, I have another big trip coming up and am totally ecstatic about it. I am about to get a full month off from work. I've been working to make sure there is another person in the office that knows my skills. I'm one that I'm not afraid to share everything that I know.

Travel plans include Dollywood and Pigeon Forge area attractions, going to Boston to visit family. Heading to Cedar Point to the East Coast coaster capital. Time in Florida will include Universal Orlando and Halloween Horror Nights, the Disney parks including Food and Wine Festival and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, Legoland, Florida Zipline Coaster, Star Flyer, and Fun Spots. In California the West Coast Legoland there in the San Diego area and their SeaWorld plus Belmont Park in the "extreme south" are the plans. Traveling north to Anaheim and the Disneyland resort including Mickey's Halloween Party, Knott's Berry and Scary Farms, Santa Monica Pier, Universal Hollywood, Six Flags Magic Mountain the West Coast coaster capital...possibly their Halloween event and then the Warner Bros Studio Tour and their Halloween event. So Heartland, East Coast, Mid West, the South and West Coast will be covered on this trip.  I am so appreciative that I have the ability to do this.

Along the way I plan to meet up with a number of people. Some are coaster buddies, some are Disney pals, others are college friends and some are former co-workers and podcasters. So while I may be traveling solo, I won't be doing everything as a single.

Surprisingly enough, when I was trying to make the travel arrangements, I wanted to maybe do trains between say Sandusky, OH and Knoxville, TN or Knoxville, TN and Orlando, FL as a way to see the country. Those options weren't viable due to how far away trains stations were from starting or ending points needing buses. I looked at maybe buses outright, but the amount of time and transfers were rather awkward and cumbersome. Luckily I was able to make the flight arrangements through one carrier, United, although several legs will be with code share partners. Learned that it is difficult to try to book a trip with more than five legs to the trip. All totaled, I have nine segments. The first leg I have to travel from Honolulu to Newark which is a ten hour flight and then back up to Knoxville. Blissfully the LAX to HNL flight is six hours.

In my big 2010 trip, I had business cards that I gave out for people going above and beyond in their work. Back then, I gave them a card recognizing them for their effort, took their pic, blogged about them and their actions

and then made sure I wrote back to the companies involved to give the person credit. While I don't have the cards ready to go yet, I plan on doing that again this trip. It's really easy to fall into the negative and those cards helped keep me looking for the positive.

During my fall 2016 trip, I lost my wallet while riding Mako at SeaWorld Orlando the day before I was to fly to LAX. Still haven't heard back from SeaWorld if they dredged the pond where it dropped  and recovered it with the $700 still inside. If I ever get that back, really need to make sure to make big noise about that! But with losing my ID, I want to make sure on this trip that I have backups like maybe making sure that I bring my passport and not keeping all the money on my person. Also I need to make sure that I follow my procedures and not rush when I get on a coaster to make sure that I have everything really secured.

One of the other challenges that I have is with the rental car portions. I have a valid drivers license, but don't own a car in Hawaii. When I rent I must do the responsible action have have some insurance and the costs add up quickly. So the RAC company would look at say Friday noon to Monday 6am as just three days, the insurance company says it's four so on those transfer days, I'm having to pay for insurance twice. Plus the insurance itself isn't cheap with charges that have been 15-25% of the daily rental rate.  But, it's something that I have to do since I don't have my own policy.

I use Flickr instead of Instagram. When I would post to Flickr, it would automatically post to Twitter and then a bit later to Facebook. Something has happened to the interface and that no longer happens.  If you want to see pics during the trip, goto For quick updates I'm @coconutwireless on twitter.

If you have comments or questions, let me know. The fall 2018 Coaster Trip begins on September 20th!