We Arrive "Home"

Sunday, December 3, 2006

We woke up bright and early on Sunday morning, eager to finish our drive and get 'home'. We attempted to grab breakfast at the Country Inn and Suites, but the selection was sub-par at best, so we headed up the road to the next exit and stopped at a Wal Mart to grab some stuff for breakfast, as well as some other sundries. Then, it was back on the road. Jill and a chilly 50 degrees at the state border Unfortunatly, the navigator (that would be me) misnegotiated the miles we had to drive and the time we had to drive it in, so we made it to the Wedding Pavilion at 12:05 - for a 12:00 meeting with Reverend Jack Day (whoops).

Reverend Day, beyond his duties as one of the few ministers at Disney's Wedding Pavilion, is also the chaplain for the City of Orlando Police Department, making us somewhat 'brothers in arms', working in similar professions. Both Jill and I were very glad to meet and spend time with him before the ceremony on Wednesday - a wonderful man with a great heart, we knew he would be perfect for our Fairy Tale wedding.

Reverend Day whisked us over to the wedding pavilion for an impromptu rehearsal - his schedule is so busy, he has very limited time and was not available at our rehearsal time on Tuesday. This wasn't our first time in the Wedding Pavilion, but the context we were there in made it an entirely new experience for both (and I could already feel the emotion welling up in my throat as I watched Jill practice walking down the aisle - how would I ever keep it together on Wednesday!!). As an added surprise, our wedding planner Maxine Polakis showed up too! After doing a quick run through in the wedding pavilion, the four of us went back over to Franck's Studio to talk over the particulars, as well as to look at the wonderful ceremony that Jill had written. Reverend Day himself said that usually they use a pre-written type ceremony, but he loved the way Jill had constructed and worded the ceremony and he wouldn't change a thing. When we were all satisfied that we had a lay of the land as far as the ceremony went, Reverend Day and Maxine said their good-bye's, and Jill and I were off to lunch.

We stopped just off of Disney property in Lake Buena Vista at a restaurant called Chevy's, another 'chain' that we don't have in Upstate New York. We had eaten at one before in Maryland (see our Baltimore 2005 recap), and knew it would compliment the tex-mex craving we were both having.

After filling up (our tummies, not the car), we headed for our bridal chateau, also known as Port Orleans Riverside. This has fast become our favorite lodging choice at Disney, so it was a no brainer when we were making reservations to stay here. We actually rented two rooms for the week, in anticipation of a 'full house' once the kids arrived. We unpacked the truck, realizing that a puzzle comes apart a heck of a lot quicker than it goes together, and also that we had a lot of 'stuff' and the kids were just going to have to sleep on the floor because all other surfaces were stacked with wedding stuff. Our first minor dilemma of the week - where to hang the dresses. All of them were to long to hang on the coat rack in the room, so we improvised. Did you know a shower curtain rod can double as a hanging rack? Yep, it can! We used the bathroom in the 'kids' room as a makeshift closet, and when the kids arrived on Monday all three were warned by threat of death or serious maiming at least that they were to stay out of that bathroom. Considering we still had three (intact) little ones by the end of the week, they did good listening to us on this point!

In an attempt to squeeze in a park, we headed over to Epcot to wander around for a bit after getting the room in some semblance of order. Our first foray into a Disney park this week found it to be a bit crowded, and as the lines were longer and the fact that we only had a limited amount of time, we didn't really have a chance to get on much.

On Sunday night, figuring that this was truly the 'calm before the storm', Jill made reservations for us to have dinner at Jiko in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Our last night of 'alone time' would be spent in part at one of the best restaurants on Disney property. The atmosphere is modern, but romantic, and even though there were quite a few families with young ones there it really didn't detract from the overall experience (except for one family that came in, sat at a table next to us, proceeded to be rude to pretty much every staff member they came in contact with, and then left before they even ordered their food). Jiko's sommelier was very helpful and attentive in helping us choose the perfect bottle of wine for the occasion. Tim and Jill in front of the Christmas tree at Jiko As far as sommelier's that we have had the pleasure to deal with, he comes in a close second to the one at the California Grill that picked out THE PERFECT bottle of wine earlier this year. Jiko's sommelier wanted to give us a sample of the different tastes of South African wines, so at the height of our 'tasting' there were no less than five bottles on the table! We were feeling pretty good even before we had decided on one wine. Dinner was incredible as well. We started out with the Kenyan coffee barbecued chicken flatbread - with grilled onions, apple julienne, and four cheeses, and then it was on to the main course. Jill had the seared jumbo scallops with golden brown mealie pap and spicy tomato-onion Chaka-Laka, and I had their signature dish and what all of the Disneymooners rave about - wood-grilled filet mignon, with macaroni and cheese and red wine sauce. Although this wouldn't be the last time I described a meal this week in this way, it was, well, in-freakin-credible! Talk about a fusion of food and flavors! With as much travelling as we have done together, we have never, and I mean never, had such good food as we have at some of the restaurants at Disney World! To top off this scrumptious dinner, we had the Jiko Dream Pyramid for dessert. It was a white chocolate mousse with roasted banana and pineapple, banana-pineapple salad, and tropical fruit sauce. Duh dang, that's all I can say!!

So, with a good meal in us, and a romantic one at that, we wandered around the Animal Kingdom Lodge a bit before heading out. Our next stop - to pay homage to the mouse of course! We had thrown a bag in the car with a change of clothes, as well as Dad and Aunt Cathy's welcome bags, so we went to the Contemporary to kill two birds with one stone. We dropped off the welcome bags at the main desk, and then used the bathrooms there to change. After that, it was off to the Magic Kingdom! Of course, along the way we had to pass by the wedding pavilion in the monorail - a sight that most certainly welled up the emotion in our eyes and in our hearts. As we had travelled that route many, many times before over the past year, none hit home so much as going by in the monorail at this point, only three days to our Fairy Tale Wedding.

Extra magic hours was at the Magic Kingdom on Sunday night, and Jill and I took full advantage of that. Again, knowing this would be our only alone time in the parks for the week, we made sure we hit all of our favorite rides including Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, Pirates, as well as Peter Pan, Pooh, Snow White, and Dumbo (hey - the place brings out the kid in all of us ya know??). After riding what we could, we called it a day and headed back to Port Orleans Riverside in hopes of getting a good nights sleep before the 'big week' kicked into high gear on Monday.

Total Mileage: 3095 Miles

Total Miles Travelled:
84,067 Miles!

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