Florida! Part 3: Walt Disney Presents: “When you wish upon a star, make sure it’s not raining”

When you wish upon a star

makes no difference who you are

anything your heart desires

will come to you

This song was going through my head as we drove beneath thick gray clouds through the gates of Disney’s Magic Kingdom.  As a kid, this was my favorite park, and I intended on enjoying just as much as I did then.  I wasn’t gonna let a gray sky and some drizzle ruin my day, hell no!  When we pulled up to the park on the monorail (you have to park your car then take the monorail to the actual park) it was just sprinkling.  I thought yeah, I can handle this.  But just to be safe we rented a locker and put my good camera in it, cause I really didn’t wanna risk getting that thing really wet.

Before we left for this trip my mom gave us some money and told me to make sure we have a nice date.  So the first thing we did was make reservations for lunch at Tony’s, an Italian restaurant based on Lady and The Tramp. And as you can see above, we dressed up a little.  Well, Rob wore ties the whole trip, but I bought this green dress for this trip.

First destination:Space Mountain!  Oh.  Yeah.

The wait was only 20 minutes.  While you’re waiting in line there’s these games you can play where you have to build onto an existing spaceship.  I’m a little foggy on the details, but it was entertaining.  We boarded our spacecraft and set sail on an unforgettable journey.  It’s a great thing that the ride is dark for the most part, otherwise I may have had a panic attack.  It was a pretty great ride.  By the end my mouth was so dry from screaming the whole time.

We had just a little bit of time before lunch so we headed on over to Frontierland where we grabbed a Fast Pass for Splash Mountain.  On our way there, we would meet our first and only Disney characters.  They had just set up shop and the line was short so we did it.

We were seated for lunch right in front of the statue/fountain of Lady and the Tramp.  I had baked ziti and Rob had flatbread something or other.

We shared a piece of cake for dessert.  Our waitress, who was very sweet, took this photo of us.

I used to have a dream of getting married here.  Obviously my dream wedding changed a bit over time.

Then it was on to Splash Mountain.  Yes, right after lunch.  I sat down on the bench into wetness.  It was just the beginning of what was to come, and funnily enough not from Splash Mountain.  It was just as I remembered it.  This is one of Rob’s favorites cause of the animatronics.  They are pretty cool.

We’re in the back row.  Rob’s hammin’ it up for the camera.  I tried my hardest to keep my eyes open, but my fear of heights got the best of me.

And that’s me and my dad on Splash Mountain.  It was Mardi Gras day and I was wearing my purple Mardi Gras shirt.

By now it had cleared up a little bit.  On our way to the Haunted Mansion we stopped at the shooting gallery so Rob could shoot some shit.

We did the Haunted Mansion.  I remembered from my last trip there that at the end they show a hologram of a ghost sitting in the car with you.  This time we were stopped mid ride for a couple minutes.  Kinda ruined it.  But then again, like Rob said, so did the movie.

At this point Rob was getting tired so we started walking towards the train so we sit and relax and have a leisurely ride.  On the way we passed Cinderella’s Golden Carousel, It’s a Small World, Dumbo, the Teacups and what used to be Mr. Toads Wild Ride and is now Ariel’s Grotto, and the area where the submarine from the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was is now under construction for god knows what.  I wanted to ride the Teacups for both nostalgia and photographic purposes, but the line was crazy long.

Me Cameron and dad on the Teacups.

Me mom and Cameron in front of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  Cool shorts huh?  They were purple green and gold, Mardi Gras colors.

Sadly, we wouldn’t make it back to that part of the park to relive the magic that dwells there.  We hopped off the train and made our way to our demise.  The Jungle Cruise.  The wait was about 20 minutes, and in that span of time the rain went from a slight sprinkle to a torrential downpour.  As everyone was being seated on the boat, they were moving to the side where the rain wasn’t going to get all over them.  Well, we were the last to board.  Lucky us!

You can’t tell really, but there is water spilling down our backs.  As the “cruise” went on our guide made the best of a super shitty situation by making jokes and being charming.  Whatever.  By the time it was over we were pretty soaked.  But the worst still had yet to come.  Rob called Chris once we were off the boat and we made plans to get the hell outta there.  Well, that was everyone else’s plan too.  Except everyone else paid the $7.50 for a Mickey Mouse poncho.  Rob and I walked through the whole damn park uncovered along with the poncho clad families.  It was a mass exodus.  My makeup was running.  We were soaked to the bone.  My fancy Nike flip flops with air pockets in the soles were filled with water.  I wanted to cry.  I probably could have and no one would’ve noticed.  My Disney dream was shattered.  The day I was looking forward to the most was ruined.

Whatchya gonna do?

I really have to hand it to Rob.  If it weren’t for him I would’ve lost it I’m sure.  Also, note all the ponchos.

Needless to say we left.  We hopped on the monorail, met up with the in laws and headed back to the hotel.

We hung our clothes to dry.  They still wouldn’t be fully fry when we would get home two days later.

It eventually cleared up enough for us to go out again.  This time we went to Downtown Disney which consists of a boardwalk of restaurants, bars and shopping.  The portion with the bars is called Pleasure Island.  Awesome.  We ate at a Cuban restaurant and it may have been the best food we had during our Disney stay.  After dinner Rob and I got ice cream that cost $12.  For two cones.  What is this world coming to?  Ice cream should cost like .50.

Tonight the Blazers would play their first playoff game against the Suns, so I wore my Rip City shirt.  We would later both fall asleep watching the game, which the Blazers won.

We walked the entire boardwalk and shopped in what has got to be the largest Disney store in the world.  When we initially walked in it was just one giant room, but there were like 12 more after that.  It was ridiculous.  I bought souvenirs and some Wonka Bars for myself.  Which I thought I couldn’t get them in Oregon, at least I’ve never seen them anywhere.  Those suckers were $3.00 a piece!

When we were with our Downtown Disney excursion we boarded a ferry boat back to the parking lot and headed back to the hotel for the night.  Tomorrow was our last day.

We woke to some sunshine and some blue in the sky.  It was our last day here in Florida and we were spending at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  I knew very little of this park going in.  It wasn’t built yet when I went to Disney with my family.  I knew there was a roller coaster called Expedition Everest that’s been compared to the Matterhorn in Disneyland.  That was our first destination. I don’t think Rob was too excited about it, but I was.  I was a little scared too.  I knew it went pretty high up, but not upside down.

That “mountain” in the back there was it.  It was a pretty great ride.  It even made me a little tummy sick in the end, and it definitely made Rob feel sick.  He didn’t throw up or anything, thank god.  There’s a part of the ride where you’re at the top of the mountain and the tracks have been broken so you come to a stop.  Then you’re whisked backwards into a cave.  The Yeti’s cave.  The Yeti comes out and scares you, and there’s big drops and sharp turns.  It was pretty fun!

After our expedition on Everest we made our way to Dinoland.  Yes, Dinoland.  In Dinoland there was a garden of dinosaurs.  So naturally, I had Rob take my photo with one.

I’ve decided that while I can take good photos, I can’t take good photos.  I can’t help but mug.  I know every in and out and tip to make someone look taller and thinner but when it comes to me standing in front of the camera, it all goes out the window.  Ugh.

Also in Dinoland was the Jurassic Park ride simply called DINOSAUR.  This would be a highlight of the whole trip.  While waiting in line for the ride Bill Nye narrates the history of dinosaurs.  Then you’re loaded into a Jeep type thing where there are little compartments to put your things and seat belts, cause you know safety first.  We were on a mission to retrieve some dinosaur, or something, for testing.  During our mission we encountered all kinds of dinos.  It was nighttime, and the roads were bumpy.  We were moving real fast when all of a sudden a T-Rex jumps out of nowhere and scared the poop out of us.  Well, I wasn’t scared but Rob genuinely was.  I wish I had a better photo of the photo they took of us when the T-Rex came out.  Rob’s face was priceless!

It was a great ride.  Very exciting, fast paced and just plain awesome.

We ate another $20 fried food lunch at the dinosaur themed restaurant that played every dinosaur kids song.  It was pretty great.

After lunch we decided to do the nature walk around the Tree of Life.  Yes, the Tree of Life.  Now, working in a photo lab I see this thing all the time.  So I knew it was a giant tree with stuff carved into it.  I never really thought much of it.  But seeing it in real life was pretty cool.  It’s obviously not a real tree.  But the carvings are real.  And they look kinda neat.

Rob is so cool.

We then moseyed on over to the Harambe Wildlife Reserve Safari.  Of course this thing is set up like you’re going to go on this safari and you have to save the (insert whatever endangered animal here).  While you’re waiting in line they have this fake PSA playing over and over and on it this sad guy is telling you that YOU need to save endangered species from poachers.  Yes, yes I do.  And I did.  Single handedly I might add.  Just kidding, but I like to pretend that I did.  So, everyone piles into the big safari truck and you head out into “the wild”.

This actually is a reserve that Disney built, but there are no actual poachers.  Duh.  Basically throughout the ride the driver is on the loudspeaker telling you about the different animals and sometimes gets interrupted by the man from the PSA and he tells her that the baby elephant is going to be poached.  Also, while we were waiting in line for this there was a big hold up cause an animal had wandered in front of a safari truck so the whole tour had to stop until it moved out of the way.  That animal, an ostrich.  And it did it again while we were on the tour.  It came awful close to eating Rob’s arm off too.  Once it moved out of the road, it was walking slowly along the truck and came a little too close for comfort.  Too close for me anyway.   I made Rob move his arm away from the edge.  I knew it wasn’t going to eat Rob, but they can be mean.

It was pretty neato being that close to the animals.  I’ve never been to Africa, but my mom and my cousin have, and my pictures look fairly similar to theirs.

I forget what these were called but they were cool looking.  I do remember that the driver said they are not from the zebra family.  Some people might think they were because of their stripes.


After our safari adventure we boarded a train to Rafiki’s Island.  It’s called something like that.  Rob’s brother and his wife met up with us there.  Rafiki’s island is mainly just a place that has a learning center where you can touch bugs and animals at the petting zoo.

A picture of Rob and his bro at the learning center.  Chris bought these shirts for them.

Geez.  He’s not even touching it.  It’s a petting zoo Rob!

This is Dusty the llama.  His teeth were exceptional.

We took the train back to the mainland, or whatever, and decided to go on the nature walk through India.  We both really enjoyed this part.  I really wasn’t expecting much cause I hate walking and nature sooooo……

First highlight was the bats.  Bats are cute.  And smelly. And fun to watch.

One of maybe three pictures of me at the Animal Kingdom.

I really liked the decor of “India”.  I’ve never been to India, but I can imagine it could possibly look something like this.  The deteriorating buildings and artwork, the tattered flags and whatnot, I really liked it.  I would’ve loved to play dress up with someone and do a photo shoot there.

I also really liked these little signs they posted for the animals on exhibit.  I want one for my chickens.

India must look exactly like this.

And after the nature walk we decided we were done.  And at that moment it started raining.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  Well, it could’ve been better by doing that the day before.  We were done with our Disney adventure.  It was a bittersweet moment.  We had been to all four parks in four days.  Rode (mostly) all of the rides we wanted to, and had a magical time doing it.  The next day we would hop on a plane and fly home to Portland where we’d be greeted by our friend and house sitter, Mike Baden, who had baked us an Elvis pie (peanut butter and banana cream on a graham cracker crust).

If you would like a vocal walk through on our trip as well as other fun stuff you should check out Rob’s podcast, Hey Everybody! which features yours truly as well as Rob’s brother Chris, and his son Asher.

I know it took forever to get this up, I’ve got no excuses.  Hell, I’ve been on another trip already!  Let’s hope it doesn’t take a month to get that post up!

I did want to touch on a few things we did not get to do that we wanted to but had no time to.

Everyone loves some mini golf.  And I love gators and I wanted to feed a gator and play some mini golf.

This needs no explanation.

Nor does this.



Florida! Part 1: Homosassa

Hey kiddos!  It’s that time again, time to recount the events of the Campbell family vacation.

We began our journey on Monday April 12th.  Rob, myself and his parents, Sherri and Joe, flew from Portland to Orlando where we got a rental car and drove two hours to Homosassa Florida where Chris (Rob’s brother) and his wife, Kristin, and their 5 month old son, Asher, were waiting at our rental house for us.  Homosassa is a very small town in southern Florida with not much happening.  Our house was located on the bank of a canal.  It was a manufactured home with a screened in tiki hut in the backyard (we ate lunch and dinner in it each day) a broken down pontoon boat on the lawn and a driveway ramp that went into the canal.  This driveway had gator footprints on it.  Before we got there Chris and Kristin saw 3 gators there!  I was so excited to see some gators!  Unfortunately I saw no gators in our backyard.  We figured they were there for Chris & Kristin to see cause no one had been there for a while, and since they knew we were there they didn’t come around.

The weather was perfect.  In the 80’s, blue sky with a few clouds, cool breeze in the evening.  Just perfect.  One of my favorite things about the south is the spanish moss on all the trees.  I remember learning on a field trip to Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana that the moss only grows on the north side of trees.  It seemed like it was all over the place though.  Maybe that was just something someone made up.

So, for our  first day in Florida we went and picked up Rob’s grandma, Grandma LaVerne, and we went to a place called Weeki Wachee Springs.  This was old Florida.  And by old, I mean kitschy vintage old.  Basically, in the late 40’s a guy named Newt, a retired Navy SEAL trainer, bought Weeki Wachee Springs to build his own business.  He invented a breathing hose to use underwater so humans wouldn’t have to go above water.  He built a theatre 6 feet into the water so people could see into the springs.  He hired pretty girls and trained them on how to use his fancy breathing tube, taught them dance routines and BAM!  Mermaids.  To this day mermaids perform shows in the Weeki Wachee Springs.

This turtle kept getting in the way.

Here’s a little video sample:

And here’s the finale:

That’s right, these mermaids are proud to be American!  Wait, what?  American mermaids?  Where do mermaids come from?  Who knows, and that’s a question for another day.  While we don’t have video of the mermaid proudly parading the American flag, I do have a photo:

Aaaand after the show we walked around the park, took some photos and took a boat ride on the springs.

Weeki Wachee Springs

Who’s the cutest wittlest baby waby?

Thug Life.  Nuf sed.

I made a taco dinner when we got back to the house.  Rob, myself and his parents ate dinner in the “Taco Tiki Hut” as we called it.

The next day we took grandma to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park.  There they have a manatee reserve, which spawned a lot of manatee puns.  I had never seen a manatee before so I was pretty stoked.  When we walked in the park ranger person was giving a talk on manatees and introduced us to Amanda, the manatee.  Or as I like to call her, Amandatee.  Ha!  Anyhoo.  These things are huuuuge.  Prolly why they refer to them as sea cows.  It’s hard to get a good photo of them.

And that’s what I’d look like if I were a manatee.  In case you were wondering.

I wanted to take this beautiful owl home and cuddle with it.

And this was weird.

And if this American Bald Eagle with clipped wings doesn’t say “Freedom” then I don’t know what does.

And there were gators.  Lot’s of ’em.

We went to lunch after the wildlife park at, get ready, Leon Wilkeson’s, bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd, restaurant Neon Leon’s Zydeco Steakhouse.  A New Orleans themed cajun restaurant in the middle of nowhere Florida owned by a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd.  It was my lucky day.  As we walked in a sign on the door read something to the effect of “we need to run them out out of Congress and take it back”, with an image of Uncle Sam.  I should’ve taken a picture of it.

The food was excellent.  Neon Leon wasn’t there, such a shame, but I finally got my grubby little hands on some sweet tea!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to take this home.  Just for funsies.

Now, shy away vegetarians or those who don’t care for meat wrapped in meat wrapped in meat.

Rob ordered the shrimp wrapped in crab wrapped in bacon.  It was pretty good.

Then we said goodbye to grandma and took some family photos.

Sherri and Grandma LaVerne

A very happy Great Grandma.

And a very proud Uncle Rob.

The next morning we left for Orlando via St. Petersburg.  Krisitn had a friend she wanted to visit there before heading to Orlando.  They dropped Rob and I off at the beach for a couple hours while they did some shopping.

We had some lunch at some seafood joint and hung out on the beach and in the ocean, and Rob found a hermit crab.  It was damn near perfect.  When the kids picked us up we went to another beach for seashell hunting.  We found a few shells, a washed up sea urchin and a big jellyfish.

We visited with Kristin’s friend a little bit and made our way to Orlando.  It was a two hour drive and by the time we got to our hotel it was late in the evening and we were pretty tuckered out.  We hit the first of many souvenir stores.  But this one stuck with us through the trip, and here’s why:

The Wizard.

Next stop Disney World.

And this concludes Part 1 in an unknown amount of parts in a series.  Maybe 2.  Possibly 3.