Day 40--Wednesday, July 16
After I showered and got ready, I set up the computer on our picnic table to do some work for school while Ben showered. He had been gone for less than ten minutes when he came running back, exclaiming, "You'll never guess who I just saw at the showers!" It turned out to be Chris Mayer, who worked at Camp Tecumseh with us last summer . Even more than that, it turned out that Chris was driving the second van for the Camp Tecumseh Trippers, who were en route to the Florida Keys and were camped across the road from us. There was only one tent between us and them, and it was block our view of them. Crazy!
We immediately ran over there, to find only one camper awake, sitting at a picnic table and reading. We didn't know it at the time, but he turned out to be Dave Wright's nephew. I went back to the computer to work, and Ben went to get showered, and by the time he came back, the CT campsite was looking a little more lively. We went back over and got to visit with Chris, Kim Collins, and a very sleepy Eric Pugh, who emerged from his tent a few minutes after we arrived. We saw some kids we recognized from previous years at camp, including one of my former campers and a boy who attends Zionsville High School. We visited with them for a little while, and then we took off for Disney and they resumed their trip to the Keys.
We started the Disney day by returning to Epcot to finish seeing the park. We began by doing the most famous thing there: Spaceship Earth, the huge silver "golf ball" that dominates the center of the park. The ride featured the history and future of communication, which was interesting but also kind of scary with some of the options they portrayed for the future.
Then, on to the World Showcase. We had decided that this would be our day to eat in the park and that we would sample different foods from each of the different countries. We began in Mexico, where we sailed El Rio del Tiempo and admired the little shops. We decided not to buy food because, really, we can do that any old time for a whole lot cheaper at a variety of good Mexican restaurants locally.
Next up was Norway. We rode the Maelstorm, which was interesting but not overly informative, but by far the most fun ride in the World Showcase, since it actually featured some drops. We waited for what felt like a very long time for the five-minute video following the ride as we watched more and more people file out of the movie room. We just waited and read our books. When it finally came on, we had to agree that it really hadn't been worth waiting all that time for. We also avoided food here because we were looking for lunch and pretty much all they had was danishes.
Next up was China. We watched the 360 degree movie, Reflections of China, which was actually very interesting and made me want to go there. We ate some eggrolls with a plethora of different sauces while sitting on a bench and admiring the buildings.
Germany didn't really have any tourist attractions, just little shops to wander. The village was little and cute, but the food featured bratwurst, which we decided to forgo because that had been our primary staple (besides SlimFast and Gatorade) for the past few days.
The little Italian village was cute, but not nearly as cute as real Italy. The food was horribly overpriced, and there were no real attractions besides little shops, so on we moved again.
We decided to skip the USA area, since we do live there and had devoted our entire summer to giving ourselves an overview of its attractions. Plus we felt that we had already gotten enough of the patriotic stuff at the Hall of Presidents.
In Japan, we walked through an interesting exhibit called Diamond Warriors: Traditions and Japanese Baseball. Basically, it talked about how baseball is huge in Japan because the game reflects their social order. Interesting. Ben longingly eyed bonsai trees for a few minutes, and then we decided to try some Japanese food. Trying to be cost-conscious, we decided to purchase a dish that had a fancy name but was really just chicken and sauce on a stick. Ben stood in line to get the food while I sat out in the café garden by a reflecting pool. We were both pretty surprised when it came out with one pitiful little piece of chicken on one tiny skewer for us to split!
In Morocco, we wandered the marketplace and admired the quaint buildings, but we decided to forgo the guided tours of what basically amounted to art galleries. We also decided not to buy exorbitantly priced couscous because we had a box of our own in the car.
Next up was France, where we admired our second Eiffel Tower of the summer (the first one being in Vegas). We decided to skip real food because Ben wasn't really hungry, so we instead invested in a rewarmed crepe with something resembling watered down Hershey's syrup on it. Yuck. Nothing like the real thing.
Next stop, the United Kingdom. Ben spent a little bit of time examining teapots, trying to find a good Disney one for his grandmother, and I had fond memories of my trip through the small towns of southern England with Caroline Swanson. We split an order of fish and chips for lunch, drowning the fish in tartar sauce and the chips in vinegar. We ate while looking out over the World Showcase Lagoon, the huge lake that is the center of all of these countries and makes this portion of Epcot such a freaking long walk.
Our last country of the day was Canada, where we watched a 360 degree movie called O Canada! It certainly looked beautiful, if cold. Ben laughed at me when I told him that the ice and snow might deter me in our plans of moving to Canada to get away from the American mindset! [Note: This was 13 years ago. Sounds even better today, in light of the 2016 presidential election.]
Once we finished the countries, we were done with Epcot. We caught a monorail to the Magic Kingdom, where we managed to buy a Disney teapot for Ben's grandma, to be hidden safely away until Christmas. We caught the very end of the afternoon character parade, and Ben balanced precariously on a railing to take some pictures. We then decided to treat ourselves to huge ice cream cones from a shop in Main Street before locating a shop where I could buy a Peter Pan hat (which ended up looking pretty janky) [but I still own 13 years later] for my Halloween costume.
We then caught a busy to the Animal Kingdom, where we were determined to see at least a few attractions before they closed at 6:00. Ben really liked the Tree of Life, the symbol of this park which stands in the middle of the grounds and features carvings of all different kinds of animals, including a buffalo.
As we headed into the main park, a blond guy stopped us, attracted by Ben's Butler shirt. It turned out that he had attended Butler also, graduating the year between Ben and I, and that he had been in the same fraternity as and on the hockey team with Ben's freshman year roommate. Since Ben recognized him, we decided to count him as our second "encounter with someone we know" of the summer. None for over a month and then two in one day--unbelievable!
We managed to get in right before a showing of It's Tough to be a Bug! It featured the characters from "A Bug's Life," which I haven't seen but Ben was very excited about. The show was 3-D and very cute. Probably the scariest parts were when we got poked in the back by a sharp little spike in imitation of a bee sting and at the very end, when the announcer asked all humans to stay in their seats while the cockroaches, mosquitoes, etc., exited first. This meant nothing to us until these scary little bumps crawled across our seats under our butts, causing everyone to squeal in fear!
The only other attraction we had time for was the famous Kilimanjaro Safaris. We climbed into these huge all-terrain safari vehicles and drove through "Africa." The neat part was all the animals. It was like a zoo in the quantity of animals, but they were pretty much all just roaming free. I'm sure they must have had some system to keep, say, the cheetahs away from the small animals of prey, but I sure couldn't see what it was. There was a story that went along with it about trying to stop poachers from hurting the elephants, but I was really more interested in seeing the animals and listening to our tour guide talk about them as he maneuvered along muddy paths and through water puddles. No tracks on this ride!
The park was starting to close down by the time we got off the ride, so we began the long process of the bus back to the Magic Kingdom, the monorail back to Epcot, the long walk back to our car, and the drive back to our campsite. Once there, our main activity for the night was slowly packing all of our spread-out belongings back into the Jeep before settling down for a nice deep sleep.
18 / 40