Stalzer/Obele Family Blog

Archiv: Februar 2008

Lego Mindstorms II

Yesterday, I built the Lego Mindstorms Humanoid robot. I really like the Lego stuff. Just the right thing for kids (whatever age…).

The robots are really intuitive to program and I am really having fun…

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I got the robot to talk, to sleep, to walk, to dance, to search and … and… and…

Unfortunately, I have to disassemble it again to pack it into the suitcase for the flight back tomorrow.

17.02.2008 - Disney MGM

After getting up today in the morning, we went first for a swim in the pool. The boys got the water pistols and commenced the pirate fight from yesterday. Then, we had some breakfast - we have to eat all the things we still got in the fridge and then we went to the Disney MGM studios.

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Apparently, a lot of other people had the same idea. The driver of the "Disney Courtesy train" mentioned, that their were about 8000 cars in the parking lot. 8000 cars means around 25000 people (assuming 3-4 people per car), so that means - quite a lot.

We started of with the "Indiana Jones Stunt show". We had to wait for more than half an hour and still only got places at the far right corner. I really like the show. The have a lot of pyro-, fighting-, falling- and other stunts.

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Then, we wanted to go to the "Star Traders" (a flight simulator with a "Star Wars" theme). However, the waiting line was about 50 minutes.

We wanted to go to the "3D Muppets show" - however the waiting line was also 50 minutes. We continued on to another stunt show. The waiting line was also more than 30 minutes. Having had enough with people, we decided to just go back home. On the way back, the waiting line for the Muppets show was down to 15 minutes, so we decided to have a look.

After that, we just joined the crowd of disorganized people and tried to leave the park. After another half hour, we were back in the parking lot and headed home.

We made a stop at the  "Cracker Barrel Old Country Store" - we had to get a present for aunt Renate (Helga’s sister).

After getting home, we had some straw- and blue berries with some cream - delicious.

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Helga and I had to get some work done and then we started to organize the packing for tomorrow (Snief - snief). We got some pizza for dinner and now, we are watching "Closed circuit" ("Nummer 5 lebt"). We are going to bed early tonight in preparation for our trip back tomorrow.

16.02.2008 - Time seems to accelerate…

Today we spent a quiet day at home and had lots of fun.

The weather was - as always - perfect and we decided to stay at home. In the morning we, that means the boys, finished their homework. As a treat and because it was quite hot outside we went into the pool.

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First the guys played pirates (the inflatable air mattress was the pirate ship), then they were attacked by a dangerous blue whale and at last there was an incredible water gunfight going on (Max had the pump gun and used it very well). A big thanks to Susan and Allen (the owners of this gorgeous villa) and former visitors for the great toys.

Then we went shopping. This time the guys were excited as we tried to get a ball and a frisbee.

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Calabay Park has a nice playground for children and we wanted to spend some time there. Yes - we really walked there (it is only a couple streets from Plumoso Loop) - walking pedestrians are almost extinct.

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The boys found the swings right away and played that they were flying off into space.

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Then we played something like volleyball and Max tried out the slides.

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And soon Thomas could not resist - he had to try it too.

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Felix found a huge ant-hill. It took us quite some time to convince the guys to go back to the villa. For dinner we wanted to order pizza from Dominos and while we waited Thomas finished his version of "Closed Circuit" (in German the move is "Nummer Fünf lebt").

As we went through another day it seems as if time is accelerating right now. Only two more days. Monday evening we are on our long way back to Germany. It for sure was a wonderful time.

15.02.2008 - Palma Feeling in Orlando

Around midday today, our Internet connection suddenly failed to work. Just timeout errors and no ping got through. I checked the "Kischdle" (German dialect for "small box") and saw, that the cable LED was off.

At about the same time, the boys came shouting - "There is no picture in the TV…". I tried resetting everything, but no luck. - This all seems so familiar with the Internet connection in Palma.

So, I called the the management company and their comment was like … "You too????, We already had a couple of complaints as the gardening company cut through the cables. We’ll make a few calls and have it fixed". However, The difference to Palma is, they got it fixed in a matter of hours and not days.

15.02.2008 - Another great day gone by…

This morning we decided to take it easy. Thomas and I were up late last night to finish some work and we were glad we did not have to get up early. After everybody got up (of course Felix rose early) we checked the pool temperature - just perfect. This meant that we had to get into the pool.

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While the fresh croissants and huge cinnamon rolls baked in the oven we jumped in the pool and had lots of fun. No - Thomas is not drinking a beer, he enjoys his hazelnut coffee in the Jacuzzi.

After the fun in the pool and breakfast the boys had some homework to finish. Then we decided to go to Disney Marketplace and rent a boat.

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We got life jackets and after boarding our boat (?? what do you say when you enter a boat ??) skipper Thomas maneuvered us out the the port. Sorry, there was no waterkiing…

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The boys could not wait - they also had to try to steer  - this was fun.

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I enjoyed the sun and my three skippers did the rest.

After we got back from the lake we walked around in Disney Marketplace and then went home. On the way home we had to stop at the "Cracker Barrel Old Country Store". This is a fun store. Without my two "patient shoppers" I could have spent quite some time there. I will have to go back - they have the perfect gift for my sister Renate (sorry can’t say because she reads the blog too).

When we got home, we had to decide what to do for dinner. The boys did not want to go shopping (… too boring…). So todays options for dinner were Japanese Hibachi style restaurant or Black Angus.

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As you can see, we decided to eat steak. This was a dinner which grandma Kati would have really liked. The steaks at Black Angus were terrific.

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Now we are full and tired but very happy and grateful that we were able to enjoy another wonderful day together.

Dinner for 4 - Part II

Today was another special (are there any non-special dinner at our house??) dinner night. We all got different things again. Coming back from the airplane museum and the biplane ride, we stopped at the local Publix to get some food.

They had really (and I mean really) large shrimp on display (6..8 to a pound - we got 10, so it was a little more than a pound).

I marinated the shrimp in lemon, thyme, olive oil and garlic. Then I prepared some Spaghetti Carbonara for the boys, made a nice Sushi plate for Helga and then fired up a pan to roast the shrimp. First on the shell and then on the meat side. I added the rest of the marinate and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. To be on the safe side with the vitamins, I also prepared a nice biiiiig salad.

Just to make it short - it was delicious !!

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The shrimp were tender and had a great taste. The boys enjoyed the spaghetti and Helga the Sushi - What a life….

Fantasy of Flight and …. BIPLANE RIDE

We had a "slow" Start this morning - everyone took their time to get going. After it being rather late, we decided not go to Silversprings and not go to one of the theme parks.

However, browsing through some local magazines, we found an advertisement (and a 3 US$ Coupon) for "Fantasy of flight". This is a museum about old and new airplanes - Just the wright  - sorry right- thing to do for the already advanced day.

After a short ride (3-lane US Highway, Country Music in the radio - what a life), we arrived at the exhibit. The entrance was clearly marked with a "Super Constellation" ("Super Conny") - one of the prettiest airplanes in my opinion.

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First they had a presentation about early flight and some "glorification" about WW I and WW II (not really my kind of thing). Thereafter, airplanes were shown in two hangars in "better-than-new" shape. No corrosion, perfect paint - just magnificent airplanes. Most of the planes are in airworthy condition.

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The boys really liked the cockpit mock-ups of jets and other airplanes.

But - look for yourself. Here are some pictures.

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At 1:30 - a "Fieseler Storch" was taken out of the hangar. This was an old liaison airplane used in WWII by Germany (Yeah, yeah, I know what I said about war glorification before…) and they fired up the engine and did a presentation of the capabilities. The airplane has a 238 BHp engine and it can take of in 100ft. or less.

The pilot did some "high-speed" passes at about 90 knots and some "slow-speed" passes at about 40 knots. With the 10knot headwind, this was more like 30 knots.

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The boys found the kids corner on the inside of the hangar and spent some time building paper airplanes, fly a hangglider simulator (Felix loved it - he flew at least 30 times - I had to try it too…),  a balloon simulator and lot of experiments.

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On the outside, biplane rides were offered. There were two type of rides available. First, one could fly in a Boeing Stearman - one Pax or a Standard D-25 with 4 seats. As we are 4 people, the Standard would be the airplane of choice. Have a look at the website of the owners http://www.waldowrights.com/

However, at first, Felix wasn’t too convinced he wanted to go and then Max got second thoughts. We went to have a look at the Standard D-25 and immediately the pilot and his girlfriend (wife??) Gill(?) got to talk with the boys, showing them headsets, showing them old pictures, telling them interesting things about the aircraft, agreeing on handsignals, if something is wrong and.. and… and… They were doing a really good job with the boys and Felix eventually decided to come along on the flight. Max however, had made up his mind, that he didn’t want to go.

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Helga went with Max on a tram ride around the airfield and looked at all the old aircraft in all the other hangars, heard interesting things about aircraft restoration.

Felix and I waited for our turn in the D-25. We got pilot jackets, leather helmets and a scarf. Eventually the airplane returned with the previous customers. We took some photos and buckled up in the airplane.

Starting a radial engine is always a nice and noisy experience - no different in the D-25. a loud "Clear" - engaging the starter - three or four blades passed - ignition on and the engine came to live. We taxied to the grass strip and then full-power and off we went.

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After leaving the pattern we did some shallow turns, some steep turns, some lazy-8’s and some low flight over the lakes. We looked out for alligators and I think we saw some.

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Then we went back to the airfield, made a pass to check the wind and landed.

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Taxiing back from the runway, we saw Max and Helga coming back from the tram ride.

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We unbuckled, got out of the airplane, returned the jackets and said "Bye-bye" to the airplane, the pilot and Gill.

We had to stop for another ride in the hangglider simulator and thereafter we got to the parking lot and drove back to Orlando.

Lego Mindstorms NXT Robots

Birthday came early for me this year. After Helga saw my big, shiny eyes studying the Lego Mindstorms Box at the Lego store, she decided, that this was the perfect birthday present for me this year(Well, a little bit early, but… ). She even allowed me and the boys to play with it before my birthday in April.

So, the past few days, the boys and I have built a couple of the robots and programmed them.

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The system is really cool - I like it a lot. The whole concept makes a very thought-through impression. Once we are back in Palma, I am going to integrate it into the VASERControl system. It is going to be cool, to control the robots from the light-switches…

Getting up the Bluetooth connection was a bit of a hassle, as the default drivers of my Dell 9300 didn’t work, but after reinstalling, upgrading, reconfiguring, we finally got it all working.

We got a short Video on the Mindstorms Scorpion Robot - Have a look at a Video in german and another in english.

13.02.2008 - Interesting Day at Epcot

After a quiet day yesterday with lots of homework, puzzling, computer work and doing nothing, we decided that we wanted to visit Epcot today.

When we got up in the morning the weather did not look too promising.

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After a while it started raining really hard. So we played some Air Hockey and then Max did some more homework while Felix played Pool with Dad.

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At around 11 am the  weather looked a lot better so we decided to give Epcot a try. I love Epcot because there are so many things to explore and discover.

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First we stopped at Nemo and friends. The first ride "Finding Nemo" was a smooth ride which basically tells the Nemo story.

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Then we had to go to the boys all time favorite "Turtle Talk with Crush". This is a super show where Crush the turtle talks with the audience, especially the "Little Dudes". During this show a little boy asked Crush: "Are you a real turtle?" It is made so real that you could easily forget that this is "only" an animated figure.

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Then we walked through the huge aquarium at Epcot with sharks, dolphins, and even a huge sea turtle.

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Felix and Max were all excited to explore the different sea creatures. According to them we could have stayed in this part of the park for the entire day.

Then we went around the world; i.e. the "World Showcase". It contains pavilions representing eleven countries.

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So we went through a pyramid in Mexico directly to Norway.

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The the weather got quite windy and even a few raindrops fell from the sky so we decided to quickly continue our tour around the world without too many stops. To the boys disappointment the outside model railway was currently renovated and could not be seen.

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We stopped somewhere near England for two large Lattes and some pastries. The weather did not look much better but at least it did not rain.

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To be able to talk more about racing with Wolfgang we had to go on the Test Track. The waiting area is very interesting. There are so many things to observe while you wait. The test drive was great. Although Max was not so sure he would like it, after the ride he was thrilled (and very high on adrenalin).

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After the Test Drive you exited into a car exhibition with many great cars (toys for the big boys).

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The boys entered every car and tested how you sat in it. Max even tried the driver seat.

Then we tried to get on Mission Space (a simulated space mission) but last minute panic prevented our space flight (Maxi suddenly needed to go to the restroom; Felix and Dad wanted to continue, but Felix decided to stay on earth at the last moment) - well maybe some other time. In a couple of years we probably don’t get them out of scary roller coasters and other fast scary things… :-).

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On the way out we saw some interesting floor lighting (it seemed they used fiberglass to produce a sparkling effect on the floor tiles).

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The guys worked up quite some appetite and did not seem have the patience to endure shopping and later cooking so we went to Dennys on the way home. We all had Cheeseburgers and Max enjoyed each and every piece of his french fries.

This was an interesting day that we enjoyed very much despite the windy, cool weather.

12.02.2008 - Maxis Birthday Report

On February 6, 2008 was my birthday. I turned 5 years old. This was very exiting.

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When I woke up and wanted to go downstairs, the was a Happy Birthday banner outside of our bedroom. When I got downstairs there were balloons everywhere.

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A short while after I was up Dad joint us. He had promised to help me build the Lego race car. This was quite some work but we did it. I have a great fast race car that can catapult through a turning ring of fire (of course there is no fire, but it looks almost real).

As this was my birthday I could decide what we should do. First I wanted to go into the pool. This was wonderful. Then we had breakfast.

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I decided that we should go to Magic Kingdom. I still remembered that there was a roller coaster (Goofys barnstomer) which we were allowed to use (all the really big, scary roller coasters have height restrictions that Felix and I do not meet).

It was a terrific day at Disney. A lot of people wished me a Happy Birthday. They knew this, because I had a big birthday button on my t-shirt.

At home waited a real surprise for all of us. There was a big birthday cake on the living room table with a nice birthday card. Mom told me that this was from Susan and Alan, the owners of this beautiful house.

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Thank you very much, Susan and Alan, this was a super surprise. I also love the card it was from Woody, a character of my favorite movie "Toy Story". The cake was delicious.

This was a super birthday, but I was a little bit sad, that my grandma and grandpa and my aunt Gabi und aunt Renate could not be with us.

12.02.2008 - Felix Vacation Report I

After being here more than a week, my Mom finally made us sit down and tell something about our vacation and all the exciting things we discovered.

The flight to Orlando was very, very long. After a while it go quite boring. We played games, watched movies, drew some pictures, had lunch and dinner and still the flight was not over. Our dad told use that the flight was 10 hours and 30 minutes.

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We (Max and Felix) did not sleep on the plane. So after the flight when we had to wait in line to go through immigration we were very tired. Max could hardly stand. After the long wait and the even longer wait to finally get our suitcases, we woke up again when we went to get the rental car. The car is a white huge Ford Explorer. We liked it the moment we saw it.

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On the drive to the house that we rented we fell asleep right away. Mom and Dad had to wake us up when we arrived at the house. The house is big it has 5 bedrooms. We picked a room upstairs with American Football and Basketball covers on the bed.

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Then we checked out the garage - yes there was an Air Hockey table. We ran through the house and looked at every room, but soon we got so tired that we wanted to go to bed. It felt really good to lay down.

The next day was great. After waking up we went straight into the pool and had a great time.

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Boy, were we hungry. After the breakfast we drew some pictures while Mom and Dad had some work to do.

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We decided to go to Disney Marketplace to visit the Logo shop. Maxis birthday was on the Februrary 6, so he could pick out something nice. Max decided on a Lego Race car set. I picked out a rescue helicopter.

After we finally got home (Mom and Dad had to stop and do some shopping at the supermarket) we could play with our Legos.

Tomorrow was Maxis Birthday and we wanted to go to Disney.

11.02.2008 - Excursion to Gatorland

Today we decided to visit Gatorland. It is a nice park which really has quite some areas to walk. After breakfast we prepared everything; i.e. lots of Gatorade, small water bottles, and, and, and even more…

During that time Felix and Max watched some cartoons. When it was time to get dressed both of them did not want to go. Felix was a little tired (he got up early) and wanted to stay home and do nothing. This was soon forgotten and finally we were on our way… 

When we arrived at Gatorland - it looked closed. There was construction work going on and we thought "oh no…", but a little bit to the side stood a small sign that said "Entrance". The parking lot was almost empty (compared to the giant parking spaces in Disney).

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There was a temporary entrance  without any lines (… this was heaven - finally some place that was not so packed!!). When Max saw the picture on the wall he got the idea to pose as if he was holding that big parrot.

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Felix immediately caught on and decided to pose as if he was petting an alligator.

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It was unbelievable - no large crowds - simply wonderful for a change. Our two wildlife explorers had plenty of opportunities to get close to all kinds of animals.

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Well, we did not get too close to Chester the "Big Dog Eater". This guy Chester is quite huge.

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Then we passed a display of Florida snakes. Felix and Max very excited and could even name some of them.

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I prefer the parrots to the snakes or the many fish.

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Then we watched "Gator Jumparoo". This was a funny show with a show host and two "Hillbilly" guys. One guy always talked about his "uncle daddy".

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After you see this you do not lean over the fences any more - very scary.

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Then some more "nice" friendly animals.

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We also found a playground with slides which the boys had to test immediately before we went exploring.

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The signs were not very reassuring.

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We had a great time - so many things to discover. It is a nice area with many animals…

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… and of course even more gators.

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There is an observation tower which allowed us to get a perfect view of the wild life in and around the lake.

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Plenty of all kinds of birds and even big turtle.

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Wonderful and peaceful.

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After our walk through that wonderful exploration trail we decided to ride the train around the premises.

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The train is really slow and allows passengers to enjoy the surrounding.

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Then we went to a "Up Close Encounters" show.

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There were scorpions, snakes, and other creepy, crawly things - thank goodness they did not pick us to help.

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Some more walking and of course another round through the playground before we started for the exit.

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After exiting the park we drove over to a Target Super store. Felix and Max finally got their sandals and we stocked up on toothpaste (I love Arms&Hammer), hazelnut coffee and many other things. We stopped again at Publix to get food for the hungry explorers (guess what I got).

We needed a quick fruit snack before we enjoyed the pool. But after that we worked up quite some appetite.

This was a wonderful day with excellent weather (sunny, dry with a nice breeze).

10.02.2008 - Animal Kingdom II

After yesterdays short visit, we spent almost 7 hours in Animal Kingdom today.

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After entering the park, we were greeted by some animals. The boys immediately found the squirrels.

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We started our visit the other way around as yesterday. First we went to the African part. On the way to the train to the "Research Center", we passed by some amazing acrobats.

 

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The train ride is about 5 minutes

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We walked through the research center and watched an operation on a turtle, got some information about reptiles and then attended a presentation about turtles. The boys had to the possibility to touch a 70 year old turtle.

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On the way out, we got some nice inspirations for our garden.

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The next attraction was going through a jungle trail. A highlight was the termite hill at the entrance.

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There was a lot to discover

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On the way to the Asia area, we passed some drums. Of course, we had to try them out.

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The trails had some impressive bamboo…

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Helga also made some pictures of the "Kali River Rapids" Ride - The ride, that got us soaked yesterday

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The next exhibition, we visited, was the "Maharajah Jungle trail". We saw Comodo dragons, giant bats and other strange animals

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We continued on to the "Dinoland". On the way is the "Everest" Rollercoaster. Unfortunately, the waiting time was 80 minutes.

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We went on the Triceratops spin (wait was &quot
;only" 20 minutes) and then we were in the Dino playground. The boys were sliding and then back in the dig site, where a mammoth is buried.

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Of course, I couldn’t resist the sliding either…

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Next, we wanted to go to the "It’s tough to be a bug" show. However, a parade was going on right at the time and so, there was no chance to get to the show.

 

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We continued on to the "Lion king show" - one of my favorites. It is a very nice musical show with lot’s of acrobats

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After the show, we left the park, got some Mexican food at "Taco Bell" and went how to have dinner and relax.

Dinner for 4

Today, we had 4 different meals for 4 people. We went to the Publix and Max wanted to have some fried chicken, Felix settled for some frozen lasagne, Helga wanted Sushi and I couldn’t resist the giant shrimp.

So we got home, put the Lasagne in the Mircowave, chopped up some garlic and mixed it with thyme and lemon, fired up a pan and roasted the shrimp, Helga prepared her Sushi. I mixed up some salad

We also got some Margarita Mix and Tequila as a drink to accompany the dinner. So - see for yourself, we really enjoyed it.

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Max and Felix got some bubble bath in form of an oil can with motives from cars. So the boys had a bath and then went off to bed.

09.02.2008 - Animal Kingdom

Today, we went to the Animal Kingdom. And, I admit it, we didn’t forget the camera. However, we (I) forgot to put the memory card back in - So, no photos.

After going to the Dinoland and climbing up and down in the playground, going down some slides, we went over to Asia Area. It is quite interesting to see the changes in the boys. Two years ago - the climbing area was a no-go. Last year the less spectacular slides were o.k. - today was no stopping. Higher / steeper / faster - the better. Only on the highest slide did the boys decide on not going.

In the Disney Tourguide, Saturday was a recommended day for the Animal Kingdom. Apparently, a lot of people read that review. Animal Kingdom was packed. All the rides had wait time of 40 minutes and more.

Arriving in the Asia area,  we were thinking about taking the Everest ride. However, waiting time was 90 minutes. We finally settling in the ??? rapids ride, which is a boat ride down a rapid river. We got our raincoats out and took that ride - We had lots of fun. The boys enjoined it. However, I was apparently the only one, who got the raincoat on correctly as the other ones were just soaked. Helga complained, that the water entered at the neck and came out of the trousers.

As it wasn’t really a sunny day, we decided to go home, change clothes and maybe come back later.

We went home and made some cherry pie (one of my favorites) and had some hazelnut coffee.

In the end, we stayed home, played some games and just had some relaxing fun.

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