Stalzer/Obele Family Blog

Archiv: Februar 2009

26.02.09 - Flying the DA42 – Twinstar

Today, it was my personal day of a treat. When we were still in Mallorca, I sent an eMail to Air Orlando to see if it was possible to rent an aircraft and go out flying a bit.  Air Orlando has the “normal” selection of Cessna’s and Piper’s and also some nice airplanes like a Cirrus SR22 and a Diamond DA42 Twinstar.

I was interested in the Twinstar as I never had the chance to fly one. So today at around 15:00, I went of with my licenses and headed to Orlando Executive airport.

On the way, I got some nice views of Orlando downtown.

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Chad was already waiting for me and after going over the airspace, the V-speeds, etc. we went to check out the airplane. After a thorough preflight and refueling, we started up the engines and went into the air.

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The DA42 is a really nice airplane. The engine has FADEC, so no prop and mixture controls. The airplane is made out of composites and fiberglass. The seats are roomy and comfortable. It has a glass cockpit with 2 big screens in front of the pilot and copilot and is just a new airplane.

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We took of and flew over Lake Apopka to do some maneuvers. We did some medium steep turns (15, 30 and 45 degrees). We did some slow flight and attempted some stalls. However, it is really difficult to stall the airplane. We only got into some buffeting and that was it. Stall recovery was no problem, you just advance the power, lower the nose and that’s it.

The G1000 instrumentation is really impressive.

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We flew to Leesburg (KLEE) to do some touch- and go’s. And after two rounds, we flew south, orienting ourselves at the HW27. Just before the crossing between the HW27 and the I4, we looked for the house in Plumoso Loop and we found it.

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On our way back, we crossed Disneyworld and had a good view of the theme parks below us

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So, thanks Chad, it was a really nice experience

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25.02.09 – Busch Gardens, Tampa

This year we decided to pay Busch Gardens a visit. Busch Gardens is an interesting amusement park – it features wild animals and really wild roller coasters.

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The drive from Orlando to Tampa is about one hour. When we arrived at the park there was already a lot going on.

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Busch Gardens has an impressive vegetation and awesome flowers (above are some pictures of beautiful orchids).

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Our first stop was at the alligator area.

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Then we went on to observe chimpanzees and gorillas. The animals have wonderful enclosures. The picture above on the left shows a Gorilla mother with her baby snuggled on her lap.

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On our way to Egypt Gabi could ride her first roller coaster. Unfortunately the boys did not meet the height requirements quite yet.

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While Gabi enjoyed herself rotating and twisting we visited a pyramid.

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On our way to the “Edge of Africa” the boys and Barbra Bear tried out a safari jeep. We saw a lazy lion and and a fast and elegant moving hippo (under water).

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Then we went on the Sky ride. It allows you to view a lot of the park from the air.

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Max was so excited he held his arms up during most of the ride.

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After that we visited the new tiger enclosure. Well, at that point we also would have liked to lie down and nap a bit in the warm sun.

When we looked at flyers from Busch Gardens the boys noticed that they had a new area called “Jungula” which features something like a glider flight.

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There was no holding them any longer when they found the signs leading to “Jungula”. After they were fitted into their gliders they roared through the air. When they came back the lady who helped them asked how they liked it and Max said: “It was totally awesome!”.

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The boys enjoyed themselves a bit more climbing high in the sky through tunnels.

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Then we encountered some imaginary, wonderful animals and listed to a band performing.

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Further we encountered many birds and even discovered a few hatching dragons.

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Then the boys drove a bit with Barbra Bear and Max enjoyed a dragon ride.

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Busch Gardens is an impressive wonderful park. We watched a nice animal show and went on to the Rhino Rally.

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The Rhino Rally combines a jeep safari and a boat ride.

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Then we caught the last “Serengeti Train”. It was a wonderful day that everyone fully enjoyed.

On the way out, we went another time on the Gwazi wooden roller coaster. The boys enjoyed another great ride, however we were still shaking from the bumpy ride on our way out.

23.02.09 – Disney Hollywood Studios

Today we – that is Felix & Max, Thomas and myself – decided to go to Hollywood Studios.

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The rest of the clan enjoyed a peaceful, quiet day. The boys (finally) were eager to join us in the Star Wars ride, a nice simulator experience.

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On the way in there are always funny characters performing a little act.

First we went on “The Great Movie Ride”. This ride goes through famous movies, such as gangster movies of the 1930s, Alien, westerns, Tarzan, and many more.

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After that we had to get on the “Star Tours Experience”. As serious SciFi fans we love this ride. The boys enjoyed it also and wanted to go right back.

We decided to first visit the 3D Muppet Show and then come back to see how long the wait would be. The way to the theater was filled with funny Muppet Movie announcements.

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We decided to first visit the 3D Muppet Show and then come back to see how long the wait would be. The way to the theater was filled with funny Muppet Movie announcements.

I think we have seen this show each time we visited Orlando but we still like it – 3D is great.

After a bit of walking around we went to the “Journey into Naranja”. So far we haven’t seen the movie. It seems to be really interesting (in the meantime we bought the DVD).

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After that we had to hurry to get to the “Lights, Motors, Action! Stunt Show” in time. There are only two shows during the day and although the stadium is big we were lucky to get some seats way up.

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Soon after we sat down the show started.

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Loud music, squeeking tires and gasoline – the boys loved it.

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The motorcycle that races through fire is always a highlight. They show later how many layers of protective clothing the rider is wearing so he does not burn.

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Then we did another round of the "Star Tours Experience”.

We called the rest of the clan to find out what their dinner plans were. They had none so we agreed to meet at “Chillies”.

While you wait for your food there is someone to make nice things out of balloons. Max was really proud of his read motorcycle.

Felix got a sword and should all of us his “I am a mean pirate” face.

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This was another super day. We have less than a week and time seems to really accelerate now. First you wait sooooo long until the holidays are there and then – whoosh – they fly by as fast as lightning.

20.02.09 – Animal Kingdom

Today the weather was somewhat strange. There was not a cloud in the sky but it was really cold (around 16 degrees Celsius).

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We decided to pay Magic Kingdom a visit. Barbra Bear was really excited to see some the animals.

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Our first stop was at a 3D movie theater where they showed “It’s tough to be a bug”. You get special glasses that will give you the impression that the movie characters are right in front of you. It sometimes seems as if you can touch them. This 3D movie actually also used your sense of smell and during parts of the movie it felt as if bugs and rodents were crawling under your seat. It is quite something if you can see, feel and smell your movie.

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After a short stop we went on to the dinosaur dig. While the boys tried to excavate a mammoth Barbra Bear enjoyed the warm Florida sunshine. Then we watched some lazy monkeys who were sunbathing in their tree.

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Our journey went on to a jungle. We learned about strange lizards, giant bats, tigers, and many colorful birds.

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Before we watched a bird show we learned that owls cannot smell. They actually eat skunks and can turn their heads 270 degrees.

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On our way to an African safari we passed an underwater hippo watch point. It is amazing how elegant these huge animals can float under water. Max was comparing the size of a hippo scull by holding Barbra next to it.

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Our last ride was an African safari. You actually board a huge safari jeep and drive through the African savannah. There were real trees brought from Africa. We saw more hippos and crocodiles.

By the time we finished the safari it was almost 5 pm. It got really cold and we were glad the park closed at five. Normally when we get back to the car we open the doors for a bit to allow it to cool down. Today we went right in to warm ourselves up.

It was a really impressive day that we all enjoyed very much. While I just type up this days events, the boys fight a fierce air hockey and kickers match in the games room.

21.02.09 – Epcot

Today we decided to go to Epcot. Roger and Kati wanted to go to the beach in Cocoa.

Epcot stands for: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. I love Epcot because there are so many things to learn and explore.

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We first went on the Spaceship Earth ride. This ride explains the advances in communication from prehistoric to the 21st century. I just read that the “ball” is a Pentakis dodecahedron it resembles a carbon atom.

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Then we went through the “Innoventions” pavilions which focus on technical advancements and their practical applications. We tried out a great driving game. Max and Gabi made first place while Thomas and Felix came in second.

This year we wanted to try out Soarin’. This ride gives you the impression as if you are hang-gliding through the skies of California. When we arrived close to 2:30 pm the stand-by waiting was 80 minutes. So we decided to get Fast Pass tickets. Well, we were lucky to get some of the last tickets. The park closes at 9 pm with a famous fireworks. Our Soarin’ fast pass tickets said we should be coming back between 8:15pm and 9:00 pm. At that point we weren’t sure whether we wanted to wait that long.

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As we were already in the building we went on the “Living with the Land” ride.

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This is a boat ride through a green house that focuses on new technologies to make agriculture more efficient and environmentally safe.

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So we went on to Nemo and Friends and watched “Turtle Talk with Crush”. The boys sat in front and Crush asked Max about his name and where he came from.

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Then we went on to observe the great fish tanks and also learned how divers enter the fish tanks.

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It was close to 5 pm when we got hungry. So we decided to use the boat to go over to Morocco, walk by Japan to go to the American A
dventure. This is part of the “World Showcase”. We got some coffee with muffins and chocolate chips and relaxed for a couple of minutes.

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On our way back we stopped in China to watch some very talented acrobats.

Then we went on the “Mission to Mars” (- we did the less thrilling ride without the spins). The boys enjoyed it so much that we did it another time while Gabi went on the Fast Track.

We went back to check the waiting time on Soarin’. It was around 7:30 pm. The waiting line was 80 Minutes.

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So we decided to eat dinner before our fast pass time at 8:15 pm.

Well at last it was time for Soarin’. This is quite an experience – it is super.

After we left that exciting ride it was close to the fire works at 9pm. The fire works is called “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” – it is super. The globe which plays an important part of this show is very impressive (see the linked WIKI article).

All in all – this was a very exciting wonderful day which we enjoyed very much.

19.02.09 – Dinner Feast

Today we just lounged around and did nothing. We watched some TV, read books, played air hockey, went shopping, …

But in the evening we rewarded ourselves to a magnificent dinner.

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During one of our shopping trips at Publix we noticed that they had Alaska King Crab Legs on sale. Since everybody in our family loves seafood – well, except Felix. He really hates it. Once he told his brother Max: “… see I told that you become as dumb as a post if you eat fish…”.

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The boys decided that they would like to eat a real American pizza. For Gabi, Kati and Roger we found some Boston clam chowder for an appetizer.

Then he enjoyed the crab legs with baked potatoes, sour cream and a tasty chardonnay. It was super delicious.

17.02.09 – Seaworld

After a hearty breakfast we set off to Seaworld.

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The weather was perfect – there was no cloud in the sky.

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We learned about manatees, observed crocodiles, and watched some shows.

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The most impressive show was “Believe”, the orca show.

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Well, we were not alone. The show is amazing. Its choreography is simply breath-taking.

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Seven huge killer whale who are world class performers.

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After the show we saw strange looking leafy seahorses, sharks, penguins, and many more.

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Then we had to go to “Kraken”. This is the second-tallest roller coaster in Florida. It has floorless seats, inversions and moments of weightlessness. Three time during the ride one is underground.

Felix and Max watch awestruck how their aunt went to go on the ride. While we waited they wondered if they would go on the ride once they fulfilled height requirements. So when Gabi came back in one piece and said it was great Felix and Max both decided that they would do it as soon as they had the correct height.

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After that we came by the “Journey to Atlantis”. This is a water ride with a nearly 60 feet plunge. Felix, Max, Thomas and Gabi decided to go on this ride. I still remembered the soaking from last year so I decided not to go.

Max and Gabi were OK, but Thomas and Felix got completely wet trousers.

At home the boys told us several times how deep the plunge was. It was a fun day and we had seen a lot.

16.02.09 – Slow Start

On Monday everyone slept in – even Felix slept super long. Then we carefully tested the pool temperature. It was perfect.

We decided to first jump into the pool and then have breakfast.

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I hadn’t finished this sentence when the boys ran to the toilet undressed and asked for their swimming trunks.

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Soon the whole family joint in. We had lots of fun. While we were in the pool we saw a sky writer plane. A smiley that was exactly how we felt.

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After taking a shower we were very hungry. Felix and Max were  especially hungry. After breakfast we decided to go to Disney Market Place.

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Max was allowed to pick something from the Lego store (his birthday was the week before). He decided on a beautiful airplane. Felix, although his birthday was in November, could also select a great Lego present.

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On the way home we went food shopping. Thomas got scampi and cooked them with a thyme-lemon marinade.

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Felix and Max wanted some grilled chicken and I finally got my favorite food – SUSHI. After dinner we sat a bit and discussed what to do on the next couple of days.

When we asked the boys what they wanted to do the next day they said: “We don’t care”. Then I said that we would go shopping the whole day so they quickly decided that they wanted to go to Seaworld.

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After yet another round of Playstation it was “beddy time” for the boys. They changed Barbra Bear into her pyjamas and soon the boys and the bear were sound asleep.

18.02.09 – Magic Kingdom

Today we decided to visit Magic Kingdom. After everyone got up we had to first jump into the pool and the Jacuzzi of course. Then a hearty breakfast was needed.

… finally at around noon we were ready to leave.

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The boys were excited and changed Barbra bear’s cloths at least three time. At the end they settled for the school uniform and insisted that they also would wear their school t-shirts.

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The boys still remembered the Disney Monorail which transports visitors from the parking lot to the park entrance.

Entering the Monorail station, we asked, if we could sit in the front cabin of the train. Of course, it was possible.

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Barbra got a chance to experience the whole journey in the best seat of the train.

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On the entrance of Magic Kingdom, bronze statues of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse are sitting on a bench. Of course Barbra had to inspect it all.

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Next stop on our tour was Adventureland. The first attraction is the Treehouse of the Swiss family Robinson. 

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Next was a ride with “Flying Carpets”. Barbra has never seen flying carpets and was really excited. At the beginning a camel was spitting water on the people and we all got a short hit by cold water.

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Then came a little scary part. We went to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” and in a small boat we were soon enclosed by firing canons, wild pirates and the search for “Captain Jack Sparrow”.

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Barbra was caught by some pirates and placed into prison but the boys freed her almost immediately. Other pirates were not so lucky…

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We then discovered “Tom Sawyer’s Island”. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn put all kinds of signs around the island. However, they could not have been students of The Academy as they would never have passed any spelling test.

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We explored all the dark caves on the island and Barbra was a really good guide. The caves are arranged like an underground labyrinth and it is not easy to find a way out. Luckily, we soon saw the sun shining into the cave and we immediately knew, where the exit was.

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“Thunder Mountain Railways” was finally repaired and we dared a ride. Barbra had concerns about her safety, so she preferred to stay with the grandparents outside the ride (along with our backpacks and other stuff).

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To get our heart rate (and adrenalin levels) down again, we went to the “Bear Jumbaroo” and watched singing and dancing bears. Barbra was really delighted as she also had a chance to stand on stage.

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Next we went into a 3D theater looking at a fun movie, where Donald screwed up the magic orchestra of Mickey. Barbra got her 3D glasses and fascinated by the show. Actually it was not only a 3D show but also had wind, smells and all kinds of sensory effects.

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An all time favorite ride of the boys is the “Goofy’s Barnstormer”. This is a rollercoaster and Barbra came with us!!

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Last ride for the day was the Gokart Testdrive. We got into our high-speed (at least according to the sound) Gokart and went on tour.

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On our way out, it was already getting dark. However, we had a couple of nice views at Cinderella’s castle and the lighting.

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We were all very tired and very hungry, so we decided to go out for some burgers. We all had some Cheeseburgers, Mushroom Burgers, Salads and finally we were all stuffed and ready to relax from a nice day.

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17.02.09 – Seaworld

After a hearty breakfast we set off to Seaworld.

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The weather was perfect – there was no cloud in the sky.

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We learned about manatees, observed crocodiles, and watched some shows.

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The most impressive show was “Believe”, the orca show.

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Well, we were not alone. The show is amazing. Its choreography is simply breath-taking.

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Seven huge killer whale who are world class performers.

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After the show we saw strange looking leafy seahorses, sharks, penguins, and many more.

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Then we had to go to “Kraken”. This is the second-tallest roller coaster in Florida. It has floorless seats, inversions and moments of weightlessness. Three time during the ride one is underground.

Felix and Max watch awestruck how their aunt went to go on the ride. While we waited they wondered if they would go on the ride once they fulfilled height requirements. So when Gabi came ba
ck in one piece and said it was great Felix and Max both decided that they would do it as soon as they had t
he correct height.

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After that we came by the “Journey to Atlantis”. This is a water ride with a nearly 60 feet plunge. Felix, Max, Thomas and Gabi decided to go on this ride. I still remembered the soaking from last year so I decided not to go.

Max and Gabi were OK, but Thomas and Felix got completely wet trousers.

At home the boys told us several times how deep the plunge was. It was a fun day and we had seen a lot.

15.02.09 – Our Arrival in Paradise

As Thomas wrote earlier we had a super nice flight. The boys were – as usual – super good on that long, long flight and we cleared customs in record time. A very big THANKS to Felix and Max – we are really proud of them.

Max was great when the immigration officer asked him how Max knew that is was his picture on his passport. Max thought about it and then said: “This is really easy – I am the only one with glasses, so it must be me”. If Barbra – the school bear – would have had a passport, the immigration officer would have given her a stamp as well. We have to ask the school, if they could provide something like a passport.

Then we cleared customs and went on to get our car. This time we have a really nice SUV. At first, Felix was a bit sad because the car had “only” five seats, but after Thomas demonstrated the acceleration Felix was all for it.

Roger & Kati und Gabi also got an SUV. We first decided that they would drive directly to the villa while we went shopping but as we still had lots of time before the stores closed we went to the house first.

It felt like “coming home” to us. As soon as we stopped the car in the driveway the boys woke up. It only took them a couple of seconds before the were wide awake again and very, very excited to get into the house.

Susan and Alan’s villa is super. Since last year a lot has changed.

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There was also a wonderful Valentine’s Welcome Package for us that had all the essential things we needed.

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Alan told Thomas already that there is a brand new high definition TV – this has super quality. Outside there is a new table and new chairs and many, many more new things.

While I started unpacking the boys ran through all rooms and were very impatiently awaiting the arrival of their grandparents and Gabi. Thank goodness they arrived really soon. It did not take long after the boys showed the whole beautiful house to Roger & Kati and Gabi that the first air hockey and kicker matches took place.

Thomas and I went shopping so we did not have to go in the morning. When we returned the Felix and Max beat Gabi and Kati in kickers. We had brought some blue corn chips and hot salsa as well as some bear and everybody loved it.

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At around 11 pm Felix and Max went to bed and by the time their head touched the pillow they were sound asleep. The rest of the family stayed up a little longer and when we all finally went to bed we were also asleep within seconds.

It feels great to be back here… and to have the whole family together with us.

15.02.2009 - 200 miles east of ST.John

We are on our trip to our well-earned vacation. And yes, we are going to Orlando again. The whole family (well most of it) is sitting in row 45-49 in an Airbus 340-600. The airplane is packed however the seats are o.k. and each seat has in-Seat Video entertainment, so the boys are o.k.

But let me talk about the past couple days.

Friday was just crazy. All in all, I was about 4:30 on the phone, because a lot of "urgent" matters had to be resolved (Yeah- right). And furthermore, the guys from the building company which were working on our terrace were about to finish their work. We would pay them once everything is done and as they didn’t want to wait for their money until march, they came with 6 people working like crazy. So I had the whole day people walking through the office with material, tools, dirty boots and me talking on the phone in-between. Helga was constantly asking me - "Did you install this, did you install that?? Our versions working? What about the backup". So, all in all, I am in need of vacation right now !!!

On the last finishing touches of the terrace, the builders discovered, that the tube to get the rain water out of our terrace just broke in our cellar. We inspected the whole thing and yes - it was broken. We can’t leave it this way, as rain showers are forecasted for the next couple days in Mallorca.

The boss of the company, David, promised me - "I’ll come Saturday in the morning - it is easy to fix - Don’t worry" (Yeah right). He actually came on Saturday at around 12:00. He knew, we had to leave at 13:30 the latest. As always, these kind of last-minute repairs always screw up your whole schedule. When I just hear - "This is really simple, just takes a couple of minutes" - Well, I tell you, they are usually not.

The tubes are 30 years old and brittle. So when he tried to detach the broken piece, more or less all of it just broke. We ended up in opening up the wall, cutting away old tubes. Just then we discovered, that he needed more parts. David raced of to get the parts and I continued preparing my stuff ( I am definitely in need of vacation now) David came back and we cut the tubes to the required lengths. David started to glue the tubes together and…. he glued the wrong ones… So he needed to get some more new parts….

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Finally, we were finished at around 13:20. I changed into my (by Helga prepared - thanks) Travelclothes and off we went. Wolfgang was driving us to the airport.

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The flight to Frankfurt was uneventful - you can tell, that our boys are experienced travelers.

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We had a reservation at the Sheraton at the Frankfurt airport (Family Suite) and we really started to relax. For me leaving the house and going to the airport is already the start of the vacation. But then - sitting in the Sheraton club lounge, sipping a beer, that is really a good start.

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We did some shopping at the airport, the boys got their "Lufthansa Jetfriends" Lanyard and we got some Mexican food (Same Procedure as last year). We took the Skytrain to go around the airport and just had a good time. We had a final drink in the Sheraton lounge and went to bed early (Did I mention, that Domingo was over on Thursday evening and we had one or two Brandys (I can’t remember..))

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Today in the morning we got up, had a super breakfast in the Lounge, relaxed a little bit and then went to drop off our luggage. My parents and Gaby flew up from Stuttgart this morning and we met at the Lufthansa Gate in Terminal C. Maxi showed off his missing two teeth in his lower jaw to the grandparents. He is also missing his top teeth as they had to be pulled as they weren’t good at all. So he started in showing off with - “I can push out my tongue without opening my mouth”.

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It didn’t take long and the airplane left on time - well almost, as a little girl slipped on the entry and broke her arm… We weren’t really seated in the airplane and a call was made by the flight attendants "Is there a doctor on board". Gaby is an emergency doctor additional to her "normal" job, so she went and had a look.

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The boys really liked the airplane as each seat has a little video in front of it. They have almost no time to play "normal" things with their grandparents or each other.

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So - we have another 4 hours to go, another 1700 miles (3085km) to fly and we are almost entering American airspace now. Helga has filled out all the green and white forms for the entry (in addition to the online registration and the extra online registration with Lufthansa and the additional registration at the baggage drop off).

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We are trying to convince the boys to relax and sleep a little, but I think it is just a nice try….

13.02.2009 - Finally T minus 1 Day

Tomorrow is the day! I think I should be panic-stricken but at the moment everything feels normal (maybe I just don’t realize it yet). Well at the moment there is heavy working on the terrace in front of our office. They are finishing (hopefully) everything today - which means that they will be carrying tons of dirt through our office and downstairs.

I am in the processing of trying to think about everything we will need during our vacation time. I even have started to pack a bit.

Felix and Max were over-excited this morning. Felix was unable to sit still. He is so excited to go on holidays with his grandparents and Gabi. I guess Max was not awake enough yet to join in.

The boys will celebrate carnival at school today which means they will eat lots of sugar and other stuff so they can be bouncing off walls by the evening.

Our cat “Krümmel” seems to realize that something is going on. She is very, very affectionate right now. Big, big thanks to Wolfgang who will make sure she is not alone and gets plenty of food, play and tender loving care - THANK YOU.

The other day Thomas talked with Alan, the owner of this beautiful villa were we stay in Orlando (http://www.floridavillas360.com/). Alan was still at the villa and said that they have improved a lot in the house. We are so excited - last year we had such a wonderful time.

Well, I guess I should get started now. Calvin (from the cartoon “Calvin & Hobbs) uses to say: “I am waiting for the right kind of inspiration…” this is equivalent to “last minute panic”.

Urlaubshaarschnitt

Es geht in Riesenschritten Richtung Urlaub. Gestern haben wir uns noch den Urlaubshaarschnitt gegönnt.

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Maxi’s 2. Zahn

Als die Jungs heute von der Schule kamen wurde ich sofort gerufen: “Papa, komm schnell, dass musst Du Dir ansehen”.

Sofort ging ich nach unten und Max zeigte mir seinen 2. Zahn, der ihm im Unterkiefer fehlte. Der Zahn war schon ein paar Tage locker, aber heute fiel er dann endgültig heraus.

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