Friday, June 23, 2017

DAY SEVENTEEN-Hollywood Studios

Hollywood studios was delightfully laid back and we didn't wait in many long lines here either.

First up was the Tower of Terror. Lucas and grandpa stayed firmly on the ground for this ride. I think Luke would have made it, but I'm not sure we would ever have gotten him on another elevator, so it was probably a good idea for him to watch. Until we got on the ride I had Marcus convinced that the hotel used to be real. Not my finest parenting moment. Consequently, he kept his eyes closed the whole time.

When we came down from the Tower of Terror, Jason bought all the boys donuts the size of their heads. We later found out that grandpa had already bought Lucas a donut the size of his head. Still, he managed to cram the second donut down his yell whole with little effort.

We also enjoyed the Star Wars simulated flight where, during one ride, Jason was the fugitive on board. They put up a picture of him right in the middle of a yawn. It was hilarious. My dad stage whispered, "it looks like he escaped from an insane asylum." He was pretty pleased with himself.

Did I mention it rained almost the whole day? It did. But Hollywood Studios is compact enough that we ran into very few issues with the rain. We just dashed from one thing to the other. The only thing the ran really put a damper on was the live Indiana Jones stunt spectacular. They were unable to perform the airplane scences, but the kids didn't know that, so they had a great time. They all agreed that the stunts looked more polished than the fighting at Mideval Times. Yep.

The Aerosmith Rocking Rollercoaster was probably one of our favorites. Well, at least for my mom, Marcus, and me. We went on it three times. My mom and I live a good coaster. We generally just laugh hysterically for the entire ride. When you go as a single rider and have to go with a stranger, this can be awkward, but whatever, I warned my strangers.

One under the radar ride is Buzzlightyear's Shooting Gallery. That ride was awesome!! We did have to wait a bit for this one and my dad nearly lost it several times, but somehow we kept him from going full honey badger and the ride was totally worth it.

At one point in the day, we were walking down the street and a white, old timey, open top car with three women dressed to the nines in fifties gear were mocking guests and singing. We stopped briefly as the ladies were arguing about whether or not they should sing a song and my father shouts, "I think you should sing it!" So then one of the ladies says she'll sing it just for my dad. After a few minutes she gets out of the car and snuggles up to my furry father. He truly looks like a mountain man. The other ladies try to get her back into the car but she refuses. That is until one of them yells in a snotty southern accent, "He's wearing socks with sandals! You really know how to pick them!" The snuggler's eyes slowly and dramatically shift to my dad's feet and then she gasps. Up to this point I hadn't noticed my dad's white ankle socks and sandals, although I wasn't surprised as this dreamy combo had been a part of his summer ensemble since at least the nineties. The crowd was roaring and my dad was not the least bit phased. Magical!

That evening we hugged my parents goodbye as we hit a few more rides. My father made a wise choice by sitting out the Magic kingdom the following day, instead flying home (Almost. They slept in the Minneapolis airport then drove home with some fellow Aberdonians.)

We caught a few glimpses of the Star Wars fireworks and then went back to the camper to sleep like dead horses.



This was my fourth trip to DisneyWorld. However, all were twenty or more years ago. In fact, twenty years ago exactly, Jason and I were at Disney with my grandma. We even recreated a picture, which I noticed Jason didn't post. Hmph.

Anyway, once again my parents joined us. Once again, it rained. Thankfully Jason had his enormous pack filled with all the things, including rain gear. While the bag did present some trouble when entering the park during the bag inspection, it was well worth it to have anything we needed on Jason's back.

The park wasn't very busy and since we weren't interested in Frozen Ever After, we didn't wait in any long lines. I think we unanimously decided that Soarin' was our favorite ride. I would have just circled around and around if I could have. Everybody else also really liked Test Track. Me, not so much. At one point, Lucas, Marcus, my mom, and I got our faces painted. Lucas was particularly careful with his Mike Tyson-esque dragon face paint and went to great lengths to protect its awesomeness. Marcus, not so much. He smudged it immediately.

The face painting was a major highlight for my mom and me, since we could never afford that type of thing when I was little. But then, for the rest of the day, Jason had to look away from me to talk, otherwise he just laughed. I told him that I had had a lot of compliments from strangers. I left out the part that they were mostly moms asking where I got painted so their early elementary daughters could also look like fairy princesses. There was one elderly grounds keeper who told me, "your face is so beautiful! You should get a picture of it and hang it in your house." I have no idea if he was mocking me, but I took it as a genuine compliment.

A few months back, I had reservations to eat in France, even though Jason objected several times on the grounds that he did not want to eat snails. I was very excited because I could eat the bread. However, I couldn't eat much else. I ended up with half a chicken, unseasoned, and some other unmemorable sides that were also unseasoned. DAMN YOU SOY!

( I must say, that while my food choices were incredibly limited in all the parks, the staff was amazing to work with when it came to all my allergies. They were understanding, patient, and meticulous while helping me to pick my meal choices.)

My parents left early and the Munschs rode Soarin' one last time before rushing to the lake for fireworks.

We were exhausted, and by the time we got back to the camper Marcus' cute little bear face paint had transformed into a brown and orange smeared nightmare. I begrudgingly removed my face paint and we all slept like dead horses.

Monday, June 19, 2017


Day fourteen.
We drove one million miles for 10,000 hours from rainy Myrtle Beach to rainy Orlando.

Day fifteen.
My mom and dad flew in for site seeing!! We picked them up from their hotel and headed to Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. Unsurprisingly, it rained most of the day.

Anyway, shortly after arriving, we listened to a guided tour of some rockets. Our tour guide asked where we were from and we responded South Dakota. He then asked a couple of other groups and another couple said South Dakota. What? The tour guide said, "oh, I didn't realize you were all part of the same group." Yeah, we werent. Turns out they were from Yankton. Ocassionally we'd bump into them and my dad would make some amazing dad joke about being from South Dakota. He claims he hates people, but talking to strangers seems to be one of his favorite past times.

By this time we were about an hour in and it was HOT! We stopped at a concession stand and everyone ordered soda or water. Except my mother, who ordered the ever refreshing milk. Never in my life have I been sumprely overheated and thought, "gee. I think I'd like some milk to cool down." What a weirdo.

Next, on the recommendation of the tour guide, we took the bus tour. There was a lot of talking, but it was never very clear what exactly was being discussed as the guide kept using acronyms and NASA jargon. Unfortunately we didn't study for the tour and were left looking around to speculate about to what NRSPT referred.

After the bus tour, we were dropped off at a large building which held several exhibits. Right away my dad found a man giving a tour and we followed him as he explained each exhibit we would see. The guide happened to be in a motorized wheelchair and asked that we watch out for people walking behind him as he wheeled backward through the caverness  building. Marcus took this job very seriously and walked approximately eight inches from the guide. At times I wondered if he was going to crawl into the mans lap.

The quality of the content put out by NASA was amazing. We all learned a lot and we didn't leave until closing. My mom commented, "I really didn't think we would be here all day." We headed back to Orlando and ate at The Olive Garden. The next day we were going to EPCOT Center so we needed to get to bed early. We slept like dead horses.

Orlando Pictures

The drive from Myrtle Beach to Orlando was uneventful.  It was another long 10 hour drive day which we've had a lot of this year and it's pretty routine by now.  We stayed at Disney's Fort Wilderness campground.  We got a site that had a lot of construction going on around it so our spot didn't look as magical as it could have or will be but overall it was a pretty impressive campground.  Not that we saw much of it, we were going from 8am in the morning till about 10pm each night. If we did it over again I'd want a recovery day in the middle to just hang around the campground. In our four days we went to the Kennedy Space Center, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and the Magic Kingdom.  Becky's Parents joined us for the first three days.  Everyone had a lot of fun but we were all completely exhausted after this stop.  Whew Disney... done. 

Kennedy Space Center
Rocket Garden
SpaceX's launch pad for their Heavy rocket

Sam and Gram

All kinds of face painting in Epcot

Kids with Grandpa and Grandma.  It still rained every day but it was a welcome cool down here instead of a fun wrecker.  Lucas fought diligently to save his face paint from the rain and came out pretty good at the end of the day.  Marcus not so much.
Epcot Fireworks

Hollywood Studios
Lunch selfie
The First Order was everywhere
Hiding from the rain

Magic Kingdom fireworks our last night at Disney
Our Favorite Ride was Soarin' in Epcot, hands down the best ride ever. We went on it three times.  The Areosmith Roller-coaster in Hollywood and good old Space Mountain in the Magic Kingdom were both pretty awesome as well. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

DAY TEN- DAY THIRTEEN Rain at the beach

We left the rain of the Smokeys and drove east into more non-stop rain. The drive was long but uneventful. Weeks ago when I was having daydreams of this trip, I saw myself sitting on Myrtle beach from 7 p.m. on Tursday until 7 p.m. Thursday, basking in the sun but staying cool because of the refreshing ocean breeze. The only other thing I planned was to go to Medieval Times, but more on that in a minute. Back to the soft waves rolling onto the even softer sand, where I sat with my legs just barely getting wet from the surf. Sun, sand, snacks, and swimming-four of my favorite things!!

Yeah. None of that happened. We set up in a torrential downpour. Then on Wednesday we played board games, scheduled our feast and decided to go to a movie to kill time. I would have rather killed the rain, but that did not appear to be an option.

Once loaded into the truckster (which autocorrect demands I change to trickster), we again struggled with directions to the theater. On the way the boys began to get more and more ridiculous, shouting, bickering, and touching each other to get the other in trouble. They didn't know where we were going, just that we were going to a specific place. Long story short, Jason and I lost our minds and yelled, "you don't deserve to go to the movies!," just as we pulled into the mall parking lot, just several hundred feet from the theater. Que the dramatics from the boys as they found out they were going to go to Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and just as quickly they WERENT. "Well if you would have told us we were going to the movie we would have behaved." What? I immediately pointed out that they should act like humans ALL the time, not just with the promise or expectation of doing something. Ugh. Kids.

Not having anything else to do, we decided to head to Barnes and Noble in the outdoor mall. In a downpour. By this point, I was already sick to death of being wet from head to toe on this trip, without ever having gone swimming, so I took a time out in bookstore wandering around by myself as my flip flops squished and squashed with each step.

Just as I was relaxing and coming to terms with being sopping wet again, a child approached me with a book and a giant smile. "Mom, this is what I'm going to get!"  Uh, no. Nope. We didn't just forfeit going to a movie because of your poor behavior to come to Barnes and Noble to buy you things. As you can imagine things spiraled swiftly downward from there. Jason ran and got the car and we loaded up and had a calm, heart to heart with the children. Well not exactly, but our point was made.

From time to time, the boys (and I) need to be reminded what a privilege our trips are. This was that moment. Jason had come to terms with not being able to hike the Smokeys, I needed to accept that I wouldn't be lying on the beach, and the boys, eventually came to the conclusion that good behavior was the way to go.

We decided to head to downtown Myrtle Beach to what was what, and maybe turn all our frowns upside down. They were setting up for what looked like would be some gigantic music festival. On the main drag we jumped in line at Ripleys Believe It Or Not Museum. After waiting a while, I began reading reviews and we decided to jump back out of line. We perused what was essentially the same shop, up and down both sides of the road and did a mirror maze. The only thing that set apart one shop from another was how many bongs and edibles each sold. Classy.

Thankfully, Medieval Times was a bright spot in a dreary week. We were front row for the action and the horse arena smelled only the tiniest bit like a barn. I got a princess hat and the boys all got swords. Our knight kind of stunk at knighting, but cheering was still fun. We all drank our weight in Pepsi and we ate with our hands. What more could you ask for!?

The next day was still rainy. We woke up late and decided it was the beach or bust. As soon as there was a break in the radar we trotted over with some chairs, snacks, and Anna Kendricks biography (that was me). It was cloudy, the water was murky, and there was a swift rip tide, but the Munschs swam in the Atlantic Ocean. Well, as much swimming as you can do in water up to your knees. Jason claims I didn't swim because my hair didn't get wet, but I maintain that wading counts.

After swimming, we watched Tommy Boy, which is relentlessly quoted by the boys, walked down the pier, had a fire, and played Ticket to Ride until everybody was angry with exhaustion. "Pay attention so we can finish this!" "Marcus, it's your turn! Go!" Good times!

Myrtle Beach Pictures

It's been a few days since we posted anything.  We've been in Disney and it's been non-stop and we're all exhausted.  We pull out of Disney tomorrow and I'm doing a little late night laundry so figured it's a good time to try to catch up a little bit.

After our soggy days in the Smokey's we were looking forward to fun in the sun at Myrtle Beach.  You know hang out all day at the beach get our garbage sacks full of wet clothes and gear dried out in the sun, that kind of thing.  Well Myrtle Beach would have none of it.  It continued to rain for another two days.  We pulled into a lake at our campground and campsite.  Water everywhere and coming down in buckets with no relief in sight to get the camper setup, more wet clothes.

So instead of the beach, the next day we hit the town while it rained and got tickets for Medieval Times for the evening.  We all had a blast at Medieval times so that raised our sprites a bit after a pretty gray and depressing day (week).  The next day was our last day at this site and it was dreary and cool, the red flags were out in force with alerts of a strong coastal current.  We waited out the morning around the camper and then figured if we want to get in the Atlantic this was our last chance so we decided to do a little swimming anyways with rules for the boys not go in below their knees (which switched to their waist after a few minutes, they're still short after all).  Everyone had a lot of fun but it was really murky water which freaked Becky and I out (sharks?!?).  After a hour or so everyone was getting pretty cold so we called it good.  Here are some pictures from our stay at Myrtle Beach State Park.

It was raining so hard a river ran through our campsite

Marcus checking out the waves when we ran down between storms to check out the Ocean

Of course a shark tooth necklace


Yellow Night rules...

Braving the water and taking a swim
Becky with all her friends

Kids had a blast playing in the rough surf

Becky wadded in a bit but otherwise again chose not to swim.

After we went back to the camper and warmed up, we checked out the pier and had some ice cream

The fishing Pier

This guy was hanging out begging for bait

And we're done, Myrtle Beach is in the books

Friday, June 9, 2017

DAY TEN Bears everywhere.

DAY TEN Bears everywhere.

Monday was another rainy day. It drizzled off and on all morning as we played board and card games, but it seemed to be clearing up, and Jason was hankering for a hike. At least this time we could leave from the camper and didn’t have to drive on anymore spinning roads. I was especially thankful for this fact as I almost fell twice from vertigo as I tried to get on my super awesome KEEN hiking boots.

Jason got us all into our backpacks and was super stoked. The boys did not share his enthusiasm. I’m not sure what they wanted to do, but it was never what we wanted to do. Only a couple of minutes into the hike, I had another close fall. This time though I was walking across a fallen tree about four feet above a stream. That could have ended very badly, but it did not.

As we started ascending, it started spitting again. As it grew more intense, we stopped to put on our rain gear, but by the time we had successfully dug out our gear and got it on we were pretty much soaked. Still, we persevered walking steadily on. Too bad the boys and I couldn’t see anything through our fogged over, rain-dappled glasses. Finally, the sky just opened up, and the rain came down in buckets. The boys started to get nervous about being trapped in a thunderstorm, so we turned around and headed back to camp.

As we walked back the trail quickly became unrecognizable. Now it was a path for all the rain to drain into the stream. We weren’t traversing a trail but a tributary. Once back at the stream, it too had taken on a new look. Now it was menacing and swollen. I resisted the mention of walking across the stream in its current state back to our campsite, citing the multiple books I’d read as evidence that we could literally die. It happens. Yet the prospect of walking an additional ½ mile to the road that crossed the river canceled all those fears out, and we held hands as we crossed right through the middle.

Up to this point, my super awesome KEEN hiking boots had kept my feet perfectly dry due to their miraculous waterproofing. But they were no match for a knee-deep stream crossing. I ceremoniously dumped the water out of each boot when we got back to camp.

That was it. The mountains did not want Jason to hike. He finally accepted that his dreams were not going to come true and we watched a movie. Later in the afternoon, we chatted with our neighbors for a bit. They were locals and took it somewhat personally that we had yet to see a bear. So at 7:50 p.m. we loaded into the truckster and followed them around the wildlife loop one last time. And guess what?

WE SAW BEARS! Real, live, wild bears, just being bears! In the wild! Our no bear streak had finally fallen after being in bear country for the majority of last year’s trip and a large portion of our first trip. We saw one just lumbering through a meadow and tree grove. Then we saw a momma and her cub in another meadow. The momma kept standing up to survey the area before leading the cubs a little further.

Needless to say, we went to bed happy. For me the happiness was equal parts seeing a bear and heading for the beach the following day.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Great Smokey Mountains Pictures

We left the Land between the lakes bright and early to head farther east.  We had tickets to Mammoth Cave at 11:30 so wanted to make sure we had some buffer for the unexpected.  The trip went fine and we arrived an hour early.  Mammoth Cave was very cool, it's way bigger than I was expecting (yeah, yeah I know it's called Mammoth Cave but I figured on a standard marketing ploy) and being a dry cave was different than other caves we've been in.  After Mammoth we still had about 7 hours yet to reach our campsite at Cades Cove. We pulled in late, in the dark and it took the entire campground to help me get backed in.  It was terribly humiliating but I was thankful for the help and to be done with the day. 

This was one of my most looked forward to stops, I had read up on a lot of trails and even tried to talk the family into planning for an all day 11 mile hike (which was shot down but we had agreed to do some of the shorter hikes) but alas the Smokey's didn't want me hiking at all and every, I mean every attempt was stopped by the majestic mountains. We did make it to Clingmans Dome but I don't really consider it's paved path a hike.  From there you could step onto the application trail so that was cool but I was really hoping to hike a few miles on it.

Our very intense but excellent tour guide Jerry (aka Vicki)

Walking down into Mammoth Cave

In the cave

Shot of the family in the cave

Large tower we had to ascend to get out of the cave

Walking up and out of the cave the same way we came in

John Oliver's cabin

Working mill in the Cades cove loop

River by our campsite that the boys loved to play in when they had a chance

The token laundry shot.  Nothing like eating McD's in a laundry mat. Sanitary.

Weather held off for us to make it up Cligmans Dome, family pick from the parking lot

Heading up it was a pretty steep 1/2 mile walk.

That's Marcus in the middle he couldn't wait for us and was running ahead, he was pushing it but we could still see him so technically he was following the rules

Becky at the Newfound Gap we stopped at after Clingmans Dome

At the Newfound Gap you can walk onto the Appalachian Trail, I so wanted to hike for a while but at Clingmans Dome a Ranger we had asked about the Andrews Bald trail had said another strong cell was going to hit the area and it was getting late.  :-(

Getting ready to hike a leg of the Anthony River Trail which we could get to from our campsite.  It was our last day and I was determined to hike somewhere. It had been raining off and on the whole morning but not to hard so we went for it. We all got our packs on and headed out. 

On the trail

We were on the trail maybe 10 minutes and it down poured on us. 

We went another few minutes and it kept raining harder and thunder started rolling over head so we called it off.

Back at the camper Samus had fun.  Everyone and everything was soaked.

That evening it stopped raining and the kids played in the now swollen river

Our first bear sighting.  We've traveled to a lot of areas with bears and had yet to see one.  On our last night we went on the Cades Cove loop again and finally had our first bear encounter.  We were super excited.

Farther on the loop we saw our second and final bear of the drive.