Two young 50-something females. One big adventure exploring the Americas. Have liquidated everything they own and packed a Saturn Vue with bare necessities to set out on this journey. Planting seeds at each juncture symbolizing their new growth. With an open mind and heart, ready to get a true view of this world.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Rhinos and Tigers and Birds -- Oh My!!

Day 4 in the World and we're off to the Animal Kingdom today! Getting there was an adventure in itself, as Celeste had decided that the $14 parking fee to have our car at the park was astronomical. I had several alternate suggestions...park at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and take the bus over and back from there - we were planning on drinks and dinner there after anyway - or park at Downtown Disney and take the bus to the kingdom from there. Downtown is virtually around the corner from us. Lots of buses coming and going. But, Celeste thought the best option for the day would be to park at Old Key West (where her sister is staying) and take the bus from there. The fact that her sister wasn't there was apparently not the point. And, the fact that the Old Key West was probably one of the most remote places to get to and out to AK also not important. That $14 savings came in very handy as the day progressed, as each bar tab was remarkably $14!! And, we actually ran into Celeste's sister and friends in AK (the chances of that again remarkable given they were supposed to be at EPCOT this day!) Yes, we really did somehow make it to the park!

And, what a beautiful day! The animals thought so, as well. They were out in abundance and performing in high form!

The safari has taken on a NASCAR feel, however. We had to hold on for dear life as our guide tore through the savannah. But, the animals were truly amazing. Our more leisurely stroll through the Pangani Forrest proved equally rewarding as the gorillas were strutting and interacting with renewed spring interest. I will say at several points, it was a bit eerie to debate who was really being observed - us or them?

Was able to talk Celeste into riding DINOSAUR and Primeval Whirls (good for her!!) but she stopped short of conquering the Yeti on Expedition Everest. I ventured anyway - love that ride!!! For those of you who haven't made the climb, do so, it's not nearly as intimidating as it seems.

Discovered a new place this time - Maharajah Jungle Treks - just beautiful! That's where the tigers were - the stroll through here was just breathtaking and we had many areas virtually to ourselves - so peaceful! The palace ruins were amazing and the aviary very active! Only the bats were not coming out to play today - it was too cold! So sad!

We had lunch at the only sit down restaurant in AK - Yak and Yeti in Asia - really nice. Stephen served us delicious dim sum, wok fried green beans (YUM!) and shrimp tempura (light and flavorful). We had planned on using the Picnic in the Park food option here but unfortunately was told it was seasonal - so not available today! Too bad - perfect idea!

As the park was closing, we headed over to the AK Lodge. I think it may be the most beautiful resort on property. Lots of animals were out as we strolled the path around the savannah before heading to Victoria Falls for a cocktail. Met two sisters traveling (as different as my sister, Kathy, and me) and we kept each other entertained sharing pics of our adventures this day while sipping martinis!

Celeste was antsy so we headed back to downtown Disney instead of dining at Jiko in the lodge. Downtown was quite busy, however, and we found wait times at most places to be pushing the hour mark. We finally ended up at the dining room at Wolfgang's - the prices obviously the reason there was no wait here. It's a beautiful room overlooking the water and quiet - which is nice and certainly near impossible to find anywhere else in the area. We had great service and a partially great meal. Celeste's roasted beet salad with arugula, goat cheese and pastachios was amazing. And, the banana beignets with gelato and toasted pecans was out of this world. The in-between servings were a bit off. The gnocchi with a bleu cheese sauce was too salty to eat - and a shame because it was really good. Our waitress claimed the chef said there was no additional salt added so suggested an alternative sauce. This substitution presented not nearly as well. And, after the fact, she commented that the chef had admitted that perhaps there had been too much cheese in the first serving as their was a new cook in that position. I don't know - perhaps we could have recreated it correctly since we were still charged for the dish. My Maine lobster risotto was quite good but again a bit salty. Seemed to be the theme... If this had been Iron Chef, Cat would have beat Wolfgang hands down - and for half the price!!!

We still needed to get back to Old Key West - remember our car was there! We missed the boat by seconds so opted for the bus one more time - yea!!!! Home around 10:30 - we're lasting longer each day. No doubt building our endurance. As we headed up in the elevator, we were joined by a young woman with wine in hand and her suitcase trailing. She asked how long we'd been playing in the world. We shared this was our 4th day out and she agreed that we looked like we were holding up pretty well. Her play time was just beginning. And, so we we plan on a final tour around the countries with our dear friend, Karen, tomorrow in EPCOT. And, of course, more food and drink!!!

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