This was the day I was most excited about for the entire trip. I’d always wanted to go to Silver Dollar City. Many people say it is better than Dollywood, and I love Dollywood. Since they’re both Herschend properties, I was excited, to say the least. I woke up early and headed to Walmart to buy a tooth brush since I’d forgotten to bring mine, and I was making due with mouth wash, but no more. I also picked up another SD Card, and this one had no issues. But not before I went to a breakfast place in Branson, though not much was opened on Memorial Day. The eggs benedict was good, service was fast, and I was finished quickly.
SDC wasn’t very far from where I stayed. I drove a little through Branson, which felt like if Pigeon Forge & Asheville had a baby, and then over by the park. But I was super early. So I drove around by the lake before going back to the park. Imagine my surprise when I found out parking was free! I parked in an open spot near the exit and headed down to the tram that was soon to leave, all with coasters dotting the background.
I had purchased the Trail Blazer Extra pass that allowed unlimited resides on select popular rides, and one ride on the new rapids ride without waiting long. We arrived at the front plaza an already I loved that it was quaint and felt small and enclosed. I picked up my ticket and lanyard, made a quick restroom stop, and then headed over in to the park. It was very early, but I was able to head over to the rope that would eventually lead me to my first ride. The park was just absolutely beautiful. Very wooded walkways. I loved it.
Once they performed the pledge of allegiance and star spangled banner, the ropes dropped and I headed down the rather large hill towards my first coaster of the day…
Whew, last nite was a late nite. I slept in a bit because my drive to Worlds of Fun was one of the shorter drives of the trip. Eventually, though, I did get up, get ready, and get going south once again.
I arrived around 11:30 AM and I could tell it was going to be far busier than I’d have liked. Cars were pouring into the parking lot. And I really didn’t want to spend money on Fast Lane for such a small park. How bad could it be? Well, again, another Cedar Fair park with poor operations. I noticed through out the day, just like the prior day at Vallyefair! that they only allowed one train on a track at a time, were super slow dispatching, and even the smaller coasters with multiple single cars only ran one on the track at a time. This was not conducive to a super fun vacation, but I was determined to make the best of my first post-COVID trip.
So I finally got parked and headed in. I know they rebuilt their entire entrance a few years ago. I didn’t know it was so far away from the car park. And my camera wasn’t cooperating at all at this point. I decided I would use my phone, which is adequate, and then get a cheap new SD card in Branson. I headed in to the already busy park. I wasn’t familiar with the layout, but wanted to ride something fun to start off so I went for the park’s highly recommended GCI wooden coaster. It was in the parks decently well done Africa section.
Normally I plan large summer vacation trips months in advance. I know where I’m going, staying, and what I’m doing. But because of the COVID 19 pandemic, I wasn’t sure what I’d be doing or where I’d be going in 2021, but I did have the dates set, as we are required to request our week long vacations in December of the previous year.
Not knowing what the vaccination situation or travel restrictions would be like, I planned to take a week off around Memorial Day just in case. I was upset early in the year when it didn’t look like vaccinations would be going quickly, but I was able to get my second dose near the end of March and even took a weekend trip to Atlanta in April to test my comfort with travel out. In the back of my mind, I had came up with a possible Midwest road trip, and when things started looking up in regards to travel, I chose the parks I’d be going to and started planning and paying for the trip. I would start off by flying in to Minneapolis and heading to the area’s regional amusement park, Valleyfair. This trip would take me to 5 new to me parks, a couple dozen new coasters, and lots and lots of boring farmland driving.
I flew out early on May 29 from CLT to Minneapolis. I’d paid for parking ahead of time at one of the private lots, and it was cheaper than regular long term parking. Going through security and the airport post COVID, all while wearing a mask, was different, but I’m so used to some things that when I see relaxed guidelines, it freaks me out a little at first. My flight boarded on time. I’d had breakfast and sat at the gate in the new terminal at CLT. Very nice upgrade and every seat has access to wired and wireless charging. The flight was on time and actually arrived in Minneapolis quite early. This was my first time in the state.
The pandemic has obviously been hard. Or, it’s been hard for some people. Other people decided to go about their lives as if nothing was going on. Which is why the pandemic was going into its second year and people were still getting sick and dying. When it initially hit that we were heading into a full blown pandemic without a vaccine, I prepared myself mentally to be inactive for about a year, as I figured that would be the earliest that we would have a vaccine and start to get back to normal. But around the beginning of the year with revelations that vaccine commitments to the US were far short of what had been stated by the government at the time, I started to worry that it would be far into the summer, possibly the end of summer before I could even begin to think about travel.
Then vaccinations started to roll out quicker and quicker. Then before I knew it, I was eligible. So I was fortunate enough to schedule a shot on the first day I became eligible, then schedule my second shot a month later. In between, I realized that I would be fully vaccinated by my scheduled vacation in June. And then I realized that I’d be vaccinated by Good Friday, a holiday that we get off at work. So I decided to plan a small trip. My first trip since an overnite at the beach in the summer of 2020. My first trip out of the state since February 2020. My first trip to a theme park since December of 2019. To say I was excited was a bit of an understatement.
I’m going to be completely open and honest. At that point, I knew that recommendations were for people to not start traveling yet. The reasoning behind that recommendation by the CDC was that fully vaccinated people can still carry the virus and transmit it to people that aren’t yet vaccinated. And I’m going to be open about my selfishness here in stating that because I had done what was requested of me, because I had stayed home and given up most of the past year of my life to stay safe and keep others safe. Because I had made the right decisions, I was no longer interested in whether or not other people were being safe. If they hadn’t made the decision at this point to not be reckless with their health, its no longer my responsibility. I was vaccinated and ready to go. Then the CDC, just days before my trip, changed their recommendation for vaccinated people and travel. And travel I did.
There are people that were able to safely travel during the previous year, but because of my health issues, I chose not to, for both myself and others. I had a couple of ideas on where I wanted to go; I decided that I would spend the weekend in Atlanta, one of my favorite cities. I knew I could visit Six Flags. I knew I could get some good food. It’s a place I’m familiar with. So I chose Atlanta. The trip didn’t go exactly as I’d wanted or planned, but I had fun nonetheless.
As we all have had to adjust and navigate a very different summer, travel and vacation has been put on hold for many. I had several large scale trips planned for this year that have all been cancelled. So instead, I decided to do a couple of quick localized (in state) road trips on vacation in 2020. The second road trip was a return to the Outer Banks after over 30 years since my first (and last) visit. Here are the photos.
As we all have had to adjust and navigate a very different summer, travel and vacation has been put on hold for many. I had several large scale trips planned for this year that have all been cancelled. So instead, I decided to do a couple of quick localized (in state) road trips on vacation in 2020. The first road trip was a drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Asheville, NC to Blowing Rock, NC, an absolutely beautiful drive. Here are the photos.
When Disney bought Star Wars from George Lucas, I was excited.Super excited. I like what they’d done with Marvel, and they were integrating Marvel properties when and where they could at the parks. And since they already had Star Wars in the parks, I knew we’d get more. And eventually, yes. Disney announced the obvious, that new Star Wars themed lands would be coming in the next few painfully long years to both Hollywood Studios and Disneyland to cover both the east and west coast parks. I’d been excited for the parks to open ever since.
And now here it was. The parks had opened their new lands, and the piece de resistance of the parks, Rise of the Resistance, would open in Florida first. Several of my friends went to the lands soon after they opened, but I’d wanted to wait for Rise before heading to Batuu.
My sister and her family moved to Orlando nearly a decade ago and I’ve visited during December now three years in a row, hitting up parks whilst there. In 2017 I went to SeaWorld & the Fun Spots for the first time. In 2018 I spent two days at Universal as there had been so much added in the nearly 10 years I’d visited. But this year, I only had one park on my agenda. I knew it would be super crowded. Typically I would never think of visiting a Disney World park during one of the busiest times of the year. But since my only goal was to ride the two new Star Wars themed rides and spend time exploring the new land, I wasn’t as concerned about the long waits that I knew would greet me at the park.
I had waffled on whether I wanted to go or not, and in fact a few days before I had planned to leave, I came down with a cold. But on Friday December 27 I was feeling a little better so I left work, packed up, and headed to Savannah GA for the nite after a 4 hour drive with a stop at Culvers in Charlotte for Dinner.Traffic moved well and eventually I made it to the motel.
As a child, I couldn’t wait to go to the beach every summer. Growing up, Myrtle Beach had it all-Beaches, Amusement Parks, Water Parks, Nite Life, Shows, Food, and more. And nearly every year growing up we spent a week there.
I don’t visit Myrtle Beach as often. They tore out one of my favorite amusement parks, the Myrtle Beach Pavilion, leaving a nearly empty plot of land there for nearly 15 years at this point. Then there was a large theme park built, Hard Rock Park. I didn’t get to visit until it’s second and final year, after it had made the switch to Freestyle Music Park, with much of the original theme already removed.
But I had a week off, and my original plans were put on hold due to work obligations, so I decided to travel to the beach. I didn’t plan on doing much. The only amusement park left, the Family Kingdom, would be closed during my visit, and since a hurricane had just came through, this made planning difficult. However, a couple of days after the storm passed I made reservations at the Crown Reef Waterpark & Resort for a few days. The entire city was dead for the first 3 days due to so many cancelling out due to the storm. That was actually nice.