Wild Adventures 2017

17WABanner.jpgWild Adventures | Photos | Videos


December 27, 2017
Valdosta GA

As I’d taken two weeks off in September of 2017 to visit Japan I really hadn’t planned a lot of domestic travel in 2017. I knew getting back from Japan would lead into a busy time. The following two weeks after my return to the US were busy with local events including a work trip at Kure Beach. Then there was a pre-planned trip with friends in October to Atlanta. I took most of November easy, but I knew that December would be another busy month to cap off the end of the year. I had tickets to see Janet Jackson in Columbia, SC and Atlanta, GA which were rescheduled dates from her Unbreakable World Tour, renamed the State of the World Tour, at the beginning of December. These were the last two dates of that leg of the tour. Needless to say, I was busy.

Earlier in the year I had the opportunity to request 2 days of vacation in between Christmas and the New Years holidays at work, which meant I would have 10 days off in a row. I didn’t plan out anything, but in the back of my mind I had considered spending part of the time in the Orlando area as my sister and her family have been there for 6 years and I’d only made the trip down once. Eventually I made the commitment and let my sister know I’d be down for the latter half of my time off. Time slowly approached and soon it was Friday.

Some more back story, during my trip to Japan there was a position at an office very close to my house that I’d hoped to transfer to before the year’s end. I knew the position would be available, but unfortunately due the incompetence of some human resource employees I missed my chance at an interviewee even though the local management team tried to set up a phone interview while I was abroad. However, in a surprising turn of events, 2 more unexpected positions became available before year’s end. I was able to secure an interview this time, but the wait in between interviewing and finding out whether I was selected for a position was nearly a month an a half. I was in a bad mood during most of that time, but 3 days before the start of my vacation I received confirmation that I would be transferring, starting effective the first of the year.

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Janet Jackson State of the World Tour Atlanta 2017

17SOTWATLBanner.jpgJanet Jackson | Photos | Videos


December 17, 2017
Atlanta GA
Janet Jackson State of the World Tour
Phillips Arena

SOTW2017

Janet State of the World Tour Atlanta 2017

Janet State of the World Tour Atlanta 2017

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Janet Jackson State of the World Tour Columbia 2017

17SOTWColBanner.jpgJanet Jackson | Photos | Videos


December 16, 2017
Columbia SC
Janet Jackson State of the World Tour
Colonial Life Arena

SOTW2017

Janet State of the World Tour Columbia 2017

Janet State of the World Tour Columbia 2017

Janet State of the World Tour 2017

More pics after the cut…

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Japan 2017 Day 15

17Japan15BannerNarita | Photos | Videos


September 24, 2017
Tokyo & Narita Japan

Saturday morning came as early as ever as we got everything together and headed downstairs to check out and buy a gift for my mom, then walk to the station one last time to take our last couple of trains to Narita airport, about 90 minutes away. The morning actually flew by. We got to the airport, dropped our luggage off at the baggage check, checked in for our flight, grabbed some snacks, had a chair massage, and made it to our gate with plenty of time. We even did some last minute shopping at the store across from the gate.

Eventually it was time to board. This time we would be heading straight in to night instead of chasing daylight. The flight back wasn’t so bad either. It was slightly shorter, though our crew wasn’t nearly as good. I slept a little during the first three hours. This time Isaac and I were sharing a row of only 2 seats, so I was able to not wear the shoes I’d brought which were too tight in the toe section, to give my toes a nice rest and the ability to stretch out. I did watch a movie and type up several large sections of this report on the flight back.

We landed in Dallas around 7-8 AM Texas Time. We got our luggage and went though customs first, which didn’t take long as we were one of the first international flights that morning. Our first order of business after getting through security and re-checking our luggage was to get an American sized burger at TGIFridays. The burger was good, though the kitchen was slow. Our 2 hour flight back to CLT was noisy and annoying. The woman beside me needed 2 seats, but only had one, and decided to put her small son by the window as she sat in the middle beside me, taking up a large portion of my space. Yay.

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Japan 2017 Day 14

17Japan14Banner.jpgTokyo Disneyland | Yokohama Cosmoworld | Photos | Videos


September 23, 2017
Tokyo & Yokohama Japan

The next morning we got up early and made our way to Disneyland.  It was our last day in Japan and I knew it was likely to be busy at Tokyo Disneyland, but we pressed on.  The morning was overcast.  We ate breakfast outside of the park at the train station before heading over to Ikspiari and then the front gate.  When you enter there’s no familiar hill with a train station for you to pass under, but immediately you are standing on a covered version of Main Street U.S.A. called World Bazaar (Still not sure why the covered main streets are all the rage in Japan, but it does cover you from the rain).  The castle in the distance, however, is all too familiar.

The park was already quite busy and it was just opening.  We made our way to the right first to their version of Tomorrowland (or, more aptly titled, we-need-to-upgrade-it-all land).  Tokyo’s Tomorrowland has the familiar Space Mountain building as its centerpiece, and we were able to snag a fast pass for Space Mountain for later.  But it also has a version of Star Tours that never seemed busy (I’m not a fan of those types of motion rides so we never bothered), Stitch Encounter (Stitch is pretty big in Japan, but again, I’m not going to wait for 2 hours for a ride I’m not crazy about and have ridden in the states), Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters (which is fun, but had a long wait and no Fast Passes), and a version of the twirling rockets, though they’re being removed soon for their version of New Fantasy Land.  This part of the park is in desperate need of a make over.  It was very dated and it needs at least one new E-Ticket level attraction.

One ride that I’ve heard is nothing short of amazing though, and had yet to reach a 90 minute wait time, was Pooh’s Honey Hunt  So we got in line with 82 minutes to wait.  The queue is very well done, mostly outdoors.  They should incorporate the queue entertainment from the ride at Magic Kingdom.  Having said that…

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Japan 2017 Day 13

17Japan13BannerTokyo DisneySea | Photos | Videos


September 22, 2017
Tokyo, Japan

Because of the weather we had to push the two Disney parks to the end of the trip. This was less than optimal because once the weekend hits, these rather busy parks become extremely busy. But other parks and attractions were affected by weather and Friday & Saturday called for rain, which I knew wouldn’t affect Disney nearly as much.  On Friday morning, we slept a little later than planned.  It was a much needed rest, but eventually we made our way to the Tokyo Disney Resort by around 11am to spend the day at Tokyo DisneySea.  It meant taking a train to Hanieda airport where we had lunch, then a bus directly to the Disneyland resort.

I was afraid since we’d let the morning get away from us, and it was a Friday, that wait times would be unbearable at DisneySea but we actually lucked out for the day.  We headed from Ispiari, their version of a Disneyfied shopping district, to the ticket booth at DisneySea, then into the entry plaza.  Once we passed under Hotel Miracosta, I was just in awe of the entire place.  The entrance was nothing like I’d seen at a Disney park, but once inside everything is just so… amazing.  A high level of detail goes in to everything.  It is absolutely astounding.

Our first destination was Port Discovery as we headed over to our first ride, Aquatopia.  This ride uses RFID pucks to guide water based vehicles around in a very shallow pool (6 inches deep or less) spinning, stopping, and swinging around rocks, waterfalls, and whirlpools.  I anticipated a multi hour long wait, but it was only 25 minutes, so we got in line.  Aquatopia was really a lot of fun!

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Japan 2017 Day 11

17Japan11BannerFujikyu Highland | Photos | Videos


September 20, 2017
Fujiyoshida, Japan

The next morning we had to get to Fuji Q Highland early.  I’ve read nothing but horror stories from both coaster enthusiasts and non enthusiasts, locals and visitors about how terrible the operations at Fuji Q are, and how long the lines are.  During the day, those horror stories would prove to be correct, and they make any poorly run park in the U.S. look like a walk in the park.  So the plan was to get there and be close to the first ones in line.  We woke up from our hotel, headed to the Kawaguchiko station which proved to be quite a walk, stored our luggage, and headed back to the cute Fujikyuko train.  We arrived about an hour before the park opened, and I was shocked (and didn’t quite believe) that we were the first ones in line at the back gate.  There were some Russians staying at our hotel that showed up after a bit, as well as some locals who had internet tickets.

In order to get to do all of the major coasters, we were planning to quickly exchange our tickets then, once the rope dropped, literally running to the middle of the park where the very limited express passes could be purchased for rides. Express Passes are sold at the resort, online (but only on the Japanese site), and a few local convenience stores which means they sell out very quickly on the morning of.  So at 8:20, we were able to exchange our passes and, even though they were letting in resort guests early, we were at the front of the rope for the rope drop. Once the park was opened it was go time.

EVERYONE runs, either to whatever coaster they plan on hitting up first, or towards the middle of the park to buy express passes. We were at the back gate, so you had people at the front gate all heading to the Express Pass booth. Isaac sprinted, and though I tried to keep up, I just couldn’t do it. So I briskly walked as quickly as I could after the first initial burst, and was happy to see Isaac being the second person in line when I rounded the corner. Score!

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Japan 2017 Day 9

17Japan9Banner.jpgTokyo Dome | DECKS Odaiba | Photos | Videos


September 18, 2017
Tokyo, Japan

Monday morning was a late morning, and we needed it.  We grabbed breakfast at a restaurant near the hotel and headed up to Tokyo for some sight seeing and attractions.  First stop:  LaQua.  We went over to Tokyo Dome City and LaQua to see if Thunder Dolphin was running.  The whole area was really nice.  I had considered going to LaQua Onsen while here, but didn’t get a chance.  We walked around the rides section by LaQua and eventually got a ticket for the coaster.

Thunder DolphinYou head up the first hill, drop, pop up on top of a building, dive thru a ‘hole’ in said building, then dive thru and around a hubless Ferris Wheel, then back up on the building for some trick track before dropping down and hitting the brakes.  As far as hyper coasters go, it was what everyone else has said.  A good couple of drops, no major airtime, but a fun coaster, and it looks stunning.  It gives a few good views as well.  The hills really didn’t have much airtime, and the trick track was odd, but I liked it.  I probably wouldn’t pay to ride it again, though.

We walked around the Tokyo Dome, in to a gift shop, and back out onto the plaza where there were a ton of cosplayers all over before heading over to the other rides section.  We were going to ride the parachute drop, but the line was too long, so we had dinner at a burger joint in Tokyo Dome instead. Then we walked back thru the cosplayers, LaQua/Tokyo Dome City, and caught our next train down to the waterfront area to hit up Sega Joypolis.

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