Much like many Saturdays past, Kevin wasn't there when I went to sleep the night before, and was already awake and gone when I woke up Saturday morning. After a shower and a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, I grabbed the car and made my way over to Epcot for our first meet of the day, the Soarin' meet. I was fairly well on time, but I still made a distress call to Charlotte to see where everyone was and if they would wait on me to arrive. No one had gotten in line yet, so I quickly made my way over to the entrance where everyone was assembled.
The wait for the ride went fairly quickly since there weren't too many people there yet. We ended up taking up almost an entire section of the ride, and I was in the middle of the back row. After the ride, a bunch of us picked up more Fastpasses, and ended up mingling around for quite a while. This was the first time I'd seen Kenny since I got in town, and it was cool to catch up with him and hear about his singing in the Celine Dion choir for the Christmas special. After a while, it was time to head out to the pin cart for our Spaceship Earth photo meet.
It was lightly drizzling by this point, and was still quite chilly when we arrived. I was carrying my umbrella, my purse and my sweater, which caused a little bit of a challenge in getting my sweater on without getting either myself or my purse wet.
Luckily, Kenny jumped at the chance to help, and held my purse and held my umbrella over my head while I put the sweater on hehe Sweet guy! Kevin led the group over to the back side of the Fountain of Nations, where we all gathered around and cheesed for the camera. The photo turned out REALLY great, and is probably my favorite group photo of the trip.
Once the photo was done, it was time for the Mission: Space meet, so that's where the group went.
The green "less intense training" team
The orange "more intense training" team
We split into our respective orange and green groups, and waited under the overhang at the entrance of the ride so we wouldn't get wet. We hung around until meet time, and then headed inside. Of course, just as we went inside, here came Brian and JD running up behind us! Sorry guys! I deviated from my normal riding position of Engineer and took on the roll of Pilot for this ride. The ride ended up being exactly the same, but completely different :-)
Afterward, as we all assembled in the post show area, a few of us decided to play Mission Space Race as a group. Catherine and Kevin went in first to be the ones who go up front for mission control and pick up the "fixes" to make the repairs to the ship. The rest of us hung back and played the roll of preparing the "fixes" for Catherine and Kevin. I'd never done that before (though I had played the mission control part before), and we all did fairly well. Our team was in the lead for the first two rounds, but somehow the other team came from behind and won in the last round. Oh well, we are still winners in my book ;-)
At this point, everyone dispersed in their separate directions to have lunch. I hung around with Kevin, Donna, Tracy and Jack for a while before we ultimately decided to eat at Cantina de San Angel for lunch. We all meandered over that way, and wrangled up Kim, Rob and Catherine along the way.
I got the chilaquiles con pollo with rice and beans for lunch, and it was really good. Sort of like a Mexican lasagna with corn tortillas in between the layers. Lunch was really fun, though it was quite chilly and our food got cold quickly. I don't remember how the conversation progressed, but at one point we were talking about scuba diving kudu...I love how random we are.
After lunch, we scattered again, and I ended up going to the Germany pavilion with Kevin, Tracy, Jack and Donna since they wanted some Gluwein. I'm not a fan of Gluwein since red wine is just a little too strong for my taste, but they sell all sorts of German wine there.
All four of them got the Gluwein, and I ended up with a glass of the Graf Riesling, which was delicious! We all stood around one of the high top tables and enjoyed our wine and the company.
With Big Meet and Greet time quickly approaching, we all walked off in the direction of the International Gateway. When we arrived, all of the usual suspects were there, including a few new faces.
Jacie inspects her kill at the Big Meet and Greet
Among the new folks I met were Kitty and her hubby Rocky, who I had exchanged some messages with on RADP (actual RADP, not RADP chat! haha). They were very nice, and despite billing themselves as being quite shy, I thought they were really friendly...I would have never pegged either of them as overly shy at all :-) I ended up hanging with Donna for most of the meet, which included exchanging dating horror stories from our recent pasts! When it was time for the official photo, a few of us rigged up our cameras, and like last year, we managed to get everyone into one photo so no one would have to do any photoshopping like in previous years.
The whole RADP family
As the big meet wound to a close, a group of us decided to walk in the direction of the American Adventure since that was where our next meet was being held. On the way, we all stopped in Japan to take a look at their new photography exhibit. On the way in, I lingered behind the group and checked out the drink cooler in the little sweet shop across from the main Mitsukoshi store. And lo and behold, I found Mitsuya Cider!! The only other time I had drank Mitsuya Cider was when I was in Tobu Zoo Park in Japan, so I quickly grabbed a bottle. The girl at the register had to giggle at me since I was so excited to find what to her was probably nothing special! But to me, it was a drinkable reminder of how wonderful my trip to Japan was!
OMG I have Mitsuya Cider!!
I scurried to meet up with the rest of the group, and was so excited about my find that I decided to run up to the first person I saw and declare that I had found Mitsuya Cider. So I burst through the doors, and wouldn't you know that the first person I saw was Masayo! The only person in the whole room who would know what Mitsuya Cider was! So, I excitedly said "Look! I found Mitsuya Cider!" which made her laugh almost uncontrollably at me! This, of course, spurred a long conversation about Japan, and how cool their drinks are, and how much I loved it, yadda yadda yadda. We actually talked until it was time to leave for the American Holidays meet, which meant that I didn't even get a chance to look at any of the Japanese photography!
When we arrived at the American Adventure, we found a few more people milling around, and I took a seat next to Jack M. and started chatting. Once a decent sized group had arrived, the entire group went inside the rotunda and caught a performance by Voices of Liberty. When I found Kevin, I was still drinking my Mitsuya Cider, so I gave him a taste (which was something we did almost every time either of us had a fun new drink when we were in Japan). He hadn't drank any of it when we were there, so it was a new experience for him. Realistically, Mitsuya Cider is a little bitter for my taste, but I drank every drop of it since it was a wonderful little trip down memory lane.
The Voices of Liberty were great as always, and soon it was time to head inside for the show. Most of the group went up the main escalators, with only a few groups heading up the elevator with wheelchairs or ECVs. Inside, we all sat fairly close to the front, and enjoyed the show immensely. I still think about my cousin Patsy every time I see this show, and how she boo-hoos every time she sees it, and always needs a moment to collect herself after the show :-)
After the show, we had a little bit of time to kill before our dinner at Nine Dragons, so Tracy and I popped our heads inside Liberty Inn to check out the giant gingerbread house. After a few more minutes of milling around with everyone, I, Tracy, Jack, Kevin, Bob, Polly, Amanda and Brian all headed off towards the China pavilion. We had a little bit of a wait before we could be seated, but it wasn't all that bad. I took the opportunity to tell Bob and Polly about my new house and what kinds of renovations I was hoping to do in the coming year. When it was finally time to be seated, we were seated at a long table inside the main room, which was jam packed with people! Holy cow! Definitely not an intimate setting for a meal!
For my entree, I got the honey chicken and rice. It was really delicious and very big! I almost didn't finish it, but I managed to soldier my way through it anyway (I'd have easily taken home enough for breakfast the next day had I been able to, but since we weren't going straight back to the hotel, I didn't want to carry it around with me).
After dinner, it was just about time to stake out spots for our IllumiNations meet. We grabbed a few spots along the railing, but then as more people arrived, they started to congregate in a much smaller area just a few feet away on the other side of a trash can. When we asked them to join the rest of the group on the other side, they said that they thought they had a better view, and to bring the group down there. Whatever...the view was the same to me! So we all moved (which meant more people in less space, but I digress...). As we waited, Jack, Catherine and I ended up joking about every little thing that was happening...
...including Catherine faking like she was getting a call from work on the nearby trash can! Too funny!
I also took a moment to run over to the Kringla Bakeri and grab a sweet pretzel. It was the first one I'd ever had, and it was covered in icing and chocolate drizzles...man, it was delicious!
Our group ended up being quite large, and the show was nice. I really love the extra holiday ending that they add.
I'm not sure how long this show has left in its run, so every time I watch it, I treat it like the last time I will see it. Once the show was over, there was some talk about heading off to another park, but I was just too tired to go anywhere else. Eventually, everyone decided to call it a night and head back to their respective hotels.
Spaceship Earth, as we head out for the night
Kevin and I drove Catherine back to Saratoga Springs, then went back to the Hilton for some shut eye.
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