Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Disney World and John C. Campbell Folk School

Tuesday-Wednesday, January 17-18, 2012
My daughter and I have been looking forward to this trip since last November when it was confirmed that the Thread Painting workshop scheduled at John C. Campbell next week had enough attendees to go. Kimi and I flew to Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday, then rented a car and drove overnight to Orlando, Florida. We arrived at the Port Orleans Hotel at Disney World at six in the morning, and since we couldn't check in until seven, we sat in the lobby watching Daffy Duck cartoons until we could get into a room.

After a four hour nap, we enjoyed running around Magic Kingdom all afternoon and into the evening.

I couldn't resist taking pictures of the local birds - they were everywhere and quite beautiful!

We met Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen, which was one of the highlights of Kimi's trip.

 It was so much fun walking around the park and reminiscing about the last time we were there when Kimi was seven years old. She only remembered a few things about that visit, so I shared my memories (also full of holes! ) of that time. We also discovered that it is so much more fun to visit as two adults - it was easier to decide what ride we wanted to do next, walking around was faster, and deciding where to eat was much easier. And since we are visiting the park during an off time, it's not very crowded.

We rode on the Winnie the Pooh ride, Peter Pan, and survived Splash Mountain. Most waits were ten minutes or less - awesome! The only bummer is when it started raining in the afternoon - that's when the crowds really cleared out! But it didn't last more than a couple of hours, then it was clear into the rest of the evening. We stayed late enough to watch the Electric Parade (well worth the wait), then headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

Thursday, January 19, 2012
We started the next day visiting the Wild Kingdom Park. Our first ride was the safari jeep ride through the fields of animals. We saw African elephants, a lot of very large crocodiles, giraffes, gazelles, black rhinos, white rhinos, and hippos. We also saw the gorilla exhibit, anteaters, and macaws. 
 In the afternoon, we visited Epcot. This is the park that is definitely geared more towards an older crowd with walking, eating, drinking, and shopping being the main activities. We did ride Test Track, though, which is a great ride and one that Kimi remembered from our first visit there when she was seven. We called it a day and was at our hotel room by seven and spent the rest of the evening putting a puzzle together that Kimi bought in the Japan store.
Friday, January 20
This is the day we've both been looking forward to - visiting the wizarding world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.  If you are a Harry Potter fan, this park is a must see!  The Hogwarts Castle looks exactly like it does in the movies, and they morphed Diagon Alley and Hogsmead together into one street leading to the castle. They even have the train engine in the front of the park...awesome!  Stores on either side of the street sell various wizarding must-haves like wands, a candy store complete with chocolate frogs and jelly beans in all flavors, a magical toy store, and store fronts that you'd swear were straight out of the movies. Just spectacular! We waited an hour to ride the Harry potter ride in the Hogwarts Castle, and that was our longest wait all week - and worth it!  It was also my favorite ride of the week.

In the afternoon, we visited other parts of Universal Studios and rode a number of rides - with no wait lines, why not? Much to our shock, we discovered that Universal doesn't stay open as late as the Disney Parks, so we rushed back to Harry Potter World an hour before closing and finished up our shopping, rode the Harry Potter ride again (just as awesome the second time!), as well as a smaller roller coaster ride, and were one of the last folks to leave the park trying to soak it all in for as long as possible. If you go, make a point of staying until dark because the castle and town are beautifully lit at night.

Saturday, January 21
We (barely) woke up in time to pack and vacate our room by the 11:00 deadline, then sat by the pool for an hour or so soaking up the warmth and sunshine. Other than the first day when it rained, temps have been in the high 70's and today it is 80 we won't see again in all likelihood for another six months ......aaargh!
After prying Kimi away from the pool, we spent the afternoon driving back to Atlanta. While driving through south Georgia, we drove through a spectacular lightening storm.  It was incredible to see...and a little scary. When we got to our hotel room, the news stations were covering the storm and all the damage it had caused.
Sunday, January 22
Today, Kimi and I said goodbye at the Atlanta Airport because she is flying home, while I'm catching a shuttle van and driving to the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina.  The two-hour drive is scenic and passes quickly because I'm in the car with two other JCC attendees.

Classes at the folk school start Sunday evening with a gathering at Keith House, their community room.  All the instructors are introduced and students are given an overview of the coming week.  Then it's time to eat. The food is delicious and is prepared on-site.  They use as much local produce and meats as possible. The dining hall at JCC has a large bell outside the building that the kitchen staff rings when it's time to eat.  By the end of the week, my stomach starts growling as soon as the bell sounds - whether I'm actually hungry or not!  The food is served family-style and seating is not assigned, so one time you may find yourself sitting next to a weaver, and the next meal you can find yourself by someone learning to play the hammered makes for great conversations!

After dinner, all my students gather in the quilting studio to meet and get set up.  This year, I'm not actually staying on the JCC campus, but with a class attendee whose beautiful home is less than 15 minutes from the school.  I met Jane Oliver, along with her dear friends Emily Thompson and Donna Warfield (who are also sister-in-laws) a few years ago in Sisters, Oregon.  In fact, it's because of them that I'm teaching at the folk school - after taking a class with me in Sisters, they came to JCC and pestered the staff into inviting me to teach here!  So, after all the students get their machines set up, we head to Jane's to get some sleep for the start of class tomorrow.
Monday, January 23
It seems the nice stretch of pleasant weather is over - at least for now. It rained hard last night and in the morning, there were times when it just poured. It hasn't dampened the mood of any class attendees, though. Teaching at JCC is always such a treat.  Class size is limited to 12 students and if the class is full, you can have an assistant!  Pat Meinecke, Quilting Artist in Residence, is my very capable assistant this week.  We spend the morning talking about thread and machine needles - two of my favorite topics!  In the afternoon, students practice a variety of stitches that they plan to use on their Blue Heron sampler. After dinner, there is always a program scheduled in the Keith House. Tonight, Paul Constantine, Jr. played guitar and sang a variety of folk songs from the 1940's to present day - a great way to end the day!
Tuesday, January 24
Every morning at the folk school begins with Morning Song, which is usually a music or storytelling program that lasts about 30 minutes before breakfast is served.  This morning, a local folk singer entertained us with his songs and humor - a great way to start the day!
Most of my students have now begun working on the background stitching behind their herons.  A few have completed their background stitching and have started working on their moons.  You never know how much thread you're going to need until you start doing heavy thread painting projects.  Some of the students want to go shopping for thread, so Pat arranges a trip to the local quilt shop called Bless My Stitches.  They are located less than 10 minutes from the folk school and it turns into a really fun outing...we are, of course, back in time for the dinner bell!

Wednesday, January 25
It was a beautiful sunrise, with weather in the high 50's this morning. Students are continuing to work on their herons. Everyone has finished their background quilting and have started working on the moon. There is a show of student's work on Friday at noon, so everyone is feeling some pressure to get their herons at least mostly done. After class, several students and I took a field trip to the Treasure Chest Quilt Store, which is in the home of Dolores Knight, the owner. I felt it necessary to contribute to the local economy - I'm just wondering how my acquisitions will possibly fit into my suitcase!
Thursday, January 26
Things are really cooking in class now. Most students have finished quilting the head of their heron and have now moved on to the throat and back. We have lots of visitors today from the other studios on campus - it seems everyone wants to know what other folks have been working on all week. Since the show-and-tell is tomorrow, it will be a late night for many of the gals as they work to complete as much of their thread art as
After dinner, Ken Kolodner, a widely renowned hammered dulcimer, mbira, and fiddle player, put on a concert at Keith House. Not having any idea what a hammered dulcimer is - much less what it sounds like, I decided to attend. Ken uses wooden paddles to hit wire strings on an instrument that looks like a harp laying down - and the sound is just magical. He also played an African instrument called a mbira and the fiddle. It's such a gift to see someone who is passionate about their art work!
Friday, January 27
Today is a half day, which means the gals in class have only a couple of hours to finish up their herons and get them over to the Keith House for the show-and-tell. All of the herons turned out very well - and everyone is impressed with the calming effect of a hot steam iron on a bird that won't lie flat! I've been looking forward to the show-and-tell because everyone gets to see what everyone else has been working on at JCC all week. The herons look awesome and are a big draw - congrats everyone!
One side of the herons.....

.....and the other side!
In the afternoon, I say farewell to my students and I sincerely hope our paths cross again in the future - thanks for such a great week!  It is such a pretty day that Jane, Emily, and Donna take me to the nearby Chatuge Lake later in the day and we walk on the dike - some much needed exercise after all the great food this past week. Our companion was a very happy Ellie, Jane's wonderful black labrador who was pretty well abandoned this past week.  In the evening we attend a cocktail party at another students beautiful home, Peggy. Dinner at a fancy restaurant called The Copper Door and it's home to pack for tomorrow's flight home.
Emily, Ellie, Donna and Jane at Chatuge Lake

A very special THANK YOU to Jane, Emily, and Donna, as well as all my special students who made this trip even more memorable. I'm looking forward to returning to John C. Campbell Folk School in October, 2013.