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Welcome to the Saito Family Web News!

This is the first edition/page, covering January 1998. Click on the links to get to the other months' web pages.

Currently, Ron is maintaining this site on behalf of Pat, Ron, Andrew, Jenny, Katy (and Tasha and Roo). I'll try to update this site two or three times a month, depending on what's happening. Each month's newletter is on a separate page for now, and I haven't had time to get new photos on the site - but Tasha's website has lots of pics, including the family.

Please feel free to write us. My e-mail is ronsaito@hotmail.com. Pat's is pat.saito@ city.mississauga.on.ca.

ronsaito@hotmail.com

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Saito Family News - Home/Index
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Tasha's Home Page
Pictures and info about Tasha - Updated monthly
City of Mississauga Council Page
Pat is Ward 9 Councillor
Pat's Ward 9 Home Page
Updated monthly
Saito Family News - February
February Family News - with personal favs and news about WDW
Our Disney Diary
Our new Disney Diary site featuring Animal Kingdom

January 1998 News

We all drove to Florida for the Christmas holidays, except Roo (the kitten - pics on Tasha's web page). The drive down I-75 was easy - with the new 65 mph speed limit in most rural areas, and 70 mph in rural Georgia and Florida, you can do the Mississauga to Orlando trip in about 20 driving hours. We chose to take it easy, and had frequent stops - especially for Tasha, so spent two nights on the road. Gasoline prices surprised me - we didn't pay over $1.00 US per gallon!

In Orlando, we rented a large house for the vacation, which worked out well. It had it's own screened pool, but the unfortunately it wasn't pool weather. Just before we left, we had some excitement - two houses at the end of our street started sinking (about 6 inches by the time we left), and the local fire, police and TV added extra excitement to the neighbourhood.

One of the main reasons for the trip was to visit Andrew. He's having a great time on the Disney Student Ambassador program working at the Canadian Pavillion at Epcot in the Le Cellier Restaurant. He's been there since last June and will probably be staying to next August. He's made lots of friends, and is discovering the US South in his free time.

We managed to find a real Christmas tree, and had a quiet Christmas and New Year together. Yes, we cooked traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings and had too much to eat (as usual). Andrew's friend Kelly brought some traditional Welsh desserts - plum pudding/custard and christmas cake. No lo-cal stuff here!

The weather didn't cooperate very well. We typically had either sunny and cool (50s), or warm and rainy days. And it poured buckets the first day we visited Epcot. Thanks to Andrew and Kelly, we were able to visit all the parks - MGM, Magic Kingdom and Epcot. They did get very busy, especially just before New Years Eve. Since we got home, Roo the kitten hasn't left our side. He's turned into a real lap kitten. It could be that Laura spoiled him while we were away...

With a little luck and time, we'll post some pictures on this site shortly. There are family pics on Tasha's web site and Pat's Ward 9 site (click on LINKS above)

Jenny (Grade 12) and Katy (Grade 9) had their mid-term exams in mid-month, with their schedule changed a bit because of last Fall's teacher strike. They think that they did OK on the tests. Jenny's counting on getting some good marks so that she can drag Jeff to Titanic again (4th time). Katy's spending most of her waking hours on the telephone, especially after she gets home from school.

Ron managed to return to Florida at the end of the month for some business - IBM Year Beginning events - so was able to celebrate with Andrew on his 21st birthday.

Andrew is planning to be home from Feb 12th to the 17th, to spend some of his premium US dollars on CDs, and to show off Mississauga to his girlfriend Kelly and her friend Karen.

Pat has been typically overworked since coming back from Florida, but she's planning to be in Orlando/Miami in March, which should give her a break. And she's continuing Tasha's agility training. Check out Tasha's page - the links are listed below - Pat's really learned her HTML!

And yes, most of January we've had snow on the ground. Temperatures aren't bad, around freezing, and there have only been a couple of heavy (6") snowfalls.

Florida Trip Details

If you're interested in more details of our Florida trip, read on! Also, please feel free to send email questions to: ronsaito@hotmail.com

From Mississauga to Orlando:

We did this in three easy days, covering the 1400 miles via I-75 in about 22.5 driving hours. Dave Hunter's "Along the I-75" guide helped us to find the Taco Bells' so that Jenny could get her Bean Burritos. It also tells you where the Speedway and Racetrac gas stations are, which typically offered the cheapest gas. The first 200 miles, from Streetsville to Windsor along the 401 is quite boring. I found the duty free shop at the Ambassador Bridge more expensive than the shops at Fort Erie or Queenston. Beer was $18 CDN a case at Windsor, 2 for $30 at Fort Erie.

Our first fillup in Michigan (Southfield) was a pleasant surprise - regular gas was 99.9 US per gallon! I had budgeted for $1.20 per gallon, so this helped a bit to offset the $1.45 exchange rate. The CAA/AAA Triptik wasn't quite as handy as Dave Hunter's guide, but we used it as well - it kept Katy busy when she was navigating. Average speed was about 60 mph - 75mph rural, 65mph in cities with pit stops of 20 minutes every 2 hours. The posted limits are 65 rural, 55 urban, but most of the traffic is running 10 mph over.

We made it to Lexington, KY the first night (actually Georgetown Days Inn). We had to look for places that accepted pets, which did restrict our selection somewhat, but for $40 we got a clean room with two double beds, a fridge and continental breakfast. And Tasha had no problems with it. This is about 550 miles from home and took about 9 driving hours.

The next day we drove to south Georgia - Lake City (exit 2) to be exact - 670 miles and 11 driving hours. Georgia's rural Interstate speed limit is 70 mph, which means much of the traffic is close 80 mph. Yes, gasoline is still cheaper in Georgia - as low as 89.9. The bargoon was mid-grade gas at 94.9! For Factory Outlet fanatics, Georgia's I75 has a couple on the north, around Dalton, and a couple in the south, around Tifton and Lake City. And you can still get Pecans and Fireworks. We found the Days Inn Lake City quite adequate, with two double beds and continental breakfast for $35.

The third day covered the final 160 miles in about 3 hours, with the requisite stops at the Florida Welcome station for free OJ and pamphlets; and at the Disney/AAA welcome station at Ocala. Good pit stops. The final 40 miles is on the Turnpike, with $4 in tolls, but a 70 mph speed limit.

Our destination this time was a rental home near Davenport, FL (Baseball City), in the Loma Vista subdivision. It was a four bedroom house with a screened pool. Tasha settled in quickly, and the major argument was between Katy and Jenny as to who was going to sleep in which bedroom. If you're interested, the agent is Sunsplash Travel, on the net at Sunsplash.com. Most of their properties are around Baseball city, a rural highway junction. You need to drive to anywhere, but Disney is only 10 miles, and Haines City (Walmart, Publix, etc) is 15 miles. We had rented a three bedroom townhouse last time, which was a better price and had more facilities within walking distance (McDonald's, Walgreens, etc). There are lots of house and townhouse rental agencies, and many are on the net.

Orlando to Mississauga

On the return trip, we decided to head home via Cleveland, Erie and Buffalo to avoid the boredom of the 401. If you have good weather, the return trip from Orlando up I4 to Daytona, then I95 North through Jacksonville hitting I77/I79 through Columbia SC and West Virginia is about 1290 miles and about 20.5 driving hours (about 2 hours shorter than I-75). There are a few more tolls (W.VA turnpike, NYS Thruway), and fewer 24-hour facilities (where there is food and gas at just about every other exit on I75, it's about every 5 exits on I77/79. But the traffic is lighter this way. We made it home with a one-night stay, arriving about midnight.

Budget

A rough budget for the trip down and back is: Gas - 3000 miles. At 23 mpg US, the 130 gallons cost $130 US. Food - 4 days on the road. $45 per day, total $180 US. Lodging - 3 nites on the road. $40 per nite, total $120 US. So you can get to Florida and back for $430 US.

If you're wondering, the house rental was about $120 per day. You can get 2-bedroom condos from $75 per day.