So…I have a senior this year. My first in fact. And with that senior comes the realization that we are doing some things for the final time. In truth, I realized this a couple years ago and started planning and saving on my own for our FINAL FAMILY VACATION!!!
I know, I know. That is waaaayyyy over dramatic, but I realized that we would not get many vacations that include our entire family since Maggie is only 2 and Abby is getting ready to make her own way in the world. Anyway, I began thinking about what would be best to do. Lots of different ideas came up including: Hawaii, Church History trips in either New York or Nauvoo, Alaskan Cruise, and of course, if I actually asked anyone what they wanted (especially Abby) the answer was always Europe without a moment’s hesitation.
But since I am a member of the humble working class, the truth is I could save until retirement and not afford a trip for seven people to Europe. It just ain’t happening. And don’t think it is because I don’t want to go. I served my mission in England for heaven’s sake. Of course I want to go. I just don’t want, nor have the ability, to pay for it.
Regardless, amongst all these options was the idea that we could repeat one of our favorite “Once in a Lifetime” vacations and go back to Florida. This was especially appealing to Kate since she was too young the last time we went and got left at home. I have to assume this was also a popular choice for Maggie since all she would really say on the subject was, “I wanna see Mickey.”
So yesterday we made it official. Sometime next summer, we are going back to Orlando. But not just Orlando, we are going by way of New Orleans. We will fly into Louis Armstrong Airport, spend the night in New Orleans and then drive to Orlando where we will spend a week before returning to New Orleans and spending a couple of days there. I am SOOOOO Excited!!!
Anyway, what this has to do with this blog is that by pure coincidence, Maggie went to one of our book shelves on Sunday and pulled out a book of my old blog posts from back in 2010. That would be the year we went to Orlando last time.
Now I want you to think about that for a moment. That means that I have been blogging somewhat regularly for six years. That’s a freaking long time. What could one person have to say over that long of a period? Well, after reading the book, I realize…not much.
But I did enjoy getting the chance to read about that trip in detail. In fact, it was so fun, Shannon read it to the kids for Family Home Evening last night. Now so you understand, at that point in my blogging life, if we had recently gone on vacation, I liked to detail each day of that vacation, minute by minute. It was a fun family tradition that forced us to keep really good notes on our trips.
Don’t quite get it? Well never fear. For my own pleasure, and my own pleasure alone, I will now go back in time and share with you my blog post from November 17, 2010. Read if you dare!
November 17, 2010
Orlando Trip Day 1: I Don’t Want To Go
For months, Shannon and I had been planning a huge surprise trip to Orlando for our kids. We had asked them several months ago that if they could go anywhere in the country, where would it be. Logan said Disneyland. Abby said Harry Potter’s Wizarding World and Braden wasn’t sure, but wanted to go somewhere associated with Space. Disney World is pretty similar to Disneyland and is in Orlando, Harry Potter is in Orlando and the Kennedy Space Center is 45 minutes from Orlando. So we quietly booked a trip to Orlando for the Week of Nov. 7-14 and didn’t tell them. In fact, we hardly told anyone. But the day of the trip finally arrived and we had a good reason to be in Mesa as Shannon had run her triathlon the day before. Our kids still had no idea what was happening. So the morning of Nov. 7th arrived and it went something like this:
5:30 a.m. – The Hawaii 5-0 theme song starts playing on my cell phone. I don’t have a good reason as to why that is my ring and alarm tone, but I just think it’s a cool song. Not so cool at 5:30, but what are you going to do? We get showered, dressed, packed and loaded in the car.
6:40 a.m. – It’s really nice that kids, at least my kids, are not perceptive at all. First we loaded three suitcases into the truck that hadn’t been used the entire weekend. Secondly, we took Lamar with us in the truck to go “pick up Uncle Larry” wink, wink. Actually Abby did ask why Lamar was going and we said he needed to help Larry get his rental car. Pretty weak cover story, but for children ages 11, 8 and 5 who are just happy for a weekend in Mesa with their cousins, it did the trick.
7:12 a.m. – Arrive at the airport and line up the kids to tell them the truth. And…Not exactly the response we were expecting. My dreams of being featured in a Disney marketing spot were dashed as I repeatedly replayed in my mind Braden’s response of, “I don’t want to go!” Oh how I’m loving the fact that we just spent this small fortune. Get on the plane, kid. We’re gonna have fun whether you want to or not.
7:32 a.m. – Get our one larger bag checked in. That leaves three carry-ons and two parents. I am quickly realizing we neglected that all important crash course on using the handles and wheels on small suitcases with our children.
7:41 a.m. – Begin what can only be described as the torture that is airport security with three children. Forgot to mention to Shannon that you can’t have clear liquids in your carry-ons. Say goodbye to our shampoo, my aftershave and many other needful things. Cost of items thrown away at airport: $22. Seeing the fury in my wife’s eyes at a bureaucratic system we can do nothing about: Priceless. We are off to a GREAT start!
9:05 a.m. – We are on the plane and it begins barreling down the runway. Both Braden and Abby are a little freaked out. Logan? Loving every minute. As the plane begins to pick up speed, he can’t contain his energy any further and begins clapping wildly.
9:10 a.m. – Braden realizes he isn’t going to die and loosens up. Realizes there is a stranger sitting next to him and feels he must rectify this situation immediately. He meets Kathy and they begin a conversation that Braden somewhat dominates. Kathy now knows more about our family than any perfect stranger should. As it turns out, Kathy is a fascinating woman who has worked with the military her whole life. She has traveled the world and had a lot of interesting stories for Braden.
9:15 a.m. – Scariest flight attendant in the world alert. One of our flight attendants had luxurious black hair that had to be at least 3 1/2 feet long. Jet black. It wasn’t until she walked directly by our seat that I noticed she also had to be at least 67 years old. I would guess older. Definitely not her real hair color. I am suspicious as to whether it is her real hair period. She wore all black. Bottom line, she freaked me out. It was kind of like Morticia Addams had decided in her golden years to go out and get a job. As one who has had to accept the aging process at quite a young age (started shaving my head at 25 to beat male-pattern baldness at its own game), I don’t relate well to those who completely deny its existence at all. This really has nothing to do with anything, but even sitting here a week later, I still shudder when I think about her.
10:38 a.m. – Shannon, my brilliant wife, pulls out travel Yahtzee to help the time go faster. Or maybe it was to save Kathy. Yeah, come to think of it, that actually makes more sense. Braden creams her while never once slowing his constant dialogue about time zones.
11:00 a.m./12:00 p.m. – Braden is fascinated by time zones and is desperate to know what time it currently is directly below our plane. At around this time, we see the Mississippi River out the window.
12:23 p.m. – Logan is excited that he has joined the mile-high urinating club.
12:52 p.m. – Braden is tired so he…lays on Kathy. The woman is a saint.
1:12 p.m. – Land in TN. As we exit the plane and walking to the gate of our connecting flight, Braden begins speaking in a southern accent. As his elocution is somewhat lacking in realism, we caution him that he might be offending people by mocking their accent. He explains he isn’t mocking them, he’s simply living in TN at the moment and speaking as someone who lives there normally would. This is definitely logic I haven’t encountered before, but in its own way, somewhat solid. I guess. We still tell him not to talk so loud.
2:00 p.m. – We are definitely waiting on a flight to Orlando. Kids are swarming around us at the gate like crazy. Feel a definite urge to reach out and trip two little boys who are running circles around the chair that include us and our luggage. I manage to refrain. Or maybe Shannon refrained me, I can’t remember.
2:30 p.m. – Get loaded on our new plane and we are off to Orlando. Woo HOOOOO!
5:09 p.m. – Land, get luggage, get rental car and we are on our way to the hotel. Or not. We can’t really tell. The roads here are SOOO confusing and unlit to the extreme. We pray we are going in the right direction. No, I mean we literally said a prayer at some point.
6:01 p.m. – Good news, we are headed in the right direction. Bad news, that means we get to pay our first of two tolls on the way to Disney World. Kids cannot grasp the concept of having to pay to drive on a road. I have a hard time explaining the concept, because I think it’s pretty stupid as well. You’re about to make a bazillion dollars off of us in sales tax on over priced items and you feel the need to stick it to us on the roads before we even get there? I guess this is what you get in a state with no income tax.
6:20 p.m. – The badly lighted finally take their toll (ha, ha. Take their toll. Toll road…never mind.) We think we just passed the road to our hotel, but we can’t be sure because we can’t see any signs. Also, Florida is not big on exits or turn around spots on their divided highways. We know we’re not supposed to actually enter Disney World…and yet…Here We Are! Welcome to Disney World, kids! However, this does not improve our situation. There’s still no place to turn around and no signs directing us as to how we get out of Disney World in the direction from whence we came.
6:30 p.m. – We end up pulling into the Epcot parking lot and getting directions from the people who collect the parking fee. Look Kids, there’s Epcot!
6:41 p.m. – Yep, that road we thought we should have taken was the road we should have taken. Finally reach hotel.
6:56 p.m. – Get to the room and…it was totally worth the wait. There may not have been a lot of things I did right this trip, but this was one of them.
7:03 p.m. – While inspecting the room, Abby and Shannon go out onto the balcony through the master bedroom. I’m dealing with something at the kitchen counter when I hear a massive crash. I whirl around to see that Abby has walked directly into the glass door leading into the living room from the balcony. As she described it, she had never seen a cleaner door. Well, not anymore as a massive forehead mark can be seen about 5 feet up on the glass.
8:00 p.m. – After getting Subway in a very dodgy looking strip mall right next to a Hookah Bar (still not sure what that is), I make it back and we all gather in the living room to watch The Amazing Race. We all felt a little like Amazing Racers ourselves today.
9:18 p.m. – It is getting a little cold in the condo so we turn on the heater. We must have been the first people ever to do this (Stupid Arizona tourists, its Florida. It’s not that cold.) because the heater burns off the dust and sets off the fire alarms. Braden, who hates fire alarms with a passion, informs us we will have to do without a heater for the duration of the trip. When we refuse to turn it off, he refuses to take his fingers away from his ears even once he is in bed.
9:30 p.m. – Get kids to bed and get ready to go down ourselves. After a full day of travel we are all plenty tired.
11:00 p.m. – Shannon and I finally get to bed and are soon asleep with visions of fun in the coming days running through our brains.
12:00 a.m. – The alarm clock goes off for no reason. *@$&#@%!!!! What the heck? Add this to the getting lost, having to throw all of our stuff away at the airport and the fire alarm issue from earlier, and suddenly a bad vibe begins to settle into the back of my brain. I hope this all this stuff isn’t an omen.
Yep, there you have it. I am so excited. Just think of all the things that can happen with five kids instead of three. Bring on next summer!!!