Disney Trip – 2008
In anticipation of our upcoming vacation to Washington, later this month, I thought I’d dig up the blog I wrote during our first trip to Disney World, a couple of years ago. I only recorded the first three days of the trip. Hopefully, I’ll do better next time around.
Day 1 – Monday, May 19, 2008
Traveling with four small children is a slow process. After 12 1/2 hours, fifteen deer carcasses (I stopped counting when it got dark), $7 in freeway tolls, and three near-misses with elderly people who seemed to think the freeway was their own personal one-lane road, we managed to make it 650 miles to Marion, Illinois.
We wouldn’t have had to pay any tolls at all, but we missed the turn-off we were supposed to take and ended up traveling two hours in the wrong direction (east instead of south, towards Chicago instead of around it), on the tollway, through heavy construction.
Once we finally corrected our heading, the drive was actually quite peaceful and leisurely.
A couple of truths were revealed to us as we traveled:
1. Illinois drivers are even crazier than Minnesota drivers, with the degree of craziness being directly proportionate to the proximity to Chicago.
2. Gas is expensive
When we left Eau Claire, gas was $3.79 per gallon. Having been told that gas was cheaper the farther you get from Eau Claire, we waited to fill up until we were running on fumes. As it turns out, we were misinformed. Prices rose steadily, the farther south we traveled, eventually spiking at $4.09 per gallon, in North Central Illinois.
Each time we fueled up the minivan, a little part of me died inside, realizing that a tank of gas could have paid for a brand new video game… and then some.
We had a good laugh when we stopped for lunch, in Janesville, Wisconsin. On the way to the restaurant, Dawn saw a sign and said, “Huh. There’s a “Faith & Dentistry” here.” She said it looked like it must be a combination Christian bookstore and dentist office. As it turns out, the sign didn’t say “Faith & Dentistry,” it said, “Faith & Destiny.”
Overall, the kids did pretty well, though we did get tired of hearing, “Are we at Disney World yet?” and “Can we go home?” and the slightly disturbing, “I think we’re being followed. Daddy, speed up and lose them!”
We’re fairly close to the southern Illinois border and are looking forward to getting out of Illinois. We’re considering avoiding it as much as possible on the way home and going through Indiana, instead.
I would have posted this blog entry tonight, but the motel we’re in doesn’t offer Internet connectivity. When I asked Dawn, “What kind of motel doesn’t have wi-fi?” She replied, “The kind that only cost us $40.” Point and match.
On the agenda for day 2: A trip through Nashville, on our way through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia.
Day 2 – Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Another 12 1/2 hours, another 650 miles.
As we were packing up to leave, we learned that the gentleman in the room next to us was on his way from Florida to Wisconsin. Kind of an irrelevant fact, but we thought it was interesting, considering that we are doing the exact opposite.
Our first stop of the day was Metropolis, Illinois where we saw a giant Superman statue. Dawn fell off a curb and took Faith down with her. Faith skinned her knee and elbow. Dawn skinned her ankles and is sporting a sweet Batman band-aid.
At a rest stop in Tennessee, Faith completed the hat trick by falling off a picnic bench and skinning her other knee.
As we continued to travel south, we noticed the Ihops becoming fewer and farther between, eventually giving way to something called Waffle House. Dawn pointed out one small town that had both an Ihop and a Waffle House. I had to wonder if the employees regularly got together to rumble, like the Sharks and the Jets.
Gas prices also got less expensive as we traveled, with the lowest being $3.58 per gallon, in Kentucky.
Tennessee is beautiful and the people were very nice. If we were ever to look for a place to retire, based solely on aesthetics, Tennessee would be high on the list.
As much as we enjoyed Tennessee, we loathed Georgia. The only things to see were cops and advertisements for strip clubs. It was a lot like playing Grand Theft Auto.
We did stop for dinner at one of the curious Waffle Houses. We’re no longer curious. Or interested in Waffle House. Let’s leave it at that. It’s painful to relive.
We also lost an hour, as we crossed into the eastern time zone.
I had purchased a power inverter, to run the laptop while in the van. It worked well… until we fried all the audio/video components in the van. We are now without radio, CD, DVD, and clock capability. Since that was what we had banked on to keep the kids distracted, the ride home will be interesting.
Speaking of the kids, they continued yesterday’s theme of odd questions:
“Are we still going to Disney World?”
In Tennessee: “Are we in the jungle?”
While driving through Georgia, 1,200 miles from home: “Mama, are you off work today?”
While stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in Atlanta, Georgia: “What happened? Are we going backwards?”
As we passed through some road construction where the road was torn up, Caleb looked out the window and said, “All right, somebody needs to clean this place up, right now! I don’t want to see dirt all over the place!” I guess he’s heard me say that a time or two, back home.
We stopped for the night in Valdosta, Georgia, a mere 22 miles from the Florida border.
Tomorrow: Disney World (provided we don’t destroy any more of our van or our children)
Day 3 – Wednesday, May 21, 2008
We got a late start, after sleeping in a bit at the motel. The kids especially needed the extra sleep though, so it was time well-spent.
Once we got back on the road, Dylan informed us that if he ever became president, he would do away with flea markets because, “It’s a stupid idea to sell fleas.” The boy makes a good point. He’s got my vote.
We got to our cabin around 1:00 p.m. and everybody was thrilled to be out of the van. We got settled in, smothered our pasty geek skin with sunscreen, and then hopped on a bus to the marina. From there, we took a boat to the Magic Kingdom.
As we entered the Magic Kingdom, Tinkerbell flew over and showered the girls with fairy dust. Poor Tink hasn’t aged well; she’s starting to resemble an old man throwing Mickey-shaped glitter. Abbie didn’t seem to mind though. The rest of the day, she would stop and pick the glitter up off the ground, whenever she happened upon some. By the time we left, we had a stash that would have made Liberace proud.
We arrived just as the “Dreams Come True” parade was starting, which featured a plethora of Disney characters. I would gladly make the trip again just to relive the kids’ excitement. Abbie sat in stunned bliss, while Faith waved madly at every character, big and small. Abbie’s day was officially made when Ariel looked right at her and blew her a kiss.
We hadn’t really planned our activities so, after the parade, we headed in the general direction of Cinderella’s castle. Since this was what the girls had been talking about for the last month, it was a hit.
We rode a few rides, and then finished our first day by meeting Pooh, Tigger, and Darby. At least, I’m told her name was Darby. It seems my childhood is no longer sacred and Christopher Robin has fallen victim to equal opportunity.
The kids loved meeting Pooh and friends. Faith had a goofy grin on her face, as she just kept pinching Pooh’s tummy. Caleb was very excited that he got to hug one of his favorite characters, Tigger.
One of the photographers noticed my Mariners cap and voiced his surprise to see an M’s fan. Save your pity pal, I know my team sucks.
Some of the other children had autograph books that the Disney characters were signing, so we decided to get a couple for tomorrow’s adventures. Between the autograph books, refreshments, souvenirs, and a misting fan (it was hotter than Hades), I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to eBay a kidney when we get home. I’m also sure the kids would be more than willing to sell both my kidneys if it meant spending ten more minutes at Disney World.
Since the park was closing early for a special event that we weren’t willing to shell out more cash for, we headed back to the cabin and made it in time to watch the American Idol finale. Hey, even on vacation, you need to keep your priorities straight. Our horse won, so it was a good day for everyone.
After putting the kids to bed, Dawn and I made a plan of attack for tomorrow, hoping to be better prepared and make the most of our time. We’ve still got a lot of Disney World to cover, in only three more days.
Later that night, Faith continued her tanning-via-bruising treatment by somehow falling out of bed – even though she was sharing a bed with Abbie and was on the inside, next to the wall. As we put her back to bed, I swear I heard an ethereal voice whisper, “If you build it, she will fall off it.”
The rest of the night passed uneventfully, other than Dawn’s hostile takeover of the bed.