Iâ€™m sitting at gate C-39, in DenverInternationalAirport waiting for our flight at , an hour and 40 minutes from now. My wife has done the majority of the planning and leg work on this vacation. I have spent most of my spare time this year writing a family history book, but thatâ€™s another story.
Anyway, our flight will take the four of us; me, my wife Margo, 23 year old daughter, Jolene, and 18 year old daughter, Jessi, to Dallas.
I donâ€™t know about leg two, which takes us to Orlando. But, Iâ€™m getting ahead of myself.
Back in February when I was still actively planning this trip, I used frequent flyer miles to buy the three girlsâ€™ tickets, but I didnâ€™t have enough miles to buy mine. So I had to pay cash. But, for some reason American Airlines said there were no seats available on the girlsâ€™ flight out of Denver and then from Dallas to Orlando. I bought tickets on an earlier flight..
Today when we got to the airport, our plan was to see about all getting on the same flight. We were half successful. We are OK leaving Denver, but the girls are on stand by for the flight from Dallas to Orlando, but still confirmed on their later, original flight. At least we are all on the same flight coming back home, a week from now. I think all of our bags are going on my flight, so if they girls arenâ€™t with me I will have to go get the bags and wait in baggage claim with them, until the girls get here.
Still we are all pretty jazzed about the trip. This cruise, on Disney line, is the first vacation all four of us have taken since 2001, when we went to Mount Rushmore. The following year, 2002 just Margo, Jessi, and I went to Hawaii. Jolene decided not to go. She was nearly seventeen that year, and got it into her head that she was too grownup or, something to go with us. We could have forced her, but we decided to let her make her own choice and then live it She does regret the decision, now. In fairness, I think her idiot boyfriend, at that time, was a major reason she decided to stay at home. But, that was better than five years ago. Now we are all anxiously awaiting getting to Port Canaveral and getting on that ship.
With respect to planning what we are going to see and do, this is probably the least regimented vacation we have taken since Jolene was a toddler. But, that is OK. We have gotten time and reservations carved out for the things that we really wanted to do. We have our reservations at Palo, Disneyâ€™s upscale restaurant, and our reservations in Cozumel, where we will go horseback riding. That is something Jolene is really looking forward to. As far as what we do when we are on the boat, we are going to look at the daily schedule and just wing it. Margo and I have both looked at the guide books we purchased and have seen a Travel Channel documentary on the Disney cruise, so we have a general idea of what is what. But, this is going to be a â€śas the moodâ€ť kind of thing.
There are four stops on this cruise, which goes to the Western Caribbean. The first is at Key West, FL. I think we are going to either just walk around, or take a tour. We want to find the marker that designates the most southern point in the US and take a picture. Then there are shops and restaurants. If we get bored, we will go back on the ship.
Our second stop is at Grand Cayman. We really havenâ€™t decided. I wouldnâ€™t mind going on a tour, and stopping at a rock formation that they call â€śHellâ€ť. I could send my mother a postcard. Then she could tell everyone she got a postcard from Hell. That would go over well with her sister, the nun.
Our third stop is Cozumel, Mexico. Margo, Jolene, and I have been to Tijuana, and I have been to Nogales, too. Those are both border towns, so I'm not sure how much Mexico we got out of that. I mentioned doing the riding, and then we will try to get some shopping in. I donâ€™t know how pressed for time we will be. But, we will figure it out as we go. There are no must see sights or things to do on this vacation, so I am going to do my best just to relax. I will probably gain 10 pounds with all of this relaxing.
Our last stop is Disneyâ€™s private island called Castaway Cay. I might try snorkeling. I tried it in Hawaii, but it was out in the middle of the ocean, and I didnâ€™t do so well. I swallowed a bit of water, and was quesy for a few hours later. But, there are beaches and other things to do. I imagine I will find something to keep me busy. There are always the scantily clad women that the beaches attract. Shhussh, donâ€™t tell Margo. She'll probably be watching the scantily clad guys.
But first we have to get there. After navigating American Airlines today, we then are going to have get from Orlando to Port Canaveral. Margo has arranged a shuttle from the airport directly to the hotel. From the hotel, the next morning, we will take the hotelâ€™s shuttle to the docks. I rented a suite at the Residence Inn, in Port Canaveral. It is the most expensive hotel I have ever paid for, even in NYC and Chicago. If I remember right, it was about $225 or so. I donâ€™t remember if that included tax. The four of us are all together in one suite. I booked the biggest room I could find. I hope that the girls donâ€™t spoiled by it. The cabin on the ship wonâ€™t be nearly so comfortable.
Thatâ€™s it for now. The preamble is now covered. Hopefully, it will be all good news.
Day One (cont.)
The expected did happen. We flew into DallasOK, but my flight, which the girls were hoping to get on too, was full. They had to go on the flight they were already confirmed on. We found this out just as soon as we got to the gate. We had to hustle from Concourse A to Concourse C. They have a shuttle, which helped. But, American Airlines had been boarding for ten minutes by the time we got there. The lady at the desk told us there was no hope for the girls to get on. So I got right on my flight. I was less than thrilled, both because we were separating, and because I was starting to feel that tell tale pressure that signaled a call to nature. . I glanced at my boarding pass as I was getting on, and noticed it was in seat â€śAâ€ť. I thought well thatâ€™s either the window or the aisle. (Which shows how much attention I have paid in past flights.) I was hoping for the aisle so I wouldnâ€™t have to bother anyone later in the flight. It was the window, so I resigned myself to have to crawl over two people. As it turned out, they were both guys my size, (240 and broad shouldered) so as they had established â€śshoulder territoryâ€ť I was pretty much squished. The flight was a little over two hours, and I made up my mind to put it off as long as possible. As it turned out, I made it threw the whole flight. But, I got a shot of bad news as soon as I turned on my cell phone. Margo sent a text letting me know her flight was delayed 45 minutes. It had been due to get in at , now it was more like . That sucks. Iâ€™m hungry and I have to deal with the luggage. But, I got one of those handy, dandy carts and after about 15 minutes of wondering if my bags had really made the flight, I got the first one. The other five showed up in rapid succession. So now Iâ€™m sitting in Baggage Claim of Orlando International Airport hoping everything else is on track. We are suppose to have a shuttle pick us up in about 15 minutes, but I suspect Margo has called them about the delay. And as I did not get a second text telling me there was another delay, I am hoping that in about an hour the girls will be walking into baggage claim. I was able to find a kiosk to buy a muffin and some water. So I have averted both dehydration and starvation for the time beingâ€¦â€¦..
Our story continuesâ€¦Margoâ€™s amended flight arrival was accurate, they touched down just before . But she did not let the shuttle people know about the delay. So this tiny Oriental/Hispanic lady shows up with a sign that says â€śWelcome Margo Kretzerâ€ť, around . She was hearing high healed sandals and was still an inch shorter than my 5 foot wife. I explained to her that the flight was delayed. I would imagine she is used to it, as she didnâ€™t seem too upset about it. So we waited around until just before 8, when Margo texted me saying that they had landed. That got our future driver excited, so she jumped up and went over to the area with the other shuttle drivers, to hold up her sign. It would take at least 20 minutes for them to get off loaded, go to the bathroom, and make their way to baggage claim. She was going to have to hold that sign for awhile. But, at least she had something to do. Margo and my daughters finally descended the stairs and I pointed them out. Joy! Another hurdle cleared
Evidently it had been a stressful flight for my eldest daughter, as she needed to feed her nicotine monkey. Our tiny-are-you-sure-you-can handle-these-heavy-bags driver said that was OK with her. Not that it would have mattered to Jolene, as she had her desperate face on. About a minute or two later we went down to the 1st level and the driver went and got her Explorer. She brought along her daughter, who insisted on opening my door for me. Nice, but I was not used to that. I kept forgetting as we made later stops, and I would do it myself. We asked the driver to stop at a grocery store, so we could get some water. We wanted to take our own on the ship, as the water on the ship is expensive. She had no problem with that either, and she found a place that was near by. We paid $9.99 for 24 bottles, double what we would pay at home, but a third of what they will cost on the boat. After that we were finally off to Port Canaveral.
About an hour later we finally made it. I donâ€™t know if it was company policy, or if the driver had to pay for her own gas. But 55 MPH was her own personal speed limit. The state of Florida was OK with 60 MPH, and in parts, 70 MPH. But, at least I didnâ€™t have to drive. We got to our hotel, and the driver and her daughter loaded us all up on the hotel luggage dolley. Iâ€™m not crazy about letting a four foot woman and her barely teen daughter handle my 40 lb luggage, but she insisted. We ended up tipping her $50 for all of the extra trouble.
Our room made up for all the headaches of the day. I had rented a two room suite. I was expecting a pull out sofa bed, and a master bedroom. We got two completely separate bedrooms, two separate bathrooms, a kitchen complete with full size stove and oven, cabinets, electric dishwasher, countertop and sink, a dining area, a living area, and a total of three TVs. This thing is bigger and nicer than our first apartment.
The only problem we had was getting something to eat. By the time we got in and settled it was almost local time. We had a choice of three Italian places. One we could walk to, and two others that delivered. The walk-to place closed at 10. Strike One. Our first choice of the remaining places bowed out, as their delivery driverâ€™s car was stuck in reverse. That left plan C. The last place were out of the manicoti my daughters wanted, so they got a pizza. Margo got a pizza, too and I was supposed to get a slice or two of that. I ordered a calzone that I expected to be smallish. It turned out to be a whole pizza folded over. So much for needing a slice of the wife's pizza. I was starved so I finished all of mine. Getting into the spirit and practice of overindulging, I had some ice cream, too. After that it was off to bed. Tomorrow the adventure begins.