S: Florida Vacation 2007
FC: Florida 2007 Kosiorek Family Vacation
1: WHY DETROIT SUCKS ...and other musings. Day one of our eight day vacation started early. I couldn’t sleep, so I was awake at 5:00 AM, making lists in my head. I gave up trying to catch some zzzz’s and went downstairs to find lights on in both of Payton’s rooms. He’d been up since 3:00 watching his channel — naked, of course. Since Mondays are notoriously bad for parking at MSP, Derek said we should get moving as quickly as possible. After assembling all the stuff we laid out, checking the house, leaving instructions for the kitty sitter, and jamming everything into the van — we were off.
2: We dropped ourselves off at the airport (nothing like $16 x 8 days) and made our way to the terminal. Payton found a note on the ground … we were laughing already! (We never told Payton what the note said) We passed through security in record time, and got comfy in the World Club. Fresh orange juice, muffins, bagels, yogurt, diet pepsi on tap, and free wireless internet. Doesn’t get much better than that, does it? We spent 30 minutes enjoying breakfast, made our way to the gate — and I made a quick dash to grab two books for the flight. Piece of cake. | Payton sat by the window, and commented (loudly) “I can see my bag, I can see my bag!” Sure enough his bag was making it’s way into the plane. We quickly took-off and Payton and I spent the flight doing puzzles and games while Derek continued to read Harry Potter 6. We arrived in Detroit with 30 minutes to dash from gate A6 to A78. Derek said, “it’ll be fine, it’ll be fine — plenty of time.” In my effort to get Payton’s shoes on — and him off the plane, I realized that I had left my two brand new books behind. We were late, so we just kept going. Checking the monitors we couldn’t believe it: FLIGHT CANCELED. Hmmm…. While Derek & Payton headed off to the World Club in Detroit to get the flight mess sorted out, I decided to go back and claim my books. Of course, I had to wait until everyone was off the plane. They wouldn’t let me on, but the agent who did a cabin search came back and said, “no books.” Perfect. I arrived in the World Club to find Derek with “that look” on his face, and Payton running around in circles. Due to some weirdness, our reservation got split. I was under one confirmation number, and Derek & Payton were under another. Because I was “single” I was placed on the next flight to Orlando, leaving in 2 1/2 hours. Derek & Payton were on a stand-by list #3 & #4 in line. As a backup plan, the agent booked Derek & Payton on a NWA flight to Cleveland, and then on a Continental Flight from Cleveland to Orlando that would arrive at 9:00 PM.
3: Time for lunch. After chowing down overcooked food — we went back to the World Club to wait. Payton laid on the floor for 30 minutes doing puzzles while Derek read and I caught up on email. Of course, the plane was delayed. Again. They were offering food, hotel and roundtrip tickets to anyone who would be willing to take a flight to Orlando in the morning. No takers. Realizing that we’d never make it on the same plane together, Derek called the car rental place to add my name to the car reservation. Final call. I was almost the last to board. I was pleased when the flight attendant gave out whole cans of soda, which I quickly spilled down my shirt and pants. The kind lady next to me says, “need a drink?” and handed me her napkin. I moped up the mess and she said, “do you hate Detroit as much as I do?” Indeed I do. After the beverage disaster I decided to document our trip… and as soon as my computer booted up we hit turbulence. MAJOR turbulence. Carts sailing, luggage falling from the overhead compartments, and MY laptop hit HER drink and spilled it all over HER lap. Nice. Ah well… I thought. At least I have lots to look forward to: finding my family, my luggage, my rental car, the liquor (i mean, grocery) store… and some dinner. Later… Since the luggage hadn’t arrived yet, I decided that I should grab my car instead. The line was 52 people long. I counted. I landed just behind a flight from the UK and the queue was filled with happy travelers. After waiting in line for 50 minutes I finally made it to the front and the agent said “your husband is a special client of ours, you could’ve gone through our express line.” Perfect. Ooh, text message from Derek: “we’re rolling.” Derek & Payton were still two hours away. I signed for the car, bought insurance we didn’t need, and went up to find luggage. No luggage. Fine. Hungry, I had some pasta, drank a glass of wine, read my book. A welcome respite. I found the car and took off. After 15 minutes of driving I found a grocery store and filled my cart with soda, breakfast goodies and the standard staples for our house: paper towels, laundry soap, sponges. I headed back to the airport and Derek & Payton arrived. “Sorry we were late, Mom, we had to go to Cleveland.” Of course, they couldn't find all of our luggage, so Derek wrote his name and address on a piece of paper and left, hoping she’d fill out the claim on his behalf. It was now approaching midnight. At our exit, the traffic was impossible. Road work on the main drag was underway and it took 20 minutes to go 2 miles. Payton started to cry. Derek and I were, well, cranky. After midnight, we made it home, carried in the groceries and settled Payton down for the night. It was 1:30 before Derek and I finally headed to bed.
4: Knock. Knock. Knock. It was 7:15 AM and Northwest Airlines was at our door with the remaining luggage. Off we go on Day 2!! Starting the day much earlier than anticipated, we trudged into the kitchen. Payton was walking with one eye still half asleep, but the pool was calling. We swam, had some pancakes and bacon, watched some Disney Channel, and Derek & I both had a little real-world work to do. The Agenda? Nothing. Derek took a short jaunt to our favorite pizza place down the street to pick up lunch and Payton and I finally unpacked, did some laundry, and played a little pool. Lunch was great… too great. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz… Around 5:00 PM I woke to complete silence. Downstairs I discovered my boys fast asleep. Payton on one couch, Derek on another. We took an evening drive around Kissimmee and ended up at Carrabas for dinner of Lobster Ravioli, Fettuccine Alfredo and Calamari. The evening sky was full of clouds heavy with rain. We headed home for an evening swim. Day 2 turned out sunny afterall.
5: Day 3: Up Up Up -- With a Fish!
6: Day 3 started with feet in my face. Payton awoke at 7:00 AM and was demanding pool time and bacon sandwiches, which we, of course obliged. He can now swim all the way across the pool by himself, and it’s amazing to watch his confidence grow. Derek spent some time on the phone with work, while I tried to remain upright. We left the house around 10:30 AM to head to Universal Studios. Derek and I haven’t been there since Mr. P arrived, but since he’s finally old enough to attend we made it our first official theme park stop of the trip. Back in March, I had the opportunity to purchase an “ExpressPass” in addition to our tickets, and shelled out the dough. It was worth it! We started at Islands of Adventure, and breezed through waits of 45-60 minutes in 5-10 minutes. (In 90 degree Flordia weather, every second matters.) Our first stop was Cat in the Hat. Payton was enthralled with watching one of his favorite stories come to life. We spent some time at Seuss Landing and made our way over to Jurassic Park.
8: Ok, so we didn’t really warn Payton before hand, which was probably a good thing. The dinosaurs were fantastic, and the final encounter with the TRex -- and plunge into the water -- was great! Payton looked at us with a great grin on his face, which was dripping with water. Hungry, we found a cool place for some BBQ Chicken & Ribs and then ventured out to the viewing area for the Jurassic Park ride. As the cars splash down, the viewing crowd gets drenched — and Payton was TOTALLY ready to join in that fun. After 10 minutes of watching the Jurassic Park ride, Payton was soaked to the skin and happy as a brontosaurus in a forest.
10: All Payton really wanted to do (okay, and Derek) was ride the Spider-Man ride. It was a “first of it’s kind” ride in the industry, and Derek and I road it years ago. It was still pretty amazing. You wear 3-D glasses and follow Spider-Man on his adventures trying to capture a variety of villains. I was S.I.C.K. afterwards, but Payton & Derek loved it. AND, as we exited the ride — the “real” Spider-Man went running by. Payton’s mouth hit the floor. Of course, it was time for the Hulk. Have you SEEN this thing? It’s a big green monster of a coaster, and there is NO WAY you’ll get me on it. Payton doesn’t meet the height requirement yet, so we waited as Derek rode it twice — (love those Express tickets) — and the 2nd time he tackled the beast he caught it all on video tape. After hours in the hot sun, we re-applied our sunscreen and walked around the lagoon to Universal Studios. We rode Jimmy Neutron’s Blast, Shrek 4-D, and ET; and Derek rode The Mummy while Payton and I watched some street performers. Payton was able to meet Lisa & Bart Simpson, Spongebob, Shrek and Donkey. (We even got some video of his conversation with Donkey.) Exhausted. We left, grabbed dinner at Key W. Kools and headed home for a swim. The best day yet.
12: Our Day 4, we decided to venture into Epcot, not quite sure how it would all turn out. Payton being really young, and Derek and I going in without a plan. Within the first 20 minutes Payton was complaining about not wanting to walk, and we had nine hours to go until the fireworks show… how would we possibly pull this off? We started at the Nemo Ride and then we talked with Crush for awhile. It’s an interactive show, where Crush answers questions from the audience. It was very well done. Payton ran around the aquarium for a while and then we headed to England for lunch — Fish ‘n Chips.
13: After a quick discussion about our plan for the day, we rented a stroller for Payton and headed around the World. Payton loved the trains in Germany, the fish in Japan, the ice cream in France, and the boat ride with Donald Duck in Mexico. We spent a little bit of time in Innoventions and then walked to Mission: Space. Payton wouldn’t ride with Derek, and then proceeded to cry when I told him that we wanted to ride Test Track. We were ready to give up, when Payton said that he was ready to give it a try. Of course, he loved it — and we rode it twice.
14: We had dinner in France, and then watched Illuminations around the lagoon before heading home. Payton fell asleep in the car, and we carried him in and dumped him in bed. Bonne nuit! Buona notte! Oyasumi! Jo tau! Gute Nacht! God natt! Buenos Noches! Good Night!
15: Day 6: The Magic Kingdom
17: Well, we made it to Magic Kingdom. We left the house at 9:30 and stayed in the park til 6:30 — that’s a long, long day, but it all went smoothly. We rode a dozen rides, and didn’t spend more than 10 minutes waiting in any of the lines, thanks to FastPass. Using the FastPass system (where you take a ticket with a confirmed time to ride later in the day) required us to walk back and forth across the park quite a bit, but it was worth it. We started with Mike’s Laugh Floor, and it was brilliant! They had animated characters doing an interactive show — like a stand-up comedy act, but with interaction with a live audience. Really really amazing. We then took a quick tour of Tomorrow Land, rode the Buzz Lightyear Ride, and grabbed some lunch. It was over 90 degrees and about 1,435% humidity. It rained for about 10 minutes, but it was just enough to cool things down a bit.
18: Other highlights of our trip to Magic Kingdon included a Paddleboat Ride, Big Thunder Mountain, the afternoon Parade, Pirates of the Caribbean (they really improved that ride — whoa!), and Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride. Payton and I made it to the front of the line of Space Mountain, but chickened out at the last minute. Maybe next year. :) My favorite attraction is the Philharmagic Orchestra. It’s a 3-D movie done to the nth degree — Donald Duck is the main character (and Payton’s favorite) and he made all the kids laugh. Everything jumps out at you, and they even added smells to the theatre to coincide with the movie. Brilliant. After the movie — we. were. done. There weren’t many people exiting the park at that time, so Payton got to drive the monorail — again. We went to the Boston Lobster Feast for all-you-can-eat crab, lobster and primerib — and the food was pretty good, albeit a bit pricey. On the way home Payton said that the rides were “Fricken Damn Awesome.” We don’t know where he got that expression from, but Derek couldn’t stop laughing.
19: When we got home, we spent over an hour in the pool & hot tub and Payton fell asleep on the couch shortly thereafter. Then Derek made some phone calls, and I spent the evening blogging, and then we made plans for our special dinner on our last night in Florida.
22: Our final day in Florida was spent swimming and reading. It was much more relaxing than our wedding day eight years ago, and the perfect way to spend our final hours in our Davenport home. The only appointment we had was dinner at the California Grill, which sits atop the Contemporary Resort at Disney World. We arrived on time, checked in on the 2nd floor, and waited to be escorted to the top via a private elevator. We had heard that the restaurant was nice and after we got off of the elevator we found out why. The view was simply amazing. While we waited for our table, we basked our view of the Seven Seas Lagoon and an overlook of the Magic Kingdom. There was a larger party ahead of us, which was escorted to their table first. As we watched them walk through the restaurant, Derek said, “that’s Newt.”
23: Sure enough, we were seated at a table next to the window … and next to the former Speaker of the House, his daughter, her husband, and his two grandchildren. Dinner was amazing. Derek was presented with a steak cooked (finally) to his liking, and I ordered salmon for the first time ever. It was simply wonderful. Payton ordered… (sigh) Macaroni & Cheese, but at least he was happy. Guests at the California Grill are allowed to view the Magic Kingdom’s evening’s fireworks from its balcony on the 15th floor. Before we made our way outdoors, Derek approached Mr. Gingrich and his “photoshopped” wife Callista (I swear, she looks as if she had been airbrushed). “Mr. Speaker,” he said, “I noticed that nobody has asked you for your picture all night and I didn’t want you to feel bad.” (Derek wants kudos for boosting his spirits) Newt replied, “Let’s do it,” and Derek shook hands with him and his wife, spoke for a few moments, and posed for a picture. Your first question will likely be, “Did Derek tell him he works for Planned Parenthood?” Nope - Derek claims he didn’t have time, but he may have been chicken.