Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Sheri was dead to the world at midnight. Good thing, because we needed one of us to be coherent today, and it sure as heck wasn't going to be me. Between the excitement and (more so) my thumb pounding (I was actually taking my pulse from the throbs while laying in bed), I got less than an hour of sleep. The first alarm goes off, and I'm out of bed. I turn off the other alarms so Sheri could get a bit more sleep, and I head downstairs to see if the podcasters were able to do anything on such short notice. The first e-mail I see is from Lou…he just saw my e-mail around midnight last night and asked if he could record something later on that day. I started kicking myself for not coming up with this idea until just a couple days earlier. I fire off a quick reply, thanking him for the offer and mentioning that we'll likely see him on Saturday at his meet-up. I also see a message from Newell. Something came up with one of the folks, and they ended up not being able to record the previous night. I could tell he felt bad…it sounded like they had a spiel set up and everything. I then kicked myself even harder for not coming up with this idea sooner.
I have to pause here for one second…even though these guys wouldn't know me from Adam if we passed on the street, both the WDW Radio and the WDW Today crew were willing to help out with the surprise, and that knowledge alone makes me appreciate what they do all the more. Thanks guys – I wasn't expecting anything at all, and I greatly appreciate your willingness to try to help out.
I head back up and get dressed…back downstairs to shoot Mac (give him the insulin), grab the video camera, and talk to Sheri about how to spring it on the boys. I had another idea…the previous day, I was on the computer "conveniently" looking at the Atlanta Aquarium's web site. I was planting the seed that I could use this as a possible way to spring the trip on them. I thought we could wake them up and tell them that we were going to fly to Atlanta and see a huge aquarium (they, naturally, would think of what they just saw on the computer). Of course, I would leave out the fact that we weren't going to stop at Atlanta and, instead, continue to Florida to eat at the Coral Reef, which is also a HUGE aquarium.
Sheri wasn't a big fan of the idea…she was concerned that they would be upset that we weren't going to Atlanta. I looked at her, dumbfounded, and wondered if she knew Aaron and Eric – the two who beg to live in Disney World at least 4 times a day. Okay…let's come up with something else…QUICK!
We decide to go with the "lots of surprises" route. Sheri is certain that they'll figure it out as soon as we wake them up. We head into Aaron's room:
When he realized it, he came up and gave me this big hug. That smile told us everything. Yeah…good start to the trip!
The boys, for once, don't have to be told to brush their teeth and get dressed.
They are ready at warp speed. I get the food ready for the cats and tell them "bye" (as usual, they can sense we're heading out for more than a day and are pissed). We pull the van out, go through all the mental lists, and head out for our long, boring journey to the airport (8 minutes). I drop off the rest of the family as well as the luggage and head out to park the van. It was a warm/humid morning, but at least the rain had temporarily stopped, so I had a nice, leisurely walk to the terminal. I meet up with the family and start the online check-in process. I break one of the check-in kiosks (went out of service as I was trying to check in…it wasn't mentally strong enough to handle me), and I move to another one to beat on it for a bit. It's stronger, and it gives us the boarding passes for our flights. As we dump off the bags, I catch the Myszka family from Downs out of the corner of my eyes, but they were past us before I could catch up with them. As we walk by the coffee shop, I see the Mouser and the Myers clans getting ready to head out for their trip to Mexico. We talk for a brief moment about scheduling a t-ball tournament at the airport when we got back (they were coaches in the same league I was coaching in) before heading through security. After bathroom breaks, more talks with half of the Downs population, and more bathroom breaks, we see the Mexico-bound folks board their flight and depart. Within a few minutes, we start boarding, and, before we know it, we're in the air.
It's going to be a hot day all over the country, which often means we're going to be feeling a little bit of chop in the air.
Well, it was more than a mild chop…
We hit moderate turbulence for quite a bit of the trip. Sheri was green, and someone a couple of rows up had to use the barf bag. I wanted to sleep a little, but the thumb was feeling even worse. Still, I was in a plane (always a good thing for me), and I was with the family heading down to MCO (always a good thing for me). I could tell we were making awesome time down there, and the air traffic arriving into ATL seemed much lower than usual. Often, I can feel the plane start making turns to sequence us for arrival not long after we're over BNA (Nashville). Nothing…not even an S-turn (a common move by air traffic control to increase the spacing between aircraft). Kewl!!! We scoot around to the east and are lined up to land west. I didn't see my first traffic until we were turning onto final, and there was only 1 landing on the south parallel. We land a good 15-20 minutes early, which means I think we have a slight chance of trying to hop on standby on an earlier flight. Unfortunately, the arrival gate was still occupied (one of the potential pitfalls of arriving early). As we deplane, some people started kissing the jetway, glad to be rid of the turbulence. We enter the terminal, jog to an info screen, and notice that the earlier flight had indeed departed. No problem…we only have an hour layover. We hit the bathroom and grab something to drink.
We're in a 737 rather than an 717 for this segment, which means that there's going to be someone in the seat between me and Aaron. It's a UM (unaccompanied minor for the non-airline folks), an 11 year-old girl flying to stay with her father for the summer. She agrees to take the aisle seat; Aaron prefers to sit by the window, leaving the short, fat, hairy, obnoxious guy to the middle seat. The girl sitting in the aisle seat next to me isn't shy at all and strikes up a conversation with me for much of the flight. No prob…even though I wanted to sleep, I'd much rather have someone like that than someone who says absolutely nothing or complains the entire time (though having a swimsuit model sorority co-ed who's scared of flying sitting next to me and needs me to hold her hand is also good). We start our descent and, before we know it, we're on the ground, and EARLY!!! I don't get too excited, though, because we landed on the 36L (northwest) side, and our gate is waaaaaaaaayyyy over on the southeast concourse. No worries, however…hakuna matata…we're still about 10 minutes early. Being the seasoned veterans, we know not to hit the bathroom by the gates because everyone else is. All we have to do is hop on the tram…and there's one waiting for us. As we walk up, the doors close.
Grrrrrrr…and my back teeth are about to float.
4 minutes later the next one comes on the other side, and we're on the tram.
Day 1 is continued HERE.