One of the perks of living in a tourist mecca is that you quickly learn how to do the tourist thing yourself, but cheaply!
So, last weekend, we planned a trip that only had one thing on the agenda:
Stay & Play At Hotel
There are so many activities to do at this particular resort that there is really no need to leave the grounds. And we resolved to stay put and enjoy ourselves for 2 nights and 3 activity-filled days.
We were so thrilled when we arrived. Except that our room wasn't quite ready. But we checked our bags and headed toward the pool. An hour later, we checked with the front desk. No luck.
After 3 hours of keeping the kids busy without the luxury of luggage or a room close at hand, we finally settled into an upgraded (for all our trouble, thank you very much) room with a view of all the theme park fireworks shows. Good enough. (Except that Drew refused to even look out the window either night, fearing the loud noise and bright lights of the spectacle.)
We ventured out of our hotel the first night to dinner and to visit one particularly well known theme park's downtown shopping district and legendary Lego store. At dinner, Miss M spilled my husband's soda all over both of them and the waitress. After finishing their food in their wet, stained clothing, we headed out. After parking miles away from our final destination, Drew spent a grand total 3 minutes playing before he decided that the venue was too dark and too crowded and way too hot.
So, we found a great little show at the ampitheater, hoping our boy would enjoy a rousing, audience-participating dance fest. He sat in the baby's stroller instead. Luckily, Miss M found the entertainment absolutely delight, and she moved and grooved to the Chicken Dance and the YMCA on her daddy's shoulders.
With an exhausted and unenthusiastic little guy on our hands, we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel. On our mile-long walk back to the car, my back went out. I couldn't walk in any position except completely doubled over. So, my accommodating hubby dropped me off at the entrance to the grand lobby, where I shuffled like Grandma Mable to the glass elevators and managed to crawl to a steaming hot shower for some relief.
That night, as I finally found a comfortable sleeping position, Miss M awoke the entire floor, announcing that the teething medicine and Ibuprofen had WORN OFF! It took 15 anxious minutes to calm her down. I could almost hear the businessmen and women down our corridor cursing. We finally calmed her down and got her back to sleep, but it took a while for mama & daddy's nerves to calm down as well.
We woke early with a new resolve to make up for our rough start. We dressed and headed down to the breakfast buffet. Considering that we hoped to make it a "Cheap" weekend, we couldn't justify spending $20 pp on breakfast. So, we once again ventured off the property of the hotel to find a suitably priced meal.
Upon returning, we were able to get some swimming, kayaking, putt putt-ing, and arcade-game playing in before lunch. Wanting to give our kids the "Mouse-House" experience without going to the parks, we headed back to the theme park's shopping/dining/entertainment boardwalk for some lunch. We chose a wild, child-friendly themed restaurant. Drew laid his head on my lap and closed his eyes the entire time.
We were eagerly anticipating the afternoon, though, as my brother and his wife were coming to hang out poolside with us and enjoy the amenities. As they arrived, a colossal Florida thunderstorm rolled in, too. It stayed as long as they did. So, instead of bike-riding, volleyball-playing and rock-wall-climbing, we sat in the lobby of the hotel's downstairs conference room facilities and let the babies crawl on the plush carpet.
After a nice dinner out (where we had to battle traffic and monsoon rains), my brother's family left. The clouds rolled away and the sun came back out for the remaining 30 minutes of daylight.
So, Drew and I headed down to the pool. We stuck our feet in the hot tubs and the cold water and talked a little about the start of Kindergarten. About 15 minutes into our "swimming", Drew announced that he'd like to go upstairs and watch some baseball with his daddy.
We settled in for the second and final evening of our stay. At approximately 11 p.m., after the fireworks show that no one would watch was over, Miss M woke up screaming again. She was absolutely inconsolable for 10 minutes.
That was when I made the call.
"I'm done," I stated. "Take her downstairs. I'm packing the bags. We're outta here."
My husband, at his wits' end too, gladly obliged. With screaming infant in hand, he headed out the door, through the hallway, down the elegant glass elevators, and through the luxurious lobby, apologizing as he went.
I scooped up everything I could and began throwing it into bags. Dirty clothes, wet bathing suits, sodas and souvenirs were heaped into whatever open luggage would house them. I woke a sleeping Drew from his slumber and put him into the stroller. He began to cry as he realized that his little vacation was coming to an abrupt, late-night end. He, too, cried all the way out of the room, through the hallway, down those same elevators, and past the same courteous staff (who were, I am pretty sure, waving goodbye rather enthusiastically).
And almost exactly at the stroke of midnight, our beautiful carriage turned back into a pumpkin, and pulled out of the resort's gates.
I tried to make small talk with my husband on the way home about the ordeal of the last two days. But he wasn't up for much small talk. I understood. So, with bitter, steaming coffee in hand, we just drove west in silence until we were home sweet home.
With a few days of perspective, the trip doesn't seem quite so bad anymore. The mind is a great editor. The bad memories and mishaps often fade with time. The good stuff mostly remains.
And with a few great pictures and some creative editing, I can ensure that this vacation goes down in the memory book as a fairy tale!
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