Thursday, January 06, 2011

Day 2: Christmas Day

Day 2 of our vacation was Christmas Day.

We started the morning in a hotel in Atlanta. With the kids still yawning in their PJ’s, we went to my in-laws' room to see what Santa had brought.  There were stockings all around with an assortment of candies, Kleenex, hand-sanitizer, and various undergarments (Santa thought that most everyone in the room needed either socks or underwear).  For the little ones, he also brought toys.

My kids each got an age-appropriate camera. However, Santa screwed up. Just a tiny bit. When he visits our house, he typically leaves his gifts fully assembled and unwrapped. But in the hotel room, everything was delivered in its original packaging and wrapped. Problem number one was the packaging. I guess none of the adults in our family travel with a pocket knife, and those plastic bubble containers are a pain to open with car keys and teeth.

Problem number two was the assembly. I just happened to have a stash of batteries, and just happened to have a pair of extra memory cards that just happened to fit the kids’ cameras :). We popped a memory card into Charlotte’s camera and then opened the battery compartment. Whoops, it took triple-A’s, but all I had brought were (freshly charged and ready) double-A’s. Then we tried to set up Trystan’s camera. But his battery/memory card compartment needed a screwdriver to open it. A large flat-headed screwdriver. In the car, we had a small Phillips head.  Without opening the package ahead of time, we had no idea there would be tools required. So our kids nibbled some chocolate, admired their cousin's (battery-free) toys, and we got dressed, promising to get their cameras up and working as soon as we could.

After breakfast in the hotel lobby, we asked Gretchen, aka our GPS Goddess, for directions to Walgreens. Thankfully, there was one nearby the hotel that was open. Inside we found rechargeable triple-A batteries and a screwdriver. Back in the car, we plugged the batteries into a charger for Charlotte’s camera and opened Trystan’s camera. Whoops, it also took triple-A batteries. 3 of them. Just like Charlotte’s. Except that we’d just purchased their last 4-pack of rechargeable triple-A's. My husband ran back inside and came back with 4 more, non-rechargeable triple-A batteries.

I double-checked my shopping list from earlier in the week.  6 triple-A batteries. This elf might require corrective action to keep her job for next year.

Finally fully equipped and charging, Gretchen had us back on the road towards Orlando. And for a while, we had smooth driving. But once we hit Florida, we found heavy rain that made the highway slick.  I was driving through some of that and had to slow down and keep to the right lane because I could feel (or imagine) the car hydroplaning. After the previous day’s ditch debacle, I was determined to stay on the road. When we called my in-law’s to see how bad the weather was up ahead of us (as we’d gotten slowed by our Walgreens trip), they said they had sunshine. Their own GPS Goddess had led them down a different highway (ours took the toll road, theirs routed them around it).  So once again, we had yucky weather and we envied their reports of smooth driving.

At this point I should mention one of my travel hang-ups. We all have them—some folks over-plan, some hate to drive, some avoid airplanes at all costs, some carry their own toilet seat covers for gas station bathrooms. I overpack. When we went to Destin a year ago, I packed an oven (a small countertop toaster oven...). I left the appliances at home this time, but in addition to overstuffed suitcases, we carried an electric cooler with a gallon of milk, an assortment of fruit and cheese, and a ham. I was positive that, driving on Christmas Day, we would find no open restaurants in rural Georgia and Florida
Luckily, I was mostly wrong about restaurants. Our options were very limited on the road, but we had a nice Christmas lunch at a Denny’s (the only restaurant of a dozen open in that stretch of road), and once we reached Orlando, there were lots of restaurants with their doors open wide for the tourist dollars.

I should also mention that Charlotte and Trystan had no idea where we were going until we reached Orlando. Char had tried to guess before she left. I think she was querying her friends for options because she had asked about Disney and Sea World and several other Orlando attractions. But as we neared our hotel, we had her read several of the billboards.  I think by then she was too sleepy to get worked up about Disney, because she seemed very calm about the whole thing.

That made me happy. She’s an over-planner, so I was thrilled to have her calmly sit back and enjoy the trip instead of working herself up and setting unrealistic expectations (and then throwing a tantrum when reality did not live up to her dreams).

Everyone arrived safely and I was thrilled to find that our timeshare rental had a washer/dryer in the unit. Trystan had one potty accident on the way as he was walking into a gas station bathroom and keeping messy underwear in plastic bags is yucky, to say the least. I, the over-packer, had packed laundry detergent (a nifty All-in-one product that is detergent+ fabric softener + dryersheet all in one thick fuzzy sheet that would not spill in the car). And with our fridge stocked with the milk and food we'd brought from home, we were set for breakfast the next morning.

By 11PM on Christmas night, we were snug in our beds.

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