05 August 2011


Traveling by car is usually tempered with our Sirius satellite radio subscription. While CA and I don't always agree on what constitutes entertainment, we do agree that the driver is in charge of the radio dial. However, this trip to Orlando we're driving the Subaru Forrester not the BMW, so pre-planning was necessary. We made a quick stop Tuesday night at the library and checked out two books on CD for this two+ day, 1400 mile drive--David Baldacci's First Family and Susan Isaac's Past Perfect. First Family is 11 hours/10 CDs long so it lasts throughout Wednesday and way into Thursday making the drive time dwindle into quick stops for gas, food, and facilities until we settle down at a glamorous Microtel for our first overnight. O.K. not glamorous but it's a cheap ($55), clean, and convenient place to catch a good night's sleep. We even score a decent non-fast food dinner at an O'Charley's steak house. A good first day near Memphis and nearly halfway.

Come morning, we luck out as there's a Starbucks just next to the expressway entrance. Thursday passes nearly the same as Wednesday, and we move on to Past Perfect late in the day. We arrive in Ocala, Florida at another Microtel ($50) in time to walk across to a local chicken chain restaurant where we're satisfied with fried chicken salads. Not fancy, but neither is it McDonald's, Culver's, Wendy's, Steak and Shake, or any other tired fast food repeat.

Orlando is an easy drive from Ocala, so we coordinate with CCCI in Orlando arranging to get access to DM and MK's apartment to offload the car load of possessions we've accumulated and transported for them.

It turns out that our resort reservations are about 45 minutes away from the apartment-- kind of a bummer because this trip we're not even close to thinking about Disney World or vacation. We just want a nice comfortable, clean and roomy place for DM's family to relax and re-orient after their months of planning, organizing, and quite completely re-arranging every facet of their lives.

We quickly settle in our rooms and head out immediately for groceries. It's after 3:00pm and their flight arrives about 6:20pm.

Cue imminent disaster music...

The Subaru has developed a cough, which by the time we've reached the Publix grocery store, is terrifying and paralyzing both of us. We persevere, hoping against hope and yet knowing "we're screwed." We have to be at the airport with a functioning auto. They have no cellphones. We have to be there to collect adults, three little girls, and ten pieces of luggage.

Two Enterprise agencies are out of cars until tomorrow, at least. And, we're told all the local rental agencies close in 20 minutes at 5:00pm. I'd thought here in vacationland this type of business would be 24/7, but that's only at the airport, I guess.

Thankfully there's a Hertz just across from where we pull over, convinced we can't continue with the Forrester. The 20 minute deadline threatens, but we're given a very favorable rate for 4days on a Nissan Versa. We drove one of these in the South of France last winter. It's almost too small for our needs, but it's the only option and we are feeling blessed, provided for, and especially thankful. Although, our individual stress levels have skyrocketed.

We're actually waiting at the airport for at least 1-1/2 hours before our family comes running through the corridor. We get exuberant hugs and kisses from our little girls and delight in the sweet and tender moments we share just waiting for the luggage to arrive.

The girls had plenty of videos to enjoy on their flights, a bit of sleep, fun food and drinks (LG immediately reported that she had ordered Sprite at ever possible opportunity--independently orchestrating a six-year old's fantasy!) The adults slept little, especially MK who got squeezed out of even her seat by sprawling sleepyheads. Everyone arrivess happy and well behaved, even though according to their local time it's 3:00am. Amazing.

DM and CA are off to secure the second rental car, where DM decides to spring for an over-priced Chrysler mini-van for 5 days so everything will fit in one trip and we have a chance of all traveling together for at least part of the next few days. We'll all just deal with the financial ramifications later. What can you do?

We're joy filled and tired as we drive toward Kissimmee. These toll roads require an assortment of quarters ($.50 $.75 $1.00) every few miles, but the van includes a toll pass so we struggle to stay together as we navigate these still unfamiliar roads. Thank God (really) for our iPad mapping app.

Soon we're settled into two units and asleep before our brains catch up to our bodies.

Good night. Just breathe... Good times ahead.

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