Monday, November 28, 2016

Fun Moments in Travel - Episode 7

We like to try to take day trips when little one has some time off just to have fun experiences as a family.  One spring break week, we decided a trip to the Baltimore Aquarium was in order.  I had purchased tickets at least two weeks (knowing me, it was probably three months) in advance of the day.  I was looking forward to this visit because I myself had wanted to go there for a long time and never had.  The whole weekend before the trip, it was all I talked about!

The morning of the scheduled trip, I woke up absolutely miserable.  Absolutely. Miserable.  Every common sense part of me was telling me to stay home.  Ben and little one could go without me but that other sense that had been wanting to go forever (when I was little, I wanted to be a marine biologist) kept telling me to go!  The tickets were for this specific date alone so if we didn't go, money would be wasted.  I literally stood in front of the mirror and had a conversation with myself out loud.  It went something like this, "You are going to go to the aquarium and have a good time!  You are NOT going to ruin this for anyone else and you will put on a happy face.  You can rest when you get home, baby whiny pants!"  And that is what I did.

When we pulled into the parking garage, all I wanted to do was sleep in the car but I bucked up and kept moving.  We stopped in the cafeteria and had some lunch (complete with medicine).  We meandered through the aquarium and watched a dolphin show with a trainer named April or maybe it was a dolphin named April.  We sat in the splash zone.  We got splashed.  We had fun!  As horrible as I felt, I was so happy to have gone because it really was everything I had hoped it would be, not just the aquarium but also the family time.

When we got home, I hit the bed and believe I stayed there for three days, minus the trip to the doctor's office.  I think it was a sinus infection, like the mother of all sinus infections, and I probably shouldn't have gone back to work when I did but I felt like a major punk going to the aquarium then calling out the next few days.  Was it worth it?  Yes.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Fun Moments in Travel - Episode 6

Washington, DC.  Memorial Day weekend.  Nuff said.  Of course that is NOT how we roll on this here blog.  There's always the standard story of going to DC and seeing the sights that I will spare you with because who needs to hear all that again?

At the end of a very long, hot day filled with extra people visiting DC, we were hoping to get dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, right up the road from our hotel.  As we were walking to said restaurant, it started raining just enough to leave us pretty wet but not soaked by the time we got to the hostess stand.  We were told there would be a two hour wait which was just not an option for us.

As we stood in the doorway trying to figure out where to go, the fire alarm went off.  No one in the building was exiting but Ben was on exit patrol with our group.  The girls had separated from us to look in the gift shop so there was a moment of panic while we were standing in the doorway trying to figure out whether we needed to exit (it was raining harder now) or stay in the building.  The girls, having been trained for years to exit a building upon the first sound of an alarm, were standing outside in the rain next to a curb (see, public schools DO teach kids all kinds of things, like survival).  We managed to find a building with a small overhang a bit up the block and stood under it while looking for another place to eat.  Dad friend found a restaurant with no wait.  Ironically, it was a restaurant literally next door to our hotel.  We walked around the block to the restaurant, NOPA.

By the time we got there, we were completely drenched in our touristy clothing (read: t-shirts and shorts/capris/jeans), hair dripping wet.  We were greeted by a host wearing a suit.  He didn't bat an eye as he sat the six of us at a table near the entrance and center of the dining room.  We were greeted by a waiter also wearing a suit and a person that I refer to as the water boy who filled our glasses after every sip (not an exaggeration).

I was really uncomfortable upon being seated as the restaurant was quite fancy for our dress, even if we had been dry.  However, the waiter was fantastic - even getting information from the chef concerning a few dishes that we had questions about for dietary reasons.  Once I got over the initial shock of feeling out of place, I moved on to just enjoying the experience.

Each of us ordered something different and we all tried each other's items, all of which were impeccably delicious!  Little one had a side called potato air that she didn't share with anyone and I still think about that dish today.  She shares everything so it had to be good and I have considered driving over there just to try it.  The description is as follows, "Potato Air, Black Garlic Jus," something that sounds so incredibly simple but must be magical because I can't replicate it (of course, having not had a sampling, how could I?).

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and had dessert at their on site restaurant while the girls played in one of our two hotel rooms.  What had originally started as a potentially disastrous experience turned into yet another fun moment in travel.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Fun Moments in Travel - Episode 5

We had been planning a special trip for the end of the school year in 2013 to Kings Dominion.  When the time finally came, it was during a hurricane.  Sure, we could reschedule for another time but what fun would that have been?  We left as planned and headed over not knowing what we would run into.  When we got to the park, it was closed.  No problem, we headed over to the hotel, got changed into swimsuits and went for a swim in the indoor pool for the afternoon.  For dinner, we went to (take a guess) Dave and Buster's!  It wasn't in our plans but with the park closed, what else were we to do?

The next morning, we checked the website to see whether or not Kings Dominion would be open.  It was still raining but was expected to clear up in the afternoon.  There was no update so we headed down to breakfast with hopeful hearts.  When we called a bit later in the morning, the message stated that they would be open!  We headed out the door and got to the park shortly after opening.

There was no traffic and we parked so crazy close to the entrance.  When we crossed through the gates into the park, there was hardly anyone there.  It was still raining, more than a sprinkling but less than a shower so some rides were closed but the roller coasters, what we were there for, were open!  Ben and little one weaved through the corrals to get to the coasters with literally no wait.  As soon as they came off one, they went on another one or rode the same one again.  It's the closest we've ever been to a park open just for us and we enjoyed every moment of it!

In the early afternoon, the rain stopped and the people came.  It was a lot more crowded but we had gotten on every ride we wanted to and more already.  We were able to head back later in the afternoon having ridden more than would have ever been possible had we waited for a better weekend.  Where most people would have looked at a weekend trip during a hurricane as a disaster, we were able to see it for what it was, one of the best weekends we've ever had!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fun Moments in Travel - Episode 4

One of the places we enjoy spending time is Dave & Buster's because they have good food and video games out the wahzoo to play.  We've been to Disney twice and on both trips, we made sure to schedule time at Dave & Buster's.

The first time we went there, the little one was around 4 years old.  The gaming was all about her.  We were walking around in the game area when a gentleman came up to us and chatted for just a moment before giving little one his game card and said, "Merry Christmas!"  We were floored but had no idea what was on the card.  The man looked like Santa - white hair and beard, round gold wire-rimmed glasses and a jolly laugh.  After we finished playing, we took our cards and the card he gave us to the prize counter.  It had over 10,000 tickets on it!

The second time we went, we were worn out from doing so much earlier in the week and had spent the day lounging around the house.  Tired and not feeling well but still wanting to do something, I talked Ben into going to Dave and Buster's.  We were seated right away and had a nice waiter that didn't rush us through our decision on what to have to eat.  It was nice to have time to talk together about our trip so far.  Shortly after placing our order and while the waiter was reloading our game cards, a lady came over and asked if we wanted our picture taken.  We agreed and it turned out wonderfully, especially considering how we were feeling earlier in the day.

I have this picture on my refrigerator and I look at it every day and smile.  It reminds me that time spent with family is always good even when you don't feel 100% and if you don't do things that might be uncomfortable, you lose out on some good memories.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fun Moments in Travel - Episode 3

The fireworks at Epcot are spectacular and hands down the best fireworks I have ever seen.  When we travel to Disney, these fireworks are my number one draw.  I enjoy every single second that I get to see them so you know if I miss them voluntarily, it has to be a big deal.

As one of our Epcot days was winding down, we were just about to meander down to the fireworks show when Mom friend suggested that now would be a prime time to go see Soarin' because everyone would be at the fireworks.  I was immediately in - how many times do you get to see Soarin' without a line, even with the Fast Pass?  We had about 20 minutes before the rides were going to close so we hustled over as fast as our exhausted legs could take us.

15 minutes to go and there was a character meet and greet with several characters and only a few people in line.  Mom friend said we could do a quick stint there before hitting Soarin' so we altered our route to get there.  As we were standing in line, my daughter realized we hoodwinked her.  She said something like, "How much longer . . . wait . . . is this Soarin'?!?"  Mom friend and I couldn't get over the look on her face when she realized what was going on.  When she found out we were in line for character pictures, she wasn't happy but she tolerated the detour and moved it along by refusing to get her picture taken with a few characters (she was not into characters on this trip).

We sped through and made it up to the building where Soarin' was housed.  Of course, we had to go around the hall, down the stairs and though an entire weave of hallway (where the line normally would be) to the entry doors.  On the way down the stairs, Dad friend stumbled down a few of them but continued on his speedy pace and I lost it, slowing my roll due to hysterical laughter.  We managed to make it and got to sit in the top middle row with no one else in the section.

While we were "waiting to board," we hit up a conversation with the cast member and then talked it up a bit more with a few of the crew members inside, even getting a group picture with them!  When the ride ended, one of them came over to us and said that were going to do one more run since another family came in once this one had started and said we could stay and do it again if we wanted to.  Well, of course!  It was simply magical.

When we got out, the majority of the crowd was gone as the fireworks had finished.  We took our time leaving, noticing the little details at the end of the night that are usually missed.  Leaving the parking lot was super easy and we were soaring on cloud nine as we headed home with a memory of complete happiness (maybe minus the character pictures).