Every once in a while you get a blessing in life that you don't fully understand until you in the midst of it. We left Friday night to start our vacation and made it to Paducah, KY for our first night's stay. We were smart. We reserved a room ahead of time and even though Country Inn and Suites' website told us we were getting a 2 bedroom with a pull out coach, we wound up sleeping 3 in a bedroom Friday night because we "that's all we have left". Ahh-huh. Yah. Thanks.
Because we got the 5 hour jump on our drive, I decided to be nice and not force my family to get up at 5 am. Instead, I woke up at 6 and started showering so we could get moving at a decent time. However, have you ever traveled with 3 daughters, 2 of which are NOT morning people? With the hot breakfast starting at 7 am, getting gas and (ahem) me chasing down a Starbucks but having to be satisfied with Panera, we didn't get on the road until 8 am. OUCH. Oh well. No worries. We're still ahead of the game, right?
Most of the drive went well. We made one pit stop and I really expected banjos to start playing. The sign for the restroom was scrawled in a Winnie-The-Pooh like handwriting and with the 3 deer head on the walls I knew immediately we were in TN. Having to explain to my 11 year old daughter why your butthole would be bigger if you had to go to prison for shoplifting? PRICELESS. Yes, Tennessee, you still have class.
The only traffic glitch was an extremely LONG area around Chatanooga for some unknown reason. I think that was during my 2nd nap of the day. When I woke up, I tried to find ways to amuse myself. I rolled down the window to enjoy the balmy 50 degree air. I watched two teenagers walking along the highway make more progress than we were. I took pictures of the back of my knee to show my Facebook friends that my hives have not gone completely away. Annelise let us know she needed a restroom soon to which I responded "Run up that hill and go! We'll still be here when you get done." Apparently, she did not appreciate my sense of humor.
We started looking for a room around 9 pm. At our first stop, we were told there were no rooms from Belleview all the way to Orlando, FL. Say what? How many hotels does Orland have and there are no rooms? We were convinced someone was lying to us.
Stop. No vacancy.
Stop. No vacancy.
I started visualizing us sleeping in the van at a rest stop. Hmmm. If we drove straight through, we'd arrive at Fort Lauderdale about 4 am. Not unreasonable, right? Well, maybe for me who got about 4 naps in during the day, but the idea did not thrill Jeff.
|First drinks of vacation: $17 Ouch|
We called Wyndham Bonnet Creek in Orlando and explained that we were owners and looking for a room for the night. Hey, what do you know? They are all booked up! However, they did help us find a room at the Marriott World Center for $244 a night. Price is not an issue when you want a place to put your head for the night. We didn't even quabble when we had to sleep 3 in a bed again. Samantha and Annelise are so lucky they didn't have to participate in the "everyone lay on your left side....ok...roll over...1.2.3." routine for the 2nd night in a row.
The good news? We only had 3 hours left to drive on Sunday...which means we all agreed to sleep in....if you can. I was awake at 7 am, showered and had my first Skinny Hazelnut Macchiato by 8 am. Of course, my girls didn't move quite as quick and because I was already happy with my caffeine high, I didn't gripe. We'll get to the beach today. That was all that mattered.
We arrived at the Wyndham Palm-Aire about 2 pm Eastern. While Jeff checked us in, I decided to investigate the amenities that the Palm-Aire had to offer and look what I found? The open air lounge right next to the pool! What better way to celebrate arriving in Fort Lauderdale than
borrow $10 from your teenage daughter to purchase a Watermelon Mojito!
After unloading the car, I gave the girls 10 minutes to change into their swim suits. No lolly-gagging! The sun was waiting. Unpacking suitcases can wait until the sun goes down. While at the pool, I check my Facebook to see everyone back home complaining about their "Illinois Spring Break" which was being blanketed by several inches of snow. Samantha, who keeps showing more frequently that she does come from my gene pool, posted this on Facebook:
Everyone needs to stop complaining about the snow, I have some real issues right now! This palm tree's shade is interrupting my tanning!
I'm pretty sure my comment about everyone hating us resulted in this post on my wall from my friend, Nate, the local law enforcement officer who also happens to plow snow as a side job:
You have had a lot of posts about the weather....I would hate for you not to get to see snow with the rest of us and I happen to know a guy with a plow that could put enough snow in your drive way that it would still be there for you to enjoy when you return. That is all...enjoy your trip!!
So far about 25 people have liked Nate's post. I'm sure the number will continue to rise....especially after I posted the picture of my new Billabong sandals on the dash of our van with a beautiful blue sky in the background.
|Abby & Annelise enjoying sand between their toes|
Around 5, we decided to wrap up our poolside adventure and go check out the beach before dinner. Have I mentioned that it was a high of 93 here today? Wait, everyone back home does not want to hear that? Ohh...I didn't realize. I thought you would actually be happy for me. Mawhahahahaha.
|Jeff facebooking about his evil wife|
While at the beach, instead of fully engaging with the beautiful gift of glorious sun and sand around us, Jeff decided he needed to clarify his position on the snow on our driveway:
To all my friends back in the snow reading Carla Ironman Lebers obnoxious Facebook posts and thinking of retaliating, please keep in mind that I have not been rubbing it in from the pool all day!
What? Just because he does the snow shoveling he thinks he can throw me to the wolves? I will remember this!
After a day of eating licorice, peanuts and Swedish fish, we were ready for a decent dinner; however, our youngest children are fairly picky eaters. We decided to go casual and eat at the Aruba Beach Cafe on a recommendation from the front desk staff at the Palm-Aire. A 30 minute wait for a table for 5 didn't seem unreasonable especially considering the restaurant is right on the ocean. The hostess handed me a Blue balloon with OCEAN scrawled on it while she explained that this is how they find us so DO NOT LOSE THE BALLOON.
Who thought it would be a good idea to give kids a balloon on a windy oceanfront? Do you realize how many people hate my 11-year old right now? The 30 minute wait turned in almost 60 minutes. I was almost ready to tell Jeff we should just go order a pizza and eat in the room when they came to find us.
|Blackened Seafood Trio|
Unfortunately, we did not get to sit outside and enjoy the fresh ocean breeze, but sat inside. OK....no problem. Annelise asked if she could order the $30 filet mignon even though Jeff suggested she wait until we ate a steak house instead of a seafood cafe/bar. I ordered the Blackened Seafood trio. Samantha ordered the seafood stir-fry, Jeff the Aruba burger and Abby the chicken strips. I think it's fairly sad to say that the best food of the night looked like it was Abby's chicken strips. I think you can find my review on Trip Advisor later for the Aruba Beach Cafe at 2 stars.
Day 1 is complete. We are getting ready to go to the beach now. Let's just see if I have the nerve to wear my new bikini.