The following trip report is not for the faint of heart, those on the fence about whether or not to have children, the squeamish, or those who take life too seriously to enjoy the small things.
Cast of Characters – Anna (mom, age 42) and Brighid (daughter, age 15)
Day 1 February 7th, 2007
On our way home from Disney World last week, my husband and I decided if we could find reasonable airfare, as a special treat for our teenage daughter, she and I would take a quick trip to Disney – just the two of us, no little kids, no dad, just a girly thing. We wanted to do something special for her for getting accepted into a mini-medical school program. She is one of only 4 sophomores to get accepted into a mostly senior program. We are so proud.
I managed to get a one bedroom villa at SSR, our home resort, so we will have the kitchen and the great tub. I sat down at the computer to check air fare, and lo and behold, a Southwest Ding fare comes up just as I am sitting there – one way, $42 from Philly to Orlando. I am so excited that this all seems to be falling into place, and I am going to get a stress free, calm vacation with my daughter, who all too soon will be grown up and too busy to want to do this. Everything gets booked, and I am thrilled.
Then the report card comes in the mail.
Okay, I pick myself up from the floor, discuss how bad it will look for me to take her out of school for 3 days with grades like these, yell and scream about how much the tuition is costing me, listen to how much better she is in control of the two subjects that she is doing poorly in, yell again about how someone gets in control of two big subjects by Monday when on Friday she was doing “great” in everything, and then I threaten to send her to public school, where I can get grades like this for free. In fairness to Brighid, her GPA is 3.3, but she went from an A first quarter to a C in Algebra II; she got a low C (very low) in Chemistry; and she got Ds on the chem exam and the algebra exam. Were it not for her first quarter grades, the GPA would have been much lower.
So, because I’ve already paid for stuff and booked stuff, we agree to take the trip anyway. We also secure tutoring for Brighid for every day for the rest of her natural life, and we light candles in Church for the redemption of her academic soul. I promise not to mention the grades during the entire trip (and here we are, 12 hours in, and I have only broken that promise 14.3 times), and we agree that the situation is now, truly, under control.
Off we go to the day of the trip. My husband, who has taken the three days off, finds out the night before that he has to go to a meeting. He does have time to take the 5 year old to school, but not the one year old to Dram’s and Pop-pop’s. I get up and get everyone ready, Brighid and I are packed, and I am going to take the baby to my mom’s until Jim can get her after the meeting. It’s only an hour trip, round trip, at the most, and I step out the door at 7:30.
It has snowed the night before – only an inch – but apparently, an inch is enough to throw off the entire state of NJ. In addition, I have to go past a large mansion on the way to my mom’s house. Because traffic is terrible and I am now running late, of course this mansion has gone up in flames and now the road is closed to accomodate the fire and emergency services vehicles. I am in a panic – checking my watch, since my car is picking us up at 9:45 to get us to the airport. I had planned to have plenty of time, stop at Starbucks, get home and check my email. At 9:43, I pull back up in front of the house to find a slightly ticked off driver, wondering where the heck I am. Yep, this is a Skamarakas family trip, alright. Murphy’s law above all else.
We get to the airport, and I have to tell you, the last time I flew was to London and Rome a year before the attacks on the World Trade Center. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. Those feelings completely melt away and leave behind absolute mortification when I get to security and find out that I have to remove my shoes before I can get on the airplane. Are these people serious? I mean, I’m all for safety and security and all that stuff, but I’m a mom to three daughters and a dog – do they think I actually have two socks that match? And if I did, do they have any idea what the chance is that I know where those two matching socks are and happen to be wearing them today?
Up I go, removing my shoes, apologizing to the security people, the people in front of me, the people behind me, telling them my mother always told me to have clean underwear, but never said anything about socks. I glance down in prayer, hoping that at least I have two socks of the same color. Yay! I do!! And just minutes later, we are on our way to the gate, secure in the knowledge that none of our fellow passengers is carrying explosives in their shoes, and none of them care that my left sock was a little less white than the right.
The flight is uneventful, and I am so excited when they give me not only a small bag of peanuts to snack on, but a bag of crackers which taste like my favorite Club Crackers and are shaped like little airplanes! I decide to save the crackers for my daughters back home, and I have a nice snack on the peanuts.
We arrive in Orlando, and because I was worried about coming in late, I declined my in-laws invitation to pick us up in favor of taking Disney’s Magical Express. We phoned only the day before about using this transportation, so we had no luggage tags or anything, but they assured us everything would be taken care of. The bus going to SSR is pretty full, as it also makes stops at OKW, POFQ and Riverside. It’s a nice ride and we are soon pulling into the resort area.
Check in is smooth, as we were the first people in line from the bus ride over here. In a matter of just a few minutes, we are assigned room 7325 in the Carousel section. I am really bad with a map, and it looks like the section is 1000 miles away from where we are, but before I can voice my concerns, the CM at the front desk tells me to go to the bell services stand out front and they will get me to the building where I need to be. After a rather lengthy wait, we are on our way for about a 3 minute ride on the golf cart to our room.
We head upstairs, anxious to get on the phone to the in-laws, who are meeting us for dinner. Brighid runs into the bathroom and comes out telling me there is a huge puddle in the bathroom and I should call someone. I walk over and smell the urine smell pretty immediately, and get on the phone to the front desk. After a half hour wait for maintenance, I phone again and ask for a manager. We have been on the road all day after all, and we have to pee.
Finally, someone comes up, flushes the toilet a dozen or more times, and tells us that there is nothing wrong with the toilet, but someone has apparently “had an accident” on the floor and never notified housekeeping. Since we have just arrived, our assumption would have been that housekeeping had been here since the last guests. I get back on the phone – holding it at arms length so as to not pick up any other germs in this disease infested room, and I tell James, the front desk manager, that apparently, his housekeepers have peed on the floor here, and I would rather not risk sleeping in the bed tonight. He promptly assigns me to a room one floor up.
Now settled into our new room – well, as settled as we can be without luggage. we phone the in-laws, we phone home to hear children screaming and a dog barking, and a husband telling me to enjoy my vacation. We are soon on our way off property for dinner – Black Angus, here we come!
We are back in our room, full and tired, and we find our luggage. We unpack, Brighid gets a nice hot bath with bubbles in the jacuzzi tub, and we curl up in bed to watch LOST.
The first day of the first annual mother daughter trip goes off as expected – with a little bit of everything rolled into fun.