June 17, 2014

The Aftermath

We made it!  The Great Adventure 2014 was epic!  Really!!!!!!!!!!

It was a lot of work getting things ready, lining up a house-sitter to care for the dog, cats, fish, indoor plants, yard and veggie garden, cancelling mail and paper, suspending milk delivery, making sure EVERYONE knew where we were going to be and how they could get hold of us should an emergency arise.

We had shoe box sized plastic containers for many things - chargers and occasionally used electronic devices (including the nifty little walkie-talkies BB and I bought our first season camping with a trailer. Oh, I'm sorry "2-way handheld radios" is the correct term for my younger readers - also known as "push to talk" devices) and all the charging cables and rechargeable batteries, one for travel games in case of inclement weather relegating us to the hotel room.  We had one large one with sleeping bags and an air mattress in case there weren't enough beds at night for the kids.  We had 3 suitcases (really, it was one large one, and 2 "carry-on" size bags), a cooler, 2 medium sized crates of "dry goods" (napkins, disposable silverware, plates, pretzels, crackers, dried fruit and the like, PLUS 2 king sized pillows, and a backpack for each of us with "toys" and "books".

Our vehicle was FULL...

We started out EARLY Saturday morning and made amazingly good time from our house to our hotel in Las Vegas...so good that we were checked in, settled in, and eating dinner at this AMAZING Mexican place by 5:30 that night...

BB was ill while we were in Vegas, and spent several hours sleeping in the van in the parking garage at the casino.  Yes, we went inside casinos in Las Vegas.  More than one.  More than once.  OK, let me clarify that...we went into the "shops" at the casinos and traipsed through tourist trap food courts to get to exciting things like The Adventuredome at Circus.Circus, and watched The F.all of At.lantis at Ce.asar's Palace.  The lights, the noise, the sheer size of the buildings, matched with the over the top decorating to keep with the themes had our kids enthralled...we drove the strip and saw the amazing sights and watched the fountains outside Bell.agio...and while I know that there are many many multitudes of things going on in Las Vegas of which I don't approve, nor in which participate, we had a BLAST!  I learned that there are plenty of things in Las Vegas that are not supported by or associated with casinos, gambling, liquor or scantily clad people to keep oneself occupied...We swam, we went to aquariums, we oohed and ahhed over the lights and glitz.

We drove to Bakersfield, where we celebrated my amazing niece.  She didn't just graduate early, she graduated early near the top of her class, WITH HONORS, AND was awarded scholarships to cover her first 2 years at Milligan College!  She's quite an amazing young lady...we were also entertained by my nephew's ability to ride a unicycle.  My brother actually constructed a unicycle park in their backyard so he and his friends could practice their tricks safely...

We drove from Bakersfield to Anaheim, wherein BB and I had a serious case of the butterflies that grew exponentially as we got closer to the sign that said Dis.ney.land Dr, certain that some young eye would catch sight of something with ears, or a castle turret and the secret would be out...miraculously (and a bit ironically), we were IN the hotel, checking in to our room, Capt with a map of Cal.if.ornia Ad.venture in hand, when the desk clerk asked if it was our first visit to the great DL before they caught on...but when they did...OH!!!!!  It was worth every second of every minute in which we agonized about how many days to stay, should we buy this option or that...truly priceless.

Captain was treated with banners, signs, balloons, a giant stuffed Mouse, special ears, an autograph book...the girls each got a smaller stuffed Mi.nnie and autograph books plus personalized ears...and we were in the DL by midafternoon....we rode rides, we picked up jaws from the ground repeatedly, we happily stood in line to meet characters...

We spent a glorious and full 4 days traipsing around, riding rides, meeting characters, enjoying the history and traditions, making friends of strangers in lines as we waited.

One of the best memories for me of the 4 days at DL were when Littlest One caught sight of S.now Wh.ite at dinner one evening.  She stood on her chair, arms outstretched, eyes lit up with glee, a huge grin on her face and squealed out "Mommyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!  SN.OW WH.ITE is HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!"  Her sheer passion and uninhibited joy at meeting someone she's only heard of was incredible.  I can only pray she keeps that joy and childlike attitude for the rest of her life...

The BEST memory is this:  we got to DL for our special Magic Hour (oh the treats you get when you stay at the DL hotels!!!!!), walked into Fantasyland at 8:15, and immediately went to the line to meet some characters, where we were told it was a 2 - 2 1/2 hour wait.  I got in line, and BB took the kids on rides (I suffer from some vertigo since the kids were born, so me and rides don't do so well together) and surprised them with a makeover session.  I'd been waiting, chatting with the families around me, and talking about how we'd all gotten there and our history with DL etc etc. when BB came up with the kids, and I teared up...They made Captain a knight, complete with shield, sword and groomed hair. They made the girls into Princesses...BB splurged and bought them each a dress and tiara, and they'd had their hair done, and some shimmery makeup applied.  Everything had been topped off with "Pixie dust" and they literally sparkled from head to toe...but they both looked so grown-up, so beautiful...it was a glimpse of the young ladies they really aren't far from being.  They all held themselves so differently, and all the times I parroted "be polite, be courteous, use a kind voice, say please, be respectful" were manifested in their behavior the rest of the time they wore their costumes...As if their physical appearance wasn't enough...I literally had dozens of people tell us the rest of the day that our kids were so beautiful and so well-behaved...this mama's heart was full, and I think I had a perpetual conversation of gratitude with God that day.

As if that wasn't enough, we spent an entire afternoon with my Aunt, Uncle, cousin and her kids.  I hadn't seen them in almost 20 years, yet my kids met my cousin's kids and they picked up where my cousins and I had left off - instant best friends, playing together.

Our time in Oregon at MILs was truly wonderful!  While it was crazy windy (Inkling, is it like that at your house or just right near the water?!?!), we had some amazing adventures to historic lighthourses, beautiful gardens, gorgeous wild shorelines, kite flying, special times with Great grandma...

I could seriously go on for HOURS about our trip...and I'll share more as the days go by.

Suffice it to say, that while there's no place like home, sometimes you have to leave home to truly appreciate what you have.

1 comment:

Inkling said...

That sounds so fun, and I cannot believe you guys were able to keep the kids from finding out until they were IN the hotel. How cool is that?! Best memory of their childhood ever. =)

No, it's not as windy where I live. The mountain we're on kind of shields things. But when we drive to the flats across the river or head to the ocean, yes, it's a totally windy experience. The beach in the winter is super crazy, and you can see kite surfers in wetsuits often thanks to the wind. When we kayaked the Broken Islands one summer, you had to be off the water at lunch for awhile, because the water would get so choppy from the wind. I dream of going to the Oregon coast....someday.....

So glad you are home and back! I missed you!