Despite the admittedly upsetting events at the beach, we did actually have a good trip. Our primary purpose was to celebrate John's parent's 50th wedding anniversary, and we did. The party on Saturday went very well - lots of people came, good food was eaten, cake was cut, pictures were taken. His parents seemed to have a good time, and the kids pretty much behaved themselves. What more do you want from a party?
50 years of marriage. Wow. Hope we make it that long.
Sunday, since we didn't feel like going to the beach (gee, ya think?), we went to the Speedway and did the NASCAR thing after church. Now, we are not really a NASCAR family. My dad would watch anything that raced (cars, trucks, boats, swamp buggies, you name it), and I did watch with him on occasion, but I really haven't followed it since then. And John's not really into it. But we had a good time. We saw the movie first, which was good, because it did a good job of introducing NASCAR for the kids. Explored the museum area some, but the highlight was John and JC doing a simulator race - JC beat all the human racers (but not the computer). And we took the tour of the track, though, alas, it was cut short by a torrential downpour. The guide took our picture on victory lane - but the camera lens was wet so it's out of focus. Rachel and William had to have souvenirs with their favorite drivers - turns out they are logo-driven, so William wanted Home Depot and Rachel went for M&Ms.
That evening, we drove to Orlando. I was driving, and as we came into the city, we hit a torrential downpour, and the GPS actually gave us the wrong directions, so it was a bit stressful. But we had a room at a timeshare place that was HUGE. Let me tell you, if you are traveling to a resort area with children, look into renting a timeshare condo. We had a two bedroom, two bath condo for a rate comparable to or less than a decent hotel room in the area. And if you sit through the timeshare pitch, you get a rebate on your Disney tickets! Yes, we did, and hopefully, we will. Disney is pricey, and we saved a couple hundred dollars by spending 90 minutes on Tuesday morning. Really!
Disney was, well, Disney. They are so good at what they do - except for the mob scene at the parking lot shuttle stop. Somehow they lost control there, and it was a zoo. But we all got to the park. It was brutally hot - Rachel actually fainted on the ferry ride, we think from the heat and dehydration. We gave her water and sat in a/c for a while and she was fine afterwards.
John's dad was the ultimate concierge. He would go on ahead and get fast pass tickets for the next "big" ride we wanted, and then as soon as we could get the next one, he was off to the next thing. We really waited in very few lines. It was crowded, but manageable. The hard part was William - turns out he doesn't really like rides. "It makes my tummy feel funny, Mom." We made him go on Splash Mountain, and then we had a hard time convincing him that Pirates of the Caribbean wasn't too exciting. Poor kid. He did like the People Mover, or whatever they call that now. And Buzz Lightyear was ok. We stayed until fireworks, so didn't get back until almost midnight.
Tuesday morning, the kids got to sleep late while John and I resisted the sales pitch. Then we met John's sister and his parents at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The big draw there was Expedition Everest roller coaster, and I have to say I'm glad John's sister was with us. She took the big kids on that, and John and I took William through an animal exhibit. Unfortunately, there was a torrential downpour (are you sensing a theme here?), and they actually closed all the rides including the animal exhibit we were in. We spent close to an hour huddled under the eaves of a cart, waiting out the rain. The kids and John's sister were next in line for their 2nd ride on the roller coaster, so at least they were in shelter - except that there was a lightning strike that hit the "mountain" right above their heads. They were all fine, but a little freaked out! Never did get the 2nd ride, it was closed for a while. John, William and I went on the animal jeep safari, and saw a TON of animals - probably because of the rain, it was cooler and the animals were more active. We even saw cheetahs (stalking an eland) and lions. Perfect for William, much more his speed.
Alas, there was more to do at Animal Kingdom but we had to take John to the airport. Fortunately, since his parents live an hour away, I think we'll be back to Disney. And now I'm off to bed, since our torrential downpour seems to have stopped for the evening. I'll let you know about Alabama tomorrow.