Say it because you know it’s true: the best part about going away is coming home. The Family Band enjoyed some R&R in sunny FL, but now I’m thrilled to be back at the keyboard (and the laundry room Taj Mahal). Some random observations, in no particular order:
1. Many thanks to the fine folks at Thrifty Rent-a Car and their generous policy of letting you pick any car you want …. as long as it’s a Crown Victoria in metallic grey, light blue or white. I haven’t ridden in a car with bench seats since I was oh, 12 years old. The trunk was big enough to pack in all our luggage and at least one of us …should the other 3 decide we had enough of you singing Starship’s “We Built This City.” By the end of the trip we affectionately called our ride Uncle Victorious, after one of the entertainers at O’hana who worked the dinner show one night.
2. Again, G-man picks a winner…. the Hilton Garden Inn had the best breakfast in all the land! Like Prince Charming, he helped to break the Spell of the Wrong Omelet. (some of you know the sad tale of a made-to-order breakfast gone terribly wrong when, in 2003, the lady in front of me left the omelet line at the Embassy Suites and created such a disturbance in the force that I got HER omelet! You know the expression: ” If Momma ain’t happy?….”) Oh, and the coffee was really good here, too. Fresh, hot, bountiful and served with a smile by Angela. Thanks again, Angela!
3. The WDW theme parks run like well-oiled machines — particularly the parking lots where the marshals operate under Disney-law. Since FL is basically one flat state of a parking lot, Disney “guests” park out in the hinterlands and take these long trams to the park entrance. The tram rides are my favorite part of the experience both entering and exiting at the end of a Magical Day. Well, this was the first time I ever felt a little bit scared on my Disney tram. You see, during the day the trams make a loop that do both: take folks from the park back to their cars while picking up folks in the parking lot. So it’s like 1 PM, and the four of us are sitting in a row on the tram like good Disney citizens riding out to the “Unicorn” lot and we pull up to the “Dinosaur” parking lot which is full of hot and sweaty people who are waiting to board the tram to enter the park and start their own Magical Days. But you see, the “Unicorn” lot is further out in the hinterlands so we are not disembarking from the tram yet. Well, we became “One Percenters” right then when a woman with a stroller screamed, a la Madame Defarge, “They’re not getting off!” We did watch a woman basically abandon her family to get a tram seat…. but she was the 6th person squeezed in with a strange family and their pater familias gently told her that she had to get off as she was scaring her own kids waiting behind the yellow line for the next tram. For a few tense seconds we thought somebody was going to yell “Tip the Tram!” and cause a riot, but our tram staff restored order and we sped away at 15 MPH. BTW people, there is a tram coming every 5 minutes.
4. Living in a state where consumers can’t pump their own gas, we are very careful to follow local custom when we have to fill our tank. So it was very curious to watch the folks who park at the pump and don’t do anything. Nobody leaves the car….. they just sit there….. for 10 minutes….. while folks wait behind them to get to the pump. Is there some rule here we don’t know?
5. John Tesh is on the radio in central FL giving us lifestyle tips in between songs by Yanni and Kenny G….. or maybe this was a special radio station for Crown Vic drivers only?
6. Orlando is a vacation destination for the entire world. Many of the folks at our hotel were from South America, Germany or G.B. and they came primarily to shop. Malls are packed with cars and you see a whole lot of people employing ingenious ways to get their stuff through the airport and onto their plane home. But the saddest sight of the trip was at the end of the airport security line when we watched a TSA officer tell this middle-aged man he could not carry on his handle-gallon bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila onto the plane at 7:15 AM. Almost made me want to suggest he offer us all shots so he could fit what was left into the TSA-approved 3 oz. bottles we use for our toiletries.
7. When we finally cleared security to head to our home-bound plane for our 8 AM flight, I told the family to grab me a yogurt parfait and toddled off to the Ladies’….. so it was a nice surprise when I got to the table and found a frozen yogurt parfait from the G-man! How did he know it was just what I needed to cool down and take the edge off?