If you’ll indulge me for a few hundred words, I’d like to tell you about my recent vacation.
I have never been terribly interested in going to Florida, to be honest. A lot of my friends went when they were kids, and it all sounded very exciting, but a trip like that seemed so out of my grasp that I never gave it any serious thought. It was always kind of in my head, though, that “taking the kids to Disney” was the ultimate parental accomplishment, somehow.
It was about a decade of marriage before we took any kind of vacation, period. We went to PEI one summer, which was a big deal for us at the time, having never gone anywhere before. Our first big vacation was two years ago when we took both kids to Toronto to see the Blue Jays, and we went back last summer for the same thing, minus all the tourist-y things we took in the year before. We went to Toronto again this past March to take in a Toronto Raptors game (our youngest son is a huge sports fan, specifically the Blue Jays and Raptors), but we have never travelled outside of Canada as a family.
The vacation planning started last year, when we decided we’d like to see the Blue Jays somewhere other than the Rogers Centre. We didn’t know exactly where, but Florida came up early in the conversation, considering how much there is to do there. Cleveland and Baltimore might be perfectly lovely cities with great baseball rivalries, but they paled in comparison to the allure of the palm tree-lined streets of Tampa. So after Christmas, we started looking at the upcoming Blue Jays schedule and planning a trip.
One MacDonald would only be there in spirit due to college and work commitments, and one had to be kept in the dark to avoid four months of the “how many more days until we leave” conversation, but the wheels were in motion for an early May departure.
Once upon a time, I used to be a travel agent, so I was able to book much of the trip myself, though I did enlist the help of a former co-worker to get a good deal on a flight/hotel package, and our itinerary was pretty packed from beginning to end.
It should be noted that, while I was super excited about the ball game, I was not particularly enthusiastic about the rest of the trip, mostly because I was dreading the heat. Everyone had told me the heat and humidity would be suffocating, stifling torture for me, and I believed it. Friends who just returned from Orlando the week I left told me horror stories of 32 degrees in the shade every day, and the forecast said much the same for the week we were due to be there. Add to this an article I read on The Weather Network about record tornado outbreaks in Florida for the month of May, and it’s safe to say I had many reservations about my first-ever foray onto American soil.
We flew to Orlando on an early morning, direct flight out of Halifax. A little kid two rows ahead of us barfed somewhere over Savannah, Georgia, so that didn’t exactly make the recycled air on the plane smell any better, but other than that, it was a comfortable flight without incident.
The Orlando airport was very busy, and the airline announced the wrong baggage pickup location, but eventually we located our luggage and took a cab to our hotel. While it was noticeably hotter than Nova Scotia, I was pleasantly surprised that the heat wasn’t as bad as I had prepared myself for – it was overcast, 25 degrees, with a nice breeze, and the other two MacDonalds were actually disappointed because they had hoped for searing Florida sunshine. Knowing how quickly it could (and would) change, I, determined to minimize my sun exposure, had packed what I referred to as the Typical Tourist Starter Pack: a visor, a fanny pack, and lots of the strongest SPF money could buy in Port Hawkesbury. I caught a lot of flack from my friends for that visor and fanny pack, but they were the cornerstones of my vacation enjoyment, so who’s laughing now, huh?
Once inside our hotel we collected ourselves, got changed and packed up, and headed to our first stop: Seaworld. I’ll continue my tale next week.