Brad declared this the best travel day ever, and I tend to agree. The travel itself was as uncomfortable as ever, but instead of dwelling on that part of the day, we regrouped and turned the day into a productive success.
As far as travel crises go, I prefer mine to be minor and over early in the day, so as to give us time to recover. Today's crisis happened when we woke up at 6:45 to find that the toilet wasn't flushing quickly anymore. At about the same time, I realized that my deodorant was no longer on the sink, waiting to be packed. Yes, somehow my deodorant got flushed down the toilet. Fortunately, I had back-up deodorant, and the plumber's bill can wait until we get back.
We got to the airport with perfect timing - not too early but not too close to take-off as to cause me undo stress. The flight went reasonably well - the woman in the seat in front of Darcey was just leaving her 7 month old grandbaby, so she imagined that her back was being kicked by a child she loved. (Really, she was very forgiving.) Darcey only threw one tantrum and it was resolved when I turned on a slideshow of photos on my laptop. We picked up our two rental cars (because it was the same price as one minivan, and it gives us extra flexibility, we hope) and got to our townhouse without getting lost.
The townhouse we are renting is great. It's 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and has its own pool. The pool is small, but perfect for a single family. When the boys saw it, any thoughts of Disney World attractions went right out of their heads. They love this pool. I love that the kids aren't all crammed into one room with us - six people in a 325 square foot hotel room is never fun. The only bummer is that Darcey has chosen this vacation to learn how climb out of a crib. It's just a portable crib, so it's not an unheard of feat for a newly minted two year old. But she refuses to nap, and that makes things frustrating.
After a fast food dinner and a swim in the pool, we made our evening plans. We have 6 full days available for Disney touring, but a seven day pass was the same price, and you know me. A free day at Disney? I was not going to pass that up, even if I couldn't use it. As luck would have it, the Magic Kingdom happened to be open until 12 a.m. Since we were still on Utah time, that would only be 10 p.m. and with our free extra day, it was like a bonus day we weren't expecting. AND to make it all even better, when we got there at 9 p.m., they let us park for free! I love a good deal!
The park in the evening was great. We walked into a wall of people watching the early parade, but skirted them and made our way to Tomorrowland. We rode Buzz Lightyear and Ryan took the boys on Astro Orbiters. We watched the Carousel of Progress while we waited for some fast passes to take effect, which was entirely too boring for the kids, but they sat through it without complaining. Then we headed to Frontierland/Adventureland - they are right next to each other, and I can't tell which ride is in which area. Ryan and the boys did Pirates, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain, which Brad absolutely loved. I did a lot of standing around and waiting for them, which I don't love so much, but since I don't do any fast/scary/intense rides, it's my fate to wait. Darcey and I happened to be at a street crossing ahead of the last parade and a worker announced last call for crossing the street. I couldn't decide which side of the street I wanted to be on, so I just stood there as he drew a rope across the street right in front of me. Which all of a sudden put me in a front row seat for the parade! Lucky lucky lucky! Darcey and I parked ourselves on the ground and watched the floats and characters pass by not 10 feet in front of us. Awesome.
When it was over, we found the boys and made our way to the exit. The kids were getting hungry, so we stopped at an ice cream parlor on Main Street for some cones. Since we started our day with a minor crisis, it was only fitting that we end with an equally minor, though funnier, crisis. I was walking with Zack and Brad down the street, heading for a bathroom, when I hear Zack let out this primal shriek followed by screaming and sobbing. I turned to see that he had ice cream smashed on his face from his forehead down to his mouth, and the remains of a broken cone all over the ground. This is what happened: he wasn't looking where he was walking, and he walked cone-first into a garbage can, which smashed the ice cream all over his face before hitting the ground. He was absolutely inconsolable over losing the cone, so much so that he wasn't even mad at me for laughing. I only wish I had taken a picture of his face, dripping with ice cream - it's exactly how it would look in a cartoon.
I tried to comfort him as we sped to the bathroom, telling him that we'd get another ice cream just as soon as we got out, but he was miserable. I could hear him in the men's bathroom, wailing, and I felt bad because I knew that he was two minutes away from getting another ice cream cone, but he wouldn't trust me and be okay with it. I saw something of a spiritual application here - how often are we inconsolable over the smashed ice cream cones in our life, when God is watching us, begging us to believe that in just a little bit there will be a brand-new ice cream cone waiting for us. How often do I lack faith, thinking that my lost cone was the only thing that would ever make me happy, and now it's gone? As I stood outside the bathroom, listening to my little boy crying because he was so distraught, I promised to remember this lesson, so that next time I'm experiencing my smashed ice cream cone moment, I will believe that my Heavenly parent is going to make it all better. Okay, sermon over.
Disney customer service rocks just as much as they claim. All I had to do was walk back in the ice cream parlor, tell the cashier that my son had dropped his cone, and she waved me to the front to get a new one for free. In five minutes, Zack was happily licking his new cone, and we headed out. We got back to our house at 2 a.m., and the kids were amazing for being awake so long. It was a very long day, but they were troopers the whole time, and we were able to turn a typically miserable travel day into a vacation day. Brad said this was the best travel day we've ever had, and I'm inclined to agree.