And We Went, Why?

So I had the “bright idea” of going ahead and going to Disney World this year instead of waiting a few more years.  How I rued the day.

Day One:

It was supposed to be a fun week vacation to Disney World.  I didn’t want to take such a big trip with the boys (at least not at this age), but my parents were going anyway and taking it with them seemed like a better idea as we would have other people with us, and we could “manage” the boys easier.  What was I thinking?

We should have recognized the omen when the instant we passed through security at SJC, the airport lost power.  Generator kicked in but that still left the jet-ways not functioning, and a fire door that wouldn’t go up, keeping us from our gate.  While they got the problems sorted out, this still led to us to leaving 45 minuets or so late.  But at least it is American Airlines.  They comforted me quite well by charging me $25 a bag (one way), so I knew everything was fine.  Least of our problems.

The flight to DFW was supposed to be something like 3 hrs.  Thunderstorms over DFW closed the airport for a couple of hours total (here and there), but that had us eventually (after holding for who knows how long) diverting to Lubbock and then eventually getting to DFW after 7 HOURS.   Poor flight crew had the plane stocked for a 3 hour flight, not a 4.5 hour flight.  People were hungry and thirsty, but there wasn’t a thing left (people would have probably started gnawing on the seats if it had lasted much longer).  American Airlines then canceled our connecting flight, but had us check at the gate to see where we needed to go next (late.  But at least we’ll get there!).  We say Orlando, attendant gives us a gate, off we go.  After attempting to stay standing on the “Skylink” (which seriously needs more seats or to slow down!) we finally make our way to the gate, and…  Empty.   No attendant, no flight information, no other people, nothing.  Sigh.

After discussing a “Plan B,” we see there is another flight to Orlando later in the evening, so we get back on the Skylink and head to yet another terminal.  Oh, now the fun begins!

At the new gate, there is an attendant behind the counter talking to somebody, with a another group behind.  So we get in line.  Then the attendant starts to walk away with the person talking to them.  Once he is finished, does he come back to the counter?  No, he saunters off a leaves us!  Pam chases him down and pleads our case, but he “isn’t really on duty” and is on “vacation” (though funny how we see him several hours later at another gate).  The boys have been really good up to now, all things considered, and after not really having anything to eat all day, they are starting to come unglued – I’m already so.

New gate attendant finally shows up, Weesh is on the phone (on hold) with American.  After the moron does the usual 20 minutes of banging on the keyboard and staring into space, tearing boarding passes off (hey, we’re out of here!).  Oh, no,  we’re on STAND BY for the 9pm flight (starting at number 24 – oh yeah, we’re getting on this flight).  And on top of that, he gives us a phone number and says to call it and see if you can get them to help you get on the next day’s flight (thanks for all the help, sport!  Couldn’t have done it without you.).

While “regrouping,” they change the gate.  So just on the off chance we go to that gate and see where we can get there.  Nothing changes with the Standby status, but my mom and sister do get us confirmed on the next days flight to Orlando, with a 3 hour lay over in Pensacola (did I mention how much I hate flying?).  ETA Orlando, Sunday 3:45.  Fine.  We need to figure out accommodations, in case we don’t get on the 9pm flight.  Weesh gets us two rooms at Marriott South, with a shuttle to and from (all we have to do is call) for $79 (I think she said they called it a “hardship rate”).  Well, we  have a place to stay.  Sadly, that seems like a victory of some kind.  We have no clothes, toiletries, pull-ups for the boys, or anything else, but at least we have a place to stay.  Time to eat (haven’t had anything much since morning.  But Pam had figured it would be good to bring some snacks “for the boys.”  How little she knew.  We probably could have made some money selling stuff!).

While eating dinner, AA moves the gate AGAIN (this time to yet another terminal).  We decide to go ahead and see if we can get on the plane.  Off to the Skylink again.  We didn’t make it to the first stop before we decided to just punt, go to the hotel, and go with tomorrow.  Everybody is tired, and just wants to go to bed.

King with a sofa pull out for the boys.  Not the best, but doable.  Open up the pull out, no sheets or blankets.  Try and follow the directions to get the Wi-FI working, that doesn’t work.  Down to the desk.  All gets worked out in the end, but what a day.  I knew there was a reason I hated Dallas.

Day Two:

Flight leaves at 8:10, so that means another early day:  5:30am.  Naturally the boys had to make the night before hell and not finally go to sleep until almost midnight, and then up a 5:30 – this should be fun.  Without the pull-ups, I thought about using their swimsuits (since if they went in their underwear, we wouldn’t  have anything else for them to wear the next day).  Initially I thought things had worked out, they were mostly dry.  Oh no, that was because the swimsuits dried.  The sheets and blanks had a decent soaking.  They’ve had worse, but still not a way you want to leave a hotel.  They can bill AA for it.

The shuttle back to the airport runs every 30 minuets (15 to, and then 15 back).  It being a small shuttle, and the front desk guy having said the night before, that a normal night was 30 check-ins, but he had done 95 in “the last hour and a half” (a major part of them vouchers gotten through the airlines I assume), I was a little concerned what would happen if there wasn’t enough room?  Sucks being us again?  Well, we lucked out.  We made EXACTLY a full shuttle.  At least that hurdle was dodged.

Get to the airport, and now we are going to be flying American Eagle.  So not the crap ass main airline, no, we get the “low cost” commuter flight (I think the plane ended up being an ERJ-145).  Oh, this makes Pam SO happy.  But as it turns out, that flight was one of the better ones.  Smooth and on time.  Now just the 3 hour lay over and we’ll be in Orlando.  Maybe get out to Downtown Disney – get something fun in.  Flight leaves at 12:55, gets there at 3:45, 1 hour time change so two hour flight.  After some lunch, we head to the gate.  Uh oh, now we’re on an even smaller plane.  Prop job (Beechcraft 1900D).  Pam’s going to lose it (at least we got lunch!).  12:30, almost ready to board.  Flight status suddenly changes to DELAYED.  Maybe for just a short time?  Oh no, not this trip.  New departure time is 3:10!  Conner is totally off in the weeds (not doing his homework, “vacations are supposed to be fun,” etc.),  A.J. is using the escalator as a ride, I’m ready to just scream, but then I’d be the bad attitude guy.  Everybody is running on fumes at this point.  So here I sit typing out this adventure.  And now the colon/semi-colon key cap on this reasonably new notebook comes off.  Looks like I can glue it, but seriously?  I would joke about the plane crashing, but…

So the plane that was going to get here “real soon now” didn’t get here until it was supposed to leave.  And on top of that, the plane has a “dent” they just noticed here, so now there needs to be paperwork done.  Evidently there is a reason that I have never been to Disney World.  And thinking about it, even once we manage to get to Orlando, there will begin the luggage adventure (at least IT got there on Saturday).  Did I mention there is no bathroom on this plane?  Boys have to go two hours without getting “to go.”  And up to this point, I’m not sure either of them hasn’t seen every bathroom on every plane we’ve been on.  This is going to be fun.

IMG_0228

Beechcraft, 1900D

Engines turning over 1 hour after our supposed departure time.  Adding insult to injury, Conner gets a bloody nose (poor guy) right before we board.  What’s next?

Almost 7pm and we are wheels down in Orlando.  Finally.

AJ finally crashed on this last leg.  I looked at him one minute (after about 30 minutes of flying) and he was all smiles.  The next minute, he was out cold.  He didn’t wake up until the first officer opened the door after we had landed and gotten to the gate.  He’d finally reached his end.  Even I was almost lulled to sleep by the drone of the turboprops (noise canceling headphones didn’t help either).  In the end, having that plane was probably the best thing for us.  Jet engines are just noise, but props have a certain repeating sound.  I won’t call it soothing, but puts you to sleep.  And I think everybody would agree, it was probably the best flight of the trip.

Well, getting the luggage turned out to be easy, as obviously we were not the only ones.  Getting the rental car was relatively painless – other than the rude guy who jumped the line because he suddenly needed to give back his car (and was too busy to get to a concert to get off the phone a deal with it), and then the couple that had to discuss all the “options.”  But other than that, no big deal.  But as this trip has shown me, that doesn’t last for very long.

Florida sucks.  You can’t get out of the airport without paying a toll (and in my case, twice).  You can’t get off the toll roads, without paying a toll.  And in some cases, you have your choice of Florida’s “Fastrak,” exact CHANGE, or blowing the toll booth.  I’ve already had to blow one toll booth.  Now, we could have gotten that Florida “Fastrak,” but in typical rent a car fashion, they get you for $2.50 per rental DAY just to have it (not counting tolls).  Whatever Avis.  You can keep it.  It took us over an hour of driving around in circles to find the condo, but not before I finally broke down.  To the point Pam (not a driver on the car) was telling me to pull over so she could drive.  A trip that was SUPPOSED to be fun for all of us, had become a drain and so far a painful memory.  Even when I went to the local grocery store (once we actually got the condo) to get some JD or something; apparently the local Winn Dixie doesn’t sell hard alcohol (wine it is!).

Conner and AJ were an absolute chore, and the crap Conner was saying at “gate D11” in Pensacola was embarrassing.  But I do have to say, in their partial defense; as an 8 year old and a 5 year old going through what they did (with the expectation of going to Disney World on Sunday no less), they did awfully well.  And, to maybe put everything into perspective, at the end of all this craziness, after all the pushing, shoving, kicking, name calling, and finger pointing, yelling, crying, canceled flights, and long waits; in a three room condo, with a king size bed going un-used; Conner and AJ all by themselves, decided they wanted to sleep in the [same] small room, with Conner in the twin and AJ in the trundle, watching the smallest TV in the condo.  Whatever they might say and do, they wouldn’t know what to do without each other.  So maybe there is something positive to look to in all of this.  And I should say, TNT actually”edited for content” Gladiator quite well.  Still a  good movie, even after”cleaning up” some of the scenes.  Boys watched it in their room as they went to sleep.

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