Me, Christie, 34, stay-at-home mom and the trip organizer.
My husband, Jay, 35, production line worker at Nissan, the funding source of the trip!
Our son, Joshua, 3
Jay's sister, Melanie, 34, casino money counter and sometime cashier
Very experienced (me)
Pretty experienced (Jay)
Might-as-well-be newbie, only 1 trip in 1991 (Melanie)
First trip (Joshua)
Dates: July 1-9, 2005
EconoLodge North, Lake City, Florida (1 night)
Pop Century Resort (7 nights)
Transportation: Titan crewcab truck, 12 hours from Clinton, Mississippi
PLANNING - THE FINAL STRETCH
Now that all the decisions and plans had been made, it was time to kick my brain into high gear and see if there was anything I had forgotten.
Every time I read the message boards, I had my PassPorter open - just in case there was something I found that needed to go on one of my passpockets. And many times there was at least one thing.
Two weekends before our trip my mom decided to have a garage sale. We always take things from our house to try to get rid of, but this time we didn't really find that much new stuff to add to the sale, it seemed to be mainly things that were left over from the last garage sale. So I didn't think we'd make too much money. But this was definitely one of those times when your trash is another person's treasure - we sold stuff that had been in garage sales for years and nobody ever wanted!
You just never know ... We only made about $75, but that was enough to fill our Mousekeeping tip envelopes, put some quarters aside for laundry and pressed coin machines, pay our tolls during our drive and still have a little cash to have on hand when we might need it.
Ten days out from our trip we started the countdown in the Birnbaum's kids book. Of course Joshua is still too young to grasp the concept of time but he enjoyed coloring in the number each day and looking at the maps of the parks one last time before we left. With two days left they suggested we have a Disney dinner party and wear homemade mouse ears. That was pretty fun, we cooked out hamburgers and fried some french fries and onion rings. Nothing fancy, just something fun and silly (with the mouse ears on) as a last-minute thing to do.
The weekend before we left, Melanie came over to spend the night. She went ahead and brought down her food and drinks for the trip and the tote bag she was going to use every day instead of a backpack. She also brought her digital camera and camcorder down. She never did find the right kind of battery for her digital camera so she was stuck using the one it came with (which was not rechargeable
). But she had plenty of rolls of "regular" film for her other camera so she wasn't too worried about it.
Melanie had been trying to come over for a weekend Disney planning session for several weeks, if not for a couple of months. Every time she said she was going to come over, something happened and either she couldn't come, or we weren't home or something.
It was getting to the point where I thought I wouldn't see her until we actually left on the trip! So finally, the weekend before the trip, she got to come over. She had ordered her own PassPorter once she saw mine (funny how that happens!), so she was wanting to copy some of the information from my passpockets onto hers. Once we had all that taken care of she was pretty much set to go. I had been sending her emails every couple of days so she basically knew what the trip had in store, and she was really looking forward to getting down there and checking out everything.
Now, It's Time to Get Serious!
Once Melanie left and I had the guest bed available again, I pulled out our suitcases and started putting some clothes in them. I knew we'd take our brown suitcase, but I wasn't sure which size of the gray set of luggage would work best. As it turned out, we were able to take the smallest one.
Another day that week, I went through both of our bathrooms and started pulling out anything I could find in a travel-sized bottle, as well as any and all medicines, first-aid items and sunscreens. I put all this stuff on the dining table and boy was it a mess - at least we also have a kitchen table we can use for eating!
Now that I'm the "Mom" on trips, I'm the one who has to pack everything "just in case". So I started trying to figure out what things would go in our fanny packs, and what would just stay in our hotel room until such time as we might need it. I consolidated some items, then started cramming everything else into our miscellaneous box that goes with us any time we hit the road. Somehow I managed to get everything in place, I'm still not sure how that happened!
I also had to make sure that all the food and drinks we would need were either set aside already, or listed on our last-day shopping list. (I only wanted to make one more trip to the store, not two or three.) I went ahead and started putting Joshua's snacks in the snack-sized ziploc bags I had bought, so that I wouldn't have too much to do the day before we left. Then I put one of each snack into a separate Wal-Mart bag for each day. The idea was to grab one bag each morning before heading out so that all his snacks for the day would be taken care of.
Jay was grilled several times that last week to see if he had anything else to add to the shopping list, but each time he couldn't think of anything.
What? Another Project?
So let's see, I had a travel bag packed full of fun (and mostly new) things for Joshua to do on the drive down. I had another bag of guidebooks to take along in case we needed the answer to a question - you just never know!
We had several cases of drinks and a few bags of food - both for breakfast and snacks. Where was all this stuff going to go? After all, we were going in a truck and we couldn't just leave things in the back end - they would get rained on, and people might take our stuff when we stopped on the road.
Well, the weekend of the garage sale, my dad came to our rescue. Jay had mentioned that he was probably going to build a truck bed cover. The inside of the bed liner has notches to support 2x4's, and Jay was just going to get a sheet of plywood to cover the bed and coat it with bed liner spray. He had seen some in the store and thought he would try it out. Now my dad, who has worked in construction for many years, I guess he thought that was going to be too cheap (which it was
) so Saturday afternoon, once we packed up all the tables from the garage sale, my dad pulled out some scrap wood and his tools and starts going to work. I didn't know what he was up to at first. But he got his tape measure and measured the truck bed and he and Jay worked for quite a few hours sawing, nailing and sanding.
My dad quits work at 9:00, so the project continued after lunch that Sunday. They braced the cover in five different places, and also arched the top so water wouldn't pool and warp the wood, or leak through. Somehow they managed to stand it up in the back end of the truck for the trip back to our house, even though Jay also had his lawn mower in there from cutting his Dad's yard (it was Father's Day weekend, after all). So now, right before the trip, we had another big project to work on.
One evening after work that week, Jay puttied all the nail holes and resanded the whole thing. Of course this interesting-looking contraption drew one of our neighbors over to ask "what is that?" Naturally it was the neighbor who hasn't a clue how to do anything so he just stood around looking and talking!
Another day Jay went to the store to buy some black paint and a paint roller that would leave a little bit of texture to the paint. Then we had to clean out the garage so he could paint it without rain or dust or bugs messing up the finish. He ended up putting three heavy coats of paint on, and it looked really good!
After the paint dried (one day for each coat) he stapled weather stripping all the way around to help keep our things dry. I was beginning to wonder if this project would be finished in time to actually use it on the trip, but after a week and a half, there it was!
Are We Ready Yet?
Melanie had asked me to call her around lunchtime on the 30th to make sure she was awake and getting her things together to come to our house, but that Monday she started calling me at lunchtime every day. She works the late shift and usually stays up all night, then sleeps during the day. She thought it would be a good idea to start going to bed when she gets home from work and waking up the next morning, to start getting herself on more of a normal schedule for our trip. So I got a daily update from her that last week, and tried to help remind her of things to do before she left her house. But she pretty much had everything taken care of on her end. Her last day of work was Wednesday night (the 29th), then she was coming to our house the next day to spend the night so that she would be ready to leave the next morning and we wouldn't be having to wait on her.
So it looked like I had everything under control, and we just had one more day of waiting. Next up: Day 0, a day of last-minute chores and no sleep!