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So . . . this was not the California trip that we had originally planned. That trip had been scheduled for Spring Break and we were going to spend the entire week with Karen and Zack in Northern California. The tickets had been purchased and the plans had been made . . . and then my mom fell and broke her hip. When we realized that she didn’t have much longer to live, we immediately dropped our plans and focused on saying goodbye to her and picking up the pieces of our lives.
Plans had been thrown around for a while about a possible CLQ Disneyland trip in the summer to coincide with Eileen’s RWA conference. With us already going to California over Spring Break, I knew there was no way that we could swing plane fare for a second family trip to California. And I certainly couldn’t think of going alone since Mary Devall’s birthday fell within the proposed dates.
By the time that the Disneyland trip was officially a “go” with the rest of the CLQ, we had tons of credit with Delta from our cancelled flights. We barely even discussed it because it seemed to be one of those “meant to be” situations . . . the Koenigs were going to California!
Our plans were to stay only four nights at Disneyland, but we really wanted to recapture some of the trip that we had missed in April by staying with Karen and Zack also in Northern California. This made booking our plane tickets a bit more interesting, but it all worked out in the end especially when a supervisor from Delta graciously refunded every bit of our money instead of making me work with credits and charging me a $150 change fee for each person. This gave me the freedom to book whatever we needed. I was able to book our flight into Orange County and another flight out of San Francisco with no trouble whatsoever. The one way tickets were even a bit cheaper than a round trip ticket would have been.
Karen and Sharon both love the Disneyland Hotel, so our hotel was probably the easiest decision made. This was the first of many decisions that my family handed over to the DL experts since we were newbies. Karen asked Dawn, our very patient TA, to book two connecting standard view rooms. And just like that, it was done.
Since Thom is Mr. Hilton Honors, he booked a room at a nearby Embassy Suites since we would be arriving about 7:30 on a Friday night. Karen and Zack would be arriving about the same time, so they were going to stay with us that night. Sharon was branching out on her own to try out another DL resort, Paradise Pier, although she did extend invitations to Karen and me to bunk with her. Eileen would be at her conference for a couple of more days, so we wouldn’t see her until Sunday.
Our WDW AP’s were no good at DL , so we had to come up with some tickets. Lucky for us, Eileen could purchase tickets through her conference and offered to buy tickets for us. After running it by the numbers lady (a.k.a. Karen ), it was deemed a phenomenal deal and we were sold.
And that was the extent of any planning that we did for this trip. Once again, we played the newbie card and let the DL pros plan our touring schedule and our meals. We weren’t even allowed to look at the BA$$ because apparently it had some special surprises in it for Mary Devall’s birthday (that would benefit all of us)!
Shortly before the trip, Thom and I finally had the forethought to ask Karen where we should rent a car to drive from DL to her house. Her answer . . . done She was renting a mack daddy SUV that would fit all six of us and she and Zack were driving it down to DL. She is too good!
Karen even had one more little trick up her sleeve about a month before we left. She and Zack had visited DL in June for the rededication of California Adventure and had decided to upgrade to club level when they arrived. The texts that she sent had us all practically drooling and I’m pretty sure that we were all vicariously living through her that weekend. And I’m 99.9% sure that was the weekend of our heat wave in SC and I was sitting outside with the girls reading these texts while they played in their Target blow up pool. I was drinking a glass of wine too, but it was a far cry from the digs that Karen was enjoying.
Fast forward to the next week when she sent me a proposal that we upgrade to club level as a surprise for Eileen. Before she even contacted me, she had run it by Sharon so that Sharon could talk some sense into her . . .yeah, that worked. I simply have no self control when it comes to the combination of Disney and the CLQ, so she had me at “I was thinking . . .” With everyone in, Karen zipped off another email to our ever so patient TA, Dawn. Before you knew it, we had connecting club level rooms with a theme park view! I could not have been more excited by this point.
We took our annual trip to Hilton Head Island the weekend before, so we were left with two days to pack when we returned from that trip. Not only did I have to pack our normal summer clothes, but I had to dig out some long pants and shirts for the girls and me. We only know one thing in the summer - - hot, humid weather - - so this variation in temperature that California offered was going to be quite interesting for us South Carolinians.
Once the bags were packed and sitting by the front door, the four of us were practically giddy. This was going to be an adventure of the best kind . . . something totally new, but with people that we knew and loved.
I'm soaking up your TRs Jill! Although I feel like I'm copying you a bit.
We jsut booked (today) the 4 night bahamian cruise for next year and the year after we plan to visit DL. You're doing all the ground work for me.
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Our flight didn’t leave until 2 p.m., so we were able to get ready in a leisurely fashion that morning. We were flying out of Charlotte, so we left about 11:30 a.m. to give ourselves plenty of time.
Thom needed to work on the way up, so I volunteered to drive. All was going well until about halfway there when a pickup truck in front of us slammed on brakes and I suddenly saw the reason why - - a mattress was flying across the lanes! Thom was on the phone, but saw the mattress (and that I was about to freak out ) and told me just as calmly as could be “drive, drive, drive.” I sped up and it missed us, but I was shaking like a leaf after that. About a quarter of a mile down the road, I saw the mattress owner on the side of the road just looking around. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that a transfer truck ran over your mattress, so I wouldn’t look too hard.
Thankfully, that was the extent of our excitement on the drive up to Charlotte. The parking garage at the airport was packed, but we finally found a space up on the roof. The shuttle bus had us quickly to the terminal where we discovered that our flight was a bit delayed, but not enough to worry about missing our connecting flight in Atlanta. We checked our luggage and then made it through a fairly short line in security.
It was lunch time, so we passed some time getting lunch for the girls at the Wendy’s near our gate. Neither Thom nor I were hungry yet, so we just watched them eat.
After the girls had eaten, our plane had still not arrived. Thom sat in the gate area working while the girls and I browsed in the shops. Maddie and I also played a search game in front of the terminal map where I asked her how many shops of a certain kind existed and she had to find them. It was actually pretty fun.
When our plane finally did arrive, the gate and flight attendants worked hard to get everyone on board as quickly as possible. It was just a quick flight from Charlotte to Atlanta, but we were on a big plane and I think almost every seat was filled. The people just kept pouring on. Mary Devall and I were in row one and I felt as if we greeted every one of them personally.
After I booked our flights, we had a call a couple of weeks later telling us that Mary Devall and I had been moved because the seats were double booked. It’s a short flight, so it really didn’t matter if we sat close to Thom and Maddie on this leg. Every so often, I would turn around and see Maddie not looking too happy. I found out later that Thom wouldn’t let her sit in the window seat. He’s so mean.
This was our first time flying cross country with the girls, so we decided to splurge and fly first class. We wanted to make sure that they were comfortable for the long flights especially since we were flying the red eye home. It’s certainly not something that we do all the time, but we felt like the expense was worth it. In all honesty, the first class fares weren’t terribly more expensive than the coach fares for our flights, so it made the decision a little easier.
As soon as the plane had reached cruising altitude, the flight attendant was up and asking us if we wanted anything to drink. Well, of course I do! I asked for a glass of wine and then proceeded to watch another flight attendant fight with the corkscrew for the next few minutes. She finally had success and I had my glass of wine. All thoughts of flying mattresses immediately left my brain with that first sip.
I had brought my crossword puzzle book from my trip in April, so Mary Devall and I worked one together. She is so her father’s child because, as soon as one stumped us, she wanted to flip to the back and find the answer. It almost killed her that I refused to do it.
This was truly an up and down flight barely leaving me enough time to finish my wine! Horrors! We were soon landing and finding our way to our next gate. I’m pretty sure that this was the girls’ first layover in Atlanta because they were wide eyed looking around at the monstrosity that is “ATL.” They enjoyed the sky high escalators, the trains and the numerous shops that lined the concourses.
Once we had made our way to concourse C, we discovered a Delta skyclub close to our gate. We checked in at the desk and then made our way upstairs to find a seat. It was fairly crowded, so finding seats for four people wasn’t exactly easy. We finally discovered an empty little seating area off to the side and laid claim to it. About five seconds after we had put down our bags, I discovered why no one was sitting there. A poor girl was sitting off to the side and just crying into her phone. I couldn’t make out what her troubles were, but they must have been in depth because she was on the phone the entire time we were in the skyclub (this smilie is actually hanging up the phone . . . that didn't happen in real life).
I took both girls to where the snacks were set out and let them select a few things. I also helped myself to snack mix and a glass of wine. We sat there for the next hour talking, laughing and simply relaxing. It was good to be on vacation (and the crying in the background didn’t distract us too much ).
Before we knew it, it was almost time for us to board our flight. Thom and Maddie left first because he had promised her back in Charlotte that he would buy her a smoothie and Maddie never forgets a promise. By the time that Mary Devall and I made it to our gate, Thom and Maddie were headed in our direction with a happy Maddie holding a very large cup.
We quickly boarded and found our seats. It wasn’t too hard on this plane which was strangely smaller than the plane that had taken us from Charlotte to Atlanta. The first class area had exactly half the seats, so finding rows 2 and 3 wasn’t hard at all.
The girls had originally planned to sit together on this leg of the trip, but Maddie was all about sitting in the window seat and she knew I would let her.
We got comfortable with Thom and Mary Devall sitting behind us . . . and then Mary Devall decided that she was okay sitting in the aisle seat beside Maddie (because her Daddy wasn’t letting her sit in the window seat anyway ). So Mary Devall and I switched and I took the seat beside Thom. I’m starting to think he married me because I don’t mind sitting in the aisle seat.
We had a fantastic flight attendant who took such good care of all of us. As soon as we were all finally settled in our seats, he stopped by to ask the girls if they wanted anything to drink. Maddie had pawned her smoothie off on Thom within five minutes, so I heard her politely ask for apple juice. I was so proud of her because she made sure to use “please,” “thank you,” and “sir” without us having to remind her one time.
After he brought the girls drinks, he found the time to bring me a glass of wine that I enjoyed before we even took off. What a guy!
Once we took off, we all occupied ourselves with the tv screens in front of us. The girls (and Thom) were practically beside themselves with glee with the selection. We could choose from movies, tv shows or satellite tv. The opening ceremony of the Olympics was that night, so I kept flipping back and forth between that and other shows the entire flight.
The flight attendant double checked with me before he offered the girls snacks to make sure that they were allowed and that they had no allergies. I told him that the only thing they were allergic to were vegetables (or so they thought ). He also switched out my plastic glass of wine for a real glass (with wine in it ), so I was good to go.
We weren’t the only ones traveling with children in first class. A young couple in the front row had a baby girl who was about 6 months old. She slept a lot, but when she was awake she was good as gold. Mary Devall even played peek-a-boo with her for a while and had her mesmerized.
After about an hour or so, we were served dinner. Both Thom and I selected the pasta which was remarkably very good.
I had preordered children’s meals for the girls and they were thrilled when their plates arrived filled with corn, mac ‘n cheese and chicken nuggets - - three of the main food groups for children.
Our flight was thoroughly enjoyable. There was not one bit of turbulence and, every so often, Thom would let me look out of his window to see the sights. Occasionally, I would check out our progress on my tv. By the time we finished dinner, we were almost through Texas!
After dinner, we just sat back and enjoyed watching whatever struck our fancy. The girls were entertained and barely made a peep, so it was almost like a date. Our flight attendant apparently thought so too because he refilled my wine glass every time that I took a sip. I seriously could have taken him home with me.
We landed right on time at 7:30 p.m. and I immediately sent a text to Karen since she and Zack were kindly picking us up at the airport. She let me know that they were on their way. They must have been on the airport grounds because we spotted them about to cross the street outside as we were coming down the escalator to baggage claim.
We had all been through so much since the last time that Karen and I had seen each other that I thought we might just collapse into each other’s arms and sob for an hour or two, but I think we were all just so excited that there was nothing but happy tears. It goes without saying that Karen, Mary Devall, Maddie and me were ecstatic, but even the two guys cracked a smile (albeit a very manly smile, but still a smile ).
When we had collected all of our luggage, we followed Karen and Zack out to the parking garage and the ginormous SUV that Karen had rented for the week. She had only been driving it for a day, but she had already grown quite attached to it.
She drove it like a champ too. I told her that I had already ridden with her through downtown Manhattan in a rental smaller SUV, so L.A. and the surrounding areas would be no big deal! She maneuvered that bad boy out of the airport and on to the freeways like she had been driving it all her life.
Before I knew it, we were in Anaheim and in the vicinity of Disneyland. Of course, I had heard that the area surrounding Disneyland was built up around it, but it’s hard to picture the extent of it until you actually see it. As Karen pointed out the DL and DCA attractions that you could see from the car and then pointed out the Howard Johnson, Comfort Inn and McDonald’s that were right across the street from these attractions, I know that I was sitting there with my mouth open. I could finally see for myself why Walt bought miles and miles of property in the middle of Florida.
We were soon pulling up to the Embassy Suites where we were bunking for the night. Thom checked us in and we made our way to our suite for the night. It was just enough room for the six of us.
We chatted like mad for a while until we realized that it was time to pick up Sharon from LAX. I think that Thom was half asleep before Karen and I even left. We stopped by the hotel gift shop on the way out for a little caffeine pick-me-up and then headed out for LAX.
When you’re talking a mile a minute, time flies, so we were at LAX in what seemed like no time whatsoever. We knew we were there when the traffic came to a halt. Karen whizzed around and found us a parking spot in a garage that we thought was near the Delta baggage claim. I was texting back and forth with Sharon, so she knew that we were on our way.
Karen and I ended up having to walk all the way around the parking garage, but it really wasn’t too out of the way. We were much better off than the people who were still sitting in their cars in the traffic. I had just called Sharon to ask her where she was when we ran right into her. Umm . . . never mind!
Lots of ensued and then we headed back to the car. And now there were three of us jabbering, so the time flew even quicker on the way back. When we reached Paradise Pier, Karen and I went inside with Sharon while she checked in. Once she had her key, she and Karen made plans for her pickup in the morning (which wasn’t that far away at this point ) so that they could sneak in a little extra DCA time while the rest of us were getting ready (or presumably just waking up).
We gave her a wave goodbye before we hopped back in the car and drove the short distance to the Embassy Suites. It was almost midnight by this time, so everyone else was asleep. I did find out the next morning that Thom had gone right to sleep after we left and the girls had stayed up with Zack playing video games.
Sometimes words aren't needed . . .
Last edited by Jillybean; 09-25-2012 at 09:25 AM..
Very smooth travel day! How lovely that the girls entertained themselves the whole flight and gave you and Thoma date flight. Now they're used to first class you're in trouble! Can't wait for the park fun to start.