This may be a sign of things to come but two big things changed right before we left for vacation. First, my parents won’t be heading to NY to visit with us. Due to her illness I will have to make a quick trip to NH instead. Second, we decided to cancel our hotel reservations in Phoenix and just head up on Monday morning. Our flight was late enough that we’d probably get up about the same time and arrive in Phoenix before the traffic got really bad. I’m pretty good with saving $150 but was disappointed that we didn’t get to have dinner Sunday night at Longhorn. We enjoyed going there when we lived in Winter Haven. Until recently there wasn’t one in Tucson, and the new one is about 30 minutes away from our house. The ride there is mostly through city streets, not the highway. Did I mention that I hate traffic?
I ended up awakening earlier than expected Monday morning. This meant I got an early start on the last minute preparations. We were out the door at 6 am and made great time on the way to Phoenix, arriving earlier than expected. After we checked our bags we had breakfast before heading through security. I finished quickly and took a tour through the bookstore to see what was selling. Or at least being sold.
We got to the gate with at least an hour to go before boarding. In the past this has been a problem but this time the kids spread out and took some toys from their backpacks and played nicely and relatively quietly. CavWife and I were able to relax. She still has to wear a brace for the elbow that she broke in December in an effort to regain extension. This was a good opportunity to get an early boarding pass. In the past this meant we could all board early. This time it was only her. So she saved two rows while I waited for the family boarding time.
We had a relatively uneventful non-stop to Newark. The mother in front of us was obviously a germophobe, meticulously wiping down the seat and tray. Head trauma, not so much of a worry as she let her child move about their row without a seat belt despite the stretch of turbulence. Apparently she never heard the precautionary tale of Larry Norman.
Our kids, well…. three of them, watched one of the movies we downloaded onto the iPad. They were mostly good, but the Number 1 son grew restless near the end. This, obviously, caused some minor issues with his sisters. I, on the other hand, made some good progress in a Daniel Silva novel.
CavWife’s sister picked us up in their parents’ new minivan and we went back to her house for dinner and a good night’s sleep. As I pondered sleep, thinking it is only 8 according to my body clock, I remembered I woke up around 4 am. Time for sleep.
The next morning we drove to Spring Lake at the Shore. We started to join CavWife’s sisters and their kids at the Shore after we moved to AZ and shifted our vacation time to earlier in the summer. We were on the beach before noon. After covering the kids with sun block, there was the statement that “this might not last us two days.” With her comment in mind, I was trying to conserve the lotion. I neglected my arms since they get plenty of sun. Apparently I also missed a swath of my face in the process.
It was a nice day at the beach. It was only in the 80’s, and a good sea breeze kept it feeling cooler and the bugs off the beach. With the late spring, and earlier vacation the water was pretty frigid. There was no way I was going in there. It really wasn’t until our late lunch that I noticed that my arms had gotten too much sun. Way too much sun. I spent the latter part of the afternoon trying to avoid the sun. So, when my daughters wanted to swim in the pool I located a lounge chair under an umbrella and continued to read.
After the annual pizza dinner we got the kids to sleep. I hung out in another room hoping the aloe and Honey Bee would do their healing work on my arms. The next morning was cloudy, but I was not deceived. I stayed in the pavilion. There was another cool breeze. I listened to some Delirious and read. Later in the morning some of their old friends showed up, and I spent some time catching up with one named Tim. Not the one in Holy Grail. I was able to continue avoid the sun thanks to a tent-like shelter they brought.
After dinner we made our annual pilgrimage to the Blarney Cone. We don’t have ice cream often, so this is a special treat for the kids. Staying up until 9 is too!
The final day we all enjoy our breakfast in the hotel restaurant. This time they put us at one large table instead of spreading us out. It was good just hanging out and “forcing” some of the older kids to interact with us. We then packed up and began the journey north to the Adirondacks.
New Jersey is the land where speed limits don’t matter. People just drive. The speed limit changes but it makes no difference to them. There were also some crazy drivers out there. I was thinking how good it was not having to spend an hour on the phone with the IRS and Senator McCain’s office dealing with our return that was “under examination.” When we went to play the movies we rented and downloaded, we discovered the “content is not authorized.” Not sure what that meant, CavWife spent time talking to Apple. After 10 frustrating minutes in the computerized hell, she finally got a human being to talk to. We still don’t know what really happened. The customer service person mentioned checking to see if they play after you download, which is not a helpful suggestion if you plan on watching them a few days later. Rentals expire 24 hours after starting them.
Despite that we made good time to Albany where we enjoyed a lunch at Moe’s. It is often after our lunch stop that things fall apart for us. Last year Number 2 son cried for the last hour or so of the drive. First, the sun was now far enough west that I was trying to avoid getting the sun on my arms. I felt like Dracula, deathly afraid of sunlight. I begin to wonder if a bad sunburn is what gave Bram Stoker the idea about the vampire’s aversion to sunlight.
At this point we are really missing the movies. Much of the ride at least 3 of the kids have been talking at any given moment. Listening to music or talk radio was difficult even when we tried to quiet them. It is amazing who loud they think they have to talk to a person 3 feet away.
This year Number 2 son spent the last hour singing the chorus of a VBS song from last year. “Jump up and down, hey!” was all he kept singing. That was exciting. Beats crying but still less than ideal. Despite the distractions we arrived safe and sound before 4 pm. The first phase of our vacation was done.