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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Home Sweet Home

This post is full of details, mostly so I will remember them. 
Feel free to skip it if you get bored.

We had a fantastic, albeit complex, family vacation!

We all left for the States on Thursday night, December 3rd, and everyone but my eldest just returned late last night, Sunday, December 20th.

We got back later than expected because of a snowstorm; our flight was delayed for FOUR HOUR.  Good fortune prevailed, and strong tailwinds shaved off two of those hours from our flight time.

Our eldest was with us for the first week, but left on Sunday morning, December 13th, so she could attend final rehearsals for the upcoming production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance; she is in the chorus.  (For those planning to attend the show, she will be in the yellow and purple costume.)

My parents joined us for our second week in Orlando.  They wanted to come earlier, to spend more time with all of us, before our eldest left; but my dad had a professional convention at the same time, so he had to attend that.

We all overlapped for one Shabbat, which was wonderful and one of the highlights of our trip.

During the week with just our immediate family, we played for one day in all of the major Disney and Universal theme parks.  We spent Sunday through Friday, as follows:  Hollywood Studios Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Animal Kingdom.  My parents, who had one less "play day" to begin with, chose to pass on both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom and spend an extra day at Epcot. 

Since Universal is closer to the airport, we went there on Sunday (after spending the morning in the airport, making sure our daughter was secure on her first solo flight across the world).  Then we spent Monday through Wednesday at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Islands of Adventure, respectively.  For our last day, we went, again, to Epcot.  That night, while still at Epcot, our kids had several hours of "alone time" to play with their grandparents.

Moshe and I left early to see La Nouba, Cirque du Soleil, a spectacular show combining acrobatics, juggling, clowning, and dance.

All in all, we were in Orlando from Friday, the 4th, through Friday, the 18th, spending a total of 7 days in Disney parks (1 day each in Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, 2 days at Magic Kingdom, and 3 days at Epcot) and 4 days in Universal parks (2 each at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure).

On Friday, December 18th, my parents flew home to Arizona and we flew to New Jersey.

I stayed up all of Thursday night, with my mom, packing and tidying up. 

At 4:30 am, I woke up Moshe and the kids;  I was still rushing about, trying to finish up!  We got out later than we had planned, but we got to the airport in time to make our flight.... almost.

I had packed food to eat while we were waiting.  Though it became obvious that we would not have time to eat at the airport, I forgot that I had packed liquids (drinks, yoghurts, etc.).  Ridding us of all our liquids caused enough of a delay at Homeland Security that we got to the gate just as the plane was pulling away.

Ironically, we spent several hours at the airport waiting for the next available flight, during which time we could have enjoyed our food and drink!   Oh well.  We were grateful to catch another flight and get to Teaneck before Shabbat!

We spent Shabbat with very close friends of ours, who used to live in Jerusalem.

During the afternoon, my grandfather and his partner came to visit, as did a few other courageous friends, who braved the snow!  The visits were short, as I did not have a lot of energy and needed to rest.  (I still had at least 8 hours of sleep to catch up on!)

Based on Friday's weather reports, we thought our flight would be cancelled and we would "win" another day or two with our friends.  But, after Shabbat, our plane was still "on schedule."

The airline actually started the boarding process on time, until it became clear that de-icing the plane would be more complicated and the delay would be extensive. People actually de-boarded the plane, which is very unusual.

The airline ended up moving the de-icing station to the start of the runway, so the plane could take off as soon as they completed the de-icing process.

A few hours later, the airport cancelled all flights. By that point, we were well on our way home.

When we finally walked into our own doors, I was so incredibly grateful to be home!


Staying Afloat said...

I'm tired just reading this! But I'm so glad you made the flight home. I hope you enjoyed the good ol' American snow storm!

May all your hectic days be this full of good stuff.

Did you see Figment? (small, purple, lives in Epcot, or at least he used to.)

mikimi said...

I'm jealous of your opportunity. I still remember my one trip to Disney Fla -34 years ago, I was 13, on a youth group trip during winter break from Atlanta,Ga on a 13 hour Greyhound bus ride (and my 1st time getting my monthly - on the bus!). Back then Space Mt was the hit!
I miss amusement parks.
I'm so happy y'all got a chance for a family trip and I hope you'll have many more opportunities.

Leah Goodman said...

sounds awesome. Makes me hope that we manage to pull off our family trip this summer!

Robin said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip for all of you. Welcome home :).

Mrs. S. said...

Welcome home!
I'm glad to hear that you had such a wonderful vacation.

Shelly said...

Sounds like you had an amazing vacation, albeit exhausting. I'm so glad! I hope this will be the first of many.

Anonymous said...

You actually made it out before the storm hit.

It hit us Saturday afternoon. So, you really are blessed to be home.

Happy Holidays!

Baila said...

So happy it was such a great trip. Will there be pictures?

Anonymous said...

I never get bored with your stories- the more detailed the merrier! I am looking forward to hearing more about the trip. Welcome home!!
Ellen L.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Staying Afloat -- We LOVE Figment!!
They actually got rid of Figment a few years ago, but brought him back due to popular demand. We liked the previous Figment attraction better.

Mikimi -- Don't be jealous, start planning! The parks have good deals off season and you can find really cheap lodging. Buying food at Publix suppermarket also helps keep the budget reasonable. Just be on the lookout for cheap flights!!

LeahGG -- JUST DO IT!!

Robin, Mrs. S. -- sure was! thanx

Shelly -- me 2!

Karen -- I'm sorry I did not get a chance to see you this time 'round!

Baila -- I will try for pics, but I need some help from my local techie crew.....

Ellen L -- thanks! it's good to know that at least someone enjoys the details!

toby said...

Sounds fantastic - welcome home!

Karen said...

I'm so glad you had a good time. Did you use a wheelchair in the airport? Besides the fact that it's much faster (than I can walk, anyway) you go to the front of the security lines AND the security people tend to be much nicer (although I have gotten a few dirty looks when I stand up out of the chair to walk through the metal detector. Do people really NOT understand that not everyone who uses a chair is totally unable to walk??)

RivkA with a capital A said...

Toby -- it was! and it is good to be back!

Karen -- I did use the wheelchair at the airport! That was one of the advantages of bringing my own chair!

It seems to me that most people who have daily contact with people in wheelchairs do understand. They all asked me, very politely, if I could get up and walk through the metal detectors.

I did not notice any dirty looks.