Sunday, 3 February 2008

Our journey to Florida

I’m having a rather surreal moment here. It is 9.48pm on Saturday 2nd February. I’m sitting in the dark with a cup of tea and a laptop, in a little arm chair in our newly rented RV. Right opposite me, almost within touching distance, I can see wee Barney fast asleep on his bed which converts into a dining table and chairs during the day. He hasn’t moved a muscle since he told me his eyes needed to be closed for a while, about an hour ago. He looks so peaceful. Dan has been asleep on top of our bed, fully clothed, since he said he was going to lay down for 30 seconds, almost three hours ago. Jimmie and Annabelle are both silently playing Nintendo’s in bed.

I’m sitting here listening to the sound of a million crickets, whilst looking through the photos we took today. Today has been the first proper day of our travels. The first day of rest and enjoyment, rather than physical traveling. But before I tell you about that I should start from where I left off with my last blog post.

Our journey to America started four days ago, and took the guts of three days to complete. We left cold, wet, windy Banbridge last Wednesday and headed to the dentist for a final, and overdue check up. Barney and Annabelle found out they will both be getting braces when we return home to Northern Ireland in the summer. We took the bus down to Dublin where we stayed the night in a hotel ready for our morning flight to Orlando, Florida. The bus ride alone was more excitement than Barney could handle. I guess the thought of buses, airplanes, RV’s and many months of travel are more than the average four year old can really comprehend.

The hotel in Dublin was luxury. Barney spent all evening opening drawers and cupboards around the hotel room. Every drawer was a new and exciting prospect. Some contained pens or paper, and one even a hairdryer! At 8pm we all got into our PJ’s and watched a film on TV with a feast of popcorn and coke. It was a great start to our trip for the kids, and I had to remind them that the whole trip would not be quite so luxurious.

Our flight to Orlando took the guts of 11 hours in the end. We had sick passengers requiring medical attention, storms and crosswinds on the runway to contend with, so everything was slow. Amazingly (and much to our delight) Barney was an absolute angel for the entire 11 hours! The part of the trip we had been dreading was OK. Phew. Well, he was happy enough… he had a captive audience to talk to. And when Barney talks, and someone listens, Barney is happy. Poor Jimmie was terribly travel sick all the way there and told us he just wanted to die. We found him a row of 4 spare seats to lie on, but he was vomiting all the way and looked a terrible shade of gray.

Eventually we arrived in Orlando, at 1am UK time. Barney was tired beyond belief at this point, and cried his little eyes out whilst we queued to go through immigration. One man felt so sorry for him that he brought him over a chocolate bar, but he was even too tired to eat it and asked to keep it for later. We made it through immigration without any hassle and thought we’d be in a taxi to the hotel within minutes. But, oh no, this is America. And here security is something else. After collecting our luggage from the conveyor belt we thought we were on our way, until we were informed that our luggage had to go a separate way again on a new conveyor belt for further checks. We waved good bye to our suitcases and headed through further checks ourselves. Shoes off, belts off, everything through the x-ray machine, just like when checking in for a flight. Then we had what seemed like an eternal walk with numerous elevators to be taken, until we came to a shuttle bus! The shuttle bus took us to another part of the airport where we arrived and waited for our luggage. And waited, and waited, for what seemed like an eternity at 1am in the morning. Eventually our luggage came (again) and we headed for the taxi rank.

Our taxi driver gave us our first real taste of America. He was a big, jolly, smiling Jamaican man who thought we were totally insane! He drove with no seat belt, whilst boogying to Santana in his seat, and taking cell phone calls from his girlfriend, who he’d obviously had a disagreement with. In between Santana tunes he switched the radio over to the Dr Phil show (how ironically American) and we listened to Dr Phil try to resolve a parking disagreement between two neighbours, whilst the taxi driver was saying “sorry honey, I was just so tired last night honey, I know honey, I’m sorry honey” on his cell phone.

By the time we got to our hotel in Kissimmee, Florida we were all totally shattered, yet extremely hungry. Dan went out and found a pizza place and we sat on our beds at what was 2am to us, eating pizza, with our eyes half closed.

To see the photos click here.

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