They Came, They Saw, They Coughed

March 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Mom and Dad set off on their first big post-retirement trip this month, heading down to Florida to stay with us a week. Along the way they stopped in Memphis, tried to stop in Gatlinburg (apparently it’s a huge Valentine’s weekend hot spot, and traffic was so bad they had to bypass it), saw the Biltmore in Ashville, NC, took a slight detour up to Cincinnati to settle grandma’s estate, stopped off in Atlanta for a night, then finally made it down to Orlando. Along the way they saw some of the coldest temperatures they’d seen all winter, accompanied by some snow. But down here in sunny Florida, they were greeted with highs in the 70s and 80s.

Unfortunately, Liam brought home The Plague right before they arrived. Thursday I took Liam to the doctor and the prognosis wasn’t good: strep and pink eye. James and I weren’t feeling so hot, either. So all of my plans for early in their trip went out the window. Instead we took a leisurely stroll through Ft. Christmas, let Liam run around on the playground, and explored some of the old homesteads.

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DSCN0055On Saturday we had planned an entire day at Epcot, and Liam was going to stay home with the sitter. We had made reservations at Le Cellier three months in advance. But James was starting to come down with the crud, and I was starting to feel better, so James stayed home with Liam while I took my parents around Epcot for the day. We rode some of the tamer rides, then I got up the nerve to attempt the milder version of Mission Space. Dad loved it! And so did I! After that it was easy to convince them to try Test Track, a ride that’s been closed for the past year and one I’d been wanting to ride since I moved here. Just enough thrill for my retired parents! Dad almost lost his hat, lol.

Then we met James and Liam for dinner at Le Cellier, which didn’t disappoint. Though I wish James and I had been feeling better. It’s no fun eating with a cold. After dinner, mom, dad and I redeemed our Fast Passes at Soarin’, which they absolutely loved! I giggled as I could hear mom next to me gasping as we soared down over the ocean. It really does feel like you’re going to get your feet wet. Then we rode Spaceship Earth with Liam and James right before they left the park. And got some pretty sunset photos of the big ball.

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Only then did poor mom and dad realize we’d only seen about half of Epcot. We spent the rest of the night walking around the World Showcase. All the countries look so beautiful at night, so I think mom enjoyed it despite her aching feet. We found a nice place to rest and enjoy the fireworks display at the end of the night. Very spectacular, and right up dad’s alley.

By Monday my cold took a turn for the worst, so mom and dad took Liam to the Science Center while I went to the doctor. Liam and mom lasted about 10 minutes in the Star Wars exhibit, so they left dad to read every sign and watch every video like I had done a few weeks before without Liam. Liam knew all his favorite spots – the orange grove, the tornado and earthquake room. Dad volunteered for the wind machine and apparently put on quite a show for some other patrons. Much to my surprise, they even got Liam to sit through the 3D movie about tornadoes. Perhaps I have a future weather nut on my hands. Fitting that we’re moving back to Tornado Alley, then.

By Wednesday I felt well enough for a little adventure, so we took Liam to this mini-golf place by my house I’d been wanting to try. They boasted live gators. Teeny tiny live gators, but I won’t quibble. I wasn’t sure how Liam would do, but he absolutely loved it. The smallest club was just his size, and he would position the ball about 2 inches from the hole and hit it in. The course had a lot of interesting twists and turns, and Liam had a great time dropping his ball in the first hole to see where it came out on the next green. We’ll definitely be going back soon.

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After a quick lunch at home, we ventured out to Clearwater Beach for dinner and sunset watching. It was a cold day, only about 65, and windy, so not terribly pleasant near the shore. But we got some great views from the restaurant.

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DSCN0112Thursday, left with a stomach-wrenching cough but determined to enjoy the day at Kennedy we had planned for months, I drove with dad over to the space center first thing. Mom took Liam to preschool that day, and he seemed to be on the mend. Dad and I had a fabulous time walking through the rocket garden, taking a simulated ride of the space shuttle (very cool!), and checking out all of the artifacts from the early days of space flight. We had lunch with an astronaut, in which Jon McBride regaled us with all the tales of space flight. He took questions at the end, and of course all the kids wanted to know how they used the bathroom. He showed us a slide and said, no joke, they have to practice this just like everything else. Complete with camera in a place no one wants to see a camera. In the middle of the presentation mom called. Apparently Liam laid his head down and fell asleep at lunch, and they sent him home for the day. Poor kiddo!

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DSCN0135I was feeling pretty lousy myself, but the cough drops kept the worst of it at bay through our two-hour tour of the launch pad. We saw the enormous Vehicle Assembly Building and launch pad 39A, where they launched most of the Apollo and Space Shuttle missions. We caught it right between space programs, so we got a rare glimpse of the facility. Soon Space X will be launching commercial flights there, and it’ll be closed to the public again. Our tour guide was fantastic, and we got lots of geeky photos. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the Apollo/Mercury museum, totally in awe of the size of the Saturn V rocket. We also saw some of the original Mission Control equipment, and relived the harrowing experience of the first moon landing in a stage and video show. Regretfully we couldn’t squeeze in the two IMAX shows about Hubble and the Space Station. But it still felt like a very full day, and we two space geeks left very satisfied. Dad was my very own tour guide through the rocket garden and museum. It was amusing to him, I’m sure, that I always pictured him as a little kid watching the moon landing. He was actually an adult, away at the Technical Institute in Kansas City, watching it on his TV in his own apartment.

Friday morning we got up bright and early to see the Falcon 9 rocket launch at 10. Liam seemed better and mom was coming down with the crud, despite copious doses of Zicam both mom and dad were taking, so we took Liam along with us. As usual he was both cute and a pain in the ass, complaining that he didn’t want to go to the beach and get dirty, but sitting quietly in his chair once we got him out of the car. The launch was a little underwhelming, but still cool to see. I think the photos do it a little more justice than the video.

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Liam just couldn’t stop talking about the rocket, so afterward we headed to the Astronaut Hall of Fame, promising him we’d get him a rocket in the gift shop. But, after playing on some of the exhibits, we discovered the gift shop had been shut down. So of course he cried. The ticket agent told us we could park for $10 and go to the gift shop at the main center. Ummm, I don’t think so. But Liam got over it, as all four year olds do.

Saturday we took them to our favorite restaurant in Winter Park, Bosphorous. It was a cold, blustery day (for Florida, anyway), and they seated us by the door, so the lunch wasn’t as pleasant as I’d hoped. Plus I think we were all feeling the crud by then. But we took home lots of yummy leftovers that I’m still enjoying this week.

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Sunday Mom and Dad posed for one last photo with Liam. In all the down time, Liam took walks around the neighborhood with his scooter, showing grandma and grandpa the play ground, and he spent many an hour playing trains with grandpa in the play room. We had planned to travel up to St. Augustine together to see the fort and the pirate museum, but with all of us feeling so sick and the weather staying stubbornly cold and windy, we decided to stay home. Mom and dad spent a blustery day in St. Augustine, skipping the fort in favor of the Lightner Museum and a drive around town to see the oldest house and the oldest neighborhood in America. St. Augustine is celebrating its 500th anniversary this year, and it being the beginning of spring break, the streets were notably crowded. Probably best that Liam and I skipped it. Today they should be sight-seeing in Baton Rouge, then on to the Clinton Presidential Library tomorrow in Little Rock, AR. And then home. A long trip, with an unfortunately cold thrown in, but  a good one, I hope.

James is negotiating his starting date for the Wichita job in the next week or two, and if things go accordingly, we’ll be seeing mom and dad again very soon. It was so great to see Liam really bonding with his grandparents, more now than I think he’s ever done before. Usually we have to share them with Evie and Milo, or Liam spends most of the time clinging to me. But this time he firmly told James and I to “go away” so he could play with them. I’m looking forward to him really getting to know his grandparents for the next couple of years at least.

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1 Comment »

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  1. Thanks for sharing the story. I will share it with Grandma. She has been anxious to hear about Mark and Julie’s trip.


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