Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Orlando Trip with Kids: Part VII - Driving to the Gulf and Back


It was Easter the day after we finished up our time at Universal Orlando. The hotel had some fun activities going on at the pool and they offered to deliver Easter baskets for $30 a piece. When I looked at the sample picture I knew it couldn't have more than $5 worth of stuff in it, so I figured I could do better for much less. I went to the grocery store and the dollar store on Friday evening and loaded up some baskets with toys and goodies for about $20 total. Mom had also made little baskets for all the grandkids, which had come all the way from Utah with her. We didn't get to celebrate with Mike and family since they had to catch a flight at 7AM, but we did go over to their suite and make a tasty breakfast out of their leftovers, including an unopened pack of bacon.

After breakfast we went to a local ward for a 10AM church service before bringing the kids back for nap and downtime. Ty played in his tent first while I took Allison down to the playground and the pool so she'd be nice and worn out for her nap.
After Allison was done I handed her off to Oscar and took Tyler down. They had a balloon animal maker and a face painter, but they were leaving in about 15 minutes, so we had to do both those things before swimming. Ty liked his dolphin balloon and dolphin face paint. He picked a flower design for my face.

Unfortunately it all washed off after we went swimming, and Tyler popped his balloon animal getting too rough with it near the hottub. At least he had fun and at least we got pictures. I tried to keep my face out of the water, but it smeared anyway just from the bits of splash.
For dinner we ate ours and Mike's leftovers and attempted to watch the movie the BFG as a family. Our kids are too restless for movies, so that didn't last long.

Tyler needed to get to bed early since he hadn't napped that day, so I took Allison on a walk in the stroller while Oscar got him down. The natural lagoons have signs around them telling people to stay out of the water due to snakes and alligators. I wondered if those have always been there or if they were just put in since that poor two year old boy was drowned by an alligator at Disney's Grand Floridian resort.

While we were walking around I discovered another pool. It was perfect for the kids since it starts off as a wading pool and gradually gets deeper. I wish we'd known about it sooner. Allison already loves ramps and loves splashing in the pool, so I figured it'd be her favorite activity ever. I took her down to play that evening even though she'd already been swimming that afternoon. 
I didn't swim with her, but I did roll up my pants so I could wade in and get pictures. She was so cute, especially after she found a pool noodle. Towards the end she found a little spot to sit and splash and enjoy watching the other kids play. Allison always wants to be part of the action. 

I let her play until she decided she was done, then wrapped her up in towels and her robe and gave her dinner in the stroller. I bathed and changed her as quietly as I could before putting her to bed.

The next day we took a road trip out to the Gulf of Mexico. Oscar had lost his driver's license when we'd switched phones the night before, so I had to do all the driving myself. It wasn't so bad on the way there, but I was miserable on the way back.

 
About 20 minutes before we hit the beach we stopped to play at Great Explorations Children's Museum. It's part of the travel passport we have with our local children's museum, so admission was free for us. The kids first played in the tree house with a slide which has musical instruments underneath and a little nook for drawing with flourescent lights.
Allison couldn't get enough of playing on the xylophone. It's her favorite activity at our home museum too.

These spinners on the outside lead into a neat little toddler area where Tyler was able to play at the huge Lego Duplo station. It was such a great idea to come here! After a long drive it was a nice way to let the kids burn some energy indoors before getting back in the sun.
You can see me watching Allison in the "Sand" pit made of rubber. Oscar took the picture from behind the plastic wall blocking it from the toddler area. It was so nice to have one adult per kid. They were free to wander whereever they wanted. Usually it's just me with both kids at our museum, so I'm always trying to keep them at least somewhat together.

Allison enjoyed riding in the firetrucks and making her way through the floor maze.
The grocery store area was the only activity that our local museum doesn't have an equivalent to match. Both Ty and Allison loved it! Just watch these cute videos of Allison shopping and Tyler playing cashier for daddy. I love his prices, and my heart melts when he says "here you go sir."

And Ty finished up by making daddy a pizza before we walked over to the Carrabas restaurant next door. We ordered perfectly for once. Between the 4 of us we ate every single bite of our entrees and we left full but not stuffed.

From there we continued our drive to the coast. The kids both napped while Oscar and I enjoyed the scenery. I'd wanted to come to the gulf rather than the Atlantic ocean because I'd never seen the gulf but had swum in the Atlantic during my last trip to Florida with Amy and Rachael. The beach, sand, and waves were better on the Atlantic side, but the views here were vastly superior. The kids both got about an hour of sleep while Oscar and I made a few stops and took pictures.
 
After the kids woke up we took them to a playground near a swimming area we'd passed earlier. It also has a scavenger hunt like the one at our local YMCA. Ty really likes finding the objects.
And here's me playing with the kids at the beach. Allison did not like the cold water and the speed of the waves, so we weren't in it very long (though I had brought my swimsuit just in case). I had them keep their sandals on since the sand was too rocky for bare feet.

After the kids were done with wading, we noticed some swings and let them play a bit longer before we decided to start our long drive home. It was even longer on the way back since there was traffic, and Allison refused to sleep for it, so she was extra fussy. I really wanted Oscar driving then.


Though we had to wake up at 4AM the next morning, I had to take the kids down to play at the pool again. Tyler hadn't been in this pool yet, and I wanted one last chance to play with them in a more kid friendly pool. Allison played with her little instant inflate balloons from her easter basket. They made great water toys.

This pool was safer for non swimming kids than the other one, but at one point I still had to come to their rescue. Each of them tried to walk out further than they can comfortably stand and neither figured out that they could just turn around and walk back the other way.

The next day we had to catch a flight at 7AM, but it was even more complicated because Oscar didn't have ID. We'd called Delta ahead of time to inform them of this, and they told us to arrive at least 2 hours early for extra security measures. We woke up at 4 and arrived around 5, but it still wasn't enough time. The lines to check our carseats and the lines through security were both enormous. Since they always offer to check our carry ons when we bring them to the gate, I asked if they could do that now, but we opted out of it since it would cost $25 a bag. We had to transport to the gate 3 carry on suitcases stuffed full, Allison in a stroller, plus two backpacks and Oscar's heavy computer bag as our personal items.

Once we met a security officer, they pulled us all to the side to wait for a supervisor and have extra questioning for Oscar. He showed them all the ID he had (work ID badge, temple recommend, credit cards, etc), but they weren't happy since he didn't have anything else government issued with a photo. Originally the officer said he didn't want to separate us, but after waiting there wrangling tired kids for about 15 minutes, he told me to go on through with the kids. I wish he'd let us just wait with Oscar. It was so difficult for me to take Allison and all that luggage through the long lines and load everything through the metal detectors. Luckily a nice man behind us who was traveling alone helped pull Tyler's suitcase for us.

Oscar had taken his suitcase, but his computer bag was in the stroller undercubby. I had to take everything out of the undercubby and send it through the metal detectors before folding up the stroller and putting it through all while trying to hold onto a squirming Allison and take my own shoes on and off. Once we got through we still had to take a tram over to our gate. Luckily the nice man stayed with us all the way to the gate to help out. Oscar texted to say he was already on the plane before we got on the tram. They had expedited him! Why couldn't they have just kept us all together and expedited us too?! We barely made the flight, and only when we sat down after getting our luggage put up in the compartments did I realize I'd left the computer bag. Who would have thought we'd barely make a 7AM flight by waking up at 4AM?!

I told the flight attendant about the bag who told the pilot who then radioed the information into security, but they said it was too late to try and get it. They'd already waited for us to get on the plane and really needed to get going. We immediately reported the bag missing when we got home, and in spite of our following up on it multiple times and giving them clear identification of what was inside the bag, it took them over a week to tell us they'd found it. It then cost nearly $80 to ship it through UPS. That seems ridiculous to me. It was left at an airport. Why not just send it on the next flight to Seattle and charge us $25 for luggage? At least we got it back, and at least we each had our own phones on us, but it meant being without the kids' devices we'd loaded to entertain them on the plane. Before we received word that they'd found the bag, there was also concern at Oscar's job that he might have to be disciplined and/or fined since his work computer had been in the bag. Thankfully everything was recovered in the end.

We opted to check in Tyler's carseat since we had to check Allison's anyway, it was hard and bulky to sit next to in the row, and I hadn't wanted to add yet another thing to have to take to the gate with me when we weren't allowed to take a carrying cart through the metal detectors. Unfortunately not having it made him extra squirmy, and he kept waking up Allison. Fortunately she slept far better than I was expecting (I hadn't expected much of anything since it wasn't an overnight flight), and even Ty slept a bit too. I actually slept better on this flight than on the way there. Allison slept on me and I fell asleep for a little over an hour.

In the pic on the right her head was obstructing the aisleway, so the flight attendant told me I'd have to move her if she was still in that position on descent. I'm surprised she even bothered since there was still 2 and 1/2 hours until then, and she woke up well before descent. She actually fell asleep again on my chest during descent and slept until we arrived at the gate.
And while she was awake, she was actually pretty well behaved (or at least she could have been much worse). She did climb up on the tray table at one point, but all in all I thought she behaved well in comparison to what I've seen kids her age do on flights. For how active she is I thought there would be much more squirming, crying, and trying to run off down the aisleway. She did cry while struggling to sleep or whenever she got woken up, but that was expected, and otherwise she was actually pretty happy and cute. At one point she even had Ty's seat all to herself while he was snuggled up on mine and daddy's lap (which is when she climbed on the tray table. We didn't even notice her until she was on it and trying to climb over the seat in front of her). She'll be 2 in September, and we don't have any flights planned before then, so next time she flies she'll have to have her own seat. I'm definitely bringing her and Tyler's carseats along next time!
Some nice views of Seattle as we were arriving. Ty slept on the car ride home and both kids fell asleep for the night exhausted at 7PM Seattle time. I can't believe how well the kids adjusted to pacific standard time. They'd been going to bed around 8PM in Florida and waking up around 7PM, so I thought there might be some 4AM wake ups for a few days, but they both slept from 7pm to 6:30am and went back to their usual schedules. Sweet! It was also thoroughly enjoyable to watch how much they appreciated playing with all their fun toys at home after 10 days of being without them.