Hi. Remember me? I used to write a blog here. Though you couldn’t tell my recent inactivity, I still do. Really.
2013 ended busily for my family and 2014 started the same way. We had a nice vacation in between, but that’s a different type of busy. Two days after Christmas we left Fairbanks and visited Orlando. We visited with family, spent some time in Vero Beach and then went to Disney World. We are unrepentant Disneyphiles. We are all about the mouse. Yes, it is corporate. Yes, it is cheesy. So what? It’s fun and the kids love it. Kids don’t care about corporate profits and are all about cheesy. This was not our first trip, but it is the first trip that Eli, at almost 4, could really get into. Charlie is a veteran, but he is still 8 years old. The look on their faces when they see Cinderella’s castle is priceless, regardless of the cheese factor.
We like leaving the state after Christmas because it gives us a break from the weather . . . usually. Mother Nature said Ha! this year and it was almost as cold in Orlando as it was in Fairbanks. Gotta love global warming, huh? Yes I went there. I know people who pointed to the recently frigid weather in the Mid-West as proof that global warming is a farce. Several of them were pointing southward while standing on their decks in Fairbanks wearing flip flops and Hawaiian flowery shirts in Fairbanks in January. I will say it slowly . . . global warming doesn’t mean that every location on the planet gets hot. Google it.
The unusually cool temperatures in Florida really didn’t effect my family very much. We had a similar experience a few years ago and packed long pants and sweatshirts this trip. We were in the minority. On the coldest morning when the temperatures briefly dipped into the low 40s, the entrance to the Magic Kingdom looked like the road into a refugee camp. People were wearing layers of clothes that shouldn’t be layered. I’m just saying that three Ralph Lauren Polo shirts on top of a tee shirt is still going to leave your arms exposed. A number of people, who presumably didn’t pack a jacket, or couldn’t find a Walmart, stripped the blankets off the beds in their hotels and wrapped themselves in them.
I might have a higher tolerance for cold weather, or maybe I am just more aware of the personal statement I am making with my appearance, but if given the choice of solutions here, am I the only one that would not opt for wrapping myself in hotel blankets? I guess I am saying the solution is kind of overkill for the problem. I understand that hypothermia can happen at temperatures as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit (I don’t know and don’t care what that is in Celsius), but probably not in direct line of site of Pirates of the Caribbean or the Dumbo ride.
On a personal note, the fact that my mobility was limited was a bit of a downer. I am doing pretty well after surgeries on my ankles but the Disney level of walking was little much. I swallowed my pride and rented a scooter. It was humbling and a bit humiliating. I did it anyway as much for my family as for myself. Walking was uncomfortable, but my lack of sustained speed was the real issue. We simply didn’t have time for me to hobble around the parks. If I had tried to walk exclusively, I would still be on the backside of EPCOT’s walk of countries. To add to my humiliation, we were at Disney World for their marathon weekend. They have five and 10 kilometer runs as well as a half and full marathon. The finishers each get medals. There is nothing quite as motivating as sitting in a scooter as people your grandmother’s age power walk past you wearing their marathon medals.
Legoland was a huge hit with the boys. Of course it was. Children of single-digit ages love glitzy marketing and Legoland is one huge marketing gimmick. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice park and very worthwhile, but it is still all about marketing. Disney is about marketing and merchandise, as well, but in my view, it’s a chicken or the egg thing. Disney started with a cartoon character in the 1930s that grew into a huge enterprise through marketing. Legos started out as toy and the makers built a theme park to market them. Or maybe it’s just me and there is no difference. Whatever. The boys had a great time.
I am not sure exactly when the change happened, but the Legos of today bear little resemblance to the Legos I got as a kid. My Legos came in primary and secondary colors and were square or rectangular. Building schemes were limited . . . house with no roof . . . tower with no roof . . . that was about it. Later you could find roofs and even windows for your buildings, but I lost interest about that time. Today Legos come in intricate kits with pieces molded specifically for that kit. They have cities and Batman vehicles and airports. I had a square roofless house.
We ended our vacation with a short Disney cruise. All I can really say is “Wow.” If you ever have the chance to do this, I suggest strongly you take it. I have to admit that putting an active, curious four-year-old on a ship with rails that can be climbed was slightly unnerving, but it proved to be a non-factor. Eli realized that if he jumped off the boat he couldn’t go to the Oceaneers Club and dress up like Iron Man. I realize that more emphasis on personal safety was probably appropriate, but I am outcome-based here. If missing out on something kept him from goofing off around the rails, then so be it.
The accommodations were great. Our stateroom was a bit crowded with five of us in it, but that is the nature of the cruise beast. We didn’t spend much time in the room, anyway. The food was amazing. We shared our table with a very nice couple from just north of Toronto and their grandson. They were great. I mocked their country for their socialized medicine and low crime rates. They smiled and nodded. I found out midway through the cruise that they are in publishing so I stopped the whole good-natured mocking thing.
The only negative was a small, minor yet puzzling thing. Our boys are kind of noisy. I admit that. They are brothers so they communicate with each other through loud grunts and yells and punches that produce louder yells. Eli is morning loud. He wakes up sad and crying because he still wants to be asleep. I understand this feeling intimately. I just cry softer and where nobody can see me. One morning at sea, Eli woke up about 7:15 am lamenting the end to his slumber loudly. At some point he spread his ire to Charlie by smacking him or taking something or some other grievous offence. This made Charlie a little loud.
The phone in our room rang. My wife answered and out neighbor let her know, in a witty and original manner that our children had awakened them. She offered her apologies and hung up. She urged the boys to be quiet because we disturbed our neighbors. It was a few seconds before it occurred to her.
“Wait,” she said. “We’re on a Disney Cruise. Did they expect there wouldn’t be kids?” I found the loud child complaint a bit out of bounds myself. I wondered if our neighbors ever saw a Disney cruise advertisement. Kids are prominently displayed. Kids are their demographic. The marketing is aimed at kids so they will leverage parents into taking them on Disney visits and cruises. Our bon voyage party included crew members rousing the approximately 1,500 kids on the cruise into screaming mob. Guess they missed that. If you wanted all quiet time on your cruise you got on the wrong boat.
We got back home tired and refreshed at the same time. That’s what vacations do. They draw on energy from another source and allow you day-to-day grind batteries recharge. The boys and I started school again and my wife and mother-in-law went back to their respective salt mines. It’s routine, but sometimes routine is good.
I promise to be a bit more active in my blog writing. Things pile up around here, but that’s kind of what inspires me. Hope your Holidays were all you hoped they’d be and that spring comes soon.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you soon on This Side of the Diaper.