This was our first family road trip. Not just any family vacation trip, but with my brother’s and sister’s family as well. There were nine boisterous kids under the age of twelve visiting Disneyworld that summer. We agreed this vacation trip will be an adventure of a lifetime. My younger son packed a lot of computer games just in case this was not an exciting trip. The computer games were all in one large duffle bag.
It was late June and we decided to take a two-day road trip from New York to Florida. Our itinerary was to make a mid-way stop in North Carolina for an overnight stay. We packed everything in two mini-vans to make this twenty hour drive. Going to Florida from New York on Interstate 95 was probably the easy route to follow, but it didn’t start out that way. When we reached Maryland, there was an overturn crash caused by an incident between a big rig and pick- up truck which created a traffic nightmare on the highway, or we were told. There was also a high terrorism alert, they stopped certain vehicles on the highway crossing into the Washington, DC area. At one moment, my husband turned to me and said, “We should have stayed home.”
We decided to make a stop in the DC area for lunch. We went to the nearest eatery, a McDonald’s because the temperature had spiked to 100 degree with high humidity which made walking unbearable. We got back into the vans and decided to continue onward to make our mid-way target to North Carolina. Then my son screamed in disbelief, “Mom, I left the game bag at McDonald’s.” After making a U-turn and retrieving the bag, we were back on the road again.
Then my niece claimed she has food poisoning, requesting stops every hour. Between the many bathroom breaks and “are we there yet?” there was a moment I asked myself, “Should we continue with this trip?” We arrived exhausted at the hotel in North Carolina and slept through the night. During breakfast, the kids were calmer and everyone seemed to be in good spirits with each other. They were discussing the places along the routes and who should be sitting with whom in the vans.
And suddenly, everything seems to go without a hitch to Florida. When I checked into the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort, the front desk clerk must have looked over at my disheveled hair and felt sorry for me. The concierge asked, “Would you like a free room upgrade?” I answered, “Yes, thank you.” I was too tired to respond intelligently and didn’t give it too much thought. I thought it was an airline ticket change from coach to business class.
When we entered the rooms, we were shocked to learn that we have been upgraded from standard double rooms to a suite. The suite is a duplex bedroom with an open balcony overseeing the Epcot Disney theme park. We watched the fireworks from our windows that night. It was glorious. For the next few days, the kids enjoyed all four theme parks, relaxed at the poolside cabanas and swam in the Olympic size pools. In the evenings, we biked along the boardwalk and enjoyed the massive firework displays.
I’m glad we continued on this journey and arrived at our destination. We spent that week strolling along on the beach, went swimming with dolphins and exploring different water sports. There was a moment I asked myself, “Am I having fun? Is this a good vacation? And the answer was a definite “yes”. It is the relationship that we developed as a family that was the real adventure. When I reminisce on those times, no matter how badly the vacation started, you don’t want to miss the journey on how you arrive there. That is the real adventure. There were those moments when I talked with my son and he agreed he had the best adventure ever. I certainly do not regret this road trip almost not taken.
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