Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day One - Saturday, June 19, 2010

Plan: Relax at home in the AM; fly to Orange County in the mid-afternoon; dinner at Mimi’s, possibly with SoCal relatives.


Since our flight doesn’t leave until 3:45pm in the afternoon, and my parents took our bags with them when they left to drive down on Thursday, there wasn’t much of anything to do this morning. We decided to head over to Shari’s for breakfast around 7:00am, in part because we didn’t want to dirty any dishes. Once we were home, we puttered around for a little bit doing last minute things around the house and then settled in to wait until it was time to leave for the airport. It was a really long morning. We’re used to flying out on the 11:00am flight, which doesn’t leave a lot of free time in the morning before we leave.

Finally, it was 1:00pm and Jason and I quickly loaded up our carry-on bags and headed for the airport. When we first started planning the trip, Sandy said she knew someone with a large enough vehicle to transport all five of us and our carry-on bags to the airport. When we all met the week before the trip to go over last minute details, she let us know that that person no longer had their large vehicle. So there was much discussion on how we would get to the airport. It was when things like “maybe Charlie (my nephew) will get his license this week and can take some us to the airport, while the rest of us take light rail” were being thrown around that Jason and I decided to just drive ourselves and park in offsite long term parking. Matthew’s girlfriend will drive the three of them to the airport.

Driving ourselves proved to be a wise, stress-free decision. Traffic was light, the shuttle was waiting for us at the long term lot and we were at the airport in no time. Without bags to check, we headed to security where there was absolutely no line. We were among the first to arrive at the gate and settled in to wait for the others.

Sandy, Matthew and Samantha arrived about 45 minutes before we were scheduled to board. They had been on their way when they had to turn around to get Sandy’s glasses. Once home, they discovered that her glasses were in the back seat the whole time. They also encountered stop and go traffic on the highway, which Jason and I had thankfully missed. Again, Jason and I were glad that we drove ourselves, these types of things just really stress me out.

As soon as they arrived, I went up to the counter to ask if there happened to be any First Class upgrades available. There were, but they only had four seats and we needed five. We decided since we all couldn’t upgrade then none of us would. It was around this time that Matthew announced that he forgot to pack shoes. How can you forget shoes? He was wearing flip flops and had just packed that morning. So he pulled out his laptop and was shoe shopping. He was thinking about ordering shoes and having them shipped to the hotel. We talked him out of that since he would have had to pay for expedited shipping to ensure that they arrived before it was time to leave. We’ll deal with his shoe issues when we arrive.

The flight was quick and uneventful. We ate our ½ ounce of party mix and drank our complimentary soda. We landed about 25 minutes ahead of schedule and with no bags to pick up we headed immediately to the rental car desk. There was a short delay while the agent tried to retrieve my reservation. Because it was a special rate manually entered by the Alamo customer service person, it was a little tougher to pull up. Finally, all was taken care of and we headed downstairs to get our car. I prefer small cars, so I rented an economy car. We were given a Chevy Cobalt and after wedging all five of us in, we were on our way. Traffic was light and in short order we were pulling off the freeway onto Katella. This is Sandy’s first trip in many years, so she was enjoying seeing the changes since she was here last.

We stopped at the Anaheim Plaza to drop off Sandy, Matthew and Samantha. We pulled up behind Mom and Dad’s minivan. Dad came out to unlock the car and to tell us that my uncle from Huntington Beach was upstairs visiting with mom. Once my aunt arrived we would head over to Mimi’s for dinner.

Jason and I left to check in at Howard Johnson’s, with Matthew tagging along to use the Wi-Fi in our room to try to locate a shoe store nearby that carries the type of shoes he likes. He sat in the lobby while we checked in and managed to pull up a list of shoe stores. HoJo’s was able to honor our request for a ground level room, but not our request for building 6 or for connecting rooms. We knew that there weren’t any guarantees, but we were still disappointed. It makes it so convenient to be able to wander between rooms. But we didn’t have time to worry about that right now. We just had time to drop our bags off in our rooms when we got a call that everyone was heading over to Mimi’s.

Dinner at Mimi’s was excellent as usual. Jason and I had both had salads as part of our vow to try to get at least some green vegetables in every day during the trip. We’ve found that after a few days of eating mostly grease and sugar we end up feeling sub-par. It was a long dinner, since we were visiting with my aunt and uncle. Jason and I were fading fast. It had already been a very long day and we were anxious to make our grocery stop at Food 4 Less and then get back to the room to unpack and organize things for the next morning. As soon as Dad and Matthew finished eating they left to go to Van’s Skate Park where they were holding a pair of shoes for Matthew. It was only three miles away but the place was packed and parking was impossible. Finally Dad dropped Matthew off and just circled the parking lot until he was ready.

Finally, we wrapped things up at Mimi’s, said goodnight to the relatives and headed en masse over to Food 4 Less. They must have been getting ready to close, because shortly after we arrived the lights flashed and people began heading to the check stands. We quickly gathered the essentials we needed, including our favorite sodas that we can only get while in Southern California, Manzanita Sol for Jason and Cactus Cooler for me. We finished our shopping ahead of the rest of our group, so we confirmed the plans for the next day and said goodnight.

As we drove back to the hotel, we talked about our rooms. We’ve always stayed in the deluxe rooms in building 2 overlooking the quiet pool. When we booked our rooms, there weren’t any deluxe rooms available so we went with the standard rooms. My room overlooked the courtyard, but Jason’s view was of someone’s office in the main lobby building. Because we had asked for a ground floor room, we thought that maybe there were connecting rooms available on the second floor. I could probably manage one flight of stairs without too much trouble. Unfortunately, they were sold out and nothing was available. The desk clerk was very nice and suggested we check back on Monday night to see if something was available then.

Our second look at our rooms made us feel much better. While we still prefer building 2, these rooms were perfectly acceptable. Although a little dated, they were immaculately clean. We each had a refrigerator, a coffee maker, and a safe but no microwave. There were two sinks, one in the bathroom and one just outside the bathroom, really handy if you have more than one person in the room. Because it was just me, I used the outside sink as a kitchen sink. The beds were extra long double beds and while the mattresses weren’t the Pillow Top mattresses that we love, they were certainly comfortable enough. Just inside the door was a clothes rod that was open to the room. At the back of the room was a walk-in closet with a roll-away bed. If the bed hadn’t been in the way I would have used that for my clothes. There were plenty of drawers, a desk and chair and a long low counter that would be great for setting my luggage on if I chose not to unpack everything. There was a small patio where I had pictured myself sitting with a cup of coffee in the morning, but that never happened.

I unpacked and got things organized before falling into bed exhausted at midnight.

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