Gene is brilliant. Gene is really short for Genius. Gene discovered the most wonderful thing at Port Orleans. Even if you are not using Magical Express (Disney's airport shuttle service), you can still check your luggage at your resort and not touch it again until you get home. This means that after breakfast, or even before, you can take your over-filled suitcase to the airline check in desk, and they'll not only weigh it to ensure you're not over 50lbs (and if you are, they'll hand it back so you can re-allocate weight between the two so both are under 50lbs!), they'll also print your boarding passes and slap tags on your luggage and make it disappear, so you're free to wander for the rest of the day.
After we handed it over, we decided on Downtown Disney. Not really sure that we wanted to commit to a park, and not really certain of how long it would take us to get the Orlando International on a Friday afternoon we decided to play it safe, shop a bit, and then leave early for the airport.I wandered through World of Disney (by the way, Stitch spits water on you if you stand just right), and watched some Bibbidi Bobbidi makeovers. I saw some husbands holding Visa slips and looking queasy. I saw one father try to convince his wife and daughter that a cute little $45 pink jogging suit with "PRINCESS" on it was every bit as adorable as the $70 Belle costume (which of course would require an additional $60 in shoes, tiara, wand, purse and wig). Fail. They both just stared at him like he'd lost his marbles.
I went to Ghirardelli and ordered a Decadent Drinking Chocolate (which one can only consume one cup of per year, like Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate) which I sipped while Gene ate the accompanying biscotti.
Pooh was hanging around so I sat down and let him smear honey in my hair.We didn't shop much. I did get Dazee her princess hat (seriously. with ears. wait for it. soon. promise.) and bought a Mickey head fake tire chew-toy for Owen. We watched serious pin traders - these people are crazy intense about pins with huge stacks of bins and books.
This was a super laid back, low key morning. Knowing you are leaving, the tiredness from the fun begins to seep in and you find that you have minimal motivation. We headed for Orlando International, figuring we'd gas up the car and then find late lunch at the airport.
I hauled out my GPS and asked it for a gas station near our destination (the car rental place). I selected the one closest and with easiest access given our direction of travel. We pulled up to the pump and Gene got out.
Now, we'd driven this car a minimum of miles. Airport, to hotel, hotel to Reebok, Reebok to hotel, hotel to airport. And we'd chosen to fill the car before we returned it, as Thrifty charges a full tank even if you've only used a tiny bit. We expected, I think, $1.79 a gallon maybe, a bit high given that it was $1.49 elsewhere in the state, but a small mark-up because it's close to the airport.
Try again. $3.99 a gallon. Yes, you read that right. FOUR BUCKS a gallon. I assume that the gas station is owned and operated by the same franchisee who owns Not So Thrifty, and probably Hertz as well. Someone, you'd think, would put an end to this. Less than a quarter mile away (in the opposite direction and inconvenient to the rental places) gas was $1.49. Yes, certainly we had the option of going down the road. I think if we'd used much more than 3 gallons, we would have. Of course, if we'd had the economy car I requested our gas use would have been more like 1.5 gallons. Un. Freaking. Real.
We returned the car and hopped on a shuttle for our return to Orlando International. Once inside the terminal we headed for what has become the requisite "security" check. Orlando has something I love, and would like to see in other airports. They divide travelers by type for screening, which increases efficiency and means I don't get hung up behind a family with three kids, a tandem stroller, two car seats and more carry-on than my checked luggage. I like that. We went through the middle tier (occasional traveler), but could easily have gotten into the business traveler line, and will in the future. While the little family who approached the checkpoint ahead us was still removing infants and toddlers from various carrying devices, we were already through the scanners and putting our shoes back on.
For lunch we headed to the Outback in the airport, which is perfect for me as Outback has a gluten free menu. I had a glass of wine to brace myself for the impending flight home, in case I was once again seated near a child with a penchant for scary storytelling. I think Gene felt it was safer to give me wine than risk the life of the child should one present itself.
Odd, or interesting, to note that I am now in many ways much more comfortable in an airport than he is. Not much bugs me now, except the actual stepping onto the aircraft, and oddities like TSA guys emerging from nowhere to check bags at the gate. I have my little stash of drugs, but don't take them. They're like a talisman, like Dumbo's magic feather.
This is it. The end of the story, the return to cold and dark. We got on a plane in Orlando, and got off of it at Bradley. Nothing eventful happened on the plane. The car was frozen shut at Roncari and we had to wait for a while for them to bring it around. We drove home to our snow-covered world, to joyful dogs and a waiting Gerbil. We ate popcorn. Some days Gene tries to use his key card in the front door. I am still waiting for Mousekeeping to come and get the towels off the bathroom floor, and am confused by the presence of dirty dishes and meals I had to prepare myself. Otherwise we're adjusting well.
Don't be surprised if someday I pack up shop and head south for good though! If you need me, I'll be at the Magic Kingdom, with my head in the clouds and my feet on Main Street USA!