I had initially intended to be done with this series on Friday and give a final wrap-up/Father’s Day dealie for today, but I didn’t quite get there, since I felt I should probably comment on Man of Steel (recap: should have been better, could have been (a lot) worse, definitely worth the watch). Anyways, the story ends pretty quickly. Our final day was nothing super-special. We returned to Epcot, my personal favorite place to be on Disney World property. We did some things, like had breakfast at the nearby bakery connected to the BoardWalk Inn, had dinner at Le Chefs de France (which included a visit from Remy from the movie Ratatouille), talked to a turtle, had some ice cream, and overall, just explored the park that I never actually feel as if I’ve seen everything at. It was fun, it was a slow relaxing day, and, overall, it was a nice cap to a whirlwind vacation that had us all pretty darn exhausted (well, that and the mono we just recently found out our family has been fighting for the past couple months).
But then it was over. Now, our children took the news rather well. The idea of getting back into the car and driving for another 27 hours didn’t really seem to phase them, surprisingly enough. In fact, due to their severe lack of appropriate amounts of sleep, I think they were both pretty darn ready to get in the car and take things easy for a while.
However. . . we had one more surprise in store for them, one that hadn’t been added to our itinerary until rather late in the scheduling process, a visit to see my parents. For those of you unaware, my parents live in South Carolina (where I grew up), and we found out that a stop over there would only add 1.5 hours onto our total trip, not to mention that we would be able to get out of the car for an extended break from the monotonous road, and. . . of course, my kids would be able to see their cousins that they rarely get to play with.
On our way up the Florida coast, my wife asked my daughter what she thought of the trip. Of course my daughter (as well as my son) enthusiastically responded about all of the awesome things that had occurred over the past week. Things like getting to see Metropolis, being a princess, talking to Crush the turtle, meeting the princesses and a multitude of others were all on the list. My son would pipe in regarding the Dumbo and Nemo rides.
Then my wife asked, “Is there anything that would make this trip better? Anything you wish we could have done?”
My daughter responded, somewhat sadly, “Well, I would have liked to go to South Carolina.”
(my son piped in about peaches).
So, it was quite eagerly that we made our way to my parents house, constantly asking the kids if they recognized where we were, as we neared our destination. As we stopped in front of the familiar yellow house, my daughter looked confused. She asked why we were stopping at this house, who’s house is it, where are we. Then finally her (amazing) memory kicked in and she realized where we were.
It was a rather short respite from the road, but I don’t think my kids could have had a more fantastic time. They ran around playing with their Southern cousins, although they were both obviously out of the energy required to do so. They played with water balloons, when out on the paddleboat, and, well, had basically a summer’s worth of playtime over the course of around 6 hours. My wife and I relaxed chatting with the older members of my family and filling our bellies with the foods of summer.
It was an interesting departure from the rest of our vacation, a moment of calm (amidst the chaos of 8 children running around (well. . . one of them climbed up on my lap and immediately fell asleep)) before returning to our journey home. I think all of us found it difficult to separate ourselves from this moment, as it felt as though we had entered an entirely new vacation, one filled with family. But, we had to press on.
The rest of our trip was rather uneventful (outside of an all-encompassing fog through the mountains, which, due to poor navigational choices, we ended up having to drive through 3 times). Between naps, the dvd player in the back flipped between Star Wars, Rapunzel, and the Ninja Turtles. We reminisced over the activities of the past week, trading stories of what our favorite parts of our trip had been.
Although the drive home was long and tiring for the parents and long and uncomfortable for the children (I can’t imagine being locked in a car seat for that long), I think it was possibly my favorite part. It was our family at its best, enjoying our time together and exploring the world.
I’ve got more to talk about on this for my (belated) Father’s Day post. For now I’ll leave you with the calming thoughts of a sleep-deprived family peacefully driving those long hours home, with dreams of mice, ducks, princesses, and pirates in their heads.
I couldn’t have asked for a better trip.