Saturday, January 24, 2009

Emily and Disneyworld

There is no better way to shorten up the middle month of winter than a visit by a couple of grandchildren and a road trip south. It breaks things up nicely and spring really is just around the corner.

The Middle of January 2009 - Studley, VA

You can tell you're getting up there in life experience (old) when one of your grandchildren can jump on a plane by herself and come down for a visit. What a treat to have her all to ourselves (at least for a little while). Since our trip to France a couple of years ago, Em has successfully completed her home schooling, passed her GED (a year ahead of her schooled contemporaries), and matured nicely. She has been working at a nursery (closed for the winter) and has learned a lot about botany in a short amount of time (more than I know certainly).

It's fun being around someone just on the cusp of adulthood. While this was Em's first chance to relax after a long season of work, we had other ideas. She is quite creative and Kat immediately got her going on painting, room arranging, shopping, and picture hanging. I basically did nothing. We chatted, ate out a lot more than usual, and enjoyed a day in Washington, DC watching the preparations for the inauguration, visiting some almost deserted museums, monitoring the making of money at the BP&E (like they need our help) and relaxing at the National Botanical garden.

A couple of days after Em's arrival, her mother got so fed up with the constant five degree weather on Cape Cod (or maybe she really did miss her daughter), she packed up Danny and drove down for an impromptu visit. Richmond has a good children's museum which Dan and mom enjoyed, and right next door is the Science Museum of Virginia, where Em, Kat and I spent the better part of the day wandering and trying all the experiments. We headed to Kuba Kuba for a late lunch and the best homemade, fresh squeezed lemonade and limeade in Virginia. K/K is one of our favorite restaurants with flavorful food, a warm homey interior and a lively atmosphere. Excellent.

Before we could blink, Lisa and Dan were back on the road (forgetting his bike and helmet) and the three of us settled back into our routine of pure relaxation. A last visit to the Ginter Botanical gardens (fabulous) and before we knew it we were watching Em make her way through the security checkpoint at RIC, heading back to the cold. Too fast.

January 24th - Off to Disneyworld

With Danny's bike and helmet in the back of the car we headed south toward warm weather. The drive from Richmond to Orlando takes about 10 hours(I know both my sons have proudly done it in much less time) and except for a stretch of construction in Georgia was pleasant and easy. This was our first road trip (in this country) since moving to Virginia and it reminds you how large our country is. We made the journey from Portugal through Spain to Gibraltar (and back) in less time.

We (finally) found our hotel (The All Sports) at the far end of Buena Vista Blvd and it suits us perfectly. The fact that our staircases are Coca-Cola cups rather than marble makes not a whit of difference. Disney does everything well and even their low-end "value" hotels are cleaner and quieter than similar properties outside the park. If interested, Tom Connellan wrote a fascinating book called "Inside the Magic Kingdom" that describes Disney's culture of customer satisfaction. I have a cherished autographed copy in my library.

We capped our evening off with a spectacular grandchild reunion and even more spectacular dry-iced chocolate desert at T-Rex, the latest themed restaurant at Downtown Disney. Adam, Kristin and the kids arrived earlier in the week and looked well rested and calm, remarkable given the potential for out of this world external stimulation. They all continue to amaze us.

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