Monday, August 22, 2011

Song of the South

Another summer, another vacation in the books. Our return trip began yesterday morning at 9:15, when we left Orlando under sunny skies. We got through Georgia unscathed and in good spirits, but inevitably ran into a string of vicious thunderstorms through South and North Carolina. We were able to make good time until around 8:30 p.m. when we got to Virginia, where we hit bumper-to-bumper traffic for much of the state. Deb and I had been trading off the driving duties until 10:30, when I took over with about 20 miles to go in VA. The roads were relatively clear and dry the rest of the way, as I drove through Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey until we arrived at Casa Siegel at 3:20 a.m. The Siegels left after we did and arrived home around 7. We got up at 9:30 and hit the road around 10, getting home at 3 p.m.

It was a long and fun week. Here are a few highlights:

  • We were a combined three families with nine kids at the various Disney parks. It was hot and humid as you can imagine Florida to be in August, but we didn't get overly scorched. On Wednesday after getting wet on Splash Mountain, we promptly were faced with a deluge of a storm. The term "soaked to the bone" doesn't even cover it. Florida storms are quick and nasty.

  • We did a ton of walking. I can't remember my feet being achier, and that includes all the marathons I've run.

  • I enjoyed the rollercoasters the most: Expedition Everest, Space Mountain, the Rock n' Roller Coaster. Hannah enjoyed them, too, but Lily was a little scared of them. I love the thrill-seeking rides, but I will admit to being a little queasy after going on the Mission: Space ride at Epcot, which includes a G-force simulator. Basically, the thing's spinning like a mofo to simulate a trip to Mars. I don't usually feel the effects of rollercoasters and similar rides, but on that one, I didn't feel right for about 20 minutes afterward. There's actually a difficult version and an easier one; I went on the difficult one. Of course, it was only now that I read that Disney was sued five years ago after a kid died on the ride. Although I'm not sure what the family was thinking letting a 4-year-old go on it.

  • Driving down and back, we noticed a lot of folks down South putting their hazard lights on during heavy rainstorms. This struck me as curious and kind of wussy; I always thought you only used hazards for when you're having vehicular problems. Not because it's raining hard. As soon as the rain lets up a little, folks turn off the hazards.

  • I noticed that some of the rest stops frequented by truckers actually had showers to allow the long haulers to clean up. Pretty good idea that I had never seen on previous trips. They even have a number system like a deli to let truckers know when a shower's ready.

  • Long ago, I became sick of commercial radio for various reasons, so we had a bunch of CDs (can't listen to my iPod in the minivan). But from time to time, I'd turn the radio on and I was surprised at how much it must suck to be a rock fan in Orlando. I could only find two stations that played rock, and one of them seemingly changed to an all-talk format a few days ago. The other played a lot of mook rock (Nickelback, etc.) and literally played commercials every two minutes. Just awful.

  • On the drive home, at first I thought I was hallucinating but Deb confirmed that we passed a truck full of live chickens as we were going through Maryland. Feathers everywhere. Truly bizarre.

  • Is there an easier job anywhere than Florida meteorologist? Every day in the summer is mid-90s with a chance of thunderstorms. I suppose things get more challenging as hurricane season starts (which is basically now), but even those are fairly unpredictable.

  • I was glad we broke up the driving on this trip. I didn't have any moments where I was scared I'd fall asleep, even at 3 a.m. today. Can't say the same about the last Disney trip when we drove right through.
I created a new mix CD for the trip and ended up listening to it a few times. Pretty kickass, if I do say so myself:

YYZ - Rush

The Rover - Led Zeppelin

Lonely is the Night - Billy Squier

Do Anything You Want to Do - Thin Lizzy

Search and Destroy - Iggy and the Stooges

I am One - Smashing Pumpkins

Unsung - Helmet

Little Guitars intro/Little Guitars - Van Halen

9 Fingers on You - Shudder to Think

Constructive Summer - The Hold Steady

The Kids Are Insane - Urge Overkill

Spinnin' - Soul Asylum

Rebound - Sebadoh

Change Has Come - Screaming Trees

Ill Placed Trust - Sloan

Entertain - Sleater-Kinney

Wolf Like Me - TV On the Radio

Gimme the Wire - Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

Got Nuffin - Spoon

Mind Eraser, No Chaser - Them Crooked Vultures

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