From CA - FL... That was the goal! To catch you up, we did our first route going from CA, NV, AZ, UT, CO, NA, IA to IL (using Chicago as our first stop so Shawn could go to Seminary for his Doctorate program)... And then headed downwards from IL to FL using IN, OH, KY, TN, NC, SC & GA. We took 26 days total to get to Florida for Disney World to celebrate Birdie's 4th birthday as the climax to this crazy adventure. 5 of those days being with friends near Chicago, 4 days with friends in Ohio, 4 more with friends in TN and the rest camping and a couple of motels...
*If you're new to the blog, you can search "O'Briens Going for Broke" in the search bar for the other blog posts on our Summer 2015, 7 week cross-country road trip.
|Birdie's thrilled to be in the Sunshine State!|
Upon crossing the FL border we had a situation with the Florida state bird: the wasp. A 3" midnight black wasp entered in to the wagon through my window, first hitting my wrist, while driving on the highway. Let me tell you I'd have paid good money to have us on video trying to handle the removal of the wasp. First Cormac screamed, "There's a huge bee in the car!"... Then Birdie spotted it a few inches from her at the bottom of her window and began panicking... Then Shawn started yelling at the top of his lungs, "KILL IT! KILLLL IIIIIT!", which unfortunately I knew was directed at me. But I couldn't find anything to kill it with. All I had near me was Birdie's all-time favorite baby doll, and I couldn't bring myself to damage her image of sweet baby Coco. So I did what any almost 35 year old mother with a baby blanket would do. I sacrificed it. I grabbed it, jumped over the front seat in to the back and then attempted to smother the life out of that wasp. After a valiant 40 or so second smoother... I began to roll down the window, trying to kick the now suffocated wasp out of the car. AND WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT THE DAMN THING WAS STILL ALIVE.
Screaming ensued. Louder, more high pitched screaming. From all four humans. I clamped the blanket back down and went for round two. I pressed harder and Shawn began to roll down the back window while simultaneously driving so I could get it out... It was like all hands on deck at this point. It was pretty much life or death or at least that's how we handled it. We got the window down and I then took my blanket and let the entire thing fly out of the window like I was waving a flag. I did this for like 20 seconds to make sure the wasp was out. To ongoing cars we must have looked like a ship of fools. If only they knew we really were.
After the wasp was definitely out we rolled up the windows for a bit to ensure our safety. But it was like 95 and humid so that couldn't last for long. We prepared to roll them back down when Birdie started showing signs of PTSD, wasp edition. She would not let her window go down. So we baked a little more than normal to protect our poor daughter from her newfound fear of wasps.
Our first stop in Florida was Saint Augustine which is was awesome. We were able to get in to the castle for free because we bought a National Parks pass at the beginning of the trip... Turns out the castle at Saint Augustine is owned by the National Parks! Loved reading all of the history and looking out at the ocean... What a gorgeous place, totally want to go back some day.
After leaving Saint Augustine we headed to Daytona Beach which Shawn really wanted to see because of all of the car racing history. A few times on the trip we've answered locals questions about the car and upon learning about the road trip they've let us in to said tourist spot for free... This was one of those times! We cruised down the sand at Daytona Beach and the kids enjoyed time back at the beach.
In between Daytona and getting to Disney World we stayed at a friend's home an hour outside of Orlando. They had kids our exact kids ages and it was a great stop with two amazing home prepared meals! After tons of eating out we were so stoked on home cooked southern food!
A few days before getting to Disney World we got a call from a friend in Los Angeles saying he had a family connection to Disney World park hopper passes and that he'd like to put us in touch with them. Due to my slightly cynical nature I was thinking, "too good to be true", pretty much until it was true. A Disney dream come true is what it ended up being.
Initially we were planning to get to our Disney Resort and do one day at Magic Kingdom and the other two days lounging at the pool and eating free resort food. I was fully prepared to lie to my kids and tell them the pool area was a Disney water park. Heck, with that Mickey logo on the towels... They'd have bought it!
However, we were able to enjoy all four parks after meeting up with our friend's cousin who got us in for free! It was truly a once in a life time opportunity and we were totally those parents who reminded our kids multiple times a day, "You were only supposed to go to Magic Kingdom FOR ONE DAY... Do you understand how lucky you are?!"
One of my favorite parts of our Disney World experience was Cormac getting to take part in the Star Wars "Jedi Training" at Hollywood Studios. Because we weren't planning to go to this park we hadn't researched any of it. So imagine our surprise when we heard about this awesome little "academy" they put on for little Star Wars fans! However when we went to sign him up we realized we were in way over our head and that other parents had signed their kids up like um... months ago! So we were stuck with the "alternate" list and just kept showing up to every session until the last one when they called his name! He was truly beaming. He understood that he might not get in so when he did he was just beyond stoked. We loved watching him take part in something he is so in to... Plus the fact that it was really well done and kind of a hilarious show!
Birdie was fairly low-maintence for with her requests for what she wanted to do at Disney World, however she did know that there were a few rides she wanted nothing to do with, like the Dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom... And after seeing Cormac's pale white face after getting off of the ride, I figured Birdie had done her research.
The one thing she was so in to was taking pics with Disney characters. Which you would think would be a simple task... Not so fast!! Somehow, and I truly blame Shawn... We waited in a line for AN HOUR under the assumption we were seeing the Ice Queens of Arendele only to get in to the castle and find Rapunzal and Cinderella. Whomp, whooomp... I mean with all do respect to these classic princesses who have earned the rhinestones in their tiaras... Just not exactly who we had in mind! "Where the hell are the Anna & Elsa?!" was pretty much the sentiment given by all four O'Briens. Cormac refused to take pics with either one and Birdie, well... I think the photos of her enthusiasm speak for themselves.
|Birdie really loved Mickey & Minnie and that Minnie gave her a kiss on both cheeks- she was star struck I think!|
|Totally a real gator! Mouth was taped shut if that makes you think we're less stupid.|
All in all Florida was a blast, hotter than I ever imagined but totally worth it, especially given the extra time at Disney World. Thank you to Amanda, Doug and Mike for the huge hookup... And our friend Sherman for putting it together!! We are forever grateful.
I'm going to be blogging more this week as my mother-in-law just joined us for a leg of the trip! Being as though my kids are so happy she's here they've forgotten who I am... I'll finally have some time on my hands to get some adventures up!!!
xo road trip or die xo