Dear Kid Puppy,
It has been quite an eventful 14 hours or so.
The Plan: Have dinner with Grandma and Grandpa, drive to somewhere south of Orlando, find a hotel, sleep, spend the day at EPCOT, drive a while, finish up at home sometime tomorrow.
After a lovely dinner with Grandma and Grandpa, we stuffed all our belonging and people into the car, waved goodbye, and headed up Florida’s Turnpike. Check.
Did I mention that Dad and Pi drank about 16 gallons of water during dinner? Bladder capacity was at just under an hour, so before Pi exploded we got off at Jupiter to Attend to Needs.
When we got back to the highway, there was a sign on the ticket machine that said the Jupiter ticket machine wasn’t handing out tickets and we should just pay at the toll booth. Hmmm. We looked at each other for a moment but didn’t take a photo of the sign. (For future reference, when there are odd signs on toll booths, take a photo.)
On we drove. We got off the highway in Kissimmee where they had absolutely no information about the Jupiter ticket problem. Sigh. We paid the full toll which fortunately was only a few dollars more than it would have been had we had the Proper Documentation.
Then we began to Look for a Hotel. After finding three with very lovely No Vacancy signs we decided to stop at a gas station to fill up the car, unfill the bladders, and use our smart phones to locate a place to spend the night.
The Universe continued its evil laugh. I must have a Strong Word with Cincinnati Bell when we get back since my phone is operating at the speed of molasses in January. Going uphill.
Daddy hit the jackpot and we booked a room, complete with prepayment and reservation number. The Kid did a lovely job of navigating us the 15 miles or so to the hotel, and in I went to register.
The Universe: Bwahhahhaaahhahahahhaa
“Hello,” I say quite politely to the desk clerk, “We have a reservation.”
He gives me a look that manages to be completely bland, odd, and sympathetic all at the same time. “Just one minute,” he tells me, “I’ll have you speak to the manager.”
“Do we not have a room?” I ask, wishing I had the ability to raise one eyebrow.
“I’m not sayin’ anything,” comes the response. I sigh inwardly.
After a few minutes, the manager comes out. She is obviously flustered, struggling to remain civil, and wishing she were elsewhere. She gives me a pained look. There is some sort of glitch in their system. There are no rooms. I point out my reservation number and prepayment. She tells me they’d be happy to refund my money. I say I am not so much interested in a refund as a room. She says she’ll see what she can do and disappears into an office. Clearly, it is not a great day to be Kristina the Hotel Manager.
Fast forward. We have a room at one of the sister properties that is even closer to the park. Joy! It will be just a few minutes until the reservation system recognizes everything and she gets it all set.
Fast forward some more. No, we don’t have a room at the sister property. But wait, there is a room, but it hasn’t been cleaned and it will take two hours to clean it. She asks the manager at the other property to check to see if maybe the room is clean and is just marked incorrectly in the system.
Fast forward a whole bunch. There is a room Kristina’s hotel. It has no air conditioning and no fan. There is a room at the sister property. It truly hasn’t been cleaned and won’t be ready for two hours. Those are our options.
I go out to the car to consult the troops.
Turns out that Dad has developed a nasty migraine while I’ve been cracking jokes with the front desk crew. We leave him out of the decision and decide to leave Orlando and EPCOT for another visit and head north.
Kristina assures me there will be no problem getting a refund even though we’ve booked through a separate service. I am dubious and ask for something in writing. She has nothing to give me. I ask Kristina for a cup of coffee. She checks with Pizza Hut (which serves pizza and breakfast for the hotel); they’re out. She sends me to Dunkin’ Donuts which she assures me is open until midnight.
If anyone should happen to ask you, you can respond with great confidence that that particular Dunkin’ Donuts closes quite thoroughly at 11pm.
Fast forward. We find an iHop staffed with the most cheerful people in all of Florida. They are delighted to give me a cup of coffee and by 12:07am, we are driving north, Dad and Pi in the backseat contemplating the insides of their eyelids.
By the time we get to Ocala, I decide we should find a room and let people sleep. The desk clerk at the Hilton is very happy to see us but doesn’t have a room. Neither does the La Quinta next door. Turns out there is a Little League tournament in Orlando. There are no less than 16 teams at the Ocala Hilton alone. Grandma had told us one of her friend’s grandson was coming to Orlando to play in a Little League game, but we hadn’t realized quite how big a tournament it was going to be. Light dawns a little late. Being a Good Guy, the desk clerk calls around and finds us a room up the street at the Quality Inn.
The Universe, tired after all the Bwahhahhaaahhahahahhaas, decides to go bother someone else. We check in to a lovely room and promptly fall asleep. (And by “promptly” I mean after brushing our teeth and plugging in our electronic devices.)
Everyone else is still snoozing away. I’ll let them sleep a while longer. Then it’s off for the Adventures of the Day. Depending on what interesting things we encounter along the way, we’ll be home sometime tomorrow.
Can’t wait to see you, puppy,