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Old 04-16-2007, 09:49 AM   #1
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Lucky Friday the 13th at the Magic Kingdom

The Cast: Mom, Dis-board addict
Dad, Disney convert
Stitch, 11 yo pin addict
Chip, 8 yo not so brave one
Princess, 4 yo, Princess


The Plan: Spring Break 2007

Back in January we started talking about going somewhere inexpensive and close to home (near Cleveland Ohio) for Spring Break. Dh is a minister so we can't leave until Easter Sunday afternoon. We tossed around lots of ideas and settled on Chattanooga TN. In February, Stitch got a gc for the Great Wolf Lodge and so we decided to add a stop in Cincinnati before TN. Fast forward to March, Princess gets rotavirus and is in the hosptial for three days. Less than a week later we are back at the hospital with Chip who also gets rotavirus.

The idea of an indoor waterpark is out, too many germs. Chattanooga sounds lovely but after the stress of two weeks of sick kids we need to be on a beach!!! So first I research Ocean Isle Beach NC, then Myrtle Beach, then Savannah and Tybee Island, then Amelia Island and finally we settle on St Augustine Beach. It's only a 14 hour drive. After hours on TripAdvisor.com I settle on a hotel right on the beach. But I start thinking, we will only be 2 hours from the Magic, how can we deny our Princess, the princesses? A few clicks later and we have a room at Port Orleans Riverside for two nights.

Just to catch everyone up, the plan is to leave Ohio right after lunch on Easter Sunday and drive as far as we can. Monday we'll keep driving and end up in St Augustine Beach FL. We'll stay there until Thursday morning, then drive to WDW and stay until Saturday and drive home Sat and Sun. It doesn't sound bad now does it?

But should we go to a park? The unofficial guide crowd predictor says that the crowd level is a 10 for Friday the 13th. However it is an EMH night so we'd have longer hours. I just don't know........We'll decide when we get there. We can always just go to DTD and a waterpark....I just don't know.

April 1st, the bills start to roll in from the hospital visits...I owe the pediatrician how much??? This vacation is too expensive.

April 5th, the van has a warning light on, one we've never had before. We get an appt at the dealership the next day. It's not like we're going to drive 2000 miles or anything....grrr

April 6th, Chip doesn't feel good all day, his stomach hurts. We are supposed to leave on the 8th. I call WDW. If Chip is sick we aren't going to Florida and I have a room only ressie and what's the cancellation policy and I'm so stressed and....the nice CM tells me that if he is sick and we decide not to drive to FL, they will refund my deposit and cancel our ressie even though we would be within 6 days of arrival. Whew.......

The dealership calls, the van is fine. It was a bad sensor for $130. Of course they said it was good we brought it in to be checked. Our van does have 80K miles, it was reassuring to know nothing major was wrong....

April 7th, Chip gets up and feels great. I get packing and cleaning and packing and cleaning. Does anyone else have the need to have a clean house before leaving for vacation????

April 8th, we are on the road at 1:27 pm.........We are OFF....
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Old 04-16-2007, 10:11 AM   #2
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It's official, our vacation is on. 20 mins into the drive and Princess says I'm bored......It's going to be a long drive! However after a little coaching she figures out what she has to do (a ton of stuff) and she does great. The boys are happily playing their gameboys and we don't hear much from them in the car except the occasional "But I want that game"!

We have lots of games for the gameboy, why is it they both want to play the same one???

Sunday night we stop at a Holiday Inn Express with a roomsaver coupon for $55. At check-in DH is chatted up by a guy who is on his way home to Ohio from WDW. They are DVC and he is already depressed about coming home. He sees my dh wearing his WDW shirt and WDW hat and can't stop talking about WDW. Poor guy, in his shorts and it's only 50 degrees in NC. It's 30 in Ohio, he'll have a lot more to be depressed about.

Monday morning, we're up at 8 and on the road by 9. The sky is blue but it's not very warm. As we approach Florida the temps are only in the 60's...not exactly beach weather and Princess just wants to swim. We find a coupon in Roomsavers for this awesome Comfort Suites we stayed in last year right off I-95 in St Augustine. I cancelled one night at the beach and we stayed at the Comfort Suites for $65...and it has an indoor pool!!! The kids swam for hours that night!

Tuesday morning, it's supposed to rain after 5 pm. It's cold (for Fl - 60) and windy. We head out to St. Augustine Beach and check in to our hotel. It's off to Alligator Farm.

Alligator Farm is AWESOME. Chip is a huge alligator fan and this place is crawling with them, big-small-alligators-crocodiles-albino. We were there about 4 hours. The park is small but very cool. The kids got to hold a croc and I got to take a picture of them for $5. There is a swamp area with lots more crocs and tons of native birds nesting. It was so neat.

Our next stop was Fort Matanzas. This one was free. You take a pontoon boat out to the Fort (5 mins max) and the Park ranger gives a talk and you spend about 30 mins. We saw a deer and on the pontoon ride back we saw dolphins! They were about 5 feet from the boat. Back on the mainland we took a half mile hike. We headed back to the car and it started to rain. It was 4:45 pm. Those weathermen were right on the money.

We headed to the Disney Outlet and SCORED! Stitch got a Stitch plush $6, Chip found Chip-n-Dale plush $10, Princess found Minnie Mouse as a ballerina $12, Dad got a t-shirt for $6 and I found a long sleeve t for $8. The CM gave each one of the kids a pin at check out. Stitch got the pin he wanted to buy and Mom said no. Everyone was happy.

We headed to the Ruby Tuesday for dinner. This is where things got ugly. We were seated right away but Princess said "it smells in here". (It did). We ordered but Princess wouldn't take her hands away from her nose. After waiting 15 mins or so and she kept complaining I just took her to the van to wait. I told dh to eat, get my food to go and I'd be in the van.

10 mins later he is at the van with the boys. Their food was still not out and he decided to just leave. He said this was a family vacation and we should all eat together. (It sounded sweet when he said it ) He did stiff the waitress. The boys and dh had pop to drink and Princess had milk, that I brought with me. Sorry Ruby Tuesday - we stiffed you but it really did smell in there. We headed down the road to Burger King and an indoor playplace. The kids ate a ton of food, it didn't smell in there and they had the playplace all to themselves. Dh & I ordered some Hershey Pie and enjoyed watching the kids for a bit. BTW-the Hershey Pie at Burger King is divine for only $1.39.

We went back to our hotel, ordered up the movie A Night at the Museum on the tv and settled in bed to watch it. Yes the movie cost $11.99 but watching it while laying in bed with all our kids was priceless...
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Old 04-16-2007, 10:17 AM   #3
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Wednesday morning dawns with sunshine, blue skies and temps predicted in the 80's. We head down to the beach in the morning and it's a bit chilly, then the clouds roll in. I'm a bit depressed at this point however I need to do some laundry, all the jeans are dirty. So I take Stitch and Princess and we head to the laundromat up the street. Chip and Dad try out the FREEZING pool and the warmer hot tub while we're gone.

After spending quality time in the laundromat and watching an older lady fold her laundry so carefully, the sun is back out and it's warming up.

We head back to the hotel and to the beach. I spent the entire afternoon watching my kids play in the sand and reading a book. (Wives & Sisters by Natalie Collins is excellent). The kids are happy, the parents are happy, this is a great vacation....

Dinner is at Wendy's, we take a little drive thru historic St Augustine and check out the hotel I almost booked. It was in Vilano Beach which was a bit run down. The hotel looked beautiful but the area around it was not. We went back to our Hampton Inn on St Augustine Beach and walked 2 blocks to Rita's Ice Cream. Then it was back to the hotel for Mom to pack things up...tomorrow we go to WDW and the forecast for Orlando is 89 and sunny!!!!!
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Old 04-16-2007, 10:37 AM   #4
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Thursday morning arrives with sunshine!!!! And we are off to WDW by 10 am.
After a pretty easy drive, we cross the through the Walt Disney World Gates and head straight to Port Orleans Riverside. We're HERE!!!!

I had a 25 min wait in line to check in, we're at Disney, we have to wait in line, it's required. Dh and the kids checked out the pool, the new food court, the gift shop. DH couldn't believe that the same coloring book we bought at the Outlet for $1.99 was $4.99 at the gift shop. Gotta love the outlets......

We are checked in, building 27 but of course the room is not ready. After we leave the check-in I realize I should have asked for a room close to the parking lot, ours was a little bit of a hike but it was a great location to the center of the resort.

We drive over to the closest lot to bldg 27 and then hike to the food court for lunch. The new menus look good! We order up lunch and throw in a new refillable mug. The boys love to play mixologist with their drinks.

**I know the refillable mug is a much debated subject but I've always brought my mugs from years past and used them. I forgot them this time. So we bought a new one.

After lunch it is a family vote and we decide to take the much loved boat to DTD. This is a family favorite and DH just loves that boat. We head straight to Ghiardelli, mom needs her ice cream. Everyone is smiling now.

After ice cream, we are off to the World of Disney. Princess & I are headed to the Princess room, I have no idea where the boys go and I don't care. Princess chooses a headband with Minnie ears that she wears everywhere, she also finds a Cinderella jewelry box. Stitch has to have another Stitch plush, Chip found nothing, DH found the Goofy Basketball Bobblehead he has been wanting for 3 years and I got a new keychain. We head to the check out and the nice CM asks if we have any coupons or discounts, AAA? We do have AAA and she tells me that we'll save 10% by showing her the card. Woo-hoo! I love a discount.

Chip and Dad are off to the Lego store and Stitch, Princess and I head to Once Upon a Toy. Princess loves to play with our Potato Heads from two years ago but sees the My Little Ponies. We head back to the pack your My Little Pony box and mom begins to carefully, skillfully, jam as much pony stuff as I can in the box. We got one of every outfit, shoes and accesories plus one pony, a mirror and a bed. My Princess is smiling now.

We meet up with Chip and Dad and head back to our boat to POR. Our room is ready and we wind our way around the building to find it.

***I love POR. We've stayed there on six out of eight trips. One of the reasons I love it is all the vegetation however I really dislike the fact that you can't get anywhere without winding all around. This is definitely one of those mysteries of life....why I love the place is why I hate the place. And another thing, why is the parking lot so far away????

After loading up like pack mules and dragging our stuff to the room, we head to the pool. It is crowded, noisy, and FUN!!!! We swim and swim and swim. After about 3 hours, we stop at the food court and get dinner-to go-and head to the room. Then we jump in the van and drive over the FQ and the Dragon slide. Princess tried this slide after much coaxing from her brothers. She did it once, said it was awesome and never did it again.

Chip and Stitch went down the slide non-stop for the next 2 hours. Dh had to drag them away. Princess and I left them after an hour or so and walked back to Riverside on a nice leisurely stroll. We stopped for chocolate cake in the food court first however. Once in our room, we showered and I tucked Princess in bed as I began to get everything ready for our MK day.

It was going to be crazy and we were going to be exhausted and it was going to be expensive but we were going to the Magic Kingdom tomorrow....

The boys came back around 9:30, showered and we were all tucked in by 10. Mickey was set to call at 6:15 am.........
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Old 04-16-2007, 10:52 AM   #5
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6:15, the phone rings, Mickey is on Speaker phone with Stitch yelling at us to GET UP!!!

The early morning plan, get up, go the bathroom, eat cereal, get dressed, brush your teeth...we are out the door at 7 am.

We wound our way to the bus stop and barely sat down when the MK bus pulls in! We are off to the MK by 7:15 am. Woo-hoo. The bus driver lets off at the stop closest to the walkway but reminds us our bus stop is #5. Thanks driver.

There's not a lot of people here and we breeze through security. We scan the turnstiles and go to the left, we are second in line at one of the turnstiles behind "Tuna Tom". From what we figured out "Tuna Tom" is a regular at the Magic Kingdom. He said he is a passholder. He gets up at 4 am everyday. He eats tuna 3-4 times a week. Alll the cm's said hi as they walked past.

At 7:30 they let us through the turnstiles and we bunched up by the tunnel. Tuna Tom was handing out maps and park guides to all.
It's 7:59 according to Stitch, who we call the TimeKeeper all day b/c he is wearing his watch. The music swells and we are welcomed to the Magic Kingdom and then the crowd moves. We are here!!!!!!

We walk down Main Street straight to Dumbo...but first we stop for a picture with Mary Poppins. She is just hanging out in FantasyLand when we get there. Oh, Main Street was lined with CM's waving at all of us. It reminded me of the family who had the MK all to themselves.

We are on the first flight of Dumbo of the day! I'm in heaven. We walk on Pooh next, we then head over to the speedway, it's off to Buzz next, and just outside of Buzz stands Stitch, the real one, just waiting to meet us. After lots of pictures, my Stitch and I head to Space Mountain while Chip, Princess and Dad head for the Tea Cups. After our journey, we meet up again and I head back to Buzz with Princess and Chip so Stitch and Dad can ride Space. Did I mention there are NO LINES at this point?! It was AWESOME!

...to be continued....
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Old 04-16-2007, 12:39 PM   #6
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Next is seeing the Princesses! DD & I headed to Toontown and the boys went to Stitch's Great Escape. We waited about 20 mins to see Snow White, Cinderella and Belle. We toured Minnie's house and met up with the boys. We checked out Mickey's house and visited him in the tent, only about a 5 minute wait. Back to see Chip & Dale, Goofy and Pluto, then another line to see Minnie, Donald and Daisy. Those two lines were about 15 minutes each.

After a quick visit to Donald's boat, we hopped the train to Frontierland. Here is where the story gets a bit ugly. Chip had ridden Splash Mountain when he was 5. He didn't love it but he did it. When he was 7 and Princess was 2, he didn't ride it b/c I was doing childswap and he didn't want to. So we are approaching Splash, everyone is excited except Chip. He's in tears at this point. Princess says I'm scared but I'll be brave. We convince Chip to wait in line with us and he can always back out before we ride. Then the line STOPS! It was a 30 min standby line. I was already whining that we should just get fastpasses. After waiting a few mins and realizing that we weren't moving, we got out of line. And then heard that the ride was having difficulties. We didn't get a fastpass for reasons I don't remember and we never did ride Splash. However Chip was very happy.

We headed to Pirates after watching the Woody's Cowboy Camp Show and rode within 15 mins. Now everyone is getting cranky and we realize it's lunch time! We stop in El Pirata~nothing the kids like to eat. We stop in the next place down~only burgers, two kids won't eat. We then march our way to Columbia Harbor House. That was a good move.

Three orders of chicken strips later, we are sitting on the 2nd floor of CHH, with only about three other diners. It was rather quiet and peaceful. After a quiet lunch we go to the Haunted Mansion with only a 15 min wait. We try to go to Peter Pan but the standby line is 70 mins! Ouch! Princess drags me to the Carousel for a 15 min wait and then to Philharmagic, got right in.

We spotted Pooh and headed over to his queue. This was the hottest line of the day. We had to wait through the end of one break, he & Tigger returned, and then another break. They need more shade over there. Finally we saw Pooh & Tigger and needed ice cream! I think it's Dole Whip TIME!
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Old 04-16-2007, 12:56 PM   #7
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Off to Adventureland, but first we spied Princess Aurora by the castle, she was going on a break and we didn't wait. At the Aloha Isle the kids got chocolate/vanilla swirl and we ordered Dole Whips. The CM misheard and gave us Dole Floats. God Bless her, that was the BEST treat of the whole trip. I love the Dole Float.

We headed back to Aladdin's carpets and then to the Tiki Room. The next show was in 12 mins and Mom was tired. So we left the Tiki Room and headed to the bus stop. The parade was just finishing so we ducked in the shops and caught the very end of the parade just outside the Emporium. This is a great place to watch the parade. There was hardly anyone there and it was shady.

Off to the bus and POR. We went for a swim, laid down for a while, and ate dinner at the food court. Then it's back to the bus stop after our 3 hour siesta. We arrived at the MK around 7:30 and got a stroller for Princess. She was a trouper, walking from 8 am - 4 pm without complaining. Too bad her brothers aren't so strong.

Our first stop was the Monsters Inc Comedy Floor. It's a good show. We start wandering at this point. I think we were all pretty tired. We headed to Adventureland and rode the Jungle Cruise. It's so much better after dark. We wandered upon an EMH wristband distribution place and we got banded. Then we went to Small World, it's tradition. Peter Pan still had a long line and we wound up catching part of Spectromagic. After the parade we made our way to the front of the castle and found a spot for Wishes. We sat down and waited for the show to start in about 30 mins. I love Wishes.

When it ended we just sat there for a bit and let the masses move. Princess promptly fell asleep in her stroller. We headed to Frontierland and located an abadoned stroller for Chip. Stitch and I rode BTMRR, 15 min wait and it's not EMH yet. Then Stitch and Dad rode BTMRR. We walked back towards Liberty Square with our two strollers. Chip is counting his yawns by now, he was up to 57 I think. Hey Kid, just go to sleep.

Spectro was on it's way so we stopped and waited 5 mins for it to start. Chip was happy in his stroller, Stitch sat next to him and Princess woke up just in time. It was great to watch the parade with hardly anyone around. After the parade we couldn't decide what to do, it was officially EMH and we were tired. We headed to Tomorrowland and the boys rode Buzz. Princess just was awake and just wanted to go to the hotel.

We decided it was bed time and headed down an empty Main Street. Mom was hungry so we stopped at the Main St Bakery. Dad & I shared an enormous chocolate muffin and I got Mickey krispie bars for the kids. Lucky for me they didn't finish them and I had a tasty treat for the drive home. The sugar gave them all a boost and we made it to the bus stop in record time.

Our bus driver was very talkative and was asking us trivia questions. The whole bus was clapping when I answered that Snow White was released in 1937. Doesn't everyone know that????

Finally we fall into bed at 1 am. It was a 19 hour day, can't get any better than that.....
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Old 04-16-2007, 01:08 PM   #8
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The day after.......I woke up at 9 am and crawled out of bed. I grabbed a pop tart, some water and a bag of laundry. I crept down to the pool and laundry and threw in a load. I ate my breakfast, read USA Today by the pool on a beautiful already warm day with the sun shining and a light breeze. This is paradise.

30 mins in the dryer wasn't quite enough so I went back to the room and the family was awake. I sent Dad and Chip with Princess to the laundry for another run in the dryer. Princess had to get one more swim in before we head for home.

After our late night at the MK, Dad called for a late check-out and we were allowed to stay until noon. I packed us up and we walked out of our room and exactly 12:00. We wandered our way to the parking lot and pulled the car into a shady spot. I spent a good 20 mins repacking the car for our drive home and at 12:30 we pulling off Walt Disney World Property and the depression started to set in.

We stopped at an IHOP for lunch and started driving. Traffic was bad on I-95. Jacksonville had construction and as we sat on the bridge in traffic it was 102 degrees on our van display. Ouch.

Driving the first day was l-o-n-g! I never knew what state we were in bc there were so many out of state cars heading north. Things got a little better once we hit SC and I-26. After a hotel stop in Columbia SC, we got up Sunday at 7 am and were on the road by 8. We pulled in our driveway at 6 pm on the dot.

**One great story about Columbia**we were waiting for the elevator and I was of course telling the boys to "settle down" and the man waiting with us commented that he bet I would say that alot that day. He asked where we were from and I asked him. He paused and said Texas originally but I've been home from Afghanistan for five days. We thanked him for what he was doing and said Welcome Home. He gave us a huge smile and said Thank You Ma'am. Suddenly my ornery boys didn't matter quite as much.
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Old 04-16-2007, 01:16 PM   #9
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A few final thoughts:

**Roomsavers Coupons are worth picking up. We saved at least $100 with these.

**A "10" day at the end of Easter Week at the MK is not so bad. I was expecting wall to wall people (like we saw in June two years ago) but it was not that crowded. Get there early though!

**Dole Floats are so much better than Dole Whips.

**The pools were not warm. We went to Ole Man Island, the pool at French Quarter as well as a quiet pool. They were all cold. I remember times at POR when the quiet pool was steaming early in the morning but this year it was COLD.

**The new food court is nice at POR and the flanked beef was outstanding but I missed the change in menu everyday. I was disappointed to see the exact same menu items.

**Columbia Harbor House second floor at the MK, a great place to escape.

**If you are driving down I-95, stop at the Character Warehouse at the Prime Outlets in St Augustine. (The ones on the east side of the highway). The prices can't be beat.

***and lastly, the beach and WDW was an awesome vacation...now to plan the next vacation.
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Old 04-16-2007, 01:25 PM   #10
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**One great story about Columbia**we were waiting for the elevator and I was of course telling the boys to "settle down" and the man waiting with us commented that he bet I would say that alot that day. He asked where we were from and I asked him. He paused and said Texas originally but I've been home from Afghanistan for five days. We thanked him for what he was doing and said Welcome Home. He gave us a huge smile and said Thank You Ma'am. Suddenly my ornery boys didn't matter quite as much.
Awesome report. I especially like this part
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Old 04-17-2007, 06:11 AM   #11
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19 hour day! yikes- It sounds Like a great time!
Thanks for sharing!
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Old 04-17-2007, 06:39 AM   #12
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It sounds like you had a great time -- thanks for sharing your report!
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:20 AM   #13
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Kudos for you for doing so much and having so much fun in one day!

Thanks so much for sharing!

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Old 04-18-2007, 11:59 AM   #14
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20 mins into the drive and Princess says I'm bored......It's going to be a long drive! However after a little coaching she figures out what she has to do (a ton of stuff) and she does great. The boys are happily playing their gameboys and we don't hear much from them in the car except the occasional "But I want that game"!
hahahah, this reminds me of myself on long car trips when I was a kid. Once we drove from Buffalo to North Carolina when I was 4 or 5 and my mom had packed a huge bag with activities for me- paper dolls, books, colorforms, barbies, Jem Dolls (it was the 80's!), Game Boy, you name it. About 10 minutes after we pulled out of the driveway I had done everything in the bag!

I am enjoying your report and am looking forward to reading more!
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Old 04-18-2007, 02:11 PM   #15
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**One great story about Columbia**we were waiting for the elevator and I was of course telling the boys to "settle down" and the man waiting with us commented that he bet I would say that alot that day. He asked where we were from and I asked him. He paused and said Texas originally but I've been home from Afghanistan for five days. We thanked him for what he was doing and said Welcome Home. He gave us a huge smile and said Thank You Ma'am. Suddenly my ornery boys didn't matter quite as much.
Mostly I'm an avid lurker here on the trip report board, but I had to say:

Thank you for thanking that soldier! My son will return to Iraq in June for what we are calling "Bagdad 2.0". He is always so thrilled and touched when a total stranger expresses their appreciation! Bless you!

What a day you had in the MK! Now that's the way to do it if you only have one day--you guys rock! Great report!!
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