teri's pre-trip and first day, Solo + DIS meets, Feb 2001

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by teri, Feb 20, 2001.

  1. teri

    teri DIS Veteran

    Aug 22, 1999
    A solo/respite trip may not be the most exciting thing for others to read about. But it was very nice for me. I was extremely fortunate to be able to take leave of my family for a few days and go to Walt Disney World to spend some time on my own as well as to meet old and new friends. Wow, am I lucky!!!

    I have a dear husband who I love very much, and 2 adorable children. We live in a fixer-upper house in Silicon Valley, surrounded by opulence and luxury vehicles... but most of our income goes to private special education and therapists for my 2 dear children, and our lifestyle is not so opulent. Taking a break like this was not a minor decision, not just a whim... there were financial and emotional tradeoffs involved. There were health issues as well - I am partially disabled from asthma and arthritis, and last year was a particularly bad one for my health. My husband works long hours at a stressful job (that he loves) and travels often, so the household duties fall to me. My daughter has nonverbal learning disabilities, ADD and dyslexia, inherited from her parents :rolleyes: and our son who was adopted at age 3 is autistic and very hyperactive, and has serious impulse control and anxiety issues in public. Let's just say that living in our household is like living with a family of racoons - you never know what you are going to find, where, or who put it there, or why, or how it got so out of control so fast. Going to restaurants and shops means restraining and redirecting disorganized and sometimes out-of-control children... and it is not fun when the tantrums start in public, no matter how supportive the people are around you. At WDW, they are almost always supportive... a luxury that we do not enjoy elsewhere.

    We just got back from a lovely trip to WDW last November/December, but I worked so hard to hold things together that is was NO vacation for me. As soon as I got home - on my birthday, no less - I got very sick with asthma... I was down for 3 weeks. No birthday for me, no cake, no party. Christmas rolled around, and we were dealing with some unpleasant issues with our son that precluded any visits to relatives (don't ask, it had to do with hygeine) and so we spent Christmas at home. Very low key. Around that time, on the Community Board, I had joked about a Ladies Trip to WDW... well, half-joked, I guess. But in reality I was serious... I wanted to go back to WDW without my family. I really needed a break. Other people on the board picked up on the idea, and the Calm Cautious Sedate Sane ladies of the DIS was born. The infamous CCSS... not that any of us match that description - some were not even female, much less sane! Who would be crazy enough to decide on short notice to go to WDW with a bunch of people you had met over the Internet, to spend time together? Well, it turned out there were several of us. :D

    My first 2 days were not with the CCSS Ladies, though. I arrived 2 days before the rest of the group. I really needed some time to myself, to reflect on my life and my family and friends. I REALLY needed it, I was losing perspective on life and I knew it. It is hard to describe what I was looking for -- I live 24/7 with a family full of special needs and chronic illnesses -- I wasn't looking for a hedonistic escape, just a mental and physical break. Respite. Well, this trip would not be exactly what I had imagined it would be, but it turned out to be the vacation I needed nonetheless.

    To get out the door, we had to start preparing weeks in advance. We would need a respite sitter for the kids, rearrange carpool, and prepare everyone in the household for the fact that mean old mom was going to Disney World without them. There were serious negotiations and discussions with my dear husband, who had many reservations about many aspects of the trip. I had to prepare special diet meals in advance for the time I was gone, clean the house completely, mow the lawns, take out the trash, straighten up and put everything away and make things right for the family. In the course of all this cleaning up I strained myself just enough to aggravate the arthritis in my neck... I was in some serious pain. :( So, 2 days before the trip, I realized that I would not be riding any rides at WDW. There would be no day at IOA or SeaWorld. This would certainly be a very different trip. Would it work?

    I had been preparing myself physically as well. On the advice of my doctor, to avoid further problems with the arthritis in my hip and knee, I had been doing strength training and non-impact aerobic exercise, and was on a serious weight-loss diet. By the time I left for my trip, I had lost 14 pounds over 2 months. This was just enough... just enough to get me to try that old bikini that I had packed away long ago. Well, let's just say that I fit into the bikini, which a few months before would not have been even remotely possible. :cool: Now, a picture of me in this bikini is not likely to end up on the Friday Men's Post of the Community Board, oh no... a picture of me in this bikini would most likely end up on the Debate Board... topic: "Should Disney ban overweight middle-aged women from appearing in public in bikinis?" The answer would probably have been yes. I could imagine being approached by a CM... "Ma'am, I am afraid that you are causing the other guests to lose their appetite, could you please put on some clothes?" So, part of my plan was to find a good, quiet place to get some sun, without embarrassing myself. Too much. :rolleyes:

    Well, the day before the trip arrived. I was packed and ready to go. Husband was still frumping, but was OK. Kids were all set, house was all set... the poor dog was beside himself. My poor pup had seen the suitcase and knew something was up, he was walking around with his tail between his legs and his ears back, and was glued to me for the entire day. I would have to get up at 4AM to catch the shuttle van to the San Francisco airport... I got to sleep around midnight. About 3AM, my dear, sweet, loving husband woke me up.

    "I can't sleep, you will have to get up," he said.

    "Wait," I grumbled, "you can't sleep, so I have to get up?"

    "I am afraid you will sleep through the alarm and miss your shuttle. I can't sleep. Get up."

    And so, with under 3 hours of sleep, I sat there in my living room like a zombie waiting the 1 1/2 hours for the shuttle van. Waiting.... waiting... and then the knock on the door woke me up. The nice gentleman took my bag and off we went, hurtling into the night at breakneck speed along the backstreets of the Peninsula. As we picked up the last passenger and got onto 280 headed for the airport, I couldn't help but think I was on my first thrill ride - it might have well been billed as an attraction. Since I knew I wouldn't be able to do RnR on this trip, or any other coaster for that matter, I decided to take full enjoyment from the wild ride. Hey, I was on my way to WDW. I was sleep deprived, I was in pain, I was very happy, I was already having fun. Go figure! Zooming in to SFO on the flyover ramp, weaving through those unsuspecting vehicles entering and leaving the departure area - what a thrill. :cool: I gave the guy a good tip.

    Walking into the airport at that time of morning was a pleasure. No crowds at all, a manageable line at the counter. The United airline counter people were fresh and pleasant, no problems at all with my Frequent Flyer e-tickets. I checked my bag and was on my way. Walking through the airport without children, without crowds, without some sense of responsibility for taking care of anyone beside myself... it was a pleasure. I smiled my way through the security checkpoint - no children to corral, no negotiations. As I walked toward the gate, I realized that I had plenty of time for once. Rather than take the moving walkway and go sit in the gate area, I took my time, walked through the down the middle of the corridor, enjoying the Mickey Hart percussion instrument collection on display down the long corridor. What a pleasure! I was much too tired to really absorb the written information, but the visual and auditory images were so very nice... I soaked it in. Just the atmosphere of that corridor, and the peace of my aloneness, and knowing that I was about to go back to a place that I have loved with my family and longed to see on my own time... I was very happy. OK, maybe it was sleep-deprivation-induced euphoria. But I might as well have been walking through Animal Kingdom at that point. I was in heaven.

    The plane ride was not so heavenly. I had a connecting flight in Los Angeles. The seats on the shuttle flights are not very comfortable. I had a neck pillow with me, which was very helpful, but my neck was really hurting on that flight. There was a long and not as pleasant walk between gates at LAX, an airport that leaves just about everything to be desired, but at least they have good coffee. I boarded the next plane for the long haul flight to Orlando... a middle seat between 2 large people. My neck pilow did not fit with the headrest on the seat, and the trip was not very comfortable. The euphoria was gone... I slept as much as I could. I tried to read, but my eyes would not cooperate. It was a long flight.

    As I deplaned, in my sleep-deprived state, hurting and hungry, wondering if I was out of my mind for coming to Orlando and leaving my family behind, the most amazing sound filled my head. Unbelievable. On the airport sound system, music was playing... the Spinning Song... a song that I had played at least a thousand times as a child. It was a recital piece for me, a song that I can actually still play even though I gave up the piano years ago when I started getting arthritis. I have never heard this song played in public before, on a public sound system, it was a flash from the past. Amazing coincidence. A message from the cosmos... permission to be a kid. The smile returned to my face, I knew I was on my way to the vacation I needed.

    The Budget rental car people never disappoint me. I had vouchers this time, rewards from a credit card point program. No hassle whatsoever. I got a free upgrade to a Taurus and the usual pleasant service for FastBreak customers. I was on my way! I have been through the Orlando Airport so many times now, but always with my kids and usually with my husband - this time I was just relaxed and happy - no stress at all. As I zipped out of the garage and headed to the South exit, I felt this sense of exhilaration - I drove like a bat out of hell. I am usually a very cautious driver,,, must have been the sleep deprivation. :cool:

    Well, I had reason to hurry, actually. For there, at Epcot, would be a DIS meet at 6:00. I had an hour and a half. I couldn't wait!! I checked into the Old Key West Resort, had my choice of 4 studios, but none in my favorite building. Usually I prefer a ground floor room because of my arthritis, and 3 of the choices were for ground floor but they were all near bus stops. I don't use the busses very often - it hurts my hips and knees if I have to stand, the seats are hard, waiting is aggravating to me. I chose a 3rd floor studio instead, over at Building 18. The view was limited despite being on the 3rd floor, but that was GREAT!!! Wanna know why? My porch was just at the treetop of a large palm, completely cut off from the other villas across the way. You could probably see the porch from far away on the golf course, but the view was slightly obstructed. What was not obstructed was the sun. Heaven! A place to sunbathe in privacy!!! Yessss! I couldn't have asked for a better room! OK, so it was a bit of a hassle to be on the third floor, but I had been working on strengthening my hip and knee and it was actually OK.

    Things were working out. :cool:

    I took a quick shower, got dressed and darted to my car. Decided to park at the Boardwalk. I knew I would be a bit late, I didn't fret. As I was fast-walking through the Boardwalk toward the International Gateway, I realized that people were lined up on the bridge to watch the Space Shuttle launch. Extra cool. This was the 3rd time I would see a Space Shuttle launch from Disney property! It was an amazing sight. We had seen it take off at night from Disney's Vero Beach Resort in Dec. 99, then again from MVMCP during the fireworks back in November. Fun stuff! It was so cool this time in the daylight, against the full moon, with that incredible lingering vapor trail changing colors with the sunset and going zig-zag with the wind. :cool: What a sight.

    I walked/ran to Biergarten in Epcot, through crowds of overdressed and enebriated conventioneers. I finally arrived, several minutes late but in time for dinner. It was so very nice to finally meet people I had known from the boards for so long... Judy from Boise and her family, Sarangel and her husband, Tiggersmom and her son and nephew, Maray and her husband, and Dan were there, already having a good time in the loud and energetic Biergarten restaurant. (Next time I am planning a meet, I will be sure to choose the quiet places!) The children on the dance floor below were mesmerized by the Oktoberfest music and bells... there was dancing and singing and the usual Disney carrying on. The buffet was fine, although I was too tired to appreciate it fully, and being on a diet for so long made it impossible for me to eat more than just a bit... my appetite was way down. It was OK. Angiebelle showed up as dinner was ending, hungry and tired and a bit flustered from trying to get there in time. Somebody snuck her a dessert. There are pictures on Dan Murphy's thread,

    We headed out to see the TON parade, always a joy. No crowd tonight... the puppets were as engaging as usual. I have seen it many times now with my kids, particularly with my son. For the first time on the trip, I missed them. Angie was still hungry, and I talked her into trying the food at the takeout in the Morocco pavillion while we waited for the Illuminations to begin. I was starting to fade... I sat out the show, walking away for a bit to avoid the smoke from the fireworks which was getting close to our position. When it was over, we walked toward the International Gateway and parted ways.

    I was still awake enough when I got to the room that I needed to putter around a bit - guess it was the 2 cups of coffee after dinner. I decided to log on to see if I had e-mail... I was expecting e-mail from someone... but the %^&(*%$^&(%^&*^% AOL DNS server was down an I could not get on. I did have the IP address for chat, though... and I was glad to have some chat company for a short while as I wound down for the night. :cool:

    It was a very good day... and I had just gotten there. :)

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    "My brain takes a vacation just to give my heart more room..."
  2. pumba


    Dec 28, 1999
    Disney......and in my 1966 bikini......ROFLMBO...it would scare even the birds away........thanks for the report

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  4. Lisa

    Lisa <font color=royalblue>OMG, I think I am going to p

    Aug 18, 1999
    Congratulations Teri, for taking time for yourself. As a special needs Mom, I know how difficult and how rejuvinating it can be when we do take a little time for ourselves. Looking forward to reading more about your trip.

    Lisa - WDW: 8/73, 1/97, 1/98, 9/98, 1/99, 5/99, 1/00
    DL: 8/75, 4/85
    Next visit: 1/01
  5. disneykelly

    disneykelly Everquest/Disney addict

    Feb 2, 2000
    As someone who goes to DW alone occasionally, i know how nice it can feel to not have the added pressure of pleasing everyone else. The sense of freedom is exhilirating!
    Granted, there are many times during a solo trip that you see a special sight and it triggers an overwhelming desire to have your loved ones with you :(
    Hope you have many wonderful returns to the mouses house!

    Is it May yet???
  6. pigletproud

    pigletproud Earning My Ears

    Nov 20, 2000
    Don't think I've worn a bikini since the second grade. I am sure it felt great to put it on! It sounds to me like you really needed this trip. I am guilty of worrying about everyone elses needs that I sometimes feel unappreciated. I think a solo trip is in my future as well.
    Can't wait to hear more!
  7. FairyGodfriend

    FairyGodfriend Mouseketeer

    Aug 30, 2000
    That was an excellent trip report, thanks for sharing it! Why do we feel so guilty taking time for ourselves? Gosh, you give so much and try so hard to create a loving home for the kiddos that when you hear someone elses story you just gasp in amazement! How can it be? How do we do all this?
    <IMG SRC="/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif" alt="confused">

    Well, now that you have returned to mayhem ;) (LOL..been there) it's time to reminice and plan. Three cheers for more Solo Trips!!!

  8. Casey's mom

    Casey's mom Mouseketeer

    Mar 15, 2000
    Wow -- Sounds like you were really in need of some Disney magic. I am glad you could have a little time to yourself. We all need it from time to time. Your trip sounds great so far.
  9. NancyIL

    NancyIL DIS Veteran

    Aug 19, 1999
    I love reading your reports. They have such a "you are there" quality to them. I can't wait to read the rest. :)
  10. Cathy baby RN

    Cathy baby RN Mouseketeer

    Feb 19, 2001
    :) What a lovley, wonderful trip report! I can't wait to read more! As a mother of 6, several times I have thought about a solo trip. I just need to get up my courage and follow through like you did. Than-you for taking the time to share your trip.
  11. RitaZ.

    RitaZ. Move on don't hesitate, break out.

    Sep 20, 2000
    Teri~ great report! It sounds like your trip was a success. All I can say is that you look SOOO HAPPY in Dan's pictures! :)
  12. Teejay32

    Teejay32 <font color=green>Wanders off too much<br>

    Jan 18, 2000
    WHOO hoo!! :) :)

    <font color="purple">Hi Max!</font>
  13. Buckalew

    Buckalew <font color=teal>Hammonitup!!!<br><font color=dark

    Feb 22, 2000
    I REALLY enjoyed your report. I agree with the poster who said that "you feel like you are there" while reading it. I admire you going so far away from home and doing this trip. i am sure it was much needed. i admire what you do for your family day in and day out. My life sounds much easier to me and I still struggle! :) I would love to do WDW alone someday. I don't mind being alone although I afraid of getting there and feeling homesick for them. But I am also learning that being "afraid" becasue of the "what-ifs" in life is what stands in my way of really living. Anyway, I enjoyed your report and want more! Thanks for taking the time to share! :)

    [​IMG] This is what Buckalew looked like as she met Dan in February!
  14. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

    Aug 23, 1999
    I wanna go! All by myself! NOW!

    SueM in MN
    Co-Moderator of disABILITIES
  15. #1 Disney Fan

    #1 Disney Fan DIS Veteran

    May 15, 2000
    Great trip report, Teri! I enjoyed reading it. Glad it sounds like you're really enjoying your well-deserved vacation! :)

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] <font color=#0000cd size=4 face="comic sans ms">Just back from Walt Disney World!!!</font> [​IMG] </center>
  16. SueOKW

    SueOKW Go Tribe!!!

    Apr 8, 2000
    How soon can we get there??????

    Actually - Teri, this is an inspiration. I am considering this very seriously - maybe 3 days in October.

    Every Mom should take some time for herself once in a while, and special needs Moms need to make sure they do. Can't wait to read about the rest of your trip!

    <img width="200" src="http://www.geocities.com/dmurphydis/cleveland.gif">
  17. oldkicker

    oldkicker <font color=purple>Pay no attention to <img src=ht

    Aug 23, 1999
    Wonderfully written, as usual, Teri.

    What a day!


    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  18. minniecarousel

    minniecarousel Chris Isaak fan

    Jul 13, 2000
    Thanks for posting Teri! Looking forward to the rest! (I can sooo identify with the trip to SFO - some of these shuttle drivers are maniacs - glad you got there in one piece!)

    <img src="http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Lair/9541/tcarousel.gif" width=114 height=87 border=0>
  19. 4merlurkerchris

    4merlurkerchris Mouseketeer

    Jan 1, 2001
    Teri, thanks for posting your trip report. Looking forward to the rest.
  20. Leota

    Leota DIS Veteran

    May 16, 2000
    Teri - You are so eloquent....another reason I admire you so much!
    I can understand the need to get away very much ( you know why!) CCSS gave me the way to do it & take care of myself ( or more like , be an absolutely irresponsible kid!). I wish I could put down in words as beautifully as you my trip experiences....
    Maybe I'll give it a try this weekend....

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

  21. whosezMN

    whosezMN <font color=deeppink>"A little kindness, a little

    Mar 8, 2000
    Teri -- What a great report!! Now I know for sure you have to get back to work on that book. ;)

    Looking forward to reading the rest,


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