So this is the special post specifically about our grand trip to Florida and all that it entailed.
We planned to road trip to Orlando in Max’s car, which had been having some issues for a while. We briefly discussed the possibility of the car breaking down on the road and what we would do if that happened. Our plan was to leave Friday morning (early) and try to go to Epcot for a few hours, do Hollywood Studios Saturday, the half-marathon Sunday morning and Magic Kingdom the rest of the day. Weeellllll, half way between Durham and Orlando, in a little Georgia town called Midway (convenient) the car decided it had lived a long and useful life and it was time to call it quits. So there we sat on the side of the road in Midway, Georgia baking in the noonday sun. Doesn’t that sound like fun? AAA literally couldn’t figure out where we had broken down in order to get a tow truck to us, so we eventually called a local place and they sent a tow to us. When we got to the shop we decided it was time to part ways with Tom Celica, so we arranged to formally sell the car for parts on our way back from Florida, we would rent a car to finish our road trip.
Here’s a fun fact about rental car companies: when you make a reservation, they don’t necessarily have a vehicle reserved for you. I did not know that until I made a reservation through Enterprise’s central booking (because they pick you up and take you to the rental place, and hey, we didn’t have a car and did we really expect there to be taxis or Uber in this tiny little town?) and was consequently told when I called the local Enterprise who would schedule our pick up that they did not have any vehicles available for the rest of the day. Great. Meanwhile, Max was on the phone with Hertz. He was told that they didn’t have any vehicles *at the moment* but they were due to have some returned later that afternoon. *Technically* there were 18 other people with reservations for the day and only 6 cars due back, *but* if we were actually there when the car got returned… Well… So we managed to find a guy who drove a cab in Midway, Georgia (Thank you, Jesus. I genuinely thought we were going to be stranded.) to take us to the Hertz rental place where we sat for about an hour until a vehicle returned, which we got. All of this I count as a miracle. We drove the rest of the way without incident, and even managed to have dinner with my parents and sister (who wisely drove separately) at my old favorite restaurant in Orlando, Cafe Tutu Tango. If it sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve mentioned it before.
After a restorative and tasty dinner we drove out to stay with our hosts for the weekend. We stayed with my Peru-best-friend’s parents, who graciously hosted us and accommodated the multiple changes to our travel plans that occurred when the car died. It was wonderful getting to see them and catch up a little, I hadn’t seen them since their daughter (my friend) got married in 2013. They were also able to meet Max, which was really neat.
Saturday we returned the rental car and met up with my sister, as planned, to spend the day in Hollywood Studios. We dropped our things off at the hotel we were staying in that night (shuttle transportation to the starting line of the race in the morning), then had a day of fun. Max’s first Disney ride experience was Star Tours, which would have been a winner even if there hadn’t been a terrified little girl screaming throughout the entire ride (He found this hilarious. As did I. And Alex.) We ended the night with Tower of Terror, which was one of the highlights of the weekend. We had dinner at House of Blues before calling it a night and getting a few fitful hours of sleep before the big race.
The alarm going off at 3am was exactly as sad as it sounds. We stumbled out of bed and packed our things, dropped them off with the front desk as we checked out, and staggered onto the bus that would take us to the race. Max parted ways with me and Alex at that point so he could get a spot on the bleachers at the finish line. Alex and I then met up with Kerry, a friend of mine from when I worked at The Carolina Inn, and one of her friends who were also running. We had been planning to run together since about March, which was also good motivation to keep training. Kerry is practically a pro-half-marathoner.
The race itself was a pretty great first half-marathon experience. We were in one of the corrals towards the back so our start time was delayed, and there were also a ton of people who walked the entire way that we had to dodge while running, but other than that it was incredible. We got to stop for pictures with different characters along the way and run through Magic Kingdom and Epcot at the very end. Unfortunately, none of the people who travelled down to cheer us on managed to see us cross the finish line…
We limped around the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom, of course we rode Splash Mountain, mainly trying to keep moving until the fireworks show later in the evening. My parents and sister left after the fireworks, but Max and I had already reserved a FastPass for one of the rides, so we stayed a bit later. When we left the parks we were headed back to my friends’ house to spend the night again (via Uber, no car, remember?), but we decided to stop for dinner along the way. We were in the mood for a Mexican restaurant, which we managed to find about half way between. The most notable thing about dinner was the fact that we brought all of our bags inside with us while we were eating and the hostess had no idea what to make of the two people who were (probably) kind of smelly and extremely sleep deprived by the time we sat down at 11pm.
Max and I spent the next day at Epcot, which was the perfect pace for us. I was still pretty sore, so having an easy day to spend eating and looking at stuff was great. We ate our way (mostly) around the world, Max having fish and chips for breakfast in the UK while I had some macarons in France. We enjoyed lunch in Morocco and dinner in Mexico (we have a thing for tacos). We ended the evening with gelato in Italy and fireworks, which was lovely.
The next morning we said goodbye to our hosts and headed to the airport (via Uber) to pick up a rental car to take us home. Incredibly, it was a very simple process. The Orlando airport has way more rental cars than Midway, Georgia (WHAT? ARE YOU SERIOUS? WHAT A SHOCKING TURN OF EVENTS) so getting a vehicle was a matter of going up to the desk, saying, “Hey, I want to rent a car,” putting down your credit card, getting the keys, and leaving. Amazing. Our drive home was almost completely uneventful, other than stopping in Midway to officially sell the car the drive back was forgettable in almost every way. I say almost because my best friend called to tell me she was pregnant(!), so that was pretty memorable and awesome.
The weekend itself was overall really fun and we made some exciting memories, but I think the two biggest takeaways were these: 1) Max and I kept it together and didn’t fight at all during the break-down fiasco or while operating under sleep deprived conditions on Sunday 2) I actually ran a half-marathon.