Our mostly annual spring training trip is the light at the end of the tunnel for Dolberry when it comes to winter. Winter is about 100 days of dry itchy skin w/ too little time spent outdoors. It's going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark with too much gray in between. Most of all it's too routine. Each day's outcome can be predicted in advance w/ appreciable precision. It is dull, duller, dullest. So, it's nice to have a guiding star that can lead Dolberry (like a modern day Magi) to where he needs to be ... Spring.
This year's trip came with even more anticipation than usual. We'd missed the trip in 2011, plus the Lally family was going to be joining us for part of it. The trip started inauspiciously as we started late after waiting out a really rough baseball game from the Grace Eagles. By the time we got on the road, it was close to 7p and we had reservations in a Savannah hotel for the night. The trip went by relatively fast, because Dolberry was able to spend the first 3-4 hours recounting to APD all the mistakes his team had made in the game. But we got a nice night's sleep and this day doesn't really count against the vacation anyway.
It's so much easier to drive to Orlando in a day when you start from GA rather than NC. We even had time for a lunch detour to a deserted and windswept Flagler Beach to see the ocean for the first time in a long time.
We picked up Gma and Gpa from the airport, met up w/ the Lallys at their Disney hotel and grabbed some dinner at one of the approximately 6,000 restaurants in that part of Orlando. I recall APD's portion of the meal costing something like $30 and involving steak chased by a gooey chocolaty dessert. [Dolberry wonders how this profligate creature could have emanated from tbKMD who I was once able to take on a date for under $4.] Later that night we played our annual putt-putt game. As far as I remember, Dolberry won as usual.
Thursday was Magic Kingdom day. We seem to go to Disney every 10 years: 1992 (honeymoon), 2002 (work trip), and now 2012. Maybe we'll have to go back in 2022 for our 30th anniversary ... assuming the too-expensive-to-travel-with APD is out of the house by then. What a great day. The memories run together in a blur ... getting on the Disney shuttle ... Main Street ... Tomorrowland ... the speedway cars ... tea cups ... Space Mountain w/ APD, Gpa, and PSparky ... a pleasant boat ride ... a calming riverboat ride ... Pirates of the Caribbean ... Splash Mountain ... the Main Street parade ... a fireworks show that was too much for some of our travelling party ... more speedway cars ... and a return shuttle w/ sleeping kids and all-but-sleeping adults. Too much fun.
Friday started w/ some hey-the-water-is-warmer-than-the-air pool time w/ APD and Gpa and an IHOP breakfast where Dolberry had a concoction based on this literary classic. APD had like $12 dollars worth of bacon and pancakes. Then we went to a Spring Training game between the Blue Jays and the Astros in Kissimmee. We were in the first or second row and one of the Jays gave a ball to Ro, leading to my favorite picture from the whole trip.
After the game, it was a tearful goodbye to the Lally's and the drive to Sarasota. We decided to take the back roads to avoid running into any more steakhouses and we got to experience a blinding rainstorm, a super long train, and the feeling of being helplessly lost in the swamplands of west-central Florida. Eventually we got there and had dinner w/ some of the Fitzgerald-Bakers. At that point, I was too tired to care what APD ate. (Sadly, the responsible men and women at MasterCard did care.)
Saturday was more time w/ the F-B's and a beautiful afternoon at the Pirates game in Bradenton followed by an amazing sunset at Siesta Key. Then we got to watch Louisville win the Big East tournament as Peyton Siva and Co., got geared up for their Final Four run.
Sunday always comes too fast on this trip. We headed up to Clearwater for the annual cheesesteak gorging. It's the one foodstuff Dolberry can still outeat his son in. Always great just hanging w/ Gpa and Gma before the long ride home. I think we got home around 3a. I'm still tired.