We’ve been back a week from our trip and I’m just now sitting down to write about it before the little details go “phhht” and disappear forever!
The first part of the trip was a pretty big deal, we flew to North Carolina and met up with Tom’s family to celebrate the 85th birthday of his adorable mom. One sister and her family live there, but the rest of the gang (Sisters, nieces and cousins) flew in from various parts of the US. We were the only Canadian contingent and it was going to be a pretty long trip. We had originally kicked around the idea of adding a side-trip to Disney World, but with what’s been going on with me, we decided that standing in long line-ups (considering it was “Spring Break” time for various different places) wasn’t a smart move. Instead, we decided to drive to Portland, fly to NC from there, then tack on a six night stay in Cannon Beach to finish of the vacation. Charming town, the whoosh-whoosh of ocean, walking long sandy beaches, and no schedule? Sold!
Needless to say Cinny was not happy to realize we were leaving. The minute the suitcases come out of the closet she’s in a tizzy.
The original plan was to leave at some terribly early time to cross the border and then rush to Portland only to have to catch a plane and travel another 7 hours or so. Um, not very appealing. So I suggested that we leave the day before and just spend a night in a Portland area hotel. This would break that trip up nicely (6 + 7ish vs. 13+ hours) and give us some much-needed time to allow for any traffic snarls we may run into (particularly around the Seattle area!) This meant getting up early, but not super-early and allowing for a much more relaxed road-trip. Other than the expected gnarly traffic in Seattle (all the way to Tacoma pretty much) it was a smooth trip. We stayed in a Hilton Garden Inn in Lake Oswego where we’d stayed before with the boys on our California road trip. The hotel was clean, but as Tom pointed out, it is looking a little sad around the edges and probably could do with a renovation, if only to replace the carpeting. Still, clean and convenient and not very expensive, it did for that one night. I had been craving Panda Express for ages, so Tom had hunted one down close to the hotel.
After we stuffed ourselves silly we bought a glass of ridiculously priced wine each, shook off the day’s travel, and got a good night’s sleep.
We left in the morning with plenty of time to spare just in case we hit rush-hour morning traffic and drove to the Thrifty lot near the airport which offered long-term parking. We got there, then spent a few agonizing minutes trying to find an empty spot; no dice! We followed another fellow who appeared to have been doing that same slow circle around the lot and we figured had gone to talk to someone. Sure enough because we’d prepaid our parking we parked in the rental area and the fellow there valet parked our car. We then hopped on the shuttle to PDX which had conveniently just shown up.
A quick ride there, a fairly speedy check-in and one naked-body-scanner later, we were waiting at the gate for the first leg of our flight. We had a shortish turnaround in Minneapolis and me being me, I started to worry about making the next flight on time. During the approach the captain let us know that it was snowing in MN and after we landed and taxied towards the terminal we could see planes being de-iced. Eep. Then we stopped on the runway, turns out the gate we were supposed to (what is the word? Not dock at but you know…) was still occupado so we were being directed to a whole other part of the terminal, ack!
The reason this concerns me is that I am ALWAYS carrying a lot of water, it’s genetic unfortunately, but when we fly I take on even more and it all gets drawn down into my feet/ankles which means I end up doing an approximation of a plastic flat-footed doll walk as my ankles refuse to actually, you know, bend. Top THAT with the fact that every douche-nozzle too cheap to check a bag with a wheelie carry-on takes for-freaking-ever to casually swing that sucker down, or even worse have to swim downstream into the waiting throng to locate his/her bag in the only section that was left to shove the bag in at the back of the plane. I’m pissy at this point and Tom’s soothing me, saying that we’d make it (or he’d run ahead and throw himself in front of the plane if necessary…heh.)
So we finally get our turn to get off the plane (don’t you like how this post is already this long and I’m ONLY on the first leg of our flight?) We do a mad-dash, or as close to one as I could do, through the airport and get to our gate with time to spare (YES! SWOLLEN FLAT-FOOTED HIGH-FIVE!) and I curl up fetus-like in my chair massaging my legs until we’re called to board.
The second flight the swelling continued up to my knees and into my thighs, this was new for me, usually it stops below the knee. I could actually feel the skin stretching on my thighs, it was painful! I was very happy when we landed and gloried in the knowledge that I would be able to get horizontal soon. We located the shuttle to our rental company at Raleigh/Durham and while Tom went in to do the paper-work I sat on a bench on that slightly chilly night with my feet up on our shared suitcase.
Tom always does a lot of homework before our trips, including addresses or directions on how to get to the various places we need to be. He had all kinds, the restaurants we were meeting his family at the next day/evening, his Mom’s, his Sister’s, the hotel… oh wait… he ALMOST had those directions. He asks me to read him the directions from the airport, we didn’t have that far to go but you know, a new area for both of us. I read out the direction and we get to an off-ramp that shows both an A and a B selection. Oops. Which one? So tossing a coin he goes down a ramp as we both realize he’d left off writing the directions at just that point. He drives for a bit then pulls over so we can enter the address into his GPS. Oops, turns out that address didn’t exist when Tom’s Tom-Tom was made and his maps are a tad out-of-date. So we pull out his cellphone which we’d had unlocked and had loaded with a roaming service sim. Well, the internet where we were was S.L.O.W. we waited and waited and waited until the map slowly came into view and then just started driving hoping the signal would get stronger. I found where we were and then found the cross-street that would get us in the area of the hotel which was very, very new. We hopped back on the freeway (having had gone the wrong direction) took the right exit and found our way.
We pulled up in front of the hotel, checked-in and because we hadn’t eaten anything all day since breakfast and we’re talking getting near midnight by this point, I asked the clerk if anything was still open. She said McDonald’s and we said SOLD! So we drove there without unloading the car and stuffed our faces. We were past the cut-off for the lobby bar (10:00 pm on a Friday?!) so no nightcap unfortunately. We flopped into bed and fell asleep. At some point in the night the water in my feet/legs migrated to the rest of my body and face (yay!) I had no idea you could buy diuretics over the counter in the States or I would have been all over that. I knew that as it was, I wouldn’t flush the extra water until it was time to fly again sadly. Ah well.
We actually felt pretty refreshed when we got up considering the late night. We met up with everyone but Tom’s mum for a brunch and I finally got to meet Tom’s cousin who I’d only talked to on the ‘net for all these years. It was great to see everyone, two of his sisters (and niece and nephew) I hadn’t seen since our wedding party in Vegas and the other I last saw in Vegas too but a few years later on a different vacation. Lots of talking, laughing and catching up. Tom saw his mom and sisters last 5 years ago in Florida for his mom’s 80th (which I missed because of work) so I was really glad I got to go this time.
We parted for a bit to allow everyone to do their own thing for the afternoon. We needed to pick up a present for Tom’s mom’s birthday as well as do a little shoe shopping at DSW. Tom had bought a pair of shoes there that he loved and wanted to pick up a pair (or two) as back-ups. I also had bought a pair of very comfy flats that are which were starting to look a little sad I was hoping to replace. As it turns out we were lucky all around and both scored the shoes we were looking for. We also made sure we bought some wine we could enjoy later!
We were the first to arrive at Tom’s mom’s place and she gave us a little tour of her suite and then chatted for a while as everyone started to arrive. Once we were all there she gave us a tour of the main building of her complex, including a display of her art she had hanging in the common area. My mother-in-law is very talented. I’d been hinting for ages that one of her paintings would make a great Xmas present to no avail. We then all headed down to a very nice Italian restaurant and had a lovely dinner while plying the birthday gal with her presents. Tom and I drove her back to her place after dinner and then retired to our room to drink our wine out of water glasses (classy!)
The next day we met up has his sister’s house and had another brunch followed by a tour of her cute neighbourhood, and a then a fun family photo-shoot in a local park. I make it a rule not to post the photos of other people on my website without their okay, but trust me, some of the photos were really fun. We then all hugged and parted-ways and Tom and I did a little exploring around the area before heading to the local Maggiano’s (yep Italian again) and then hitting the sack. We had a flight to catch the next day and Cannon Beach was waiting for us!