Well Traveled (Part III)

When we last left our heroes, Frodo had left to rescue Han from Davy Jones’ Locker.

I don’t think I gave quite enough credit to the wonder that was our bed.  If it was a Sleep Number bed, its number would have been infinity.  The mattress was soft yet firm.  The pillows were soft yet firm.  If I keep going, I’m going to end up writing bed porn, and we certainly don’t need any of that.  Suffice it to say this was a bed with a capital BED.

We awoke quite refreshed for the last day of our visit.  The plan was to meet up with the voluminous Foarde clan for breakfast and visiting, and then back into the gears of the national transportation system for the return to Orlando.  So we went from our Marriott to their Marriott, where it was all about sausage and bacon and French toast and waffles you could make for yourself.  I, of course, started making my waffle before I realized they had helpfully provided some non-stick spray to apply to the iron first.  So my waffle ended up looking more like a gridded wad of dough than a proper waffle.  But hell, stick some butter and syrup on it and I’ll eat a gridded wad of dough, so there you go.

We chatted with everyone for a while, and then we all began to disperse, some to head home, some to head into DC proper, others likely to go back to bed and sleep it off.  The Foardes know how to party.  And I have to say, it was fun being around a family that large that still mostly gets along with and enjoys being around each other.  My extended family has sort of fallen out of touch over the years, so it was fun to be part of that dynamic again.

OK, enough of the maudlin, back to the funny.

We had toyed with the idea of doing a quick sight-seeing run through the city, but the words “quick” had in no way applied to this trip so far, so we figured it was best to get right back to the airport, turn in the car, check in, and wait for the inevitable mishap as close to the gate as possible.  But aside from some minor oddness with the rental car — the system somehow could not comprehend the idea of me turning it in earlier than I’d planned — our Reagan National Airport experience was pretty smooth.

Oh, I forgot to mention the torture.

No, it wasn’t the numerous gift shops with the Sarah Palin merchandise proudly displayed out front.  No.  Someone, in their diabolical genius, had decided to put a Five Guys next to our gate.  Not down the concourse a little ways, not in a food court, but right next to the gate.  You could literally get in line, buy a hamburger, and walk straight on to the plane.  Assuming, of course, the burger had a boarding pass.  So we sat there for the hour we waited for our plane to arrive, smelling grilled meat and deep fried potatoes and struggling mightily to ignore it.  Hannah fought the good fight; she went and bought a fruit and cheese platter, and so we nibbled at that, glaring angrily at Five Guys the whole time as if to prove that we didn’t need them.

The flight back didn’t provide nearly the roller coaster of emotions that the flight up did, save for a few moments during the landing where once again it felt like the pilot had decided to put gravity in charge and turn the engines off.  I did make the mistake of finishing the book I’d brought with me without having a suitable backup to distract me, so I did the two crossword puzzles in the in-flight magazine.  Sorry to whoever sits in 23E after me.  I did leave the sudoku for you though, if that’s any consolation.

When we’d parked on Friday, they gave us a helpful slip of paper with our lot number on it.  That left us to find where to pick up the shuttle to take us back there when we got back to Orlando.  We found a map, which we thought would save us, but all that led us to was dozens of taxi drivers who looked at us like they hadn’t been fed in weeks.  I left Hannah to rest her dance-blistered feet and went in search of some help.

This merits an aside.  We were going to be gone for three days.  Hannah brought four pairs of shoes.  I’m convinced she wore one pair just so she could bring her usage total above 50%.

Anyway, it was during my quest through the terminal that Hannah flipped our helpful slip of paper over to find exact instructions on where to find the shuttle.  These had been cleverly hidden with the words, “See reverse side for pick-up location.”  When in doubt, folks, turn the paper over.

Soon, there was my car, and we were back on familiar roads with well-placed signs and in no danger of falling 34,000 feet.

So while we didn’t get quite the weekend we’d bargained or hoped for, we still had a great time.  All told, three airports, three planes, three hotels, one church, one country club, one car, three shuttles, two buses, one train, what felt like three hundred and seventy-two Foardes, and one magic invisible golf cart.

And did I mention four pairs of shoes?

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