holiday road trip, part 1: destination Daytona Beach

We are finally settling in after our trip to Florida. We came home to our new house that we’d moved into shortly before the trip, which was a surreal experience. It’s the first time I’ve ever come home from a long trip and not felt like I was “home”.  We’ve still got a long ways to go in terms of packing and making it feel homey.
 
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We left for Florida on Christmas night, in short because it was the only affordable fare that week. Not many people are keen to take a red-eye flight on Christmas. I can’t imagine why . . . . (YES I CAN).
 
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We were a little punchy. Then everyone fell asleep. Then 5 hours later we had to wake them up and they had to pull their own suitcases off the plane. It wasn’t pretty. I did not take pictures of that.
 
We go to Kissimee, Florida nearly every Christmas.  It’s my hometown and where my sisters and mom live. I love visiting them. I DON’T love visiting Kissimmee. Did you see the SNL skit about visiting your hometown? It’s kind of like that. Only with more tourists, gaudy t-shirt shops, cows, and rednecks.  It’s hard to pay the thousands of dollars in airfare to spend a week in a town I’m not crazy about, so last year I appealed to my mom and begged that all of us take a road-trip to one of the nearby beach cities. We used some timeshare points to reserve a week at a condo-type resort. We got to hang with my family, in a setting that we all enjoy.  Win-win.

After catching up on some sleep, we hit the road, bound for Daytona Beach. Chrysler generously let us borrow a minivan from their fleet for the week . . . a brand-spankin’ new Town & Country. Admittedly, Mark and I are not car people. We drive very old cars, and have never owned a new car. Or a car with leather seats. Or butt warmers. Or nice stereos. So I will admit, driving around in this bad-boy made us feel like we were hillbillies staying in a fancy resort.

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The Town & Country had another feature we’ve never had: built-in DVD players. A screen for each row. OH MY WORD is that a game changer for road-tripping with kids. No fights. No whining. No asking how long until we got there.  They quietly watched a movie and then we were there.
 
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Meanwhile, in the front seat, we geeked out over the built-in navigational system.
 
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And the fact that I could plug my iphone in via a USB port and the stereo scanned the contents onto a touch screen. Hello, podcasts!
 
 
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About half-way to our destination Mark spotted a Krispy Kreme with the HOT NOW sign on.
 
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Here is a life rule to follow: always stop when the HOT NOW sign is on. Always.
 
(Okay, there is an exception to that rule. If you are in labor, don’t stop. Believe it or not, THIS WILL COME UP LATER. In next Monday’s post. Stay tuned!)
 
 
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The kids all got donuts with chocolate and sprinkles, but Mark and I are purists and opted for the plain glazed.  There is just no reason to sully perfection with sprinkles.
 
 
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We’re here!
 
 
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We arrived after dark, so we ad to wait until morning to check out the view. OH MY WORD, THE VIEW.  This is my happy place.
 
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Later in the day, we gathered in my sister’s room to open gifts . . . all 21 of us. This family gets bigger every year.
 
 
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Doesn’t my teenage nephew look excited?
 
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Speaking of this family growing every year, I got to meet my new nephew, who is a foster child. Also, this:
 
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My brave sister came out to the beach at 39 weeks pregnant. SPOILER ALERT: She does not return home pregnant. Are you excited about next Monday’s post or what???
 
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The girls spent most of the time quietly drawing.  Whereas the boys spent most of their time like this:
 
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Although Karis bridged the gender gap by acting as a human weight while Derek did his tricep pulls.
 
 
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We celebrated Jafta’s birthday our second day there. The resort had an arcade so he requested an evening of playing video games. So at least he spent his day with his One True Love.  We planed to have cupcakes, but several trips to grocery stores availed no gluten-free cupcakes, so we settled for some kind of an egg-custard-thing that Mark had the bakery write on. The writing promptly slid down the custard in the car making it illegible. Then we had no candles, so Mark improvised by holder a lighter while we sang. You guys can pin that if you want to.
 
 
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Then, for reasons unknown, Jafta blew out the lighter and then shoved the custard in his face. He’s a stickler for tradition and I guess he was still mad at me for not throwing a pie in his face this year.
 
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I WILL HAVE MY DAY. That’s what this face said.
 
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Video games, a pie in the face, and more beat-down from his cousin. In other words, Jafta’s Perfect Birthday.

 

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Chrysler. All opinions are 100% mine.
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