I had hoped to start posting my vacation journal stuff before now, but obviously, that didn’t happen. Anyway, here we go! 🙂
Tuesday, August 25, 2009. My most anticipated vacation week began with my alarm clock buzzing loudly to arouse me just before 9am. I got up, ate breakfast, showered and dressed. After ensuring I had everything, I gathered up my bags and loaded them into my dad’s Grand Prix. We were then off for the Orlando International Airport for my 9am flight.
The check-in was quick and easy, which is just how I always hope it will be. The security checkpoint wasn’t too bad despite a couple of folks in front of me who always seem to not know how to put all their stuff on the x-ray belt and remove their shoes. Sometimes, it’s the things that most of us see as simplistic and not requiring much brain activity that boggles the minds of a select few… reminds me of the people who think ordering a sub at Subway is a rocket science. I have to force myself to chuckle at these sorts of things and people, or I might go insane.
My airline of choice to Long Island, New York is Southwest Airlines, as they not only tend to have reasonable fares, but their staff always treats me right. In the past, I’ve flown with a few others like Delta (I recall the short-lived Delta Song!) and JetBlue, and while they were okay, honestly, they didn’t impress me in the least. I don’t expect a lot when I fly, but some airlines just know how to treat their customers better it seems.
The flight into Islip was pretty smooth, not a lot of turbulence. I had a local Long Island mom to my right who was returning home after helping her sophomore college son settle into his dorm. In the window seat was a middle-school aged kid who was also returning back home to Long Island, after visiting his dad in Florida for the summer. Both nice people to chat with during the two plus hour flight from Orlando.
Upon arriving in the Big Apple, my mom’s sister, Linda picked me up in her new Civic. In tow, my Aunt had my cousin Jimmy’s two kids, Brianna and Cameron. Having never met my second generation cousins, it was nice to finally get the opportunity to do so. Brianna is fourteen and starting high school this year, Cameron is six. The kids wanted to go to Chuck E. Cheese to play some games, so that was first up. Now, I haven’t been to a Chuck E. Cheese since I was probably like ten years-old. So, my feeling that the experience was going to be unlike it is through the eyes of a kid was spot on. To say the place is loud and overwhelming is probably and almost certainly and understatement. Kids of all rugrat sizes and ages were running all over the indoor playground. Between the sounds of kids squeeling for joy, the musical sounds of the games themselves and the blaring loudspeakers singing the praises of Chuck E. Cheese world, a few minutes of this place is enough for any adult to go bananas. How parents can manage to survive this sort of thing with their children, I do not know. It didn’t take me long to imagine how my own parents must have felt when I longed to play there as a youngster. For those years, I’m so sorry mom and dad.
Once my Aunt and I were able to prod the kids along in spending all of their game tokens, the experience wasn’t over, oh no. There were tickets won by playing said games that now needed to be redeemed on toys, ie: junk that is of course worth nothing…well, nothing unless you’re a kid that is. Watching my little cousins decide on prizes, my mind again went back to my childhood. I vividly remember an arcade place where you won tickets that you could exchange for similar junk toys or candy. My dad used to take my brother and I there pretty regularly when we were in elementary/middle school. So, I had to smile when I saw the indecision that my cousins went through in choosing their prizes.
Laffy taffy and plastic rubbery toys in hand, we finally left Chuckie’s land and made an immediate beeline for a a place I had been waiting for since booking my plane ticket the month prior. It was time for some real New York pizza goodness! And, it’s no lie that the best slices are found at “holes in the wall.” Totally true, at least in the state of New York it is. No atmosphere, but hands down the best pizza I had my entire trip. Oh, and the garlic knots are great as well. I had a good chuckle when my six-year-old cousin proclaimed out loud that Virginia (his home state) had better pizza that the slice he was slowly munching on. Ah, kids say the funniest things, don’t they?
The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. We went back to my Aunt and Uncle’s place, where my Uncle Bill and I got to admire each others weight loss from the past year. He had lost more than 90lbs whereas I’ve lost 70lbs, and he looked great. He took me out to his local health good store, Wild By Nature. It is a nice store, I was impressed. It is down the road from their house, where a King Kullen grocery had previous been. I picked up a few items as did he before heading back to the house. We then changed into our workout clothes and headed out to the Nature Preserve for a walk. The Preserve has great trails for walking and I enjoyed taking in the fresh air as we went along the paths.
The day came to a close with a viewing of the Iron Man movie that I brought up with me. My Uncle and Aunt had never seen it, nor had the kids, so it was cool watching it again with people who hadn’t seen this awesome film before. Especially neat seeing the excitement in the eyes of a kid for it. All in all, it was a nice first day of my vacation. I was happy to finally be back up in New York.