* * * WARNING ~ GRAPHICALLY DETAILED LONG WINDED CONTENT * * *
What happened the weekend of Friday November 18th 2011 was not expected. And now I will tell you why, and for those of you that just skim through, be forewarned, this will be a long recount of our amazing wonderful weekend )
Let me back up to Tuesday 11-15-11. I received an email from my friend Clay (otherwise know as Mofrofans1 or Mr. D in our Mofro circle), for a link to a contest for Allegiant Airlines in Asheville. He had seen this on a blog he frequents. It was very kind of him to think of Gregg and I and forward it on to us. The contest had to do with the inaugural flight that Allegiant flew out of the Asheville airport – destination: Orlando.
Contest rules were simple; show up to the airport, with your bags packed and ready to go, at 3:00 pm Friday and register. If you dressed up as a “tacky tourist” you could submit an additional registration doubling one’s odds of winning. Prize package included up to 4 roundtrip tickets from Asheville to Orlando, 3 nights stay at the World Center Marriott, and 4 passes to Legoland. Estimated prize package was at about $1,800. If your name was drawn you hopped on a plane early that evening.
I forwarded the contest to Gregg, just to let him know that Allegiant is now flying out of Asheville, instead of us driving to Greenville or Knoxville. He read the email and said, “What the heck, you never know unless you try, lets go for it!” Cool!!! And if we didn’t win, we were going to go to Wild Wings in Asheville and then onto my nephew Ryan’s birthday party, so it was a win win situation! So I arranged for Angel to stay with my sister Eva and my Mama, just in case. So I packed pretty light, didn’t want to have to deal (or pay for) luggage to be checked in, just in case. Hard to believe that I had us packed in a couple of hours Thursday evening, for those that know me, know I need at least a week, in addition to a 3 page check-off list, really, I do.
I woke Friday morning and could feel a tinge of anticipation in the pit of my stomach. I tried to not to acknowledge my excitement/anxiety or whatever I was feeling. Now some of you may find this crazy, and that’s ok, who knows, some may not. I have come to believe that one can make their own luck, good or bad. Sometimes it could depend on what decisions one makes and the outcome of that decision. Sometimes it can be a gut instinct of what direction or path one can choose. Sometimes I do what I call my “mental challenges”, a little game I play. I had quite a few put in front of me Friday, and I didn’t want to take too many on than I could lose, and have more loses than wins. For instance, when I was opening checks at work, I sometimes try to guess the amount before I open it, and a number just popped into my head without even thinking of it so I decided to go with that number ……. I slowly opened the envelope and omg, it was the exact amount!!! Now that knot in my stomach started to grow and I goose bumps appeared …….. When I left work at noon, I took on another mental challenge, if I could drive home with out having to stop (like a traffic light or waiting for someone to turn) I could have another mental challenge “win” on my side. And as the luck would have it, I did make it home with barely using my brakes. And I go through about 10 lights before I get to 209 and it is free sailing the rest of the way.
Gregg and I decided to double our chances and dress up as tacky tourists. I think we accomplished our mission. We headed out, bags packed, to pick up Sawyer (I actually went into his school dressed up and ended up seeing the principal and a couple of parents I know, and didn’t explain my outfit, lol!!) Next we picked up Zach and headed to the Asheville Airport. Went up to register and we qualified as tacky! I look so incredibly goofy I just half to laugh at myself. a hahahah!
OK, now we sit and wait ……. Quite a few other folks came after us, some dressed up, some not. We had about an hour and 15 minutes til the drawing. So to pass the time, I took out the book I am reading and turned to where I left off ……… after about 3 minutes of reading, I could just about feel that knot is my stomach begin to diminish, and something inside told me to not let go of that feeling. So I put the book away and just mentally focused on that feeling. I can compare it to the feeling we feel right before they announce the winners of the BBQ competition in Tryon. Then another mental challenge came up out of nowhere ~ I had to use the little girls room, but an inner vibe said to wait and guess when it is straight up 4:00, so I waited and when I looked at my cell phone, as luck would have it, it was 4:00! At this point Gregg thinks I have gone totally nuts and due to my “tacky get up” and my silly lucky hat that I would not take off; Zach wouldn’t let me sit next to him, lol!!
OK …………. It is 4:30 and the drawing is about to begin. The lady pulls out a name and says, “the first name starts with a T ……. The last name starts with an R” …… I just sat there and did not feel that anxious feeling go away, then she says “Tori (and whatever her last name was) ……. No one claimed to be Tori …... the airport was silent and everyone was looking around. Then she starts to say that it was clearly stated that you had to be present to win and she begins “going once …. going twice ….. going 3 times”.
By now that feeling in my stomach was just about in my throat ……… she goes to pull out another name and proceeds to say “ok lets try this again …….. “ she swirls her hand in the bowl with all the names, pulls out a tiny piece of paper and says “…. Karla …….. “ and I dare not move-breath-blink-or swallow, and then it came ......... “Perkins!!”
I feel like I just about erupted and a fountain of smiles were released like a volcano spews lava!! I grabbed Sawyer and hugged him and then Gregg and I think Zach, it was quite a blur, I think I may have screamed with delight! OMG!! We are going to Orlando Florida!!!! It was very surreal as people from News 13 wanted to do an interview with me, put a mic on me and proceeded to interview me and I was just freaking out!! I don’t think I stumbled over my words, I remember saying something about saying an early Christmas …… not sure what else I said.
Next I have to sign and fill out paperwork and my hand was just shaking, I forgot when Zach and Sawyer’s birthday were, I had to really think about it.
I don’t think that smile left my face for some time. I texted quite a few folks the good news and to watch News 13 as I may be on TV with the family. I can't believe how dorky I look!!! I found out that about 40 folks entered.
Gregg had quickly altered his clothing and is no longer looking tacky, but me, ha! I am going wear this outfit, hat included til we land!!! Wasn’t long before we were on the plane and destined for warm Florida!! It was going to reach a low of 24˚ in Waynesville Friday night, perfect timing. As we were sitting on the plane I got a text from my friend Keith and it was the video footage of the 5:00 news!! Was about 30 sec long and didn’t show when I was interviewed but did show when we were jumping up and down when we just found out we had won the trip. Sawyer kept on saying how he couldn’t believe it was actually happening and I told him I feel the same way. As we sat there in the plane waiting for take off, it was then that I realized that my face was sore and I guessed it was from smiling none stop for the last 2 hours or so since we found out we had won, lol!! Sawyer said that this was the best hour and half of his life!!
We landed 1 hour and 4 minutes later and the hat came off!! They had balloons at the Orlando Sanford airport and they were handing out certificates for flying on the inaugural flight from Asheville to Orlando. We went and got a car rental and headed to the hotel, about 35 minutes away.
Wow! What a fancy hotel, it was beautiful!! The kids got a kick out of how pricey the “in hotel” snacks were, as I was. I guess I don’t get out that much. I mean $7.50 for a bottled water and $3.25 for a snickers, and it wasn’t even the king size, hahahha!!
hard to believe this is $61 worth of munchies
Saturday, we decided to hang at the pool all day. We headed out about 10 am for our first swim. It was so great! They had a cool water slide that the kids took full advantage of, as well and Gregg and I.
Through out our 3 day adventure, Gregg and I unconsciously took turns spending one on one time with each of the boys and had some wonderful bonding moments, long talks, lots of laughter, sounds kinds corny but it felt like something out of a Hallmark movie, lol, but that is how it made me feel.
We went to the King of Falafels
and that place had some keeler hummus and deep fried falafels!! Drove around a bought a few groceries. This was quite a funny moment: as we were shopping in Publix, the boys were with me and we were searching for Gregg, I spotted him and did the motion like I was getting ready to throw a rope and lasso him, when I did that and proceeded to act like I was pulling him in, Gregg actually started to move as if he was actually being reeled in, (did NOT expect that) and I began to chuckle and Zach just laughed to himself, shook his head and walked away.
Later that day, my brother Joey came up and stayed with us Saturday night. We all went to the hot tub, again.
They had 5 to choose from. One was in a faux cave setting and you could look up through an opening to view the night sky.
We so enjoyed spending time with him, and the boys just love their Uncle Joe Joe!!
We were able or enjoy a beautiful sunset together ........
Sunday morning we all left the hotel together, Joey to drive back home, and we were just about following him most of the way back to Pinellas County to visit some family and friends.
The weather thus far has been perfect! 65˚ and night and about 80˚ during the day. Not that humid time of year, so that made it so much nicer. I can remember that humidity like a big dog breathing down on you all too well.
Our first stop in Clearwater was to see Gregg’s Mom.
We picked her up and we drove to Clearwater Beach and hit Frenchy’s for lunch. It has been about 15 years since Gregg and I have been there. We actually ate at Saltwater Frenchy’s, not the original, and there are two other establishments linked with the Frenchy’s name. It was kinda cool to see all the menus and tee shirt artwork, as Gregg is the one that does the art for them.
I had to order the Original Grouper Sammich!!! Mayan, now that is a sammich!!! exactly how I remember it!! An unbelievable crunch and so succulent was the grouper inside .....
Zach ordered one as well and he said that it was a killer sandwich. We started with conch cerviche and 2 pounds of stone crab claws.
I miss good seafood. Washed it all down with an ice cold red stripe, waitress asked if I wanted a glass – I passed, as I thoroughly enjoyed drinking straight from the bottle.
There was such a vibe going on as we sat outside at our little table; the smell of the ocean, the warm breeze, amazing seafood, the sounds of the seagulls, and the wonderful company, toss in “not a care in the world” and there ain’t no better combination to achieve such a comforting feeling, again with the smiles!
After lunch we decided to pop in and visit our long time friend Doug, whom we have known for about 23 years. Since we were very short on time, we just stayed long enough to watch about 45 minutes of the Pack – Bucs game, GO PACK GO!! It was good to see Jon, whom we had not seen since like one of our earlier Beer~B~Ques. Great to see Doug, just wish we could have stayed longer, but we still had one more stop before we headed back to the hotel in Orlando.
We decided to surprise Gregg’s Dad, and boy was he and Julie surprised!! Sawyer and Julie fed the turtles on their lake, caught lizards
and Bill helped Zach with an American Government essay that he had to have completed over the weekend.
I just so wished we could have stayed longer that the hour we were there.
It was so great to see them!!
The kids were drug all around and they we very patient and didn’t complain. Til about now, Sawyer was itching to get back to the hot tub and Zach had to finish this essay and complete one more before school Tuesday.
We spent our last night (Sunday) at the hotel moving from the hot tub to the pool back to the hot tub. Sawyer had found a pool with volleyball net and right next to it a hot tub with a waterfall. This pool was very secluded and we had the place to ourselves for the evening.
By the time we all got back up to the hotel room we were so tired. We turned in to get a good night sleep before we head to Legoland tomorrow morning.
Monday is here, our last day on our whirlwind adventure in the sunshine state.
Legoland here we come!!
We had such a great time here, except for the 45 minutes it took us to park, yes 45 minutes!! It was ridiculous …….. they can take a few pointers from Disney, lol. The creations inside Legoland, put together with those little pieces of plastic were incredible!!
They had many displays from a NASCAR (I guess)
to Key West,
and many of the scenes were telling stories, like this one with the lady chocking and the guys giving her the Heimlich maneuver, releasing her lodged croissant!
I didn’t see this one, but the boys did, it was two guys playing checkers and one gets upset and proceeds to catapult the checkerboard in the air! Here is one of a guy feeding ducks.
My favorite was the full sized Ford SUV!! Wow!!
Oh and the one of Einstein was just amazing, as it all was!!
We went on 3 different rollercoasters. Now this park is aimed at the 2-12 year old range regarding the rides, so they didn’t go upside down but they were fun nonetheless. I loved watching this experience thru Sawman’s eyes!!
We had to be out by 2:30 to get to the airport on time to fly home. So we hit the gift shop about 2:00 pm, knowing it may take a while for the boys to choose their souvenirs. We told them we will put $20 each towards one and they may cover the rest. We were very pleased with their purchases. They both chose the same thing, and it was a 2 book set on the history of Legos from the beginning til now, pretty cool stuff there!
On the way to the airport we could see a storm rolling in, in the distance. We witnessed the beginning of a rainbow as it eventually became whole, it was so beautiful!!
Then came the rain and the traffic on I-4 came to a halt and they eventually began to start creeping again, in about 20 min we were passing the remnants of an accident. When we were waiting for our flight to board a lady came up to us and recognized us as the family that won the trip. We talked with her about Legoland and she remembers when it was Cypress Gardens years ago. She told of the Ester Williams movie that was filmed there. After a bit, Zach headed over to a corner to continue working on his second essay due in less than 14 hours. The plane was boarded 25 minutes late, but better than 2 hrs and 25 min. He all but finished his American Government homework on the plane. I was exhausted by the time we landed, as I think the rest of my famila was as well. We walked off the plane and the Allegiant employees recognized us as well and asked how our trip was and we all told them it was just amazing and wonderful! Took a few more steps and another woman said to us “Glad to see you guys again!”, guess she was on the original flight as well. We had no carry-ons, so we just headed out the automatic doors. The air felt wonderful! It was 54˚ and it felt so refreshing!! We picked up our little Angel from Gramma’s and headed home through some very thick fog. Got in the door at about 9:45 pm, and we all put our jams on and went up to the loft to snuggle and watch the last 30 minutes of Ratatouille ( I LOVE that movie) then we all crashed hard.
And in closing, I wish to thank the good Lord above for helping me to shape my own destiny and also I would like to thank Allegiant Airlines, Asheville Regional Airport and Kiss Country. Big hugs of gratitude to my Mama and Eva & her family for watching Angel. And with out a doubt I am grateful for Mr. Daniel, for if it was not for him and our love for M*O*F*R*O, this could not have been possible.