Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chasing the Sun

After 4 months of cold and cloudy weather in our beloved Washington state, we decided to take a trip to Palm Springs for Spring Break. Our three kids are 15, 13, and 12 and a trip to some place sunny - any place sunny - was a sure hit. We planned the trip with two other families with kids of similar ages and everyone was happy. We were all able to stay at a VI resort through a friend of ours who rents out units for a reasonable rate. Some great deals were available on airfare into Ontario, California and we arranged to rent a car from there. Our friends decided to load the car and make the 24 hour road trip instead. Our flight from Seatac was scheduled to leave at 7:50 p.m. - My dear husband decided to make the travel arrangements this time - which never happens - I am the travel guru around here and enjoy all the preparations that go into trip planning. We were off to a bumpy start before we even left our home since my husband thought he got tickets for a 7:50 a.m. flight. After some brief gnashing of teeth, we decided to look on the bright side and realized that while yes, we would miss out on one whole day of sunshine, we also would not be leaving our home at 3:00 a.m. to catch our flight. Since I tend to be over prepared for almost everything, I decided we needed to leave our home by 2:30 in the afternoon to catch our 7:50 flight. This would allow us plenty of time for dinner and a lovely cup of coffee with time for people watching at the airport. We are roughly 3 hours from Seattle so this provided us with 5 hours before our flight was scheduled to depart. While traveling to our destination we encountered our first disaster - literally - an avalanche had just occurred on the pass and we found ourselves in 26 miles of backed up traffic and no way out. I will say that the first hour of being trapped was unfortunate, but we knew we had more than enough time, so it was not an experience of desperation, yet. After waiting for a good hour and a half, traffic resumed and we breathed a sigh of relief. No, I would not be enjoying Anthony's fish tacos like I always look forward to - but we would make our flight and for that I was downright gleeful. And then we saw the brake lights. How is it possible to have another avalanche 30 minutes down the road? What are the odds? Apparently, pretty good. We waited for another hour and a half. At this point we knew -barring an act of God - which we had already encountered - we would not make our flight. And yes, it was the last flight to Ontario that day. I immediately called the airline and explained the situation and they booked a flight for us to LAX - of course, they get you with the fees - side note- Alaska was great to work with and waved the bulk of the fees for us - which I am still very thankful for. We soon realized our sweet deal on airfare was now $375 more than we allotted for - no problem, I am frugal and announced that we would make this up in savings along the way, no golf, granola bars instead of lunch, - no one was very happy with this announcement. We arrived in L.A. around midnight, rented a car - which was not without considerable difficulty, since we did not make our scheduled pick up in Ontario - and headed for Palm Springs around 1:30 am. arriving at our destination about 2 hours later. Lesson learned - buy trip insurance and Jim does not make the reservations.
Day 2 - After sleeping in, we were able to put the series of unfortunate events behind us because we saw the sun! Oh, it was glorious - laying by one of eight pools, reading a book for pleasure, kids riding bikes, playing tennis - Oh happy day! Yes, people needed sunglasses to protect their eyes from the glare off our Washington bodies, but that was their problem. Yes, the cares of yesterday slipped away. Later that night -Jim experienced some pain - before he even said anything we knew what it was - kidney stones! Now here is where I am personally disappointed in myself. My family affectionately refers to me as having a little O.C.D. (obsessive- compulsive disorder) I am generally over-prepared for most things - for instance, I always throw in a pharmacy before leaving home, especially if anyone in the family shows any signs of physical ailments. Jim had been struggling with kidney stones about a month prior to our trip. He had not had any recurrence and in the hustle of preparation he and I both neglected to pack any pain medication. Thankfully, he was able to contact his doctor and good friend around 6:00 a.m and he called in some medicine for him. Jim had kidney stone trouble throughout our trip (I should know this happens - this is our third trip where he has had a kidney stone attack- the last one at Disney World) however, my amazing husband is a trooper and he pushed through - even golfing during an episode.

4th day of trip - We planned a multi-family trip to Disneyland. Now, I am a huge Disneyland fan - I have been to Disneyland upwards of a dozen times. I still love it as much as ever and I know this is probably disappointing to some. Nevertheless, I believe in total Disneyland immersion - which means opening and closing the park. Now, I have already mentioned that I'm frugal - so is the group we traveled with. We wanted to do Disneyland but were looking for discount tickets. Before we left I did a little research - which I love - and discovered adult tickets for $59.00. This is a big break from the otherwise $94.00 adult ticket price. I sent the web page to my friends who were going on the trip and we felt like it was a legitimate site, although the poor grammar made me a bit skeptical. We had to buy one day of a three day pass in order to get this great deal and then return the tickets at the end of the day. A little more of a hastle but for the savings it seemed worth it. The day before our Disneyland trip we got a call from "Peter Weeter" (our representative for Disneyland tickets) who said that just that day a group of 35 people had lost their multi-day pass and so our passes would not be available for the following day. He said he could give us a bigger break if we were willing to purchase a 6 day park hopper pass through Disneyland and return the unused portion to him. He would pay us what we were out. Okay, I am not an idiot - but I do like a good deal. And it does seem legitimate that a group could lose their tickets - especially if they sent one person to get fastpasses for the entire group - we discussed if we could be getting scammed but figured since we were purchasing through Disneyland - not Mr. Weeter - we would be safe. The worst that could happen would be we were out the cost of a 6 day pass - which was around $176.00 a person or so- which would definitely be bad - but we reasoned there would be nothing in it for Peter - so it was relatively safe. We went ahead and purchased our tickets online and followed Peter Weeter's instructions. Everything went great during our day at Disneyland. I had purchased a program called "RideMax" which is now my new favorite thing. It computes all the rides you want to ride on (there is a list of every ride provided and you check the ones your group wants to ride) providing you with a schedule that takes advantage of the fastpass system as well as computing the shortest wait times for each ride. It is truly a modern marvel! I am completely sold on this product. It was only $15.00 and made our Disneyland Spring Break experience a dream! We had 18 people in our group - this schedule took out all the standing around and debating over what ride to do next, etc.. I will never go to Disneyland again without RideMax! That's how strongly I feel about it! At the end of the night we made our way over to Mr. Weeter's home -not his travel agency - which was definitely weird - some of us (the wives) were getting creeped out at this point -but we were traveling in a group so we figured "safety in numbers." Upon our arrival the guys got out of the cars and disappeared into the garage and then into what I guess was the side of the house. After waiting a good 30 minutes, which seemed interminable, I called my friend, Sara, who was in the other car - she answered and said, "this is really weird". I told her I was going in but I put her on speed dial. On my way I yelled back, -" if I don't come out call 911". I didn't have to go in, they all emerged shortly. In the end, we were only charged $40.00 for each ticket and he did reimburse us what we were out, however we left the Weeter garage and felt a little "slimy" about the whole thing. He does have a legitimate site but we felt like it was definitely on the shifty side of things. Would not recommend this in the future. I suppose the lesson here is anyone with the name "Peter Weeter" should probably be avoided.


  1. There are so many things I love about this post! First...oh my goodness the ticket guys name was "Peter Weeter"...I can't even imagine talking to him without buckling over in laughter! Second, I love that you were slightly skeptical about the legitimacy of the site due to its "poor grammar"!! LOLOLO! Oh Lori, keep writing this is well worth the read!

  2. Love you Rachel! You are a wonderful encourager! Can't wait to sit down with you!

  3. Lori~ you are sooo funny. I probably would have avoided someone with that name, too (for the aforementioned reason) as well as the fact that it just sounds slimy. You are the only people that I know that would have had to deal with 2 acts of God before even arriving at the airport, and still pressing on. Definitely a by-product of the next post and Jim's uncanny optimism. Bravo! keep up the great work!

  4. Amen sista' - God gave me Jim so an avalanche or two is nothin' - Blessings! Lori