NYE 2009: Day One - The Arrival

December 30, 2009

It's been just 3 weeks since we left the World. This month is all about travel, it seems. Travel between our favorite homes. Home to Disney where we introduce the rest of our blood family to our virtual pixe-dust loving family, then home to Home home were we transform our house into a Christmas wonderland to tide us over winter, and now back to our pixie-dust home to ring in the new year with our friends.

I've been plagued with a cold since Thanksgiving. Something one of my nieces and nephews dragged in probably. My ear infection (a gift from the return flight to MD 3 weeks ago) has gone away, but my voice is still scratchy. I should probably stay home and rest this holiday week. But where's the fun in that?

Cousin 626.1 is joining us. It's his 3rd annual trek to Disney at New Year's. I still can't believe we had only introduced him to the World a few short years ago. Now he's on a kick to get his family addicted to the place.

Our flights are identical to the early December trip. But this time neighbor friend KG will be taking us to the airport at the godawful hour of 6:30am. We get to BWI with just enough time to grab some breakfast at the diner. Security is more of a hassle this time around. A few days ago some nitwit with a bomb in his underwear (who does that kind of stuff?) tried to blow up a plane in Detroit. Everyone's gotta go through more baggage and body checks now. Big stuff in the news. Do we profile or not? Who gets the extra scans and isn't it discrimination if we profile people?

I guess using a power wheelchair means I am automatically lumped in with Abdul Terrorist. My hands are swabbed, my chair is swabbed, everything in my backpack is emptied and swabbed. My fault. I carry my wheelchair charger in my carry-on along with my laptop. Any and all electronics are suspect. Good thing they don't make me empty my purse too. I have a couple cameras and an MP3 player in there, the horror!

GM and Cuz are put through the same intensive scan. Cuz because he checks his carry on for something while in line and GM because the Xray machine doesn't like his titanium hip rod. We're not upset about it. Extra security means they must be trying extra hard to protect us from nitwits. It just takes away some time for breakfast.

Along the way I spot an old high school friend of mine. Fancy meeting her here. Turns out she's flying out west for a Navy football game. I didn't realize she was such a fan. Cool.

Our flight leaves right on time at 9:20am and arrives just before noon. This time the sun is shining and it's actually warm in Florida. Not the deluge we had last trip. As usual they're late bringing my chair back to me at the gate. I don't know what it is with MCO baggage handlers. I just hope everything is working properly.

Finally my chair arrives to take me off the plane but something's funky. It's squealing like a rusty gate and feels all wobbly. I get to the top of the terminal and ask my cousin, "Do you see anything wrong with my wheels?" He takes one look, blanches and tells me to get out as carefully as possible. Uh oh.

I jump out and find my front caster wheel has lost a nut. It's hanging onto the frame by a thread. Geez, that woulda been a nasty accident.

Dorothy, a customer service rep from Southwest, just happens to hear us as she walks by. She turns around and jumps in to offer assistance. There's no way to find a tiny little nut on a giant airplane so she wrangles up a manual wheelchair and pushes me down to customer service, Terminal A. There we file a report, Dorothy keeping my dad company, while my handyman cuz works on a juryrig fix for my wheels. We've gone through this drill before and have no desire to waste another trip day waiting on the outsourced service comapny Southwest uses to fix my chair.

There's another bolt on those anti-tip wheels I find so useless in the back. Ah, all we need is a wrench and we can pop that baby off. The guys working the desk find us a couple wrenches in the back room and Cuz goes to work. But the Southwest folsk don't want to be left out. They go on a hunt with airport maintenance in search of another nut to fill the gap. You'd figure in an airport there's be a whole bunch of nuts & bolts somewhere. A half hour later, we've turned up 3 bolts, 4 nuts and have both my caster wheel and anti-tip wheel securely attached. Ok, time to roll.

Dorothy has taken a shine to Grandpa Mohawk. He's left his scooter behind this trip (it busted last one) so he's having a little struggle keeping up with us (Cuz and I are fast walkers). Or perhaps it's just because Dorothy doesn't want to say goodbye to her new rock star. She insists GM hop in the manual chair and escorts us all straight up to Disney's Magical Express. We get on the bus so fast, I didn't even have time to stop in a rest room.

The sun is still shining at Saratoga Springs when we arrive. It's around 68 degrees. Enter the lobby and there's our friend Jill. She's been transferred from Bell Services and is now working as a Front Desk greeter. We missed her last trip. Fortunately I have that family photo keychain handy and tell her all about our Grand Gathering festivities. She in turn snaps a few more pics to add to our holiday collection.

 Isn't Jill great? (That's her below with GM, by the way. Hi Jill!)

Meanwhile GM retrieves his rented scooter from Bell Services and begins the check-in process. Our room is ready in the Paddocks. I'm so concerned with the time (I'm hoping to make the 3pm Christmas parade at Magic Kingdom and it's 2pm now), I didn't bother to look at the room number. It doesn't occur to me there would ever be a problem with my handicapped room assignment. Not until we go all the way across to the Paddocks, up the elevator to the third floor and discover we're in a regular INACCESSIBLE room. Oh crap!

Off I go racing back to the Front Desk worrying all the way that they really screwed up this time. It's the busiest time of year. The resort is fully booked. They aren't that many accessible studios in the place. It's already afternoon, what if they are no rooms left for me? How could Special Needs have screwed this one up? What if I can't shower for the next 3 days?

I zoom past a couple along the lake. The wife asks in that cheery Disney voice, "Are you having fun?" I quip, "Not yet." She laughs. I guess you don't hear that sort of response at Disney much.

Back to the Front Desk and there's Jill again. Talk to the girls working the counter, a manager in the back, and quick as a fiddle they find me a room in the inn. Whew! Maybe I will be able to shake this feeling of impending disaster this trip. I did wake up with knot in my stomach worried something bad would happen. But the terrorists didn't get me; the airline didn't paralyze me permanently; and Disney didn't leave me homeless.

There is one casualty though. I check my power indicator and I've lost all my greens. Darn it, how am I ever gonna last the night at MK with 3/4ths power? I guess the trip into the park to see the afternoon parade is off. Must return to the room, rest and recharge my batteries.

We're in room 8112, the same studio we've had the last 2 trips. It is like coming home again. Unfortunately Cuz doesn't have his tools to loosen the door or his extra nightlights, then it would really be like home. GM heads off to Artist's Palette to fetch drinks and lunch. He gets to meet up with our friend Jim while I'm stuck in the room waiting for my chair to recharge. I promise myself that next time I come for New Year's, I'll fly down on the 29th instead. I need a day to recover from all the nonsense fate puts me through on the travel day.

Cuz hooks up our wireless network in the room. (I'm trying out a new pocket router this trip from Dlink. It works but for the life of me I cannot figure out how to secure it.)

We eat, nap and then GM is antsy to get going. It's getting dark out there and he was ready an hour ago. Check my chair and it's back up to full power. Ok, let's get this party started!

Day 1 Pt 2: Night falls at Magic Kingdom