Day Nineteen – 14th September
Who knew that a holiday that started on the 27th of August 2015 would last all the way until mid-February? In more ways than I could ever describe, it has been one heck of a journey.
No matter how hard I try, our last day and our journey home never have any decent notes recorded. It isn’t intentional, I just can’t seem to bring myself to record this day. So I’ll do my best with the half a page I do have and the handful of photos, but your reading may be brief today.
I had another fitful night’s sleep before the alarm woke me at 7am. The next couple of hours saw the traditional Tazmanian Devil impression as we dash around the villa trying to get everything into our cases. Inevitably this involves the purchase of an extra case, which I nipped to CVS to do before we were able to finish and leave the villa at 9.45. It took an act of God to fit everything into the car and Grandad and I were a little hot and sweaty as we reversed off the drive.
A huge breakfast was now required, so we drove up to the 192 and I decided upon the Perkins, mainly as it was the first place we saw.
We were seated and ordered orange juice, coffees and in some cases chocolate milks.
I didn’t record what everyone had but you’ll get the idea from these photos.
We paid $103 plus a large tip made up mainly of all the change I wanted to get rid of. They didn’t seem to mind.
Next on the list was a trip up to Lake Buena Vista, where, being the coward I am, I put $10 of fuel in the car. With everything else going on today I wasn’t mentally ready for a game of Russian roulette with the fuel gauge.
Just when we thought that the car was about to burst at the seams we stopped off at Publix near Emily’s apartment to stock her up one last time before she would be left to fend for herself. The mood today was sombre as you can imagine. Not only were we going home, but of course one of us was staying behind and after knowing this day would come for many months it wasn’t making it any easier. It didn’t feel real.
Anyway, as we started wandering the aisles of Publix Louise had to nip to their loo. She found us again afterwards and on we went with the shop. A few minutes later she stopped in her tracks with a look of panic on her face. It would appear she had lost her phone. She dashed back to the loos to see if it was there. She knew she had it as we entered the store and so it MUST be in there right?
She went to Customer Services to see if it had been handed in there but it hadn’t.
I started to incur huge data roaming charges on my own phone now trying to contact Vodafone to block the thing and report it lost. This was, pretty much, the last thing we needed amongst everything else that was going on.
It was about this time that Louise realised that she hadn’t lost her phone at all and that it had been stuffed down her bra the whole time.
How we laughed.
Already emotionally spent, we took all Emily’s food and her new iron back to the car and somehow packed it in with everything and everyone else. As we set off for The Commons we all knew we were coming to the time we had all been dreading. We were about to drop Emily off for the last time.
I won’t document this in great detail. I have a history of over sharing our stuff all over the internet so let’s not and just say that it was difficult, and it isn’t something I want to experience again.
Despite my $10 investment we still coasted into the airport on fumes with my heart racing. Maybe that wasn’t due to the low fuel?
Having booked Premium Economy for the home leg we checked in quickly and easily, got through security and then monorailed out to gate 81. Louise, Rebecca, Sarah and I got a table in the Outback. We weren’t hungry but fancied a sit down for a drink. To be polite we ordered some cheesey fries too.
With this done I wandered off to the restroom to put my long pants on. This is a symbolic event every year and denotes the end of the fun. Today it felt more sombre than usual.
We wandered duty free for a bit and then as we eventually went to board the plane which had been delayed for half an hour it struck me very hard that I had three passports in my hand and not the usual four. My stomach churned.
I know I’m over egging this upset malarkey, and even looking back now I sound like a big girl even to myself, but at the time, this was how we felt and so I’m reporting it as such.
My notes end here. I will openly admit that Louise and I cried like babies as the wheels left the tarmac of Orlando. It felt strangely symbolic and the last twenty years flashed before our eyes. All the holidays, all the times we’ve flown home together and all the challenges Emily would now have to face on her own. Sure, she was twenty, but a young twenty and it was our job to look after her, both then and forever.
We eventually gathered ourselves somewhere above the Atlantic and the flight happened. We landed, waited an age for our cases and got ourselves home.
So there we are, the end, in many ways.
It’s been a blast over sharing these adventures with you all over the years. Our return home this time was an arrival into a whole new world. Louise and I returned to an empty nest, with Emily in the US and Rebecca and her boyfriend Tom getting their first place together. Both of those departures had been a long time in the planning so we knew it was coming. It didn’t make it any easier and I think we’ve both taken a while to get used to the idea.
So at this ending of an era, I suspect there won’t be any further trip reports. It feels that way anyway, mainly as there probably won’t be any more holidays of this nature. The days of the four of us going away will now be forever captured in these reports. Any future Disney trips will be very different I’m sure and not for some time and that weirdly feels OK to be honest.
We’ve been through some huge changes and challenges as a family in the last year or two with more to come no doubt.
So now, I need to thank you for reading this one and any of the others if you have. Writing these has been a huge part of our, or certainly my, enjoyment of these holidays. Louise, Emily and Rebecca, I thank you for letting me write them, tolerating the note writing and photo taking along with allowing me to share things you’d rather I didn’t with a load of strangers on the internet.
Girls, at least when you have kids of your own, you can look back on these trip reports and let your kids know how many knob gags their Grandad knows! I’m waffling now as, to be honest, I don’t know how to end this. Bringing well over a decade of reports to a close isn’t something I know how to do, so how about a few memories from them?
It’s been a blast.
Till the next time?