On December 9, we loaded up the car with 3 large suitcases, a carry-on, a Princess backpack, an overnight bag, a purse, a stroller, an excited Princess, and a sleepy doctor. At 8:30 PM we were on our way driving towards Richmond, where we would be spending the night before our early morning flight the next day. Of course, I was driving because even though I have bad night vision and had a horrible migraine, the other two people in the car either a) have narcolepsy when they drive at night or b) are too young to have a driver's license.
For the record, Lilly is the best person in the world to go on vacation with. Before we even got to the good part of the vacation (cruise, Disney World, extended family time), she was just plain super excited about being in the car at night. She knew it was bedtime and she knew that there was a good reason for us to all be in the car after dark. We had been telling her about the vacation (a big boat, Mickey Mouse, Princess castle, etc) for weeks, but in a three year old's mind I'm not sure if she totally understood that we were going on a wonderful trip that night. But nonetheless she was so excited. We turned on Christmas music and after each song she shouted "Hooray!" and clapped and made us more excited as well. I thought she'd get tired in the car as she usually will fall asleep when we're driving at night, but every few minutes when I looked in the backseat she was wide awake and dancing. I then turned to my husband next to me to tell him "wow I can't believe she's still up!" but before I could get the words out I noticed he was sound asleep... :)
About 45 minutes into the car trip, Lilly was angry. She signed up for adventure and some Disney magic, and instead we were on a "long" (to her) car trip to a Richmond hotel. So, we decided to stop at Cheesecake Factory in Short Pump and get her a little dessert magic instead. Two coffees, a milk, and an oreo cheesecake later, we were back in the car a little after 10 pm. In another 20 minutes we pulled into our hotel - the Doubletree at the Richmond Airport.
Originally when I booked the flight, we planned on leaving first thing in the morning on Dec 10 to make our 7 AM flight - which means waking up and driving from Charlottesville at 4ish. It's what we typically do when we have an early morning flight, and none of us mind too much. But as the days got closer to the trip, I started worrying - this was no ordinary trip to Atlanta or weekend getaway. On Thursday we were to board a cruise ship that if we missed it (and there is only one flight a day to Orlando from Richmond), we would be out of luck on the cruise. The rest of my family got to Port Canaveral the day before so they wouldn't risk it - and we were still a flight away! Plus, I didn't want to be so exhausted at the beginning of the cruise from waking up in the middle of the night, when it was only a 3 night cruise. So I researched hotels near the airport and booked the Doubletree because of it's close proximity. WOW was I surprised when we pulled into the parking lot and it was not only closer than the "economy lots," but you could actually see the terminal from the hotel. Plus the bonus of free waters and hot cookies upon check in. The three of us were sound asleep by 11 pm, and had a 5:30 am wakeup call the next morning.
Next up... Would we wake up in time? Would we lose our passports at the airport? Would our flight be delayed? Would we make it to the cruise before the ship set sail? Would I lose my horrible migraine at some point? And would we have the best vacation ever...? Stay tuned.