A LONG Day/A Memorable (?) Day

It's not even 8 AM as I start this post, yet I have been awake since 1:37 (you read that right) and UP since just before 2 AM.  While I did go to bed early (turning off the light around 8:30), I awakened several times during the night before 2.  (My alarm was actually set for 2:10).  It's going to be a long day.

Why would anyone be up so early?  For me there is only one GOOD reason (although there may be many different reasons), a vacation or trip.  And that is the case here, only not for me.  (Boo hoo!)  As I have mentioned before (probably too many times), my son and the rest of the music students (or at least most of them) are on their way to Walt Disney World.  Their purpose is to perform (choir in Disney Springs and marching band in the Magic Kingdom), so it IS "educational."  (Don't roll your eyes.)  They get to spend 4 days (or most of the days) in the 4 main parks before heading home.  They had a 6:05 flight out of Newark, which meant they had to be at the high school by 3 and on the buses by 3:30 to get to the airport by 4.  So the whole family was up EARLY.

It's been 7 years since we were on "hallowed ground" (aka WDW.)  My son had just "graduated" from elementary school and I was just about to start a new job.  Circumstances (and not just Covid) have prevented us from going back since then.  I wish we could have gone with him, but again life circumstances prevented us.  (This may make my son happy, but...I truly did not want to "stalk" him and his friends...I want to enjoy WDW on my own!  I'd be happy if our paths crossed [and I know they would] and if I could get some photos, but I really would just like some time in the happiest place on earth.)

This is his senior year and the first "big" trip the students have been able to take.  (Yes, they did do a 2-1/2 day trip to Philly last year, but...)  I know he (we?) are lucky to be able to participate in these trips and when he was a freshman, I expected that he, like me, would get to visit several different places over his 4 years.  Obviously, that didn't happen.)

The first time I went to WDW was when I was a freshman.  The band (at the time it was all band; thankfully now it's a MUSIC program and while the choir tends to get the shorter end of the stick,  at least they are finally recognized and integrated into the overall program) would do a spring trip every year.  Over my four years I visited Florida, Virginia, Montreal and Maryland.  The Florida trip was the best.  (Montreal probably comes in at #2, but I got really sick while we were up there and didn't get to participate in the awards ceremony/dinner at the end.  Everyone went off and I stayed in the room by myself.  Can you imagine such a thing today?)

My trek to WDW was much different than what (I hope) my son will experience.  Obviously, he has been before so he will know the lay of the land (sort of) when he is there.  I had no clue.  I had never been to Florida.  When I went there was only the Magic Kingdom to explore (yes, it was that long ago) and so we spent only one day actually AT WDW.  We went to SeaWorld and maybe one other place. (I cannot recall...was there once a big mall in the Orlando area?  I remember shopping.)  There were locations for competition (jazz band, concert band) and for rehearsals. And we spent a lot of time at our motel in Kissimmee.  We did not stay on property; at the time there were no "economy" hotels at WDW and I can't imagine a hoard of teens staying at the Polynesian or Contemporary.  (That would have been cool and completely out of control).

One of the biggest differences is that when I went we were gone for a longer amount of time because we DIDN'T fly.  We took a bus.  (Yes, we took a BUS!)  While my memory may have faded since that trek, the 24+ hour bus ride to (and from ) Orlando will never be forgotten.   Though I can't remember who I sat next to on the bus, I DO remember who I sat behind (and the classmate who spent quite a lot of time sitting, or trying to [?] on his lap).  We left in the evening and stopped at South of the Border for breakfast.  We arrived in Kissimmee the next evening, staying at this motel that also housed another high school music group from Indiana.  It seems to me that we were on and off that bus A LOT while we were in Florida.  Of course it was another 24+ hour drive back to NJ (once again with a stop for breakfast at South of the Border)  It seems to me we spent more time ON the bus than we did in Florida (I know that's not true, but it felt that way.)

The other strong memories I have of MY high school trip was marching band practice (sans instruments) in the motel pool. (I have photos somewhere.)  Going on Space Mountain, which was my first rollercoaster, and discovering the Haunted Mansion and Pirate of the Caribbean. (Both of which are still favorites.)  Much else is a blur; although I DO think I purchased a diary while I was there (and also a plush koala, don't ask me why) so if I can ever find it (and I'm pretty sure it still exists in a container somewhere) my memories may be refreshed.

I hope that my son's experience over the next couple of days will provide him with good memories when he is my age.  (This is where social media is a BIG plus...there should be lots more photos...the music parents group has already started with the arrival of the luggage, which went down on a truck several days ago.)  This is a special (and bittersweet) time; for him and for us as parents.  I hope he'll treasure it.

Of course, he just has to make it through the day.  And so do I!  Time for another cup of coffee!  You can bet that I'll be in bed before the sun officially goes down today.  (And my son won't).

Here's to memorable long days!


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