May 8, 2008

Middle Age Meets College Road Trip a.k.a. Dan and Kelli's Excellent Adventure

About eight months ago our friends won a trip for four to Universal in Orlando at a silent auction and invited Dan and I to join them. As “grand prize winners” the trip included airfare, four-day park admission, hotel and transfers for just a few hundred dollars a couple. (Translated: this would be a kid-free vacation. Cheap.)

While this sounds like a no-brainer, it wasn’t an easy decision. Generally, Dan and I prefer to travel solo, we eschew Disney-esque vacations and while we really like the friends that invited us, we didn’t know each other that well. Oh, and did I mention the package included the hotel room—ONE hotel room. (Adding an extra room would have cost four times more than the entire package!)

After much back and forth, we agreed to approach the whole thing like an upscale college road trip. Plus, as further enticement, we selected a weekend that coincided with my birthday. That tipped the scales. We said, “Yes.”

However, as the trip neared, I was filled with ambivalence and wondered if we made the right choice. Plus, getting the kids settled and the house in order for our departure left me exhausted and frazzled.

But, at 6:00 a.m. last Thursday, our friends picked us up for the airport and our adventure was officially under way. Amazingly, instead of everything going wrong that could go wrong with our travel, everything went right. Rush hour traffic, plane departures, baggage handling, shuttle pickup, even the weather conspired WITH us. In no time at all, my concerns and stresses melted away. (Thank you God, for these little gifts.)

For four days we relaxed in the idyllic “bubble” of Universal. Our reality became a fantasy where everything is planned, organized, arranged, created, managed, manicured and maintained. From the “fossils” in the rock walls, lush landscaping, meandering waterways and realistically themed hotels to the state-of-the-art rides, over-the-top special effects, bustling “city” and even the song selections at the karaoke bar, it is all carefully purposed and controlled by an invisible hand for optimal enjoyment.

Best of all, in our land of pretend, there was no waiting in line for the rides! By flashing our room keys, we gained VIP access and passed to the front of the line every time!


Even the room concerns worked themselves out. We quickly discovered that we were all quite compatible traveling companions.

But, the highlight of the trip was our nights at the karaoke club that featured a live band and a charismatic emcee. Our friends, both musicians, relished the opportunity to sing on stage, while Dan and I were perfectly happy to watch. (Note: even in this land of make-believe, bad singing is still bad singing!). However, not content to let her and her husband’s terrific singing represent our group, our friend urged us, “C’mon! You can do it!” Since I was immovable (see “note” above), she focused on Dan. Lulled by the security of the “bubble,” he reluctantly consented.

So that is how as the clock struck midnight, ushering in my birthday, my reserved, quiet, sit-back-and-watch husband was on the stage with a rock band, belting out “Mustang Sally” to a standing-room only crowd! And to all of our surprise, he was really, really good! (Thank you, Dan for the unexpected present!)

So now we’re back home and fantasy has crashed into reality bursting our idyllic bubble. Thankfully the memories travel well.

Here’re some things that I learned:

1. You are never too old for an adventure.

2. Sometimes when you give a little you get a lot. Dan and I never would have intentionally planned this type of vacation. But, by taking a chance and giving up some control and privacy, we experienced one of the most fun vacations we’ve ever had.

3. When you escape from reality, sometimes you experience an even greater reality. It took the safety of the “bubble” for Dan to travel so far off his map to sing on stage. We are all capable of so much more than we think we are.

4. Be open to new experiences. (Like sitting front and center, in the “poncho section” for the Blue Man Group!)

5. Once in a while, make a big deal out of your birthday.

6. Make time to get away with your spouse. (Even if you send the kids to
grandma’s for the weekend and stay home.)

7. Don’t ride the Dueling Dragons roller coaster twice in a row. Enough said.

8. Never underestimate the amazing ways God can bless and surprise you.

9. And my final bit of insight…No matter what the cost, watching your husband perform like a rock star is priceless!


danregan said...

Rock star? Not exactly - but everything else in here is true...especially the part about the safety of the "bubble" allowing us to cut loose to do and enjoy things that we'd be otherwise too uptight to consider. Any reason we can't apply that caution-to-the-wind thinking to very real things like our work...our relationships...our worship, ministry, missions and evangelism? Probably not. (Well...provided I can get a guitarist, bass player, keyboard guy, drummer and a pair of female backup singers to cover my mistakes, that is!)

Anonymous said...

C' could have gone on Dueling Dragons like 5 times before you passed out! Loved the blog - I agree - it was so much fun! I <3 Universal :)

Scott B said...

What struck me the most about this blog (except for the fact that it made me incredibly jealous, a singularly non-Christian emotion) was a comment that may, or may not, have been unintentional. You said, and I quote, "it is all carefully purposed and controlled by an invisible hand for optimal enjoyment." God works in wonderful ways, and I'd say this may have been his way of saying, "You deserve this."
So glad you guys had such a great time. Looking forward to Dan singing his prayers next bible study!

Justin said...

Kelli: That sounds awesome! I'm so glad that you had this experience! And great advice at the end! I lead a fairly boring life, so it's good for me to be reminded to seek adventure and try new things. Very cool!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Kelli -- a fun description of the trip and sound advice at the end! Life can't have enough adventures or celebrations! (PS: I miss the "bubble!")

Anonymous said...

Have you figured out who JakeBreak is yet??? LOL...

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, so glad you got to do something wildly fun for your birthday! You are right -- God does amaze again and again. He is so good!

Peggy said...

Is it not wonderful just how God blesses our lives when we least expect it?
I am so glad that you ,Dan and your traveling companions had such a great time....and girlfriend, you deserve a great birthday.
This was a really fun blog, thanks.
Blessings and Love,

Katherine said...


What happened with the Dueling Dragons roller coaster? LOL!!

I'm glad you guys had a great time. And yes, we often underestimate and overlook the smallest of blessings. Excellent insight!