*This is a Public Service Announcement!!!*
Prepare yourself. . . the next week of posts about our Spring Break trip to California will probably make you go into photo overload! Just warning you :-) Read on at our own risk!
After months (literally!) of planning and saving, the day has finally arrived for us to leave on a jet plane to California. Being the person that has high anxiety and apparently one to scream out "OMG, we're gonna die!" on a plane while in turbulence, I'm prepared with my prescription of Xanax - God bless my Doctor! We are packed, prepped and ready to go! Although we are only going for 3 full days and 2 half days, we did have a lot of baggage! My reasoning, I'm blaming having a 3-year old child even though he only accounts for 40% of the excuse LOL The other 50% falls to the unpredictablity of the weather of California in March. . . cool in the mornings/evenings & warm/hot in the afternoons = multiple outifts/day. If you are a math freak, you'd probably already figured out that I have 10% left. THAT 10% goes to me - I'm an overpacker and proud of it - no excuse there.
Together, the four of us - Carolyn, Scott, Austin and I, had 3 backpacks (our carry-ons) full of items we'd want while enroute to CA, although mine was full of toys, snacks and goodies for Austin and my Nook for me. Then we each had a suitcase (total of 4) for our week long trip. Yes that's a LOT of luggage but thanks to Southwest we didn't have to pay a luggage fee therefore as long as our suitcases were under 50 lbs we each were granted with 1 free bag to check. Since Austin had to have his own ticket (grrr) since he's over 2, you know darn well he's getting his own suitcase!
Prior to take-off we initally wanted to head over to a cute little diner around where we live that has Mickey Mouse pancakes for breakfast. I figured that would be so cute and Austin was looking forward to having his MM pancakes for weeks! However, we sadly found out that they weren't open for breakfast during the weekdays! DOH! So we quickly headed to IHOP (our fav. breakfast place) for pancakes before dad was picking us up to drive us to Love Field.
Once we arrived to Love Field, we checked our 4 suitcases & stroller at the drop off location (gotta love that about SW!) and were quickly wisked through security. Austin did amazing going through the process and I think it helped that the Family line was empty. Once we were on the otherside of security, we headed to our terminal/gate to see just where we needed to be. Scott and I prefer to be somewhere early, but we were W-A-Y early (think 2 1/2 hrs). It says to be there 1.5-2 hrs before but I guess they didn't account for the fact that Love Field is smaller than DFW airport and thus less human 'traffic'. Another plus! Although we were done with the 'hard part', we were now waiting - and waiting - till we could board. Austin loved seeing the airplanes up close and kept referring to each and every plane as an airport LOL
It is exhausting trying to keep a 3 year-old occupied, safe (!!) and active (so he'd be exhausted on the flight) while waiting to board, so it was a bit stressful! We had 2 hours of it and I was about to pull my hair out, but finally we were about to board.
The only drawback with Southwest is their method of seat assignments- - they don't have any! It's first come, first serve and business (and another group) get to board first. Then group "A" boards, then families, then "B" & "C". It's stupid really to have all those people board before familes can. You're never guarranteed that you can sit with your partner/child/friend, however we paid for Early checkin so we were placed in group "A". We had A 29,30,31 & 32 and you're suppose to line up numerically but we honestly didn't know that until we gave the lady our ticket. However, since we were carrying a carseat onboard and had a 3 yr old she let us pass! Luckily we did manage to score 4 seats together (Austin, me, Scott and then Carolyn on another row diagonally in front of us). We brought his carseat on board with us after much thought, research and opinions from friends who've traveled with their little ones. Although it was a hassle lugging it to our seat, once installed (rather easy, I might add) it was one of the best things we did! Here is what the FAA and Carseat.org state:
"'Should my child use a safety seat on an airplane?'
Yes. The Federal Aviation Administration strongly recommends, but does not require, using safety seats on airplanes. Babies and children are much better protected during turbulence and in emergency landings when they use a safety seat. SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. has petitioned the FAA to require all passengers to be buckled up, including children under two, who currently are exempt. The White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security has recommended that all children be properly restrained."
Austin was refusing to get into his seat once we were ready to go, so it was a bit of a struggle - yet another reason why I'm grateful for his carseat. Although it's difficult to put a flailing toddler in his seat and strap him into the 5-point harness, once he's in he's secured and safe. Finally after realizing that the plane was indeed going to go, he settled down and was able to enjoy the view and watch the workers load suitcases on the plane.
After a while though, he was over it and wanted to G-O!! 3 year-olds have zero patience and how was I doing, the anxious flier you ask? Oh swell! Just ask Carolyn or Scott - after taking 2 - count 'em TWO - 0.25mg pills of Xanax I was A-OK! :-)
Austin LOVED backing out of the terminal and was so excited! That abruptly stopped when the loud noise of the engine plus the fact that we were going up, UP, UP freaked him out! He screamed to have his window shade pulled down and tried to practically get in my lap (another bonus to having his carseat on board!). Poor kid was freaking out and it was heartbreaking to hear/watch! He kept asking me to hold him, hug him and I couldn't!
I was devastated I couldn't comfort him in the way he needed but finally after we plateaued he calmed down. . . however the shade did remain down throughout the whole flight. There were a few instances where I'd quickly put the shade up so Scott and I could look out but it wasn't long lasting.
Finally passed out!
With Southwest, there are usually layovers and depending on which flight you choose you can either have a layover that you board another plane OR stay on the plane you're on and have passengers board your flight. We chose the option to stay on board since we didn't want to worry about missing a flight, although SW really tries and cares about passengers and making their connecting flights! However, the 25 minute layover in El Paso ended up being ONE HOUR!! It was that long because SW wanted to make sure their passengers that were on another flight made it to this one since it was delayed, therefore we were delayed (although he made up for it and we actually arrived 10 min early in LAX) The flight attendants were sweet and knew Austin was having N-O-N-E of the waiting in our seat bit. He was pissed off and rightfully so!
- We were on a plane sitting and NOT moving
- He knew in order to see Mickey Mouse he'd have to 'go up & down' one more time :(
- See number 2!
So, thankfully for ALL involved, Scott and Austin were able to get off the plane and walk around the El Paso airport for a while. On their way out the plane door (is it called a "door"?!) they got to stop by the cockpit for a look. The SW pilots are amazing! They really took their time with Austin and allowed him to sit in the main seat and yes - even touch a few things! They even let him push a button that talked to the airport tower operater! It was amazing!
The escape off of the plane was a great idea. . . until you try to get a three-year-old back in his seat when he knows what's in store for him! Once he calmed down, the rest of the flight was quick! We arrived in LAX early, picked up our swagger of a mini-van (TEXAS PLATES TOO!) and headed to our hotel.
I/we were SO impressed with our hotel and I'm so grateful I came across it back in June of last year (Yes, I wasn't kidding when I said we were planning this for months!) The hotel was at the Comfort Inn & Suites: Maingate with Kid's Suites This hotel is the coolest thing ever and a must for anyone wanting to stay in California near Disneyland. It was only $119/night and that included a standard hotel room (2 queen beds) with bathroom PLUS a kids suite which had a bunk bed, dresser, TV, and table/chairs and their own bathroom! Austin thought his 'cool room' was the neatest thing - we did too!
Heading back to our hotel was beautiful! The palm trees were lit up and it was such a nice night.
We couldn't wait to get back to our hotel and veg since we've been going, going, going since about 7am that day (Dallas time). Once we were in our room, Austin was passed out minutes after his bath and we weren't too far off! We knew the days ahead were going to be jam-packed with people to see and things to do!
Stay tuned for the other posts of our California adventure! I'm working the next three nights, so it may not be until Sunday when the Tuesday's post will be written! :-) Stay tuned.