Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Vacation Blogging

Well, we're back! 17 days of hectic and educational sightseeing behind us, jet-lagged and fatigued, glad to be out of the humidity but unhappy about the sore throats from the smoky air, here we are in California again. As usual, I can think of many blog posts that could spring from the vacation that is behind us, but will probably follow through with only a small fraction, my innate inner sluggard being only enabled by the continuing technical problems that attend our pitiful efforts to get consistent access to the internet. Nothing more frustrating than losing your connection right as you attempt to save a particularly brilliant (ahem) blog post.

In the interests of completeness, while I wait for pictures to be downloaded by someone other than myself, I will start with an overview of our itinerary:

1) Fly into Atlanta, spend the night.
2) Drive to Tennessee, about a five-hour trip, so we can go to Dollywood.
3) Go to Dollywood. Drive back to Georgia through the Great Smoky Mountains. Stop briefly at a place where the Appalachian Trail crosses the roadway, which is actually in North Carolina. It turns out there are places where North Carolina is in fact west of South Carolina. Spend the night at a state park in Georgia.
4) Because Ziad is getting obsessive about it, go to Dahlonega and pan for gold. Then drive through the mountains to a spot where you can hike into the Appalachian Trail, and hike on it. Continue on to Atlanta.

While Nabil is at his business conference in Atlanta, take the kids on three days of intensive sightseeing.

5) Day one: American Girl Place, History Atlanta. This may not sound like a lot, but take my word for it, it is.
6) Day two: Georgia aquarium, World of Coca Cola, Cyclorama, Atlanta Zoo.
7) Day three: Mississippian mound culture, Cherokee city, house of wealthy Cherokee leader, all in Northern Georgia (we practically wound up in Tennessee again) requiring hours of driving, but very very worthwhile.

8) Drive from Atlanta to Charleston, SC. Stop briefly in Augusta to stretch our legs on the Riverwalk, which is pretty but not necessarily worth the detour. Spend the evening doing laundry on the hotel's single washing machine while someone from a semi-professional soccer team is breathing down my neck because she wants to wash their uniforms.

9) In the morning, visit Fort Sumter. In the afternoon, during lunch, get caught in the first of many intense thunderstorms featuring rain that causes impressive flooding of the city after only 1 1/2 hours. Spend lots of time trying to avoid driving through water up to our hubcaps (it is a rental car, after all) and no time at all seeing beautiful historic homes. Alas.

10) Visit Charles Town Landing, a state historic park and archeological dig on the site of the original settlement. Highly recommended. Then take off for Hilton Head in South Carolina. Huge thunderstorm drives everyone off the beach and out of the pool in the early evening. Right after we got there.

11) Spend the day at the beach, where Nabil and I get horrific sunburns. Maya's face gets a little red, and Ziad, who uses no sunscreen ever, seems to get a light burn on the back of his ears. Drive on to Savannah. Impressive huge thunderstorm in the clouds over Savannah as we arrive.

12) Visit the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low in the morning. Then stop by the Maritime Museum of Ships of the Sea. In the afternoon, walk down by the river, a commercial touristy strip that reminds me of Pier 39 in San Francisco.

13) Drive to Orlando, stopping briefly in the non-historic part of St. Augustine, and a Florida state park I remember from my last visit to Florida, Washington Oaks. It is every bit as magical as I remembered. While we are at the park, guess what weather we encounter?

14) Disneyland (thunderstorms).

15) Disneyland. Drive to Mt. Dora, another place I remember fondly. Also still wonderful. Thunderstorm en route.

16) Spend the day at Mt. Dora recuperating from two exhausting days at Disneyland. Thunderstorm in the afternoon.

17) Drive back to Orlando and visit with Nabil's cousin who has four kids, some of whom are about the same age as Ziad and Maya. It is a nice visit, unfortunately all too brief. Get lost in Orlando attempting to find the rental car return, then spend frustrating hours trying to take shuttles to the hotel airport.

Then up at 4 the next morning to get everything organized for an early morning flight. Return home after several hours spent in some odd non-sleeping, non-waking, headache-inducing fatigue zone and feel completely disoriented. Notice that Lesley has very kindly gone way above and beyond merely watering the plants and has left my yard prettier, neater and way more organized than she found it. Thank you so much, Lesley.

Yesterday was spent indulging in fogginess, and today we're back to reality. Guitar lessons and dentist appointments loom on the horizon. Ziad and Maya are really happy to be back, and I am too, I guess, but part of me wishes we could spend more of our time in unknown places, learning about their many wonderful secrets. It really was a great trip.

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Blogger Lesley said...

I am, as always, amazed how much sightseeing you are able to pack into your vacations!

11:36 AM  
Blogger Vivian said...

Glad to have you back Sarah! Yes, your trip sounds entirely packed (but very watery). We went to a few of the places you mentioned some 15 years ago when we visited Bill's family in South Carolina. Not remotely close to what you did.

12:45 PM  
Blogger zelda said...

Excellent! Sounds like a great time. See you soon.

9:12 PM  
Blogger zelda said...

I just read through more carefully and I'm so impressed. And yes, the American Girl Place is a real to-do. We were sick as dogs when we were there (Southern Cal) so I hope we can go again sometime.

Juliette Gordon Low...very cool. Eleanor finds her fascinating.

Are thunderstorms something you find yourself missing here? I always loved them and never found them scary as much as I'm afraid of everything else. We had some huge storms last year on our trip to MI and the kids were completely terrified. I was delighted.

6:07 PM  

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