Afternoon – or probably early evening in the UK. The wonder of airport wi-fi means I can send one last missive before we head out. Flight scheduled for around 3.30 pm here and due to get back into Bristol International around 4.45 am UK time, which is around 8 hours in the air. That means back home for 6.00 am and then I need to be out for around 8.30 am to get up to Southmead Hospital Audiology for some first aid on my hearing aids. You’ll recall that one of them packed up / got dropped just coming out of The Great Movie Ride on our first day of the holiday, and I’ve been managing without for virtually the whole trip. Surprisingly, this hasn’t been as bad as expected – indeed, in some respects it has made life easier, as I haven’t had to swap them in / out when going on noisy rides, getting soaked etc. However, my hearing is not at its best and I’ll be glad to get full function back. So that is a priority, which means I’ll be trying to get as much sleep as I can on the plane.
Jet-lag is strange. It wasn’t so much the lack of sleep last time, as the confusion over time zones and the feeling that I’d suddenly been transported from one side of the world to the other without an intervening sleep period. So, 7.00 am in Bristol found me still thinking it was the ‘same day’ as we’d been driving round Florida, which rather freaked me out. This time I need to drive up to Bristol as well as do a few more chores, so hopefully I can hold it all together.
The end of the holiday brings the usual depressions and unwillingness to go back. I remember coming back into Bristol last time we returned from the States, and thinking how small everything looked….as well as slightly shabby. The house also seemed small and pokey and smelled a bit fusty after all the wide open spaces of our villa with its air-con, pool and walk-in shower. It will be interesting to see how Clevedon feels in the same circumstances, as I haven’t quite stopped thinking of that as something of a holiday in itself, with our new house near the sea and, shortly new car (well, new to us). So perhaps not so bad this time.
I’ve come away once more with a very positive view of American society, way of life and so on. Rose-tinted no doubt, but there we are. I like the optimism, the natural democracy – the naivety to be sure – but largely the feeling that things can be done rather than the more European fatalism. I was thinking this as we watched the final Disney show last night, but also when sitting in the Orlando AleHouse on Route 192 night before last. It’s a bar and a restaurant and a sports bar sort of thing where the walls are lined with tvs showing various baseball and football games. The food is great, the service is friendly and informal and there are pool tables for the kids and adults. A really pleasant place to spend time, eat and drink and socialise – and a million miles away from most of the pubs I can think of where the food is average, service non-existent, kids either not welcome or shoe-horned into a vile ‘family area’, and the sports coverage tribal. God – I’m putting myself off already ! Anyway, the very pleasant lady at the duty-free checkout was sympathising with me just now as I was explaining how this wasn’t a good day and I didn’t want to go home ! I’m sure it is all different when you live here, rather than for a short visit, but at the moment the distinction is lost on me.
This has been a great trip, albeit different from last time when everything was new for me and half of the wonder was just that. This time the parks and everything else have felt more familiar, so the emphasis has been different. Sure, the rides have been major fun – but again, having done most of them before it has been more like revisiting old friends rather than making new ones. Which has reduced the urgency, for me at least, of doing as many and as often as possible. The boys have also had a different experience, as I’ve already alluded to – both have been able to do rides they could not do last time, so have been eager to maximise this exposure.
I think I would like to come back to the US as soon as I can. Not necessarily to Florida, but maybe more of a road-trip – at least, not entirely based in one location. I think for the moment, I’m a bit ‘parked out’ – or at least, these parks here. This, of course, leaves a lot of scope for other parks. But also, I’d like to see other parts of the States and other types of locations / activities / people. Let’s see how my savings look once we have got back and paid for a couple more things for the house – and also, how the job prospects look once we get the full measure of the latest round of government cutbacks….
For the moment, that’s it. I’ll post a few more videos and pictures once I get them sorted out. See you on the other side of the World in a few hours. Hum.