BWI to Houston to Orlando
05.06.2013 - 07.06.2013
I decided to rent a scooter from Special Needs at Sea like I had done for the Alaskan cruise, even though they had totally failed to be reasonable for the Australian cruise in 2012. Unfortunately, they weren't much more reasonable this time.
Wednesday 5 June 2013
Packed Tuesday of last week and weighed the suitcase (the big brown one). It was almost 50 lbs. Then other things had to be put into it - the extension cord for the scooter, which was heavy, and it ended up being 52 lbs. So I took the mouthwash (which I know I don't use up the whole bottle) and emptied about 3/4's of it out into the bigger bottle, and I also took out a raincoat which was in a package, and it ended up at just about 50 lbs. The carryon is heavy too.
This Tuesday all I had to do was finish packing my carry-on and be ready to leave at 6:30 am on Weds. My plane was at 10:45 and I was figuring that we'd need to leave about 7, but Bob wanted to be there at 8:45 so we left about 6:30
He was complaining about the hour
and also about the fact that there would be some rush hour traffic up at the Baltimore end. But we were actually there near 8:30. I found a place that said it was for unloading handicapped and we parked there, but had to walk across the bus lane to the check in. I was wearing my hat (with a chin cord), my passport case on a cord around my neck, my camera vest, and my camera, and I had put the camera vest on over my seat belt, and I was completely bound into the car. I had to take the camera vest and all the stuff on top of my clothes off to get untangled.
So we walked across and I went to a lady whose badge said she was a Southwest employee and asked for a wheelchair and then Bob put me in line and left.
In about 5 minutes a young lady came with a wheelchair and she went to the desk apparently to ask how to check in. She took my ticket. and said I didn't need my ID (which I knew was wrong) so I continued to get it out. She came back for it. The man took it all and weighted the bag, ticketed it, and gave her a boarding pass. I emptied my water bottle and we put the cane and my carry-on in the chair with me and she took me to the security line where they inspected my passport carefully.
When we got to the scanner she said to me "I've saved you some time - I told them you couldn't walk." She managed to get the computer out of the bag, and ran that and the carry on and the cane through the screening. Then they came back for my water bottle and then my hat, and then again for my passport case and camera and put those through. Then they came back again and made me take the camera vest off (they had previously thought it was some kind of medical device) and put that through. Then they wanded my hands, and I had to put all that stuff back on. She got the computer back into the carryon and took me to the gate (filling the water bottle from a drinking fountain on the way).
I was at the gate by about 8:45. I had nothing to do for 2 hours. I did get out my computer for a bit but the wi-fi apparently was not free. A plane came in to the gate and disembarked the passengers many of whom appeared to be a school group from A.J.Bell School wearing matching T-shirts (about 8th or 9th grade I judged - they were too well behaved to be 7th graders and too big to be 6th graders, but some of the boys were too short to be a higher grade.)
They started to board a little before 10. No one came to help with the chair so I got up (stepping on one of my shoelaces and untying it as I did so) and walked down the gangway, which was short. The male flight attendant asked if I wanted help with my bag, and I said yes, so he took it and put it someplace, but I didn't know where it was. I sat about three rows back, but I think I could have sat at the bulkhead because I didn't have anything to put under the seat. But there was enough room without that.
A tattooed man dressed in flip flops, shorts and a wife beater shirt came and sat in the aisle seat and took out an ipad and put it on the tray table and started playing computer games. The plane was fairly full and took over a half hour to board but apparently no one wanted to sit in between us (!!!} so we had no middle seat companion.
They gave us a bag of cheese nips and some peanuts, and I had a glass of cranapple and my seat mate had water and two mixed drinks. I talked to him a bit and he is apparently in construction - lives in the Houston area and was coming from a job in Mass. I think it was his company that built Cracker Barrel. His company does a lot of Darden
I set my camera time back an hour, but didn't set my watch. They had taken my whole ticket when they gave me the boarding pass, so I didn't know what time we were to get there, but I thought it was close to one, and my watch said that's when it was and we didn't seem to be getting any closer to to ground. So I set my watch, but now my watch and camera did not agree. Maybe I had not reset my camera from our last trip or maybe I didn't save the change.
When it came time to get off I had to have the flight attendant find my bag. and then I asked if my wheelchair was there and it was. The man (whose name was Paul) pushed me up the ramp and then was finding other people to do other wheelchairs (there were 4 of us). He pushed me through the terminal and I thought I saw my granddaughter (it was a tall thin girl) and waved to her, but it wasn't my granddaughter Embarrassing.
I spotted my grandson in an orange T-shirt with my granddaughter near baggage claim. They came on the loudspeaker saying that the Baltimore bags might take awhile because there were so many of them, but the plane was going on to Phoenix and they had said the on ground time was to be only 40 minutes and I had seen two huge carts of bags for the new people to be loaded so I knew they were going to be moving as fast as possible, and sure enough the loudspeaker lady said that it wasn't going to be so long and bags started to arrive. Paul said that his company did all the passenger assistance at Hobby - it wasn't done by the individual airlines.
Got the bags and Paul took us out to a holding area for wheelchairs and the kids called my daughter and she came to get us. She had the youngest granddaughter with her in the car - the kids had a half day today. She had a chicken sandwich from Chik-fil-a for me to eat which was welcome.
When we got to her house, my grandson tried to get my computer to print on their system - he could get my computer on line, but couldn't get it to print. So using her computer, we printed the Special Needs at Sea form that they were hysterically asking for (even though I had already paid them) and faxed it back to them with a signature and printed the wheelchair reservation at Disney among other things My son-in-law came home and we had dinner and then a swim in the pool.
6 June 2013
Mostly today we got my granddaughter packed, and did other chores preparing to leave. It rained pitchforks at one point with some hail
so we didn't go swimming again. I will have to wait to test out whether the other entrance and exit to the pool will work better for me. To get out yesterday, I had to ask my grandson to give me a hand to get my foot over the last step up.
I canceled the reservation for lunch at Epcot because I thought that $90 each (the new price for tickets for one day) was too much to pay just for the privilege to eat lunch (which I would have to pay for additional)
2013 June 7
This was an interesting day, full of problems to solve
My daughter waked me up at 4 and I groggily got ready to leave at 4:30. First my son-in-law had to move his car out of the driveway because that's where his car is parked - they can't get two cars in the two car garage very easily. Besides which, my grandson went out to practice driving yesterday afternoon and parked in the middle of the garage.
We got to the airport by 5, but there was no curbside check in for AirTran. So my daughter let me out, and I walked in and asked. They said they would have to call for a pusher, or I could just take a wheelchair and my granddaughter could push. So I did take a Southwest wheelchair (a man helped me unfold it) and went in.
However there was still a problem of checking the bags because my granddaughter couldn't push AND manage both of the big bags. So we went in and they said we would have to wait. I sent my granddaughter back to get the bags, but in the meantime my daughter had parked in short term parking. She brought the bags in, and the guy who was steering people into lines told her to check the bags. She did it WITHOUT having any photo ID as I hadn't given her my passport.
We went through the security check-in
and they pushed me to the gate. I got into conversation with a lady there, and completely forgot to ask my granddaughter to get the water bottles filled and get some breakfast.
We pre-boarded - in seats A and C on the short side of the plane. The flight was pretty full (with a lot of kids) and they kept asking for people to move to the exit row "so that families could sit together". This continued until we were on the plane when they finally offered to give someone a free trip anywhere AirTran flew. (AirTran had merged with Southwest just before this trip) We left a little late (there was a 15 minute delay because the fight crew hadn't finished their rest time).
When we arrived at the airport, the wheel chair lady pushed me up the ramp to where the Disney buses were loading.
They loaded the luggage onto the bus and took us to the All Star Resorts - first to Sports, and then to Music where we got off
and last (after we got off) to Movies. I picked Music because my granddaughter plays the guitar
We gave our luggage to the bell man and they gave me my scooter and I checked in. We went to our room and waited for our luggage which came eventually. I tipped the bell man (and I've tipped the wheel chair pushers the same also) $5.00.
The scooter was very rabbity even when turned down to the most turtley so I had a hard time controlling it. It came with directions, which I didn't read, and a poncho.
Our room has two double beds and a TV and a small fridge and a little table.
We went to the hotel restaurant (which was a food court)
and I thought since they had a grill where stuff was made up for you that maybe we could get a hamburger or something without a bun. It turns out that they have a special gluten free cook. So we both got a bacon cheeseburger and fries - hers with a special gluten free bun and a dedicated fry fryer,
and me just regular.
Cost $18.00 and we drank our own water.
At this point I decided that we both needed a nap, so I asked for a wake-up call at 3:15, and we both lay down and had a nap.
We got up from our naps got ourselves together and went out to get the bus to Downtown Disney. They put the scooter on the bus (it was a kneeling bus) - the driver put it on himself as he was afraid that if I did it, I would run off the side of the ramp. He strapped it in and also put a shoulder harness on me while I was sitting on it.
My granddaughter sat on the seat next to me, but an ENORMOUS woman came and asked her to move over so she could set next to the scooter side and would have more overflow space. Which she did.
I didn't realize that there were two stops at Downtown Disney until we got to the first stop, so we got off at the second stop
and made our way down to the Cirque de Soleil (CdS) building.
I had been told to get there at 4:45 so as to be in line for the 5:30 opening
but I misunderstood and thought I was to go up the elevator at 4:45 and all that was meant was to get in line. So we went off and went through a few stores . I looked in the Cirque de Soleil shop first.
And then we looked at the House of Blues. I tried to explain who the Blues Brothers were - I knew John Belushi was one of them, but it was difficult for me to do as I've never seen the movie.
We went up the elevator in groups and found our seat and one of the ushers took the scooter and parked it and gave me back the key.
I am not able to recall the order of the acts, but one of the first ones was with skipping ropes - kind of a combination of those double Dutch rope jumping teams and the ribbon routines of rhythmic gymnastics. There were some high wire and slack wire performers. A cleaning lady type (a la Carol Burnett) came out and various parts of the stage went up and down. There was a clown bit where they were apparently on the moon and the graphic on the sky was the earth.
There were four little girls who did a routine with something that looked like wooden spindles and rope. They had a couple of men doing trick bicycle riding. There were aerialists (all men although some of them had a cute red ruffle around their hips) on the trapezes. There was a trampolining section where people bounced up to the tops of a 'building' and back down. And there was a beautiful man (probably conceited as he was SO good looking) who did a kind of rope flying act- sort of gymnastics on red curtains which came down from the ceiling. He had four girls with him.
The band and the singers were inside the castle formations on the side. Live music I think. Also there was a sketch where the princess kisses a frog - the frog was a special spotlight and sound effect.
When they came back for the curtain calls, the princess had a prince with her.
The show lasted about a hour and a half. They brought me the scooter key and after we got down the elevator we started to go back to the bus.
I originally thought that we could eat there, but I after reading some of the menus, I decided against it.
I had seen that there was a gluten free bakery, so we went to that and she bought some donuts and a cupcake.
Then I started having problems with the scooter. No matter how far I turned to rabbit, it was turtle and sometimes would just stop dead. So I would wait and take the key out and put it back and turn it on, or I would put it into free wheel and push a bit and then get on and drive another little way.
We probably would have been OK getting to the buses this way except that when I got to the other end of Downtown Disney I turned the wrong way to get to the buses and ended up in parking lot B. I called the scooter company and they have no hours after 8 and it was 8:30. So I called the hotel and they called Downtown Disney and said they would come in a golf cart.
Eventually two people (black man white woman) showed up with brooms. They said the golf cart couldn't take the scooter so they were sent out to see what the problem was. By this time the scooter was almost impossible to push (I have concluded that there was some fault which made it have an internal brake) and it would only beep at me when I turned in on.
The two of them pushed me ON the scooter to the bus. These two employees were the only ones who were really helpful.
Then the bus driver put the scooter on the bus and we went to the hotel. The bus driver pushed it OFF the bus and I pushed it around the corner to where the scooters were.
The hotel people couldn't give me another scooter and they didn't have a working wheelchair. So I let my granddaughter go back to the room and get food and waited while they brought a wheelchair over from All Star Sports. Then they said that they couldn't push me to the room, that I'd have to get my granddaughter to do it. So I footed and pushed myself to the restaurant/food court and found her where she had gotten another gluten free cheeseburger and fries for herself.
And she pushed me back to the room.
I ordered myself pizza, but they only delivered large and I did not feel like going back to the food court for an individual pizza. I only ate one piece.
Next I booted up the computer to see if I could log on. The computer just had a little 'waiting' blue circle on the wi-fi signal. So I called the Disney computer person who couldn't figure out why there was a problem. So I called the Geek Squad. After we got it settled that they could NOT log into my computer and fix the problem remotely if I couldn't even get online, she said she would go do some research.
I got tired of waiting and called back, and while I was talking to the guy, the computer came back and said there was a network available. But I let the guy talk me into having the computer completely checked, and left him to it and went to sleep. I waked up about a hour later with the computer in safe mode and the session expired because they couldn't log back in. So I tried to get the computer to connect again and could not. So I went back to bed.
Thus ended June 7th