A Very Expensive Upgrade

I have been traveling quite a bit with my new job which involves lots of planning. We don’t have a travel planner or anyone at our organization that handles that function so it is up to me to juggle schedules with all the clients. Now this is fine with me because there are no errors in scheduling because of lost emails or missed phone calls, and if a client has to reschedule I can pull up the calendar and immediately make the change to the next available opening.

So this week I was looking to reserve a car for my sons Sports Management Banquet in Slippery Rock, PA. Lately I have been renting with Enterprise because they consistently have the lowest price and are at just about every airport I fly into. This time however, Hertz had a better price for the same location and duration. I will usually reserve the subcompact if I am by myself then get an upgrade at the counter since I rent so much (dinner for one Mr.Durden?). So I went through the usual selection and saw the were a few incremental upgrades, like going from a subcompact to a compact for 95 cents more per day (take it). Compact to Standard for $3.00 more total (take it). Full Size for $7.00 more total (take it). But then the next jump was ridiculous and had to be a mistake. Upgrade to a premium for ‘less’ than $1322.00. That’s a very expensive upgrade.

Expennsive HErtz Upgrade

At that point I had to back out to see what the daily rate was for that car and it was over $900 per day. Must run on rainbows and single barrel bourbon! I am tempted to call Hertz just to see if anyone noticed that rate and why it could be so high, but I am sure someone keyed it in wrong.

I had a similar experience down in Orlando about 15 years ago on one of our trips to Disney World before they had the Magical Express. I was looking at prices for rental cars and usually use Hertz at MCO because they have the gold service where the car is waiting for you and jut just put your bags in it and go. During my research I found a minivan (which I swore never to buy) that was available for $22.00 per day. Now, $22.00 per day for any car during peak season is awesome, but for a minivan it is incredible. Minivans are usually close to $100.00 per day in some locations during low season.

When I returned the car after our week there, the attendant printed out my receipt and had to do a double take. She said, ‘wow this is really cheap for a minivan’. I just smiled and said yes it is.

Disney Marathon Weekend 2011 Day 6

Today is the saddest day of all and a very hard day for me. I find it difficult to be in Disney World and not go into the parks even if we just go in to people watch and take in the atmosphere. Matt and I decided not to burn a full days pass since there were a few outside the parks things that we wanted to do anyway and we could probably fill the time before we need to leave for the airport.

We checked out of Bay Lake Towers, stored our bags and took a bus to Downtown Disney to get something for Lorie and Jenna. The are has change quite a bit form last year an Pleasure Island is a shell of what it was when it first opened. I only saw 2 clubs and could not tell if they were even open since the bars did not open till after 7pm normally. The whole island is just restaurants and a few shops and quite a bit of demolition and construction going on. The West Side is pretty much the same with the swapping out of a few stores for some more current ones. One big store that is gone is the Virgin Megastore which took up a huge two story warehouse. In its place is a ‘Build an RC Car Shop’ which did not even take up all of the first floor of the previous tenant. It is kind of a Build a Bear for boys. Build a basic car then trick out out with customizations and drain the credit card.

We did a bit of shopping for about and hour before taking another bus from Downtown Disney over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge villas to see the DVC rooms. We have never stayed there so we wanted to see if it was something we might consider in the future. The rooms were nice, very similar to the other DVC studio and one bedroom accommodations, except for the African inspired furnishings. The property was appealing as a novelty, but I still don’t like the fact that it is so far removed from everything else. If you stay there to see the animals outside your balcony, that is nice, but after about an hour of that I have seen what I need to see and want to move on, so I don’t think we will be staying there anytime soon.

While on property, Matt and I had a nice lunch at Sanaa where we split a burger and had a nice salad sampler, just enough food to hold us over for the rest of our last day. We grabbed our final bus from Animal Kingdom Lodge to the Magic Kingdom then had a short walk back to Bay Lake Towers to catch our Magical Express to the airport. We still had about an hour to kill so Matt suggested we go to the rec center and play some shuffleboard to pass the time. This was another first for Matt and it only took him one game to catch on. I took the first match and he took the second. He was a avid watcher of curling during the Olympics so he knew the basic premise of what to do and caught on very fast. He now has the skills to become a hustler when he retires to warm climates.

The Magical Express arrived right on time and got us to MCO about 1.75 hours before the flight to Charlotte. I checked on my Droid and both our flights ( to Charlotte and to ORD) were clear of weather all the way through. We boarded on time and settled into 2A and 2C for the first leg of the flight. I was a bit disappointed that we did not get a meal on the US Air flight but they did double up on the drinks and it was very smooth ride all the way.

We landed in Charlotte and grabbed some fast food chicken ( I took all the skin off mine and ignored the biscuit as next week starts my calorie counting test, which I will outline in a later post) and I passed the 1.5 hour layover time by catching up on some of my kindle books and my pursued new high scores on a few of his handheld games.

We boarded the flight to ORD and settled into our same two seats for the last leg home. On the flight from MCO, I had put the Thumper stuffed animal that I got for Jenna on the large arm rest space between Matt and myself, and it ‘rode’ there for most of the flight. I placed him in the same spot when we boarded and as I looked up I noticed we had the same flight crew from the previous flight even though it was a different plane. The flight attendant said ’Are you following us?’, in reference to the same two guys in the same two seats with the same rabbit between us, on a different airplane. I said ‘Yes, and I am hoping you are taking us someplace warm tomorrow. Where are we off to next?’

This flight was equally smooth and in no time we were landing in Chicago. As we pulled off the runway
I called my wife who was waiting at the Oasis and told her to head on over to pick us up. As most of you know, ORD and MDW are VERY strict about waiting at the curb to pick up arriving passengers. They will make you circle endlessly or have you park way over in the cell phone lot, which is OK. Lorie prefers to wait at the O’Hare Oasis since she can get there early if need be and have some coffee, use the free Wi-Fi and just wait for our call. The timing works out well because by the time we get to the gate, deplane, and walk all the way out to terminal 1 she is just about there.

I will have some reflections about the race in my next post, but for now, home again, glad to be here, but already planning the next trip.

Do You Have The Stones?



I now know why I have been feeling tired on my runs with no energy and just plain feeling lousy lately. I woke up this morning with tell tale signs (I won’t get into the gross details) that I have had a kidney stone brewing over the past few weeks.

I had my first attack soon after I got married (no correlation I am sure) more than 20 years ago. We we down in Florida on one of our Disneyworld trips with another couple that I have been friends with since high school. We were all staying in the same room in the Caribbean Beach resort when at about 3 in the morning I got the most terrible pain I have ever had in my life. My wife drove me to the emergency room which thankfully was only about 30 minutes away, but what an agonizing 30 minutes it was. I was in with the doctor for only about 10 minutes when the pain suddenly stopped and I was able to sit up from the hunched over position I had held since the attack began more than an hour before. I told the doctor the pain had stopped and he just looked at me and said ‘You’ve got a kidney stone and it just dropped into your bladder. Your going to feel bad for a few days but the major pain is gone’. I will again avoid the details but he was right and I was able to confirm the stone bay ‘catching it’ so to speak about 15 minutes later.

We made it into the parks later that day and still had a great time. I just had to keep a bottle of water in my had and sip all day, plus take a bathroom break after every attraction we visited as the increased fluid intake and freaked out urinary tract kept me guessing all day.

I have had 3 other major attacks since then, one requiring surgery and although I can never corroborate the similarity, I have been told that passing a stone is the male equivalent of giving birth. After experiencing the cutting action of those pieces of mineral deposit each time I believe it. The major cause for me has always been lack of hydration and with the heat here this summer and as much as I sweat during training runs, I have not been taking in enough water. Time to put down the coffee cup and pick up the water bottle.

5 Things To Do With A Teenager In Disneyworld

On our recent Marathon trip in January, my son and I had lots of time to spend with each other before the Marathon and after the race. He is 19 years old and has been going down to Florida with us since his first trip in 1997, so you would think he has pretty much done it all in the 13 years he has been visiting Walt Disney World.

But the thing is, as he has grown up, his tastes understandably have changed. While he may have enjoyed Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and a Mickey Bar when he was 6, he now enjoys Rockin’ Roller Coaster and a Mickey Bar (the fine cuisine that is a Mickey Bar remains a favorite). Each trip down is also more about experiences for him rather than just attractions. The whole reason for the vacation was to have that time together with him and to share the experience of running a marathon together.

There are a few of the fun things we did and my favorite one was completely free.

  1. One of the best things we did on our last Marathon trip was just play catch. My son has really gotten into Major League baseball lately and he always travels with two mitts and at least one ball. We had planned ahead  and both brought our favorite mitts and a few baseballs. This is an activity you can do pretty much anywhere on property as long as you find an area where there are not any guests that would be impacted and if you don’t mind carrying the equipment around with you. We chose to throw around on the Beach Club lawn close to the walkway by the water. We were the only ones out there as it was misting a bit but that did not bother us because we were having a great time just throwing and talking. We receive may smiles and looks of approval as well as a few kind comments about our choice of activity. We talked and played catch for over an hour and would have gone on longer if the webbing on my mitt had not broken. I had that mitt since my Purdue days so it was getting old, but Matt insists that the break was because of his amazing power. I’ll give him that one.
  2. Take a walk. There are so many things to see outside the parks and all it takes is a stroll with your son to take some of them in. One of my favorites is getting up early and walking over to the Boardwalk to get some coffee and a Cinnamon Roll. We then continue on around the lake and over to the International Gateway to Epcot, which is not yet open, but it is interesting to see all the activity that goes on in the morning before the parks open. If you are really ambitious, you can walk the other way to Hollywood Studios and back again. If you are a runner, or not, most hotels have a list of the running trails/walkways around your hotel. You can choose to run them or just take a nice long walk around them. Early morning is best before everyone is making their way to the parks.
  3. Rent a Boat. As I mentioned in my Marathon Day 6 post, we did an Illuminations cruise. Although a bit expensive, I found it worth every penny for again, the experience and the memories that it produced. There are many less costly options at several resorts throughout Disney World. Call (407) 939-7529 to make a reservation for the chartered excursions.
  4. Go Shopping at Downtown Disney. You can find exclusive Disney World merchandise at one of the many unique shopping locations.
  5. Get a midnight or later snack. Many of the restaurants or even hotel can have fairly late hours, but our secret spot is the 24 hours quick service restaurant in the Dolphin hotel called Picabu. We found it on one of our previous trips and it is a must do if we are staying at any one of the Epcot resorts. If you are out late and even the bars are closed, this place can really hit the spot.

These trips are a great time to reconnect with your kids. You can just walk, and talk but be sure to listen.