sunnier days

Today we had our largest snow fall of the winter season. Hopefully it is the last snow storm of the season because I’m ready for warmer temperatures and the colors and smells of spring. My bulbs have pushed through the dirt so I’m hopeful that spring is around the corner. We got about 5 inches of the white stuff and Xander enjoyed a quick play session while I shoveled the walkway. He was in an especially grumpy mood today– lots of crying for an unknown reason. Teething? Hating life because we’re transitioning him away from the bottle and formula? Maybe it’s the fact that he’s down to one nap a day? Missing Uncle Ter? Who knows. On a day like today, I resort back to happier moments (like our January cruise) to help me get through the fussiness. So here’s the first installment of our Cruise 2008 trip report:

DAY ONE: We woke up early for our 9 o’clock flight out of Saint Louis. I dropped off Kali at Country Acres pet resort the day previous so all we had to do was load the car and hit the road. We ended up leaving about 10 minutes late which resulted in my inability to get a Starbucks coffee (my breakfast of champions). Packing for a cruise is much different than packing for a trip to Florida to visit family. I made several lists, conducted research on the Family board of CruiseCritic.com, and brainstormed what-ifs with Nick. In all, the Tahoe carried 2 large suitcases, 1 small suitcase, 1 laptop briefcase, 1 carryon duffel bag, 1 diaper bag, 1 car seat, and 1 stroller. We checked the 3 suitcases and carried onboard the necessities for Xander (backpack full of toys, blanket, formula etc., the diaper bag, Nick’s laptop bag, the stroller, and let’s not forget the huge Britax car seat which we stuffed into a special backpack). We had a TON of things to carry around the airport. It wasn’t easy! And poor Nick kept bumping the huge car seat back pack into things. He looked like a turtle!

We flew with Southwest Airlines and got a great rate of $200 per ticket. The flight was nonstop and sleeping on the planeuneventful. During the 3 hour flight, Xander napped and played in his car seat. We opted to buy his own seat because he’s such a wiggle worm, and we needed the extra space. With ‘A’ tickets we scored the 8th row of the airplane. There were plenty of children on the flight, many cried and screamed. Thank goodness Xander didn’t! We were rewarded with compliments on our well-behaved son from fellow passengers.

Hello, Florida! Hello beautiful, 70 degree temperatures! Hello, madness! I hate the Ft. Lauderdale airport. It’s small, it’s packed, and there’s always a line! Somehow in the madness we found Memaw and Papaw who had driven down from Orlando. We shoved our bags into their car, installed Xander’s car seat, and off we went. Nick rode on a free hotel shuttle since we couldn’t squeeze everything into the trunk. First stop for the Anderson/Mills car? Publix. We needed diapers, headache medicine (for me), and some beverages for our rooms. Next we headed to our hotel. Originally I had planned to use my Marriott Reward points for the Renaissance downtown hotel but waited too long to book. The entire hotel sold out, as did most of the other hotels and motels in the area. January is considered the high season for snowbirds and cruisers so our options were limited when I booked in November. The cheapest and most convenient hotel with availability was the Comfort Suites Ft Lauderdale Airport West.

Here’s the hotel review I wrote for TripAdvisor:

WHEN: My husband, son and I stayed at this hotel for 1 night precruise on January 26, 2008. With tax, 1 room cost us $220 dollars. We booked directly with the hotel and the rate was cheaper than hotels.com and orbitz.com prices because they add on a 25 dollar booking fee.

LOCATION & SHUTTLES: The hotel is conveniently located near the airport- only about a 5-10 minute drive. The hotel provides a free airport shuttle van if you don’t rent a car. After calling the hotel for a pickup, we were told it would be about a 30 minute wait. The driver places the luggage in a U-Haul style hitch as the shuttle gets quite full. When you check in, be sure to sign up for the cruise shuttle as it is a first come, first serve list. We snagged the last 11am shuttle spots. The hotel in general isn’t located on a super busy street. The hotel shares a parking lot with Shoneys & Waffle House. Down the street, about 1/3 of a mile, is a shopping plaza with a Publix grocery store and Ruby Tuesdays. The nearest liquor store, the Beer Barn, is a couple miles down.

ROOM: We checked in around 2pm. The room was super big with a living area/couch and a small little kitchen area complete with a microwave and empty frig. The bedding and pillows were very comfortable and we liked the black-out curtains. Overall, the room was clean but our crawling infant son did get black knees and feet from crawling around on the carpet. We asked for a crib and received a slightly dirty pack n play. We brought our own pack n play sheets because the hotel does not provide bedding for it. We used the free WiFi and found it fast and satisfactory.

BREAKFAST: The hotel was very busy with precruise and postcruise guests so breakfast in the morning was busy! My husband enjoyed the make-yourself waffles and I dined on a donut with coffee. They didn’t offer any Cheerios for my son, just a small selection of sugary cereals. Again, we came prepared and brought our own.

OVERALL: We’d gladly stay here again, hopefully for a better price, though. January is definitely a busy season in Ft. Lauderdale.

at Ruby TuesdaysWe checked in early and were pleasantly surprised to get a ground-floor room. We didn’t have to mess with elevators. The crib wasn’t in the room, so I double checked with the front desk and the attendant said she’d get it delivered in time for Xander’s nap. Since we were all hungry, we zipped down the road to Ruby Tuesdays for lunch and margaritas. After a filling meal, my parents dropped us off and said ‘See ya tomorrow.’ The pack n play crib was waiting in the room for Xander thank goodness. The rest of the day our little family of three hung out in the hotel room, took a couple walks, and watched TV. Nick and I were exhausted so we happily called it bedtime when Xander went to sleep at 9 pm. 

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