Thursday, May 10, 2012

[Travel] [Disney] Day 1: Tampa to Anaheim

Mega trip began where so many of them do for me, the Delta lounge at Tampa International. I showed up at about 8:30 and was frantic to have the Arsenal match put on ESPN2 (that's soccer for those of you who don't know, although if you don't know you almost certainly don't care and probably want to skip ahead a few paragraphs like this is your own, personal choose-your-own-adventure). The man at the bar insisted that he had to watch Sportscenter but thankfully the gentleman watching Fox News elsewhere in the lounge was amenable to switching.

View from the TPA Delta Lounge

I doubt the lounge has heard such a racket as that which I made in the 8 o'clock hour on a Saturday but dammit, this was a huge match! Sadly the trip got off to an absolutely atrocious start as we drew with Norwich, possibly costing us a spot in the Champions League. I was so depressed that I couldn't even bring myself to steal five or six of the little fig cookie/bars they have in there. That's a new low for me.

Delta 1472
Tampa (TPA) - Atlanta (ATL)
Depart: 11:00 AM
Arrive: 12:30 PM
Duration: 1hr30min
Aircraft: 757-200
Seat: 27C (Coach)

How many times has this poor plane flown to Atlanta?

Soccer talk is over; it's safe to resume reading. The flight from Tampa to Atlanta was both short and uneventful. One of my friends has asked me to keep track of how many diet sodas I drink on this trip and, while I'll abstain from running a counter on the bloghead, for posterity I had a Fresca. Mmmm, Fresca.

This is a coach seat - try not to be too amazed!

Delta pleasantly surprised me by only having Biscoff cookies onboard for a snack. Usually the Biscoffs are the things they keep hidden in the galley and you can only get them if you ask really nicely and sacrifice your firstborn. I'm all out of firsrborns but damn did I enjoy that cookie. I was going to take a picture for all of you but that would have delayed consumption by up to 20 seconds and we can't have that, now can we?

I arrived in Atlanta with three hours to kill. That's just about my shortest layover on the entire trip. I had realized on the flight over that I'd forgotten a few odds and ends so I ran around the airport tracking all of them down as best I could.

For lunch I decided I wanted to eat healthy. I am determined to lose weight on this trip. Vacations are not usually the time for such things, and I have at least six or seven dining reservations that are going to do their best to foil my plans, but if nothing else this gets me out of my eating routines at home and I'd like to take advantage of that as best I can.

I ended up in the E terminal at Nature's Table. Behold this picture of Balsamic Chicken.
What the hell was I thinking? Seriously.
 The best thing I can say for it is that it didn't suck as much as I thought it was going to. I would not order it again. Eating Healthy: 1 Danny: 0.

With an hour-and-a-half left I headed off to the Delta Lounge in the C terminal. I've never been in this one before. It is tiny and was quite busy at 1:30 on a Saturday but I'd still choose this over any of the others I've yet visited in Atlanta. The decor is nice and the environment is extremely relaxing. Plus the views of the runways are excellent. The food and drink selection is otherwise standard Delta Lounge fair. I somehow managed to hold off from having any more diet sodas, much to everyone's disappointment I'm sure.
Very relaxing Terminal C Delta Lounge

You want planes? We got planes.
 As I arrived at the gate I discovered that the inbound flight from Key West was running a bit late and we'd all be sitting there for an extra thirty minutes. I made the best of it by getting some last minute charging done on my electronics.

Delta 1167
Atlanta (ATL) - John Wayne International/Orange County (SNA)
Depart: 3:20 PM
Arrive: 5:50 PM
Duration: 4hr55min
Aircraft: 737-700
Seat: 17C (Coach)

Boarding was relatively smooth considering everyone's general anxiety about running late. I managed to snag an aisle exit row seat and the middle seat remained vacant.

The flight went by quickly. I availed myself of one of the food options courtesy of Delta's food voucher. The variety pack, while not amazing, actually struck me as a good value even if one was paying the full $5.50 for it. I also had two Frescas. That's right, more Fresca. I spent the flight watching two NBA play-off games and a very exciting Kentucky Derby while also trying to get in some good 16-bit RPG time.

I love Delta for having satellite TV

All the exit row space I could ever want

Very neat box of snacks

Do I really need to caption this one?

All this for $5.50? Not half bad!
After landing in Anaheim I whistled for a cab and when it came near the license plate said "fresh", wait, that's not right at all. The license plate probably said "get ready to pay me too damn much because you're too lazy to wait for the Super Shuttle". I sucked it up and we were off.

I knew I was in Anaheim because, after a brief five minutes in the cab, I wanted to kill myself and everyone else in Southern California. Trips to Anaheim remind me of why I hate the number five. I hate the 405. I hate the 55 (not sure if it's called the 55 but I'm calling it that). You'd better believe I hate the @*$&ing 5 with the passion of a thousand undying suns. I don't hate the 215 but that's only because I've never been on it or I'd hate that too. Seriously, what the hell do Southern Californians do all day? Just drive around the highways thinking "haha, deal with that traffic, suckers"? Yeesh.

I've never stayed at the Anaheim Hilton before and I was excited by its proximity to the parks. Normally I rent a car and stay down the road at the Sheraton Garden Grove. It's a two-mile walk to the parks so a car becomes a necessity. I'm all for a two-mile walk in the morning but not at 5 PM after walking ten miles around Disneyland all day.

The kind woman at the check-in counter let me know that I'd been upgraded to a Disney view because of my HHonors status. Score! She also gave me two breakfast vouchers for every day because the standard room allotment is two per night. Seeing as how they can be used at the local Starbucks for a free breakfast item and a grande drink I expect difficulties ahead for the healthy eating plan.

The following is a rough approximation of what was going through my head as I left the elevators and headed for my room. "Wow, this hotel looks like it fell asleep in 1978 and just woke up. I wonder where my room is. Huh, my room is not even in the same hundred as the block I'm walking through. I knew I should have made a left at Albuquerque. Holy crap, is this room actually at the Sheraton in Garden Grove and they just didn't tell me? Oh, there it is. Hmm, bathroom is kinda small. Room looks nice, though. Is that the Disney view? That's a view of a parking lot. Oh wait, there are windows on this wall t....HOLY @*#& I'M NEVER LEAVING THIS HOTEL ROOM EVER AGAIN THIS IS THE GREATEST VIEW IN THE WORLD".

Yeah. I almost called my boss and quit on the spot but I couldn't think of anything I'd be qualified to do that would pay the bills and wouldn't require leaving the hotel room (insert your own joke here; lord knows I did). I know most people reading this will not even remotely understand my love of Disney theme parks, but there is no place else in the world that inspires instant happiness and peace in me the way a Disney park does. And from my hotel room I could see basically all of California Adventure and even a bit of Disneyland Park. I mean, Space Freaking Mountain was right outside my window. How cool is that? I did leave a voicemail for my brother telling him I was cancelling the rest of the trip and I was just going to stay here. When he checked the voicemail he accidentally called me back and so I could hear him say to someone (probably my sister-in-law) something to the effect of "what kind of dork is more excited about seeing Disney than going to Tokyo?" I'm okay with being that dork. :D

View from the entrance hallway of the room

That's a toilet. Yup. Sure is.

Ample room!

Greatest view of my life

The view was probably even better before the DCA expansion

View at night

I spent the rest of the night sitting in chair looking out at the park and reflecting on how much had happened in my life since the last time I was at Disneyland this time a year ago. I fought the urge to go to bed at 6 PM because I wanted to see the fireworks. I never quite know what to do with time changes because my body hates to adjust, but I've taken Ender Wiggin's advice that the enemy's gate is down or, translated to time zone changes, that I should basically force myself to act like the current time zone is the only time zone I've ever known (no that reference made no sense, but if I can work in an Orson Scott Card reference I'm going to do it!). We will see how that goes when the changes get a bit more extreme in a few weeks.

I am sad to report that I did not make it all the way until the oh-so-late 9:30 fireworks but fear not, they were loud enough that they woke me up instantly. Despite being half-asleep it was pretty amazing to see them from the hotel room. At that point I called it a day.

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