A few days have past now since we rang in the New Year and many have given us their year in review. With that said, I thought it may now be time for me to share my summation of this past year. So without further delay let’s look at:
2009 - The Year that Was.
This year began with me thinking that I would spend more time at home, enjoying perhaps a few “Backroads Tennessee” type of trips. I know that I honestly planned for there to be just one trip to Walt Disney World. I had, after all, the privilege of going to the parks on three different occasions in 2008. The only other time I accomplished that feat, three visits in one year, was 1994.
Let me just stop here to point out that I love to travel. Yes, I have had a sense of wanderlust since 1975 following my first visit to Paris and London. And I have been blessed to have lived in Europe and to travel quite a bit. So, I was relatively content to stay at home. But now, looking back at this past year, I am surprised that I travelled as much I did.
Chalk it up to the recession. Economy collapses, airfare and hotel rates drop, and Doc hits the road. First stop Las Vegas, Nevada.
Way back in 2008 my daughter called me from Vegas, with a tear in her eye, and said, “Dad, we have got to come here and you have got to see Cirque du Soleil ‘Love’.” So we did. For my birthday we flew to Las Vegas with tickets to experience ‘Love’ on a Monday night. Please note, you don’t go see ‘Love’, you experience ‘Love’. In my opinion that is. But, on the Saturday morning before we were to fly out, our trip plan took an unexpected turn when we discovered that a few additional tickets were released to see Paul McCartney at the Hard Rock on Sunday. With that quick trip, the year would have been great if I had done nothing else; see a Beatle and a Cirque show in less than 24 hours.But, the year didn’t end there. Now understand, going to Alaska was Mrs. Doc’s idea. She has wanted to go to Alaska for as long as I can remember, and having a few friends who have been up north a couple times, and sharing how great it was, was not helping any argument I could come up with as to why we shouldn’t go. Now I am I glad I couldn’t come up with even a bad argument.
Alaska. I can say two things about Alaska. The first is Wow! The second is that I would seriously consider living there if it wasn’t for the fact that it is 4,206.3 miles from Juneau to Lake Buena Vista and would take roughly 76 hours to drive. That is 76 hours; non-stop. It would make it very difficult to get to Walt Disney World on even a fairly regular basis. Still, it is a phenomenal place and I hope I have the opportunity to go back again; two or three times in fact. I feel about Alaska as I do about Zimbabwe. The first time I got out of the city and into the bush in Zimbabwe, I was in the place that I imagined Africa to be. Alaska is the place that I imagine true wilderness to be.
So, as I mentioned at the outset, I had only planned for one trip to Walt Disney World during the past year. But as it turned out 2009 afforded me three trips to my Laughing Place. The first was what I now call the “Papa’s Dream Come True” trip. I have already written about how walking down Main Street U.S.A. was a dream of mine ever since the birth of my first grandchild on June 5, 2000. Labor Weekend of the year saw that dream come true.
Before making the planned October trip another event took place that has quickly become one of the most memorable moments for me in recent years. That is, memorable amongst a long list of memorable moments. This time it was the honor and privilege of walking my daughter down the “aisle” for her wedding. Aisle is in parenthesis since it wasn’t so much an aisle as it was a lush walkway in one of the garden atriums at the Gaylord Opryland. And though the whole affair was one to be remembered, it was those private moments before, and the actual walk that will live forever inside of me. It was a dad walking with his little in the garden; we were laughing and playing as we strolled to her husband-to-be. If I could go back in time, if just for a moment, this would be a time I would revisit over and over. I wanted our walk to last just little longer.
The second trip to Walt Disney World was in October; the trip I had planned as a solo trip for photography and hanging out with friends. But, this plan quickly changed when my oldest grandson asked to come along. His parents said yes, and Devon and I had a great week together. I love being a grandfather! When there are five grandchildren in the family it is hard to spend a great deal with any one child for any length of time. Although I try very hard to do so. But having him along on this journey was a real treat. I got to share some of the reasons why I love Disney with one of my favorite people, and in the course of doing so, and I learned how to do some things I might ordinarily not do. Devon was taking me places and we were doing things that I had not done in what seems like forever. He taught me some things that week and that is a wonderful thing.
The third trip was the weekend prior to Christmas. I attended the Candlelight Processional in 2008 and left saying that “Mrs. Doc has got to see this!” She did, on December 21st to be precise, with one of her favorite actors, Brian Dennehy, narrating. Another thing that I enjoyed about the trip is the crowds. Okay, I don’t really enjoy the crowds, but because of the crowds doing a lot of things became problematic. I mean, a twenty minute queue for the FastPass return Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, or a five minute queue before taking the speed ramp up to the TTA, is busy. So, put simply, I was blessed with the opportunity to stroll through the places that I love with the love of my life. Not a bad way to spend a few days.
Looking forward, I don’t know how many trips I’ll manage in 2010. I know that I need to take my granddaughter, Shelby, for her solo trip with Papa. I foresee a lot of encounters with Princesses during that time. I wonder how much a trip to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique will set me back? I also have friends from the UK coming over to visit the World and would like very much to spend a few days with them. Then too, there is a hope to see a friend that I have somehow missed going to the parks with this year; on some occasions literally within weeks of each other. The road trip west on Route 66 will need to wait until 2011 and Mrs. Doc and I are needing desparately to get back to London and Paris. That too may need to wait.
This year may be more of staying around the house; taking some inspiration from Benjamin Franklin Gates and discovering some of the treasures we have in our own back yard. Perhaps it is time to take my copy of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles off the shelf and get busy.