We finally had an uneventful travel to a destination, if you consider uneventful arriving at the right airport on time for agent ticketing, getting seated next to my 11-year-old instead of across the plane, and being given Group One boarding (which for stowing carry on luggage is absolutely essential). I noted as Chi struggled with an open bag of extra items that I might need to be more conscientious of her packing methods. This was made more clear as I observed her slightly stained jeans and her spare pair of too short jeans dangling out of her bag. And it was confirmed when the bag exploded inside the TSA scanner and blocked the conveyer belt’s rollers from spinning. I might have been a bit snappy about the whole thing, hurrying the poor girl along with orders she hardly had time to process before I spat the next. In true Chi fashion, though, she took it all in stride and didn’t bother to contain her bubbling excitement about the trip.
I learned quickly that sitting behind the bulk head is not ideal. There’s no space to stow the things too personal and important to put in an overhead compartment – one I can hardly reach without precariously leaning forward, stretching out my arms, and standing on a seat on tip toes. It is also not ideal to pack all of the diapers and wipes needed for a non-stop trip with a toddler in a bag not kept in close proximity. [oh my goodness, the smells that child can create!] Despite this inconvenient lack of storage, the good thing about this particular row of seats is that it offers ample leg room. Certainly, I don’t have need to stretch far, but I could let Ri toddle between Chi and I as she pulled out magazines to mumble-”read” before releasing them to the floor and then opened barf bags to moan and hum into. She also made frien-emies of the first class flight attendant as she insisted on playing peek-a-boo with the drawn curtain separating us coach flyers from the more important passengers.
Chi sat at the window, watching endless clouds appear and disappear, and searching for land as the plane climbed into the air and descended back to land. A smile cemented itself to her face. It grew bigger when the attendant gifted us headphones for watching the in-flight television. It didn’t waiver when she fought with Ri who tenaciously attacked the cords and yanked them out of the socket repeatedly so as to make enjoying the program impossible.
We arrived with little incident to Miami International, one of the largest airports I’ve ever had the displeasure of walking through to reach the exit. It took us nearly half an hour to reach the rental car shuttle to our off-site service (awesomely located two minutes from our hotel). Outside, the temperatures overpowered our winter-weary bodies. Heat – glorious heat – at last! And… humidity, I noted with dismay as my flat ironed hair drew in tight to my scalp.
Once in our rental – a lovely Volkswagen with ultra powerful breaks that rocked us to stillness with the lightest of taps – we ventured to the hotel, checked in early, and perused the brochures from the lobby for adventure.
After reading several awful reviews of disgruntled travelers, we decided against two local marine and land animal attractions. I just couldn’t justify paying out money for places where past visitors reported ill-treated living creatures haphazardly placed about the parks for us to gawk at. I’m no PETA fanatic, but I don’t want to contribute to abuse by pretending I accept mediocre owners mishandling their charges for a quick payload. Remember that circus with the dog relentlessly biting the pony it was placed on?
I gave Chi ultimate choice, and she picked for us to go to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.