A holiday in America wasn’t on my bucket list.
Only because I don’t have a bucket list.
Always wanted one.
Never got around to it.
Most of my friends have bucket lists which include climbing Everest, meditating in Tibet, road trips along Route 66 in a roadster, swimming with dolphins, hot air ballooning across the Serengeti ………
I’ve been too busy catching crooks, you see.
Then, a golf tournament in Pinehurst, North Carolina came up for 14 year old K and the next thing I knew I was planning a mammoth American Adventure.
But before we take another step, here’s a quick summary of who’s who is the Govender/Moodley zoo:
FATHER: P “I’M SO CHILLED I MAKE ICE LOOK LIKE BOILING WATER” MOODLEY. Engineer. Very lucky husband. Daughter’s golf caddie. Son’s nemesis.
Goal: For everybody in his family to be happy.
Achilles heel: Snores (very loudly) and his beautiful wife.
MOTHER: DEVI SANKAREE “I’M NOT CHILLED” GOVENDER. Investigative television journalist. Indian mother. Dream wife. Fact.
Goal: Has far too many goals.
Achilles heel: Her sharp tongue, rolling eyes, yoga, cycling and an unnatural love of lists. The more the better.
DAUGHTER: K “TIGER” MOODLEY. 14. First year in high school. No 5 in Europe in her age group for golf. Top 15 in Women’s Golf SA Under 19, top 10 in Gauteng Junior Ladies Golf (currently). Golf mad. Seasoned local and international traveller. Very dry sense of humour.
Goal: Just wants to play golf.
Achilles heel: Too much golf on the brain.
SON: S “CHATTERBOX” MOODLEY. 11. Grade 5 but general knowledge outstrips even his mother’s. Asks far too many intelligent questions. Insists his mother is the most beautiful woman in the world.
Goal: Wants to meet Pokémon in Disney!
Achilles heel: Does not believe that silence is golden and is far too charming for his own good.
So, getting to Pinehurst for the US Kids World Champs was the goal. A quick look at a map of the US got me thinking. We might as well go to Disney World in Orlando, then drive to Charleston, a week in Southern Pines for the golf, then make our way to Washington and finally New York.
How many survivors?
It sounded amazing (in theory). So amazing that my numb brain didn’t quite comprehend the magnitude of it all. It was only when we knuckled down to the planning it became clear that perhaps we were taking on too much. But, what was the sense in going all the way to America and then not making the most of it?
Ya, ya, ya, ya ………
Figuring it all out took some time. I often felt as if I needed one of those big CSI boards where I could pin all the information and tie links to this and that ……..
Just the planning for the Orlando/Disney leg took some doing. There are four main theme parks. But there’s also Universal Studios and the Islands of Adventure (among the many others which include water parks) so, how many parks were we going to do in seven days? Which ticket option would be best? Was the Park Hopper ticket option going to be worth it?
Then there was Kennedy Space Centre. We had to go. It was only an hour away. And, our luck, there was going to be a rocket launch on the Wednesday. That would take the entire day. So, do we need Disney tickets for seven days then?
Accommodation in all five cities also had to be worked out. Where could we stay with easy access to everything we wanted to see, especially in Washington and New York?
It was all very overwhelming.
In total, it’s taken us about six solid weeks to plan as much as we could. We needed another week. My memory of Winter 2015 is P and I, huddled up in bed on weekends, gas heating on (load shedding) researching and writing notes until we couldn’t take it anymore.
And while we had turned this into an MBA, the rand was falling. Fast.
Other dramas were unfolding in the background. The unabridged birth certificate deserves its own blog filled with much phone slamming, the exchange of angry words, tears and finally victory after six months. Six months. But I did get to make many friends while standing in many queues at Randburg Home Affairs.
The US Visa was another pressure point.
S didn’t have one.
But, our luck, US embassies across the world were not issuing VISA’s for most of the month of June because there was a delay with their final security clearance protocols.
I frequently broke out into hysterical laughter.
The VISA arrived a week before we left. The unabridged birth certificate three weeks before D day.
But, I’m now at the point where I can’t wait to get on the plane, just so that the blerry planning would end.
I wonder if we overdid the planning? I’m hoping we did the right thing. That we didn’t take away too much of the spontaneity of such a special trip. (Still haven’t booked accommodation in Charleston and Washington! Eeek! Let’s use those as spontaneous moments?)
We’re almost packed. And, yes, I did end up going to Dischem nearly every single day for the last week (even with my lists other items always seemed to crop up). Yes, I think we have too much luggage. But the golf bag alone weights more than 23kg. My travel file also weighs a few kilos. P has that Indian father look on his face and keeps asking if I really need three pairs of shoes. The neighbours have been informed. They have their go-to lists of what to do in just about every possible emergency. Zoe, our 10-year-old Maltese is sorted. We just need to get on the plane now.
But, I have to go to Dischem one more time to get waterproof poncho’s cos a friend who is in New York now says that it rains in the afternoon. And then somebody told me I should get Airmune too, those effervescent tabs which keep other people’s germs on the plane at bay. And, I’m still wondering if we each need to pack another jacket? Just in case it gets a bit chilly?
Then I need to print out the weather in all five cities for the next 23 days, oh yes, and the voucher for the car with the car hire’s terms and conditions. Then, perhaps I should pack the vegetable steamer? We can’t live on fast food the entire time.
…… for somebody with an empty bucket list, I had far too many lists. All written in comic sans. Disney, here we come!
NEXT: HIGH IN THE SKY …… FOR 24 HOURS!