Road Trip to Wilmington - part 2
But often vacations can transform your horizons in one glorious sweep of the hotel curtains to reveal a beautiful vista and a breathtaking blue day.
Unfortunately, it didn't take me long to realize the curtains were already open. And I couldn't see much light. I went over to the window to view sheets of freezing rain coating the parking lot.
I didn't have too much time to enjoy the view. Jackson was already bouncing up and down in his crib and screaming like the Energizer Bunny and Zara was already into the second episode of Wizards of Waverley Place. I often ask myself how I can manage to A - hate a show but, at the same time B - know nearly all of the words due to repetitive exposure.
At least there was breakfast to look forward to.
Half an hour later I was playing the game in which you have to hold Jack Jax down in a wooden chair while he at the same time giggles and tries to ensure you don't hold him down. There's some equasion here from high school physics about balancing forces.
What they don't tell you at the end of the experiment is; the Jax will always prevail as long as hotel breakfasts are unadulterated grease fests.
Going on holiday with kids as a single care giver makes you into one of those people you really don't want to be, the type you see with kids the world over, a constantly worried Anal Andy.
"Watch him," I snapped tersely at Zara as I went to the buffet counter to barge some sedentary grazers who were cooing at the waffles, out of the way with my elbows.
"I want THAT egg," I heard a small voice beside me, say, rather too close for comfort.
"Zara," I almost screamed as Anal Andy kicked me in the ribs. "You are supposed to be watching...."
A crash followed as Jackson turned a bowl full of milk and fruit loops over on the table and started giggling.
After the breakfast ordeal it wasn't even 10 a.m. and I was desperately seeking something to do in Wilmington.
We drove through the old town, under trees hanging with Spanish moss. There are appealing looking pubs and cafes. It would probably have been quite nice if it wasn't pouring with rain.
Suddenly I drove past the Cape Fear Museum. A cunning plan formed. It was indoors, it had a parking lot and Zara had professed an interest in museums. In short it was an ideal place for the kids on a rainy day.
The staff appeared friendly. They smiled sympathetically.
"Ah, visiting a museum with the kids on a rainy day, are we," said the woman at the reception desk.
"We are indeed," I confirmed as evidenced by the fact I was buying a ticket.
The woman gave Zara a museum sticker and she became excited in the way kids do about stickers. (wait until she gets her first parking ticket) The woman gave Jackson an odd look, probably because the only stroller I could find in the back of the car for him was Zara's old pink Princess stroller.
And we were off to Exhibit Number One, the dinosaur bones of a fearsome looking giant sloth with a latin name of slothus-mother-in-lawus, or something of that ilk.
The museum proved to be fairly kid friendly; not at all like those staid air conditioned museums in communist countries that are themselves like relics.
"Here's the broom used by Fidel Casto in the revolution and that's the only exhibeet in the museum. isn't it gret..."
That kind of thing.
I was somewhat confused by the Michael Jordan science gallery but it appears he's from Wilmington. There's a nice kid scaring exhibit in which you open dust bin lids to find an angry looking rat/possum/raccoon staring at you.
The Cape Fear Museum ate up a good two hours. We headed into the old town for lunch. Resolved never to do the Golden Corral thing again, I found a light airy, artistic looking place called Caffe Phoenix. The servers were friendly to Jack Jax and a mere 10 minutes after our arrival there was no problem with him intimidating neighboring diners because the place seemed to have suddenly cleared.
It's a strange sight seeing a man in a suit trying to eat tortellini while sprinting down the main street in the rain.
The rest of the day was spent slumped in the hotel room after a large glass of red wine, trying to read a book, while deciding if Wizards of Waverly Place is more annoying than The Suite Life on Deck.
But it wasn't all bad. By Saturday the sun had come out and we walked on Carolina Beach as well as checking out the ramparts of Fort Fisher, the scene of a savage Civil War battle not to mention the awarding of more stickers.
Zara had taken the battle reenactment too seriously. "Where's the bloody bodies?" she asked loudly, within earshot of the elderly sticker provider.
Only the floral belt continued to haunt me.
Zara was insistent we returned to the McDonalds at Emporia to get it. But only I was privy to the damning piece of information that we were going to return by a different route. Should I fake a visit to a different McDonalds that I could pass off as the one we visited on Thursday, so as I could ask about the belt?
Then at Fort Fisher I suddenly found it under the driver's seat.
All was well under southern skies.