Traveling Part I–Aruba Vacation (Day I)

We are off!! Today is the first official day of our vacation to Aruba!!! Friday was the longest work day EVER and honestly I don’t think I got any work done since I have been on ‘island time’ for about three days now LOL. Sam weathered the vacation fever fairly well but I tell you what on the last day of work (we work together by the way for those of you who don’t know) Sammy was on the testy side….both of us were ready for some much needed Vitamin D and relaxation.

Typically we stay up at the airport in a hotel when we travel since it’s an hour and a half drive from our town to the airport but since the flight left at like 8:30 we decided to just drive up and save ourselves the money (which by the way it ended up costing us $70 to leave our car in long term parking….ARG!!). At any rate, it was more convenient to just drive ourselves to the airport I suppose.

Once at the airport, ironically I did feel like I was at work again since we saw lots of people we work with all doing the same thing we were…..getting the heck out of Dodge!!! We knew lots of people who were escaping the winter rain in Oregon to get some sun in Hawaii, Miami, and Mexico…..looks like we weren’t the only ones with this brilliant idea!!

Sammy and I at PDX airport

We arrived at the airport ready for a long day (or two….) of travel. Aruba is located in the Caribbean just off the hurricane belt. It is about 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela and is about 30 miles long. It is 12 degrees north of the equator so the temps don’t fluctuate too much. It’s about 85-90 degrees year round with a cool trade wind that blows CONSTANTLY. Lots of people have asked us why Aruba? How did you come to that decision? Well, honestly we didn’t want to go anywhere that was overly touristy and we wanted to go somewhere where not a lot of people know about or have been to. Most people don’t know where Aruba is or know much about it except for the whole Natalie Holloway disappearance a couple of years ago. So we pretty much chose it at random because it sounded cool and exotic LOL.

You cannot fly direct from Portland (PDX) to Aruba. And it’s not like you fly some logical way like PDX to Miami. We flew PDX to Phoenix (PHX), PHX to Philadelphia, and then Philadelphia to Aruba…..not the shortest flight ever and not the most logical either. But it was the cheapest…..

We didn’t sit next to each other on the flight from PDX to PHX but both had a window seat and I got a seat with extra leg room since it was the first row behind first class. However, I got to sit next the a complete domestic situation. This husband and wife were flying with their three little kids (ages 10, 8, and 6) who were all going to Cabo. Let me just say, the husband and wife argued like the whole way and the children were little daemons!! They were throwing their crackers all over the floor and stomping on them, grinding them into the plane ‘carpet’……ripping all the pages out of the complimentary magazines…..coloring on the walls of the plane…..and wining about EVERYTHING—‘mommy I’m tired’, ‘mommy I need to use the bathroom’, ‘daddy I don’t want to sit here’, ‘daddy I want food’. All the while mom and dad are fighting and then yelling at the kids to be quiet and quite bothering them. I feel fairly certain that when I have children I will be a better parent than them.

At any rate, we had a two hour layover in PHX so Sam’s family were able to come and visit us or lunch while we waited for our flight which was fun. It was nice to have a short visit with family and chat before we continued on our way, it made the flight not seem so long and helped us mentally scape the airport even if we didn’t actually leave the airport LOL.

After our lunch Sam and I went to wait by our gate and got to go through one of those body scanner, body x-ray machines. It was pretty cool….I didn’t feel like it was intrusive at all but then again who knows some guy was probably sitting in a little dark room peepin’ on the body scanner but hey….out of sight out of mind right??? They did have to pad down my hair…apparently the thick, curly, afro like locks don’t x-ray well LOL.

Sunset in Aruba the first night

Anyway, after clearing security, we decided to engage in our fav ‘spectator sport’…..people watching! There were a TON of people going on a variety of Mexican or ‘island’ vacations for spring break (Cabo, Mazatlan, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic to name a few). So as we are sitting in the airport people watching, and we hear some workers talking about some guys bling bling-ing grill with diamonds in them. So Sammy and I start making our sarcastic and very politically incorrect commentary about the workers and whoever this guy with the bling bling grill is.

So about ten minutes go by and we have seen a ton of interesting people who we again have been making snarky comments about when I look up and I see this African American guy with dredlocks and sunglasses and I’m like, ‘look Sammy it’s Lil John (the rapper)…..YYYEEEAAAAHHHHHH’. So he looks and he’s like no really that is Lil John. I’m like no way (he’s in line at Quiznos in the PHX airport) where’s his entourage then? We look around and sure enough there are three other big black guys all wearing ‘Atlanta’ hats (which is where Lil John is from). I’m like, ‘really Sammy why is this multi millionaire standing in line at Quiznos?? Doesn’t he have someone to do that for him’???

Apparently not, so we walk casually by Quiznos and sure enough it IS Lil John….with the bling bling-ing grill (complete with diamonds as the workers said) LOL!!! We of course snapped a pic though we only had our iPhones so the pic didn’t come out too good but still it was pretty funny. It was kind of cool to see someone famous just chill-axing in the airport, getting his own food, and hanging with his boys, who were probably his security but they weren’t escorting him like he was the president or something. So it was nice to see a rapper mixing with the general population as it were. Anyway so after we laughed about that we hopped on the plane for Philly to begin the second leg of our journey.

By now we have been in the air since 8:30 am Sat morning, we landed in Philly at 10:00 Sat night. Not gonna lie….I did have flashbacks to my summer trip to Paris and London (I linked to one of my past blog posts here, check out my other travel posts for more adventures from the summer vacation) with my mom…..Philly airport was when everything started to go all ‘pear shaped’ for us….so needless to say Philly airport freaks me out now LOL :). Our flight to Aruba didn’t leave until Sun at 8:00 so we decided to stay the night in Philly. We didn’t quite plan that though…..we knew we had the over night layover but I am not sure WHY we didn’t get a room in advance.

So we landed and had to try and find a room that was NOT booked for the night. An hour and $170.00 later we had a room at the Residence Courtyard Inn by the airport. They come and pick you up at the gate every half hour on the hour and on the half hour. So it was five till 11 when we got the hotel figured out so we thought for sure we could make the 11 pick up for the hotel……ya we were there waiting but they didn’t come and get us till 11:20????? Apparently the hotel lady was mistaken!! We had to wait outside in the freezing night air with wind (it was like 34 degrees outside) with only a sweatshirt to shield us… was SO COLD!!

Sunset in Aruba end of day one

We made it to our hotel room and crashed. This was the smartest thing we did though…..even though it was an unexpected cost it was worth every penny!! Since there is a time change in Aruba (they are on EST now which is only three hours but usually they are four hours later than PST) we were able to sleep in a bed even if it was only for a couple of hours before arriving in Aruba which meant we were rested and not jet lagged. So far our trip is shaping up to be more or less a success with Day I now coming to a close. However, multiple flights and long lay overs SUCK, a word to the wise…..only book flights that have two stops, anything more than that is RIDICULOUS!!  Until tomorrow Dear Reader….check back for our Day II adventures!!!


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