We flew out Saturday afternoon and arrived in Orlando in the evening. We settled into the hotel and went to bed. We stayed about an hour away from Daytona and things opened at the track at 7 AM, so we needed to get some sleep because it was going to be an early morning and a BIG day! My alarm went off at 5 am and I actually got up! Remember I am not a morning person! We were out the door a little after six. The traffic was perfect. We drove straight to the parking lot - with free parking and free shuttle - with no problems at all. We got on right away for the shuttle bus and headed for the track. We had SPRINT Fanzone passes, so we decided to head there first. We went by all the garages. Anthony was mesmerized by all the cars. We were able to walk thru part of pit road -where a man handed Anthony a lug nut - he was stoked! Then we walked across the grass to the start/finish line where we made our mark! We both signed our names on the checkered finish and along the yellow line on the bottom of the track! It's ok - we were allowed to do this! Then we made our way back through the grass to watch the Zac Brown Band warm up! While we were in the SPRINT Fanzone we saw Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya and Matt Kenseth! That was pretty cool. Then we headed towards the midway. We saw Kasey Kahne and the Speed Channel crew! We did a little shopping - Anthony picked out stuff for his brothers as well as himself! Then we grabbed a bite to eat and decided to head to our seats. It was close to opening ceremony time - they started calling people across the stage (not drivers, but all the other famous people at the race - Duck Dynasty!) They had several openings along the fence where you could walk down the stairs and onto the track - since we had the bands for the SPRINT Fanzone - we could do this. So we moved from our seats and down to the track during driver introductions. Let me tell you - there were THOUSANDS of people down there - it was CRAZY!!! They started lining up the trucks for the drivers to ride in after introductions - we were probably at most five feet away from these trucks. I've been to two other NASCAR races and they have always driven the trucks to the driver to get in and then drive around the track. Well, not here! After the introductions the drivers started walking towards their pickup of choice. We were right next to Carl Edwards, Dale Jr., Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, and Kyle Bush!!! It was the most exciting part of the whole day. I think I was mesmerized just as much as Anthony was. After that we headed back up to our seats for the race. We enjoyed the race. I tell you what, I think I need to be on Jimmie Johnson's payroll. EVERY race I've been to - he has won!! I must be his good luck charm! We hung around a little bit after the race and then we made our way back to the line for the shuttle bus. This was worse than when we arrived. Anthony seems to think we waited in line two hours just to get on the bus (not sure if he was right, pretty close anyway)! And then once we got back to the car - we waited some more to get out of the parking lot. I am pretty sure it was close to 9pm before we got back to the hotel. It was a fun day!! One I'll never forget! As Jon would say, "we were making memories!"
Since most NASCAR races will race on Monday if the race was rained out on Sunday, we didn't fly out until Tuesday. So Monday we slept in!!! Then we drove to Cocoa Beach. On the way there we drove by where the cruise ships dock. We saw two big ships there - which was pretty cool! I took Anthony to see the ocean. He had a lot of fun. He was bucking waves and played in the sand. He really enjoyed his time there - as did I. Then we grabbed some lunch and drove down to Melbourne (sp?) to Andretti Thrill Park. We were almost the only ones there. We rode three different go-karts, mini-putted, laser tagged, mini bowled and played in the arcade! We had a fun time there as well. We drove back to the hotel, Anthony swam in the pool, then we grabbed supper and it was off to bed.
Tuesday we packed up, ate breakfast and headed off to the airport. It was a windy day with a chance of storms - so I knew it would be a rough flight - and it was. Anthony did great. It's a good thing that kid has a one track mind - he was too busy playing his I-pod he hardly even noticed the turbulence! Our connecting flight was in Washington DC. We landed to a rainy DC. I looked on the board to see if our flight was time - I had gotten word that school was letting out early, so I wasn't sure if we were going to make it home or not. Well there was no flight to Des Moines on the board, so I went to a ticket counter to ask about our flight, when she informed me that they don't fly to Des Moines - this was when the slight panic attack happened! My response was, WHAT? She informed me that I needed to go to a different terminal and I would find it. So, we took the shuttle over there and it still wasn't on the board - so I called my travel agent. She informed me that there was still a flight out it was now delayed about twenty minutes. WHEW!! We grabbed a bite to eat and waited. Then our flight got delayed even more (a total of 55 min more). Then they switched us to a different gate and we were back on our regular scheduled time. YAY!!! Once again, we had a bumpy flight with the bad weather. However, we arrived in Des Moines 30 minutes ahead of schedule! I was so thankful to be home and on land! We rode the shuttle to our car - which was completely buried in snow and guess where my scraper was - in the trunk - which was frozen shut!! So I called the number on my parking ticket to have someone come help me - which someone graciously helped brush off all the snow and scooped the snow so I could get out. We were finally headed for home at 10:30pm. We finally got home at 12:50am. We brought in our bags and went straight to bed. We were exhausted.
Even though I was disappointed my in-laws couldn't go on this trip - I had a great time with Anthony. It was nice to spend some one on one with him - I don't get that opportunity very often. He really is a great kid!! Now the other two are asking when they can go to Daytona! Someday I tell them, someday! It really would be fun to do something special like this with all the boys (individually) at some point. You really learn alot about your kid spending that time together! It doesn't need to be that far away or that kind of a trip - but just the special one on one is important. I know I really enjoyed our time together and I think I can say the same for Anthony!! I'll share a few pictures of our time together. I took over 100 on race day, so I won't be sharing them all!
Anthony signing his name on the start/finish line!
In our seats ready for the race to start!
Kurt Busch (Anthony's favorite racer)
Carl Edwards (my favorite racer)
At Cocoa Beach!
On the beach (Anthony '13)!
Go-karting at Andretti's Thrill Park