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All the ladies who signed up for the shopping trip to the Christmas Tree Shops & Altamonte Mall in Altamonte Springs were at the designated area of the Walmart parking lot bright and early. Some arrived as early as 8:10 a.m. But that was okay, it gave us more time to chat while waiting to board the bus. The bus driver opened the bus a little early and Kathy Warner started checking us in so we could board. We found a place to sit and settled in. It was a full bus, so late comers had to find a seat wherever they could.
Once everyone had checked in and boarded, we were welcomed by a representative of Yankee Trails who reminded us to check the Sunday paper for their upcoming trip schedules, and told us that if we book a cruise through them, we get free transportation to and from the port. We were also on one of their newest buses and he went over some of its features: seat belts, moveable seats, arm rests, window shades and drop down tables. Again, our driver was Jose, who's been our driver for several trips now.
Everyone was in high spirits and the noise level got pretty high as we chatted back and forth and across isles. Kathy had a hard time getting our attention once we were underway, telling us there would be drawings later on for $5 and $10 prizes to help with our shopping. That perked everyone's interest. A little later, Kathy had the first drawing. Sandy White was the first lucky winner. Barb Hartmann, Cori Purdom and Marilynn Philipp were the other lucky winners. Congratulations, ladies!
When we arrived at the Christmas Tree Shops, we were given 20% off coupons as we went inside. Our timing for the trip was good; this was the last day of their sale. A rendezvous time was set and Kathy gave us her cell phone number in case there was a problem in getting back onto the bus on time. Some of us scattered to the right, some to the left, while others went down the center to check out some of the store's more prominently displayed Christmas decorations and cards. Let the shopping begin!
Some of us clustered together for some of our shopping. Some explored the store on their own, periodically running in to each other as we shopped. A few checked out early so they'd have time to go to Ross, as well. It seemed like a good idea, but a little too late. Everyone started checking out at the same time, with long lines at each cash register. As we carried our purchases out, Jose was there so we could store them in the bus' luggage compartment. We filled it it pretty good.
Kathy made sure we were all on board, then we headed to the Altamonte Mall, which wasn't far. We were let out near the Sears store and told what time we had to be back on the bus. Some of us were hungry and were told where the food court was located since it was lunch time and some of us didn't had anything to eat. Some flocked to the mall kiosk to help plan their shopping. Others were anxious to hit Macy's or Dillard's. We were off again, scattering per our shopping preferences, periodically running into each other or stopping to rest.
Near departure time, we started gathering at the rest areas outside Sears, anxious to just get off our feet and meet up with friends and fellow shoppers, showing off some of our purchases. The bus was on time and we headed out to stow our purchases and find our seat. Kathy checked that everyone was back, then gave Jose the okay to leave.
We were leaving around rush hour, so it took awhile to get onto the highway. Then it was smooth cruising. The trip home was much more subdued than the trip out. Kathy passed out bags of candy to help perk us up. We arrived back in the Walmart parking lot about 5:15 p.m. and the sun was already starting fade.
Tired, but happy, we started gathering our purchases and headed for home. Thank you Kathy for a fun day of shopping. A good time was had by all.