Ashley Fiolek
This winter has been a challenge for everyone to keep warm and dry. It’s been such crazy weather lately for everyone in the US, and me and my good friend, Brittany, decided to break away from the cold and rain—yep even in Cali it has not lived up to its normal warm standards.

I hadn’t seen my family since Christmas, and decided to fly out to Florida and surprise them. It had to be Top Secret! My mom and I had been talking about them coming out to California, but with my brother’s school schedule it was hard for them to get away, so my mom and dad were thinking of buying me a ticket to go to Florida and hang out with them. They were trying to find a good time and I was checking into dog sitters, etc. I had other, future plans to travel there for some special riding and training—and will keep you posted on that—but those plans were still a ways away.

Brittany and I started talking and it turned out that she wanted a break, too, so we decided to plan the big trip. We started to look for plane tickets and rental cars. I was trying to ask my mom our family’s schedule without making her feel like, “Hey, why is she asking all these questions?”

We got a pretty good price for tickets, but unfortunately they were red eyes to Orlando, and from there we needed to drive up to Saint Augustine, an hour and a half up the coast. The good part about being on a red eye, though, was that I knew my parents would be asleep, and wouldn’t text me and then wonder why it was taking me so long to answer.

As insurance, the night before we left I told my mom that I was going snowboarding in the morning, because she knows I always wake up early to leave for Big Bear. Everything seemed to be going smoothly as we left California, heading towards North Carolina for a brief layover. I figured when we landed I could text Mom and Dad, but when we got there, and saw snow on the ground, and more coming from the sky, we were worried that we were going to get stuck in the airport for our “surprise” weekend.

We waited and watched the departure board and luckily our flight was still scheduled for take off. When I texted my mom, I told her I was up and getting ready to go to Big Bear and would text her again when Brittany started to drive.

On the way up from Orlando, I kept texting my mom asking, “So what are your plan’s for today? You guy’s doing anything special?” She texted back “no” and that it was freezing in Florida; she kept telling me how lucky I was to be in Cali, never suspecting that I was on my way!

I was joking around with my mom and asked if she wanted any hot chocolate because she was so cold. She told me “Oh yes, please bring me a hot chocolate!” I told her “Sure thing, I’ll be right there!” She told me I was a dork, which she always does, and she LOL’d.

Brittany and I ran through the Dunkin Donuts’ drive thru and got my mom a hot chocolate, parked so that she wouldn’t see the rental car, and then approached the house as quietly as we could. We creeped up to the house, knocked and when she opened the door, I said: “Here’s your hot chocolate!”

My mom was so shocked! She didn’t even know what to say,

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she told me her brain couldn’t even process that we were standing in front of her, so she just stood there for a minute, not saying anything. It was priceless! We shocked my brother also. My mom picked him up from school, took him to get a bite to eat, and we just walked up to him and said “Hey!” He kept looking at me and then at Brittany and back at me, like what’s going on here? Then we raced back home to surprise my dad.

It’s so much fun when you can seriously surprise someone. I got to watch my brother play basketball and football, we threw a big Super Bowl party and the whole thing turned out to be a great trip.

I can’t wait until I can sneak up on them again!

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Ashley Fiolek

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