Friday 3 October 2014

The Joy of Traveling

     I had quite a day yesterday, it was my day for catching my flights to get me back to British Columbia.  It didn't exactly live up to expectations.  The day started early, 6:00.  It was Thursday, so  I had to get up, have my mother fed, and ready to go for 7:30, when Joe, the adult daycare driver came by to pick her up.
     Once she was out of the door, I had lots of time to leisurely get my bag packed and prepare myself for my journey...lots of time, I didn't have to be at the airport until 2:30, and that had been a problem too.  None of my regular drivers were around.  My sister was out of town, so was my uncle, I tried a helpful neighbor, but she was leaving town, I thought of a high school friend who recently retired and left a message on his phone (I later learned he was vacationing in Greece), finally Greg, another high school friend generously offered to get me to the airport.
     That problem being solved, and my bags being packed, I waited and waited with nothing much to do until 2:30, when Grg came by to pick me up.  Once I got to the airport, I figured that my main problem was over--but I had many unforeseen ones about to appear.
     My flight to Dallas was supposed to depart at 3:55 PM, but it hadn't even arrived at the airport at that time, when it did, it was announced that it had encountered "multiple bird strikes" on its flight in, and would have to be checked by a mechanic, who had already gone home. Since my intinary had only given me an hour in Dallas to catch the plane to Vancouver, I knew I would lose all of my scheduled flights, but I was told that once I got to Dallas, the airline would work something out for me.
     At 6:30, the plane was deemed safe and we boarded, and sat, unmoving in the plane.  At 7:00, an announcement was made that because of severe storms in Dallas, the flight was being cancelled.  After the moaning died down, we de-boarded the plane and formed a great long line, all awaiting individual re-scheduling of our flights.  We were told we would have to spend the night in Evansville and the plane would leave Friday for Dallas.  We all wondered how easy that would be, since President Obama was scheduled to fly into the Evansville Airport on Friday, and that usually causes all kind of security problems.
     As I waited in line for my re-scheduling, I emailed my sister, telling her that I would have to spend the night in Evansville, and she wrote back that they were leaving to pick me up.  I was still in line when Tom, my brother-in-law arrived to get me and he said he would be waiting outside in his truck.  
     When It was my turn in front of the airline desk clerk, she quickly re-routed me to a plane that was waiting at the gate and leaving immediately for Chicago.  I rushed outside to tell Tom, and with my new tickets in my hand, sprinted to the awaiting plane, it was 8:00, I hadn't been able to eat and was hungry.
     Once seated inside the plane, the pilot made an announcement that because of severe storms in Chicago, we would have to delay taking off.  We sat there for 20 minutes, then finally I was in the air.  The flight was supposed to last a bit over an hour, but as we got close to Chicago, I could see lightening flashes in the distant night clouds and the pilot announced we were in a holding pattern because of weather related problems at the Chicago airport.  Then he announced that we were turning around to fly to Indianapolis to pick up more fuel.
     This we did, then took off for Chicago again, finally landing there at 11:30.  I was tired and hungry, all the food stalls were closed for the night.   Since I had to be back at 6:00 AM to catch a flight to Vancouver, I thought I would just spend the night at the airport.  I wasn't relishing the thought of trying to sleep curled up on an airport bench (all with individual arm rests, so you can't lay down.),  but I didn't really see any alternative.
    The big airport corridors were emptying out, and as I walked down one, I noticed that instead of the bright lighting it was fairly dark.  They must be saving power by dimming down late at night, I thought.  It was then that I saw all of the cots, some filled with people, covered with blankets trying to sleep.  I asked a janitor there what the deal was on the cots, and he said they were free for anyone to use, so I picked one out, dug a toque (sock-like hat) out of my bag, to keep my head warm and cover my eyes from the light,  threw the blanket over me, and actually got 4 hours of sleep.  It was a great thing.

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