Friday, January 11, 2008

Hawaii - My Journey Home - Long Read

When family and friends are keeping your children so you can go on a trip, you have to be very careful how long that trip is.

Donald has to be in HI until the 11th. I wanted to avoid conflicts with other kids going back to school, so it was best that I go for the first half of his trip…and not ask someone to keep our kids for 14 days.

I had it set in my mind that I could get home on the 4th. My aunt and cousin would be staying with the kids for three nights and my friend Debbie would have them for two nights. Seemed to all work out perfectly.

In order to get home on the 4th, I had to leave Honolulu the night of the 3rd. Per my plane ticket, I thought I was flying straight to Minneapolis and then home. When I got to the airport, I found out that I’d be stopping in San Francisco. Oh, alright, if I must.

The flight was fine, although, since I’m not a seasoned traveler, I can not sleep on a plane. I think all mommies sleep with their ears ‘open’…if I doze off, it’s not for long. I watched the movie, listened to my ipod and maybe dozed off a couple times.

I made it to San Fran just fine. It was 5:45am. It was raining.

I saw that a flight was leaving out at 6:30am for Minneapolis. Mine wasn’t leaving until 8:30am…I thought about trying to get on the earlier flight, but didn’t.

The rain turned into a serious storm with major wind gusts. They said the winds were blowing at 70mph. We boarded our rocking plane, then de-boarded, and then told to wait.

I cried. I was tired. I wanted to go home. I did not want to wait!

They halted all flights out of San Francisco. For seven hours.

That 6:30 flight I had thought about getting on…it was boarded, and then it sat on the tarmac for four hours. Lord, thank you for not letting me get on that plane.

I sat in the terminal for what seemed like forever. I did a little reading, a sudoku puzzle and I tried to hold my head up while attempting a crossword puzzle. I dozed off a few times, but again, I couldn’t get quality sleep in an airport terminal.

Finally, a break in the storm. We would be allowed to board the plane and leave. It was 1pm…and there were 27 planes waiting to take off. We must’ve been number 27.

It was obvious that I wouldn’t be making my 3pm connection in Minneapolis. This is where my worry began. My daughter was expecting me home, that day. Debbie and her family were expecting to be relieved of my children, that day.

I made calls to Donald so he could find out if I would be able to get home once I got to Minneapolis. He was pretty sure I could make it home, with some re-routing.

When I got to Minneapolis, it was 7:30pm. I was told on the plane to go to the customer service desk at a certain gate to find out about my connection. So I went. And I found out that I couldn’t leave for home until 6:45am the next morning.

I cried. I knew my daughter would not be a happy camper. I was most worried about her and her reaction.

And as I walked around crying, I thought about all the people there people-watching. Wonder what they thought my story was?

I went to baggage claim to retrieve my luggage. I called Debbie while I was there. She said she had already been giving Ella the impression that plans may be changing. She said that she seemed fine. And then, I realized that my luggage wasn’t there.

More tears. I was stuck without my luggage. I had been up for nearly 36 hours straight. I was not in good shape.

I went to a service desk where I was told that they keep your luggage when they know you’re connecting…I could get it, but it would take an hour. Did I look like I wanted to sit in that busy airport with staring strangers for even one more minute?

I was given an overnight bag which included a few necessities (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, razor) and a t-shirt.

I took a shuttle to a hotel and got a room. I got online to check-in for my flight and found out that they had given me a first-class seat. Wow, something good.

I had a nice shower and six hours of dead-to-the-world sleep.

I got up at 4:30am to return to the airport for my early flight out.

I was in the longest security line I’ve ever seen. I was just about to flag someone down and flash my first-class ticket to see if something could be done to hurry me along, when a lady came by and said that she could take a group of us to an empty security check-in…I was on her hip. I was first in line when I had been thinking that I may miss my flight. Praise God.

I got checked in and even had time to spend my ‘Sorry for the Inconvenience’ voucher I had been given by NWA. Wow, something else good. I had a delicious cinnamon roll, a smoothie, a coke, and with the $1.14 I had left on the voucher, I picked up two chocolate, ‘sorry I’m late getting home’ coins for the kids.

I went to my gate where I met a woman who was in a very similar situation to mine. She chose not to get a room and stayed at the airport all night. Yes, the room had to come out of my pocket, but it was worth it. I would have been worthless when I got home if I hadn’t slept.

I was waiting for my flight to board when holy cow; someone flung them self into the seat beside me. The kind of thing only someone who knows you would do. But I’m in Minneapolis. When I looked up, I was shocked to see a lady who works with my husband! I was so happy to see her. I know that God sent her. You see, she’s a hugger. I was so in need of a hug. Praise God!

My little first-class flight took off without a hitch. I made it safely…and so did my luggage!!

I got myself to the truck and the first thing I did was get my own deodorant out and slap on some makeup. Whew…a little less rough looking.

I got my babies!! Ella grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. From Evan, I got a ‘hey mom, we’re watching Mickey Mouse!’

We had a quiet afternoon with naps and pizza.

It felt good to be home.

I don’t plan to fly again for a long time.

Donald is flying out of Honolulu tonight through L.A. If you think about it, say a prayer for him before you turn in tonight. I don’t have much confidence that he’ll make it home at his scheduled time…but I’ll be praying.

Do you have a horrible traveling story??? Feel free to share…..

P.S. The toothbrush I was given from the airport...worthless! The bristles fell out while I was brushing!!


Kellan said...

I'd have cried too - A LOT!! That sounds simply horrible and stressful! I'm glad you finally made it home. I don't fly much - thank goodness, as I don't like to fly. Take care and have a good weekend. Kellan

annabelleamelia said...

Yes, we just went to Mexico and apparently the same time we checked in at the Mem Airport a Chris Childs was checking in right next to us, so our lugguage went with him to LAX airport instead of Mexico. Yes, it was hard being at the Mexico airport explaining what our bag looked like and trying to understand when they could get it to us which was 1 1/2 later. So then I had to shop for some maternity clothes in Mexico, fun!
Amy Childers

The Boyd Family said...

I'm glad you finally made it home - I'm sure the kiddo's were so happy to see you!!

Other than the airport drama, it looks like you had a great time - both entertaining and educational!
Thanks for sharing all of your exciting adventures as well as all those beautiful photo's.