Friday, December 24, 2004

The Incredible Journey

We are now in Washington. My brother now has a wireless network, so I can blog while sitting by the fire, which is good because it's the only warm place in the house. Sometime they should stop upgrading the electronics around here and install some old-fashioned central heating.

Our initial journey plan was relatively simple. However, when complicated by the Great Storm of the Year, it eventually assumed epic proportions, like Kon-tiki, or Shackleton's Antarctic expedition. Maybe ours didn't last as long, but they didn't have a baby along.

It really started the afternoon before, with Ronald trying to come home early, but with his windshield freezing over so that he couldn't see except hunched at odd angles, with the heater up full blast in an attempt to help the windshield thaw. By the time he made it home, he just oozed out of the car on the garage floor and I had to sweep him up and feed him cheese sandwiches until he was able to face the world again. Then we went out to the chiropractor, probably useless considering the driving conditions, and picked up two siblings to take over the housecleaning for me.

Once we got home we ran around frantically finishing packing and eating, because we had decided to drive up to Columbus that night. The roads were exceedingly bad with several inches of snow, it was sleeting, and once again the windshield was freezing over. When we first got on the freeway, we could not see more than vague shapes out of the window, so we both made our best guess as to where the ruts were. After about ten minutes of driving blind with truckers trying to squash us, the ice finally cleared enough for small patches of visibility. The trip took about twice as long as usual and about ten times as much energy. We finally arrived in Columbus about eleven and spent the night at a friend's condo. Abbey, meanwhile, was having a great time. A car ride and getting to sleep in Mama and Papa's bed!

We left for the airport with ample time, contrary to our reputation, and arrived just after they had restored power, but before the computers were quite functional. After we finally got our boarding passes, we made our way to the Northwest gates, where we discovered there was one agent to do everything--rebook passengers, unload planes, and load them up again. And all the flights were delayed or canceled.

DOB called around and found us an alternate set of flights, through Detroit instead of Memphis, that should get us in only a few hours late--while people around us were calling and finding nothing until the following evening. So we set up camp near a plug for the laptop and awaited the later flight. Around us the airport began to assume the semi-settled look of a refugee camp, albeit an exceptionally well accesorized one.

Finally the long line had shortened at the counter while the agent got a flight boarded, so I went to stand in line so that we could get our new boarding passes. Just before I made it to the head of the line, the agent had to go to the bathroom. Then when she got back, the Detroit flight had arrived and she had to go greet the plane. Finally a second agent came and I told her what I needed.

"That flight has canceled," she said. "But I'll try to get you standby on this one. Just hang around and if I have room I'll call your name. I should know in five minutes."

I called DOB and told him to pack up and get ready in case we were called. He started doing so, then called me back, "I think D1 needs changed," he said.

We decided to hold off as long as it didn't seem to be leaking. Sure enough, our name was called and we whisked aboard. I thought about changing her in the air, but on the Columbus/Detroit flight there is a grand total of five minutes when one is neither in ascent nor descent. So I gave up the attempt and waited until we landed. There was nothing leak-prone, so our worry was in vain.

Once we got our Detroit tickets, we discovered to our great delight that we had first class tickets. We forgot that they actually feed people in first class, though, so we went ahead and ate several tacos and a burrito. Then we got on board and cheerfully tackled the meal they gave us.

Up until this point, D1 had been having a pretty good day. Lots of being held by Mama and Papa, and her favorite toys. By this time she was getting pretty tired, so whenever she couldn't sleep she was a bit fussy, but fortunately she was too young to have the loud, agonizing cries that can be heard over airplane engines.

So we arrived in Seattle and went to check on the status of our bags, which we had been told would most likely head through Memphis and arrive the next day. While DOB was giving descriptions to the agent, he said, "Go check and at least see if they came through."

And just as I set off, he called after me, "There one is!"

I raced for the machine and grabbed it off. Sure enough, it was ours. I checked which one it was, and called back to DOB, "We got the diapers!"

Within a few minutes, all the other bags had appeared and we were only five hours late, quite an achievement, considering.

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