Well folks, we are finally home!
As always, our yearly vacation to New Hampshire was a wonderful retreat. Despite very little swimming weather, we still managed to have fun canoeing, kayaking, hiking, jet skiing and (of course) cooking s'mores by the campfire.
But our time spent in transit was far from pleasant, and kicked hard against the border of misery.
On our flight out we connected in Charlotte, NC. Although the first flight from Nashville was easy, the connection flight trapped everyone helplessly on-board only to alert us minutes before departing that we would be taxiing back to the runway for maintenance. Seems that one of the engines wouldn't start and it would be 45 minutes to install a new starter. I balked at the idea of waiting a extra 45 minutes in a plane with four children. How horrible!!! I was more than a little steamed when we arrived, but was able begin our vacation in fairly good spirits.
Little did I know that this was just a small, dainty appetizer of discomfort preceding the gut wrenching experience of our returning flight home.
Yesterday, we boarded our return flight in Boston aimed at our connection in Washington D.C. at Reagan International. I should have guessed bad things were ahead when the flight attendant rudely commented that my baby was disturbing too many passengers. I must admit that our 18-month-old only has 2 volume settings, quiet and spine-tingling, shrill scream, but honestly, what did she suggest I do? So I asked her "What do you suggest I do?", I think that this response took the young, obviously childless, woman back and her smug look melted into defenseless puzzlement. A few moments later we had an ample supply of airplane snacks and thus, he was much quieter.
Nearer to Reagan, we were informed that lightening had struck the building and their communications were out. No alarm, the pilot planned to just circle the airport patiently until....
We ran out of fuel.
(Or at least we nearly did.) We had to leave Washington to fly to our back-up landing location for a refill. I still don't understand why, but our designated back-up was in New York at Laguardia Airport. This was going from bad to worse! This airport is notorious for delays.
Refueled and ready to fly, we quickly proceeded to the tarmac to begin our three hour wait for take-off. The pilot informed us that the weather had prevented a slew of flights from taking off and landing. I imagine our plane was of little overall significance, but it sure felt significant to us and to every other traveler within earshot of the screaming, whining, jumping, arguing and crying of our four tired, hungry and trapped children!
We arrived at Washington at a 7:50pm, seven hours after initially boarding the plane. For a few brief minutes when we entered the airport, I had hope that there might be a remaining flight out that we could catch, unfortunately the departure screen revealed nothing. We were stuck, along with hundreds of other travelers.
Because the kids had not had anything to eat since noon and because every vendor was beginning to close, we hastily found a restaurant and ate. Every US Airways ticket counter radiated lines of stranded businessmen, grandmothers, college students and families. Everyone was desperate to get where they were going. And, to top it all off, there would be no vouchers because all of this was attributed to weather.
We avoided the lines and called the 800 number, our flight would leave at 8:40 am and we would sleep at the airport until then.
Few people know that a magical thing happens in the middle of the night at an airport. When the clock strikes midnight a khaki-colored fairy driving an electrically powered cart visits the marooned travelers that are tucked into every chair and quiet corner. This fairy bestows blue bundled gifts that are unfolded to reveal the warmth and softness of polyester fleece. The piles of stranded sleepers become uniformed in their appearance of rolling mounds of new fallen snow.
Cuddly, bright blue polyester snow.
We made our morning flight and soon were home. We have 5 blue blankets to show from our journey, plus the miserable memories of heinous travel.
To end on a positive note, here are some pictures of the kids at the lake. (Click to enlarge)