Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New York Trip: Day 1

As often is the case, I waited until the last minute to pack for this trip. Most often I do okay with this method except that for going to New York I needed warmer clothes than we ever need in Texas and I also needed to take appropriate clothes for Mike's sister's memorial service on Tuesday. I thought I had done pretty well. Erin and I left the house and were on our way to pick up Liz and Gerald, who were travelling with us. BK ran down the list of necessities; the only thing I had forgotten was my toothbrush. That was no big deal. I was sure I could buy one in the airport for somewhere between $10 and $20.

We made our way to DFW in no time at all. By 10;15 am we were checked in and at the gate for our 11:30 flight. Life was looking good . . .until about 10:30 when they announced that our flight had been cancelled. At the same time that the American Airlines representative was sharing this information in her most pleasant "don't kill the messenger voice", my phone was ringing. Mike was calling to tell us that he had just gotten the message from the airlines. (Just as an aside, when I got home tonight, there was also a message from American Airlines saying that our flight was cancelled. It was left at 10:35 am for an 11:30 flight. Does the airlines not remember that they require you to check in an hour before deoarture? This message was a bit misplaced.) The gate representative was telling us that we needed to get in line to reschedule. Fortunately, Mike had made our reservations through the Advantage desk and they had automatically re-booked us . . .on a flight that departed at 5:45 pm. We now had seven hours with which to amuse ourselves in the airport. Fortunately, I find airports to be frather ascinating places.

Though we were already re-booked, I still had to stand in line to get our boarding passes for the new flight. In line, I was behind a woman on her way to see her son who was having surgery the next day. He is a soldier who was injured in Iraq. As you might expect with a line of 75 people or so, progress was slow and we had quite a bit of time to talk. She told me that her son had come home on the Friday before Christmas for what he thought was six months. When he arrived back in the U.S., he was informed that he would be deploying again on the 26th. Six months, six days; its all the same to the government. He was allowed to visit his family for Christmas but only if he loaded all of his belongings on the plane heading back to Iraq before he left. I'm not sure how long after he returned that he was injured. He sustained a non-life threatening injury to his shoulder and was now home for medical attention. His mother was unsure how long this soldier would be home before he was sent back. This was his third tour in Iraq. She was confident that he was not home for good.

I didn't really know what to say to this woman. I told her that I would keep her and her son and all those fighting in Iraq in my prayers. At the moment the words came out of my mouth, I found myself wondering if there is any comfort or hope in them for her.

We both made our way to the front of the line, received our new boarding passes, and headed to our new respective gates. We were now departing from a different terminal so we had an adventure on the Skylink.

Knowing that we had much time to kill, we found a spot with an electrical outlet so that Erin and Gerald could watch a move on my computer and so that our Ipods and cell phones could be charged before we got on the plane. At this point, I began to realize my packing shortfalls.

I did pack my computer and the power cord except that the cord I brought was the old one that the dogs had chewed and thus no longer worked. I had replaced it, but the new one was in "the other bag"; no movies. I also discovered that I had packed the wall plug for my Ipod, but I had forgotten the USB cable to attach the plug and the actual Ipod. This was a minor screw up because either Mike or Brooke would have a cable that I could use once we all rendez-voused. And, unlike my computer, my Ipod was fully charged when I left home.

So we all settled into our little corner that would be home for many hours. Gerald did his homework. Liz read. I knit. Erin tried to beat CSI on her Nintendo DS. All was well for about an hour and a half at which point, Gerald and Erin got bored. What better to do in the face of boredom than sleep. They piled themselves up and had a respectable nap.

The big red blob is Erin trying to keep warm next to Gerald. Like most children, when they woke from their nap they were hungry so we made our way to Fridays for some lunch. On our way through the terminal, we noticed that our departure gate had been changed. This was no big surprise.

For all but Erin, lunch was good. She wanted chips and queso. When she ordered, the waiter told her that they did not have queso. At first I think that she thought he was teasing her. When she responded with a disgusted, "Seriously?", he apologized saying that the airport locations do not carry the full menu. It is understandable that they may not serve ribeyes or lobster, but queso? Go figure. After our leisurely meal, we again checked the monitors for our gate assignment. Imagine our surprise (not) when we saw that it again had been changed. We made our way to yet another gate; one at the opposite end of the terminal from where we had started.

The gate area was packed with people waiting for a flight that was departing before ours. Mind you at this point it is only 3:30 or so. We seated ourselves across from a family with two small children who were obviously very tired. Ascwe shared traavel woes, it was clear that theirs were definitely worse than ours. Their day had begun on a 6:30 am flight from California. After a brief layover in Dallas, they were to head for Orlando. They had actually boarded and been deplaned from two different planes for the final leg of the trip already. The first plane had pressurization problems and the second one was having problems being de-iced. At the point we were talking to them, the airline was "looking for equipment." I don't know how their saga ended because our gate again changed and we were on the move.

At 5:15 we finally boarded the plane and at 5:45 we were in the air and on our way. The only problem with our flight was that because of the re-booking, the four of us travelling together were not able to sit together. This really was not a big deal. By this point, we were all ready to be sitting in one place and making progress to NYC.

Mike met us at the airport and shuttled the four of us back to the hotel. He then turned around and went back to the airport to pick up Brooke who was flying in from Chicago on a flight that also was delayed but only about thirty minutes. She arrived shortly after 11 pm.

While Mike was playing airport shuttle, the rest of us ordered massive amounts of Chinese takeout from the only nearby restaurant that was still delivering. At midnight, we had all finally made it to the hotel and were stuffing our faces with mediocre Chinese food and thankful that we were all finally in one place together. We set a meeting time of 9;30 am the next morning and headed to bed for good night's sleep.

To be continued . . .