Monday, November 28, 2005

Are We There Yet?
I'm home! Sister Doris and her DH John put much thought and effort into making sure we had a nice, relaxing, pleasant time in their beautiful new home in the woods of Virginia. And we did.

It was a lovely, family time with plenty of good food, good chat, and good company.

The airports were a nightmare. No one should be surprised by this, as Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year in the US. In SW Michigan we also have the weather factor. Mother Nature was feeling cranky.

Wednesday morning I white knuckled it 20 miles to Mom's apartment in Kalamazoo to pick her up. The roads were covered with ice and it was snowing.

For those of you who aren't familiar with sliding around on slippery roads, white knuckle driving is when you grip the steering wheel tightly, thereby turning your knuckles white, because you instinctively but erroneously think you can prevent the car from sliding if you hang on tight.

Kalamazoo to Detroit, scheduled to take off at 10:25 am

Mom and I both brought books to the airport. Turned out we had plenty of reading time.

Chicago and Detroit were sending planes to Kalamazoo that couldn't land. They would circle for a bit and then head back to Chicago or Detroit. Since those were the planes we were scheduled to fly out on, there was no service to Detroit.

Every time a flight was cancelled, the disappointed passengers had to leave the secure area, stand in a long line at the ticket counter, get rescheduled, and then go back through security.

Finally at 1:30 Northwest brought in a big plane that could handle the weather and all the accumulated passengers. We boarded and headed for Detroit where most of us had totally missed our connecting flights.

It was the first plane to land and/or take off from Kalamazoo that Wednesday. It took 20 minutes to get to Detroit. Not even time to get up to full altitude or serve a beverage.

Detroit to Charlotteville, Virginia, originally scheduled for 1:30, rescheduled for 9 pm

We sat in Detroit for 7 hours waiting for the next plane to Charlottesville, which of course was delayed. We boarded about 11 pm and arrived in Charlottesville after midnight.

Charlottesville airport turned out to be very small, even smaller than Kalamazoo. Our plane held 30 passengers on very hard seats and had propellers.

What a joy to see our family standing there waiting for us. They whisked us to Scottsville and served us tea at 2 am before showing us our comfy beds.

Charlottesville to Detroit, scheduled to take off Saturday at 4 pm

While waiting to board in Charlottesville, we were informed that every NorthWest computer was down in Detroit and nothing was able to depart or land there. Computers were out for an hour and we got to Detroit 10 minutes before our flight to Kalamazoo. The gate we needed was about a mile away.

Detroit to Kalamazoo, scheduled to take off at 7:30 pm

How perverse is this? The first flight we were late for was the first flight of our trip that left on time.

Lunch had been a vending machine bag of potato chips. There was no time for dinner and no time for a stop at the restroom.

We ran through the airport as fast as we could go, and we were the last two people to board.

Here is where an amazing good thing happened. In anticipation of dashing through the airport, we had checked our luggage for the trip home. In some miracle of airport efficiency, our luggage also made the quick plane transfer and landed with us in Kalamazoo.

After gathering our luggage, unburying the car from under the snow, and paying our ransom at the long term parking gate, we headed across the street to McDonald's for a chicken sandwich and hot fudge sundae.

We agreed it was a wonderful trip and headed home to rest up before starting to think about Christmas.