Friday, December 7, 2007

There and Back Again

Well...we survived the trip! After we got our baggage checked and our tickets printed Joel and I said goodbye and then it was time to face the safety inspection. Abby thought it was fun to take off her shoes and coat and wanted to take off her socks as well while Katie did not like it all and became very worried that Val had to go into the plastic tub and through the machine. We somehow made it through inspection and got all put back together relatively fast with minimal glares. Katie and Abby both got "inspected" stickers which made Katie feel better about the whole thing! I turned and waved periodically at Joel until we reached our gate. After he left I realized that was not my gate and had to go a little further down the walkway to get to it. Once there I checked at the counter just to be sure I was at the right place. We boarded without any trouble and only one business man breezed past us as we walked through the tunnel to board the plane. Joel had warned me about that so I was prepared for the impatient huff as the man in the suit passed!

The first flight was okay, at least as okay as flying can be, but I think I lost my stomach and my heart on the runway when we took off! Yikes! I had closed the shade on the little window so I wouldn't have to see but I found that I remained calmer when it was open. What I imagined was far more terrible than what was actually happening! I did have to close my eyes on every landing though, some things just can't be faced with your eyes open! I recited my favorite Psalms to myself and prayed over and over again for safety and peace of mind during the first take off. I did not realize I was doing this audibly until I caught the lady across the aisle looking at me strangely!

Clouds look like the ocean when your flying above them! My camera did not do them justice, they were far more beautiful in real life!

Here's Katie! She enjoyed everything about flying, especially the take off! Crazy girl! Here's Abby sucking on a piece of candy! After I took this picture my batteries died so I didn't get to take anymore until I got fresh batteries at my brother's house! I suppose we had a normal flight but we hit a little turbulence which I did not like! The second flight was a bit more torturous! They had put us next to an exit where apparently women with small children in their lap cannot be. So I was told by the ticket lady just to tell the stewardess and she would accommodate me. So I told the stewardess who asked if I had told the ticket lady. I told her I had and that she said the stewardess would take care of it. The stewardess rolled her eyes and said "Welllllll, she must be having a happy day!" and then told me just to sit wherever and that would be fine. So I sat in the first seats directly behind first class since there was lots of leg room and that meant I didn't have to try and get both girls and our carry-ons through the psychotically narrow aisle and even smaller seats! I had to explain to the nice people who's ticket said they should sit there what was going on but fortunately both girls were very nice and didn't mind. They told the story to whoever was supposed to be sitting across from me and they didn't seem to mind either. I guess they figured it didn't matter where they sat, we were all going to die if the plane crashed anyway wherever you sat!

A man with my similar situation plopped down in the last row of first class with his small son and made jokes about how the stewardess said to sit wherever so he might as well sit in the nice seats! He was quickly moved to the back of the plane but he took it good naturedly. At first the poor stewardess thought the man and I were married and seemed very distraught at breaking us up. We quickly reassured her we had never met before and this seemed to ease her discomfort greatly.

Unfortunately Abby chose that moment to start crying and she kept crying for the next 20 minutes! She did not want to be in the "appropriate take off position" and made sure everyone in the plane and the next plane over knew about it! The stewardess brought juice and a banana to try and calm Abby down. Abby nearly spilled the juice and did want to eat her banana but she did not want to give it up either! So Katie quietly drank the juice and ate half the of the banana that I had not given Abby and then smiled at the world in general. I decided after about fifteen minutes of screaming that I did not care if my daughter was in the "appropriate take off position" and turned her around. (The appropriate position is to have your baby facing you with her head resting on your chest just below one shoulder). A few minutes later she fell asleep and the stewardess pretended she didn't see what position Abby was in.

Then the plan took off and Katie asked for Abby's banana which by that time had become a slimy, gooey mess in Abby's clenched fist and a good share of it was on my sweater. I told her no because it was icky and gently pried it from Abby's little hand and put it in the now empty juice cup. Abby woke up halfway through the flight but seemed resigned to the fact she had to stay in my lap. Then Katie said she had to go potty. She was wearing a pull up so I had told her she had to wait and it was okay if she went potty in her Pull-up because that was they were for. Now if any of you have met my Katie you would immediately know how disagreeable this would be to her. She has only ever had five accidents since she was potty trained and those were because she didn't know who to ask to go potty or when we didn't quite make it to the mall potty. Katie is a very neat and tidy little girl and gets upset if her bib gets dirty so you can imagine how much the idea traumatized her! To keep the peace I decided to take her potty but just as I stood the seat belt light came on. I asked the stewardess if we could go anyway and she said yes quickly (she had developed a fear of us I think) and that she thought we would all fit. So we journeyed to the back of the plane. The bathroom was very narrow but we did fit and there was a even a small pullout changing table for Abby. Katie was fascinated by the plane's toilet which is, by the way, the only thing I remember from when I rode on an airplane when I was three!

We got back to our seat without incident and got buckled up all nice and snug for landing. The pilot of this plane did not seem to be as experienced as the first and when we banked to get in the proper landing position we all had to lean to one side to keep from falling out of our seats and some poor person got sick. Honestly, I thought the plane was going to roll right over! It was snowing heavily in Des Moines and the runway was quite icy which made me a tad nervous. The guys behind me were discussing how the pilot better land the plane soon or we would run out of runway which did nothing for my nerves! The plane slammed down and bounced five times before we slowed to a stop. I really thought my heart would never come back to me! As soon as the plane stopped I gathered our things together, got the girls bundled up since it was only 2 degrees out and zipped my own coat which then broke. Yep, figured my zipper would break just as we were about to embark to one of the coldest states in the US!

As we waited to get off the plane I fiddled with my zipper while everyone joked about how stupidly cold and barren Iowa was. Some of the jokes were quite good! I managed to get the zipper unstuck, tried to zip it again and it split again in exactly the same way. I gave up on it as we strated to exit and shivered through the boarding ramp until we reached the nice, heated airport. Then yay, I spotted Erin waiting for me!!! We had to wait about an half hour before our luggage was released but we did make it out of the airport eventually and more or less alive! So on the nice, very flat drive to the house Erin and I had a good time catching up while the girls passed out and slept the whole way! Happy reunion awaited us at the house and I was so so happy to see my Puppy (Art)! Dad and Mama JoAnne also greeted us with warm hugs and I was happy to see them too! So that was my adventure out!

After a nice long visit and a beautiful wedding (I'll describe that in my next entry) it was time to brave the air again and catch our flight home. Puppy took us to the airport and after some confusion with how to claim my tickets and check my baggage, we were set. With lots of hugs and a few tears we said goodbye and then I stood in the elevator mystified by all the shiny buttons and blinking lights! After the doors opened and shut a few times I finally chose the right button and so I left my brother and nephew standing there laughing at me and I laughing at myself!
This time when we went through inspection Katie did not want to part with Val and sobbed hysterically when I was forced to pull him from her arms and put him in the tub! After we ran through the metal detector the attendants fell all over themselves to get Val out as quickly as possible for Katie! They looked tearful themselves as Katie sniffled ,gave Val hugs and kisses and held him tightly to her chest! Even a few business men expressed sympathy for her as the ran past! A nice police officer gave the girls police badge stickers to "help out the little girl". Abby was delighted by hers but Katie decided that she didn't want to wear it but after a few minutes she decided to put it on Val. Oi!

We boarded the flight without much fuss but then I discovered that they had split Katie an I up so once again I had to apologize and explain to a nice man why I was in his seat. We were a little delayed in our take off due to a storm that was raging in Detroit. Apparently we did not have enough fuel to get to Detroit because we had to take a different route over Canada to avoid the worst of the storm so one person had to be taken off the plane. When the stewardess was told she refused to make the announcement and made the message bearer do it. Fortunately there was a man perfectly willing to switch flights and be given a ticket voucher or $300. That flight wasn't so bad and my heart stayed where it was during the takeoff though my stomach did not!

After take-off I decided to check and make sure our tickets were in order since the nice lady at the Iowa airport had printed both sets out for me so I could move the next flight without any fuss. It was then I discovered that she had only given me one ticket! There was no ticket for Katie for our next flight! After a moment of panic I rummaged through my backpack and found my original itinerary with all the information including the details of Katie's second ticket. I was able to relax then and for the next few minutes I rehearsed what I would say to the lady at the counter when we landed.

Katie said she had to use the bathroom near the end of our flight so I took her without much thought of how big the bathroom would be until we got to the back of the plane and opened the door. The toilet was only six inches from the door. It was less then half the size of the bathroom on the other plane! I'm sure people were taking bets on if we would all fit but I did manage to cram us all in there and shut the door. I had to stand Katie on the toilet to do it but we fit! I was praying the door would not fly open as we both used the bathroom and my prayers were answered! the lock held and we made it back to our seats without incident much to the amazement of the rest of the passengers!

We had some bad turbulence during the last half of the flight that the pilot assured us was perfectly normal and that he would be changing altitude frequently during the next few minutes to avoid the worst of the storm. At times it felt and sounded like actual large things were hitting the plane and sometimes the plane would actually drop straight done and then slam into nothing! So we lurched and bumped our way to Detroit and at times I was convinced that the wings had come off and we were all going to die!

The bounces on the landing weren't so bad that time and we got off the plane fairly fast. Of course my next boarding place was clear at the other end of the airport, no joke ,we had to walk clear across the whole airport to the very last station! Fortunately there were nice big windows and a play area that kept Katie entertained. Abby just sat and stared off into space and when I asked her if she wanted to play she just shook her head and said "no!". I was a little worried that I was at the wrong station since the board did not have my flight on it but when I asked the lady at the counter she said I was at the right gate, they were just waiting for this flight to take off before they put my flight on the screen and to please sit down. I felt bad for the poor harassed woman who was trying to get someone down there to give out vouchers to over a dozen people whose flight had been missed and were looking surly and mutinous. So Katie played with a little boy while Abby and I sat and waited. After about twenty minutes it was announced that our boarding dock had changed to a new gate that was clear back at the other end of the airport. So we trekked all the way back to the other end of the airport. All I can say is thank the Lord for moving sidewalks! Katie thought they were especially funny and would go tearing down them full tilt and then laugh hysterically as we jumped off and went flying forward!
You can see the little boy "Benjamin" mommy was taking a few pictures too!
When we got the right gate I talked to the lady at the counter about my ticket problem and she issued me a new one without even looking at my paperwork. Since we had another forty minutes before boarding time we all had a potty break and then raided the vending machines. The girls got Pop Tarts and I got a Snickers. A very nice well balanced dinner I assure you!

The plane of course was late and once again Katie and I had been split up so I switched with a very nice returning college student from BBC and we settled in . The lady across from me had also been split up from her ten year old girl and another mother and her baby had been put next to an exit so there was more moving around before everyone got settled. It was then I began to wonder about the person who was in charge with assigning seats, did they not know there own protocol?

The stewardess on the flight was the most psychotic enforcer of the rules I ever met! She gave me a personal demonstration of how to hold my infant and what to do in case of an emergency with the oxygen mask etc. and where the infant life vest was located. She also gave the people next to the exists private instructions and asked for a "verbal confirmation" that they would do their part and open the emergency exists in case of a crash. She then asked that everything be shut off and I mean EVERYTHING! She even made the little girl across from me put away her Ipod! She allowed people to keep out their books but she looked suspiciously at them as she passed!

So we sat there for about twenty minutes with the stewardess sitting in her little seat at the front of the plane then the pilot announced that we had to be de-iced before take off so we joined the long line of planes but it was entertaining to see all the planes get hosed down with some bubbly chemical solution and Katie was quite entertained. Abby had fallen asleep in the "appropriate position" (the stewardess checked just to make sure) with only a small whimper so everything was calm.
After we had been de-iced the pilot announced that we had to go back to the loading dock because the airline had forgotten to load most of our luggage. No one really minded the delay as we all wanted to have our luggage when we arrived. It was a good thing we went back to for there on the top of the pile of luggage was Katie's bright pink suitcase getting snowed on! So that took another twenty minutes and then we had to taxi back to the runway and wait until we had clearance for take off since we were out of order by that time and there was some confusion in the ground control department. Our pilot tried to remain cheerful but you could his irritation at the general incompetence of the airport. I think he was also afraid of a riot!

So we sat for another half hour while poor Katie asked nicely for a cup of water and the stewardess roamed the aisle looking for unlawful use of Ipods and cell phones and refused to give out any beverages until the plane had taken off. People used their cell phones anyway and would hide them under their coats and notebooks as she passed but as soon as she was gone they whipped them out and resumed their conversations until the pilot turned on the no cell phone light just before take off. I really think someone would have jumped her if we didn't take off when we did!
Katie passed the time by telling me all the letters that were along the different runaways and was very excited when she saw her letter pass by a couple times. I chatted with the lady across from on and off during our long wait and so the time passed quickly enough though we all thought we would pass out from thirst or heat exhaustion! By the time we did take off and the stewardess started down the aisle with the beverage cart poor Katie had fallen asleep but I got her some water anyway and when it was almost time to land she woke up and finally got her drink of water! Here's a picture of the girls snoozing. I didn't dare take anymore for fear of the stewardess's' wrath!
We hit even worse turbulence then the previous flight which made everyone just super happy! I have seen turbulence on planes in movies but those scenes just do not do real turbulence justice! When we landed the stewardess apologized for the delay but hoped we had enjoyed our flight and experience and would fly with them again soon to which the entire plane replied "Yeah right!" in one sarcastic, tired voice. It was a great moment! So we finally trudged off the plane where I was congratulated on my well behaved children and how crazy I was to attempt such a trip. I responded good naturedlly, since I too was amazed that we had somehow survived the trip!
When I saw my husband I wanted to weep in relief! We quickly got our baggage and left, we got home at one in the morning when my flight was supposed to land at ten o'clock! Joel informed me that instead of listing the flight as late it had simply disappeared off the board so he thought I had missed the flight and had to scramble around asking questions for an hour or so until someone told him that my flight was simply delayed. I'm sure as we travel more these kinds of stories will be the norm but for now it remains a legend in our memory as one of the most horrific flight adventures ever!

1 comment:

Art Kilmer said...

You sure do talk alot on your blog. Blah blah blah... =-)