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Travel Troubles: a true story

Posted on: December 17, 2010

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had been traveling to someplace warm and sunny during the past week or so. The visit with family was lovely, and the freedom from coats refreshing.

Our challenges began when we tried to come home.

After a relaxing morning we loaded up the van and headed to our West Coast airport with plenty of time to jump through hoops and get on our flight. Though there were lines, check-in and security went fine. We felt much lighter after ridding ourselves of our five checked bags and the carseat we wouldn’t need onboard (love Southwest for their free bag policy!). All seemed well.

Then the flight was delayed. And delayed again, for a total of an hour and a half.

Okay, we could handle this. We had snacks and could wander around, so even the kids were relatively content. When we thought things might get a little slow, Southwest sent around a Mariachi band to perform for everyone. It’s hard not to smile when a Mariachi band is performing directly in front of you, right? 🙂

We finally boarded our flight and settled in for the three or so hours it would take us to get back to St. Louis. Both of our kids, ages one and three, needed naps by this point. So the three year-old amused himself in his carseat while our daughter squirmed on our laps. Pretty much typical airplane travel for our family.

About twenty minutes outside of St. Louis, the pilot came over the intercom. There was freezing rain in our hometown and other planes were reporting they had no braking capacity when they landed. Ouch.

In light of the situation, we headed to our alternate destination, Indianapolis. This meant another hour or so of flight time, during with our son mercifully continued the sleep he had begun.

When we landed in Indy, it was 10 PM local time. It was then we were informed of our options: continue with the flight to Baltimore, spend what remained of the night at a hotel and return to St. Louis the following day…or get off in Indy and fend for ourselves (since Southwest doesn’t have a flight from Indy to St. Louis).

After a couple of phone calls and deliberation, we decided to deplane and fend for ourselves. Adding more hours of flight time (and literally flying coast-to-coast!) with two young children late at night, then trying to settle in a hotel for only a few hours to re-enter the security/airport game again the next day did not sound appealing to either my husband or me!

Plus, my brother and his family live in Indianapolis. We had called them immediately upon landing and been told they’d leave the light on for us, so to speak.

We loaded up the kids and our carry-on luggage into two wheelchairs and headed over to car rental. Our gate-checked stroller and all of our checked luggage was to continue on to Baltimore. Au voir!

Sometime after midnight local time we arrived at my brother’s house in our rental car, weary from our day of travel and the trek through the snow from the airport. But we were there safely. And they had made up little beds for the kids in their guest room so we could simply crash.

The following morning, Friday, we snoozed while our host family got up and out the door. In fact, it was after ten before any of us got up; we never even saw my brother, his wife, or any of their kids! We sure were thankful for their hospitality at such late notice, however! And I had even been able to find two juice glasses and some contact solution to house my lenses overnight. All was well.

With a good breakfast in our tummies, showers to wash off the grime (though with the same clothes to put back on!), and our few carry-on items with us in the rental car, we drove back to St. Louis. The entire drive home we were so thankful for clear roads and God’s direction during the “funny days” we’d been having. This was not the return trip that we had planned, but we sensed God’s hand of leading and protection through it nonetheless.

And yes, when we got back home we were able to reconnect with our copious amounts of checked baggage, get our van back from my cousin who had patiently waited to pick us up at the airport, and finally settle in to our humble abode.

Now you know why the posting has been so scarce! And perhaps you can learn a lesson from our misadventures: always pack some undies and a toothbrush in your carry-on! 😉

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