Friday, January 1, 2010

A Christmas We Will Never Forget

This may end up being a rather long post due to the subject matter. Enough time has passed to allow bitterness and sarcasm to be drained from the underlying tone of this entry...maybe.

We had a wonderful time seeing both of our families in Texas. Our trip getting to our families was a little less desirable. As you may remember from my last post our Wednesday evening flight was canceled due to an ice storm in the Chicago area. We rescheduled a flight for 9:50 Thursday morning which connected in Cedar Rapids, IA. Not being sure what the road conditions, traffic, and lines at the airport would be like, we decided to leave the apartment at 6:00. Our preacher's son was nice enough to pick us up and take us to the airport. The roads were not icy at all and everyone else seemed to still be asleep. We have decided that Sean may become our token airport driver since he got us to the airport within 30 minutes. The ticket and security lines were short and easy to get through. No pat downs for either of us this time! We made it to our gate at a little after 7:00 which meant we had almost 3 hours to wait for our plane. As 9:50 drew near, the dreaded speaker turned on with the announcement that the flight was delayed until 10:15. Not too bad; I didn't mind waiting around 30 minutes. We still should get to Texas in the early afternoon. (Ha! Oops, a little of that sarcasm sneaking out). We finally took off from O'Hare at 10:45. Our plane in Cedar Rapids was scheduled to leave at 11:55. Thankfully the flight only took around 40 minutes.

When we exited the plane (at one of the most podunk airports ever) we soon found out that our plane to Dallas had been delayed until 12:45. A little frustrating, but still not a cancelation. While waiting we decided we should eat some lunch. The podunk airport only had one food venue which everyone and their mother seemed to be swarming to. We had no idea how long it would take to get a morsel of sustenance from this place so we went with the other option: the souvenir/newspaper stand. I got a cold semi-stale bagel and Travis got a bag of chips. We boarded on time and were seated on the last row right next to the bathroom. To top it off the lady across from us had a little dog in a carrier that had to be placed behind our seats. Could it get any worse? (Never ask this question). We started heading for the runway, but just before getting to that prime take-off spot, the dreaded overhead speaker came on. The pilot said he had bad news. Apparently the weather in Dallas was so bad only two runways were open for landings and departures. We were going to have to wait on the plane for at least an hour if not more. The mixture of past troubles and low blood sugar caused this news to be taken with a grain of gun powder instead of salt.

We waited for about an hour and then received the thumbs up to get underway. So we will get to Dallas around 4:00 instead of 2:00, we will still be in Abilene with the parents. (So naive). At the end of the trip the pilot came on to tell us we would be landing in just a few minutes. Somehow a few minutes turned into over 30 mintues with some turns and a lot of bumps. My cousin's husband later told us he was tracking our flight and he said we first made a left turn to Louisiana, then headed south down to Waxahachiem and back up to the airport. The landing was very bumpy with lots of turbulance. When we were finally on the ground the flight attendent told us she heard everything going on in the cockpit and she informed us it was a difficult landing. Yea, Texas! It's about time. Time to take in the beauty of the brown grass and bare trees...what is all of that white stuff doing in Texas?!?!

Once we made our way to the baggage claim I was able to check the many voice messages on my phone. Because of the freak blizzard my dad was unable to make it to the DFW airport. The furthest he made it was Cisco where he sat at a stand-still for over 2 hours. Because of the weather conditions I 20 was shut down and my dad had to turn around for Abilene. Thankfully my cousins live in Arlington, and all the family had come to visit them for Christmas. There was a message from my uncle letting me know they were on their way to pick us up. A trip which usually takes 20 minutes took an hour and a half due to the road conditions, traffic, and surprise road closures. While waiting we each ate a bag of chips to tide our massive hunger. Apparently we were not getting to Abilene this evening. The grain of gun powder grew to an overflowing cup.

When we reached my cousin's house my aunt hugged me saying, "I'm sorry I don't have red hair!" Thankfully pizza was waiting for us and we attacked. The next step was to figure out how to get to my parents. They had thought of flying us from Dallas to Abilene, but the soonest flight available was not until the next evening. The best choice was for us to rent a car and drive to Abilene. We were very, very thankful to my cousins for letting us crash for the night and then driving us on Christmas morning back to the airport to rent a car.

So now we had a mode of transportation. We started out on I 20. In the Dallas/Ft. Worth area the highway was perfectly fine. We were doing very well, until we came to a dead stop along with many other cars trying to get home for the holiday. Apparently an 18-wheeler went to fast and jack knived across the two lanes. We were stopped for about an hour until the police and firemen finally started directing traffice around the truck. During our drive my parents were keeping an eye on the traffic and road reports. I 20 was still closed from Ranger to Baird because of the 200 abandoned cars still on the road. We had to take a detour down to highway 36 which took a little more time. A trip that is usually around 2 1/2 hours took 5 1/2 hours. We made it to my parent's house after 2:00 on Christmas day. Over a day and a half of traveling. When we started our trip I kept thinking, just get us off the ground in Chicago and Iowa, we will be fine once we get to Texas. Perhaps I jinxed the trip. Or perhaps it was the 4 year old at my parents' church who asked Santa for a white Christmas. Either way it is a trip we will never forget.

I will soon post on the happy points of the Christmas vacation and the trip home.