May 4, 2009

The Airport Adventure

5/04/2009 — cori
We LOVE to travel. The kids are awesome little traveling buddies. Granted...we've gotten stuck in our share of automatic circle doors and caused alarms to go off, stood at baggage claims for almost an hour and had to run to the bathroom right before boarding...but overall, it's always a super fun, exciting experience. This time was no different.

We were on our way to D.C on a Friday afternoon to see Grandma and Grandpa and Daddy (who was working up there at the time). A friend kindly dropped us off an hour and half before boarding. We made it through check-in and security with no sweat. We were like a well oiled machine. We made it to our gate with plenty of time to spare.

Unfortunately for us...we were also in the middle of a thunderstorm. A thunderstorm in Dallas normally shuts down DFW. They normally always produce high winds and severe weather. Thankfully, the friendly skies like to look out for our safety, so they canceled our flight. Except...nobody told me. I found out on one of our many jaunts to the big screen to find out its 'status'. Well what'd'ya know...we're not leaving after-all. Hmmm...I wonder when we are leaving? Valid question. Except, nobody was at our gate to handle all the questioning people. So, naturally, I gather all the kids and all the gear (each of us had a large carry-on) and desperately go in search of some answers.

I come upon a ticket agent who does her little clickity-clack thing on the mysterious, hidden computer that I can't see and she tells me, "A flight is leaving in two hours, but out of another terminal. You can either run the 10 minutes it will take you to get over there or take the sky tram and talk to the ticket agent over there." Like the naive idiot that I am, I say, "Okay" instead of "Why can't you just clickity-clack me into your computer from here? Why do I have to go to another terminal on the other side of the world for them do it on the same hidden computer?" This same question would come to plague me the rest of the day.

Naturally, the kids and I RUN all the way from terminal A to terminal C to try to squeeze ourselves on the next flight out. The lady tells me its already full, but that there's another flight leaving at 3pm and she'll try to put me on stand by for that. "Oh thank you so much!" I respond. Again, naivete is guiding me through this day. We're only 7th on stand-by...we're very optimistic we'll get on.

This same little charade plays itself out over the next 10 hours. heard me right. We got to the airport at 10:15am and were still waiting for a flight at 10:40pm that night. The worst part was that half that time, we were the first 4 names on the stand-by list!!! A list that consistently had at least 70 people on it.

We were really hopeful at one point (I mean really, you've got to have hope when you're stuck in an airport with a ton of people all trying to get out) when the ticket agent called our name and issued us tickets to get on the 6:30pm flight - WOW! I knew we'd get on! We weren't seated together, but that didn't matter - we were actually on the plane - goal accomplished. Unfortunately, someone was already sitting in the seat I was assigned. Bummer. I talked to the flight attendent about it and she told us we had to get off - that there was a mistake - ya think?! That's a great feeling - everyone watching you get off the plane, with all your kids and all your things. The kids asking very loudly why we can't go see Grandma and Grandpa. Even the Captain came out and asked what was going on. I asked him if I could sit with him - seriously....but he said something about being against the rules.

Once we got back to our familiar terminal all hope was lost. It was like someone popped our balloon. We had already taken at least 6 rides on the sky tram (which I found out was free - very helpful information to know!) - the excitement about the 'roller coaster in the sky at the airport' wore off about the 3rd time.

You know me and food...I came prepared. I brought plenty to feed us for lunch and a little snack for 'just in case'. It was long gone by 10pm. I didn't eat dinner thinking we'd be getting on the next plane (and the next and the next) and I'd eat once we got there. Oh where does this eternal hope spring from???

I felt like a momma duck with all my little ducklings trailing behind me back and forth through-out the airport. At one point, as we were exiting off the escalators into yet again, a new terminal and a new gate number, the kids saw something that made them gasp. As we were walk/running to our new gate, we almost walked over a giant mosaic on the floor. The kids did a collective gasp and backed off it inorder to view it better. They were all astounded by the amazing artwork on the floor. We had to analyze every aspect of it...the colors used, the pattern of the tiles, what kind of bird was in the picture, what he was doing and why oh why did they let such beauty be on the floor and not of the walls for all to enjoy? At certain points through-out the day, Gavin would give me a hug and say "Mom, I feel like I need to give you a hug right now" and all frustration would leave me. Or Chloe would start massaging my shoulders and Bennett my fingers. How can you stay tense with such attentive children trying to keep you calm.

We also played our share of games. I made the mistake of passing the time by teaching them one of those hand clapping games where you sing a sing-songy rhyme and pat your hands together in a pattern. I cannot even tell you how many rounds of "Knick knack patty whack give a dog a bone" I sang over and over and over again. Also, thank God for stupid Happy Meal toys...that also provided hours of endless, brainless activity. We were armed with perfect tools to weather out this storm.

Realizing we were not going to make the 10:40pm flight either...we settled in for the long haul. The kids curled up on the floor and got comfy. They amazed me. THEY DID NOT COMPLAIN! If they didn't, how could I? Afterall, this was an adventure...we've gotten to ride the sky tram multiple times, run on the moving sidewalks too many times to count and enjoyed untold trips up and down fun escalators - how can you NOT be having fun?! Then we decided that getting to camp at the airport was even more fun cuz, really, how many people have gotten the chance to camp (without the tent) at the airport? You can now add us to the list.

Around 11pm, some generous soul finally brought us blankets and another asked if we could use some cots. I got the kids uploaded on to the cots (no easy task dragging a sleeping 10 year old, who is almost as tall as you and dead weight, 4 feet over to a collapsable cot). I sat up for the long haul. I gave my word to Chuck that I would not sleep that night. I would stay up all night and watch over the kids. Needless to say, he was beside himself the entire day and night being so far away and not able to fix our problem and not being able to convince me to go home or to a hotel. I'd eventually found out during one of my encounters with the multiple ticket agents that we had been confirmed on a flight that left at 6am the next morning (although my luggage had already been sent on a different plane to a different airport - that was the least of my concerns!).

I tell you what...I am NOT a night person...I am the epitome of a morning person. I'm dead on my feet by 10pm. So this was going to be a challenge. Short of labor, this was the only time I've ever pulled an all-nighter. Seriously. But do you was such an amazing time. I sat there mulling over the day in my head, praying and thinking. I knew there had to be a purpose for all this. I love efficiency and this was anything BUT efficient - why did this happen? As I was praying the Bible verse where Paul says, "I want to know you in the fellowship of your suffering and the glory of your resurrection" came to mind followed by the question, "Is this too much to suffer for me?" Wow. If this was suffering...then bring it on. I've lived a very 'suffer-free' life. If I have to 'suffer' my convenience...then so be it, if it brings me closer to knowing Him. There was a wonderful peace that enveloped us that day and night, despite the small trial we had to endure.

Two other, tiny miracles occurred that night: 1. I did not get a migraine. That is huge people. I'm hypoglycemic and normally graze all day long. I get a headache if I don't eat every two hours. Plus, when I get stressed a headache will normally envelope me faster than you can say "stuck at the airport". I was absolutely astounded that my head and stomach remained relatively 'normal' (under most people's standards) the entire day and night despite my lack of food. And 2. My contacts didn't pop out of my eyes. This is a big deal. I was wearing contacts that I should have thrown away 2 months ago. They are normally so dry by 3pm that I have to take them out. I had no replacements (that's why I was wearing them for so long). I was expecting them to just fall out with each and every blink as I stared mindlessly at CNN on the large screen tv trying to pass the hours away in the middle of the night. Yet...that did not happen. That is an honest to goodness miracle in my life. Look at how many good things can happen when you're looking for the good instead of complaining about the way things are.

Lessons learned: never try to leave for D.C on a Friday afternoon and always pack more food than you think you might need - you never know when you might have a random camping adventure.

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