Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Very Good Very Bad Day

The day started off well. We knew that we needed to leave by 8:30 AM to catch our flight in Louisville, so we got up early and puttered around the house, remembering forgotten items and tying up loose ends before we fled the state. As expected, we got out of the house at 9 AM, but no big deal. We had plenty of time to spare. La dee da we headed down the freeway, deliciously happy to be free of work and responsibility, excited for our Montana vacation ahead. And then, about half way there, Michael realized that we had forgotten one very small but very important detail.

Louisville is in a different time zone.

We were late.

So it was pedal to the metal except that there were cops EVERYWHERE. Seriously, I have never seen so many cops in the middle of blasted nowhere. And then, twenty two miles of highway construction behind a truck that never went over 45 MPH.

By now we were hyperventilating. We blasted into Louisville, drove frantically around the airport parking lot until we found the ONLY available spot. As I started wildly throwing carseat, luggage, and baby paraphernalia out onto the parking lot, up drove a vision of salvation: a parking lot shuttle that was empty and perfectly happy to wait for us. With joyful relief we threw our goods onto the bus and politely requested she drive as fast as legally possible. We arrived at the gate, ran like mad people for the line, begged some very nice eastern european people to let us go ahead of them, and finally made it to the front. We were two minutes late but figured it would work out. The lady took our number, then smiled and laughed. "Oh, sorry, this is a United flight but actually the first leg of your journey is on U.S. Airways so you will have to go down to their check-in line." AUUUUGH! We ran, we flew, we found an incredibly nice man named Phil who did everything in his power to get us on... but to no avail.

We missed our flight.

Well, we didn't really miss it. The flight was there, there were 15 seats available, and our luggage could make it on, but since the COMPUTER locks you out at 30 minutes til, they told us and the several other groups who were similarly 2 minutes late that we were out of luck. So they had to bump us all to a later flight. Which was then overfull. So they had to give away four extra tickets for free. Now, I am fully aware that it is our fault that we were late, but it seems to me that if you have the choice of letting people who are TWO MINUTES late at a tiny airport get onto a plane, or having to lose thousands of dollars shoving all those people onto a later flight, the choice seems obvious. For crying out loud, who cares what the computer says, just put us on the bleepity flight! Phil agreed, but unfortunately even he couldn't argue with the computer. We love Phil.

OK, so that's the end of my rant. For now.

So no big deal, we just had to hang around the airport for three hours and wait for our flight to Pennsylvania, then to Denver, then to Missoula. (See above rant about idiotic airline procedures. Wrong way, folks!) Phil, bless his soul, had still managed to connect us to the essential Denver flight. So we goofed off for hours and hours and hours... Ate sandwiches and smoothies. And of course my traditional 10 Pound Traveling Muffins that can sustain life for literally weeks. Michael watched movies on his ipod while I chased Jeddy around. The best part about our layovers was the discover of the miraculous Toddler Treadmill.

Usually, I spend all my time at the airport walking up and down and up and down and up and down the moving sidewalks ten thousand times until I'm ready to vomit. But Jed taps into some eternal source of airplane travel energy and will literally NEVER TIRE of this activity until you drag him away from it kicking and screaming. But this is the perfect solution. All you have to do is get on a walking sidewalk, go half way down, then turn around and set down the toddler. His fat legs start going at it, but since you are facing backwards... he never actually moves! So you can sit in one place for hours while he just keeps on running. I really need to get one of these at home. Notice in the background the people walking the other direction. hahaha. They all complimented me on my brilliance.

Also, as a side note, while there we saw the weather and sent up a brief prayer of gratitude, as our original layover was in Raleigh, North Carolina, a city currently being beseiged by a tropical storm. Who knows what would have happened with that.

Once on our flight to Denver, then came the challenge of finagling our way into seats next to each other. Thanks to two very nice men, one from eastern Europe (we had a string of lovely and thoughtful eastern European tourists on this trip) and one from Africa, did some fancy trading so we could all end up next to our spouses. It helps that nobody ever wants to sit next to Jed. :c) So we settled into our new seats.

The third seatmate came and sat down beside us. We had a few friendly hellos and exchanged pleasantries. He'd come from Brussels. We asked what he was doing there. He played in a band. We asked what type. He said it defied genre. We asked the name.


Michael and I both dropped our jaws and the glow of fantacism spread across our faces. To explain, this is like our FAVORITEST BAND EVER!!! Aaaaaaaaaa! He is Zach, AKA Armistead Burwell Smith IV, a leading and founding member of the band.

We were in awe. We were the quintessential star-struck fans. Most of the rest of the flight I spent reminding myself over and over and over "Be Cool!" "Be Cool!" Ask cool questions! Drop cool band references! Act like you do something besides clean diapers every day! Be cool! Don't drool with excitement! Don't hyperventilate! And resist the urge to beg for photos and gush over your favorite songs! I tried to let the poor man sleep but it was rough. Gee, how can anyone resist the urge to slide a glance over at the ipod of one of your musical heroes and find out just what it is he listens to? (Michael, apparently, since he elbowed me in the ribs and whispered violently "DON'T STARE!" Sheesh.) When we stumbled off the plane we were giggling like two humiliatingly twitterpated schoolgirls. Exciting stuff.

So then the last leg of the journey. It was late. Jed FINALLY went to sleep. We were exhausted after more than 15 hours of traveling. We dragged ourselves off of the plane and over to the luggage pickup. We got our two bags. And waited. And waited. And waited... but no car seat. Turns out they lost it. Lovely. Stranded a million miles from home at 1 AM with no car seat. Fortunately, they loaned us a really nasty pet-hair covered seat until they could find ours. They reassured us we would have it by the next day.

It took us an hour or so to get all that sorted out. Meanwhile, Michael went to get our rental car. We'd reserved a mid-level econo car for like 35 bucks a day, fairly reasonable we thought. But then when Michael started drooling over some of the photos of their other cars, the fatigue-frazzled blonde at the desk told him he could just take the one he had his eye on for the same price we'd been quoted. So THIS is what we ended up driving for the weekend:

An Infinity M35 with a 300 hp V6.

Yee hah! Michael hooted and giggled and made all sorts of manly revving sounds. The next few days he was as happy as I've ever seen him. He behaved himself at first but by the day we had to return it he was extremely naughty and gave his wife many a thrill as we passed 7 cars at a time going over 100 mph etc. etc. And to make it all worse (better?) every time he'd accelerate hard, Jed in the back seat would go "OOooooooooo!" and start chuckling too. Geeze, two petrol-heads in the household, I am TERRIFIED for the next 16 years! No, actually, the WORST part was that Michael "FORGOT" to put my name on the driver's list so I didn't get to drive it AT ALL. He is in so much trouble.

So then we drove around for 45 minutes and finally got a hotel and then when we got a room and got the baby settled, the toilet overflowed (without us ever having used it) and flooded the room and then we had to move to another room and then FINALLY AT LAST we all fell into comas and slept like the dead. What a very good, very bad day.


Brandon & Amber said...

Wow, I'm tired just from reading that! Hope you have a good rest of the trip!

Brooke said...

On the time difference... we just went to Indy yesterday, and were decided what time we would leave in the morning, etc. Pete got a look of horror on his face and said, "Indy is in another time zone, we have to leave an hour earlier!"
Kudos on the toddler treadmill, I'll keep that in mind!

Shiloh said...

Wow! What a day!!
The missing the plane (but not really) thing happened to me once-- on my way to HAWAII!! My bag got there, but I didn't. Stupid, stupid, stupid computers.

Mike and Emily said...

Way to sit next to someone famous! Seriously, that is so rad! And I love the pic of jed doing his work out. What a babe!