Pardon the Interruption … It’s Family Time

When we last left off, we had arrived in Florida. We spent Mother’s Day there with Steven’s mom (Hi Mom!!), Aunt Es and Robin (Hi to you beautiful ladies, too). On Monday after Mother’s Day, we began the 15.5 hour drive up to Baltimore for our granddaughter’s birthday. She’s 2 and the cutest baby ever. I dare you to argue!

Fifteen hours is a long way, so we made it 12 and decided to stop. Here’s a hint: If you make the drive from South Florida to Baltimore, find somewhere to stop that is not Emporia, VA. I called it a one-horse town and Steven said I was being generous (extremely generous).

Obligatory Insta sign

We are now ensconced in a lovely AirBnB only three blocks from Camden Yards. Sadly, the Yankees were in town already, so dutiful wife that I am, I allowed Steven to drag me to a game, which also sadly, the Yankees won. The nice thing about being so close to a ballpark with a losing team is that it’s easy to get tickets. We decided at 6 o’clock to go to the 7:10 game and got great seats. Steven and his son had gone to the game that Monday and took advantage of the 1992-priced promotion tickets. Baseball for $18 a seat (The Yankees won both games! Gooo Yankees!).

Our next family event was my nephew’s graduation from University of Maryland. We thought we had lucked out when he told us we didn’t have to attend the whole school morning ceremony, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. We waited almost four hours to hear his name and watch him walk across the stage (which took 15 seconds or so), and that doesn’t count that we got there an hour and a half before it got started, which was already 30 minutes behind. Most of the basketball arena was empty by the time they got to him because the hungry, freezing masses started to leave after their loved ones walked. I feel bad for those last few grads, but we were all exhausted by then. It was wonderful to see the family and spend endless hours sitting next to my niece getting delirious and slap-happy from the endless recitation of names.

Next up, week spend a week watching our granddaughter, which will be fabulous and exhausting, so my nephew and I will be heading to Barcelona (Madrid and Lisboa, too) at the tail end of that to recuperate. (Leaving me to handle the last day on my own…Steven and a two year old, who will be looking after whom?)

Back in the USA

Friday morning at 11:30 we left our AirBnB in Guadalajara for the 30-minute ride to the airport.  It is the end of another leg of our foolishness. We are usually pretty careful about the weight of our luggage, but the prices got the better of us and bought a couple of bottles of tequila and one very heavy present. Both our bags came in at just a shade over the 23-kilo maximum, but we figured we would risk it. At the airport the scales started at 23.5kg and slowly balanced themselves to exactly 23kg. Whew.

Somewhere over Mexico

Our destination today is Fort Lauderdale, with a. stopover in Houston. The flight to Houston (IAH) was smooth and easy. The flight left and landed on time. The arrival in Houston started smoothly. We used our global entry for the first time. The scanner took really bad photos of us and printed them on what looked like old style fax paper. We grabbed our entry slips and walked right through immigration. It took a while for our bags to appear, which I guess is the drawback to not standing in line at immigration, but one we will gladly take. Once the bags arrived, we walked them over to the transfer station, dropped them off and headed to the new gate.

We didn’t realize that we had to go through security again, and that was a bit of a nightmare. No TSA precheck so a long line, we had to take everything out of our backpacks (phones, Kindles, laptops), and basically strip down to our skivvy’s (take off shoes and belts) to get through the system. I first couldn’t find my Kindle in the bag, then thought I had left my cellphone in the bin. After a few minutes of panic, I found the phone and we headed into the terminal. Did I mention that Houston was 39° F and our flight was delayed by an hour? Houston has not endeared itself to us; both flights out of there were delayed.

Me, The Very Reverend Esther & Sue

Sue and I retired to the first bar we found and ordered a couple of cocktails…and had sticker shock. $20 per drink. We spent as much on two drinks as we did on drinks AND DINNER in Guadalajara.

The flight eventually left and we arrived at Fort Lauderdale at about 11:30pm. We hopped an Uber and arrived at my mother’s place at 12:30 almost exactly 12 hours after we left.

Saturday we spent the day visiting with friends and family and having a nice Thai meal with my mother. Sunday we returned to the airport and flew up to Baltimore to spend the week visiting with our most favorite (and only) granddaughter – and her parents.

Next stop – Rome!

Next Stop: Somewhere Near Baltimore

A reminder of why we don’t want to stay in Chicago

We didn’t take a big trip this summer for many life reasons. Don’t you hate it when reality gets in the way of travel? We’re dreaming of Vietnam and Cambodia, but our next jaunt is to the Baltimore area to see Steven’s son and daughter-in-law (and my stepson and stepdaughter-in-law). While we’re there, we’re going to look around and think about permanence. This whole time of life is a little bit travel, a little bit leap into the unknown. One thing I know for sure, though, Steven does not want to live through another Chicago winter and if Farmer’s Almanac is right, it’s going to be a bad one.

Desert beats snowstorm any day

That’s why the trip to Utah; it was a fact-finding mission. Do we want to temporarily live in St. George? Would it be possible? Do we like it? Is the the right semi-long-term trip for us? The jury is out. For sure the winter would be easy. Plus, it is a wonderful vacation spot: Beautiful, warm, sunny, plenty of hiking and we did get in a beautiful hike, so no complaints there. But….vacation! travel! Someplace new and crazy. Not happening.

I wish at least we had time to drive East. The shorter the flight, the less I see the need to get on a plane, but, again, reality. Plane=quicker, at least if there’s a pilot, no weather, no random delays, no mechanical problems, no luggage that doesn’t match a passenger. I love to travel and see planes as a necessary evil. If I am flying over an ocean I can’t think about how I would rather be driving and then I get a free checked bag and maybe some food.




Holiday travels

I was all geared up for the usual drama of air travel on the day before Thanksgiving. I had checked the weather forecast–no snow (except it was snowing, just a bit). I checked the news for anything related to traffic snarls or huge waits at security–I saw nothing out of the ordinary.  So, of course, I assumed it was going to be horrible and the news just had not started to report on it.

My flight was scheduled to leave at 4:30pm. I like to arrive about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes before the flight.  But given the expected travpocolypse (this is going to be the busiest Thanksgiving travel season EVER!)…I figured that security would take an extra 30 minutes. I calculated that I should arrive 1:30-1:45 hours before takeoff. (That’s my math whiz at work.) It takes anywhere from 35-60 minutes to get to the airport, so I figured that I would give it 60–just in case. That means rather than leaving at around 2:45pm, I would need to leave about 1:45pm.

My Lyft arrived at 2:00pm and I was on my way. There was no traffic, we sailed right to the airport in 30 minutes. There was a small delay in the airport, but all the traffic was going to arrivals and my driver did a neat little swing into the taxi lane and scooted right up to departures. I thanked her for the great driving, wished her a happy Thanksgiving, and hopped out. She dropped me right outside the door that leads to the TSA-Pre check security. I was stunned: There were only 4 people in line. I joined the “line” and  barely got my ID out before the TSA agent waved me forward. BOOM! Through security in under 5 minutes.

I had 2 hours before my flight….oh well, better safe than sorry. I found a spot to sit, pulled out my laptop, and did a bit of work. We boarded right on time. I put my bag into the overhead and settled into my seat to watch Narcos on Netflix.

Once everyone had boarded the doors did not close, always a bad thing. Then, about 5 minutes after everyone was seated, one more person got on. OK. I figured, they were waiting for her.

The doors still did not close….

Then the dreaded pilot announcement. We have a maintenance issue. If you don’t recall the drama from my last flight (also on American), here it is.  Luckily (luckily?) the maintenance issue only delayed us about 1:15 hours–on a 2-hour flight–and we took off at about 5:45.

The flight was uneventful and I managed to get through three episodes of season 3 of Narcos. I would highly recommend the series if you haven’t watched it. The only unusual thing that happened on the flight was that my seatmate (it was a small plane, just 4 across) just sat in his seat the entire time.  He did not read anything, he looked out the window for a bit, but other than that he just sat and stared straight ahead. He didn’t seem to be a nervous flyer, he just seemed like he shut down for the flight–I wonder which brand of cyborg he is.

I am flying home on Saturday morning, so stay tuned to see how that flight plays out.