Eyes open. Body immediately upright. Panic. How is it that I can set the coffee pot to brew at the right time but my alarm fails me? Mad dash to Lucia's room. Blurry, bewildered eyes slowly look at me through a less than happy face. It is 7:05 am and our flight leaves at 8:10 am. One hour. Panic gulps the timely coffee. Gather up bags and last minute bobbles. Dress the now upright child. Remember to put a bra on. Suck a puff then mad dash for the car. Dee has volunteered to drop us off. Smiley face check on her side of the ' I owe you one' list.
We run in, straps, bags, hair and child flying around us. "Oh, you just made it. I was just about to close the window," the attendant says to us in a matronly tone. Run. Damn the endless mouse maze of black ribbon isle markers. ID's? Check. Shoes fly. Bags birth smaller bags. Smaller bags birth clear ziplock bags. Electronic bags opened. Dr. Seuss bag wrangled from two year old. Soy milk turns out not to be explosive. The smaller bags converge to reform larger bags, like a school of fish regrouping after a shark swims through for lunch. Up the stairs, down the corridor. Run.
"The pilot wants to look at something on the plane. Nothing bad, but he wants to check it out, so there will be a slight delay", the attendant tells the group of us puffy eyed, yet eager passengers. The beginning of a failed attempt at escape. Delay becomes stall, becomes murmurs, becomes boiling blood, becomes near riot. Gasps of frustration and anger heat up the cell phones. "So, well, your flight is not cancelled but... all of you will have to rebook connecting flights. Like a spooked flock of birds taking flight, bodies rise and arrow in the same direction... the counter where suddenly panicked women, type frantically and try to do a daunting task. And then there was one. One very woeful, panicked woman for a full plane of people who had been sitting and waiting for over three hours at this point. Some were going to Paris, some to Florida, some to Madison (us) and some to Georgia.
You see, the thing about the Missoula airport is, it is very small, and there is always someone there you know. Today , for us, it was Wess and his family. Jodi, his wife, and their 6 month old baby girl. A god send if you ask me. We had fun. New toys for baby to play with, courtesy of the Dr. Seuss bag and they had an umbrella stroller that Lucia could push around. Fantastic. Phone numbers exchanged for future play dates and summer barbecues. A silver lining to this morning.
As the storm raged on we grouped together for strength, support, and comfort. Lines, cell phone calls to service people with thick accents, abstract humoring of children. Ba-ha stroller rides through terminals to keep the child from crying. Four hours into this ordeal, we emerge through automatic doors into the day with a new flight plan. A new timeline. A new appreciation for the patience of airline employees.
Cellphone. Friendly pick-up by our friend Tim, who always gets us out of jams. Home. Shower. Back in the truck. Back to the airport. Back to the modes of moving. Check on bags birth. Shoes enjoy a moment of reprieve. Back up the stairs. On the plane. Finally.
On the plane at last, we discover we have been upgraded to first class. Hardly compensation for missing the family dinner that was planned for us upon our timely arrival. Portable DVD, I love you and your inventor. Take off. Little, less than happy eyes, close. Quiet. Coffee please.
We have one connection and arrive in Appleton, Wisconsin. Not our destination. In fact, it is at least an hour and a half from our destination, but at least we are in the right state. I hope Wess and his family didn't have to catch that 6 am flight in god knows where to get to Atlanta. I'm crossing my fingers someone will be there to pick us up as I write down my frustrations on paper in first class. "More coffee please".
Oh, and I stole a blanket, so we're even airline company.
*Note* Someone was there to pick us up. Mary thank you. The rest of the trip was a lot of fun as Lucia spent a week with Grams (grandmas/grandpas) galore and Sam and I enjoyed ourselves at Jazz Fest in New Orleans.