On the Saturday after Christmas, we were scheduled to go to Florida, leaving at 7:30Am from Chicago.  We decided to spend the night with our friends in Milwaukee, and leave at 4:30 to head to the airport.

Everything went as planned.  We all got up and out of the house on time, and even congratulated ourselves on our timely departure as we drove through the very thick fog.  Of course, we commented on the fog as we drove, but neither of us ever thought to check the flight status…that would have made too much sense, right?

We got to the airport in plenty of time, returned the rental car, and headed into the ticketing area.  We were first struck by the huge number of people waiting in line at the counters for Southwest Airlines.  The lines were stretching halfway across the building, with hoards of irritated passengers waiting patiently and impatiently for their turn.  “Good thing we aren’t flying Southwest”, we thought as we passed them.

Ender would make a splendid carry-on. Why do we always buy a seat for him?

The line for our carrier seemed quite short, and it still wasn’t until we noticed that the line was NOT moving at all that we began to wonder, along with the others around us, what the problem was.  Finally, as the time ticked by and we still hadn’t moved, the realization dawned on us all that the flight had indeed been cancelled, as had many others at the airport, due to the thick fog that morning.  Of course, nothing was said to us, no one came and told us, they just allowed us to stand without a word while a single clerk at the desk worked very VERY slowly to arrange new flights for each traveller, a process that seemed to take at least 20 to 30 minutes per person.

The kids were good in the airport and kept busy drawing while we waited
The kids were good in the airport and kept busy drawing while we waited

At this point, cell phones were hastily dialed, as everyone tried to bypass the desk and rebook their tickets via the phone system.  Scott was put on hold for about 45 minutes, and was one of the first ones in line to actually get through.  Then came the arguing…”We can get you a flight on Wednesday,” they said.  “NO!”  “Well, how about Monday then?”  “NO!”  Finally, he settled for a morning flight the next day, leaving us with a surprise day in Chicago.

Julie and I at the Crab Shack

Back for another rental car we went, and when we got in it, we looked at eachother and said “Now what do we do?”  My first impulse was to call our old neighbors from Chicago, Julie and Tom.  If they weren’t available, I was planning on torturing Scott by taking him to the museum.  Lucky for him, they were available and eager to meet us for lunch at Joe’s Crab Shack.

It was wonderful to see them again, as you can see by the kid’s smiling faces.  We had a nice lunch and a chat, and we left them with the promise of spending more time with them in the summer.

After that, we decided to head back up the Milwaukee to Heidi and Paul’s house once again, for one more short evening of visiting.

The next morning, we checked the flight status BEFORE leaving the house, and looked forward to an uneventful flight to Florida.

Now, a little background here.  Due to the new rules, you have to pay for each and every bag you check.  However, each person can have 1 personal item and 1 carryon.  So, due to the tremendous amount of luggage we were carting around with us, we decided to carry on as much as possible.  A lightweight, easy thing to carry on seemed to be Addie’s new Pottery Wheel, that she had gotten for Christmas.  We wrapped it in brown paper and carried it with us to the security screeners.

When they paused at it and started examining it closely, we thought it might be due to the fact that it had some plastic tools in the shape of blades.  They were plastic, though, so shouldn’t have posed a problem.  However, as the time ticked by and we stood there feeling more and more freaked out.  People were coming over to look at the screen.  They were discussing it quietly amongst themselves.  I was getting more and more irritated and kept saying “JUST OPEN IT!  IT’S A POTTERY WHEEL!”.  It was at this point that  Scott told me to shut up because I was embarrassing him.

Finally, Scott, after listening closely to what they were saying, figured out the problem.  It seems that bag of air-dry clay looks suprising like a bag of C-4.  Government watch list, here we come!

After at least a half an hour of this, with me convinced that we were going to jail, they finally opened the brown paper, to find, yes, a Pottery Wheel, along with 2 bags of air-dry clay.  After putting them through whatever bomb test they put them through, they promptly confiscated them.  One of the attendants snottily asked us why we didn’t check that with the luggage, and I snottily replied “If they didn’t charge us $20 bucks to check each freaking bag, we would have!”, prompting Scott to pull me away quickly before my mouth got us in more trouble.

Addie, charging her Nintendo DS, joins the ranks of the geeks in Minneapolis
Addie, charging her Nintendo DS, joins the ranks of the geeks in Minneapolis

After that, we actually were able to get on a plane and fly to Florida.  My friend, Maureen, picked us up from the airport in Orlando on Sunday evening, (THANK’S MAUREEN!), and we got to our house in Florida about 30 hours later than was originally scheduled.  It was good to be home, if only for a few days.

Tomorrow (Or whenever I get around to writing again):  Its raining….IN THE WALL!

Oh, by the way, if anyone knows where to get some air-dry (kiln not needed) clay in India, Addie would be very appreciatiative.

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