Friday, November 6, 2015

Nebraska: Day One

Travel Diary

I was in a tizzy all week getting ready to leave for Nebraska for my grandfather's eighty-fifth birthday. The week included two field trips and little else in the way of school because I was rushing about trying to clean the house and organize things for my in laws to arrive in my absence. It was the most bizarre experience that I'd work like crazy to get one room clean, turn around, and everything was filthy again. I felt like I literally spent all week cleaning and I know when I left that the house was topsy turvy with nary a thing ready for Chris' parents. Next time I'll lay around eating bon bons and experience reduced stress!

Saying goodbye

The morning came and, despite my doubts about how badly the morning would go, Chris got everyone ready for CCE and deliver me to the airport on time.

I don't have a picture of me laden, but I traveled with the 15-pound car seat in my right hand, the 42-pound rolling suitcase in my left, the 17-pound baby in a sling on my front, and the heavy backpack on my back--yes, I seriously thought it wise to travel with both laptop and tablet plus two books in my pack, forgetting that my hands would be full with the baby the entire day. This, I felt, was packing light.

The first leg of the flight went wonderfully, in large part because my seatmate was a 'guardian angel' of sorts who set me at ease. I've traveled so often with babies that traveling with one little 3-month-old doesn't worry me too much, but it can be so uncomfortable if one's traveling companion hates children. As it was, this fellow was a grandfather who adores babies. He oooo'd and cooed and proudly showed me videos of his and his wife's kitties and doggies: no grandbabies yet, but clearly he needs some. He talked to me about raising his own kids and, when Thomas projectile spit-up and I inquired worriedly if the milk had gotten on my neighbor, the grandfather replied, "No, but it wouldn't have mattered if it did. Like it hasn't happened plenty of times before!"

The baby alternately napped, giggled, and charmed everyone for the first two-hour leg, and then we landed in Chicago where the hour-and-a-half layover wasn't nearly as long as we'd hoped. I had to race from B concourse to F concourse, stopping only to change a diaper in the restroom. I thought I might not even have time to eat food for lunch, but, when I found my gate, realized I could grab a pre-made cold sandwich (actually delicious and fresh egg salad on pumpernickel), which I scarfed, finishing the last bite as the plane was boarding.

Riding the 26-seater puddle jumper wasn't as nice as the first leg, and even though it was 30 minutes shorter, it felt much longer. My seatmate this time was a gentleman who clearly was quite uncomfortable around a baby. I was so thankful to get Thomas latched on and nursed to sleep before our plane got off the tarmac and he slept for the entire flight, even though that meant I couldn't move a muscle, let alone read a book or drink my water.

Landing in Lincoln, Nebraska, is always a treat as the airport is doll-sized. When one stands on the second floor at the top of the escalators and looks down, one sees the entirety of the airport with one sweep from left to right. The airport building is exponentially smaller than a Big Box store like Costco.

So, I landed and stepped out of the gate directly into a restroom to change the baby's diaper and freshen up. When I emerged, the place was like a ghost town, not only with all the people disappeared, but the news-and-snacks store chained up and darkened and the ropes drawn across the hallways. It was only three o'clock in the afternoon: what was going on? I crept down to the luggage area to find the conveyor belts still and no luggage in sight.

Then I approached the Customer Service desk where there were three elderly volunteers wearing their bright red coats and I announced that I was seeking the luggage off the flight from Chicago. The three startled chuckling knowingly amongst themselves, "Oh, she's the one!" "Yup!"

"Dear, we expect that people will come directly to pick up their luggage. When you didn't come, we put it behind the airline counter." She pointed across the room.

I hadn't come "directly" because I'd used the restroom for five minutes, which is longer than it took for the other 25 passengers to retrieve their luggage and all of them (the only passengers in thew hole place) to clear the airport! I just began laughing and laughing with delight at the absurdity of this cute airport.

I retrieved my luggage, rented my car, and made my way successfully to my grandparent's house, where my Aunt Erica is also visiting, and we enjoyed a perfectly fall-themed dinner of chili, corn bread, and green salad.

Back at home, Chris made it through CCE, the children playing football in the rain, naps back at home, his parents arriving, hot delivery pizza for dinner, and bedtime: I told him he must have been tired from hearing all the wailing and tears of the children missing their mother and he kindly gave me the gift of not disabusing me from my wishful notion.

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