So, the worst part of traveling and having a bad experience on the way to the place is knowing you have no choice but to go home. No matter how horrible it is you know you have to do it again--or have your belongings shipped to your new home, right? In my naivete I thought surely lightning can't strike twice, right? The trip home has to be reasonably smooth because the trip up had so many complications. Ha.
We get to the Syracuse airport about 40 minutes before my flight was to leave. Wendy helped me check in my bags and stuff. When the man at the counter asked how many bags I had I said "Just this one suitcase and the...carseat--wait!!!!! My carseat is in my friend's car!!!" So, I run off leaving my suitcase, wallet, everything there at the counter to chase Wendy down before they left the airport w/ my carseat! I made it...phew! The man told me to hurry because they would be boarding soon. Good!!! I rush up to security (hurry up and wait) and get through fine (although it's a real pain to "undress" yourself and a toddler--who then does not want her shoes back on for anything--so you can get through security. But, I understand why. Whew, my bags are checked, we are through security and the flight is scheduled to leave on time, right? We're good!!! Notsomuch.
They tell us there is a delay in Chicago O'Hare where our connection is. My layover in Chicago is 2 hours so I still figured I was fine to make the connection to San Antonio. Nope. They got us off the plane after we finally got on, then (not having learned my lesson about food opportunities in airports the first go-round) I stood in line trying to figure out what the deal was instead of getting some dinner for Haley and myself. Really. The true definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. **eyes roll** When I am almost at the front of the line they call for us to hurry back onto our plane because there might be a break in the weather in Chicago (the weather that had caused a ground-stop there) and we'd have a small window of opportunity to take off. Ugh. So, back to the plane we go. (Without any food--but don't worry, the flight attendants had a chance to get pizza--I could smell it like a bloodhound--because they had not had to stand in said customer service line) Anyways...we take off (2 1/2 hours late--and my layover was 2 hours) Luckily I had very nice people around me. The men in the seat across the aisle were talking to Haley a lot of the time and one even held her and played with her. It was wonderful. Too bad my child has no sense of modesty. She repeatedly acted the part of "Babies Gone Wild--the Next Generation" in showing him her belly. Everything he said to her she responded by lifting her shirt. Yeah. That's good Haley. The minute I get to Chicago I get Haley some McDonalds (healthfood) and stand in yet another customer service line to get information on the next flight to San Antonio that night. Haley was swinging on the (moveable) line dividers, playing on a wheelchair, running off into the terminal--amusing everyone in line-except me. But can I really blame her? She'd been sitting for quite some time on the plane. When I **finally** get to the front of the line I am told with a trite sympathetic acknowledgement to my predicament that there are no flights to San Antonio until the next morning at 8 am. So, she cheerfully hands me a voucher for 60% off of a hotel in the area (the delay was not their fault it was "air traffic control--weather" so you don't get a free room which I understand) and tickets for the first flight out in the morning. Now, I have to try to get a hotel room and find my way to it!? I decide that first I should let baggage services know just how important it is that my bags arrive in San Antonio (with me) the next morning. Because you see, I don't live in San Antonio. I live almost 3 hours south and A) will not be able to take my baby home without the carseat and B) How in the world would I get the bags when they did arrive?. "Yes ma'am, they'll be on the earliest flight out to your destination" **eyes roll** OK. Yeah.
By this time I have called the 1-800 number on the voucher for the hotel discount and I am sent (by some rotating computer genius) to the Crowne Plaza Hotel but it's all done by automation (and we all know how I feel about that from entry I made about that subject) and I cannot hear the confirmation number. So, I have no idea if I actually have a room or how to prove it. But, I head off in the direction the baggage services lady tells me to go (for the shuttle to the hotel). On the way to follow her directions I am greeted by some man (not wearing any kind of uniform or name tag--just street clothes) who asks me where I'm going and then tells me to follow him. Mind you I'm in Chicago. I do it. Don't ask me why. I don't know why. But I follow a strange man in a direction different from what the lady told me to. Stupid, right? Luckily (blessedly I guess) he leads me to the right place but wants a tip! Aaah, I get the game now! That's what he does for $$! But, although I am stupid enough to follow a strange man in a (big) strange city, I am NOT stupid enough to pull out my (pretty much empty) wallet and find him some dollars. (I didn't ask for his help in the first place) So, I tell him I'm sorry and he leaves. We ride to the hotel and it's a NICE one. My rate (after the 60% off) is $77 (eyes bulging). Yeah. I needed a clean shower and a bed without bugs! Not the Ritz! Oh well, at this point I don't care. I need a shower and Haley needs serious cleaning. She is after all covered in INTERNATIONAL germs. (Remember the refusal to put her shoes back on?? Her feet are now BLACK! Eww!) I get her cleaned up (she hates the shower by the way so I'm sure the next door neighbor people wondered if they should call the police) and we get to bed. The next day (thankfully) was uneventful. We made it back to the airport easily and onto the plane which actually left the airport on time. My luggage made it on time. All was well. I was very glad to be back in my van, headed back to my children and husband. :)
Now, let me add a little Post script here: My visit was WONDERFUL. It was worth the craziness getting there and getting home to finally meet Wendy and her family. :) We had the nicest time and it was not awkward or difficult in any way. I am very thankful to Wendy and Steve (her dh) for purchasing my plane ticket w/ their sky miles (otherwise I would not have gotten to go). And I am extremely grateful to her parents (Mr. and Mrs. Robertson) for having 2 extra people in their home so graciously--feeding us and boarding us.