Praying All the Way

Well, I am safely in Washington but it has been quite an adventure! On Friday morning I did my grocery shopping as usual and then finished my packing. I was kind of disappointed the my new carryon suitcase hadn’t arrived yet. One thing I learned from my trip to the UK is that a woman of my age and state of decrepitude needs a four-wheeled carryon. My old one has two wheels and I found it became very cumbersome and difficult to pull around when it was fully loaded with another bag strapped on top.

But I waited so long to order a four-wheeled replacement that it didn’t come in time, so I went ahead and packed my old one for this trip. Then, as Walter was taking it out to the car, UPS pulled up and delivered the new carryon! I knew it would take only five minutes or so to transfer everything over, so we quickly opened the package and I got everything transferred in no time. This is easy to do when you use packing cubes.

Even so, we were about 10 minutes later pulling out of the driveway than we had intended to be. We had barely gotten on the road before I got a text from the airline saying that my second flight (from Denver to Spokane) had been canceled. Minutes later a second text arrived saying that my first flight had been delayed, so our late departure was no longer an issue.

This was my first time to fly Southwest and my first time flying out of Love Field, which is a lot less imposing than DFW. My first order of business, of course, was to go to the desk and see if I could sort out how to still get to Spokane. The best solution I was offered was to go ahead and fly to Denver, spend the night, and go to Spokane Saturday morning. I went for it, knowing that I would most likely have to spend the night in the Denver airport.

The flight to Denver was one of the scariest of my life. We flew through some huge severe storms and the “fasten seatbelt” light never went off. During a brief lull, they started serving drinks but had to abort that mission almost immediately. The plane was tossed around like a grain of corn in a popcorn popper. I don’t know about everyone else, but I prayed the whole way! The landing was also scary but such a relief.

When I arrived in Denver the prospect of spending the night in the airport seemed a lot less appealing. I had to pick up my checked suitcase, which meant that everywhere I went I had to take two suitcases and a backpack with me. I was SO grateful to have that new carryon that rolls so effortlessly, because my larger suitcase does not roll very easily at all.

Julie has a friend in Denver that she thought might be willing to host me for the night, and she was, but the challenges of getting there dissuaded me from attempting it. Much as it went against my frugal instincts, I then thought of getting a room at the airport hotel—which was already sold out.

Another friend who saw my post on Facebook went to work trying to find a room for me, but everything was sold out due to the many flight cancellations. I resigned myself to my fate and started looking for a likely spot to hunker down. I found a seat up against a wall where I could lean my head back. Thus began a long, long night.

I hadn’t found anyplace to sit that wasn’t bordering a major walkway. Herds of people stampeded past at regular intervals, exiting the airport after their flights. Many of them had long skinny bags containing skis. I would doze off for 15 or 20 minutes at a time, then wake up due to a new influx of passersby. Every time I had to make the long hike down to the ladies’ room, I of course had to take all three pieces of luggage with me.

There was a lull in airport activity between about 2:00 and 4:00 a.m., but it wasn’t terribly helpful to me because that’s when all the cleaners were busy sweeping, floor polishing, and vacuuming. So I continued with my little cat naps, trying desperately to find a more comfortable position each time.

By 5:30 in the morning the airport was a beehive of activity. I have never been so grateful to be awake at that hour! I realized that even though my flight didn’t leave until 8:45, my best plan was to go through security immediately so I’d be in the part of the airport most likely to offer a cup of hot tea.

Getting through security was an ordeal as always but at the end of it I searched for and found a Starbucks. Normally I make a point of avoiding Starbucks, but on this occasion I happily waited in a long line so I could get a nice big cup of tea. I found a window seat at my departure gate and sat watching the sun rise as I drank my tea.

The flight to Spokane was a lot less scary, and we actually landed 25 minutes early. I texted Julie, only to find out that she was running late. So I collected my checked bag and settled down for another wait as I watched the snow gently falling outside. A cool thing at the Spokane airport is that they have rocking chairs scattered around the airport.

After Julie arrived, we set off to run some errands. Our first stop was a thrift store, where I was able to find a pair of snow pants that will work for me. Apparently the town where we’ll be having the reunion is even snowier than Spokane.

After a couple more stops to buy food for the reunion, we headed north on the 45-minute drive to Julie’s house—and the car died. Julie managed to get it off onto the shoulder, but we were close enough to the right lane on the highway that every passing vehicle rocked the car. Sometimes you get more of an adventure than you bargained for!

After calling her husband and the AAA, it seemed the most likely explanation was that she had run out of gas. So we bundled up a little more and talked while waiting for rescue.

Eventually, a man showed up with a can of gas which he dispensed into Julie’s tank. Sure enough, the engine fired right up! Naturally we made a beeline to a gas station where she could fill the tank before continuing on our way through stunningly beautiful snow-covered woodland.

Julie’s new home is a cottage that she and her husband are still in the process of renovating. It is by a lake that just looks like a snow-covered field at the moment. It was such a relief to arrive and have a cup of tea! After which both of us took naps . . .

In the evening we got to work on kitchen duties for the reunion. I did all the cutting of stew ingredients while Julie coated and browned the meat. We also spent quite a time working on a jigsaw puzzle she had set up. Her husband Ken arrived back from a business trip also.

Before I knew it, it was 11:00, which was 1:00 in the morning Texas time! I don’t know how I managed to keep going that long. But I have to say that after spending a night sleeping in a chair in an airport, getting to take a hot shower and then climb into a warm comfy bed seems like the most luxurious thing in the world.

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