Just before our trip to Denver, we began to make plans to go and see Rob, Erin and Conner in North Carolina. We’d not been to their house since their wedding, before Conner was born, and we’d not seen Conner since 2011 when we went to Maggie’s Valley in North Carolina.
We got our plane reservations, hotel accommodations and the rental car all lined up well before the actual travel date, as is the best thing for travelers who are planning to fly.
Now, I have to admit I hate flying, especially after 9-11. It isn’t being on the plane I hate; it’s the hassle it takes to make sure one is at the airport on time, security and all the surprise fees one has to pay. It wasn’t until the day before our flight I found out that we had to make reservations and pay for our luggage. Then there’s the need for a rental car, which has its own issues as well. Fortunately Avis, the rental car company we used, made renting a car very easy.
But these inconveniences are only part of my dislike for flying. When one flies, one misses the beautiful countryside that can be experienced driving down the road, especially the back roads. Yes, it’s not as fast as flying, but (for me) it’s a lot less stressful and the people one meets while driving are worth the time it takes to drive. Yes, driving across country is much preferred to flying, but there are times when one just doesn’t have time to make the trip, especially if it’s more than twelve hours.
So, on Friday morning about 1 a.m. we were getting up after having to go to bed unusually early, even for us. I’m an early riser, but not THAT early. It was going to be a long day. We’d made arrangements with Jon-Luke to take us to the airport, since he wasn’t able to go, due to his work, and he was going to pick us up on Monday around noon.
We all got into the truck around 2 a.m. and started on our way to the airport, with a stop at IHOP on the way. For those who don’t know, the nearest IHOP is in Owasso, about 20 minutes. We had a quick snack, packed our bags into the truck and started on our way.
The trip to Owasso was uneventful with a beautiful half-moon and a myriad of stars to light our way on the dark road between Bartlesville and Owasso. We had a great breakfast, and then went on to the airport. I was pleasantly surprised at how easily we processed our baggage, how easily we went through security, and how easily we found ourselves waiting at the proper gate, an hour before schedule.
Well. Better too early than too late.
We finally boarded the plane while it was still dark outside. I was hoping I’d get to see the crescent moon while we were in the air, so I could get a picture, but it didn’t happen. I was on the wrong side of the plane, and I wasn’t at a window seat, anyway.
What I did see as we took off were the lights over Tulsa, and then once we got to 10,000 feet I saw the sunrise. The sunrise at that height was wondrously beautiful, even looking through the smudged windows of the Delta we were on. The orange pre-dawn sky was amazing over the clouds, while thousands of feet below, the ground lay in darkness, slumbering. Lakes and rivers looked like a silver mist in the darkness. It was just breathtaking.
And it’s crazy, but I actually enjoyed the centrifugal force pushing against me in the seat as the pilot took us higher and faster. Flying doesn’t bother me at all. Being a writer with an imagination, I wondered if, by some inexplicable chance, I found myself hurtling through the air without the plane, would I have the presence of mind to realize I was going to die and decide to enjoy the trip down? I know it sounds irrational, but once one has accepted that one is going to die, wouldn’t it make sense (in a case like this) to make the most of the journey? Would I be able to remember that once I hit the ground I wouldn’t have enough time to realize I was hurt before dying? Let’s face it: I would be a splat.
But anyway, I didn’t find myself hurtling through space and you know it because I’ve posted this blog.
My next concern was that we’d be able to get to our next gate and catch the next plane on time. Atlanta is a huge airport. We disembarked the plane, found out where our gate was and hustled through the airport. John and I passed a tram and he wanted to board it, but I was reluctant. I told him I thought we could walk to the next gate faster. Silly me. He convinced me we should take the tram, and of course he was right. We never would have made it.
But we did make it, just in time. They were already boarding the plane when we got to our gate.
Again the flight was perfectly fine. I didn’t enjoy this flight nearly as much as the first. By this time it was daylight and the passenger next to the window closed the shade so he could sleep and I couldn’t look out.
During that time I did read an interesting article in the Sky Magazine on 3-D printers. I wonder if they’ll ever make airplanes or space ships in a 3-D printer. I’m such a Geek…. And proud of it!
Finally we arrived in North Carolina, left the airport and made our way to the rental car facility. The clerks at the desk were friendly and helpful, and soon we were in our red Prius, except, we couldn’t find the key. John went back to the office to report the missing key. They told him it would be in the visor, but when he returned, we couldn’t find a key in the visor. This time I went back. They were surprised the key wasn’t where they expected it, but rather than delay us more, they gave us another Prius; a black one.
The Prius was okay as cars go. It was very quiet, and it was roomy, but there was something about it I didn’t like. It was good for what we needed, and we only needed it until Monday morning.
It took a little bit of time getting used to it. All cars are basically set up the same way: a steering wheel, gas and a brake pedal (sometimes a clutch and stick shift) a dash board and seats. I find it interesting that each car feels different and each car takes time to get used to.
By now it was about noon and John and I were totally famished. We decided to stop at a Chick-fil-A and have a quick bite of lunch before we drove the hour to Rob and Erin’s house. We got to the cashier and he asked our name so he could call us when the order was ready. I said, “Hambrick… or wait, since we’re at Chick fil A you can call us Chick Brick.” The cashier laughed.
A little later I went up to get a refill on my drink and the cashier who’d waited on us before remembered our name. Which goes to show that when a person laughs and makes light of life, when a person is easy to work with and has fun with people, generally people remember that person pleasantly and life in general is improved. If we could remember to laugh more and take ourselves less seriously then we can all have fun.
We finished our most excellent lunch (I think Chick-fil-A has the best fast food) and took off down the road. An hour later we were pulling into Rob’s and Erin’s driveway. Erin was at work, Rob and Conner came out to meet us. I gave Rob a big hug, I shook Conner’s hand (he doesn’t know me very well as Grandma and I didn’t want to force a hug on him). Rob hugged me back, teased me about having underwear on my head (I wear a bandana type scarf to keep my hair under control) and teased us about the Prius.
Then we walked in the house. I was so surprised (and excited): around the corner Christian and Heather appeared! Wow! The only person missing in our weekend was Jon-Luke!
We had a great time with our kids over the weekend. We got to attend Conner’s fourth birthday (Grandpa and Grandma Hambrick have never been able to be at his birthdays) and we spent a lot of time with the kids and the in-laws.
Next year we hope to be able to go to Wyoming as a type of family reunion. I hope it works out.
Monday morning we got up early (about 4 a.m.) got some food at McDonald’s (not as good as Chick) and delivered our car to Avis. Our flight home was uneventful, except for a delay in Atlanta due to airplane maintenance issues. The issues were resolved relatively quickly; and it didn’t much matter since we were flying from Atlanta to Tulsa. I would have been pretty antsy if this happened to our plane in North Carolina.
When we arrived in Tulsa, the airport seemed deserted. It was strange after being in the crowded and bustling Atlanta airport. Which reminds me, on the trip out I thought of a story idea and it was a strange premonition of what we would experience in Tulsa on this return trip. The story is about a difficult business man who pushes his way on everyone and is very rude to the people in the plane and the airport staff. When the plan lands, he gets up, like everyone else, yanks his bags from the overhead baggage compartment and rudely pushes his way out of the crowded plane down the tunneled gangway. When he steps out into the airport at his gate he’s all alone. He looks behind him, but no one is getting out of the plane behind him. He rushes back up the gangway: no one on the plane, no one in the tunnel, no one in the airport. He goes back out to the airport which is deserted. The only thing he hears is the echoing Musak and recorded messages “Do not leave bags unattended” etc.
It would be a kind of Twilight Zone episode.
Seeing Christian, Heather, Rob, Erin and Conner made it worth it.