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The Travel Nightmare

I don't really travel a lot for my job but for some odd reason, in the last two weeks I've had to take back to back trips that took me away from my family. The first trip was to California and it wasn't so bad - flew out on a Sunday, took the red-eye home the next day, no delays and I got to sleep in a king sized bed - all in all, a pleasant business trip.
Unfortunately, my second excursion was not so hot. I stupidly started going online checking weather.com incessantly as I prepared to fly out in one day to Chicago and make it back in time to see the latest eliminee on "American Idol." But there's something about that website - it's kind of like web md - which freaks you out completely even if you have the slightest ailment. You have a rash on your arm, the next think you know, you've diagnosed yourself with leprosy. Well, weather.com is kind of like that experience. I began checking the forecast and noticed that Chicago was expecting a major rain and sleet storm the morning I was supposed to arrive and then on the way back, there was rain and sleet expected in New York. And I was getting ready to fly out on a 70 seater plane. Yikes.
To make matters worse, I was having bad dreams all week - the first night I dreamt I lost my wallet and couldn't cancel any of my credit cards. The next night I dreamt I lost my car keys and they disappeared somewhere in the ocean (a metaphor that I translated into me being in a plane crash where we land on water and I lose my keys - okay - I know, I'm paranoid). Then, when I told my kids I'd be away for the day, my son said to me - "So Mommy, you're not coming back?" Ugh...I was totally freaked by that comment.
I was up half the night, tossing and turning and then raced to the airport at the crack of dawn. While it was clear in New York, the airport in Chicago had grounded all the airplanes just as our plane began to get ready to take off. While we only waited a half hour all I could think of were crazy thoughts of us skidding off the runway in Chicago. Plus - there was only 20 people on my tiny plane - it wasn't a prop plane or anything but we were bounced around quite a bit before we finally made a safe landing.
I then raced over to my meeting where I spent four hours with some very nice Chicagoans at the Museum of Science and Industry - a great place to visit by the way - then attempted to zip back to the airport to catch an earlier flight home. When I hopped in the taxi, I noticed the consistency of the air was that of pea soup. The fog was so thick you couldn't make out a few of the buildings. Then the rain started pelting the window. Then sleet. Oh this wasn't good. Maybe I was going to bite the dust on the way home.
Made it to the terminal and it was a mad house. Flights were being cancelled all over the place. The reason - bad weather. It seemed that on that day there were tornadoes, snow storms and a security alert that had been advanced to code orange. Sheesh, I should've turned back and booked a room at the Ritz. But I persevered. I attempted to switch flights and then learned that if I put myself on the stand by list there would be 40 people ahead of me. Well, I didn't want to check myself in as baggage, so I decided to stick with my original reservation which was scheduled to leave two hours later.
Two hours turned into three and then three turned into four. My only saving grace - O'Hare is a pretty great airport - tons of places to eat, a Starbuck's, book stores everywhere - it's kind of like being in a shopping mall so while I waited for the bad weather to pass, I snatched up a copy of Sophie Kinsella's new book (click here to read my review) and then met two friendly men (don't get any ideas), plus a bunch of construction workers and we hung out, shooting the breeze, sharing travel stories, hearing about their jobs and even offering the construction workers some tips on where they could go out drinking in White Plains...cause I'm such a whino...not.
Anyway, we finally took off at 9 pm and made it home by midnight. Obviously, we didn't wind up in the water, we didn't skid off the runway and the only inconvenience was that I spent several hours in O'Hare airport with some friendly strangers. I made it home in one piece, kissed my husband and both of my sleeping kids and had a really great night's sleep.
Luckily no more travel plans are in the forecast for a while and if there are...I'm staying far, far away from weather.com!
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Posted in: Blog, Undercover Mom on 03/03/2007

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