In search of what's next

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Take a little trip...

We were supposed to have a family reunion at my sister's house in Orlando over Christmas, but due to my dad falling and breaking his leg, we postponed it til March. So with much hand wringing and schedule conflicts, we picked a week to attempt the get together.

The Mrs. wasn't able to get her schedule to work out, so we had decided to not go (much to the rest of the family's displeasure). After much prodding from my sister's husband, I decided I would go alone since my wife had to be on call for her job. So since I didn't have the available vacation days for the entire week, I picked 2 days to go down there, hoping to make them a Mon-Tues trip so I could go on Sunday afternoon and get a full day there to relax before returning home.

Turns out, since my sister's husband was buying the tickets, I went on a Tues-Wed. Early Tues flight down and later Wed flight back. I'd be tired Thurs going to work, but it'd be nice to see the whole family together (which had not happened in a very long time).

I flew out of Indianapolis which is about 2.5 hrs away from my house and since the flight was leaving at 6:30 I figured I'd have to be out of bed by 1 in the morning, so I drove up the Indy the night before and got a hotel. That should have been an indicator of the next couple of days, but I didn't think that much of it. I couldn't find the motel per the mapping instructions off the motel website, so I tried to use my Verizon phone GPS, but it wouldn't work. Ain't technology grand?? I finally found the motel about an hour later.

Next morning, got up about 4 and made it to the gate about an hour before scheduled takeoff. I flew Southwest which if you haven't flown on it, you're in for a real treat. At least now they have a plane loading method that keeps the stampede to a minimum, but it's still stadium seating on the plane. (Like your seat? Don't leave it then or somebody else may get it). Anyway, the cattle prods were kept out of site as we got on the plane and found a seat.

So far, so good.


I was about 7 or 8 rows into the plane and could see easily into the cockpit. Usually, just before takeoff, the cockpit door is closed, just before the cabin door to the ramp is closed. I looked at my watch and noticed we were a few minutes past departure time and the cockpit door was still open. Hmm, I'm wondering if we're going to get to leave on time.....

Suddenly, the captain jumps up and runs out of the cockpit and up the cattle ramp. I'm thinking to myself, I thought the captain was supposed to stay with his ship until everyone was off in case of an emergency, not get to be the first one running away like a little girl.

While I'm sitting there pondering this, (as I'm sure some of the other passengers must have noticed), the co-pilot gets up, finds a flashlight, then starts to crawl around on the cockpit floor looking under and behind the seats looking for something. Before I had the sense to keep my mouth shut, I found myself asking out loud "Did you lose the keys??" That got other people's attention and the murmuring got kind of loud. Then the attendant that took my bording pass upon entering the cattle ramp grabbed the microphone and informed us that the plane systems needed to be powered off and since it was dark outside, we had to deplane.

Of course, I'm a little over overcautious because my concern right at that second was he was the guy that took my boarding pass, which would never be seen again, in the first place. So, they make us get off the plane and everybody is standing around the gate not wanting to stray too far in fear on not being to get back on the plane (since NOBODY has a boarding pass now).

My sister, who was really excited and anxious for me to come and be with everyone there, was still asleep in her cozy bed at home. Since I had gotten up early for this, I decided that maybe she needed to know what was going on, since her hubby was supposed to pick me up at the airport at a certain time, (based on a pre-scheduled arrival time). So much for the schedule.

Anyway, I started sending her text msgs telling her my flight is being delayed. After about the 5th or 6th text msg, she called and asked what was going on. So, I postulated that maybe the crew had lost the keys to the plane, it wouldn't start or perhaps it was just a simple reboot procedure. I did inform her that they had told us that they were summoning an official mechanic to try to decipher whatever the problem was, whether he was coming in from across the field or across the planet, we didn't know, but someone was due to help and soon!

After I got off the phone, a gentleman standing next to me was discussing the plight with his son who just happened to ask if they really lost the keys to the plane. I was amused that they were listening, but then he asked about rebooting the plane. So, I opted to but into their conversation by asking his son if he had a computer at home. His reply was yes, so I asked him have you ever done something on the pc that locked it up and it wouldn't do anything until you disconnected the power? His reply was yes. I told him that's what they're doing with the plane.

Eventually, they got it rebooted and we were on our way about an hour and 10 mins late. Yay, we're on our way to sunny Florida!!

Well, this not only put a wrench in the travel gears of the people on the plane, it affected the lives of other surrounding the flight, most pointedly, my ride from the airport to my sister's house. Since my brother in law couldn't be there at the proposed new arrival time, they sent MY brother, who is from Missouri....not Orlando.

Why is this important? Well, my sister had just bought a new house the previous year and this would be the first time all of us had been there. Which also means we weren't familiar with the travel route to and from the airport, by we I mean me and my brother.

Anyway, his timing was incredible as he pulled up just as I walked out the doors from the terminal. Didn't even have to stop walking.

So, I jump in the car with him and we start to sis's house. He tells me he needs gas, so we have to find a station on the way back. We finally find one and he jumps out to fuel up, then sticks his head back in the car and asks if I have 5 bucks because he forgot his wallet. Ok, that's the least I can do since he's providing the lift, so I gave him a 5. He puts fuel in and uses my phone to call my brother in law to check directions back to the house so we don't get lost.

Ok, we're good to go now.


We leave the station and start toward their new beautiful home. As we're jabbering in the car, not realizing we've been driving for 15-20 mins, suddenly we notice that we're not in town any more, but out in the middle of nowhere. There's nothing around us, just scrub growing along the roadside....and to top that off, my cell phone doesn't get any signal (yes my unfortunate brother must've got woke up too early because he forgot his phone too) Thanks Verizon.

Just then, I notice laying in a heap on the dash is a Magellan GPS unit that wasn't hooked up. (He had borrowed it from my sister to find a place the day before). So, I hook it up and type in her address so we can finally get back to her house. It says to continue on the road we're on. Next thing you know, we're passing a sign welcoming us to Titusville. The Magellen tells us to turn at the next highway and we dutifully follow the instruction.

We're driving along jabbering away catching up etc when all of the sudden the the Magellan tells us we've reached our destination. Minor problem tho: We're still out in the middle of nowhere, no bldgs, just scrub plants and the highway. About a mile later, we see a sign that says welcome to Cocoa Beach. At least now I have a phone signal, which means I can use the Verizon GPS in it to find my way to her house, so I unplug the trusty Magellan and we feed the Verizon to get us back.

Now, my brother informs me that we're outta gas again, so we go to Cocoa Beach and I bought him 20$ this time in case we had any other travel delays on the way back. We finally get to her house and I'm relieved that I'm only 3.5 hrs later upon arrival than originally projected. The rest of the day goes on pretty well, except that nobody in my family wanted to cut up the baked whole chicken my niece prepared for us for dinner - yes, I cut up the chicken...took 1/2 an hour, but I got em cut!)

Wed morning is my 18th anniversary. My wife is home and I'm 800+ miles away. I feel bad about this. Then I turn on my phone to find a text from the Mrs. wishing me happy anniversary. I guess things aren't so bad.

I watch the sunrise over the small lake behind the house from the 2nd floor bedroom and really liked it. Very relaxing. I take a shower and plan to be lazy the rest of the day before returning home.

A couple hrs later I learn we're going fishing in Daytona Beach. So, we get to the pier and rent poles, buy bait, etc and proceed to feed the birds. As soon as we open the bag of shrimp and turn to cast a line in the water, the birds pounce on the bag and begin to steal the shrimp. We spend the rest of the day getting windburn rebaiting hooks. No fish, but wind and smell. The beach looked nice, since they were preparing for the spring break rush.

As the day proceeds, the wind gets stronger and my favorite hat ended up in the Atlantic somewhere. We catch 0 fish. My brother's wife drives me back to Orlando (thru rush hour traffic) and my sister takes me to the airport. I'm beginning to wonder about getting to the flight in time as Orlando airport has a lot more people going thru it than Indy does. But, I'm worried over nothing as my arrival at the gate is 20 mins before scheduled departure.

SCHEDULED departure.

I grab something to eat since I haven't eaten all day and sit down to relax before coming home. I call the Mrs. to let her know I'm at the airport and to wish her happy anniversary (since I was missing it). As we're talking, I happened to glance at my watch and the time is now 10 mins past scheduled departure. I look out the window and there's no plane.

I tell the wife I'll call her back and head to the info booth at which time I see the flight has been rescheduled to an hour later. They must've never got caught up from the day before when they lost the keys.

I finally got home about 1.5 hrs after the original expected time. Thankfully, God gave me a safe journey and I enjoyed the time with the family (even tho none us were smart enough to take a group photo).



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