Thursday, May 05, 2011

Rekindling The Spark Part 1

Last week I traveled back to the place of my birth to attend my niece Jourdan’s graduation from Nursing school.

Jourdan was born when I was 14.  Prior to her birth, being a 14 year-old boy, I had very little interest in being an uncle, or in children in general for that matter.  As a 39 year-old man, that latter part hasn’t changed much, but the former…well, that part changed when I first laid eyes on Jourdan, and she pretty much had me wrapped around her finger from the moment she reached up and squeezed mine when I held her for the first time.

So it was important for me to be there when she graduated, despite my well-documented antipathy towards returning to my “home.”  (Similarly, it’s important that I return once again in August – missing the Baltimore Comic-Con – when Jourdan gets married.)

The morning of my departure didn’t get off to a promising start.  As seems to be usual of late, it was raining rather heavily.  Well, more than heavily.  It was like there was a hurricane going on, and the house-rattling thunder and lightning meant that I wasn’t about to get in the shower any time soon.

After about a half an hour the worst of it seemed to have passed, so I showered, dressed, and finished packing, then waited for my ride to the airport.  In the meantime, the stormy weather had cleared completely, the sun was shining, and it was looking as though a beautiful day was in the offing – the perfect time to head north to the arctic chill of the Upper Peninsula…

My timing in arriving at the airport was pretty much perfect; after checking my bag and clearing security, I arrived at my gate with enough time for one last visit to the restroom, and without having to spend any real amount of time waiting to board.

So I was on the plane, ready for the relatively short flight to Chicago.  That’s when things went south.  The stormy weather returned, all personnel was cleared from the tarmac for safety, and boarding of the plane had stopped.  After that weather moved on, we still didn’t resume boarding, as there was another cell of bad weather on the way.  After about a half an hour, boarding resumed, and it took forever because people are stupid, and apparently putting a bag into an overhead bin is the trickiest maneuver one can imagine (Neurosurgery?  Pssh.  Try stuffing your oversized bag into a storage bin!), though apparently slightly less tricky than figuring out that the damn thing isn’t going to fit.

I only had an hour to make my connection in Chicago, and the combination of weather and stupidity had completely eaten away at that.

However, once in the air, we made very good time, and the pilot managed to shave a half an hour off the trip.  Once we landed, the flight attendants also did their best to help out those of us who were trying to catch connecting flights by basically telling everyone who had more than a half an hour in which to catch their flights, or who had arrived at their destination, to sit their asses down and stay the hell out of our way.  They did so with considerably more tact, of course.

So with 20 minutes to make my way across O’Hare to BFE gate from which my flight to the wilderness to the north was departing, I made a mad dash and arrived at my gate with 5 minutes to spare.

Or rather, it turned out, 35 minutes to spare, as that flight had actually been delayed as well.

Eventually, I was on the plane.  There were two very cute girls sitting across the aisle from me, though my view of them was obstructed by the giant neckbearded amorphous mass of nerd that sat in the seat next to me (and spilling over into my seat).

Upon arrival in the UP, my face went all ಠ_ಠ as I noticed the lingering – though hardly unexpected - amounts of snow, and noted that the temperature was in the mid-30s.  The rain in VA was annoying, but at least it was well above freezing.

I first stopped at the rental counter to pick up my car, then stepped outside to smoke a cigarette while I waited for them to hall the baggage to the claim area.  I knew I would need a jacket while I was there, but I didn’t want to wear/carry it all through the airports and flights, so I’d packed it in my suitcase.  When I went out to smoke there were two other cute girls out smoking, and complaining about the cold as the did so.  One of them looked over at me and said, “It’s so cold and LOOK AT HIM OUT HERE IN A T-SHIRT!”  Then one of them added, “You must be from here.”

I admitted that I was, but that I’d traveled in from Virginia.  Turns out they had as well – I didn’t ask them, “Why, for the love of god?” – though they’d come from the Richmond area.

Naturally when I went to the baggage claim area my bag wasn’t there.  I had hoped that the additional delay in Chicago had allowed time for my bag to be loaded onto the plane.  Apparently not.

At the counter I was told that it would most likely be in on the next flight, though that wouldn’t be arriving until 11:30 PM.  They offered to deliver it in the morning, but I opted to have them call me that night so that I could pick it up.

They did not, in fact, call me, so I got to wear the same clothes for over 24 hours until the the point at which they did deliver my bag the next morning.

In any case, after first arriving at my mom’s place I headed out to Walmart to pick up a prescription for her, and picked up a pullover fleece to tide me over until my jacket’s arrival, then I picked up some KFC for dinner.  As I”d had no time to grab anything at the airport, I was starving by this time.

In any case, that pretty much covers the first installment of my multi-part telling of the tale of my trip to the UP.  Up next will be the non-travel-related bits.

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