Sunday, April 5, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

C and I just returned from a four-day trip to CT. We were there to support his sister J, who had surgery to remove her thymus and a tumor that was in her chest. Everything went well and we continue to pray for her recovery. She may require some chemotherapy but we will pray for whatever is ahead for her.
The last time C and I were away from the girls was when we went to our college reunion/homecoming in October. It was for a weekend and in the state so this trip was a little more involved, mostly in that it was longer. My folks were super in stepping up to care for the girls, even sticking to things like ballet class and other everyday things.
Of course, I had the handy dandy "Tactical Manual" to guide them along so I knew the girls were in good hands. :)
Our trip was pretty detailed, as far as travel went. We left super early for Chicago's O'Hare Airport because we didn't want to get stuck in morning rush hour traffic. While our 3 a.m. departure for the airport was super early, we did avoid heavy traffic and made it to the airport by 6 a.m.
Then we had to jump on a bus from the farthest parking lot. After that, we took a train to the airport terminal. It was a neat short trip and we got to see my all-time favorite sky-line: Chicago!!!
Check-in and security were a breeze. It helped that C has traveled a few times recently, so he was familiar with all the rules. I, on the other hand, have not flown in an airplane since 2004. So I was met with a whole new travel world! Any liquids and the like have to be in a plastic zip top bag! No liquids, even drinks, through security! The charge just to check luggage! And, the total shock: having to take off my shoes to get through security. C had told me about that but it was weird to see all these shoeless people walking around security.
We had a ton of time to kill since our flight was not until 11 something. So we got to check out the airport features. WOW! It takes a lot of people to run the airport. I was amazed by everything I saw. I used to travel from O'Hare a lot but, like I said, it's been a long time, especially traveling through O'Hare.
We saw Internet kiosks, a place for children to play, people standing by empty telephone banks to talk on their cell phone, lots of Starbucks stands and laptop areas.
Then we took a walk down through the United tunnel, which, I can say, has not changed one bit. If you've never been down there, it is something to see! There are moving walkways, mirrored ceilings, weird lighted walls, and, of course, the cool neon lights that "move" across the ceiling, almost in time to the tinkling, futuristic music of the United theme, which is some classical piece I cannot name. You'd know it once you hear it. But I was amazed the tunnel had not changed. It was cool.
Eventually we made it to our gate and then onto our plane. Well, right before take-off we ended up in a holding area right by the runway and were told there was a mechanical problem and they were going to try to fix it there. Then we were told we were going back to the gate for technicians to fix the problem. In the end, what would have been our air time was spent on the ground at the gate while the techs tried to address the problem, which we never learned what it was. We were allowed to get off the plane but we decided to stay put, given that we could take off any minute.
Well, not so. We wound up getting transferred to another plane, which successfully took off! Whew!!!!
We made it to Hartford, where Mom and Dad and other sister-in-law D were waiting.
J's surgery was the next day. We spent the day at the hospital waiting room, which was conducted by a charming lady who once lived in England. She was a gem and entertaining. We were on Yale University campus, or in the area of it, so it would have been neat to check the area out (for instance, there were a ton of food carts on a street right by the hospital, pretty cool!) but another time, another visit...
I called home at least a couple times each day, mostly to give updates on J's progress but also to hear how the girls were doing. At night we'd call to say good-night, which usually included saying good-night to every farm animal and a lot of silliness. "Bye, monkey. Bye, piggie. Bye, farm," was mostly led by M.
It was weird to be back on East Coast time because it felt right. CT was a beautiful area with lots of trees, rock formations, streams, wonderful old homes and more. J's house was not too far from the ocean. In fact, it was located by an inlet so the large grassy area behind her home would fill with water when the tide came in.
The trip home was uneventful. One cool aspect was that we saw at the Hartford airport a display for the former Hartford Whalers, an NHL team who later became the Carolina Hurricanes!!! We even saw a couple older pictures of Ron Francis. It was a cool display.
We made it to O'Hare and, after a stop at Milwaukee Mitchell to pick up D, we got home right before bedtimes for the girls.
Oh! It was so good to hold them and hug them and kiss them and smell them and hear them!
It was a tiring trip but I am glad we went. I hope one day to take the girls out there, not just to CT but perhaps to visit NC again and then make our way along the East Coast.

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