It was our last day of vacation. We all would have preferred better weather, but we’d had fun. Most importantly, we’d been able to relax and get away from the nonsense of home.
The night before, I set the alarm for 7:30. I wanted us to breakfast by 8 and at the pool by 9. We’d get in 2 hours at the pool and have time to go back to the room, rinse off, change, drag the luggage to the front desk, shop a little bit and meet our bus.
By 9:00, we were poolside…and cold. It, naturally, was not sunny. We tossed Shmuppie in the pool, but she wasn’t having much fun. The kids she’d been hanging out either had gone home or were not out yet. So, I grabbed the video camera and she and I walked the property.
Giving a video camera to a 5 year old who’s prone to not paying attention results in shakier camera work than Cloverfield.
We wandered over to the beach so she could dig in the sand for a while. On the way back, we that noticed some of the hotel’s grounds crew were cutting open coconuts. All week, when we’d pass a tree, I’d try to tell Shmuppie that the big green things were coconuts. She’d argue that they were not. I would try to explain that the brown nut lived in the big green pod. She refused to believe me.
So, we watched them climb trees and knock the pods down to the ground. They were hacking off the ends and passing them out to people as drinks. We got one and went back to where JewelrySlut was trying to get some sun.
You’d be surprised how much liquid is in one of those things. We drank the coconut water and enjoyed the waning moments of our vacation.
At 11, we headed back and were dressed and in the lobby by 11:45 or so. We went to the photo shop and looked over Shmuppie’s lizard photos. For $50, we were able to get one print of a picture, a CD with all the images, and a neat photo album.
***Key piece of information here:
On Tuesday, when we had our debarkation debrief, we were told that if the flight was delayed, we’d be notified and our departure time would be changed. ***
12:00 arrived and we found our driver. This bus made the piece of shit we drove out there in look like a limo. It was little more than a minivan with a small trailer in the back. The luggage was safely secured in the trailer by a bent piece of clothes hanger. We set out on our trek back through hell to the airport.
Along the way, we got stuck in traffic. Little poor kids came out with wet rags to wash the van’s windows. The driver shooed them from the windshield but made no effort to stop them from “washing” the side windows. Having “washed” them, the kids started screaming and holding out their hands at us. When we ignored them, the kids on JewelrySlut’s side started licking at the windows and dry humping the van. Good times. Good thing Shmuppie was asleep.
After a while, we turned off the main road into a gated complex. I guess we were picking people up. Who knew? The driver was surly.
We arrived at the airport at 12:50 for our 3:20 flight. Several singles later, we passed our bags through some sort of machine. I don’t know what it did other than allow someone to put red stickers on our bags.
OK. We went to the check in counter. There, we were told there would be a “one hours delay”. OK…one hour isn’t bad. I had caught a weather forecast from a NYC station the night before and could see that the southeast was having weather. I had more or less expected it. I remarked that it would have been nice if we knew this an hour ago. But, maybe they hadn’t known…riiiiiiiiiiiight.
We dropped the bags, and not knowing what to expect, we all had potty breaks. Security and immigration were very easy to go through. They deposited us into a dimly-lit, very stuffy, duty free shopping zone. The shit they were selling was awful, and the booze prices were not that good. We wandered about for a bit, but it just got too hot. So, we walked off towards the gates.
When we arrived, we got off the plane and immediately went downstairs to clear immigration. So, we had not seen the gate area and didn’t know what to expect. I was hoping for a place to buy some food, a bar, and seats.
I’ll say that, while the airport was dark and drab, it had what we needed. We immediately scoped out all 8 gates to find seats near an outlet. I wanted Shmuppie plugged into her DVD player as soon as possible and didn’t want to waste batteries in the airport. We found seats and Shmuppie and I set out to get her some lunch. We found the overpriced food counter and secured a hot dog, fries, and chips for some ungodly sum of money. They run a good show there. They show the price in dollars, but also refuse to give you change. So, a bill of $12.07 costs you $13. They skim off all the change. Good for them.
We sat Shmuppie down in front of a movie and I set out looking for beer. The gates started filling up and none of the US-based flights were on time. 2:00 came and the board had us listed as leaving at 4:00 or something. I knew this was bullshit. I just didn’t know how deep it was. 3:00 came and we had no plane. 4:00 came and we still had no plane.
We took turns wandering the airport, trying to find a warm spot. Our seats had access to an outlet, but they were also right under an A/C blower. Shmuppie had on one of my t-shirts to try to stay warm. As the day progressed, the airport became smokier and smokier as countless Brits and Germans arrived for their long flights home.
Somewhere near 5:00, I watched Delta 256 come in for a landing. At least now I knew we were closer to leaving than we had been.
We had 2 1/2 hours at ATL between flights and we’d burned much of it up sitting there in Puerto Plata. But, I had a hunch we’d be OK. If our plane was that late out of ATL, other planes were surely also fucked up.
Amazingly, they turned us around in about 40 minutes and we were on our way back tot e states. Settled in, JewelrySlut started reading, Shmuppie watched the in flight movie and I napped.
We were flying through bad weather, so there wasn’t anything to see. But, by a little before 8:00, I knew we had to be close. I wasn’t exactly nervous that we’d miss our connection, but wanted to land and at least know what our options were.
Captain: Uhhhhhhhh….folks……… We seem to have run into some bad weather here in the Atlanta area. We’re about 65 miles out, and are in some traffic. We have about 45 minutes of fuel left on board, so we’re hoping we don’t have to divert.
I grabbed the Delta magazine and started plotting out alternate airports where they’d send us. I looked and, hoping against hope, figured that we had enough gas to just about reach RDU. Wouldn’t that be nice? But, I’m somewhat intelligent, so I figured we’d divert to a more local international airport. I guessed that it would be among Chattanooga, Knoxville or Birmingham. I joked that I’d always wanted to go to Alabama. JewelrySlut just shrugged.
15-20 minutes hour later:
Captain: Well, we’re cleared to land. Things opened up and we’re on our way in. We’ll have you on the ground in 20 minutes.
We started our descent.
10 minutes later:
Captain: Folks, it s really busy up here but I wanted to let you know we’re going to Augusta. That’s all I can tell you right now. It’s busy.
Me: What. The. Fuck
JewelrySlut: Can we stay for the Masters?
Flight Attendant (Sounding like she could cry): You heard him. Don’t ask us about your connections. We don’t know anything.
Me: That’s not good.
So, my mind went to work. We’d land, get off the plane, grab a hotel for the night (it was getting late and Shmuppie was starting to descent into the 47th circle of kid sleep depravation hell), and get a car in the morning. We’d be maybe 4 1/2 hours from home and I didn’t want to fly back to ATL just to fly to RDU.
20 minutes later:
Now, I just read that one can land a 757 in 3000 feet. And, I also just read AGS has an 8000 foot runway. We barely used half of the 8000′ to stop.
We rolled to the terminal (?) and stopped. Everyone kinda looked up in confusion.
As soon as the wheels had hit, my phone was on. I dialed my father:
NGF: Welcome to Augusta!
NGF: That must be fun.
Me: Yea…how delayed is the next flight.
NGF: You’re delayed out of Atlanta.
ME: OK…this may not be terrible
(All during this, I was half-listening to the captain’s speech. I started listening intently when I heard some key words”
Captain: Well, folks. Here we are in Augusta. We have 3 problems here. This airport does not serve Delta, it serves ASA (Atlantis Southeast Airlines, a small short-hop airline that Delta uses), so they don’t have a jet bridge. In fact, they may not have stairs that can reach us. Secondly, they’re not an international airport, so they have no way to clear you into the country. And, thirdly, I have to get out a calculator because I may not have enough flight time left to get you back to Atlanta. We can only fly 8 hours per day and we’re really close.
Me (into the phone): We’re fucked. I’ll call you back
Well, this was officially becoming bad. We were on a plane with no fuel at an airport that didn’t have the services to accept us with a pilot who could maybe not fly any more.
At one pilot, we heard the pilot say over a mic I can’t believe he knew was open “As long as it takes under 42 minutes”. Great…
The mood on the plane was pretty good. People more or less accepted their fate and handled it in stride. The flight crew was nowhere to be seen. I think they were all crying. On the flight there, Shmuppie had spilled juice on her little airplane blanket. We used it to sop up the spill and tossed it into the empty row of seats behind us. We giggled as people moved up to that row of seats and wondered aloud why the blanket was wet.
Finally, at 9:30, nearly an hour and a half after we landed, we were told that the time was OK and that we’d be able to head back to ATL.
At 9:50, we took off for a very short flight.
As we were on final, Shmuppie started fidgeting. She was doing the potty dance. We’d all moved and I was on the aisle, JewelrySlut in the middle and Shmuppie on the window. I leaned in and (I’ve been told too loudly) told her that she was not to go in her pants. She, naturally, needed to shit. She was nearly crying. JewelrySlut was getting pissed at me. I told her to fuck herself. That was a bad thing to say. As the 2 of us are getting angry at each other, we had a parenting moment for the ages.
I reached into JewelrySlut’s backpack and found one of Shmuppie’s pull-ups. (She still wears them at night and we had some with us for just this sort of emergency). In a flurry of motion worth of a NASCAR pit crew, JewelrySlut got her unbuckled Shmuppie, and got her pants down. I ripped open the pull up and slapped it on her. We got her pants back up and had her in her seat in 12 seconds. I told her to hold it.
At 10:24, we landed at ATL in the pouring rain. I called my father again and was told our flight home was now scheduled for 11:35. We might make it. I had the gate assignment and we didn’t have to go far.
We slowed down and stopped…not at a gate.
Captain: Welcome to Atlanta. You can see that we’re not a gate. There’s a plane at our gate and as soon as they get it the hell out of our way, we’ll be able to get you all off this plane.
Me: Did he say hell?
JewelrySlut: (to Shmuppie) Honey…do you need to go potty?
Me: did you go in your pants?
Me: Of course.
We got off the plane and headed to Immigration. We got stamped in and went to the baggage claim. Our bags showed up and we cleared customs. We dropped the bags back off to another person and headed upstairs. The whole international area was empty. We were the only people coming in. When we dropped the bags off, they told us we were looking good for our flight. We were going to make it.
We went upstairs and I send the ladies to the gate. I grabbed a giant Coke for us and fires and a juice for Shmuppie. We got to the gate at 11:15 or so…and were told we were delayed.
We finally got on the plane and took off a little after midnight. Thankfully, Shmuppie went straight to sleep. The plane was packed but eerily quiet. It was a bumpy flight, so nobody moved. I think we all prayed a little bit that we’d land in one piece.
We landed a little before 2:00AM and I had to shake Shmuppie to wake her. Still draped in her blanket, we walked to baggage.
We waited for the bags to come
And we waited.
Meanwhile, my father was on his way to pick up us.
We waited a little longer. Finally they told us that the last of the bags were out and that the rest of us (at least a dozen people) could come to the office.
The bags were gone.
I knew they were in ATL because I’d seen them there, so I really didn’t care much.
I got my paperwork and went to get the ladies. We got home at about 2:30 and went to bed.
On the way home, my father asked if this all made up for the 4:00AM texts he was sending me from Italy when their bags were lost. I told him nothing ever makes up for that.
The trip home was an adventure, and hopefully, I’ve gotten a lot of bad flight karma out of my system.
But, we were home and had been on an adventure.