One thing that was forgotten in all the wonderfulness of catching up with old friends: stolen wallet.
No driver's liscence, no credit card, no cash, no nothing.
Having flown from the cowboy state getting past the TSA on the way back seemed like it was going to be an issue. But it wasn't. Husband FedExed all important identifying papers to me.
I read all the TSA info available online, and this seemed like the most plausible easiest way for me to get through.
What all the info didn't say was that if you do not have a photo ID-no matter how many or how 'good' your papers are-you are going to get pat down and have your bag searched. No matter that I am by myself with a 2 & 3 yr old. I take a deep breathe and do my best to keep everyone moving through the chaos and try and explain to them what is going to happen while I'm not exactly sure myself. I just know that after the x-ray I am not allowed to touch them or our stuff…I can't help them put their backpacks back on and people are pushing on all sides. Some people are even trying to help and getting scolded by the TSA agent like I'm a criminal. Some people are offended for me 'Really? You are doing this to HER?? She has two kids with her!!!' They are totally ignored.
Sis was a bit freaked out. Bubs refused to listen. But we survived. It was fine. We found our gate. We sat down. We ate peanut butter and jelly. We got on the plane.
Our seats weren't together, and the woman who I needed to trade seats with in order to be with the posse didn't speak English and was cranky. She just said 'NO!' and sat down next to a worried looking Bubs and Sis.
A Spanish speaking kind stranger helped us figure it out…so we are settled in for the flight to Denver. Quick change to Salt Lake City. Almost there. Just a few more hours (I think.)
Right outside Denver we have to start circling because there is a huge storm over the airport. Bubs needs a nap but is instead crawling on top of me, taking his seat belt on and off, standing up and asking everyone he sees what their name is.
OH! And my phone is basically dead. 10% battery left. No movies to entertain, no communication.
An hour goes by and we have to land in Colorado Springs bc we are low on fuel….but so are all the other planes that have been circling for an hour…so we sit there for 2.5. hours. We stand in line for 15 minutes to use the bathroom with Sis (who hasn't peed all day) screaming 'I don't like this potty!!!!!!!!! Don't flush it!! I don't like this potty!!!!!!!!!!!!' We meet a cat traveling with it's owner. We tell stories even though I am so exhausted that I'm hardly keeping my eyes open (I'm a traveler who likes to nap-you can't do this when you are the only adult…so I'm having a hard time resisting the urge to nap) We sing songs. I worry about how and if we are going to catch the next Salt Lake flight…but not too much because everything has bee grounded in Denver.
We finally take off. And land and taxi and taxi because all the other planes are landing too. We finally get off the plane and it is past 6 o'clock. We left KC at 130. They said there would be a customer service representative to help us get on our next flight but there are SO MANY people and Bubs does NOT want to hold me hand but run and run that I cannot find this representative. All I know is that we missed our flight and the next one was supposed to leave at 9p but is now delayed until 1030p. YIKES!!!!
I just really need to get my phone charged so I can let people know what's going on. We walk up and down the concourse looking-scouring every corner for an outlet. I'm basically dragging the posse. They don't want to walk with me. Or walk at all. We find one right outside a Schlotsky's. We park it. Charge the phone, get some dinner (I at least have a few cash dollars thanks to my parents even if I have nothing else), and text and call and explain what it going on. Bub is eating off the dirty airport floor. Scooting around and getting in people's way. Sis doesn't want to eat anything. I scarf down half my sandwich, take a drink and start to feel better. We can do this. But it's time to go. Bub is eating off the airport floor!!! We look for the customer service representative again. Find her/him/them. At the end of a 200+ person line. We get in the back of the line. People line up after us. Bubs immediately starts rolling on the floor. Sis starts twirling and running into the people in front of us. They play tag running in circles around the people in front and behind us. We've been in line 15 minutes and have moved 2 feet. This is not going to work. I'm talking to Husband. He's going to get us a hotel (But then I'll have to do the whole pat down thing again only at this huge airport with lots more people…not really a positive thought at this point) more running around. More me saying 'you have to stand with me-you cannot run out of the line!' More Husband calling so I can't keep track and they run out and people almost trip over them, we almost spill lemonade all over the floor several times, the patience of our fellow line-waiters is running thin-they aren't in a good place either-and so is mine. Husband says no hotels are available. The airlines are buying up the rooms! Ok, next idea: rent a car. I don't have a driver's liscence!! Running out of ideas. Running out of patience. It's 730. This line is going nowhere and my phone is going to die again because I only charged it to 30% last time to come stand in this line.
We look for a quiet(er) spot where we can still see the line. Park it and watch movies-while receiving and making phone calls. When I'm on the phone Bubs is in the middle of the walkway rolling of the floor. The whole airport feels tense and annoyed. Bub hasn't napped. Sis hasn't napped. They are exhausted. It's past their bedtime. The people we were standing with are not even half way to the front. Husband is having no luck rebooking us on the phone or online-everyone else is trying that too. Looks like we are going to have to sleep here…which means we are NOT going to sleep.
Husband has the idea that we need to find someone we know in Denver to come get us. But who do we know? We know one family but don't have their numbers…so he calls our parents to see if they know anyone. My mom does! A good friend of hers son and family lives there!!! She calls them and even though I haven't not seen this guy in a good ten years an we were never really friends-he is younger than me- and he lives an hour from the airport he will come pick us up! We can stay with him tonight and figure things out in the morning. !!!!!!! I feel so relieved. I do not have to 'sleep' at the airport with the posse.
While we are waiting for this rescue I find an airline agent in a short line that I can talk to-Bubs is crawling and rolling on the floor. Sis is trying to run behind the counter in the opposite direction. Awesome. The agent says he can't rebook me because thats like cutting in line. His advice? Get comfortable and watch the line. Oh, and if I leave the airport and come back in the morning they can't rebook me there-it has to be here or online or on the phone. We are definitely leaving so Husband needs to get that done.
But really-I just want him to come get us. I know its a long way. I know he has just worked 9 really long hard shifts in a row. But I cannot even think about spending the night, going through the whole pat down thing, getting on another plane, arriving in SLC, probably spending another night with friends and driving the 5 hours home ALL BY MYSELF. I could do it. If I had to. But I really don't want to. It sounds awful. It sounds like I might lose my mind…or just cry the whole way home. I don't want to be anywhere near an airport or planes for a good while.
But we have a dog now (I haven't talked about him yet!) So we need to figure that out. I text our friend who knows Joki really well.
It's 930 at least by the time we are outside the main terminal waiting for the white CR-V to rescue us. Sis cried on the way out because she really didn't want to stay with a stranger. While talking with my mom for a second Bub tried to climb UP the down escalator with people on it. All that flashed through my mind was an episode of Rescue 911 where a kids shirt gets stuck in the teeth of the escalator. It's scarred me.
Sis is whimpering that she is so tired and feet are hurting so bad.
But then the white car pulls up. I've never got in anything so quickly. We are out of the airport. No more recycled air. It takes 5 minutes for the posse to fall asleep-Sis sitting straight up. We drive the hour, we get out, we get settled in a dark guest room with one twin mattress and one toddler mattress on the floor with lots of blankets and pillows. It feels like a room at the fanciest hotel. It's dark. It's quiet. It's warm. We settle in fall asleep pretty quickly. And sleep. And sleep.
Our friend calls to say that she can't watch Joki but she knows someone she would recommend…are we ok with that? Yes! We are.
Husband called on the drive home. He is going to come get us. He can't get through to the airline. He's going to leave early in the morning on his first day off in 9 days off and drive 6 hours to get us. I'm elated.
We spend the day making new friends, playing at the neighborhood park, praying we don't stink too badly and pretending we don't feel the fuzz on our teeth.
After a couple hours of not hearing from Husband I start to get really worried…although I shouldn't. He is driving through Wyoming and suddenly a car pulls up! We are saved! But his phone is not working…he needs a new one.
We go to Target (where the whole mess of having my wallet stolen started) to pick up a few needed things-our bags are in Salt Lake City- our friends will pick them up and drive our Jeep back up to Lander for us so we don't have to drive over there too.
We drive to a hotel and settle in for the first night in almost two weeks that we all have been together.
We get up eat a leisurely breakfast-make one more Target stop…It will be awhile before we are back-and make the drive home. We stop to see friends and get a new phone along the way so it takes a bit longer than it should.
But the relief on everyone's faces and in their attitudes is palpable.
Vacation was so fun.
But we are so glad to be home.
We are so glad to be back together.
We are so glad that there are people out there who are willing to help others out…without their kindness this would have been a different (more horrible??) story.