So the very next morning (after the last post) I proceeded to miss the twins flight. I have flown about as often as a flight attendant at various points in my life, and I have never missed a flight. But I did. I couldn't get the in-room alarm clock to work (I figured it out Saturday night. Let's just say the cheap piece of plastic isn't user friendly. I'm 42. I know how to work an alarm clock.), and I have never tried to use my cell phone alarm, so I scheduled a wake-up call with the front desk. And they didn't write down (and they don't use automated wake-up calls at the airport Marriot in Baltimore. Go figure.). So Ben actually woke up first--slightly less than an hour before take off. The amazing thing is that we were at check-in 20 minutes before departure. The bummer is that Saturday morning, 20 minutes before departure with unaccompanied minors, is not sufficient time.
The only blessing was that they gave me credit for trying and rescheduled the twins without additional cost. (And at the other end, they refunded Mom and Dad their money for an expensive tour in Sacramento that they would now miss.) Okay, okay, there was one other blessing--Emily's dogsitter was wonderful and cheerfully charged me more than State College's GNP to keep her another day. (Her prices were totally reasonable for Baltimore. They're just way out of my budget and triple what I pay for dogsitting in State College.) Again, I whine about the cost, but she was magnificent and I did get to have Emily with me for the rest of the week.
Everything else about it sucked. I felt like poo on the bottom of a debutante's shoe, that's how low I felt. The kids needed a nonstop or a "direct" (direct means you can stop 200 times if you want as long as the kids don't get off the plane). Direct sucks, but direct is really all you can get on Southwest, and even then--only once a day from Baltimore to Oakland. So that meant another day and night in a town I really can't afford. Suckville. I took a page from my step-mom's playbook and bought bread and peanutbutter at Target. With the money I saved on breakfast and lunch, I felt I could splurge and take the twins to Five Guys for dinner. (I was wrong, even with me only ordering a little baconburger--no fries, etc., it was still too much, but I didn't figure that out till the order was in, so I just took it in the wallet and we did it anyway.)
I discovered my cell phone charger was at home and all the calls had drained the battery down to zero. My cell phone is Verizon-made and since I'm already in the upgrade-eligible zone, you can guess that they don't even make it anymore. So the Verizon store near the airport had one charger left. In spite of the fact that the saleswoman was standing in front of me holding the charger, us literally three feet apart, she said she couldn't sell it to me because it wasn't in their inventory. And no, she couldn't put it in inventory, only Big Daddy Verizon could do that, and that happens like once a month or something. Whatever. I went to two other stores, they didn't have one, I drove back to the store and started talking in tongues to the store manager (something I don't ordinarily do, but this was soooooo not an ordinary day). He wouldn't take cash for it, but offered to charge the stupid phone for me in the store.
So the twins and I hung out for 20 minutes to get the phone charged. Now, technically, the battery read full when 20 minutes was up, but either I made so many telephone calls when it was charged again that I drained it in a matter of hours, or it wasn't fully charged, so that also factored into going to Five Guys. It was two doors down from the Verizon store. I gave them the phone to charge again while we went to eat. This time the charge lasted 24 hours. My phone battery is usually better than that, so maybe it's good they didn't sell it to me. Maybe it was a sucky charger. Makes sense. Don't buy a charger when you're spending the day in Suckville, where-ever that may be.
Anyway, like any sensible woman, at this point I called my mother. I was scheduled to see her the following night in Columbus. I turned the charger problem over to her. I knew she'd drive to West Virginia to get it if she had to. Indeed, she had one by noon the next day. It was a car charger, not a wall charger, but it also has a USB port in the bulky thing that sticks in the car charging port. So you can charge your ipod while you charge your phone. It worked really well. Taking only slightly longer than the original charger (which was still at home this whole time), it charged my phone fully enough to last the next three days without recharging. The phone was dead by Thursday, but I was back on the road today, anyway, so only one day was lost.
By 11:30 I was back at the hotel. Chris was handling the issue of how to pay for the extra night at the hotel. They wouldn't comp us the night's stay, but they did cover the cost of all the phone calls I had to make at $1,000/min while the phone was dead after I missed the flight. Ben and Milo, turning water into wine, jumped into their swim trunks, found cute little Estonian girls at the swimming pool and cannon balled their way into the life guard's heart (yeah, totally, in Maryland every pool must have a lifeguard).
That night we all went to bed early. I asked for a wake-up call again and set three different additional alarms. So of course, I woke up 15 minutes before the first one went off. I cancelled three and let the fourth go off just for the principle of the thing. We got to the airport two and a half hours early--it was Sunday morning, so it was only us and everyone else who really HAD to fly. We got through security in 5 minutes. Everyone was polite and on time. Ben and Milo had the crew AND the pilots eating out of their hands before they even walked down the ramp towards the plane (the crew and pilots were boarding at the same time as the three unaccompanied minors. The third kid was a year or two older than Ben and Milo, but their new best friend by the time he got off in Los Angeles.)
After I watched the plane take off, I ran to the car, raced to the dog sitters, and drove at my usual leisurely pace (I don't know why I always beat the Google map estimate by at least an hour. Then again, I don't know why everyone else on the road is driving so slowly.) to Columbus, Ohio.
After I got us all unpacked, Judy (mother), Bill (her tenant), and I went to hear the OSU alumni band, which, at the risk of offending all my fellow Penn Staters, was wonderful. They were funny and talented and had alumni baton twirlers (male and female) as well as band alumni going back 60+ years. One of their pieces is a medley that goes through 11 out of 12 of the "Big Ten" fight songs. Helpfully, two members of the band hold up signs to tell us which school's song they're playing at that time. Alumni from that school stand up at that point and everyone applauds for them. Of course I stood up for Penn State. I was the only one, but I still got the applause. (There were other schools for which only one current or former student was present, too, so I didn't feel badly in the least.) Anyway, I expected to be bored by the concert after all the drama of the past few days, but in part due to the relief of having heard that the boys had landed safely in Oakland, and in part due to the unmistakable zeal and talent of the band, I had a great time.
We went home, Bill cooked steaks, Judy made carrot-slaw (I don't know, but it wasn't bad at all)
and then Emily and I crashed.
The next morning my stomach was bothering me, so after visiting a little longer with Judy, I headed off to Indiana to meet up with Charlotte and Granny. I got there around 1:00 pm, made a simple lunch, and then passed out on the couch to nap some more. Charlotte and Granny arrived around 4pm, and the rest of the week is a happy, happy blur of knitting, visiting, canning, napping, and if the phone's battery gradually died over the course of the week, mine was being fully recharged.
As much as Saturday sucked? (And it did.) That's how awesome the rest of my off-the-grid week was. I never thought to take photos of my awesome Aunt Charlotte and Gracious Grandmother Helen while I was there. In fact, the only photo I took all week was off a bird-shaped tomato, but I finished the Gothic Leaf Shawl (which I will block, enter at the county fair, and then ship back to Grandma after the fair is over), and Charlotte and I canned a bushel and a half of tomatoes into delicious salsa and tomato soup. Whoo-hoo!
The drive home was long today. I left around 8:30 am and got home around 6:15 pm, which means that even though I hit construction in two places and had to crawl along, I still beat the Google time by an hour. Go, me.
And now, it is time for me to go do what I came home to do--pick up my son from Shakespeare rehearsal. Tomorrow evening Chris will bring the twins home, happy and joyous from a week with their grandparents. We will all five be back home, safe and sound. Life is grand.