Go West: Heading Home

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My soul may have completely fused with the southwest, but my body—especially my sleep habits—never really made the switch from Eastern Time. I awoke at 3 AM and stayed that way. I dragged myself out of bed at 5 AM. The atmosphere at Leta’s house was subdued with both of us battling tears. And failing miserably. Hubby and I loaded up the Edge and said our sorrowful farewells. We were on the road by 7 AM.

I think I wept most of the three hour drive to El Paso. I finally came to grips only to burst into tears again when I spotted the “Leaving New Mexico” sign. And again when I turned over the keys to the Edge in the airport lot.

We were early and easily reached our gate well ahead of our 1:00 flight, in spite of being pulled aside during the security check for a brief inspection of my carryon bag. The mount for my GPS apparently triggered questions. But once they determined what the weird-looking item was, they waved us on with a smile.

Hubby and I settled into our seats, hoping for an uneventful flight home. After all, we’d used up all of our bad airplane luck with the four hour delay back on Day One. Right?

Wrong.

As soon as the plan was loaded, the pilot announced they had found a fuel leak. A mechanic had been summoned, and we were in for at least a fifteen minute delay.

Hubby and I started checking our watches. We had a connecting flight in Atlanta with a little over an hour layover. Fifteen minutes? We should be fine.

Fifteen minutes later, the pilot announced the mechanic should be arriving shortly. This message was repeated about ten minutes later. Our chances of making our connecting flight were dwindling. And Hubby planned on being at work early the next morning.

The “fifteen minute” delay turned into an hour. The pilot promised to try to get us there as quickly as possible. Do airplanes get speeding tickets?

Hubby was antsy and grumpy. The idea of trying to find another flight from Atlanta to Pittsburgh didn’t appeal to him. As it was, we wouldn’t get in until nearly 10 PM if we made our connection.

I noticed that there was a wi-fi sign above my head. And I had my little Chrome netbook in my bag. So I pulled it out along with our itinerary and started researching. I found our new ETA and the gate we’d pull into in Atlanta. I checked our connecting flight. ON TIME. Figures. The one time I’d hope it was running late. I was also able to find out which gate that flight was departing from. Next, I pulled out the airline’s magazine which contained a map of the Atlanta airport and noted where the arrival and departure gates were located. We might just make it. Maybe. Think The Amazing Race.

We landed safely and taxied to our gate. Then the pilot announced, “Add insult to injury, folks.” Another plane was parked in OUR spot! Tick tock.

Valuable minutes dragged by. Eventually we were able to pull into a neighboring gate. I double checked the airport map to see if the change affected our planned route. It didn’t. We were actually one gate closer to where we needed to go.

But of course, we were near the back of the plane and had to wait for everyone to get their luggage from the overhead bins.

Finally we made it off the plane. I nearly flattened a little girl along the way (just kidding! No children were injured during the mad dash) as we jogged (in cowboy boots!) down a hallway, down two flights of escalators, and into a tram. Only one stop. Get out of our way, here we come! Around a bend. The gate was in sight.

We ran up to the podium, panting as we asked, “Did we make it?”

The Delta guy calmly looked at us and said, “Oh, yeah.”

We were the last ones on the plane with about five minutes to spare before takeoff. Hubby and I high-fived and proclaimed those teams on The Amazing Race have nothing on us!

By 10 PM, we were on the ground back in Pittsburgh. Home. But I definitely left a big chunk of my heart out West.


Thank you, Donnell and Leta for opening your homes to us and for giving me the time of my life. 

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