Monday, June 27, 2016

The Journey Began...Ish

(With some tidbits from June 26, 2016)

I would be remiss if I didn't start at the beginning of this story. We left Richmond on June 24 to drive to Upstate NY, the home of husband's family. We left in the middle of the night, after a mere four hours of sleep in hopes of getting their quickly due the kids not needing constant bathroom breaks. For the most part, this strategy is often a raging success. This time was no different, ya know, until they woke up.

We arrived to Johnstown, NY midday, just in time for lunch. Fast forward...June 26th at 10:19 am. Our driver, Paul, arrives ahead of schedule for the trek down to the city where our plane would be departing that evening at 6:30 pm heading for a quick layover in Shannon, Ireland before carting us across the Irish Sea to London, England. We were ready, so here the journey really begins...

After what was a long...and I really do mean very long drive to JFK airport, we arrived at 3:35 pm. Rewind just a second. The best part of the entire car ride was seeing Manhattan over in the distance as we crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge. Even from this far away, my heart started beating faster with the adoration and love that comes from knowing an amazing place like NYC exists. So, let's just take a minute to appreciate all of the beauty that is that place with one slightly filtered, taken through a tinted window pic of it off in the distance.

As you can imagine, that moment was fleeting as we continued to honk and weave through bottleneck traffic before arriving at 3:35 pm.  Checking in and moving through security was a breeze. With three grumpy from being cramped in a car kids, tt was time to find some food. As all food decisions are when the appetites and cravings of five autonomous beings must be considered, it was a brutal hour of pacing up and down Terminal 5 deciding, then arguing, and deciding again, only to have a kid meltdown and walk to keep looking. Finally, we decided on the to go cart, where everyone could choose something different. Final decision for all: pizza. Right...

This is where our travel plans got a bit...shall we say...complicated.

I see an Aer Lingus plane pulling towards our gate and I tell the kids to look how big our plane is. The excitement builds since it is just about 6:00 pm, which means boarding must be starting soon. We return to our iPad games (generously provided by the Terminal) as we wait. At 5:58 pm, about 30 minutes before we were scheduled to take off, they announce a two hour delay.

But we were all still smiling...for the most part.

We each received a $20 food voucher, so it was off to dinner. Hollis was a wee bit squirrely, but the older two kept themselves pretty entertained with their new books.

Then at 8 pm, they announce another two hour delay. At which point, we were less than amused.

We kept iPadding, although, this wasn't maintaining everyone's full attention the way it had earlier. (This picture doesn't tell the whole story, I promise...)

Then around 10:32 pm, they announce that our plane would not, most likely, be getting off the ground. For those of who were only flying into Shannon for a connection to London, they arranged for hotel accommodations and a rebooking of our flight the next day. Everyone else was sent home with a letter and instructions for rebooking or cancelling. I think we ended up lucky here, but it didn't feel like it that night, for sure. 

By the time the airline figured out the accommodations and new bookings for all of the people affected, it was nearing midnight. We went outside to wait for the car service they arranged, which didn't arrive until about 20 minutes later. This sounds like a word problem...math is important kids. 

It is 12:20 am. The Cole VanValkenburg family has a 7:55 am flight. They have to arrive at the airport three hours early. The hotel is approximately 20 minutes away. If they want to ensure they arrive on time, how early should they leave the hotel in order to check many hours of sleep will they get when considering travel time.

The answer...don't go to the hotel and sleep in the airport, instead. There are no guarantees when it comes to NYC traffic. 

This is what this looks like...

For children. Adults lay on the cold hard floor. But I couldn't sleep, because alas, my children were asleep in an airport and I didn't want to take my eyes off of them. So I stayed awake. When the check in opened at 5:00 am the next morning, everyone was a bit of, well, a bit of a mess.  A big mess. Like, the kind a Tyrannosaurus Rex would have left behind after a delicious meal, yet not quite as smelly. It was close, though. Finally, after another quick and painless check in, we head to the terminal and wait...again. This time there is carpet though, so sleep was easier, for them at least. 

The rest of the journey was seamless. We boarded on time. There were personal TVs. The stewardess were super kind, so much so that Caden actually looked at one of them and said, "You're really nice."

(Side Note: Is that the word for the people who work on planes these days? Because there were definitely more men than women working this flight and calling them a stewardess feels incorrect. Plane people isn't any better. Someone help me out on this, will ya? Airline host? Ugh.)

(Second Side Note: Thanks to Mrs. B for the reminder. Flight attendant. Duh.)

Then, in the distance we saw it. London. 

We had finally arrived.