And we’re off!
Today begins another in our series of epic journeys for two little kids and the crazed Mom and Dad. It’s taken me a while to get around to publishing any of these posts for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve been feeling a little off lately. Shortly before this trip, I went into my doctor because I had experienced a sort of near-fainting spell at work. My doctor wanted me to come back and have an echocardiogram in his office later this month. Then it happened again at mass a few days later. The doctor then asked me to have the test run at the cardiologist’s office. You’ll understand why in a bit; but let’s just say that this test has not yet been “run”. In the meantime, I’ve been feeling OK, not great, but still relying heavily on the prayers and good will of my family and friends. The second reason I have delayed my postings is because this entire trip was a surprise. In fact, until just two days ago, I didn’t know about it myself. On Father’s Day, after mass, my son presented me with a gift. It was a book about Lucy the Margate Elephant. For those who did not grow up in New Jersey, Lucy is a three story tall elephantine structure that resides in the town of Margate, just south of Atlantic City. She’s kind of a Jersey legend. I had read about her as a kid but never been to visit. Months ago I started telling my son and daughter about Lucy when they had become fascinated by Big Tex, the State Fair of Texas icon who caught fire and burned down last fall. “Aw, how thoughtful son,” I said. “Daddy,” my son instructed quite forcefully, “read it to me now!” OK. I sat down to read and realized that this well-written fantasy tale of Lucy coming to life was quite intriguing and very cute. I also realized that it was about forty pages longer than I was planning to read on a Sunday morning. Upon reaching the end, though, I realized that it was well worth the effort. An inscription on the back cover read: “Daddy, would you like to see Lucy? Would you like to visit your Grandma and Grandpa and your sisters and brothers? Then meet me at DFW Airport on Tuesday.” That’s it. We were going to NJ; but I couldn’t tell anyone because we all now wanted this to be a surprise. So for the next forty-eight hours I avoided posting to Facebook or even getting on the phone with any of my siblings. It was hard.
This morning, we woke up, went for our last swimming lesson for a while, came home, packed, and were chauffeured out to the airport by my mother-in-law. Have you ever flown Spirit Airlines? It’s an interesting undertaking. Seems their fares were phenomenal. But then you pay for every last thing. Have you ever walked into a crowded terminal with two kids, backpacks, suitcases, etc. and just known that things might not go right? Actually, our check in was fine. We knew there was some bad weather in Philadelphia (our destination because it was cheaper). We did not, however, anticipate sitting in a satellite terminal for four hours. And this is where having two iPads comes in handy. I had loaded a whole bunch of Modern Marvels for the boy and a few Angelina Ballerina‘s for the girl. We enjoyed a pizza. I enjoyed a few gin and tonics. Let me tell you a bit about the terminal. DFW is currently renovating their terminals. About ten years ago Delta used to have a hub here. To accommodate the large number of flights they ran, the airport built a ten-gate satellite accessible through an underground tunnel. Apparently the gate agents used to call the building Gilligan’s Island. Anyway, when Delta pulled out of DFW the airport shuttered the satellite. However, a few months back, they fixed up a few things (added new jet bridges and the like) and reopened the building so as not to lose gate space during the remodel. And that’s where we spent those four hours. We had our choice of a few concessions (a Pizza Hut Express, a Starbucks, a newstand, and a bar). Other than that, I’m just glad the delay wasn’t any longer or I would have gone bonkers.
Just a few hours after boarding, our Spirit crew had us on the ground at PHL, safe and sound. We were happy. The kids were a little nutty but that was to be expected. We picked up our rental car and headed to get cheesesteaks (Gino’s, of course), then headed back toward the airport to check into our hotel and sleep. So, if you’re still with me and you’re not opposed to reading a few weeks’ worth of ramblings, I’m going to share our journey with you by posting pictures and keeping my text to a minimum. Remember, I started this blog a few years back as a means of telling my son the story of his very first road trip. I thought of just not writing this story at all; but then I thought better. If he and his sister can look back on these two weeks and smile then I’ve done my job as a dad and as a writer. If anyone else gets a chuckle, that’s all the better.