It all started benignly enough on Wednesday morning, January 29, as we headed for a three day visit with my daughter in Virginia.

The plane took off on time from the Minneapolis airport heading for Atlanta. The indication was that the second leg of our flight — to Newport News, Virginia — was on schedule.

The information was not so good when we checked our phones again on landing. Our flight to Newport News had been cancelled. That’s when we began to feel the full impact of the storm that had bullied its way through the south. We had plenty of time to think about our next move as we waited for a gate. They were all filled with flights that couldn’t take off because their destinations – many in Florida — were suffering from ice and snow.

When a gate did open up, we waited some 45 minutes for the exit ramp to be attached. The fact is many of the airport workers had been unable to make it to work, so it took time for an exit ramp attacher to make it to our plane.

Then began a day of decisions. First option — rent a car and stay overnight with a friend in Atlanta. We were welcomed, but warned that the roads were treacherous. They would look for the best route to try.

There were no other options to fly to Virgina. As you may have seen on TV, the board was filled with cancellations.

To shorten the story, all airport hotels were full. We did get reservations at a hotel 7 miles away, beyond shuttle bus service. In the meantime, we were automatically rescheduled for a flight early the next morning.

Given the time it takes to return a rental car, we decided it would save time in the a.m. if we took a cab, so we joined the line — the very long line — of people waiting for a cab. (Yes, we did get something to eat in the meantime.) Getting to the front of the line didn’t help much, however. Apparently many cab drivers were unwilling to drive on the treacherous roads, so the hardworking agents were matching up groups of people heading in the same direction.

Finally, after a wait of about an hour, we were directed to a van that was going to a town near our goal. The driver, however, wouldn’t let us board. He did not want to drive to two different sites.

So the agent opened the door of the nearest small cab and told us to get in. That had to be the most panicky thing that happened all day to the driver who told us up front what the fee would be, hoping, I think, that we would refuse and get out. Nope — not at that point.

Now, I hate to sound like a Connecticut/Minnesota driver, but by our standards the roads would be considered clear. My son was ready to offer to drive. To the driver’s surprise, we did make it. If he drinks manhattans, I’ll bet he had a couple when he finally got safely home.

Our next adventure was at the hotel desk where we asked for a cab at 6:30 a.m. to get us to the airport in time for the early morning flight. To get one at that time, we were told, we’d have to call the desk at 4 a.m. So my son agreed to wake up at 4 a.m. to make that call. At 4:10 a.m. I woke him, thinking he’d overslept. Oh no. During the night he’d received notice that the flight had been cancelled. We were scheduled for an afternoon flight.

Still, at this point, we wanted to be at the airport early — “just in case.” The desk clerk did manage to get us a cab around 9 a.m. The driver seemed cool with the driving conditions, and we got there in half the time it took to get to the hotel.

In the meantime, we noticed there was an earlier flight to Newport News. At the airport we headed for the lounge to get help in trying to get on it. The lounge was closed. As was the lounge in the next section.

So we headed for a manned station to ask what lounge would be open. No one knew. But we did get put on standby for the morning flight with the promise that we wouldn’t lose our reservation on the afternoon flight.

Then nail biter after nail biter. At that gate, they announced they had a plane, paper work completed, a destination gate, a flight attendant, and a co-pilot, but no pilot. More nails bitten. Then word that a pilot had been found, but it could be as long as two hours before he/she got there.

Still no seats for us on the plane. But the pilot did arrive. Two scheduled passengers didn’t show. We got on! I didn’t feel safe until the boarding door had been closed.

As we were boarding that flight, we learned that the afternoon flight for which we had been scheduled had be cancelled. Whew!

We made it to Newport News, and my son’s bag made it too. Apparently someone had made the executive decision just to send it on, assuming at some point he’d get there to pick it up. (I finally got my bag delivered the next afternoon, just about in time to pack to go home.)

So we had two nights and one full day to be together.

Heading home, the flight from Newport News to Atlanta was great. Very few passengers. Each of us had a row to ourselves. Things went well in Atlanta too. On board and ready to leave early, the pilot predicted we’d be in Minneapolis ahead of schedule. Then we waited — and waited. The pilot came on to say they were still loading luggage. He came on again to say the plane had come in from Mexico with lots of luggage that took time to remove. We waited. Occasional updates from the pilot. Some 45 minutes went by.

The flight attendant told people they might as well feel free to get up and move about. As half the passengers were standing in the aisles, the plane started to move. I guess the pilot and the attendant were not in terribly good communication. Anyway, everyone scurried back to their seat belts. the flight took off. We arrived safe in Minneapolis 45 minutes late. Whew!

I wasn’t quite home, though. My car couldn’t be removed from the garage in Excelsior where it was staying until the next day when the driveway was shoveled.

What a winter! But now I’m home, once again immersed in trying to keep up as rehearsal’s for “The Sound of Music” are going full force.

I’ll bet you didn’t read all the details. But you get the idea. Glad to be back.






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  1. See you at Sound of Music on opening night!

    Sent from my iPad

    On Feb 4, 2014, at 5:12 PM, monagustafsonaffinito wrote: Mona Gustafson Affinito posted: “It all started benignly enough on Wednesday morning, January 29, as we headed for a three day visit with my daughter in Virginia. The plane took off on time from the Minneapolis airport heading for Atlanta. The indication was that the second leg of our”

  2. Civilization has accomplished so much. And we still must stand humbly in awe of what has been here all along.

  3. Glad you stayed safe. 🙂

  4. What an adventure! I’m glad you made it home safe and sound. This sure has been a rough winter.

    • Sheryl, thanks so much for reading and commenting on my blog. And yes indeed — it has been an amazingly cold, snowy, often miserable, winter. I must say, though, I’m really impressed with the snow removal service here at our town home complex. Snowed like crazy yesterday, and everything was cleared when I left home at 4 p.m. (for rehearsal)

  5. Mona. I congratulate you on some of the most excellent “moving-through-chaos-and-making order”-angels I have ever heard about. What a gratefulnessopportunity:)

  6. Hi, Mona, We were glad that you made it back from Newport News. We were ready for a shower after hearing all of the “ins and outs” of your trip. Thanks for sharing. Love, Pam & Jack

  7. What an adventure! Glad you made it back home to the north country where snow is the norm.

  8. Ayayaya! Glad you made it back safely and none too soon, M.

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