We have been so blessed in so many ways so far this trip, except when it comes to our flights. We have flown 5 times in the last two weeks, and 3 out of those five have had something go amiss either during or before the flight. I have chalked it up to God testing our gumption to making this trip the best it can be and teaching me to trust Him and have been trying to find the silver lining in each situation. I know, for those of you that know me well, try not to faint, I have had a positive attitude! Well mostly anyways…
We left our hometown two Sundays ago, jumping on a quick flight to Los Angeles (LAX) at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am. We were then forced to land in San Jose because something was wrong with the nose wheel (not exactly what the pilot said but close enough). As the whole plane full of people crowded off the plane to get in line to rebook their flight, I decided it would be fantastic time to put Zoë in the stroller and because of this we were dead last. Yes, Chad and I and our tired and confused perfectly behaved and patient 21 month old daughter were forced to stand in line for an hour to rebook our flight. Then when we got to the desk to transfer our flight, we waited for another hour at the counter while our airline had to figure out the payment of our new flight. At last we were given the very last seats on a full Southwest flight two hours later. On a positive note, they did give us enough vouchers for a free breakfast and Peets coffee drinks (which made me very happy, it is almost like they knew I love to eat!).
(The first photo of us on the plane to Disneyland. Photo Taken by Jennifer Mitchell)
Finally we made it to LAX, just a mere eternity four hours after our original flight was supposed to arrive. But we were glad we arrived safely and headed to Disneyland right away, which made every thing all better.
Disneyland was amazing all three days we went, both of my wonderful sisters came with us for one of the days and it was so special for Zoë to have time with her aunties and for me. It was a perfect send-off. Disneyland was not crowded at all really, the ride lines were all pretty short and the weather was amazing. It was a great start to our travels. I would definitely recommend going the second week of April folks, it was perfect!
(Zoë with Auntie Nicole and Auntie Lisa at Disneyland. Photo Taken by Jennifer Mitchell)
Three days after our lovely time in San Jose (see I am being positive!), we had a marvelous flight from LAX to Austin, Texas. Zoë, as it turns out, is a champion flyer. She had a great time watching the “boo” (blue) sky out the windows and playing with me and Chad. She probably loves it because we have no choice but to sit and entertain her, lucky girl.
Austin, Texas is a vibrant city alive with things to do and see (I know it sounds cliché, but its true!). There is outdoor seating at almost every restaurant/bar (Chad made sure to comment on this a million several times a day), great shopping (any town with an H &M has my heart), and an awesome park, named Zilker Park, that Zoë enjoyed immensely (I’m sure that they have other parks, this one was just the closest to where we were staying). If we ever do come back to live in the good ole’ USA, this is a place I would definitely love to try out.
(Austin, Texas Capitol Building. Photo Taken by Jennifer Mitchell)
After too few days (four days to be exact, I could have used another week really) in Austin, we left for our second awesome flight going first to Dallas then to Miami as our final destination for the day. The flight to Dallas was on time, not full and Zoë fell asleep in my lap as soon as we sat down. This is the first time that she has ever fallen asleep without some sort of cuddling or nursing, I was happy and thankful to say the least! She slept the whole way and even through the Dallas airport for a bit after we landed. What a great daughter I have! (Sorry about that, proud mommy moment.)
(Chad and Zoë boarding the plane. Photo Taken by Jennifer Mitchell)
From there we were transferring to another flight in two hours headed to Miami. We settled in and had some crappy food at TGI Fridays in the airport and waited for our time to board. We finished eating and headed to our departure gate, somewhat lackadaisically because it was close by and we had a little time before we were to board . When we arrived at the gate, we realized that the gate had changed and boarding was already starting. (For anyone that has taken young infants and/or children on planes, you know that it is imperative that you get in line and board before all the other coach passengers, so you can get settled before the mad rush of business people and other people unencumbered by little ones.) So we ran to the gate (which was 23 gates away) and got there just in time (see…more positivity)! We boarded and were finally on our way to Miami. The flight was late in arriving, but we were in the balmy warm rain of the southernmost tip of America safely and I was happy with that.
When we finally arrived in our budget motel which was a good half an hour away from the airport, we decided just to relax, let Zoë run around the room a little and not do any sight seeing in Miami. Traveling days are hard and we really just planned on staying in Miami to break up the flights on our way to Curacao. Plus, the hotel that we chose seemed to be in one of the bad less touristy neighborhoods, and so we decided to just stay put for the night and head to the airport for our flight to curacao without really checking anything out.
We woke up the next day feeling rested and ready to go. I was so excited to be in Curacao relaxing on the beach, and also to be done with flying and airports for the next two weeks. I felt that we were becoming pro’s at travel and flying, I mean, Zoë was so great on all the flights, Chad and I had gone through many flight delays and problems without wanting to run back home and this was the last one for a bit. This plane ride would be a cinch. What is that saying again… oh yeah… pride comes before a fall.
We arrived at the Miami airport two and a half hours before we were to board. When we entered the airport it was chaos, and not structured chaos either. There were crowds of people, that I think were supposed to be lines, everywhere. I just figured it was a busy day, but when we went to the international check in area, we were told that the American Airlines computer system was down and would possibly be down all day. The self-serve kiosks were still working though and we were told to check in there. So we waited in line (Zoë was sleeping in her stroller peacefully, thank God!) and we attempted to check in. Since we were checking in with a lap infant, we could not use the kiosks, we were told to speak to a service attendant and when we did, the helpful woman told us that most likely we would not be able to get on our flight today, but to go stand in an extremely long line and hope that there was something that could be done. We went and we waited, patiently even, while Zoë continued to sleep and we researched what was happening using our phones. (How did we ever get along without smart phones? The American Airlines employees couldn’t give us any information, but our handy iPhones could)
April 16th must have been an incredibly expensive day for American Airlines, their whole system was down, from coast-to-coast. Stories were being told via the airlines Twitter and Facebook page about cancelled flights and people having to wait in a plane for over two hours only to have to disembark and wait for another flight. These stories reminded me that I should be thankful that we were still in the airport. Even though we were in a line the length of the Great Wall of China (that’s only a slight exaggeration), we were able to take turns and get food and coffee freely, and Zoë woke up and was able to walk around and play with us while we waited in line.
After waiting in line for over an hour (and having them move our line to the end of another very long line), their systems came back on, and we finally got up to the front! The whole time waiting, Chad and I were thanking God that we were not on a sitting plane and hoping that we would still make our flight. The really cranky helpful employee that called us up to her desk informed us that our flight had been cancelled and that she was getting us the last room available in the area and then would rebook our flight. We were put on stand-by for the next days flight and were given vouchers for a nearby Comfort Inn and dinner and lunch (by the way, American Airlines- $24 for dinner and $14 for breakfast for three people is almost impossible these days). I was bummed, I had so been looking forward to the beach, but I was so thankful that we got a free room and food. I heard later that many people had to sleep in the airport because they ran out of rooms to rent. That would have been horrible!
That night I called American Airlines and spoke with a wonderful guy named Cory, who informed me that the earliest flight that I could definitely get tickets for would be in two days, but that he would keep an eye on the schedule for the flight we were on stand-by for. If two seats opened up he would book them for us and give me a call and let me know.
Since we had one more day in Miami, we decided to splurge and take a taxi to South Beach and check it out. It was only 4 o’clock and we had plenty of sun left to enjoy it.
(Chad and Zoë love the beach in Miami. Photo Taken by Jennifer Mitchell)
And enjoy it we did! The beach is beautiful and clean and the water was warm and pretty calm. Zoë fell in love with what she called the “puddle” and didn’t want to leave the water, but my hunger finally won and we walked around looking for a place to have a snack and a drink. We found outdoor seating at Bellini’s Italian Bistro and sat down to have an $8 cheese pizza and two-for-one cocktails. Just a side note here, we realized that it is very important to ask how much cocktails are when ordering, because these 2-for-1 cocktails cost $25 a piece! Granted they were equivalent to the size of 4 regular drinks, but still…
It turned out to be a great time, we talked to the host for quite some time who was really nice and told us all about how it is to live in Miami. It was fun to talk to a local and learn about what to see and do, we assumed that we wouldn’t be getting a flight for another day so were thinking on what we wanted to see. We left around 9 pm to go back to the hotel and get Zoë to bed and repack for our wait in the airport the next day for our stand-by flight. As soon as we got back into our room, I got a phone call from Cory at American and he said that he had booked us tickets on the 11:40 am flight the next day and we were all set to go! What a blessing and a surprise, God always provides!
The next day we packed up our stuff and headed to the airport. What a difference a day makes! We waited about 20 minutes in line, got our boarding passes and even got to go thru the handicapped line for the security checkpoint because we had a stroller. We got through security in about 10 minutes, it was amazing. The flight was slightly delayed, but after the previous days drama that was nothing.
(The view from the plane on the way to Curacao. Photo Taken by Jennifer Mitchell)
Now we are in sunny, windy, humid and colorful Curacao. I am so excited to be here and plan on writing a full description of this interesting island next week.
Thankfully we have made it through all the trials so far and now can rest. God is good and I am thankful that we are safe and that all of the flight issues have been mostly administrative and not safety issues. Please pray for us that our flight to Portugal in a week and a half will go off without a hitch (that will be a 19 hour trip with 3 connections). Until then I am going to put airplanes and airports and anything else to do with that out of my mind and enjoy my lobsteresque sunburn burgeoning tan and time with my little family. Til next week family and friends! Feel free to leave a comment as it is a great way of asking questions or keeping in touch since we are technically phone-less now.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4