Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Flying Cross-Country ...

... with a One Year Old and a Layover ... in Newark ... what the heck was I thinking? I was thinking that it would be nice to visit my dear friends in Northern Virginia. That's what I was thinking. And I was so right about that part! Aside from the almost debilitating heat and humidity, it was awesome to be back amongst friends :)

But the actual traveling part ... pretty much sucked! Oh, by the way, it was my brilliant idea, or at least my conscious choice to fly with a connecting flight ... no one to blame but myself for this little misadventure!

Seattle to Dulles International via Newark
The flight from Seattle to Newark was long - as long as expected - and somewhat delightful because I had an extra (free) seat for Natalie and her infant carseat (the one that she really doesn't fit in anymore but I brought to the airport just in case, and it paid off). She fell asleep right after take-off. I attempted to watch a movie ... the one with Reese Witherspoon and a girl who looks like a pig ... can't remember the name. I even paid a dollar for the headphones. Well, the movie was kind of lame, and Natalie woke up after just an hour of napping ... probably because the captain and flight attendants kept making the loudest stupid announcements ... but whatever. And wouldn't you know it, the drink cart and meal (greasy cheeseburger - heated in a plastic bag) arrived just as Natalie got restless. Balancing a drink and meal box on a tiny tray while keeping a one year old at bay is no easy task ... thankfully I had a container of Veggie Booty just for such an occasion! Anyway, I managed to entertain her for the rest of the flight ... I had a stockpile of toys and books, but she preferred the disposable plasticware from our meal - the plastic cup, the plastic salad plate, the little plastic tray to keep my two cookies from being reduced to crumbs, ...

And so delightfulness ensued until we landed in Newark. Our connecting flight was a considerably smaller plane, which doesn't bother me in the least, in fact, Chad use to fly 50-seater jets, so that is not an issue. The issue was getting to the "tiny plane" terminal. God-forbid these freakin' airport builders, architects, morons would give a thought to how passengers with a baby and stroller might get from one terminal to the next. I can't imagine how people in wheel chairs must feel about this predicament; it is so infuriating! First we waiting in this tiny, disgusting room for a bus to arrive. Then I was shown to a freight elevator that hadn't seen a mop in a very long time. I somehow managed to get Natalie out of her infant seat, fold my stroller, and get everything on board the darn bus without so much as a mention of help from the driver or fellow passengers ... hello, rude! After a short ride, I again juggled all my crap plus Natalie off the bus only to discover 16 concrete steps. Huh?!? I mean, I can manage a backpack, a stroller, an infant carseat, a 22 pound baby, and my sanity when not faced with 16 stairs and no elevator! I just about lost it! Thankfully a baggage handler noticed my dilemma and rescued us ... and the many witnesses to my potential breakdown. He carried my stroller ... at arms length from this body ... as if it contained dead animal carcass or something ... but at least he took it all the way to the top.

Once inside the "tiny plane" terminal, things did not get any better. On the contrary, things just kept getting worse. Keep in mind that Natalie had only slept for a grand total of one hour at this point. Let's see ... how do I make this long story just a smidge shorter ... our one hour layover ended up to last a grand total of FOUR hours. And I could only keep Natalie up off that FILTHY, DISGUSTING, GERM-RIDDEN airport terminal carpet for so long. Eventually I had to concede and let her .... crawl around for a little while. Oh, it makes me sick just thinking about it! What makes it even worse is the fact that she constantly sought out and crawled to every trash can she could spot! We made many, many, many trips to the restroom to wash hands with soap and water - after the anti-bacterial wipes were all gone. Her cute little pants were absolutely black - or at least a very dark gray - from cuff to just above the knee ... YUCK! But we did meet a wonderful mom and her teenage son from Texas, and they kept us company during the long wait ... and gave Natalie a new object of her flirting affections.

The flight included an hour long sit on the taxi way before take-off, which sucked, but we finally arrived in Virginia ... at midnight. And my poor friend Heather had to roll out of bed to come pick us up. At least we didn't even have to think about airline travel for another 6 days.

The Return Trip: Dulles International to Seattle via Newark
The return trip was just as awful ... no really, it was ... perhaps even a little worse. But I'll spare you a big long, detailed recounting. Here are the highlights:
Our travels began at 3:00 pm, when we left Heather's house - this information will be important toward the end of my tale. Our flight leaving Dulles was delayed for more than an hour, and we had another connection through Newark. Repeated the awful process - in reverse - of getting from the "tiny plane" terminal to the main terminal ... again, those 16 steps do not come with the option of an elevator. Thanks to a kind and somewhat beefy guy, I managed to get us and all our stuff on the bus. Only to discover that our light from Newark to Seattle was ... you guessed it ... delayed ... for hours! Again, Natalie got the chance to crawl on some of the dirtiest carpet I have ever laid foot on! The flight was beyond full, which meant no empty seat for Natalie. Which also meant I had the distinct privilege of holding my 22 pound baby girl ... on my lap ... for many, many hours. We spent almost two hours on the plane before take-off. Two hours of squirming and fussing because it was bedtime for NHV. We finally departed, and Natalie fell asleep almost immediately and stayed that way. So began my battle to sit comfortably in a window seat while holding 22 pounds of dead weight. Grand total, I did this for seven hours, and let me assure you I never did get comfortable. My arms and back and legs hurt so badly I wanted to cry on several occasions ... part of that could've been shear exhaustion, too. At Seattle airport, I had a terrible time finding elevators. When I asked for directions to the nearest elevator, people looked at me like I had asked for a unicorn or something ... with this slightly bemused look on their faces! By this point it was after midnight - or 3 am east coast time - and I was pretty much anything but amused. Anyway, just another point of frustration. We then took a taxi to our car which Chad parked at a friend's house about 5 miles from the airport. We pulled into our driveway at almost 2 am - or 5 am east coast time. Must give mad props to my baby girl. She maintained her composure through it all. I guarantee I would never even attempt this type of travel if she wasn't the amazing little person that she is!

Phew! That was a lot of typing and a lot of reading if you stuck with it. But I am blogging about this so I can remember the pain - I don't want to forget it like childbirth and foolishly decide to do it again!
P.S. We actually got back from this trip - almost a week ago to the hour - but I am just now writing about it because I wasn't ready to relive it until now :)


~d said...


my heart broke for you.. 7hours of holding her.

Pey puked on the last ride. I caught it with Emma's CHERISED PINK WINKY.. (blanky)

Then tried to pretend.. that the awful smell .. was not from US. :)

AND THAT the wails.. were NOT FROM Emma.

Just kidding. emma took it like a champ.. and I bought her something.. bribery.

No more connecting flights. :)

Laura said...

You are a braver woman than I Sis. I am sorry that you and Natalie had to go through that but I know that you had a good time in VA so I'm sure it was partially worth it. :) I almost tinkled reading the elavator/unicorn comparison.

Chi-town momma said...

I remember talking you through this horrific event. Can you even imagine the first time we try to fly with TWO??? I can't imagine doing that solo!

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