The Sunday before Christmas Jason and I loaded our bags into the car and headed off to the airport, bound for Portland, Oregon (PDX). As I mentioned in a previous post, it almost never snows at Christmas in Oregon. The few times I remember having a "White Christmas" when I was growing up it was either a dusting or just a few flakes that us kids used to be far too excited about. So although Jason and I heard, from family members as well as actual certified meteorologists, that it was snowing in Oregon--and was going to keep snowing--somehow it didn't quite really sink in. I still planned to pick up Starbucks gift cards at Costco and run a few errands. Saturday Market and Powell's (City of Books--OMG it's heaven) were still not entirely out of the question in my mind.
When we landed in Salt Lake City, they immediately informed us that our flight to PDX was cancelled and we were rescheduled the next morning. They gave us our boarding passes and (upon my request) a hotel voucher. Having never been in this situation before, I asked about our bags. The kind
We actually made the most of our short time in SLC; our hotel gave us a shuttle ride over to another hotel that had a good restaurant, we ate and talked with another couple stuck for the night, and our Bosnian restaurant manager was delightful
Luckily we had our boarding passes, and since we only had our carry-ons we skipped the Delta counter and went straight through security towards our gate. There we realized how lucky we were to have boarding passes; the airport was full of people sleeping on every possible horizontal surface, not because they couldn't afford a hotel, but because they were afraid if they left the terminal without boarding passes they'd never get put on a flight! OUCH!
The Pilot came out a few times and warned us of the weather in Portland, so when they started boarding us just a few minutes late we were all excited and pretty hopeful. By this point Jason has missed his ski day with his cousins and I'd missed my PDX day, which was a bummer, but we were both excited to just get home to Portland.
So it didn't bother us too much when they delayed our takeoff for a half-hour--it was early, after all, let's give the PDX airport guys time to clean up the runway, right? And then another half-hour slipped by fairly quickly, filled with reading and short
We settled in for the quick two-hour flight and breathed a collective sigh of relief as the plane started to descend over Portland. And then we collectively gasped slightly when we started to ascend again. Huh? The Pilot came on and announced that Portland's long runway was totally icy and wouldn't be cleared for two hours (which makes me wonder why the heck we were ever cleared for takeoff in the first dang place), and the short runways were too short for our plane, so up we went to Seattle. GAH.
Obviously everyone figured we'd head up to Seattle, wait around for two more hours (or an hour and a half by the time we got there), and then head into Portland on a freshly-cleared runway. Right? Doesn't that make sense?
Nearly upon touchdown in Seattle the Pilot jumped back on the horn to say that the plane was heading back to SLC. We could get off in Seattle if we wanted, but the crew and all of our luggage was heading back to SLC. Further, we would be responsible for our own transportation from Seattle; they weren't going to book us through to Portland. And, we had about two minutes to decide what we were doing, because they were refueling and heading straight back.
Oh. My. STINKIN'. HECK!!!
Decisions, decisions! All of us were immediately on our cell phones--Jason and I were actually each on our phones to different people, which struck me as comical even at the time. Everyone on the plane was trying to figure out if there were any busses or trains running, if small chartered planes could get into the shorter runways at PDX, or if rental car places had any 4-wheel drives still available--all this in about two minutes! Meanwhile we're remembering the snowstorm blowing into SLC even as we sat on the runway and imagining being stuck there for Christmas, and of course wondering if we'd ever see our luggage again if we let it go back to SLC without us! [Especially since I had only two weeks previously laughed by
Jason was on the phone to my Dad, who was at the PDX airport waiting to pick us up, and he told us to call my Mom. I'm unsure of the details but somehow she'd found out that her doctor's son (she's a nurse, she and Dr. Ellerbrook have worked together for almost as long as I can remember) was driving from Portland up to Seattle to pick up his father-in-law, who also was being re-routed to Seattle. So we got Jon's phone number and Jason called him to make sure he'd have room for us. We even managed a moment of levity when Jason said, "Oh, yeah, what about our stuff?" and I said, "Uh, babe, we won't have any stuff!" :) "Oh. Yeah!" :)
So the decision was made. About 75% of the people on the plane ended up getting off anyway, despite not getting any luggage and being unsure of how they'd get to Portland. (Further proof Seattle is a zillion times better than SLC, ha!) I don't understand why we couldn't have our luggage, or why we couldn't just hang out in Seattle for a bit, but at this point whatever, right? At least we were within driving distance of PDX, we had a plan, and at the very least (if Jon couldn't make it up), I know a ton of people in Seattle and I could start calling everyone I know to see who was still in town. :)
Eventually Jon called to say he was arriving, and he really made remarkable time! So good, in fact, that his father-in-law hadn't even arrived yet! But since he was there he swooped us up in his Subaru all-wheel drive; it was remarkably easy to meet him, since I've heard things about him most of my life and he looks incredibly like his dad, so it was sort of like I already knew him a bit. He took us to another tavern near the airport to eat, since it was now dinner time. It was so nice to be out of the airport
I am ashamed to say that in the cozy luxury of the back seat of the Subaru, safely on our way home with most of our worries past and our stomachs full of food and beer, Jason and I fell asleep almost immediately. I woke up about an hour outside of Portland and I think Jason woke up when we were almost in Portland; needless to say we didn't make the best travel companions, although maybe Jon was thankful for the peace and quiet. :)
The worst part of the entire drive was the distance from southern Portland through my parents' exit on the freeway (about 20 miles of pure ice with huge berms in the road). Luckily my parents were able to drive up part way to get us so poor Jon didn't have to drive us all the way down--we're sooooo thankful to him anyway, we were calling him our Knight in Shining Subaru, ha ha! :)
So we arrived at my parents' and fell into bed. The rest of our remaining visit was wonderful and fairly uneventful, at least in comparison, and I will post photos later this week/weekend of all the fun. But the good news is that we were able to get to a store to restock on essentials--I even found a pair of jeans that sufficed!--and we had a renewed sense of what was truly important about the holiday and our visit. Jason and I handled everything well and were a great team, we had a great visit with most of our family (except my sister's family who couldn't make it down from Spokane, which is a major bummer, and I'll work hard to see them soon!), and (thanks to my parents driving up to PDX on Christmas!) we even got our luggage back before we flew home (only by about ten hours due to our schedule at Jason's family's house, but still, what a relief!).
On that note, I will close out my last post for 2008. Tomorrow will be exciting, with a post about my One Word for 2009 and a special necklace offer!