Two feet on solid ground, once again, in Massachusetts. But it’s been a long journey. A Goliath-sized journey to Iowa and back. The plan was to wake up Christmas morning in our house, then spend the weekend relaxing at home before flying to Iowa on Monday. At the end of the school day the 22nd, Liam said, “Tomorrow we fly to Iowa, right?” No. I reviewed the schedule with him: we fly to Iowa the 28th. Will, hearing our conversation in the background, replied, “But I’ve been waiting for a week already!” A perk of the 18th as the last day of school for him. “But we are only going to be in Iowa for FIVE days! That’s not long enough!” Next Christmas, perhaps Will and Liam can plan our travel schedule.
Sunday evening, we receive an email: our 2 p.m. flight on Monday has been canceled and rebooked to 4 p.m. the same day. Snowstorm Goliath is wreaking havoc across the country, thankfully with no flooding but with snow in the Midwest. Canceling over 1,600 flights into Chicago.
In the lounge, we watch the screen for hours. Finally, around 6 p.m. the 4 p.m. flight is canceled, and no flight information is available for the next day. “I am not leaving this airport! I want to see my cousins in Iowa! Now we will only be there for FOUR days!” Will.
After eating dinner at Legal Seafood in our terminal, we checked with the ticket agent. No room on current Tuesday flights, but surely they will add more flights to accommodate passengers – check after midnight. We traveled home to sleep in our own beds.
Travel" is derived from the word travail. To travail means to engage in painful and laborious effort, like a woman in labor.
Tuesday at 6 a.m., I spent an hour on the phone waiting to talk to someone. Finally, an agent reviewed our options. No flights to Chicago. No flights to anywhere in Iowa. Not Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, nor Des Moines. We couldn’t fly to Iowa until Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. “What about Minneapolis? Can you get us to Minneapolis?” Yes. With another airline. A 2 p.m. Tuesday flight would get us there early evening. We would drive four hours to Mom and Dad's. I scampered to re-book the car rental – putting my fingers in my ears and singing “la-la-la” to drown out the price of picking up a car in one city and returning it to another.
A few hours later, we arrive at the Minneapolis gate and see the flight has been delayed from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. “What?” Will. Equipment problems; the plane is in the hangar. Around 5 p.m.: "The plane is on it’s way over!"... "Oops, wrong plane… yours is still in the hangar."
We decide to have a late lunch – at the Legal Seafood in today’s terminal. Back at the gate we get wind of un-official news, “We don’t have confidence in this plane flying today.” Will: “I AM NOT LEAVING THIS AIRPORT! WE'RE ONLY GOING TO HAVE THREE DAYS IN IOWA!”
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the Middle English word "travail" is via Old French from the Medieval Latin word, "trepalium": an instrument of torture. Tre = three. Pallium = stake. To impale yourself on three stakes.
Around 7 p.m., it’s confirmed that this plane isn’t flying, but a plane arriving from Minneapolis later this evening is going to head back with us on-board – at 9:30 p.m. We have dinner at Legal Seafood’s. Again. And book a hotel in Minneapolis -- free with Bill's travel points -- for our midnight arrival. That becomes a 2 a.m. arrival Wednesday morning after a very late 11 p.m. departure.
On the umpteenth update-call to Mom and Dad, Dad says, “I don’t know about the person who made these Christmas plans!” Gotta love him; he would’ve liked us there December 1st. I told him perhaps he and Will could sort out arrangements next year.
This trip is unfolding as a scene from one of the Home Alone movies or Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Powerless. Given immovable obstacles and left with the challenge of overcoming them. Powerless children were the most challenging.
Facing long drives, I used to tell the kids that to get to the good stuff sometimes you have to do things that aren’t pleasant – but worth it for what’s at the other end. For if we hadn’t had Goliath, we wouldn’t have had snow in Iowa, and snow was on the most wanted list for Christmas in Iowa. When I pointed this out on the way home, Will saw the necessity of Goliath. Without it, none of our outdoor four-wheeling, sledding fun would have happened. To my nephew's urging, "Show us how much farm girl you have left in you, Aunt Linda!" He's the second one left in the dust... with a little help from Will.
Travel today holds many more immediate rewards than it did in Medieval times. The wounds from impalement heal much quicker.