On, Wisconsin! or, The Airport Fiasco

I apologize for how long it’s taken me to document the last part of my trip from July, but I’ve just been so busy working, getting ready for the move, and everything else…so here it is! After our time in Florida had finished, I decided I wasn’t quite ready to head back to the Carolinas and didn’t want Jo driving so far on her own, so I rerouted to go back to Wisconsin with her and fly back to Raleigh a few days later. A pretty simple, flawless plan. In theory. (…as things often are.) This one is a bit longer than the rest, but the last in a series, so lets see how this goes. :)

We fully intended on leaving at three in the morning. I would have the first driving shift, followed by Jo, and we’d keep switching out. We’d drop Anna off at her house first and then head on towards Wisconsin. This would have been a great idea if we’d managed to keep our hotel room in any kind of remotely organized condition throughout the course of the trip, and the packing alone after we returned from Disney World took… ages. Just straight up, it took forever. There were leftover food boxes and unopened snack packages and pillows and blankets and shoes and underwear and ten thousand black plastic WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER bags from our ten thousand purchases littering the floor.  I attempted to get some sleep – also a good idea, in theory, and Anna – who didn’t want to sleep – said she’d wake me up at 2 so I could shower and finish getting ready. As it turned out, Anna was using Jo’s laptop, which was still in central time…and well, sometime around 2:30 I wake up on my own and realize how much longer we have to get ready. Fabulous.

Well, we eventually rolled out of the hotel at 3:30 (not too bad, really.) leaving behind only two of my shoes – which have yet to be returned, thanks to the awesome staff at the Holiday Inn Express who do not answer their Housekeeping calls – despite multiple room checks. Alas. Anna got home before the sun was up since she didn’t live too far away, and Jo and I rocketed on towards Janesville.

It really didn’t take long for us to start getting sleepy, and in hindsight I wish we’d gotten that extra hour of sleep and just left at four. We needed it. Around 7:30 we realized we were both about to pass out and were holy crap still in Florida how is this still possible and pulled over at the most podunk gas station in the most podunk town in Florida and passed out til about 8:30. The drive was supposed to be 21 hours in total. Minus our slight sleep detour, we’d only gone four hours and had not yet left the state of Florida. Oh My Gosh.

The rest of the drive really was not so bad, we switched off every so often with me doing the majority of the driving, and for the most part this leg of the trip was mostly spent with the passenger sleeping rather than the constant chatter or sing-alongs of the way there. Switching off worked okay though, becuase with the naps we were both usually rejuvenated by the time we got back behind the wheel. Our only detour was to visit a White Castle burger (we were previously white castle virgins, but oh my goodness it was worth the detour) and to rush into a target for a few minutes to pick up the essentials: Gum and a car charger for my blackberry.

Anyway, the trip was relatively painless and we rolled in at I think two AM – I honestly can’t remember now – and met up with Jo’s boyfriend, some friends of hers, and Nick from the Vault, who was an old friend of mine that I’d just not gotten to meet in person yet, for a pancake dinner – well, I think at least someone had pancakes, I had waffles – at some sort of Midwestern IHOP by name of “Perkins’.” It was as one would expect a Midwestern IHOP to be.

Jo and I headed back to her house and absolutely passed out, I think we finally woke up around eleven the next morning and went shopping and out to lunch and visited Nick at work, and later that afternoon the three of us went to see Despicable Me, which was basically amazing. Probably one of my favorite 3d films I’ve seen in awhile – and extra fun that I had someone to make Nerdfighter jokes with while watching it. Afterwards Nick and I went to get drinks with one of his friends and hung out for awhile.

I should also disclaim at this point that the entirety of the time I was in Wisconsin I took but a single photo, with my cell phone:

Continuing on.

Thursday was airport day. This was the day that went completely awry.

I was supposed to leave Janesville very, very early and get on a very, very early plane at 8:20 AM. This did not happen.

Instead I arrived at the airport entirely too late, having not flown in awhile I thought surely-30-to-45-minutes-to-spare-is-ample-time-to-get-checked-in. This was not the case. What actually happened was after arriving at the airport entirely-too-late, they can’t find my ticket number in the computer. I scan my ID in a rush, type in my info, my confirmation number, everything. The computer can’t find it. Like ten minutes of this and finally a real person appears behind the desk (why there weren’t any there before I really have no idea) and tries to find my ticket. We find it! Yay! Except…by the time she locates me in the system, the plane is already boarding. I need to be up there now, but she’ll call up there and make sure that they let me on the plane. Nick agrees to take care of checking my bag, I quickly say goodbye, and run across the airport to the terminals. (Okay, this is slightly inaccurate, I wasn’t exactly sure where the terminals were so it took me a good five minutes of meandering in hurried circles until I actually found where I should be.)

Oh right. Security.

Rush through security, guy looks at the time on my ticket and at me, rolls his eyes a bit and lets me through. Take off my shoes. Go through checkpoint. Old guy in front of me clearly hasn’t flown since 1954 and is really confused as to why he can’t take all of these liquids on the plane. He is obviously a terrorist. They spend God knows how long trying to explain to him what’s going on and helping him go through his stuff. An Asian family after him has 23409823048 electronics they have to check. I try to cut the line. The security guy glares at me. I don’t cut the line.

So in a complete scene from a movie, I grab my shoes from the conveyor and run barefoot down the hall towards the gate to discover NO ONE IS THERE. AT ALL.  I find a pilot. I stop her and am like, dude, there is no one at my gate. She finds a guy at like the next gate down or something who informs me that if I got there five minutes before (Newsflash! I did! You weren’t there, jerk!) I would have been able to get on the plane. Luckily, probably in thanks to my absolute BAWLING at this point and insisting “INEEDTOBEONTHATPLANEYOUDON’TUNDERSTAND” (yeah, like he hasn’t heard that ten times today.) he rebooks me for the next available flight. Six hours later. Ergh.

It wasn’t a big deal for me, at least – I find Nick and we decide to go get breakfast and then holed up in a shopping mall for a few hours (and went to see Inception, actually, on IMAX, which was pretty amazing given that I was supposed to be on a plane and my mother was Very Very Angry that I missed my flight.) and then you know, we arrived at the airport with plenty of time and I checked in with plenty of time and made the flight on time.

The flight was pretty routine, I enjoyed that Midwest gives everyone yummy chocolate chip cookies, I did not enjoy how tiny the plane was and that I couldn’t really relax. I got in at some point in the evening, found my bag, and Dad and I started the trek back home. The very, very, extremely long Trek that involved one stop at Bojangles and a couple of hours of sleeping in a Hatteras parking lot. I had basically been up for nearly 24 hours if you don’t count naps at this point – we didn’t get into the village until about 6 AM. Longest trip ever.

Was it worth it? Heck yes.

At any rate, that’s the Wisconsin leg, and that concluded that particular journey. I had a lot of fun and met a lot of amazing people and am so glad that my friends are such troopers. Hopefully the next adventure will be just as great. :)

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