“Road closed. Well, that’s just [expletive] great.”
(Author’s note: there are several expletives removed from my actual journaling from our day of travel. Feel free to use your imagination. If you know a suitable expletive, I probably said it.)
Looking back, that first road closure sign was an omen of the day of travel ahead. This particular trip to the airport from York County to Philadelphia International Airport was riddled with hiccups, stress, and anxiety. More than once I forced myself to stop wringing my hands, slow my breathing, and relax.
At least, it was stressful for me. As much as I purport to go with the flow, I am actually pretty high-strung at times. Back in the good ol’ days filled with soul-soothing buzzes from certain herbal remedies, I could have cared less. I mean, whatever, man.
These days are more white-knuckled than the days of yore.
My husband stayed pretty even-tempered and optimistic which I’m sure helped me considerably, although at the time it was pretty [expletive] annoying. Misery does love company.
We had our route planned, cutting through the picturesque southern part of the counties and with the all-seeing and all-knowing GPS on our phones, it’s hard to get lost these days, even if you are actually trying to do so. What we weren’t thinking about was the 5 or so inches of rain that cleansed the land — for a short time, at least — in the 24 hours prior to our departure.
(By Jocelyn Augustino (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Road [expletive] closed.
We hit at least four of them and had to loop our way way South before finding a path back up to where we should have been too many minutes earlier. GPS is great and all but it sure didn’t help us account for where all the low-lying roads were still covered with water the color of a Yoo-hoo milk product.
You ever drink that stuff? I’m more of a Perrydell chocolate milk fan.
I’m one of those people who hates to be late for anything. Appointments, play dates, dinner parties, flights … being early means being on time. All of these closed roads meant that being “on time” might quickly evolve into being late.
“We’re not going to make it in time,” I said, as I twisted the pink tassle at the end of my necklace between worried fingers.
“We’ll be fine. Just relax and read the map, tell me what direction to go. You’re the navigator,” my husband said in a tone doing its very best to convey confidence.
Okay, good. I’m the navigator. I’m good at this. When we took road trips growing up, I’d often sit in the front seat and be the navigator because (no offense, Mom!) I can read maps better than she can. The lists that directions give on my iPhone? I rarely even use them because I prefer just using the map.
In a previous life I was actually a cartographer. True story, I think.
The Brandywine area in Pennsylvania sure is a looker but I hope next time it’s a leisurely trip in which I can appreciate her virtues.
We finally made it to the Expresspark lot outside the airport, which was so far off the beaten track I was sure we must have made a wrong turn. That would have been the navigator’s fault, of course. To my hugely perceptible relief, it was indeed there and we parked. We removed our bodies from the car and we collected our suitcase and backpack from the trunk and we closed and locked the doors with a bag of leftover bagels with cream cheese inside.
Protip: Don’t let bags of half-eaten bagels with cream cheese sit inside your closed car for any amount of time but especially not for a week.
The affable older gentleman who was our shuttle van driver handed us an Expresspark business card, conveniently naming the area of the huge massive lot we were in as “extended lot runway side”. I looked at the clock. 10:50am.
“We should be okay since our flight isn’t until 12:15. Hopefully there isn’t a line at security,” I say, still fretting like it’s my job.
“We’ll be fine. Just relax.” My husband motioned with his hands to calm down, which had the opposite effect.
When the driver got out to help another woman into the shuttle, my heart did anything but slow down. She slowly stepped out of her car, fixed her hair in the car’s reflection, pursed her lips a bit like she just put on lipstick, and sauntered over to the passenger side of the shuttle van.
Yeah, she sauntered. I know I wasn’t reading anything into her walking style.
He warmly gave her the same welcome as he did for us, handing her a card and putting the van into gear and slowly moving forward.
Until he stopped, probably fifteen feet down the parking lot. You’ve got to be [expletive] kidding!
On the other side of the parking aisle, still driving around trying to find a parking spot, is another vehicle. Our thoughtful driver puts the van into park, opens the door and motions the driver of the lost-looking vehicle to park and yells out, “I’ll wait for ya!”
My husband, finally showing signs of stress-fraying around the edges says, “Sir, we really need to get to the airport as soon as possible. We have a flight that is leaving soon.”
“Sure, sure, of course.”
And we proceeded to wait for what felt like half of an eternity for the other passengers to get into the van.
Then we start moving, like actual driving, and made it nearly through the labyrinth of parked vehicles of every make and color imaginable, before he stops to let another couple of people in at the exit gate. I do get it, I do. It’s his job to shuttle people from this lot to the airport departure terminals all day long. More people piled into his van each time means fewer times he has to trek back and forth.
But still. Remember above where I told you I can be high-strung?
Checking our bag at Terminal A with Spirit Airlines was easy breezy. In fact, it was probably one of the best customer service experiences I’ve had when traveling by air – both coming and going. Well done, Spirit! I’ll fly with you again! We head up to security and get shuffled into the right-hand lane which has about 30 or so people in a barely moving line instead of getting put into the left-hand lane which had about 8 people in it. The airport worker didn’t ask to see our boarding pass, they just told us to get into the right lane. There were no signs indicating the difference between lines. After several minutes of moving about 10 feet or so, I went back to the worker (who was deep in conversation about some dinner party or something) and asked, “May we please move into this shorter line?”
I flashed my most winning smile.
Which didn’t work.
“You’re in the right lane,” she said with a shooing motion of her hand as she broke eye contact with me and got back into conversation with her friend.
Red-faced and agitated, I walked back to my spot in line. “I was just [expletive] dismissed by her. Just like that. No [expletive] we’re in the right lane. I want to be in the left lane.”
I pull out my phone and look at the time. 11:14am.
At this point, my heart is beating loudly inside my head.
We finally make it through to security and that process was time-consuming, too. It took sheer willpower to not look at the time obsessively. It doesn’t pay to look too nervous around TSA workers, you know?
I made it to the bins. Boots, Kindle, glasses & boarding pass in one. Bag on the rollers. I even managed a small smile at an agent as I stepped into the full body scanners, making sure to suck my gut in as much as I could and ignore all the articles I’ve read about what they actually see. Did you enjoy that shot of all my extra weight, you guys?
We made it to A14 with just enough time to have a quick bathroom break before boarding right away.
So. We made it. Huzzah! But too close for comfort for this woman. We wouldn’t have wanted to be much later. I glanced at the time as we stepped onto the plane and it was 11:56am. 17 minutes to spare before taking off.
“We are on the plane. I repeat, we made it.”
Thus ends the adventures of flooded roads en route to a flight to Dallas, Texas. Our trip did certainly improve and other than severe allergies, was outstanding and inspirational. From our stay at HausBar Farms and Guesthouse (more on them soon!) to the three-day Austin Psych Fest (more on that soon, too!), Austin was one of the most restive and exciting trips I’ve been on in awhile. I have so much to write about and share with you.
I promise I’ll include more photos in the other posts in my Texas series. I wasn’t even thinking about photos during all of this.
(Author’s second –and I promise the last– note: the featured image above? The one behind the post title? It’s not from this trip. There’s no corn growing right now. But it shows rain so it fits.)