I had a day and a half.
By 12:39 AM, I was fully dressed and getting close to being ready to leave. The plan was to leave the house at 3 AM so that we could be at the long-tern parking place at 4, so that we could check in at the ticket counter by 5, so that we could leave OMA (Epply Airport in Omaha) at 6:59 AM. For anyone who's curious, I wore a pink shirt with white flowers printed on it (Christmas present from Bobby and Linds), denim blue crop pants, my black slides, a thin pair of white socks, my birthstones watch, my turquoise bracelet, my Aragorn ring, my moonstone ring, and my turquoise claddagh ring.
At that point, Mom was in her nightgown and robe, playing Brain Age 2 on the DS on the couch in the family room. She hadn't gone to bed, but she was thinking of taking a nap. Dad was napping in their room.
I was bored to death, so I decided to play Disney Princess on Hard. I was thisclose to finishing the first "chapter" of Snow White's "story" when she died and I decided to find something else to do. Around 2:00 AM, there isn't much on TV except informercials. Keeping with the Disney Princess theme, I put on the Disney Princess Cake Challenge on Food Network On Demand. I am so disappointed over the Belle cake.
I throw a few more things in my two suitcases, pilot case, and purse. Yeah, I never learned how to pack lightly.
Just before we leave, I eat an Apple & Cinnamon Oatmeal To Go bar. I didn't think traveling on a completely full stomach would be a good idea.
By 3:05 AM, we were all dressed, packed, and in Dad's van. As soon as the radio came on, "Changes" started playing. I didn't think that was all that unusual until I realized the radio was set to Dad's channel, KGOR. I had never heard them play a Bowie song before. I thought that was a great Labyrinthine send-off.
We arrived at the long-term parking lot at 3:30 AM, half an hour early. I took off the old coat, scarf, and gloves I'd been wearing and left them in the car. (Mom's idea, so we wouldn't drag coats to Hawaii and back.) It was freezing outside while I waited for the luggage to be loaded into the shuttle. (It's hard to know what to wear when it's winter where you live but summerish temps where you're going.) Then we took the shuttle to the airport.
By 3:45 AM, we are at line for the CO (Continental) ticket counter and find out the counter doesn't open until 4. Dad and I talk about how I hardly ever fly (this is only my third air trip this decade). I say I'm like the shoemaker whose kids have no shoes. A few minutes before 4, we check in and get our bags checked.
4:05 AM saw us seated at the food court area just outside the security checkpoint. I'm enjoying a small Caramelicious (think Caramel Macchiato knock-off). Dad and I talk about the presidential assassination episode of Unsolved History we saw the day before. That turned to me talking about supposed ghosts in the White House and DC in general. Dad says I'm a font of useless information. I resemble that remark.
The security checkpoint (and therefore access to the gates) opened at 5. I got through it with no problems. They didn't even blink at the 16 BPAL imps that were in the quart-size Ziploc with my liquid toiletries.
I hadn't flown since I went to see Allie and P in July '04. In the almost four years since, someone had built a coffee shop shaped like a hangar in the middle of the concourse we were in. I wasn't surprised to see the same black leather seats at our gate. OMA has had the same damn seats for decades and it really shows -- some of them are falling apart.
I was a little miffed that it wasn't even dawn yet. Yes, I usually get up around 4 on the days I work, and it's not like I haven't had early-morning flights before. And 5ish is way too early for the sun to be up. I was happy to see that pilot cases were very popular among my fellow travelers. :-D There were a lot more people flying on Super Bowl Sunday than I thought there'd be. I wondered what would happen if I had shouted, "Go, Giants!" Nothing good, I was sure. The air in the concourse was very dry. I wonder if they do that on purpose so more people will buy drinks.
At 5:20, I noticed a pilot at one of the other gates enjoying a quick breakfast. I guess he didn't have enough time to get before he got there. There's a career I wouldn't want -- too much stress and traveling. I noticed that some of the other gates were busy. The OMA-ORD (Chicago's O'Hare International Airport) flight was especially popular. As it got closer to 6:59, our gate started filling up. Dad occupied himself playing Brain Age while Mom read a book. I tried reading but I was too wired.
The seat configuration was three and three. Mom and Dad sat in D and E, the aisle and the middle seat next to it on the right side of the plane, while I sat in C, the seat across the aisle. Next to me was a very nice middle-aged couple on their way to a weeklong vacation in Mexico. It turns out they only live a few blocks from us. We talked about travel and my job, us visiting Bobby and his family, etc.
Shortly after take-off, the flight attendants gave us muffins and drinks as a snack. I couldn't figure out what kind of muffins they were, but I know they weren't SBD-compliant. Good, though. (I'm going to try to be on SBD while I'm here, but no guarantees.)
The guy sitting behind me must've been really tall or at least had really long legs since I swear his knees were in my back most of the flight and I did not lean my chair back. The flight was uneventful except for some turbulance. Shortly before descent, I noticed a little white dog in the lap of a woman sitting ahead of my parents. Since I've made plenty of reservations for people flying with pets, I know for a fact that dogs are not allowed out of their kennels at all. I quietly mentioned that to the couple next to me. We were all surprised that the dog had been completely silent the whole flight. It looked like the woman had one of those cloth kennels the airline sells to people who don't have their own kennels.
My left ear hurt like hell while we were landing. I have a sinus infection (still) and I figured my sinuses would ache, but I wasn't expecting my ear to feel like my eardrum had ruptured. It felt a little better once we were on the ground. The woman with the dog left the plane just ahead of me. What I thought was a cloth kennel was a mesh totebag with a blanket over it. As I was leaving, I overheard the one of the flight attendants say to the other that she didn't know there was a dog on the flight, then the second one said that the dog hadn't been mentioned on the passenger list. Yeah, the woman had snuck the dog on. That just pissed me off.
IAH (Houston George Bush (formerly Intercontintal) Airport is huge! It took forever to walk from our arrival gate to the concourse that had our departure gate. OMA spoiled me. If MSP (Minneapolis-St. Paul) is an airport with a mall, IAH is a mall with an airport. It even had teenagers mall-crawling (no luggage or carry-ons amongst them, so I don't think they were traveling) and a large sit-down restaurant overlooking our departure gate. I bought People and a bottle of water at the newsstand. $1.49 for a 20 oz bottle of plain water is absolutely insane, but that's what I get for buying water at an airport.
The flight to HNL started with the captain saying, besides the usual safety things for take-off, that he wanted all the window shades up. I've never heard of a captain asking for that. I just asked Dad, and he says that if there's a crash, having the shades up means that the passengers will know which part of the plane they can exit. Huh. Shouldn't that request be on every flight, then? The captain also said that after the Super Bowl starts, we could ask the flight attendants for the score if we wanted it.
You can tell I don't fly very often -- this was the first time I had flown with a TV in front of me. Unforunately, the technology isn't any better than Cox On Demand, since we kept getting No Signal messages. My ear hurt during the take-off and it still hurt an hour into the flight. It sapped any urge I had to write, read one of the books I'd brought, or even listen to my CDs, since I did't want to put the headphone in my ear.
The flight was very bumpy over Mexico. The captain said he'd try to find a smoother route for us. It was much smoother over the Pacific. Before 9-11, I loved to fly. Now, it's easier for me if I picture the plane as rolling on a giant bridge and turbulance is just bumps in the road.
I dozed a few times then I listened to my U218 CD on endless repeat while I did other things. My ear felt better by then. Halfway into the eight-hour flight, 2/3 of the passengers in my area were asleep. I took the opportunity to check out the restroom. It had a low ceiling (I feel really sorry for anyone who was over 5'10") but it was bigger than I thought it would be. There was enough room for two people, which had me wondering if there were any new members of the Mile-High Club on our flight.
I did the little exercizes to prevent DVT that the in-flight magazine suggested. Mom says I'm not at risk, but I'm not so sure.
At the beginning of the flight, the flight attendants gave us peanuts and drinks. For lunch a couple of hours later, they gave us really good, but small, cheeseburgers, a salad, and a brownie. Bad Tara, I ate the burger and brownie but ignored the salad. It was just iceburg lettuce and bits of shredded carrot and raddish. About an hour and a half before we landed, they gave us baby turkey sandwiches, baby carrots, and baby Kit-Kats. I did eat everything that time. I even ate all the carrots before I ate the Kit-Kat.
The flight attendants told us the score was 7-3, Patriots. It was like that for a couple more updates, and it was still like that when we landed. My ear hurt even worse during the landing. I'm going to the doc as soon as we get back.
HNL's (Honolulu International Airport) biggest change in 18 years is that you don't have to get off the plane and walk in the open air to get to the terminal. Good thing, since it was raining yesterday. (Gee, rain in Hawaii. Who'd've thought?) Bobby was waiting for us at the Baggage Claim. Mom gave him such a big hug that I think she knocked the wind out of him. He gave us each a flower lei. Mine's plumerias and carnations. I was right -- BPAL's dragon's blood turns to plumeria on me. We barely managed to get us, our carry-ons, and our six suitcases in Bobby's little sedan. Dad's thinking of renting a van.
I didn't realize until we got out on the road how much I missed Hawaii's mountains. I wonder how hard it would be to sneak one of those on the plane then plant it in Nebraska. I loved seeing the royal palms and all the green plants. It's so green here and so brown back home. It's warm and muggy, but nothing like Nebraska in the summer.
It was Reilly's birthday, but he'd forgotten that we were coming, so it was a great surprise for him. I can't believe he's 4. He had a Pirates of the Caribbean birthday. Very cute.
I think I went to bed around 8 last night. I'd been up since 8 AM Saturday, with only a few short naps in between.
This morning, my bladder woke me up just before 6. It's now after eleven and I want a nap. Now I know what jetlag feels like.