Why I DRIVE to Chicago

I am in the Windy City this week, visiting my new baby girl who was born Thursday evening, April 16th.  She was due May 1st but decided to arrive early.  Dave called me around 8:30 a.m. Thursday and told me Carlota was in the hospital.  The baby must have had second thoughts, because by 10:00, not much was happening.  The OB doctor decided she better induce Carlota because her water had been broken since 1:00 a.m.  (There is a higher risk of infection to the baby if the water is broken for several hours.)  By mid-afternoon, she was progressing but it was going slow.  I didn’t hear anything for awhile, so I called Carlota’s mom around 5:30 and she said she didn’t know what was happening either because they were asked to leave the birthing room.  They had been sitting in the waiting room for an hour.  I figured Carlota must be pushing if her folks weren’t allowed in the room, so I thought, “Any time now I’m going to be a grandma!”  Mike had a band concert that evening so I took my cell and put it on “vibrate,” muted it, and held it in my hand the entire concert so I wouldn’t miss the call.  The call never came!  I was becoming very concerned.  We got home around 8:00.  No messages on the answering machine.  No missed calls.  Finally, at 8:30 the phone rang.  It was Dave!  Delilah Luz was born “sometime around eight.”  (I was ready to call Child Protective Services on my son for not knowing the exact time of birth!)  “She weighs six pounds-two ounces and is nineteen and half inches long,” he said, “and, she has lots of hair!  Her hair was coming out before she was!” “What?” I said, “Is she Rapunzel?”  Dave was so excited!  We were thrilled.  He said Carlota’s brother took some pictures with his phone camera and he was putting them on Face Book.  (Later, her youngest sister took pictures with her digital camera and put them on Face Book.  I quickly became “Friends” with Carlota’s siblings so I could get baby pictures!)

I debated when I would leave for Chicago and how I would get there.  I wanted to go ASAP, but I knew I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) drive that far alone since I am not 100% after surgery yet.  It is close to the end of the school year, so Joe and Mike had classes and tests they couldn’t miss.  Dennis is busy at work and couldn’t take time off until May.  I was antsy, though, and wanted to go sooner.  I had a wedding to go to Saturday and Mike had band competitions and an Honors tea over the weekend.  Dennis told me he could drive out over the weekend, but would have to get back to work Sunday.  I could fly, but without a good paycheck the past month from not working, I was reluctant to spend the money on airfare.  Plus, it is just such a hassle anymore to fly.  I hate it!

People think I’m nuts when I want to drive to Chicago instead of fly.  “It’s only a 45 minute flight,” they say.  Yeah, but first you need to get into the air!!  I have had too many “flights” that have been hours long.  Believe it or not, I even had a flight that took over eight hours, counting the hour before at the airport checking in, the waiting on the tarmack to takeoff, the circling Chicago once we got there, the lining up to land then get to the gate at O’Hare and finally, the waiting for the luggage.  That’s not counting the waiting for the cab!  I could’ve been at my destination with a car available to me (my own car) in less time!  “Oh, that doesn’t happen that often,” people say.  Well, apparently, it happens an inordinate number of times to the Bristol’s!

I decided to forego the wedding (although I really wanted to attend!) and Mike’s activities–he was kind of ambivalent about them anyway.  He could get a ride to the band competitions, and he was just as soon skip the Honors tea, so who needed the parents around? Dennis and I would drive to Chicago.  We decided to leave after he got off work Friday and go part way, stay overnight in Iowa, then continue on in the morning.  He would stay in Chciago over the weekend, then fly out Sunday night, work all week, and return to Chicago this Friday, sort of a “reverse roundtrip.”  We would then drive back to Omaha together next weekend.

After a night at the SpringHill Suites in Des Moines, we left Saturday morning, heading for Chi-town. Anxious to get there, but wanting to time it so we weren’t too early, we leisurely traveled across Iowa, taking our time to stop in the Amanas and do a little shopping.  Carlota wasn’t being dismissed from the hospital until 2:00 so we wanted to give them time to get home and settle in a bit before we showed up.  It was a nice, relaxing drive, except when I started wanting to get there!  It rained off and on most of the way.  We also stopped at the “World’s Largest Truckstop” near Davenport, a mandatory stop for any Bristol trip to Chicago.  (We always have to stop and see what kind of new crap they have there.  Usually it’s pretty much the same stuff.)  The drive from Davenport to the first toll booth always seems long, but it seemed especially long that day as I counted down the miles to my granddaughter.  “One hundred miles to Delilah!” I would say to Dennis.  “Eighty miles to Delilah!” I already had a “Grandma’s brag book” filled with pictures of Delilah that I had printed from Face Book. I looked at them quite often on the trip.  I couldn’t wait to see her in person! When we got to Aurora, we called Dave and told him we were almost there. We pulled up to their house around 4 pm.

We spent a wonderful weekend with the new baby, Dave & Carlota and Carlota’s family. Dave took Dennis to the airport.  They left at 3:00 to catch a 4:30 flight from O’Hare.  Dave got back home around 6:00 and he, Carlota, the baby and I settled in for the evening.  Alone at last, we were looking forward to a quiet week and time to just enjoy each other’s company and get to know the baby.  I would help out around the house and with the baby and the kids would get to know their new little person better.  Around 6:30, Dennis called.  The flight was delayed because they were waiting for the crew.  He was going to be about a half hour late to Omaha.  OK.  I wouldn’t worry if I didn’t hear from him.  About an hour later, he called again.  “Oh, he must be home now,” I thought.  Nope.  He was delayed again.  They had gotten on the plane and were on the runway ready to take off when a warning light came on, so they went back to the gate and the mechanics came over to fix the problem.  Another call about 45 minutes later–they used too much fuel when they were on the runway, so they had to refuel.  The passengers were still on the plane.  They would be delayed another 30 minutes…no, make that an hour, the line is long at the refueling area.  By now, his 4:30 flight wasn’t leaving until 6:30.  Fortunately, Dennis is good about planning and had taken some yogurt with him, so at least, he wasn’t starving!

I hadn’t heard from him for awhile so I thought things were finally under control and they were in the air.  Around 7:30, the phone rang. “He’s in Omaha”, I thought.  Not to be.  He was back at O’Hare.  The flight had been cancelled.  “Can someone come get me?” Dennis said.  Dave and Carlota live about 45-60 minutes from O’Hare and Dave left to pick his dad up.  In the meantime, Dennis stood at the ticket area with the rest of the passengers, to reschedule a flight for tomorrow! (which is today) When he finally got his ticket, they also gave him vouchers for a motel room and meals.  It would’ve been nice for him to know that ahead of time.  Dave was almost there by the time Dennis got his new plane ticket and the vouchers, so it was too late to change his plans and just stay at a motel near the airport. The guys got back to the house around 10:30.  I could’ve driven all the way to Omaha in the time Dennis spent getting to O’Hare, waiting on the plane, getting off the plane and getting back here.

And that’s not the end of the story! Dennis left at 7:45 this morning for a 9:00 flight.  He won’t get to Omaha until 5:00 tonight!  He has to go to Dallas-Fort Worth first, then stay there until mid-afternoon!  And that is why I hate to fly to Chicago!  

I know part of the problem is Omaha isn’t a huge hub, so the “little people” are often the ones who get the short end of the stick.  I just know this kind of thing seems to happen to us a lot, so I will continue to hop into my Saturn Vue, loaded up with as much stuff as I want to take, no security checks and plastic baggies.  I can keep my shoes on the entire time if I want, or I can take them off if I choose.  I am not sitting on top of the person next to me and I have plenty of leg room.  I don’t have to return the seat in an upright position.  I can turn up my music as loud as I want and I don’t have to pay $10 for the privilege.  The person next to me is someone I know and their body odor doesn’t bother me because I’m used to it.  If a blizzard occurs, I can check into a motel instead of sleep on a cot in the terminal with hundreds of other people.  My bags are handy if I need something.  I don’t have to wait for them to come down a moving conveyer; they are in the back of my car when I get to my destination.  They don’t show up in Utah in another car.  Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer a car over a plane these days.  I used to love to fly, but the joy is gone.  My way is the highway these days!



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