I know it's now mid-January, but I've been wanting to recount the debacle that was our trip to ND for Christmas. The day after Christmas, precisely. I should have had an hour by hour update of the whole thing while it was unfolding, but I'll try to describe it in as few words as possible now. But let me first say how proud I was of the boys. They were, for the most part, perfectly behaved and utterly amazing! Let me also say that we paid a LOT of money for our seats. We bought tickets for the boys. We decided to go anyway because we really want the boys to know their paternal grandparents as much as possible. We are not sure how much longer we will get to see them.
Airport - BIG airport (DIA) with 2 two-year olds and a baby. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 12:40PM, so we planned to get to the airport by 10:30AM, plenty of time to get through the airport with good weather and no flight delays (contrasted to the year before when there was 3 feet of snow on the ground). We were flying a very small airline, so knew there would be no line at the ticket counter where we were checking 8 pieces of luggage. We parked at an outlying parking lot and took the shuttle with our 8 pieces (oh wait, make that 6 pieces) of check-in and 4 carry-ons. (The boys each had their own backpacks with some toys, water bottles (empty, of course until we got past security), and their DeeDees). We get all our stuff off the shuttle bus, make our way to the ticket counter, when all of a sudden (deer in headlights look), I realized that we had forgotten the boys CAR SEATS!!! We only have a car on the other end and a small airport that we know won't have car seats for rent. These boys are 2 - they need their car seats! So, we drop off all our stuff and Miles heads back to the car (30 mins. of shuttle riding) to get the car seats.
Meanwhile the boys, Amber and I all hang out in a big corner and make the most of it. This is one of those times I was smiling and so happy that the boys understood their boundaries - they must stay on the carpeted area. They were great!
Miles gets back about 25 minutes later (he hit the shuttle's perfectly) with the 2 car seats. Now we have 8 pieces of luggage to check. We make it through security after filling about 10 buckets of stuff, from all of our shoes, to the Baby Bjorn (which I never used) to Amber's infant seat to backpacks, etc. etc.
We walked to concourse A (in Denver you can walk over a walkway to get to A gates, or you can take the train, we opted for the walk). Once at our gate, we checked in to get our seat assignments. Sorry Thorlands, we have no seats for you and this is our last flight out for the day. No other airline goes to Williston, ND. Oh, and by the way, all your bags AND CAR SEATS are on the plane that just left to Williston. You are stuck here with no clothes, no extra infant formula, no diapers and you must STAY THE NIGHT in DENVER! What!!! ok, after the shock wore off and we realized what was happening to us, we were able to let the airline hand us our fate. One night at the Double Tree, 4 dinner coupons and 4 vouchers for $300 each off our next flight. Oh, and a guarantee on the first flight out the next day.
We gather our belongings, 3 kids with no naps and head back up to the shuttle stop area for our ride to the hotel. A little lighter since all we have are our carry-ons. Once checked in, Miles had to leave and make a one mile walk to the nearest Wal-Mart to get formula and diapers while I try to get them to take a quick nap. Ha, yea right. No naps for this weary crew. So when Miles gets back we have some play time with our McDonald's Bionacles and then head down to dinner.
Dinner was probably the worst part of it all. The boys were loud, messy, squirmy, typical 2 year olds. It seemed like an eternity before our food arrived. Once the food came, they were pretty well behaved and sat down to eat. Interesting that the airline gave us $10 each for dinner, but the cheapest thing on the menu was spaghetti for $14. After we finished eating, the kids had enough, so I headed up to the room with them and Miles stayed behind to pay.
Not much to do in a hotel room with 3 kids, no clothes (or swimming suits), so we decided since no one had any naps that we would try to get everyone to bed early. We got Amber ready and then put her down in her crib. We then all went into the bathroom to get the boys a bath. We thought this would be a good way to pass some time. After baths, everyone hopped into bed. Amber woke up, would not go back to sleep, so I brought her into bed with me. Cory and Tyler were not going to sleep in the bed with Daddy, so I brought Cory into bed with me as well. I never sleep well with the kids in bed with me - I'm so afraid of hurting the baby, or of someone falling off. But, we did manage to get some sleep.
Next morning we got up, headed down to Starbucks to get coffee and a danish, and quickly got our stuff ready for the shuttle ride to the airport. Oh, and now it is snowing. Hard. We get to the airport and check-in and the ticket agent says, 'We don't have seats confirmed for you'. What!? ok, I'm about to lose it. I told them they had better get us on that flight. We have 2 toddlers and a baby and have been trying to leave for 24 hours now! You don't have seats?! Well, you better find them, quick! I don't care what you have to do to get them.
I'm not sure what happened, but that lady was on the phone with the people down at the gate and they miraculously found us 4 seats. Ugh. Meanwhile, the boys had pulled out all of the brochures from a little stand selling their frequent flyer program.
We went through the security hassle again (10 buckets of stuff) and this time took the train to our gate. We got to the gate and realized how hard it really is snowing and were told that they weren't sure when/if this flight was actually going to take off. I walked Amber around in the stroller to try to get her to sleep while Miles chased the boys up and down the concourse. Luckily everyone had pretty good senses of humor and we got a lot of winks, smiles and sympathetic looks from other travellers that were also waiting for flights to leave. We sat in the airport for 3 extra hours and finally were told that we could board the plane. Hooray, progress!
We got on the plane, taxied down the runway, got de-iced and off we went. The flight itself was uneventful. Boys were pretty good and Amber slept a little bit. Once we got to Williston we had a wonderful welcoming committee by Miles sister, niece and nephew. His sister let us borrow her mini-van for the 45 minute drive down to his parent's house in his tiny home town in Western North Dakota.
As we started on our drive down, the traveling had taken its toll on everyone. Tyler and Amber fell asleep and Cory sat there with his fingers in his mouth saying, "go home", "go home". Tears welled up in my eyes because I knew how he felt and knew that we were going on to even newer and stranger things.
Once we got there, everyone perked up and had a wonderful time. It was a great trip and everyone did very well. There wasn't much napping, but they slept ok and had fun with everyone while we were there. I'm glad we got the chance to see everyone and hope we're able to do it again. We've got discounted tickets after all.