January 25, 2011

the long road home

4:00 PM Laguardia Airport

I have never wanted to be home so badly in all my life.  The group of 16 is sitting here in the American Eagle concourse of Laguardia.  We are at the airport very early for several reasons.  Number one, they are remodeling the lobby of the Seafarers and it sounded like the entire building was going to fall down.  Number two, the “seafarers” watching TV on the Mezzanine were on their second bottle of alcohol (gin for breakfast and whiskey for lunch) and were starting to creep everyone out.  Number three we though that this mornings snow might have traffic all backed up and we didn’t want to be fretting our way through security, but as it turned out we got over here in no time at all.  Number five, we feared that there would be long lines at checkin and security due to flight changes and cancellations, which also proved to be a non-issue.  So, here we sit, two hours before boarding, the flight is on time so far…

The morning started out early, I was wide awake at 4AM, my mind on the trip home today.  We had to be out the door at 7AM to catch our train to Stamford Connecticut, where we visited NBC.  We had two great speakers today John Fritsche, and Bucky Gunt (Google him, he’s won a ton of Emmys).  Unfortunately as we were on the train to Stamford some lovely white flakes of snow began to come out of the sky.  Sadly in New York even a few white flakes raise havoc with the schedules at Laguardia, Newark, and JFK.  On top of that tomorrow there is a winter storm watch out for our area.

Backing up to this morning again.  We got to the Union Square station where we were going to take any of the uptown bound trains to grand central station.  We told everyone, if the cars are crowded meet up on the platform  The cars were indeed crowded but after our london experience you would not believe how proficient our students have become at jamming themselves onto a subway.  So we all made it onto the train.  But not 30 seconds after we got off both Craig and I came up one student short.  I knew that student was on the train because I saw him and talked to him on the way to grand central.  But just like that he was gone!  Where did he go?  Did he fail to “mind the gap?”  Was he abducted by a band of roving gypsies?  Did a crazed herd of subway rats drag him away?  We had to move to the platform to catch our train to Stamford and unfortunately this student did not have his cell phone along.  So one stayed behind until the last possible minute to see if he returned, and the rest of us went on to catch our Stamford train.  Sadly, we had lost him.  Well, I knew that other than missing the NBC presentations he would be fine.  He could always go back to the hotel and meet us there later.

As we were standing in the snow in Stamford he finally called.  He was at a pay-phone and was safe and sound.  He had gone up the stairs following someone in a coat that looked suspiciously like Craig’s.  After following not-craig for a while he finally realized that he was following the wrong guy.  By then he didn’t know how to get back to us and we were probably gone by then anyway.  We are all hopeful that this will be the final mass transit mishap of the trip!  – A short update craig just surmised that our inbound plane is 20 minutes ahead of schedule.  So, the good news is that we have an inbound plane, it is in the air, and it is ahead of schedule.  Yea!!

5:30  Well, scratch that… Our plane is actually now going to arrive about 16 minutes late.  It took off late from Charlotte, so is behind schedule.

9:23 CST:  Finally off the plane, after landing only about a minute late we were informed by the captain that an AA 737 landed just 10 seconds ahead of us.  Unfortunately they only have one ground crew so we wait on the tarmac unable to pull into our gate.  Finally we pull into the gate but we wait another 10 minutes before someone finally moves the jet bridge into place.  I’m pretty sure that was Cat having her final revenge on me for publicly calling her out in an earlier post.

But, all is well that ends well.  Even though we waited a long time (25 minutes) to get off the plane, our luggage was waiting for us at baggage claim, so there was no additional wait there.  By 10PM Craig and I were in my car, yes my car, freedom, no reliance on public transportation, no waiting for cranky gate agents, we could just get in my car and drive the last 2:20 minutes to get home to Decorah.  We arrived just after midnight.  Sweet.  It was a great trip, but there’s no place like home.