Monday, December 14, 2009

How NOT to Get Ready for Vacation, Part Three

As you’re reading this, remember that I’m probably eating Eggs Benedict, or walking around some island wearing shorts and a tee-shirt, or swimming in sapphire water. It makes all the pre-vacation hassles fade into nothingness.

Well, not into nothingness. One member of our holiday party (my dad) had to take a flight to Iowa two days before we left. This was the day that the blizzard hit Iowa. The flight was diverted to Chicago. And the planes were grounded. Somehow he got from Chicago to Moline. An Amish man picked him up and drove him to Cedar Rapids (not in a horse and buggy—they’re not Old Order). My dad spent the night with these Amish people that he’d never met before. For dinner, they served him hamburgers that were two inches thick. My dad and the Amish man got to be good friends. My dad can go anywhere in the world and make friends. I, on the other hand, can exchange pleasantries, talk about the weather, and then always ask the wrong question. It doesn’t matter what the question is. For example, “Why are you in Chattanooga?” Answer, “I’m attending a Mother Ship convention.” Me: “Mother Ship?” Stranger: “Humanity was founded by an alien race, and they’re going to be returning to take us home.” Me: “Oh.”

Once again, I digress. Back to my dad stuck in a snowstorm in Iowa. The state of Iowa announced they’d be closing the highways because 17 inches of snow were on the road, they were expecting a lot more, and high winds would make white-out conditions.

We all began formulating ways for my dad to get to Ft. Lauderdale in time. Most of the plans involved a plane flight. However, that meant we would have a serious baggage issue. Despite the fact that we were going to be cruising in the Caribbean where we’d only need shorts and tee-shirts, everyone needed lots of clothes, etc. Ariel, for example, needed six pairs of shoes. (Okay, I took five pairs. But mine were legitimate and including running shoes for exercise.) The point is that everyone’s luggage, including my parents’ and my grandmother’s would end up in our van—Cal explained to the kids that they’d be holding luggage on their laps and under their feet on the 11 hour drive. They blinked and said “Okay.” Luke quickly told his siblings that he was too big to sit in the middle of the back seat. They even more quickly said, “Fat chance.”

It ended up being a moot point. My dad drove back to Chattanooga. How he got home in such a short time is probably a question best left unasked, except maybe by his insurance company. The rumor is that he befriended a state trooper and followed him through all of Iowa. That makes sense. No one ever tells my dad that they’re waiting for the Mother Ship.