I hope everyone has had a fantastic holiday season so far! We have had a pretty good Christmas, with some interesting adventures along the way. As usual, our family spent Christmas in Florida along with my grandparents and cousins. Getting there was quite eventful.
As everyone knows by now, the DC metro area was hit with the biggest blizzard ever this December. With a record breaking 16.4" officially, the "Blisaster" really crippled the nation's capital. The snow started falling Friday the 18th, late at night. It snowed and snowed all day Saturday. We kept the news on all day in the background as we packed and cleaned in preparation for our flight Sunday. [On a side note, isn't it amazing how every year we say that we'll be more prepared for the last week of school before winter break, but every year we seem to be less prepared? Really, must work on that for next year.] Luckily, T and I dragged our sleep-deprived selves around Friday afternoon and evening to get all possible errands done. So we could enjoy the beauty of the snow falling and pack in the warmth of our apartment.
By Sunday, the major roads like the Toll Road and the beltway were cleared, the semi-large arteries like 123 and route 7 had seen a few plows, but no chemicals or salt. The smaller roads were lucky to have seen a plow. Fortunately, our apartment complex had plowed a few times, enough that we were able to get out and onto the Toll Road with little difficulty. We got stuck turning onto Mom and Dad's street, which had not been plowed except by brave (or dumb) SUVs. We "parked" in the street, picked up my grandparents and headed to Reston Town Center to wait for everyone else to make it out in the Navigator.
Arriving at the airport, we were greeted by the effects of a full day's worth of grounded planes; hordes of people. Joining the United Premiere line that looked like a regular day's economy line, we decided to split up. T and I left with my gps to get through the enormous security line to the gate. With 15 minutes to the scheduled take off time, we made it to the gate listed on the ticket only to find that the gate had been changed. We scrambled to find the new gate, in a different midfield terminal, while everyone else was still waiting in line to check bags! By the time we arrived at the correct gate, 5 minutes after the scheduled departure time, Dad was calling to say they were not being allowed to check any bags because the plane had left. We saw no plane at the jetway, but saw an entire flight crew crowded around the gate desk. I talked to a man who turned out to be our pilot and discovered that the plane was not there because the ground crew was trying to clear the jetway, but the snow plow was stuck. The plane would be delayed at least 45 minutes. Fantastic! That should be enough time for Mom, Dad and company to get bags checked, through security and to the right gate! But the data at the front desk listed the plane as already departed. A few phone calls later, including a personal call (which may or may not have helped) from our pilot, Dad calls to say they're on their way. The snow plow is towed away, the plane is delayed another half hour or so, but all 5 bags get checked in, and all 9 of us people get on the plane (gps even get an upgrade to first class!).
A little over 2 hours later, we land in Florida and proceed to the baggage claim area. We split up again, some of us sitting with the carry-on luggage while others go to claim bags. Half an hour later, the bag claimers return with only 1 suitcase. The rest seem to still be in DC. Oh well, United says they'll put the bags on the next flight down and will deliver them to us. Our group of 9 happily proceeds to the Hertz Gold area to find 1 Camry where there should be 2. Nine people, 5 seat belts. Dad goes to inquire. A mistake; the agent thought it was a double booking, would we like a Caddy instead? Sure! And we're off on our way to Naples. Another half hour later, we pay a toll to go to Miami. Miami? Toll? We've never paid a toll before. 20 miles later, we make a giant U turn at the only exit on this one way highway to Miami. At 7:30pm, we finally reach our destination, 11 hours after T and I left our apartment that morning.
And our luggage? It arrived 4 days later, by way of snowy Chicago and who knows where else. But it arrived in time for Christmas, and really, who needs clothes (and tooth brushes) when you have family?