Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fiskars Round Up: (Part 1)

I wanted to blog about my amazing experience in San Antonio while it was fresh in my mind. I've decided to do it in two parts. Both parts of these stories are amazing but I want to blog about my 'travels' first so that the actually time spent in Texas is up on my blog longer. So, tomorrow or later tonight I will have part two which will tell about how exciting of a time it was and include so great photos of the my trip.

***EDIT**** Well, this turned out to be a short novel that I'm not even sure my own Mother would take the time to read. So, unless you have insomnia and need to read an 'off the wall' story... here is the shortened version:

flight to San Antonio - delayed flight... flu all day.. yuk.... room canceled... late for session.
flight home from San Antonio - delayed (another mechanical error), delayed again (third mechanical error)... flight canceled due to tired piolet.... 1 1/2 hour of sleep in hotel room... back to airport... $60 cab ride home to inlaws.... 3 hour drive home to Waldport. I'm home safe and sound... God is good!

So, right when you thought it couldn't get worse...Okay, I better preface this by saying that although I had quite a rough journey there and back, my weekend with Fiskars was way beyond worth it, so, no complaining here. It's just quite a funny story.

We live 3 hours from the airport, so my family drove me the day before (Thurs) and we spent the night at my in-laws. Very early Friday a.m. I got up to get ready. I seriously had not slept AT ALL the night before. I was so sick to my stomach and I was sleeping in the same room as my kids who kept getting up and making noises all night ect. While I was getting ready, I realized that the reason I my stomach hurt all night wasn't just out of excitement.

The flu.
Yuk... but I wasn't sure that was it. Can nerves and excitement make you hurl???
So, I decided to chance it and continued on my journey.

The first thing I did after getting on the plane was look for the "provided bag" situated in the seat in front of you. The pilot began to take us down the run the way and then just before take off, came to a hault.

And there we sat.

For a VERY long time.

The pilot came on and said that there was a mechanical error reading and that the mechanic would need to check it out. Back to the gate we drove. After several more minutes of waiting, he informed us that the part that was need for the plane was having to flown down from Seattle. (I squeezed my bag a little tighter.)

We were ushered of the plane and into the terminal where over the loud speaker we hear that the part in Seattle just missed it's flight and would have to make the 'next' one. Needless to say, our flight was very delayed and I knew for sure that I would be missing my connection in Denvar.

Eventually the time came for take off (with a new part... which is always good:) I'm trying so hard to keep a good attitude. After all, I would rather fly on a SAFE plane. However, realizing that I would be missing the 'pick up' at the airport, the welcome dinner and beginning session was starting to bum me out just a bit. On top of having no sleep, and being so utterly ill to my stomach, I couldn't fight back the tears.

By the time we were in the air, I realized that the tears were more due to the fact that my body felt horrible and that there was no way I would be making it through the flight without using my 'bag.' Such a humiliating feeling. But, God was good. He blessed me with a row to myself. The row across from me only had one man in it. The second he got up to leave, was my moment of relief.

At least I had some privacy!!

Going through the Denver airport was one of the worst experiences of my life. I could hardly walk I was so sick. I was so tired and I just wanted to be horizontal but all the chairs had arm rests between them! I sat criss cross applesauce on the ground and fell asleep with my chin in my hands. You know when you are sick, it's always when you wake up that you have trouble?

I woke up.

Not enough time for anyone (even my own mother) to hear all the lovely details so I'm going to skip to when I arrived. No welcome people because by now they are all in the first evening session. So, I had to ride a taxi.

I get to the hotel to find out that my room had been 'canceled.'


I had made all the neccessary calls to let people know I'd be late!

So then the nice gentleman proceeds to tell me that because I would now be in a room by myself that I would be paying for it myself. Of course this hotel staff person didn't know what he was taking about but when you are sick and can hardly stand??? It was all could do to keep from bursting into tears.

So, another blessing... my own room. The reason this was a blessing was because of how I was feeling. I could hardly talk, let alone meet a new person who I'd be rooming with. Luckily it must have been the 24 hour flu because by the end of the next day, I was feeling more myself and able to enjoy everything (except the food!) So, in my next post I will tell ALL about what I was able to enjoy.

Now for the trip back...{sigh} I really didn't think it could get worse. But I believe that God is in control and that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps I was being saved from a car accident, or a preditor in the night. I don't know. Maybe I gave somebody a little hope as a smiled through all the trials put before us while everyone else was screaming in frustration. Whatever the reason is, I'm home safe now and that's all that matters.

By the end, it became humourous to me and makes for a great story so I have to share!

My first flight to Denver was great. I got to visit with my new friend Jen (someone was nice enough to trade seats so we could sit together). We grabbed a bite to eat in the airport as we had a bit of wait before or seperate flights home. Together we laughed about how tired we were, almost afraid to stop talking thinking our heads might drop into our salad because that's how tired we were.

My energy perked up when a few feet away I saw Cheryl and Mitsy. Another blessing. We got to have this special time of just chatting together about life. Because there were so many people at the our meetings I didn't have a LOT of one on one time with Cheryl. She is someone who through email and a few phone calls has come very dear to me so this time at the airport was MORE than PRECIOUS.

And of course, I got all caught up in our conversation for quite a long time only to realize as I glanced at my watch that I now had about 4 minutes before my plane was boarding. I RACED to my gate which said nothing at all about going to Portland.

My heart was pounding.

I checked the boards. Gate change... hello?? Nobody told me! (well, I guess I wasn't listening to the announcements)

I raced off to the next gate thinking 'surely people will still be boarding...I have lots of time.' When I got there... the door was closed, there were a ton of people just sitting down waiting and the sign above me said to Orlando.

I seriously felt like I was in the twilight zone. Nothing was making sense.

I waited in a short line at the desk there only to find out that our 'plane' and 'crew' were being held up in Canada because of a Mechanical error!!!!!!! The soonest they would be arriving would be in 7 hours - midnight. {...sigh} Good news! I had a chance of getting on a stand flight at 9pm. There were only 40 other people ahead of me!

So, I stood in the longest line ever to get a stand by ticket thinking... there's always a chance...

I missed the stand by flight by one person.

Now, I want to interject here that Fiskars LOADED us up with product and I was worried I would go over my 'checked' baggage weight limit so I'm carrying around a 17 pound back back, a scrapbooking tote that i was posing as my purse and a BIG ol' orange hat that i forgot to pack. It was a VERY heavy load. I was also carrying around my Ali Edwards 'life artist' book that I had hoped to read. To sick on the way, to tired on the way back.

Okay, this is where it gets funny. I'm tired but at total peace with the whole situation. I called my mother-in-law who was supposed to pick me up to tell her not to bother. Now, I would be getting home in the middle of the night. She is a Principal. I couldn't expect her to do that! She gets up and goes to work very early. Remember, my van is at her house and the airport is 3 hours from home. So, nobody to pick me up. I would be taking a 30 min. taxi ride in the middle of the night... in downtown Portland. Being over tired, I began to get a little anxious about this. Every child who held their mothers hand began to make me swell with tears. I just wanted to me home. I found a table and rested my head. Above me was a VERY high open area that was quite beautiful. As I rested my head, I heard this pretty little song. Above me I saw this pretty little bird flying around from bar to bar singing a cheerful little song. It made me smile as I felt like it was a reminder that God was still right there watching over me and wasn't going to let anything bad happen.

Oh... right, I said this was the funny part.. it's still coming.

I had lots of time to get to my gate where us stranded ones were waiting. The very enormous airport had pretty much cleared out except for us by this time. It was nearly 11:30 at night and as I saw two tiny children with their parents trying to get into a comfortable position so they could get some sleep, I felt suddenly so grateful that my kids weren't with me, experiencing such a long delay in the middle of the night.

Then out of nowhere, this big black man gets on the intercom with a booming voice, alarming us all and says 'The plane will be arriving any minute and because of FAA regulations we have to get those 70 people off the plane and you ON the plane with the door SHUT by 12:15. If the door is not shut, you will all have to spend the night at a hotel.' So, people become frantic, gathering their things, getting in this big line all ready to get on the plane. You could FEEL the anxiety in the air. This is where I began to chuckle at this never ending saga. It just seemed so crazy.

So, the minute the last person was off the plane, the new flight attendents rushed off down the hall and just as we were about to start to board, out walks the pilot?????!!!!!!!!

All I heard was 'it's not good.'

And then the announcement came. 'We are so sorry to inform you folks but the pilot has just let us know that there is a new mechanical error that needs to be checked out by the mechanic. Please stand by.'

It's nearly midnight and we're all thinkin, he better check it out fast because we are going to soon turn into a bunch of pumpkins! So, people starting shouting out 'where's another plane! What's wrong with this one over here'

Then the announcement came. All she said was B-34 and everyone took off like wildfire. I didn't even 'get' what she was talking about but I sure did follow the crowd.

This is where I really began to laugh. Okay... new gate, new plane... same pilot. Which means we are still under our 12:15 deadline. So, I'm sure we looked like a herd of cattle racing through that airport. Seriously, people were nearly RUNNING! And then, we got there and then there wasn't even anyone one to let us in! Another giggle in my tummy.

Moments later, the United ticket collector lady come up the rear and headed to the front of the line. We were all standing there with our tickets out... LET US ON! Of course, after that, came the cleaning crew who went on instead of us. You could feel the atmosphere in the room thicken as people's faces were saying..."we don't care if it's clean... just fly us to Portland!'

Another annoucement..."they have allowed us to stetch the rules and we now have until 12:25 to board. Okay, someone just bought us 10 min. but will that be enough?

It felt like a rollercoaster ride and we were now at the very top of the highest curve. Minutes passed... they seemed like hours. Here came the news.

"Well folks, the pilot had just informed us that he is too tired to continue flying tonight. Please start a line here and we will pass out your hotel vouchers"

This is where people became unleashed and just spittin' mad. I had such a sense of peace wash over me. Early, it had crossed my mind that if this piolet was supposed to be flying us out at 5 pm and he just came from Canada, isn't he going to be more tired than all of us? I was quite relieved that he was able to admit that. Who knows what could have happened.

Still just totally unbelievable and I had to chuckle again.

My bags were just too heavy to stand in that huge line of 50 people. So, I choose to sit and wait until the end. Bit of a mistake on my part. As it neared the end of the line, I realized that all the people in front of me who I was going to follow had now taken off. I got up to the counter and heard " bur bu bur bu bur b bur" I shook my head, smiling gracefully as I could tell this poor person and had a few run ins with these unhappy people.

I began to walk and fell into a panic. I felt like a little girl in corn maze. 'Somethin about, down the stairs, 2 rights, a train and island 3??? huh???' I had no idea that airport was so big and NOBODY was around. Just the cleaning crew. I tried to catch up to the man in front of me (he was the only one I could see.) I told him that I was following him, clueless where were supposed to go. We went down a few escalators and to what felt like an underground sub-way system. I would have no idea which way to go. I was so glad he was there... at the same time... He was the only one there.... NOBODY around in this down stairs section as we waited together for the next train. Then we boarded together and I felt myself tightening the grip that I had on my dear Jesus.

We got off up and out of the train section of the airport. 'Hmmm.. once I leave the airport, I don't now that I'll know how to get back,' was all I could think! It was a long hike with a very heavy pack but we finally arrived outside to island 3. where everybody else was. waiting. for a long time for the shuttle. like 45 min. in the cold. I kept think 'the airport floor would have been better, but would it have been safe?' I nearly turned around. After all, we were going to a hotel where we all 50 of us would be waitin in line to check in. By the time we get to our room, we'll have about ONE hour to sleep!

I decided it would be safer to go with the crowd, so the shuttle finally arrived for the last bunch of people and we traveled another 20 min. to get to the hotel. It all seemed crazy but what else could one do? Really? I chuckled again.

Well, I got to my room and went to turn the tap on the water to freshin up. I completely broke the handle off the faucet!!! Oh my. Time for bed. I had set my wake up call for 4:30 am. I wanted to be sure to make it onto the shuttle. The lady told us to be back by 5 am in time for our 7 am flight (monday mornings were apparently very busy.)

Okay... 1 1/2 hours of sleep. I closed my eyes. What if they don't call? Another prayer... Lord, help me to just sleep. And I did. At exactly 5 AM, my eyes opened. I looked at the clock and sprung out of bed. I KNEW IT!! I KNEW they wouldn't CALL!! I turned on the light and said another prayer. Glancing at my watch, I realized that the clock had not been changed yet from the time change and it was still only 4 am. Yes!! 30 more min. of sleep.

I slept HARD. I had a big red line on my forehead!

Quite a few of us were there early waiting for the shuttle. There was only one. How would they get us all on? I made it on. We all rushed off an into the airport. So funny. The airport employee had told us to be there by 5 and had said it would be soo busy. It was dead as the night before. We all sat around for another hour and a half! Finally we were on the plane and heading home.

The taxi ride ended up being $60. Then I had a hour drive with hardly any sleep. But, ya know what? I just kept feeling grateful. Grateful that I was in the taxi during the day and not a night. Grateful that someone had loaned me their cell phone for the weekend. Grateful that I didn't get lost on the way BACK to the airport.

As the plane was landing, it was a sunny day in Portland. I got to see the absolutley BEAUTIFUL landscaping with all different colors of tree. From above, it was stunning. I was in awe of God's beauty. He whispered in my heart "now you know where you get your artistic side from!" And seriously, I felt like He was speaking to me that HE had deposited this passion to create within me. And HE had taken me as far as I have come in my world of art. I was overwhelmed with His love for me and THAT alone was a moment that made the entire trip worth while!

After several stops on the way home (to keep myself awake,) I finally made to my home sweet home. I feel more blessed than ever. Blessed to have such a wonderful home, blessed to have such an amazing family, and blessed to have a heavenly Father who is always watching over me.


Maya said...

Wow, what a story! Glad you kept you optimistic approach :)

Maya (fiskateer #351)

melita said...

Oh Julie! What an experience! But it does seem that God is watching over us even in the midst of the strangest "trials." Thank goodness we can always count on Jesus to be right beside us!

mel said...

judy all i can say this sound like a mini movie!awesome and happy you made it home safe if not for the goodies it would have been a BAD trip!tfs

Laurie said...

Wow what an inspiring story. God truly blessed you throughout this whole ordeal. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I know that I will remember this when things happen in life. Thanks again. God Bless

Janice said...

Oh My Goodness!! What a time you had my friend!! What a great attitude you had through it all.. its so YOU to focus on all the blessings! God is good! I am so happy for you and that you were able to be a part of this amazing event!!

Marti said...

Oh Julie - you poor thing! What an experience to have, but as you said the Lord was with you all the time. Glad you're back safe.

Katie Jones said...

sounds like a great trip.


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