Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Iowa Part 1: I Got The Golden Ticket

For the first time ever in the history of our family trips (as opposed to vacations which do NOT involve small children) I started packing several days in advance. I was determined to enter "travel day" well rested, calm, cool and collected with everything we needed in it's proper place. This is never more important than when we are flying since there can be no retrieval from the trunk for that missing whatever. It is also never more important than when I am traveling alone with my four children and have limited hands. Navigating LAX can be intimidating for a single guy with one compact little carry-on let alone a mother with her entourage of four children and all the stuff needed to keep them happy on a plane from Los Angeles to Iowa. I went to Ross's 75% off luggage "event" and got a rolling suitcase for each of my three oldest children to help with the check in process. Each of them also had a backpack for the plane carefully packed with electronic devices, books, activity books and snacks that they were absolutely not allowed to see until travel day. I would carry everything else needed for myself and my toddler. I thought about packing extra outfits and toothbrushes in our carry ons in the unfortunate event that our luggage was lost but voted against it in the end because of space and weight.

Other than one lost boarding pass (replaced easily) and the royal fit my toddler threw in security because she had to remove her beloved shoes (see previous post) we breezed through the craziness that is LAX and kissed Daddy goodbye at the security gate. (Thank goodness he helped us up to that point!) Now the fun would begin.

I was actually quite surprised and feeling rather smug as I sat there with my four ducks literally sitting in a row happily playing with the contents of their backpacks as we waited at our gate. After getting on the plane my lucky streak continued. My toddler fell asleep in my lap about 30 seconds before the plane took off and while the others were absorbed in their activities I watched "Confessions of a Shopaholic" and an episode of "The Office". My preparations had truly paid off. This was better than a quiet night at home! Not only was I surviving the plane trip, I was enjoying it!

Once the movie ended Rachael woke up and the kids started to get restless. Luckily, we were just about to land so I could handle a few minutes of restlessness. Just then the pilot's voice came over the intercom. He explained that there had been a huge storm in Chicago (our first stop) and due to the high volume of flights backed up to get into Chicago we were being re-routed to Des Moines. Des Moines! Hmmmm. That was just two hours west of my final destination, Iowa City. I decided right then and there that I would do whatever I had to to get off that plane in Des Moines.

After landing and while we were sitting on the tarmack, I immediately approached the flight attendant. "I have four kids, a shortage of food and diapers and my parents live just two hours away. Is there any way I can get off here in Des Moines?" She gave me a big long spiel about legalities and impossiblities trying to placate me while simultaneously rejecting me. I tuned out the last part of her speech as I zoomed in on the pilot at the end of the aisle. "Can I talk to the pilot?" She shrugged her shoulders and gave me a look that said "it won't do any good" and told me I could go ahead and try.

A few minutes later my kids were sitting in the cock pit having their picture taken while I looked at pictures of the pilot's kids. We were getting off in Des Moines! He said I could even get my luggage if I had my little locator stubs. I did. A few minutes later we entered the hot and muggy world of the mid-west and were directed to a big van that would drive us over to the airport. A man who had to speak at a funeral the next day was also with us. We were waiting to hear about our luggage when I noticed Rachael was poopy. I asked the man if he minded if I changed her. He did. He actually told me he might "lose it" because he had never had any kids and couldn't handle it. Then he started banging on the side of the van door to hurry up the people deciding about our luggage. What a dope! I was giddy with the rush of having actually pulled off an escape from what I was convinced would have been an all nighter in Chicago. I felt like I got the Golden Ticket and here he was ticked off that things weren't moving fast enough! My kids were better behaved and more patient than he was! (Rachael was thrilled that she was in another moving vehicle without a restraint so she didn't even notice her poopy diaper.)

In the end they didn't give us our luggage. At the time I remember worrying a little that I wouldn't have it in time for my 20 year high school reunion the next night, but at that moment I was just focused on getting us to Iowa City for the night. It was already 8:00 and diapers were low and snacks had run dry. After checking all the rental car companies in the airport and coming up empty (no one ways) I was back to square one. How were we going to get to Iowa City that night?


  1. Your in IOWA! Maybe we'll run into each other and we'll get to see how grown up your kids are.

  2. Just visiting from the Power of Moms site...loved your article on the 'other mothers'...


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