Monday, August 11, 2014

Cape Cod trip Part 1: the plane ride from hell

We are currently in Cape Cod, Massachusetts for the week to attend a wedding and squeeze in a little vacation at the same time.

The trip started off with a plane ride from hell, but we somehow made it to Providence, RI in time for the wedding and we are now nicely settled into the Cape Cod lifestyle. hehe.

It all began last Friday morning, when I got up at 7:30am to do last minute packing and house tidying before the trip.  Prepared breakfast, got everyone up and dressed, and we were out the door at 9am.  Right on schedule.

We dropped off our car at FlightCar next to LAX at around 9:30am.
For those unfamiliar with FlightCar, you can park your car there for free as long as you agree to let others rent your car while you are out of town.  You get paid if someone drives your car and if no one does, you still get a free car wash and free airport parking. Win-win.
We needed to either do FlightCar or pay an exorbitant fee for longterm airport parking because it was difficult to find someone to drive us To and From LAX (nobody wants to drive there), AND have that someone have a toddler carseat installed for Caitlin to use.
FlightCar took our car and whisked us away to LAX in a blackcar (courtesy of Uber).  So far so good, we arrived at LAX right on time.

Caitlin was cheery the entire time.  She had a blast sitting in a fancy blackcar for the first time and we let her ride the 1.5 mile ride without a carseat.

The line to check in our luggage at Delta moved swiftly, and TSA wasn't too bad either.  I initially intended on wearing Caitlin in my ErgoCarrier through the airport but Caitlin was actually really independent.  She didn't run off and disappear and she didn't fuss or cry.  She just walked along with us and helped us pull our carry-on luggage.  It's like she was another human or something!

We arrive at our gate maybe 30 mins prior to boarding time.  We sit down and eat the breakfast I prepared, then used the restroom, filled up our water bottles, window shopped, then hopped on the plane!  Jeff and I remarked at how smoothly our entire morning has been.

We had no idea what we were in for.
All smiles!

Caitlin spent the entire plane ride in high spirits.
She sat in the window seat, read the safety brochures stuffed in the back of the seats several times over, ate snacks, and entertained crying infants on the plane.
Caitlin was the model toddler flier. I spent the 2 weeks prior to our trip preparing in-flight entertainment for Caitlin, and as it turned out, I didn't even need them.  Caitlin was fine at entertaining herself while Jeff caught up on some much needed napping while I caught up on my magazines.

We touch down in Detroit, 3 hours early of our connecting flight to Providence.
That's fine.  We will stop, stretch out, eat some dinner, and catch the 9pm EST flight to Providence.

After eating a subpar dinner at Chilis (that was a mistake. lol) and riding the super cool red train from one side of the airport to another, we arrive 30 mins before boarding time at our gate.  9pm rolls around, and the gate still has not opened yet.
9:10pm rolls by.. 9:15pm rolls by... still nothing.

Jeff goes and inquires what's going on: apparently, the flight attendants scheduled for our flight weren't available.  The flight attendants were still in Nashville, Tennessee and the flight has not left yet due to weather.

Our flight was delayed to 10:30pm.
I have another 1.5 hours to kill with a toddler!

10pm rolls by and the flight was postponed again to 11:00pm! The flight attendants were still stuck in Nashville. We were assured by Delta that the Nashville plane will leave as soon as possible and are estimated to arrive at midnight.  Due to the delay, Delta was not sending people to hotels since we will board our flight shortly.

The pilot and co-pilot that should have been flying our 11pm flight were also standing around, waiting for the flight attendants.  Unfortunately, they eventually ended up leaving too, because they had to go fly another plane to Managua and couldn't wait for our flight attendants any longer.

Still no flight attendants. Our flight was delayed again to 2:10am.

My heart sank.
Caitlin has not napped all day, it was late at night, her energy was running low, we already killed 5 hours at the Detroit airport, and we have to kill ANOTHER 3 hours.
Thankfully, between the 3 of us, Caitlin was the most optimistic and kept on a smiling face.

Can you imagine how difficult it us to be up so late, in an uncomfortable airplane terminal, with a 2 year old to take care of (one that hasn't napped all day)?  Not to mention, we were freezing cold (why is the airport so damn cold?), my phone was low on battery, and my teeth really needed a brushing.

Of course, since my backpack was full of in-flight toddler entertainment and my carry-on luggage was forced to be gate-checked because the overhead compartments on my 1st flight was full, I had no clothes, no phone charger, and no toiletries on me.

An hour later, we learn the flight still has not left Nasheville, so the ETA for our flight attendants to arrive in Detroit was moved to 3:05am.
Remember, no one dared leave the airport to get a hotel, and Delta did not provide us hotel rooms, since our flight "should be here within a couple of hours"!
Our new pilot arrives and I see him entering the plane, making preparations.  The light at the end of the tunnel was near.  The 3am flight was going to happen!

Between 1am and 3am, Caitlin ran around, ate the complimentary chips Delta provided, played with her jigsaw puzzles, and doodled on her notepad.  Almost every person waiting at the gate with us remarked what a wonderful baby she was, acknowledging how difficult it must be for Caitlin, but she's taking it all in stride.
Jeff and I were very proud too.

3am, the plane from Nashville arrives!
We all rejoice!!

The flight attendants and the Nashville fliers emerge from the gate and us folks waiting this entire time all stand up, preparing the board our plane.
Minutes pass, and no one is able to board yet.  The gate door never opens.
Uh oh.

Then the Delta associate on the loudspeaker informs us that the flight attendants arrived 30 minutes too late and our pilot timed-out.  Meaning, the pilot is no longer legally able to fly our plane.
First we had a pilot and no flight attendants.
Now we have flight attendants but no pilot.

Our flight was marked as "canceled" and Delta created a brand new flight, scheduled to leave at 7:30am.  We were all issued brand new boarding passes.
Delta associates apologized profusely, saying how this was all our of their control, and even though they understand our frustration, there is nothing they could do.  We were each issued a $10 voucher for breakfast, but no hotel room since, we will be on a plane headed to PVD in less than 4 hours.

At this time, Caitlin was very exhausted. She tried as hard as she could to play with her puzzles and paint her crafts quietly, but she kept rubbing her eyes, and she was smiling less and less.  Jeff held Caitlin on her lap and asked if Caitlin wanted to sleep. Caitlin nodded yes and asked Jeff to "turn off the lights" in mandarin.
The airport terminal was brightly lit in that harsh, blinding, white light, and there was no way to turn it off.  I gently told Caitlin that we were unable to turn off the lights and Caitlin responded "I want to go home" in mandarin.

That statement really broke my heart.

Caitlin tried really hard, since she woke at 8am Friday morning, to be really accommodating for us, and now she wants to go home, and we couldn't even do that for her.  There wasn't one thing we could do for her.

We tried hugging her, draping a blanket over her head, telling her to go to sleep, but Caitlin did not like any of it.  She wanted the lights out, in a quiet room, on a bed.  No blinding white lights, no loud announcements on the airport paging system.
After playing jigsaw puzzles for another 30 minutes, I sat Caitlin on my lap, and she passed out on my chest for about 2 hours.  I was unable to move, lest risk waking her, so I let my tailbone get crushed and my arms go numb (I still have DOMS in my arms as I type).  Caitlin woke up at around 6am, in REALLY MISERABLE shape.
She was really whiny and did not allow us to set her on a chair.  We had to carry her in our arms the entire time.
Boarding time for our 7:30am flight was at 6:45am, so we decided to cash in our $10 meal vouchers (we had $30 to use among the 3 of us) despite us having zero appetite.  But hey, free food is free food.

We ordered some breakfast platters to-go, and we were ready to board the plane.  We walk back from the restaurant to the gate, with our breakfast all nicely packed in plastic bags, to hear a giant uproar from our gate:

Our 7am flight was delayed to 11am because Delta couldn't get ahold of enough crew members to fly our plane.

At this point, I truly believed that I was not going to make it out of Detroit alive. I truly believed we would not make it to the wedding in Rhode Island.

Jeff was beyond fed up.
He needed to find somewhere for our 2-year old to sleep.

Jeff went and asked the Delta associate if Caitlin could board the plane (which has been sitting at the gate since 8pm the night before) and sleep on there, because it's quiet and dark on the plane.
I already knew the answer was "No" but Jeff insisted on asking.

I sat on a chair and watched Jeff ask the Delta associate from afar.
I knew the answer was "No" from afar.
I knew that it was against FAA regulations from afar.
I watched Jeff not take "No" for an answer and started punching numbers into the keypad, trying to open the gate to board the plane, from afar.   Sleep deprivation and frustration does unspeakable things to a person.
I mumbled "jeff. god. don't do that... seriously" to myself, from afar
I saw the Delta associate threaten to call security on Jeff from afar

Jeff came back to me and announced that he was taking Caitlin to the family bathroom and letting Caitlin sleep there.  The family restroom is a single restroom which has a lock button on the door, a light switch to turn off the light, and has a diaper changing station that Caitlin can sleep on. 
Caitlin was quiet this entire time, clinging onto Jeff for dear life, with miserable look on her face.
I said "ok, take her too the bathroom".

Getting a good nights rest on the baby changing table in the public restroom at DTW

The family bathroom idea was brilliant.
Caitlin slept from maybe 8am-10am in the family bathroom.
Me, I dozed off for maybe 15 minutes, but the loud overhead paging system and the blinding light from the morning sun woke me up and prevented me from falling asleep again.

The Delta manager arrives, bearing breakfast burritos and coffee.
Once again, none of us wants food; we want to get our asses to Providence.  We all complain to her about our frustrations. I even heard other people tell the Delta staff about a "darling poor baby that was here all night" (referring to Caitlin).
I go to the manager, venting my frustrations, and  I inform her that my 2-year old did not sleep all night and is currently sleeping in an AIRPORT BATHROOM!!! The manager simply kept apologizing, reminding us to complain to the Delta company via email rather than to her -- there is nothing she can do for us, there is no compensation she can provide us.  She also told us to use Twitter to complain, which I already did, before my phone died.

At 10:20am, Jeff woke Caitlin up (poor Caitlin) since it was near boarding time.  We all clapped and cheered as each crew member arrived and boarded the plane.  By 11am, us patrons boarded the plane with a large sigh of relief.

Jeff, Caitlin, and I were one of the last people to board the airplane.  As we walked down the airplane aisle to take a seat at the end of the plane, a lot of people looked at Caitlin with a big smile, remarking what a behaved baby she was and how impressed they were.  I said "thanks" and joked "who knows. she may have a meltdown during the plane ride".  One patron replied "let her! She can do whatever she wants!!".
I couldn't be prouder of Caitlin.

The plane ride was a short 1 hour 25 minutes (typically a 1 hour 45 min flight).
Caitlin wasn't in the best of spirits but she ate a little bit of breakfast burrito and played on the ipad.  When it was time to put away the ipad during landing, Caitlin fussed a bit but I was able to curb any complaining buy giving her a lollipop.

We landed and that concluded our 25 hours of traveling (due to the 14 hour delay in Detroit)
 All frowns.  Caitlin has bags under her eyes.

Caitlin helped me get our 3 pieces of luggage (we had 1 suitcase that was checked-in, and 2 carry on bags that were forced to be gate-checked) off the carousel while Jeff ditched us to find out which way to go to the rental cars.

After I collected our 3 pieces of luggage, I put on my ErgoCarrier (it got gate checked with my rolling carry-on, which sucked because I really could at used my ErgoCarrier at the terminal during our overnight-stay-from-hell) and Caitlin was never happier to see that Ergo Carrier. She jumped on into the carrier and I strapped her in, while I waited for Jeff to return.

Jeff comes back and tells us that the rental car place was 0.6 miles away and there were no shuttles -- we had to walk it.
Too cheap to rent an airport luggage cart, Jeff pulls our 48 pound suitcase, wore his backpack, and carries 1 duffel bag.  I pull the rolling carry-on suitcase, wore my backpack, wore Caitlin on my front side in the ErgoCarrier, and carried my handbag, and we walked those 0.6 miles.  We probably looked like some kind of traveling circus.

We arrive at Dollar Car Rental, got our crappy compact rental car with a beyond crappy rental infant carseat (You heard that right.  We booked a reversible toddler car seat and all they had available for us was an infant car seat.  Don't rely on a car rental place since they don't understand baby/toddler/big kid car seats the way parents do.  They think they are all one and the same.  And yes, I know we could bring our own toddler car seat from home and gate check it for free, but that's another 30 pound item we didn't want to bring along on our cross country trip).

We high tailed it to our hotel in Providence, arrived at around 2:30pm, took a shower, brushed our teeth, and all collapsed for a 2 hour nap.  We decided to skip the 4pm wedding ceremony and just attended the photo session + wedding reception at 6pm.

We wake Caitlin up at 5:30pm and OMG SHE WAS PISSED.
With good reason.
I don't know the last time I saw her that angry.

We get the screaming baby dressed, threw the screaming baby into the car seat, and drove the screaming baby to the wedding.

The photo session was almost done and we had missed the group photo, but they squeezed us in for the family photo.  Caitlin stink-faced the photos but at least she wasn't screaming. Caitlin did not allow anyone to put her shoes on, so I covered her exposed foot with my hand during the photos.  

I was glad that most to the wedding guests, including the bride & groom had heard about our plane ride from hell, so they were understanding that we were incredibly late to the wedding.

Caitlin cheered up and was back to her normal cheery self during cocktail hour because she was able to refuel and raise her low blood sugar (we all had a very small breakfast and zero lunch).
Cocktail hour was great (I actually had a cocktail, omg!), the first dance and the toast speeches were brilliant, and the buffet reception dinner was beyond amazing.  And did I mention how beautiful the bride was?
I had a feeling going in that it was going to be a really nice, and lavish wedding.  and it was!
 Meet Joe Black was filmed here

On one hand, seeing how happy and in love the bride and groom looked really made me miss being a newlywed.  This look you give each other, knowing that the other person makes you feel so happy and complete, I miss that.  I'm not saying Jeff and I no longer are happy and complete.  We are.  But we also feel like we have been married for a million years.  Something about being a newlywed on your wedding day, how everything feels so brand new, it's a feeling that only happens once.
Of course, on the other hand, I remember what a heachache it was to plan a wedding, and how sick I got immediately after the wedding due to all the wedding planning stress... I don't miss any of that. =)

The day following the wedding, we drove 2 hours to visit the large mansions in Newport, RI, then we drove an additional hour to our final destination in Cape Cod.  We will be relaxing here for 1 week, and we fly back Saturday afternoon!

The Cape Cod trip continues!

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