Wednesday, December 19, 2007

We Managed to Get to San Francisco

The traveling wasn't awful, but it wasn't terrific, either. Jim and I both thought we were leaving Boston at 7 am. It turns out we were leaving NY at 7...we left Boston at 5:50 am. That meant getting the kids up at 3:15 am. Basically, no one except Jack got enough sleep. Jack often wakes up at the crack of dawn, so to him, the only difference was that everyone else got up as well. He was probably thrilled to have company.

It was a little difficult to manage the two large suitcases, the small suitcase, the booster seat, the car seat, the stroller and the two carry on bags, but we made it through check in with no problem. Getting through security was another matter. There was a large, angry female TSA agent who said "Oh, great, another family. I hate this job!" as we started to put our stuff in the bins to be scanned. She had a lot of rules: no shoes in the bins. Computers and any other electronic devices have to be removed and placed in separate bins. Large bags may not be placed in a bin. Coats must be in a bin. If you have an liquids, you must removed them from your luggage and put them in a bin. She barked out these commands every time we put something anywhere near a bin.

We had to take off our own shoes, and then the kids' shoes. As soon as his shoes were off, Jack grabbed both socks, pulled them off and threw them on the ground. Apparently, if he's not wearing shoes, he refuses to wear socks. At the same time, I was trying to convince Lily to put her stuffed animals in a bin. As I put the diaper bag in the bin, the lady yelled "Do you have liquids in there? Because if you do and I see them, I'm going to have to search all of your bags." I was so flustered trying to get everything in the right bin that I couldn't think, and I said "I don't know..." She yelled "You better find out now!" I had to rummage through both carry ons and I did find a bottle of cough medicine. I'm glad she didn't have to search our bags, because she was so angry she might have beat me up. When I walked with the kids up to the scanner, she yelled "One person at a time!" Lily ran though okay, but Jack was scared -- whether it was the angry woman or the scanner, I'll never know. She yelled "Fine. Carry him and get through!" Then she said "Where are your boarding passes???" Well, as we had just shown a man our boarding passes and ids at a little station set up just before the conveyor belt thing, I'd put them in my bag. She did NOT like that. She yelled "This woman doesn't have boarding passes! Don't let her through until you check them!" to one of her colleagues.

Then she started complaining about me and my family to another passenger and talking about how she hated her job. I finally said "Do you think your attitude is helping to make the situation better? Because I don't." I'm surprised she didn't order someone to strip search me.

The flight to NY was a snap, with only one snag. Unbeknownst to us, if your kids use a car seat on the flight, they have to be seated next to the window. We were booked for two aisle seats and two middle seats. Lily's car seat fit in the overhead bin, but we had to ask someone to switch from the window to the aisle in order to accommodate Jack's seat. Since we knew we had similar seats booked for the next leg of the trip, we decided we would gate check the seats in NY.

When we got to NY, we learned we would have to take a shuttle bus to another terminal for our flight. We had to trudge down a long ramp to the outside and I'm sure we looked like overburdened gypsies with all of our stuff. Once we arrived at the right terminal, we were told our flight to San Francisco was delayed for one hour.

Now you have to understand that any time we are waiting for a flight, Jim has to wander away somewhere. For reasons still unclear to me, he always waits to do this right before boarding. Normally, I just suck it up and wait, but with all of our baggage and things to be gate checked, I didn't want to miss the preboarding on this flight. I begged him not to take the kids for a walk 10 minutes before boarding, but he said "We'll be right back." Of course, when they called preboarding ten minutes later, he was at the opposite end of the terminal and didn't hear the announcement. I had to lug everything up to the desk and let them know we wanted to preboard. I could see him moseying along with the kids, completely oblivious. He finally saw me waving frantically and they started to run. Thankfully, we made it in time.

The kids were great during the flight. That was probably the best part of the day. Jack even got in a long nap. We did have a lot of trouble in the airport when we arrived, though. For some reason, there were no obvious signs leading us to the baggage claim. We had to ask for directions twice (and we weren't the only ones lost). On the bright side, we were able to grab our bags really quickly, because by the time we found the baggage claim area, there were only a few bags left on the carousel!

We are staying at the Embassy Suites Hotel in South San Francisco. If anything, the hotel is even better than the last time, because they recently renovated. It has a gorgeous atrium filled with live plants and a huge koi pond. The kids love to look at the fish. We did have one small incident. After taking the kids down for a swim in the pool and hot tub, we went upstairs to dry off and get ready for bed. Lily, Jim and I were all in the bedroom getting dressed, and Jack was playing in the living room...or so we thought. All of a sudden, we heard the door open and close. Lily yelled "Jack went outside!" All three of us ran out into the hallway to see Jack running down the hallway in his pajamas. At the same time, the door slammed shut, locking us all out. Lily was wearing nothing but underpants (!), I was wearing pajamas and no shoes, and Jim was wearing pants, with no shoes or shirt. He had to go downstairs and get another key like that, while I stood by the door with my almost naked child and her brother. Then we got locked out this morning after breakfast, because when they issued him a new key, the other two were deactivated. We were fully clothed that time, so it was much less embarrassing.

We all went to bed between 6 and 8, so it was no surprise that we were all up at 4 am. Actually, Jack woke up at 2, but was content to lay in bed until 4. I'll blog about our day in SF later. We are having a great time!

Oh yeah...there were no compact cars available when Jim went to pick up the car rental. They told him to take whatever midsize car was in the lot. The only car available that had 4 doors and room for all of our baggage was...

...a gold PT Cruiser HHR. I don't know what "HHR" means, but it looks like a pimp mobile and it is larger than a regular PT Cruiser. People actually drive past us laughing and pointing. Seriously, who buys a gold car? I'm not talking champagne or something pale, I'm talking shiny, metallic gold. And it has tinted windows.

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