Just to get it out of my system, I've gotta tell ya about air travel these days.
Pre-911, it involved medium length lines that seemed long (Oh how little we knew!), and the checking of the bags took awhile, so we learned how to travel light and just do carry ons. Then came the baby (who has been traveling by air since she was 2.5 months old - cousin's wedding in Canada) and the traveling got tougher. Now, suddenly you have to carry the infant, the infant carrier, the giant baby bag and your own items (camera bag and purse). At this point, especially if you're traveling without your spouse, you had to check baggage.
There was none of this crap about having to take off your bloody shoes every time you went through security. And your child's shoes. Ugh! Why don't they just produce the machines it will take to scan you all the way down? It just ties everyone up with the putting on and the taking off of shoes in response to a single incident.
The latest insult is the prohibition against fluids and gels. So much for carry on luggage anymore! All of those bathroom supplies, hand lotions, contact solutions, etc. means it all has to be checked. And now? It's not just you in line with your excess gear because you have a kid. No, it's now you and every bloody other person that likes to use contacts, brush their teeth, and put gel in their hair. It also means no snacks on the plane and that you are stuck buying their crap food. Neat trick, that. Airlines no longer feed you on flights - you have to shell out $5 for sandwiches, $2 for apples (argh!) and the like.
Yet somehow the price of my airline ticket is still as high as ever ($600 to go to BFE Canada? You could go to England for that price!)! There's no additional legroom, either. What the hell?!
So there we were, Caitlin and I, on early Friday morning getting ready to leave. Eric called and gave me the news about his grandmother and then we left.
Three hours in advance of our flight time.
We had 3 planes to catch in the course of the day. By the time we drove through Friday morning traffic, parked in the way out parking, took the shuttle bus in, stood in the massive lines to check one piece of luggage, got through security with a booster seat, a purse, a camera bag, Caitlin's bag, two jackets, a polar bear and a yellow ducky blanket, removed our shoes and put them back on, took the train to the terminal, hiked to the gate and rearranged our seats so that we were sitting together, and finally sat down to wait for the plane, I was completely exhausted.
And I had said Caitlin's name about 387 times.
"Caitlin come here!"
"Caitlin, move to the right."
"Caitlin, watch where you're going."
"Caitlin, follow me."
"Caitlin! Stay with me!"
"Caitlin, you dropped your bear/blanket/jacket."
"Caitlin, stop messing around and follow me!"
"Caitlin, PLEASE hurry up!"
"Caitlin! Stop gawking and look where you're going!"
Now, I've said previously that she's an excellent traveler. She is. Once there's no actual movement involved on her part, she's happy and chipper and pleasant. If you actually have to walk anywhere, she becomes a 2 ton weight that you have to drag behind you (she somehow can't ever walk next to me) throughout miles and miles of airport. That part is not good. The flying? The taking the train and the shuttle bus and 3 airplanes on the same day? She loves that part and is totally excited about being there, looking out the window and generally enjoying the experience. On more than one occasion, the person sitting directly in front of us had no idea that she was there. Meant in a good way, of course.
Even as an infant.
We took her to Canada at 2.5 months, 4.5 months, 2 years. To Florida and Jamaica at 7 months. To NYC at 2.5 months, 10 months and 4 years. California at 1 and 3.5 years. Crested Butte more times than I can remember, starting at 8 weeks. Yes, she does have her own frequent flyer number!
While I was sitting there feeling wrung out and exhausted I was thinking that it's funny how completely different I can feel from time to time. I had slept well the night before, but now was exhausted and hadn't even gotten on the plane yet. Sometimes I feel like I burn like a torch: excited, happy, outgoing and energized. Hanging out with friends, usually.
I burn with life.
Slumped over in an airport seat after dealing with traffic and pointless paranoid airport security measures, I'm completely drained. No one makes eye contact with me or notices that I exist. Caitlin sparkles by the window, talking to a two year old that is flying to Paris with her family.
There were three whole plane rides between us and our final destination. Two more sets of security checks. It was going to be a loooooong day.
Two jets and one tiny two engine propeller plane later, we arrived. Caitlin wowed people all during the flights. She was a tiny traveler, with her own carry-on rolling luggage. As we walked down the long corridor in Toronto on the way to customs, many fellow travelers commented on how cute, how well behaved, how professional a traveler she was. On the plane, an elderly lady sat next to us and swooned over Caitlin's reading. Lots of positive reinforcement from strangers got Caitlin to be even better behaved and to like traveling even better (if that's possible!).
The twin engine was possibly the smallest plane Caitlin had ever been on and she immediately loved it. I tried not to think about crashing during this part of our trip. She peered out the window at the world below us. Yet again we defied gravity and made it safely to the St. John, New Brunswick airport at 11:45 pm.
Cindy came to get us and then it was the hour drive back to her place and eventually, sleep.
After the 3 hour chat session, of course.
A long day. A long way. Little sleep.
Feh! I figured I'd sleep when I got back to Colorado. Let the games begin!