689. Away we go

Related imageGone like the night owls that hooted back and forth across the newly planted soybean fields, my grandkids flew back to Arizona on Sunday. Not without a bit of drama, however. The plan when we went to bed was to get up at 3:30 am; slouch out the door with food and coffee; and drive the two hours to Reagan National Airport for a flight to Dallas. It was the best pass ride deal my pilot son-in law-could figure out. He would fly with them from Dallas to Tucson. Ready, steady, go.Image result for busy airport pictures

Off we went in the cool night air at 3:45 a.m. Right turn and turn again. At the bottom of the first hill Grace fired up her cell phone and said, “What? Wait! Our flight was cancelled. We have to go to Philadelphia. Oh no! What? To Minneapolis? Oh, Dad. I’m so sorry.”

“What’s another couple of hundred miles, Honey? You’re now in the Nina club.”

We turned around and headed northeast instead of southeast. I had enough time to retell the Nina story. “Let’s see, it must have been 1999. Yes, Erin graduated that summer. Wow, twenty years ago.”

“Oh, that’s horrrreeeebull!” Nina’s favorite comment about American television or shoes or chocolate. “You drove her to Philadelphia, right?”

“Yes, after a trip to Dulles. Remember, she had a stand by ticket to Germany and the flight was full.”

“How did she get down there to begin with?”

“The Academy van service took her down. She had asked me to run her down. I declined. She wanted to save the $75.00 fee. But hours later that day, it was the last day of school for me, and Mom and I were sitting on the pool deck. I looked up to see a jet streaming across the sky. I said, ‘Hey, there goes Nina.’ Your mom said, ‘I don’t think so. You haven’t seen the last of her.’ ”

“I’m sure I said something witless like ‘Au contraire, mon ami.’ She is surely on her way back to Germany on a Lufthansa jet.”Image result for lufthansa airplane pics

“Well, I was wrong. When we got home from the pool, the phone rang. She was stuck at Dulles. Her standby ticket was worthless… sort of like your pass ride that just disappeared. She was in near panic with her nine suitcases and nowhere to go.”

“Didn’t you get her a place to stay?”

“Yeah, I tried to call in favors from my brothers and anyone I could think of to avoid another trip to D.C. In the end only Grandma T. offered refuge for the night.”

“Good old Grandma, bless her soul.”Image result for gray taurus station wagon picture

“So I drove to Dulles in the old Taurus station wagon. I mean, although she was a pain in the butt at times, she was still a scared 16 year old girl trying to get home. Why on earth her parents didn’t spring for a first class ticket makes you wonder though.”

“Yeah, they were wealthy enough to send her to a fancy boarding school in the states but not wealthy enough to buy a real ticket?”

“Anyway, I parked in the loading lane and ran in to find her and her gypsy caravan of luggage. All black, remember, she only wore black?”Image result for dulles airport terminal at night pictures

“Yep. Horrreeebull, dees American t.v. commercials. Oooooohhhh!!”

“And don’t forget the time she dried herself off with the towel that Charlie the iguana had crawled into.”Image result for iguana in a white towel photo

“Oh my, I can still hear her blood curdling scream… ‘CHAHHHLEEE, CHAHHHLEE!!’ ”

“What a scene that was.  Anyhow, when we got to the car, an airport parking cop was writing me a ticket, but he also had to lecture me about where to park and I’d had it. I cut off his lecture and tersely demanded ‘Just give me the damn ticket and save the sermon. You have no idea what’s going on here.’ Seventy five bucks. I never paid it. The Taurus has been scrap metal for a decade at least. The paper trail is gone.”

“So how did you end up in Philadelphia?”

“Yeah, the next plane with a real ticket was leaving from Philadelphia International the next evening.”

“So you spent the night with Grandma in McLean and drove all the way to Philly in the morning?”Image result for 95 north photos in Philadelphia

“Sure did. Let’s see, it was a solid two hours, and then we had to move those damn suitcases for the fifth time. Remember, we carried them out of her third floor dorm room, into our house, that’s two. Then out of the house and into the van. Then into the Taurus at Dulles, and finally out of the Taurus in Philly. Whew! Nine for Nina, and I swear one weighed ninety pounds. So there she sat in Philly in the middle of her gypsy caravan of luggage again. By the time I got home, I had to go to my night job at the counseling center. I drove 500 plus miles that day.”

“Dad, you’re a saint.”

“Saint Burrito of Stupito.”Image result for saint paintings

We were turning left onto Short Cut Road when an adult doe decided to jump out of the woods on Grace’s side of the Honda CRV. THUMP. Shriek. Corrective steering and adrenaline rush at 4:00 a.m.

“Well, that’s a fitting ending to the Nina saga. Just when you think it’s over, it aint.”

“Dad, I’m so sorry for this whole thing.”Related image

“Because you are magically responsible for the cancellation of your flight and especially for that deer bolting out of the dark? What super powers you possess, Grace.”

From the back seat two year old Max said, “Mommy, did the deer want to come to Tucson with us?” His absurdly innocent question helped Grace laugh about the meta absurdity of the entire situation.Image result for deer on a car photo

“Yes, Max, but wild animals aren’t allowed on airplanes, Buddy.”

“But Dad, this wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for us. I should have taken an Uber.”

“No, the deer was simply the exclamation point on the Nina Club sequel, Gracie. It’s going to be a funny story one day. Just not today.”

“Okay, away we go.”Related image


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