Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Trip to Colorado turns into Trip to Lake George, Part 1

My family (a wife and five kids, you know) planned to be in Colorado this past weekend, for an informal memorial service for Mandy's grandmother who passed away last year. Mandy's dad organized the service, including arranging and paying for our flights. He'd be traveling with us. We'd be met in Denver by other extended family traveling from various parts of the country.

We agreed to meet at Stewart Airport, minutes from our house, between 5 AM and 5:15 for a 6 AM flight.

We arrive together. I drop off Mandy, the kids, and a pile of luggage at the curb, then find my way to Overflow Parking and back. I've flown out of Stewart a dozen times and never known Overflow even existed; its just not that busy of an airport. But a bus is waiting for me right behind my car, the driver reminds me to turn off my headlights, and speeds me back to the terminal.

Ever travel with five kids? I get the diaper backpack on Rose, age four, the toy backpack on Seth, six, the laptop and gadgets backpack on Meg, eight, and the snack backpack on Rourke, 9.9. Extend luggage handles, Meg pulls the small, Rourke the medium, I throw two toddler car seats over my shoulder by their straps and clasp large luggage. Mandy sees the plan and picks up what's left: Shane, 2.

John is waiting in line to check us all in by the time my pack and I get in. He's brought in two booster seats from our pile. Cool.

The line is huge, for Stewart: maybe thirty people at the airTran check in, and John says that they had just opened up a 2nd line and he had jumped into it, so was only four people deep.

There are four "self check-in kiosks" but I hear the attendant explain that people need to go one at a time because even though it is "self check-in" they still need to go through her. The wait is about fifteen minutes; one of the attendants called out while we were next in line: "Is the Bywater party here?" "Yes!" I called back. "Is the McLaughlin party here?" next. "Yes!" again; Mandy's maiden name. Cool, they know we're here. I'm feeling better.

So we finally get to the counter, and an attendant starts to check us in. It's now 5:30. At first she says that the flight was just closed but she can claim she was already checking us in and re-open it. But there is a problem, she doesn't have tickets for all of us. She reads off the names that she has tickets for, but doesn't have Rose or Rourke listed, and only has one Margaret (missing either Mandy or Meg, that is). I hand her back the ticket that she had just given us with Rose's name. My guess, in hindsight, is that they are in the process of giving our seats away upstairs at the gate as we are trying to get checked in downstairs.

She calls over a supervisor for assistance, and is truly trying to help us. She tells us that she is not going to be able to get us on, and even if she is they are going to close the doors ten minutes before the flight, and we still need to get through security. I ask if it's worth trying to get the kids rushed through security, the supervisor nods, so I bolt that way.

Mandy has already had the kids in line, and made it to the first security guard, who doesn't let our gang through because we don't have boarding passes. I explain that they are being printed, our flight is about to go, and the attendant had recommended I get moving through security since we have five kids in tow. The security guard bluntly states that we can't get past her without boarding passes. Grrrr. I bolt back to the check in.

Things there are over. No way we can get on the flight with eight of us, as it has been "way oversold, and closed." No way is there anyway to get us there before Saturday. Not with eight people. Ouch. John decides to bag the trip.

Regroup. Meg is crying because we aren't going on an airplane. Mandy and I put our heads together and decide to bring the brood to Perkins for breakfast while we figure out a new plan. On the way, Mandy calls Rocking Horse Ranch to see if they have rooms, but their Reservation Desk doesn't open until nine.

Ok, Lake George then.

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