Where to even begin~
We arrived on time in Beijing late Friday morning and were looking to check in for our next flight...Beijing to Newark...the grandaddy of them all. This is the flight you don't want to miss. The one that everything hinges on. We had 5 hours to kill but still we wanted to go ahead and check in.
Wouldn't you know it...
Inside I am screaming..."Noooooooooooooooooo!!!"
Outside I am calmly explaining to the kids that this will all work out for the "best."
After Scott went to talk to the Continental representative (more specifically, the very limited English speaking Continental representative) he came back with the "best" that the airline had to offer:
Oh yes, that's right. One, two, three, four days in Beijing before we could get on another flight.
We scrambled around for the next 2 hours trying to find other flights. Anything that would get us to the US.
There was one flight left for that day going to San Francisco. It was almost full but there was room. We prayed and debated. Debated and prayed.
And then we took it.
It took all our remaining time to get booked and checked in. So much time that the agent at the ticket counter sprinted over to help tag and check our bags. She then proceeded to give us directions (body gestures included) on how to elbow our way through the long lines at security to ensure we boarded in time.
I took notes.
And then we were off. Sprinting through the Beijing airport, catching a tram, sprinting some more, hopping into an available car being offered, then jumping out when we realized there was a fee that we didn't have time to settle.
I haven't run that fast for quite some time. (And my apologies to the lady in Terminal 2 who had the unfortunate pleasure of my suitcase running over her toe).
We did make it in time though and arrived in San Francisco around noon on Friday.
Now we had to figure out how to get home.
At the Continental counter we found the earliest flight was the red-eye to Houston then on to Raleigh.
"We'll take it."
We were almost done with the boarding passes when doh! there are only 5 seats available not 6.
Now we are on for the 6 AM flight which means getting up at 4 AM again and getting a hotel room for the night.
The hotel was fine and actually had a nice view of the bay where I could see all the planes coming in for landing. I was in a vegetative state by this point so it did not take much to entertain me.
We stumbled through the evening in our zombie-like states and Lily actually fell asleep around 4 for the night.
The girls and I woke up about 2:30 and Lily, poor thing, was starving. Our snacks were officially depleted so I pulled together some change and took her to a vending machine. All they had was sodas (for $2.50 a pop~total highway robbery) but she was so desperate I tried to get her one. And tried and tried and tried. The machine was empty. I felt so bad for her.
The reason I tell this is because at 3 in the morning, in a hotel in San Francisco, when I hit the change return button, the machine starts dispensing my change...
...I kid you not...
Fifty nickels pouring out of this machine, as if I had just won the jackpot in Vegas, clanging all over the floor while people slept only feet away.
Yep. That's just how this trip was going.
I collected my ten pounds of nickels, unsuccessfully trying to find the humor in it all, and went back to the room.
Turns out no one in the family could sleep and we were all ready to go by 4 (an hour earlier than intended).
Scott checked the tickets one last time before leaving the hotel, and...
...ah yes, the boarding time was wrong. She had booked us (all six of us) on the red-eye flight that only had room for 5. That flight left 4 hours ago.
My thought at this point: Just shoot me now, Ethel, 'cause I am done.
But no, God continues to give grace, even in the wake of my nervous breakdown.
The reps at the gate were able, after a good while, to correct the mistake and we boarded as intended.
Thankfully, Houston had no problems and we arrived in Raleigh Saturday afternoon.
Home, sweet home.
Where I intend to stay for a long, long, long time.