Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Escape From Vermont

We had a bit of drama going on the final day of our family's visit, and it made it all interesting, to say the least. PR had flown the family over into Lebanon airport, so they had some flexibility as to when they could fly out, and it wasn't a stressful, rush situation to get to the airport on time. I was acutely aware, however, of the fact that everyone had to leave things at home in order to make the trip. While R&J might have had a bit more flexibility in their time, P&D had left things in limbo in order to make the trip, and I was grateful that they were willing to go to the trouble. If anything, I felt a little guilty.

Anyway, the plan was they'd stay for three days, then fly back home. As I mentioned, they had flown in and had the flexibility to leave when they wanted, so it was no rush to get to the airport. Kind of nice. The weather, however, was not cooperating, and that's putting it lightly. In retrospect, however, the unusual weather may have been the one thing that made the visit possible in the first place. It had warmed up to unheard of temperatures during their trip, and instead of snow blizzards, we had mild temps and rain. I'm no expert on flying, but I'm guessing this makes the job a little easier.

On Sunday, their allotted day of travel, the clouds rolled in and it began to rain steadily. I think this is not a problem to fly, as long as you can get above the clouds. Visibility is the key up to a certain height, whereby it is no longer to safe. PR is adamant about safety, so with the conditions less than optimal, he wasn't about to take off, though he really wanted to. We got to the airport around 10:00 and proceeded to wait it out. PR figured it might clear up in a hour or two, and he had instant weather updates at his fingertips.

After a couple of hours, it was no go. I could sense PR was bummed, and getting anxious. Meanwhile, we were getting hungry. Since we were in W. Leb, there were no shortages of places to eat, though you're delving into the whole TGI Fridays realm, but in a pinch, that's about as good as it gets. We opted for Panera, which is a good middle ground. While we were eating, I could sense the fog was lifting, and I think everyone agreed. Wishful thinking, perhaps?

You better believe it was. When we drove back up the hill to the airport, it was foggier than ever, and I could feel the frustration in the room. Talk of driving all the way to Ohio came up, which I thought wasn't a bad alternative, but it was easy for me to say because I wasn't the one who was going to drive. The idea of going to Manchester and catching a commercial flight came up, but that would have been exorbitantly expensive.

I thought they could simply stay another day, and would have preferred it to taking any chances traveling, but there was a big storm front moving in that would have entailed several more days of delay, and by that point, PR was prepared to swim to Cambodia if necessary. So I kept my mouth shut.

In the back of everyone's mind we realized that their window of opportunity was slowly closing, because they had to fly to a midpoint, refuel, land in Athens, then fly to Cincinnati. In order to takeoff and land, the weather had to be good in Vermont, the midpoint, Athens, and Cincinnati. How many more variables can you incorporate into a trip? Too many moving targets. PR was a good enough flier to do it in the dark, but I'm guessing daylight is your friend when you're in a plane.

So we sat and waited. By afternoon, it was looking less and less possible, and at some point we were going to have to throw in the towel. Then again, that's what separates the men from the boys, or rather, the sissies from the real men. Whereas I would have given up and gone home, PR was determined, and sure enough, by about 3:00 PM, the clouds miraculously parted, and the skies cleared up. I would even go as far as to say it became a beautiful day, complete with sunshine and blue skies.

Everyone scrambled onto the plane (the pic is from the fall). They fueled up, taxied to the runway, and before we knew it, they were off into the wild blue yonder. It was sad to see them go, but we were happy they managed to takeoff safely. And in the end, we were also grateful just for the chance to see them over the holidays.

They landed home safely, though I think the weather was poor in Cincinnati, so they had to drive the final segment, but that was only a couple of hours. We miss them already, but I have a sense we'll see them again soon. Hopefully.

How the heck else am I going to get the rest of the windows in?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jelle Weidema for the pic.

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