I’m here in central Wisconsin for a few days, helping out OM with the many chores that have to be completed before this year’s chicks arrive for summer training. As chairperson of this year’s Crane Festival auction committee, I’m also here to scope out the new locations of the festival and pre-festival dinner, and to meet up with other committee members to start processing the many auction donations waiting for us at the Princeton Chamber of Commerce.
I flew in yesterday, to Milwaukee, and met up with Heather who drove by car from her home in Ontario. Joe is also here, having just arrived the day before with the new aircraft. Sounds simple enough, right? I fly in, Heather drives and takes the Lake Express ferry across Lake Michigan and we meet on Wednesday to finish the ride to Princeton.
Well, it was anything BUT simple!
On Tuesday about 6 PM, Heather and I were chatting online about something OM’ish and then it went like this:
Me: “where r u???”
Heather: “at home”
Me: “you can’t be at home, you’re supposed to be in Michigan! I’m flying to Milwaukee tomorrow morning!”
“No you’re not, you’re flying on Thursday. Are you joking around?”
“Not joking! I’m flying on Wednesday, the 18th!” [can you hear the panic growing in my typing?]
“Nooooo you’re flying on Thursday, the 19th… ”
“No, seriously, I’m flying on the 18th! I have a 7:00am flight and I arrive at Milwaukee at 10:30 AM!”
“But I’m arriving on the 19th – that’s when I have the ferry reservation!”
I can’t include the rest of our chat on this family-friendly site because it escalated from there, but suffice it to say that Heather and I had somehow miscommunicated on our arrival dates. Heather ended the chat with “I gotta go pack and get on the road! Bye!”
I guess she got on the road about 7 PM, after some serious storms passed through (including tornadoes!) and drove until 11:30 PM, just crossing the border into Port Huron, MI where she planned to overnight at a Quality Inn. And she actually crossed the border twice! First time, she engaged the “border guy” in a conversation about birding (he evidently was a birder too!) and then headed for the motel.
Bad signage caused a wrong turn onto a one-way exit back into Canada where she confessed to THAT border guard that she was an idiot (her words, not mine) and had just crossed into the U.S. from Canada 5 minutes earlier. Apparently this is a common occurrence – he quickly produced a large “Wrong Turn Pass” (aka “idiot card”) for her to present when she re-crossed into the US. She happened to get the same border guy as her prior crossing and handed in the pass. He laughed and quipped “you’re not gonna see many birds if you drive like that!”
Fast forward about 5 hours when poor Heather had to get up and get back on the road to drive to Muskegon in time for the ferry. The weather on her drive was horrendous, too – buckets of rain that mandated the fastest windshield wiper speed and lightning bolts all around.
I got up about the same time so that I could get to the airport in time for my 7 AM flight. Things were very calm on my end until I boarded the plane – as soon as we were all seated, the pilot announced that the Detroit airport was temporarily closed due to severe weather there, so we were on hold. They said they’d give us an update in an hour.
At that point I figured my connection in Detroit was a bust, but since it was early in the day, there would probably be other options and Heather would just have to wait. We finally took off about 8:15 and had a very bumpy ride to Detroit where we landed right about the time my connection was scheduled to take off. Since nothing had been flying, it seemed there was still a slim chance that my connection was also delayed, at least I hoped so.
I hit the concourse nearly running and found the flight information board to see the status of my flight. It said “At Gate” and the gate was A69. I was at A16. Do you know how many miles there are between A16 and A69??? A lot!!! Anyway, I fast-walked all the way down a concourse so long you could not see from one end to the other and arrived at A69 about one minute before they started boarding my flight to Milwaukee. YAY!
Meanwhile, on the other side of Michigan, Heather was arriving at the ferry terminal and again confessed that she was an idiot (AGAIN, her words, not mine!) and was there on the wrong date. A guy outside delivered the bad news – the ferry was booked full – but he suggested that she check inside in case he didn’t have the latest, greatest info. The news inside was the same – booked solid – until another co-worker announced “WE JUST HAD A CANCELLATION” and Heather yelled out “I’LL TAKE IT!”!
We both agreed later that we were surprised that the ferry ran at all, because we would have expected the lake to be pretty rough with all the bad weather around. It wasn’t cancelled and Heather reported that the ride was fine.
Back to the skies… my plane (well, actually Delta’s plane with a pilot who looked to be about 16 years old!) was approaching the Milwaukee runway, maybe at about 1000 feet altitude (don’t hold me to that – I really can’t tell) when all of a sudden the engines surged and we went back up. What the heck?!?
The pilot announced that we shouldn’t worry, the weather was fine for landing and we didn’t have any problems. It was just that a Cessna had taken off right in front of us as we were on the final approach. “Oh jeez”, I’m thinking, that’s not supposed to happen at large commercial airports, is it?” So we go around again, approach again, and this time we land without incident. Whew!
I disembark, walk another few miles to baggage claim to retrieve a large duffle bag full of winter clothes that I’m leaving here in Wisconsin for migration, and hail a taxi to head for the ferry dock.
As the taxi turned into the ferry terminal driveway, I texted Heather that I was just arriving at the dock. She immediately texted back “Me too”. I looked up and there was the ferry just approaching the dock.
Can you believe that, after all THAT, we both arrived there at exactly the same time?!?!
The rest of the trip to Princeton was without incident and Joe, Caleb, Heather, and I enjoyed some delicious chicken wings and blue cheese potato chips in Green Lake, followed by an early bedtime since we were both exhausted from our separate, very trying, travel experiences.
Like I said… all’s well that ends well!