Posted by: Jamie Stamm | May 4, 2008

Vacation, Day 1: Getting there

After spending a bit longer in Washington, D.C., then planned, we finally made it home late yesterday afternoon. We have since tried to catch up on e-mail, laundry, telephone messages (we had two calls on our answering machine from Hillary Clinton and two from Barack Obama, so at least someone missed us while we were gone) and, most importantly, sleep. But we’re slowly getting back on schedule, even restocking our refrigerator and catching a concert this afternoon. And now it’s time to update my blog.

So, here it is. Our vacation, day 1 …

We got off to an early start, leaving our house around 3:15 a.m. to catch a 5:30 flight from RDU to Philadelphia. Turns out if you depart early and don’t fly direct, plane tickets aren’t that expensive. All four of us flew round trip on US Airways for $800. Quite a bargain when you think about today’s gas prices, as well as the 16 or so hours we would have had to spend in a car had we driven. With two kids under age 6? No thank you.

We had anticipated that both Cera and Anthony would sleep at least until we got to the airport, if not longer. But they were awake when we left the house and stayed that way until mid-afternoon, going on about five hours of sleep. Anthony, who was making his first flight, was enthralled at the airport, so I didn’t sit down once as we waited for our flight. Instead, Ant and I went from window to window, with him squealing, “Airplane! Airplane!” at each stop.

At one point he looked at me with a very serious expression on his face and declared, “Airplanes broken.”

“The airplanes aren’t broken,” I told him.

“Airplanes broken,” he insisted.

“No, they’re fine,” I said. “Why do you think they’re broken?”

“Airplanes not in the sky,” he said. “Airplanes on the ground. Airplanes broken.”

Ah, the wisdom of a 2-year-old.

I tried to tell him that it was early and the airplanes would be in the sky later, but he still insisted they were broken. I finally convinced him otherwise by taking my logic down a notch. It was dark outside, I explained, and the planes were asleep. As soon as they woke up, it would be time to fly. That one he bought.

Our flight to Philly was quick – only about an hour in length – so the kids were thrilled that they still got a snack on the plane. And before 6 a.m.

“Pretzels for breakfast? What could be better?” I asked Cera.

She answered my rhetorical question without hesitation.

“Cheetos,” she said.

Cera took the above photo during our second flight of the day, from Philadelphia to New Orleans. We had a beautiful view nearly the whole way (save for a few rain drops at the very end), but there was a bit of turbulence, which at one point caused the pilot to take the plane down 4,000 feet.

I should preface the rest of the story by noting that I’m not a big fan of airplanes. And, yes, I know the statistics. It’s much more dangerous to travel by car than plane. But that doesn’t make me any more comfortable in the air.

You can’t exactly show your fear when you’re traveling with kids, though.

So this message from the captain was hard to handle:

“Ladies and gentleman, I wanted to let you know that we lost one of our hydraulic systems during the flight. We still have two left, and I anticipate a smooth landing, but, as a precaution, we’re going to have emergency equipment on the ground awaiting our arrival.”

What?!?

I concentrated on my breathing. I closed my eyes. And apparently, I gripped Cera’s leg pretty tightly.

“Mama,” she asked, “why are you squeezing my thigh?”

I relaxed my grip and forced a smile. The plane banked. My stomach lurched.

And we landed safely in New Orleans.

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