Sunday, July 30, 2017

Escaping Insanity: A Cruising Trip Report. Arrival Day!

Catching up?  The Pre-trip starts HERE.

This is one of my first attempts at editing a video EVER, so please remember that when watching this.  Hopefully they'll improve as the report goes on.  Enjoy the pre-trip and arrival video!

Our first flight wasn’t until 2:00 out of Champaign.  I’ve always been more of the antsy “LET’S GET THERE NOW!!!!” type of person; however, I couldn’t beat the ticket prices of the itinerary, even if it did mean a three-hour layover at O’Hare.  We worked on cleaning up the house a bit so that the guy feeding the cat wouldn’t feel like taking the cat to his house for fear of her safety.  I mowed the front half of the yard and then got cleaned up.  I then OCD’ed for about an hour, quintuple-checking to make sure we had everything.  Finally, around 11:00, we told the cat goodbye; she could tell we were leaving for more than just work and promptly bit me.

I wish I were joking about that…the cat truly hates me.

Who is the one that bottle-fed her at 2 weeks?  Who came home at lunch between classes to make sure she was okay?  Who takes care of her litter box?  Gets her food?  Plays “fetch” with her at 11 pm?  Yeah…and I’m the one she attacks.

Anyway, the rest of the Mushfam hugged the cat, while I mentally flipped her off as I walk out the door.

52 miles later (41 of which was one-lane road construction), and we pulled into Willard Airport just south of Champaign.  We parked the van, took a picture of the sign telling us the section, and figured out the logistics on how four people were going to carry five pieces of checked luggage and five carry-ons.  We made it to the entrance fairly well (it’s the economist in me…we were efficient!) and checked the bags at the counter.  My car keys went into a carry-on, not to be seen for 8 days; this is a huge mental thing for me, as it symbolizes that I’m FINALLY ON VACATION!!!!!  Next up was securit…….hmmm….security was closed as there were no flights departing for a little while.  Ooooookkkaaaayyyy…we sat down and watched a bit of television until the gates were opened.  Aaron somehow got TSA pre-check assigned to him a couple of years ago, so he got the special treatment – he laughed at us as he flew through while we disrobed.

After security, we grabbed a snack at the bagel place.  I grabbed a fruit/yogurt thing and promptly spilled around 25% of my yogurt getting the granola cup out.

We didn’t want to say too much on Facebook that we were going to be gone for over a week, but I was able to convince wifey that a few Instagram posts were okay (@MushrushTravel…shameless plug).  We got the requisite selfie:

Having worked ground operations at the regional airport in Bloomington, I always like to take the time to watch how different crews work arrivals and departures.  I saw our equipment arrive and taxi to the ramp area…..and then I watched it hold to wait for the ground crew to make its way to the gate to bring it in.  United had only been flying into CMI for a week or so, so I’m willing to bet the cockpit didn’t know which line to follow to come in.  After about three minutes, I was about to head up to the counter to let them know that the plane was waiting for them; as I was starting to walk around to get a better view, the plane started moving and finally was “in”.  15 minutes later, we were lining up to get onboard.  I was finally going to get to test out my GoPro that the Mushfam got me for Christmas, so I pulled rank (yeah, right...they just didn't want to hear me whine) and chose one of the window seats to test it out.

It was an uneventful flight to Chicago, as we did the standard 28C approach.  We arrived at Gate B1, and the screens showed B4 as our departure gate in around 3 hours.  We walked around for a while and grabbed a bite to eat at Chili’s.  After that, my brain decided to shut down, because I looked for the gate for Miami and noticed that it had changed to B14.  The rest of the Mushfam seemed confused, and they eventually got me to realize that we were arriving into FLL.

Getting old sucks!

We headed back towards that gate, stopping for a quick pic by the dinosaur in the terminal:

FYI - the dinosaur is behind me...not next to me.  Have I mentioned how much I love my wife?

We chilled at B4 for a while, until we heard that there was a gate change to B2.  There were multiple aircraft in pre-board near that gate, so we waited for a bit before moving to B2.  As soon as we sat down, we had another gate change back to B4.  Then we heard B5 on the P.A. system.  I asked the gate agent, who was trying to close out the departing flight from B5, which gate FLL was leaving, and he said B5.  We grabbed a seat…just as the gate agent from B4 grabbed the gate B5 microphone and announced that they think FLL will be departing out of B4.

I think she saw me laughing.

Again, having worked operations at a small airport and seeing some behind-the-scenes operations at an airline hub for a large international airport, I understand how the logistics can go out the window at times.  No harm was done, and we made our way BACK to B4.  At least it wasn’t B2-B24-B6-B18-B4!  I considered it nothing more than assistance in getting my steps in for the day, and my Garmin VivoActive HR chirped happily as I blew past my goal number of steps.

Having flown into and out of O'Hare so many times, I knew that, with the wind and runway configuration being used, we’d be departing on runway 22L.  This meant that the best view out the window would be the port side…wait…not on the ship yet…the left side.  I let Aaron have the window seat, with the condition that he man the GoPro on departure.  I handed it to him, and he threatened to break it; apparently, he thought filming stuff was dumb.


I drew the short straw and had the screaming kid behind me who was kicking the seat in front of him for the entire flight.  I also drew the seat that had the malfunctioning channel/volume console for the video screen; however, this ended up being a non-issue, because they lost their feed about 15 minutes into the flight.  Actually, it wasn’t that bad at all.  The flight was fairly uneventful: very little turbulence, other than a bit of moderate chop during our decent.  Sheri had her Sea Bands on and was engrossed in Downton Abbey.  The boys alternated between watching out the window, playing on their phones, playing on their older Nintendo DS consoles, and napping.  I kept myself entertained with the current edition of United’s Hemispheres in-flight magazine as well as tracking the flight on the United phone app.

As I mentioned in the last paragraph, the descent was just a bit bumpy as the arrival route (JINGL4, for you aviation freaks) had us going through a line of cells as we turned over Ft. Myers.  We walked away from the landing, which, when I was in flight training, meant it was a good one!  A nice, short taxi later, and we were in the terminal.  Having flown into FLL just a few months prior, I guided us to baggage claim, where I planned on filming the rest of the Mushfam getting the crap scared out of them when the baggage belt started moving; for those who haven’t flown into Ft. Lauderdale, they use cruise ship horns to announce a belt starting up.  Of course, they all went to the bathroom and missed the horn.


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