BVI, day 11

The time zone in the BVI and Puerto Rico is two hours ahead of us at home.

I woke up the morning of the 11th day at 12:45 AM to shower, leave by 2 AM, and catch a plane at 4 AM our time at home. I was approached by someone asking if I would do a survey at the airport. Normally I would say no because who has time for that. But there I sat while everyone else in the group waited in an endless line for coffee.

I didn’t get coffee. Instead this time I took my anxiety medicine. I was hoping to relax and sleep on the plane since I didn’t get much rest on the sailboat. But things never turn out the way I plan. The flight from San Juan to Chicago was 5 hours long and I’d be lucky if I slept half of it.

At the end of the flight, we were warned we were headed towards some nasty turbulence but that the pilots were very experienced and would get us through it safely. Terrified I braced myself to my seat for the longest time but the turbulence never came.

Many of the passengers coughed. I thought to myself that I would rather get sick after my vacation than during. That was until I got sick and decided I would rather not be sick at all.

We reached our connecting flight with just enough time for me to get a cup of coffee. I had play practice that evening that I couldn’t miss because I already missed 4 rehearsals from the vacation. Time to wake up!

Our second flight home was very short and as we were making our descent, I was filled with dread. There was snow everywhere! No more warm weather for a long time.

I had just enough time to unpack before heading out the door again. I heard stories of how things went when we were gone. Paul’s step-dad Darryl stayed at our house over the weekends we were gone. Monday morning he overslept and Arabella had to wake him up to take her to school. He left in such a hurry that he didn’t let the dog out and there was a mess to clean up later in the day when my mom came. He also told Arabella that he was going fishing on a day that she had to work and wouldn’t be able to give her a ride.

My mom stayed during the week and things didn’t go that much better. Alex skipped school one day because he didn’t wake up in the morning. My mom and Arabella were having so much fun that my mom didn’t take her to school one day until 10 AM. My mom wrote Arabella a note saying that she got stuck in our driveway which wasn’t true. Those things made me very angry (now you can see why I worry so). But I let it go reasoning with myself that the pets and my children were still alive.

That night I felt horribly tired at play practice. Jet lag I suppose. I felt dizzy as well. For all the time I spent on the sailboat, I didn’t feel like I was on a boat at all until I got home. Everything was rocking for two days. Then I got a really nasty cold for 2 weeks and maybe only slept two nights in a full month. But, hey, at least I had a pretty good vacation.

At this point you are probably wondering if I would’ve done anything different if you are still reading this. Yes, I would’ve left the wet suit at home. I would’ve brought a good pair of boat/water shoes. I would’ve done more research online. If you decide to read any books regarding the BVI make sure they are written post hurricane because some of the things we read about and wanted to visit simply weren’t there anymore.

Also, we opted to sail the boat ourselves without a paid captain or chef. I would recommend doing that if you have people onboard that are skilled at both. Also, it does help if the crew is in good physical condition.

It is always iffy to travel with friends. We didn’t know Tim and Cara that well and didn’t really know Stan and Angela at all. Overall, we got along pretty good. But there were instances when someone felt like the third wheel. Also, we were in very tight quarters and at times under stressful circumstances which doesn’t always bring out the best in people. There is a lot of invasion of private space and necessity to work together as a team to make decisions. I guess that’s what makes it a real adventure!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

BVI, day 10

**Photos of the hurricane damage in Tortola**

The morning of the day we left, the strong winds finally died down. We were able to sail to our end point. Why?? Maybe it would’ve been too hot without the wind. (Is there really such a thing??)??? Maybe we would’ve been assaulted by monstrous bugs. With the strong winds, we didn’t have a day where anyone felt too hot nor were there any bugs. I keep telling myself this as the warm calm winds soothed us to shore.

We ran out of water this morning. Thankfully, it was after I showered. Unfortunately, it was before I washed all of the dishes. We did have several gallon jugs of water left. We had some food left and also some alcohol despite my proclamation the night before that no liquor shall be left behind. Please don’t tell anyone from Wisconsin. Once we got to shore, Paul and Tim polished off the last bottle of wine. Tim also had a corked bottle of rum that he put in his luggage wrapped in electrical tape.

We had a late afternoon flight back to Puerto Rico. We headed to the airport early and ended up getting there too early to check in. We walked to a restaurant right outside of the airport and had lunch there. Then we sat at the airport until we could check in. We wanted to get some ice cream, but the ice cream was all watery and partially melted.

The good thing is that the airport had free wifi. Or was it a good thing?? I got notifications from the school stating that school was cancelled two days of our trip due to inclement weather. Was everyone at home still alive?? I also got a text from my son saying that he had to go to court. What!?!! It wasn’t entirely unexpected, but it caused a lot of extra stress while we sat waiting. Time to put the heavy weight back onto our shoulders.

The airport in Tortola was very small. We had to walk through a sliding door you couldn’t see through to get to security. We went through one couple at a time. They pulled Cara out and took her to a separate room, along with her luggage, to do a random thorough security check.

We had another small plane that seemed to be older than I am. The tickets were for general seating. Once we sat down, the flight attendant moved people to make sure the weight was balanced on the plane. Everyone was slightly nervous, but we were fine.

We got to our hotel in Puerto Rico at suppertime. We were so happy with our meal at Casita Miramar in San Juan the first time that we decided to go back. Again, the food was superb. I had the quinoa dish in an avocado. It was very flavorful for a vegetarian dish. I wasn’t disappointed as I usually am when ordering vegetarian food. I would give the restaurant a high rating. Probably the best food on our trip along with Pusser’s Myett in Tortola.

We left the restaurant to head back to our hotel room for a very early flight back home.

Thailand, Day 1

Leaving…We left the afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday. We arrived at the airport early for a flight that would take us to Chicago for our international flight.

Our flight to Chicago got cancelled. We got 5 inches of snow overnight, not a big deal. Chicago got the snow during the day. All small flights into Chicago were cancelled.

We were several hours from the airport and our flight was cancelled. What were we going to do?? Thankfully the answer arrived in less than a half an hour in the form of a coach bus. Good thing we got to the airport really early. Otherwise we might have missed the bus altogether. I was also thankful the Packers were not in the Super Bowl this year. We probably wouldn’t have been able to find a sober bus driver in the whole state!

I dressed for warm weather but the wind chills were below zero. I couldn’t wait for the 100 degree temperature change. I think I was going to enjoy Thailand’s cold season better than ours. It wasn’t until we were on the road for an hour that we finally got some heat on the bus. I didn’t bother wearing or packing a winter jacket or pants. Because, well…Thailand.

I was afraid that I forgot something. I must’ve checked my passport a million times. It was still there. What is it about leaving that tricks your mind into thinking that something important was forgotten??

We made it to the airport in Chicago with a few hours to spare. We spent 45 minutes in line just to go through security. Then a few minutes after midnight, we entered the biggest plane I’ve ever seen and were off on our adventure.

I fell into a medicated sleep for the first 5 hours. I awoke having to use the bathroom. But the guy next to me was asleep and barely spoke any English. I held it as long as I could. Then I tapped the man beside me on the shoulder. He still didn’t wake up. It was an awkward situation.

After that I couldn’t sleep. We were in the economy section. I couldn’t justify the extra couple thousands of dollars on comfort. My body was stiff, sore, and tired. I watched 3 movies…Mother!, It, and The Bad Mom’s Christmas. All except the last movie sucked. I’ve never sat still long enough in my life to watch 3 movies in a day.

After 16 hours on the plane, we finally landed in Taiwan for a short layover. The flight was smooth and I really didn’t feel afraid. I didn’t freak out. I might have gotten over my fear of flying!

Then back on the plane again for another 4 hours…

We arrived in Thailand late Tuesday morning.

I’m leaving

In about 24 hours I will be packing my bags and leaving this cold climate behind. I’ll be visiting a climate that is 100 degrees hotter than mine.

I will finish cleaning the house and doing loads of laundry. Soon I will create a packing list. I’m afraid of leaving something behind, something obvious like a camera or my passport. Don’t laugh, I’ve done things like that before. I packed a suitcase for my husband once and forgot underwear. The good news, my husband never asked me to pack his suitcase again. Last year my husband went on a sailing trip and forgot to pack any shirts.

We will be on an airplane for a total of almost 21 hours. 21 hours!!! The longest I’ve been on a plane is 6 hours and that freaked me out. We are heading to Thailand tomorrow and checking our first continent (outside of our own) off our bucket list.

What is it about traveling that makes everyone tell you about their horror story flights? Or bring up terrorists? Or plane crashes? The TV show Lost??

I’m not sure how I will handle the flight. I always have this irrational fear that I am going to start screaming on a plane. Kind of like the time I went on a roller coaster that was too much for me. I am afraid of being out of control.  I certainly won’t have any control over the plane. It makes me feel trapped.

Thankfully I have medication for that. I am going to start a stop watch on my phone after I take my medicine. A stop watch seems kind of creepy though. I don’t know any other way to keep track of time after skipping so many time zones. The last thing I want to do is OD on a plane. Yes, I suffer from chronic worry.

Since we are leaving Chicago right after midnight maybe I will sleep. But I sleep on planes like I sleep in the hospital. How can I sleep sitting straight up? Plus there is always noise…dinging from announcements, other people, hospital emergencies with a little turbulence thrown in..I always wondered why they hand out peanuts on planes. Don’t a lot of people have serious allergies to peanuts??

There is a 12 hour time change for us in Thailand. I am excited to finally see the world, it’s just the getting there that sucks! Sitting still and relaxing are not my things. Now if they had a treadmill on the plane…The more nervous I am, the more I want to move. I try not to let fear stop me. There is nothing like flying 21 hours one way to confront my fear of flying.

Paul and I are going to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We will be visiting with our old neighbors, and going on a tour. I promise to take lots of pictures and keep a journal. This will probably be the last time you hear from me for awhile. But I promise to tell you about it when we get back.

This will be the first time we are away from family and work for this long. We have family staying with the kids every night. The last time we went away things didn’t go very well. The dog tore up the linoleum in the bathroom. Alex got a rash and thought he had bedbugs (thankfully we didn’t). I expect the house to be trashed and a pile of work waiting for me when I get back.

But I think that having a break will be worth whatever we come back home to. I will try my hardest not to worry and to relax. It might be so nice that we won’t want to come back home..

A hurricane, a pocketknife, and luggage lost

Our flight went so smoothly that we were feeling smug.

There was that one brief moment when Paul realized he had a pocketknife in his backpack before going through security. Last time he got pulled aside after security. That was a little nerve wracking. He ended up having a corkscrew in his carry on luggage. 

Because I am a nervous flyer, I read a lot of articles about flying. Somewhere I read that flight attendants size up passengers to see who needs extra assistance in the event of an emergency and who would be of assistance. 

On a plane, I watch the flight attendants. I put on my music and watch all of the nonverbal cues. The flight attendant looked bored. Good, good…for a minute he looked worried when another attendant ran to the back of the plane. But then he laughed and went back to looking bored again. 

The flight was easy this time, too easy..I was expecting turbulence from flying over the storms caused by the hurricane. But the most difficult part for me was getting off of the Disney bus. It was dark and I missed the step by the seat. I caught myself from falling into the older lady beside me. How embarrassing! I tell you this often enough…for an athlete I am very clutzy. 

Since it was late, I dozed off in my clothes while waiting for our luggage. I woke up every couple hours and opened the door to find nothing. 

The morning came and still no luggage. Apparently I put the luggage tag on but not the sticker. I don’t remember getting one. So it was basically my fault. I called the resort and they weren’t much help. Paul was upset and called back. He is direct and gets shit done but tends to be more reactive than me. He told them that they needed to help find our luggage. Paul said he had medication in the luggage. He was so worked up that they asked if he needed an ambulance.

I am laughing so hard as I write this.

We decided to get some coffee. There were workers clearing brush that was scattered around from the hurricane. On a side note, Orlando didn’t seem to sustain much damage from the storm. However, quite a few of the employees said they didn’t have power at home. The biggest complaint I heard in this area was of people losing freezers and refrigerators full of food. 

With the exception of the customer service person on the phone, the employees were great. Even a few of the workers cleaning brush asked how we were doing. Paul said crappy. Another worker asked jokingly if he wanted to help. Paul asked if they had any extra clean underwear. I inwardly chuckled because I knew he would be part of the day’s story. We spent the morning with the conceirge trying to find our luggage with no success. It disappeared.

We decided to go to Epcot as planned. We were wearing the warm clothes we flew in with. The clothes we slept in. We didn’t have a hair brush, tooth brush, or deodorant. It was hot and humid out. Hotter in Florida than it was in Wisconsin all summer. We stunk! Paul’s wet underwear painfully chafed his skin. Of course we had to be covered from head to toe in black. We didn’t pack extra clothes in our backpacks. Maybe we’ll have to rethink this whole traveling light idea. 

We walked around the happiest place feeling dirty and miserable. I felt strangely emotional. It was unexpected. I remembered coming to Disney a few years ago when the kids were younger. Those were magical times, middle childhood. Back in the days when my kids were innocent to the evil in this world. For the most part, I am happy that my kids are growing up. I am ready to let them go into adulthood, but sometimes I miss the wonder and excitement of the younger years. 

I felt a completely unexpected sense of loss. 

But then my son texted saying he was feeling sick. We had an employee call in because her mom had a heart attack. At that time, I wanted to be done with it all. I wanted the stress and responsibility of parenting and owning a business to be gone. 

But instead, we lost our luggage. 

I’m going to have to talk to the person in charge of magic here…

My gosh, there is always something to write about. Isn’t there?

Thankfully due to Paul’s persistence, our luggage was found. Frontier airlines was great to work with although our luggage ended up in Denver. They even reimbursed us our luggage fee for our inconvenience. 

Finally clean underwear! Woo hoo. 

Now maybe we can enjoy being at the happiest place on Earth!

Travel woes, just trying to get there

You may or may not have noticed that I took a week off from my travel series. I took time off from writing about traveling to actually travel. We decided to take one last family vacation to Florida before my oldest child graduates this year. The trip down to Florida and what happened at the end of the trip was so horrible that I am still upset about it. I decided to vent about my woes with you today and then write about the trip (which went great) in another post.  

Last week my mom, husband, 3 kids, and I flew out of Milwaukee with Delta to meet up with my brother Luke and his family in Orlando. We were not able to get a direct flight to Orlando and had an hour layover in Detroit. Our flight ended up being delayed in Milwaukee because someone over fueled the plane which caused us to exceed our weight limit. Eleven people needed to give up their seats due to this. They also had to get a large hose to remove some of the fuel. When we were finally able to board they still needed to de-ice the plane which took a long time because they ran out of de-icer. It took an hour before we were finally able to leave. At this point, the flight attendant assured us that if we had a connecting flight they were aware of our situation and would most likely wait for us.

We ended up landing a few minutes before our next flight was scheduled to depart. We ran across the airport as fast as we could and got to our gate two minutes after our flight was supposed to leave. We arrived to the gate just as our plane was leaving. They could not wait for us for 2 minutes!! Then we were herded into a long line of passengers from our plane. At least 20 people that were sitting near us missed their connecting flights. After waiting in line for what seemed like forever, we were able to talk to an agent that barely spoke English. He said that the only way he would be able to get all six of us to Orlando together was if we took a connecting flight to Boston. At this point, I was extremely angry. He wanted to direct us into Boston right around the time that the east coast was supposed to be hit by a blizzard. I pictured my family being stuck in the weather that we were trying to escape from. You didn’t want to hear the words that seeped out of my lips.

He booked us on the flight to Boston which we cancelled. Then he tried to get us all on the earliest flight available closest to Orlando. He had a few seats available but by the time he tried to type all of our names in the seats were gone. The best he could do was get an 8 PM flight to Tampa for my mom and Paul. He was able to get the kids and I on an 8 PM flight to Jacksonville. I would arrive in Jacksonville at 11 PM then have to somehow find a rental car to drive 2 1/2 hours in the middle of the night with 3 kids on roads I’ve never driven on to get to the house that we rented. You would think that they would agree to pay for the extra rental car to get us there. Nope, they told us that the flight was delayed due to weather and that they would not cover that additional cost. The delay was NOT weather related.

We noticed a half an hour later that another flight was leaving for Orlando. We decided to run across the airport to try to be on stand by for that flight. When we got there, they made the announcement that they were overbooked and were looking for volunteers to take another flight. That wasn’t going to work. We saw another flight leaving for Tampa in 30 minutes all the way across the airport. So once again, Paul and I ran as fast as we could with 3 children and a senior citizen with all of our carry on bags across the airport. When we got there, the Tampa flight was boarding. They told us that we needed to talk to customer service to be added to the stand by list. We went where they directed us to go and no one was there. When we found where we needed to go, we had to wait in line for 10 minutes to speak to someone. When we explained our situation, the woman told us that she needed to leave for her lunch break and directed us to talk to someone on the phone. While Paul was speaking to someone on the phone, my daughter called me in a panic to say that the flight was about ready to leave. We missed the opportunity to catch that flight.

Then we went across the airport again to get on stand by for the next flight to Orlando at 5:30 PM. It was at this time that I switched the Orlando rental car that I booked over to Tampa. I made several other troubleshooting and problem solving calls. I was so angry that I wanted to take my carry on backpack and slam it into the garbage bins to knock them over. I don’t think that I ever swore so much in my entire life. I don’t know what it is about yanking around people’s schedules (while feeling a total lack of control) that can turn reasonably sane people into raging bulls, but it does.

I will be totally honest with you right now, I am terrified of flying. Every little bit of turbulence, I agonize that the plane is crashing. I usually pop a couple of anxiety pills and sleep most of the flight arriving in a comatose state. Paul usually has to make sure that I get to wherever I need to be safely. I read everything that I could about flying to try to get over my fear. I read that planes don’t crash due to turbulence. Most planes crash during take off or landing. Thanks, now that scares the hell out of me too. I am afraid of dying. The thought of falling terrifies me. I feel trapped with a total loss of control while flying. My life is in the hands of some pilot that I don’t even know. You say that flying is safer than driving? Well, that scares me too. I spent a good deal of my life struggling with driving anxiety. I told Paul that I didn’t think that I could handle flying and then driving 2 1/2 hours after being awake 20 hours. He did everything that he could to make sure that the kids and I were on that next flight to Orlando. At the very last second, the person at the desk was able to get the kids and I on the flight. I told Paul to make sure that if they couldn’t get my luggage on that they would send it to Tampa. I had to fly totally alert and unmedicated ridden with anxiety.

Once we landed, I got the message that Paul and my mom were able to get an earlier flight to Tampa. They said that my luggage was in Orlando. My youngest two kids were fighting and touching the luggage carousel. I was just about going crazy, but I was there. My luggage never came out and I panicked. It turns out that they set some of the luggage to the side. Then, due to miscommunication, my brother did not know that he had to pick us up at the airport. We sat at the airport another hour waiting for him. Finally we got to our rental house after 10 PM. My mom and Paul ended up getting there at 11:30 PM.

It was a rough start to our vacation. I am glad that we were able to get there the same day. All of the stress could have been avoided if some idiot did not over fuel our plane. I don’t think I would have been quite as angry if we didn’t watch our connecting flight leave two minutes after the scheduled departure time without us.  Running back and forth across the airport with 3 kids and my mom was extremely stressful as well. I am thinking about writing Delta a letter. Unfortunately, our arrival back home was just as horrible and that had nothing to do with Delta. I will tell you about that next, this post is long enough already.