Oh the weather outside is frightful

Trip Start Dec 12, 2008
Trip End Dec 23, 2008

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Home Sweet Home

Flag of United States  , Illinois
Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Or maybe the title for this post should be "how to spend 10 hours at O'hare airport" :)

It took us more than 24 hours to get home but we made it!    Kate's first flight was Monday morning so we went to the airport with her even though ours wasn't until that night.   Then we had a layover in Ft Lauderdale and had an early flight to Chicago on Tuesday morning.   Chicago was already experiencing delays and our flight came in a bit later than expected but around 9 am.  There was a flight leaving for Bloomington that morning that had been delayed so we ran to that gate but it had pushed away from the gate, our real flight wasn't supposed to be until 3:15 pm.   So we walked around O'hare, read, ate, people-watched, and listened to the bad weather reports all day.  Through the course of the day there were flights delayed and cancelled and we knew that we were so close to home and had lots of options to get home if our flight got cancelled.   By 5 pm we learned that there were many, many flights that were waiting either for a flight crew or a plane.  There were many planes stuck out in the taxi area waiting for an empty slot to drop off passengers and crew.  There were empty planes waiting at the gates for those same crew members that were stuck in the taxi area.  So the gate areas had 3 or 4 sets of passengers from different flights waiting because things were so backed up.   Our flight to Bloomington was waiting on a stewardess which is a joke because that flight is so short that they don't really do anything but it is legally required.   There were passengers "auditioning" for the stewardess position by doing the safety demonstration in the waiting area.  That was quite funny.   Anyway, the pilot and co-pilot were standing at the gate counter helping the customer service people appease the stranded passengers so it was funny.   Ended up that our flight to Bloomington was the only one that didn't get cancelled that afternoon/evening.  We got on the plane around 6:30 and it had to be de-iced and then wait for a turn to go to the runway and then wait for a turn to take off.  We sat on the plane for close to 2 hours without taking off.  Our stewardess was so funny and tried to make everyone comfortable.  I'm sure she had a rough day since she had just done the same thing for hours on a different flight that couldn't make it to a gate.   The flight was very short and then the pilot drove around the runways at Bloomington for quite a bit which was strange.  The plane slid a lot which I had never experienced before.   I think we got in around 9:30 and had expected to get there at 4:05 so 5 hours late.   Heather came and got us because we didn't have coats and our car was so iced over that it would have taken too long to clean off.  Our road and driveway are like an ice rink!   It was so nice to be home again even though it is so cold and nasty outside.

So it wasn't stressful for us but  I witnessed so many people being told that there flights were cancelled and then heard them calling loved ones and explaining that they were stuck at O'hare and the earliest they could get out would be Thursday or Friday because of the Christmas rush.  They were far from home (sometimes even in the wrong country) and wouldn't make it home for Christmas.   Makes me thankful to be home now and thinking of people who are stranded.   Sitting at the airport so long we saw all sorts of people and it is fascinating to see some things and talk to some of them.   I really enjoyed the people watching.   I have never seen that many people in an airport before and the American Airlines team was trying to be as upbeat as possible, I have to hand it to them.   It was amazing how many people had their dogs at the airport too and made us wonder how the owners have the dogs relieve themselves when they can't ever go outside.   We learned the answer for one of those owners a little later on and couldn't stop laughing for quite awhile after that.  

That's the end of the journey!  Costa Rica is probably the cheapest place that we have ever travelled.  I wish that I knew the Spanish language so that I could have communicated with the locals, it would have been very frustrating without Kate there.   San Jose is pretty much a typical big city and I agree with the guide book, travellers should move on to the scenic areas as soon as they can and not spend much time in San Jose unless they have business there (or Kate, ha).   Arenal was a beautiful area with a volcano and lots of greenery.  Monteverde was a cloud forest with a jungle feel.   And Brasilito was a little town close to a great beach.    Costa Rica is bigger than I had originally thought and has many more beautiful areas to explore, there was no way to hit them all on this trip.  Kate is definitely getting the true cultural experience there. 

We really had a great time and can now check another country off of our list of places to go.    We are thankful for safe travels, fun times, and the time we got to spend with Kate.   We got to see her school and classroom so now we can envision her at work now!    Now it's time to unpack, wrap presents, and download pictures.   Oh, and go to the grocery store too!    It's hard to believe that it's Christmas in 1 day.  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  
Janna and Jason
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