ATTN: I am still alive, despite the fact that I haven’t blogged since the middle of the summer. I am currently finishing some of my drafts, getting y’all caught up. Not only am I behind on blogs, I am also behind in edits! I finally finished the GoPro edit from the end of July. And here is the blog from my drafts over my Palm Beach, FL trip. The Edit and pictures are at the bottom. Enjoy 🙂
I apologize, I have not blogged as much as I thought I might this summer. I knew I was going to have a busy summer, which would provide exciting writing prompts for the blog, but I never thought I would be so that busy I wouldn’t have time to write about it. Not only have I not written anything about my summer, I am just now uploading summer pictures to Facebook. This literally requires 25 seconds of my day, and I didn’t even attempt to make an effort until now.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being busy, it gives me an excuse not to clean my room all summer, and to never unpack a suitcase. But there are times when I feel so many things are going on, that weeks and months become a blur and I have not been able to experience and fully enjoy each activity. It’s kind of like you, never really appreciate breathing oxygen until you have tried to hold your breath for as long as you can. It is a weird analogy, in simpler terms, these last two months I have been holding my breath, hoping that my last summer as a high school student will be full of excitement and remarkable opportunities, as long as I stay busy participating in multiple activities and events (holding my breath). As long as I hold my breath, summer will last longer, the sun tea will taste sweeter, and it will be a summer to remember. But I have been holding my breath for so long, I forgot that in order to appreciate air, and my ability to breathe, I have to slow down and take a deep breath. I have to slow down and appreciate my experiences. I have to unpack that suitcase, in order to appreciate packing it. Maybe my breathing analogy will register with some people, others probably will think I’m crazy. That’s okay. I’m just a little lightheaded. Get it?.. Okay, I’m done now.
Back to my original intent of this blog post. I had to type this before I forgot anymore details. If you know me, you know I am have a terrible memory. If I was a cartoon character, I would be Dory.
(Here is where my draft ended, and where I am picking back up, on December 19th.)
I’m not sure where I was going with the sentence I left off with five months ago, but here is the story of my trip to Palm Beach. While writing this, I focused on the bigger details that I could remember, so if you start to wonder why it is a little choppy, that’s why! Throughout the trip I ran into a lot of problems, or slipped on a lot of banana peels, if you will.
I had the opportunity to fly to Palm Beach to participate in a volleyball camp. It was an amazing experience and I am thankful I for my parents who made the possibility a reality.
I would like to write about how smooth and problem-free my trip was, but then it would not be an appropriate “Banana Peel” story. Everyone wants to have a good flying experience. Fast and efficient. I mean that’s why people choose to fly over drive anyway, right?
My connecting flight out of Cedar Rapids to Chicago was supposed to leave around 6:00 in the morning; however, there was a summer storm brewing and we finally left around 7:30. There was already little to no time to catch my flight from Chicago to Palm Beach, and the storm delay in Cedar Rapids made me miss my flight all together.
By the time I got to my assigned gate in O’Hare, the plane was already gone, and so was my checked luggage! Crazy right? My bag could catch the flight, but I couldn’t.
To tell you the truth, I had no idea what to do next. This had only been my fourth time flying and first time flying alone. I wandered around O’Hare for at least 30 minutes trying to call and find someone to help me get a different direct or connecting flight; meanwhile, my Mother was texting and calling me, which wasn’t the least bit helpful! It was chaotic.
More bad news awaited my arrival at the ticket desk. There were no more flights leaving for Palm Beach from Chicago, that day, but I could wait two hours for a connecting flight to Charlotte, NC in hopes of catching the plane that was to depart for Palm Beach later that afternoon.
“Okay, that should be fine,” I thought to myself. As long as I am able to make it to Palm Beach by the afternoon, I won’t miss my ride or any of the camp. By now, the same storm that had held up my flight in Cedar Rapids had made its way to Chicago, and IT COMPLETELY SHUT DOWN O’HARE. That’s right people. The same storm. Planes were stuck in the air, MY plane to be more precise, and planes were stuck on the ground. No one was to leave or land until notified. Forty-five minutes after we were supposed to have departed for Charlotte, the officials gave the “all clear” and our plane was allowed to land. It took another 45 minutes to unload and load all of the passengers.
I am reliving my anxiety while typing this.
On the flight to Charlotte I met a friend who was in the same situation as me. We had both missed out flight from Chicago to PBI (Palm Beach International) and, Spoiler Alert, we were both about to miss our second flight to PBI (in Charlotte) because of the hold up back in Chicago.
Also on this flight, God had placed an angel next to me. He was a plane flying guru, and he helped my friend and I track our luggage as well as the next plane we were supposed to catch with his handy dandy first class wifi. If you are reading this David, thank you for all of your help!! He is also the one in my GoPro edit that helps me stow my carry-on! 🙂
My new flying friend and I landed late in Charlotte, and missed our second flight of the day.
We weren’t sure if there was another flight out to PBI, and we had come up with a Plan C. Plan A was what was supposed to happen, and B was already in the air, headed to PBI. In order to get to get to our destination in a timely fashion, before midnight was the goal, we were going to catch the first flight out of Charlotte to Ft. Lauderdale, Uber up to Boca Raton, and use her car to get to her other car at the airport. I can’t remember the exact Plan C, but we were trying to get out of Charlotte and down to Florida asap, and it involved flying somewhere, ubering from there, and getting her car somewhere.
For those of you who think I’m a little coo coo for agreeing to hop in a car with a stranger, I have a good-people-gauge. She was a good egg.
We wait in line for 20 minutes to find out there was only one ticket left to Ft. Lauderdale. I told Alisa she could have it because I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere without her anyway.
Another 30 seconds had passed and that last seat had gone to the creepily dressed man next to us. (I kid you not he was in some sort of Mad Hatter costume.) We were now on Plan D. The next flight out to PBI was supposed to leave 8 hours from what ever time it was at that moment, and it was our only choice.
The next 8 hours was a blur. We had split up to kill time and all I remember doing is charging my phone for two hours, eating, and trying to find the cleanliest way to use the bathroom while I locked my carry-on, pillow, purse, and blanket in the 5 by 2.5 foot stall with me. I also found a corner to take a nap in. It was some time around 9:00 p.m. and we were just starting to load the plane. The plane was loaded and guess what? We were having engine problems. I mean I would rather have problems on the ground than in the air, but no problems would have been preferred.
It was 11:00 by the time we landed and Alisa and I were looking for our checked luggage that had supposedly arrived earlier that morning on our original flight. It took awhile, but we finally found it in a locked room.
Thoughts on my first time flying alone:
It was cool going places I had never been to before, but the entire day had been an exhausting mess.
THANK GOD for helpful people. (David and Alisa)
Always be prepared for to be stuck in an airport all day. (Maybe even all night.)
Palm Beach Volleyball Camp
Out of all of the volleyball camps I have gone to, the four day camp at Palm Beach Atlantic University has been the best. It was very well ran, well organized, and it had a great coaching staff. It was also held a very competitive atmosphere, along with a lot of games and scrimmaging. I also enjoyed waking up and starting each day with their morning devotionals!
At the camp, all the campers were divided into competitive teams. These teams competed in drills, games, and scrimmages together. In the final tournament, my team, Team Beard, (our coach, James, had a fluffy beard) won the championship! The last day of camp there was an All Star game and an All Tournament Team. I had the pleasure of participating in both.
All in all, I was able to make a lot of friends from all around the country: Alaska, New York, New Jersey, Viginia, Colorado, you name it, stay on a gorgeous campus, and compete in high level competition volleyball! It was fantastic.
My favorite day of camp was the last day. Definitely not because I had to come home, but because a couple of the PBA Alumni agreed to take a touristy Iowan girl to see the ocean for the first time in 5 years. Trust me, I had no problem getting up at 5:00 a.m. to watch the sunrise and swim in the warm, blue, salty waters of the Atlantic. I couldn’t wipe the stupid smile off my face, I was so happy. It was without a doubt one of the best days of my Senior Summer. (Thank you Christina and Rachel!)
If you thought you had heard the end of my horrifying flying experience, think again.
We were on our way to the airport after the conclusion of camp, when passed an excessive amount of fire trucks and cop cars, even a news reporting van. I didn’t think much of it. Later, I found out what the problem had been… when I overheard a lady’s conversation on the phone. That sounds bad, I know. Apparently there had been a gas leak on one of the planes and the passengers had to exit using the evacuation slide. So there was that. Just an hour before my plane was supposed to leave, a plane of the same airline had an extreme malfunction.
We left Palm Beach and my plane was about 30 minutes away from Chicago when the pilot informed us of, you will never guess, ANOTHER STORM! Wowza didn’t see that one coming. Chicago O’Hare had shut down and wasn’t allowing any planes to land or take off due to the storm. So we began circling, airborne. After almost an hour of circling, we were then informed that we were about to run out of gas and we needed to fly to Indianapolis to fuel up. Get this, we were in the air so long, a person ACTUALLY tried smoking in the plane’s bathroom. At this point, I wasn’t even phased. I accepted the fact that I had missed my flight home to Cedar Rapids and that I wasn’t going home until the next day.
It was 11:00 when we landed in Indy and we were not allowed off the plane. Some 300 passengers sat on our plane for over an hour while they fueled up the plane and waited out the storm in Chicago.
I spotted an open seat, next to one of my friends from camp, and figured, minds well pass time sitting next to somebody I know. I moved up to sit by my friend Rachel, leaving most of my stuff in back in my assigned seat. This was probably the biggest mistake I made on the trip home. Pro flying tip #68 always keep your stuff with you! Eventually we were both hungry and I went to the back of the plane to see if they would give us any food. We had been on the same plane for over five hours and the flight attendant handed me the very last snack box. I envisioned our situation as a mild case of the show “Survivor” or “Flight 29 Down.”
Eventually, we were allowed off the plane to use the bathroom and vending machines in the Indianapolis airport. The lady that tried smoking while we were airborne managed to get her smoke in, in the airport bathroom. Classy. Rachel and I messed around on the flat escalators and headed back to the plane to reload.
On the way back from Chicago, I had fallen asleep next to Rachel and I woke up to major turbulence. I found half of the contents of my purse had fallen out and it was rolling around all over the floor. In hindsight, this is probably when my beats had gotten stolen. I was groggy and didn’t think to check to make sure everything was still in my bag.
We landed, quickly packed up our stuff, and got off the plane. I said goodbye to Rachel who had to catch a different flight home to Dallas, and I went to find food. The line to McDonalds’s was about 200 people deep, so I settled for a 20$ meal from Starbucks, also purchasing my breakfast that I was going to eat in 4 hours. After eating, I got my ticket situation figured out and was on standby for the next flight to Cedar Rapids which was due to depart at 9:00 a.m. The time was somewhere around 2:00 in the morning.
As I walked through Chicago O’Hare I quickly noticed that I was not the only one stranded for the night. There were cots everywhere, literally everywhere. People were sleeping on benches and using blankets as coats. It was quite the sight. Luckily, I didn’t have to sleep on a cold bench or wait in a line of 100 for a cot.
Remember up above, under “Thoughts on first time flying alone,” how I said “Always be prepared for to be stuck in an airport all day. (Maybe even all night.)?” Well I actually prepared for this when I had started packing the night before. I had all of my bathroom necessities: toothbrush, contact case, face wash, washcloth, floss, etc. stowed away in my carry on along with a pillow and blanket. I got ready in the bathroom and headed over to the gate my plane was to depart from the next morning.
I fell asleep around 3:00 a.m. and woke up around 6:00 a.m. I packed up my stuff, found a restroom, and then proceeded to go wait in line for my favorite popcorn store, Garrett’s, to open. Definitely a great life decision if I ever made one in those last 24 hours.
It was after I had eaten breakfast that I realized I did not have my wireless beats headphones. I about cried. I had had it with the bad experiences and this finally broke me. I packed up all of my important stuff and left my pillow blanket to cover my carry-on, while I set off to find help and figure out what to do. Probably not the best decision, leaving my bag unattended, considering I had just lost an item of mine, but the lighter my load, the quicker I could move. I asked a couple desks and they all told me I needed to go downstairs, that is, leave the checked security area. I tried to hold in the tears. My plane was supposed to leave at 9:00 and at the time was 7:40. Somehow, I needed to leave the secure area, find the Lost and Found area, and get back in time to board my plane at 8:30. I was hysterical, but I needed to find my beats. I grabbed my purse and set off to find the Lost and Found. Meanwhile, my stuff was still sitting alone in a corner. (You are also not supposed to leave your stuff unattended or it will be confiscated by security.) So I also had that to worry about.
By the time I get to the luggage claim, the tears are streaming down my face. I see a “Lost Luggage” sign and under it I find a stagnant line, 45 people deep. I went to the back of the line. A couple people asked if I was okay and I told them what I needed and they knew as much as I did. Nothing. Finally, I asked someone to hold my spot while I went to ask one of the workers if I was in the right place. I was in the wrong line. Good news and bad news. I thank the kind people for holding my spot and walk to the other end of the long hallway where I found the lost, Lost and Found. Ironic. More bad news, it was 7:55 and the L&F didn’t open until 8:00. More tears. All I wanted at this point was to be home, sleeping in my bed, with all my stuff. I was surprised I held my emotions together this long to be honest.
After asking a different desk, twice, where the L&F employee was, a woman comes out at 8:03. Through my tears and shaky voice, I tell her my situation. In a thick accent she ties to calm me by saying, “It’s okay hunny, they just headphones, not important, we find them it’s okay.” This is not comforting but her attempt was appreciated. I filed a report and went back upstairs to go through security. Thank God, for TSA Pre-check. I was able to get through Chicago’s security in less than 10 minutes. That is UNHEARD of, people. I speed walk back to my stuff hiding in the corner. It is still there, and my plane had not boarded yet. Everything was good except for the fact that I did not have my headphones.
My flight to Cedar Rapids finally arrived and I had not yet received a call from the lady with the thick accent. I made he decision to give up my standby seat on the 9:00 flight. I HAD to wait and see if my headphones had made it back. I didn’t have high hopes that they actually did, but I had to do everything in my power to find out, even if it meant waiting another two hours for the next flight to Cedar Rapids.
Over the two hour wait, I got more food, tried bubble tea (it was disgusting) and took another visit to the L&F. Nothing. Nothing, Nothing, Nothing. Not a single thing. That was when I knew they were gone. So, at this very moment, some crook is listening to their music through my headphones. You’re welcome, I guess.
I board the flight the last flight to Cedar Rapids from Chicago and I was thankful to be going home. Whatever happened over the last four days didn’t matter, because I was finally getting back to my normal. The last thing I forgot was my friend Hailey’s, face in the pocket of the seat in front of me, when we landed in Cedar Rapids.
So there’s the story I put off writing about for over 5 months. My anxiety level at the moment reminds me why I couldn’t do it for so long. I have an empty pit in my stomach. Despite everything that happened, I am extremely thankful for the opportunity enabled through God and my parents, to visit such an amazing school. I am also thankful for the lifelong memories that will never escape me, good and bad.
Tips for flying:
This is advice I would have liked to have had, prior to my experience, and also some things I did that worked for me. These are in no specific order.
- Have a “electronic bag.” This bag should be able to be zipped or closed and be small enough to fit in your purse/personal item but big enough to hold all of your charging cables, portable chargers, phone, etc. It comes in handy and keeps your bag organized.
- Pack an empty water bottle and snacks. Getting stuck in an airport is everyone’s worst nightmare, paying the expensive airport prices for food and drink is everyone’s second worst nightmare. Stay one step ahead and save a few bucks. You can even stash your snacks inside your empty water bottle to save space.
- Pack your toilet trees inside your carry-on/personal item. If you do not have a direct flight, you are at risk of being held at the mercy of the airlines. They have no mercy.
- Bring a pillow and a blanket on the plane with you. Fun fact and something I found out along the way is they do not count it against you. What I mean by this is, you do not have to break your carry-on’s zipper because you tried to fit your pillow in there. Simply put your blanket in your pillow case and carry it on the plane with you.
- Bring a second pillow case. If you are a germaphobe like me, and you bring your pillow with you through security, the airport, and on the plane, when you get to wherever you’re going you want to change that puppy before you sleep on it again, trust me.
- Bring a debit card. This sounds weird but planes typically only accept cards and almost never cash.
Some of these are going to get a bit obvious
- Bring something to do. No, not something on your phone. Bring a book, magazine, miniature deck of cards (Rachel and I played trash with cards on the way to Indy), something! You will want to be on your phone the entire plane ride and before you know it you’re out of battery and have nowhere to charge your phone.
- Bring a portable charger. Those little outlets under the seats at your gate will never work, I am convinced. It is simply a necessity. Especially if you’re the person who brought the “things to do” on your phone.
- Bring a good attitude. Such an easy thing to bring, but a lot of passengers forget it at home. I’m serious people. If you have read my entire post up to this point. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT. I will not put up with anyone who is rude towards another passenger or airport employee. When I spent the night in Chicago there were over 2000 people who were stuck there. NOBODY WANTED TO BE THERE. I get it. But having a bad attitude will not fix yours or others situations. Yelling at the airport employee will not fix the situation, it will only cause others to become upset. A bad attitude is an infectious disease and only you have the cure to stop it. Also, please remember that while flying, you are not entitled to anything, not even that window speat. The people that work at the airport work there because they need to. Not because they get paid the extra bucks to put up with your grumpy, think I’m entitled to everything, ass. Please excuse my language.
That pretty much sums up my experience and the lessons learned during it! As much as I struggled throughout the trip, I had a fantastic time. Traveling new places, meeting new friends, and experiencing the adrenaline rush of running to your gate to catch the plane was SO. MUCH. FUN. I will never forget this trip, or the people that helped me through it.
So I did this thing where I took my friends face with me just for the heck of it! I thought it turned out to be hilarious! I accidentally left her face on my last flight home.
Here is a GoPro edit I made that doesn’t even begin to sum up this crazy experience.