Yesterday, the final seconds of our year-long countdown finally ticked off the clock. We boarded a plane for our return trip west. When we visited last year we thought it might be the only chance we'd have to give the boys an extended look at the other side of our country. But once we hiked through the Grand Tetons and explored the mysteries of Yellowstone, and after coming nose to nose with grizzlies, moose, and bison (which, by the way, we now know are much more dangerous than the overweight, slumbering prairie giants we thought they were), we knew we'd have to return. We are grateful to God that return journey began today.
We knew the first day would be a long one. It's not easy to fly across the United States. I kept reminding myself, though, it's a whole lot easier than driving across it - especially with 6 and 8 year old boys.
When we arrived at the Richmond airport, we discovered our flight to Chicago was delayed 15 minutes. Our connection in Chicago was already going to require us to hustle once we got there, so those 15 minutes added a little more pressure than a little block of time like that really needs to. When we got to Chicago I think the pilot was signing autographs or conducting exit interviews at the gate. It took forever to get off the plane.
Finally off, we discovered we'd have to take a shuttle to Concourse C where our plane to Bozeman was waiting - so we hoped. When I heard shuttle, and considering I was in the Chicago airport, I imagined one of those high-speed Japanese bullet trains taking us to our destination. What we got was a sign that said average wait time 15 minutes. The sign didn't lie, and what we eventually climbed aboard was far more church bus than supersonic.
When we got to our Concourse, we had about 10 minutes before our plane's scheduled take off. Given that Concourse C was about as long and congested as I-95, I wasn't optimistic. Not quite panicked, but hardly optimistic. Of course, this would be the time Elliott would want to ride the moving walkways that hustle you along the Concourse at the pace of, well, overweight slumbering prairie giants. I finally managed to convince everyone to do our best sprint, though, bags and cameras and oversized stuffed animals and all.
We made it. Not a second to spare. Our layover in Chicago turned into some sick cardio workout that would put anything at your local gym to shame. But we made it.
One indirect consequence of the non-layover layover. The boys didn't get to take bathroom breaks. Given that our flight to Bozeman was nearly 3 hours, that meant using the airplane bathrooms. I need to remind you - or maybe you're hearing this for the first time - I'm not a big fan of flying. At all. And although I've flown a few dozen times, never once have I stood up on a moving airplane, let alone visit the airplane facilities. As soon as my butt hits my plane seat and that seatbelt gets latched - that is where I stay. At all times. I don't care what the overhead lights and signs say. But that all changed yesterday as I escorted the boys to the 30,000 feet in the air version of a mens room. I was brave, for them. But I assure you not brave enough to experiment with the mens room myself.
We made it to Bozeman. We are here. When we got off the plane Katie tried to take a picture of the boys and her camera wouldn't power up. Talk about a panic setting in that made our Chicago stress feel like a Yoga session. Fortunately, it was only a dead battery. I really had some images of a Cartwrightsgowest Part 2 turning into this summer's hit horror flick. But all is good.
Anxious to begin exploring Yellowstone, where I've no doubt the adventures will continue.
The View From Our Gardiner Hotel