We woke at 5 AM, groggy but motivated, pulled on our clothes, brushed our teeth, put Silas's and Eden's socks and shoes on them in the dark, and zipped our suitcases closed. By 5:30, Kaia Joye, Ben, the kids and I were driving through the parking garage, headed to Denver -- right on track. The past two days had been sparkling and clear -- blue skies against the snow.
What we didn't know until we pulled out of the garage is that it had snowed at least three inches while we slept and it was still, in the dark, coming down. We had timed the trip with enough wiggle room to fill up the gas tank, but not much more. Ben crept down the hill to the highway as ploughs roared up the road in the opposite direction, and we pulled onto the snowy highway.
As we accelerated on the dark snowy road, I heard myself make all sorts of comments from the back seat: "let's go slowly!" "ooh, this isn't ploughed!" "we should probably slow down" (the "we" seemed less critical) "I don't think you should pass the plough" "ooh! we are CLOSE to that huge truck!" Finally (thankfully) I practiced the ultimate discipline of silence, telling myself that Ben knew everything I knew and didn't want to kill all of us either. Though in my silence I did imagine, several times, our car spinning out of control, all five of us dying, and how sad my parents would be.
Each time Ben clicked on the brights, we saw how hard it was snowing. But on Ben flew, steadily. Our little Hyundai's engine revved up the hills, and we kept climbing.
At one point, Eden insisted on a bathroom break and miraculously, a sign for Starbucks appeared. So we stopped and found that what looked like a dusting of snow across the parking lot was actually a sheet of ice. Oh, the highway. Kaia Joye and I just laughed, the only possible response.
On the other side of the mountain, the snow stopped, the roads dried, and we hit full speed. The last 17 miles of the trip, Eden, again, begged for a bathroom. We finally sailed into Budget to return the car about 45 minutes before our plane was scheduled to leave. While Eden was in the bathroom, the rental bus left, which left us at the curb for another 10 minutes. Finally at the airport, we ran to the ticket desk with three giant bags, two booster seats, the kids and our carry-on's, then to far away security, where no one would bump us to the front of the line. Eden and I finished first, since Kaia Joye's bag had two cans of split pea soup in it, and Silas's bag with a DVD player in it also had to be re-scanned. Lugging my computer bag, Eden and her hard-handled backpack, I ran to the train, where I sat and waited through three slow stops, then ran, sweating in wool, to the gate, Eden crying now because I'd held her hand as she'd stepped off of the moving sidewalk. I ran up to the desk, panting as I explained Ben had no boarding group assigned to his ticket. Just as he handed back a fresh boarding pass, Ben, Silas, and KJ careened around the corner, huffing.
We were flying Southwest, which means no assigned seats, which means arriving dead last with two children under five to a full flight guarantees no seats together. But with a two and four year old, splitting up isn't really an option. What was astounding is that everyone sat and watched us struggle: the three flight attendants were sarcastic and abrasive, no help, and surprisingly, *no* one offered up their seats to help. So finally, with the flight attendants breathing down our necks, we sat Silas and Eden *ALONE*, me in front of them, Ben ten rows back, and KJ 10 forward.
Just as we were about to start moving, Eden, who often decides she's scared of taking off, asked to sit in my lap. I reached back, unbuckled her belt, and whisked her into my lap just as the plane started to move. Immediately, Cruela Devil, the flight attendant, was in the aisle. "What are you doing? We canNOT have this many people in a row." Then loudly with disdain, "We have to stop the plane!" I tried to argue, then whispered to Eden and convinced her quickly to buckle back into her own seat. The other flight attendant yelled from the front, "What's the Problem? Do we have to stop moving??" I saw Kaia Joye's eyes laughing over her seat and turned to see Ben shaking his head, too.
Needless to say, the plane took off and we now are home. We ate the split pea soup for lunch and are waiting for the cable guy. Whew.