Last year CavWife set the wheels in motion. She was envious that I got to spend time with some of our best friends from Florida. With Greenville the site for this year’s GA, she believed she and the kids should travel with me and spend time with some of our friends.
We tried various permutations. But like Jerry to Babu, it was looking like the wheels were just spinning, not going anywhere. I was not excited about the prospect of driving across the country for General Assembly, heading north for vacation and then driving back to the AZ. Not restful at all, and I had a bad back experience in April. Thankfully we found a flight deal that was only slightly more expensive than if we just flew to the Northeast for vacation.
We would fly into Atlanta, rent a van to drive to Greenville and then return to Atlanta to fly into Newark and begin our vacation. Sounds great, right?
The kids couldn’t wait. They wanted to pack about a week ahead of time. We had to keep putting them off. That is always fun.
But the magic day arrived. I had much to do to prepare for that day: liturgy for the entirety of my time away, most of my sermon prep for the week I got back … and so on.
We had an afternoon flight out of town, so we had a good lunch at home before being driven to the airport by a friend. We had a short layover in Denver that concerned me. We had 30 minutes to get from one flight to another with 2 car seats and 4 kids. I was losing sleep over this.
And then our flight out was delayed. And delayed again. This wasn’t good. But we were assured that our flight would be held since it was the last flight out of Denver for Atlanta and 17 of us were making the connection. Okay.
Though we left late, the flight was essentially uneventful. Thankfully our departure gate was not far from our arrival gate in Denver. We even had time to go to the bathroom since that flight was delayed. Soon we were in the air for the relatively short flight to Atlanta.
Though “short” it got in around midnight Eastern time. Our kids were wiped out. I was wiped out. We had the car seats on a luggage CART, and the sign for the tram said no CARTS. I hate the airport at Atlanta. Great meal options, but I’ve had too many bad experiences in the airport there. I was beginning another one. We began our trail of tears toward baggage. It was like a ghost town as we hiked with 4 tired kids from the C terminal, watching the trams go by. Periodically the car seats would shift, pinching my fingers to add injury to insult.
The tunnel came to an end and the only option to get to baggage was ….. the tram.
I figured that by now all the baggage would be gone. I mean, it took us forever to walk it and our youngest moves slower than a slug in winter. But baggage was a complete madhouse. In that last stretch from the tram to baggage, CavWife got unsolicited advice about our daughter’s hair. Adoptive parents love that.
I got our 5 checked bags and 2 checked boxes (booster seats for the older kids) along with the our carry on and made the trek to ground transportation. I figured there was no way in the world I wanted to get a rental at midnight with 4 kids and try to find the hotel. Just easier to do that in the morning. The seats kept shifting and pinching, and sometimes coming completely off the luggage cart. What little patience I had left was disappearing. And we trekked into another mad house at ground transportation. 1 am and this place was mobbed. No one knew what was going one. Suddenly some driving asked where we were going (was he trying to show me mercy?). “That’s not my hotel, but I’ll take you.” So we hopped on, the only riders.
For about 15 seconds. Suddenly a bunch of other confused, impatient groups trying to get to other hotels were on the buss. We were the last ones off- and didn’t get into our room until 1:45 am. We were wiped.
But we needed to get up and get breakfast so we couldn’t really sleep in. And … two other families were going to meet up with us at the hotel. One was an old friend of ours and his wife (a newer friend). I had officiated their wedding about 5 years ago. They are preparing to adopt 2 boys from Uganda. I was looking forward to that. And there was a women with 2 adopted kids from the DRC. They were in the orphanage at the same time as my kids. Time for a reunion. I’m distracted and have to go get the car so we can check out in time.
My friend drove me to the terminal, and I realized why I was so glad I hadn’t tried to do this at 12:30 in the morning with my wife and 4 kids. The confirmation sheet said to go to the terminal. There was no booth at the terminal. I did see a sign for the Car Rental Center. I followed it, second guessing myself the whole time. I went to an elevated tram platform and rode for 2 stops. Surprisingly, everything went smoothly (I’ve had some very long, unsmooth experiences at rental car agencies). They gave us a newer Town & Country. The problem was, I was now in a new place. Leaving the terminal would simply be backtracking to the hotel. But I was someplace completely different, turned around and there was NO signage that helped me.
I ended up lost in East Point for about 30 minutes, increasingly frustrated because our checkout time was drawing very neigh. I called my friend about 5 times to get directions (I hate my GPS map function and didn’t know the address to the hotel anyway). It was not helpful, until I finally found the landmark I needed and was at the hotel in 5 minutes.
We packed up the van, which had a little less storage space than the one we own. But everything fit. But before heading to Greenville we had lunch with our friends. I needed a pastrami sandwich. And got one.
We said out goodbyes and hit the road later than anticipated. I had plans to attend the Ligonier Panel on Christology that afternoon. But the directions were easy: 2 minutes to 85 and stay on it until 185. I did not get lost. But we almost died twice due to total bonehead moves by other drivers- including a State Dept. of Transportation vehicle that cut off 2 lanes of traffic going 65+ mph while doing far less. We also got stuck in accident traffic. We arrived in Greenville as the rain started to come down in buckets, and an hour for me to check in and get to the Convention Center.
I got to the hotel just a few seconds after a busload of Masons checking in, slowly. The South is not known for speed and efficiency. Hospitality takes longer. I didn’t need hospitality. Finally checked in I brought my bag up, changed clothes and took care of bodily functions.
CavWife was going to drop me off and head to Flat Rock, NC to hang out with 3 of our friends and their kids. It seems nearly impossible to spend a few days apart without a fight first. So … we had one on the way to the Convention Center. But off I go into the rain to meet an old friend as they drove off into the storm.
I was at GA.