Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Who's down with OKC?

Time for installment #2 of my Four Trips in Four Months series!

(Apologies for the wonky formatting;
I don't have the mental energy to fight with this blog post.)

This trip started out as a SUPER-SECRET adventure. I began planning it early in 2014 in conjunction with a whack of dear friends from FSU who have all managed to congregate in close proximity to one another. I mapped out the trip without Bryn knowing and kept it a secret until the morning we departed!

I had done my best to keep Bryn totally confused about this trip. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he'd been given the following tidbits of information prior to our departure:
  • We are not leaving the US
  • We are going somewhere we've never been before
  • We will be visiting multiple destinations: we arrive and depart from different airports
  • We are flying to and from our initial and final destinations
I made a little worksheet to have Bryn fill in his travel predictions and gave it to him a few days before we departed. Surprisingly, he got most of the information right! He had things flipped around (SPOILER ALERT: we went to OKC first and flew home from Dallas/Ft. Worth) but he was, for the most part, right on the money. He later told me that the "number of friends/family" question gave it away! Ah well. I'd been doing my best leading up to the trip to make him think we were going on a sexy cruise to some hot destination in the Caribbean. I guess it's a good thing that I'm not totally awesome at keeping secrets from my special man friend?

Bryn's pre-trip predictions

This trip had been a beacon of hope and excitement for me for many reasons for several months as the details came together. First of all, my life is pretty darn lonely on a daily basis. Yes, I have Trudy. Yes, I have dear friends and family only a phone call/Google Hangout/FB post away, but otherwise, I'm pretty much on my own with Bryn. I planned this trip to reunite and reconnect with some of my (our) favourite people in the entire universe. Second, Bryn and I have not been on a trip that didn't involve an academic conference or a whack of family visiting since our honeymoon seven years ago. We were in need of a vacation! And, third, now that we are a family, it's time to start doing some real family vacationing!

Now, time to share all of the super-secrets!

June 11, 2014

We woke up bright and early, grabbed our bags (I'd packed Bryn's bag for him the night before), and hopped on the metro to the airport. I gave Bryn his first clue, which he read with great excitement:

Today we fly from here to there to THERE, we’re on the go!

Up soon, a jaunt from way down south to where the peaches grow.

So, can you guess? You have a clue… some info I will tell:

We’re flying first from MIA up north to ___________!

ATL! Our first day of travel involved two flights, so I gave him another clue right away.

Our second flight will take us to the place we’re going to stay.

A far off land with several folks… but who? I will not say.

I’ve heard it is a windy state with wavin’ wheat to see.

Our second flight departs from ATL to ________!

OKC! OKC! As soon as the cat was out of the bag, a flood of text messages were sent to let everybody know we were on our way. It was great to finally have Bryn in on the first part of the super secret trip and to watch him get so excited about the folks we were going to see. Did I mention I love surprises? Facilitating things like this make me feel so alive.

It was an easy day of traveling. Our seasoned flyer, Trudy, was a superstar. We flew Delta for both of these flights and were really amazed with the high quality of service. They insisted that we pre-board and were wonderfully helpful and accommodating. Very impressed, Delta. 

We landed in OKC in the early afternoon. It had been a perfect day... and then I had to go and lose my wedding and engagement rings. Devastated. Stupid me. Just before getting our bags at the OKC airport, I stopped in the bathroom to change Trudy and use the facilities. I was washing my hands and stupidly decided to take my rings off. In the chaos and hubbub, I forgot about them for a split second and exited the bathroom. When I came back, gone-zo. Nothing. Airport police were contacted. I asked everyone I could find. I've filed a claim through my renter's insurance. Though I'm 99.9% certain I'll never get my original rings back, I will get something to help me replace them. I've got a lovely ring I inherited from my Grandma Bracken and I think I'll use the claim money to get a band made to match. Silver lining, I guess?

June 12-13, 2014

We stayed with two dear friends who graciously put us up for the first few days of the trip. It was an EPIC FSU reunion full of MORE surprises, even for me! A few special guests joined the party and made it one of the most memorable vacations I've ever had.

We were all together for Sarah and Bruce's 11th wedding anniversary!
Congrats, guys. What a truly wonderful couple.

Trudy had a blast meeting some new folks and reconnecting with some of the people she'd met last year at SMT (music theory nerd fest) in North Carolina.

June 14, 2014

The surprises kept coming! Bryn learned on the Saturday morning of our trip that OKC wasn't the only stop on our journey. Poor guy - I gave him this clue early in the morning. Neither of us were very awake and we were quite exhausted from a few consecutive early mornings with a baby who was still on Eastern Time. I promise he was a lot more excited about our next stop than this video suggests :

Our time in OKC is quickly coming to an end.

How lovely it has been to spend some time with such good friends.

Now, what could make this trip of ours an even greater thrill?

How ‘bout a car ride south to TEXAS… first to _________________________!

We got a ride out to the OKC airport (thanks, Rob!) and picked up a rental car. We drove from OKC down to Stephenville, TX to reunite with some friends (the "he" of the couple taught with Bryn at Ithaca College two years ago.) They had their little boy four days before Trudy was born. 

Clearly, the purpose of this stop on our trip was to discuss the dowry and formalize an arranged marriage between our 10-month-olds.

June 15-16, 2014

Our time in Stephenville was amazing. Our friends were great hosts and it was a real treat to connect with friends who were going through the same baby-driven life transformation that we were.

We ate great food (most cooked by our talented and gracious hosts), traveled to Dinosaur Valley State Park, played board games, talked about being parents, and toured Tarleton State University.

I think this might have been Trudy's favourite stop along the way!

Bryn and Troy were together to celebrate their first Father's (Fathers'?) Day(s?) together. And Trudy and Winton got to know each other, which was awesome.

We're thinking a June 2033 wedding sounds nice.

While we'd been on the road at this point for almost six days, the surprises were not yet over!

June 17, 2014

Bryn had figured out at this point that our final destination was Fort Worth. I neglected to give him the last clue, which I think I had originally intended to give to him at the same time as the Stephenville, TX clue.
Oops. Here it is:

A few days there: we’ll spend with Winton, Steph, and Troy, how great!
A favourite friend may too pop by, he lives in the same state.

The day before we fly back home, we’ll have one last “hurray.”

Our final stop: ________________, great for an old time ‘Nole soiree!

In the end, the "favorite friend" (a certain cellist) was not able to come up for a visit. Next time!

We left Stephenville and made the short drive to Fort Worth where we found our dear chum Marty. He put us up for a night, fed and entertained us, and we hung out with a few other good friends.

June 18, 2011

We flew home from DFW to MIA on a later flight than originally planned. I got a text at 6am that morning that our first flight (to Charlotte) was delayed, making it impossible for us to catch our connecting flight. I called and re-booked us on flights that us into Miami only a few hours later than originally planned.

We drove our rental car back to the DFW airport and found some breakfast in the airport. We boarded our flight to Charlotte. As we've always done, right before getting on the plane we handed the gate agent our "gate check"-tagged stroller and car seat. When we arrived in Charlotte, our items weren't there. We were informed that they weren't "in the belly of the plane." Huh? How did that happen? And if they weren't here, where the heck were they? After some frantic, moderately-heated exchanges between me, Bryn, and several completely unhelpful airline employees, we were told to keep going, catch our final plane to Miami, and file a claim there. Ridiculous. We got to Miami, filed our claim, and were given a loaner car seat so we could safely get Trudy home. 

Our trip home involved an American flight followed by a US Airways flight. Apart from the luggage going missing, both companies offered lackluster service. We weren't allowed to pre-board with our tiny human and all of the employees seemed unhappy.

If you have the choice, fly Delta.

Our stroller and carseat arrived three days after we did. They went to Newark, NJ. No one knows why.

I have since written a letter requesting that the airline pays for our cab fare home. If they hadn't lost our stuff, we would have taken public transit. 


All of you--the wonderful folks we saw along the way--thank you for your hospitality and kindness. You are lovely human beings. Thank you for welcoming us into your homes and your hearts. Thank you for being a part of our lives. Please, even if we can't be together all of the time, let's make the most of the times we can (as we did on this trip!) and let's try to be together at least once every few years. All of you--you are amazing people. Successful, kind, funny, smart, interesting, inspiring!. I have nothing but love for each and every one of you. Please come visit us in Miami. You are always welcome!

Our tiny human was a superstar traveler on this trip. There were a few early mornings and a few fussy moments, but Trudy was great for the vast majority of our adventure. It was fun to see her explore new places and to meet people who both Bryn and I hold so dear.

So, tell me Trudy, what did you think of the trip?

That's two trips in two months... two more summer months remain and two more trips to go! Our next journey takes us up to the motherland in a little over a week. We'll be hitting a whack of cities in two provinces, attending a Rivington (my Mom's side) family wedding, and catching up with as many folks as we can (including 40+ Hughes, George, and Rivington relatives!)


Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing the family here, and you're welcome for the ride to the airport.

laurie and family. said...

can't wait to see you and meet trudy!!

Tonia kalra said...

All palaces are very interesting,and i hope you get a lot of enjoy.