Seriously, we did. Such is the state of air travel in the US these days. US Airways called to let me know there was a two hour delay on the flight home from Newark to Las Vegas. We would have missed our connecting flight back into Portland that was scheduled to arrive at 2:00 am. Yes I meant to type am.

Ellie’s flight was to arrive at 7:00 am that same morning.

What came next was a mix of taut TV style suspense, car chases and a little Keystone Kops thrown in for good measure. I can tell you now, with great authority, that Marc has cojones the size of planetoids and that they are steel reinforced.

The original flight was supposed to leave at 8:44 pm from Newark. We were already on Manhattan when the call came about noon. This was not a case of poor planning on our part. I contacted the airline to find out what my options were. When I explained my problem to the operator she told me twice, or was it three times that my flight would get into Las Vegas at 1:30 am. I already knew that part. I asked her for a last time how that affected my connecting flight to Portland. She transferred me to a specialist, but could not give me a phone number to try if I was disconnected.

You can probably see where I am going with this. I was disconnected.

I called again and was given the chance to fly out of Newark at 2:33 pm. We should have had plenty of time to make it. Plenty of time except for the Free Tibet protest. Marc was so expert, so nimble at weaving between taxis and buses and clueless non native drivers, that he and Blackbird (his Prius has a name) seemed joined at the steering wheel. He cajoled, waved, cursed and railed for a few extra inches. It was a sight to behold. And then there was the Free Tibet protest. An immovable object came up against my darling unstoppable force. We conceded. It wasn’t likely to happen.

I called US Airways again. So sorry to report that we can’t get out of Manhattan this way right now. Any other flights you can find? La Guardia at 3:00. Hmm probably not given it’s a Friday and we would have to drive the length of the island again. Who knows who else might be protesting.

Marc mentions Philadelphia. Bingo, there is a flight from Philly to Portland at 6:00 pm. Never mind that it’s almost a hundred miles away. We’ll take it.

That my friends, was my first introduction to the New Jersey turnpike. Marc expertly weaves his way out of Manhattan through a wide open Lincoln tunnel and we say good bye to the island of Danielle’s dreams. We find ourselves amidst the hellish reality of toll roads. What sadist thought these up I’ll never know, but soon enough we are rolling down the road at lot’s o’ miles per hour along a stretch of Turnpike that has a minimum of 9 lanes on each side. OK, I’m exaggerating a little, but it was huge. Periodically it squeezes into the toll booth and all traffic comes to a standstill. We press on.

Near the end of the trip along the NJ turnpike I begin to see airplanes – several of them. It reminds me of seeing hawks lazily, but attentively, wheeling above looking for a meal. It’s a good sign, we are not far now. I start to relax but feel a little wary of what other traffic nonsense might be out there. Before too long though, we can see the city of Philadelphia across the river and I know we will make our flight.

Better still, it’s a direct flight that gets us into Portland at 8:30 pm without a single stop. Not 2:00 am the next morning after a Dawn of the Dead zombie shuffle through the Las Vegas airport. We shuttle to the hotel in Portland and drop where we lay. Ellie’s flight is delayed two hours till 9:00 am, but it’s ok, because we will pick her up and take good care with her after we rest.

It’s been a great trip. A chance for Danielle and I to reconnect in a positive fashion that allows for the adult she is becoming. But more on that later. It’s good to be home.

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