Sabbatical Day 35: Trip Home to Oregon, Exciting

Sorry for the delay. I was drained after a 22-hour stress-filled adventure. Sorry for typos and I just wrote and published.

I started Friday just before 7ish in the apartment. It was my last morning living there. I got up and pulled the sheets, and put them in the hamper. I showered and dressed. I then wrote the blog while running one last load of laundry. I took the extra nice butter, eggs, cheeses, and meat I never finished and put them in a paper bag and but outside near the street. “Free Food–Moving” sign was put on my slightly ripped Zabar bag. I washed the one glass I used the last month and put it away. I cleaned up a bit and tied all the bags. I emailed the apartment manager that I was leaving and left the “Cleaning Invoice” form filled out on the counter.

I put the key away as directed before and left the apartment for what is likely the last time.

I called an Uber that drove right by me, and that was when I finally walked 1/2 block to him about my luggage, but it all fit without issue. This would be a pattern for the day.

I then had all the luggage staked on the wheelchair. I went through security one last time, and the security folks all wished me safe travels. Susie was still in bed and not dressed when I got there. Susie was dressed soon, wearing her best sweater and her sweater coat with her nice leather hat. The staff members stopped by to wish us the best.

The official exit wheelchair, following the strange pattern for this day, was early, and we soon were on our way out. I was quickly handed a wrapped peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple sauce, pudding, and juice containers too. This was Susie’s lunch.

Kat had asked to see Susie as she left, and we managed to get Kat in the hospital’s front door to chat with Susie. While she did that, I had to find the car service.

I had ordered a car service to get us to Newark. The guy was at the front of the hospital, but not the entrance. So the driver called me and discovered he missed the actual entrance and had to circle five blocks to get to the correct. After three calls and me waving my hat, we finally got him into the right entrance and Susie aboard and off to the airport.

The driver got us into the airport and helped me get the bags into the proper place. We managed to get boarding passes, and one bag was checked without issues. The gate security was massive, and we got funneled to the very last lane.

I managed to get all the shoes, belts, bags, laptops, and cane into a bin and then walk through without issue. Susie was lost in security. They just left her sitting there for ten minutes. They asked me why I did not wait for her; they told me to go through (growl). They finally found a gal to pat down Susie and test all her surfaces in their checker machine. Our bottles and food also got to be hand-checked. It was all passed. Susie and I were happy to survive that without more trouble. We had hours until our flight.

Next, we learned that a first-class lounge does not exist for United. After looking unhappy, the United Club check-in guy let me buy one-day access. I was happy with that. We had a nice table, food, drink, and excellent Internet. So we rested there for three hours. That was my safety margin for getting to the airport. I found it restful to have a short rest, and Susie nodded off a few times.

Soon back to the adventure, as hours initially appear to move slow, but suddenly there is no time, and I thanked the gentleman who made an exception for us to use the United Club as we headed back down to the elevator.

I get Susie to a family restroom, but it is in use, and even after twenty minutes, it was still in use. Not sure what happened, but the dad of the family came back with ducktape! We leave them and find another restroom for Susie to use. Out of breath and worried, I get to the gate only 15 minutes before boarding.

Delayed. The plane is late being released from customs as the previous flight was an international flight. The lead stewardess heckles the gate worker about not having a plane. Apparently, the aircrew had rushed too, only to find nothing at the gate. So my rushing and worrying were followed by waiting.

Ninety minutes later, the plane is called. There is no wheelchair for Susie to get to her seat. The gate guy just calls for boarding and boards the plane. There is no early boarding for those who need more time or kids. With an extra 90 minutes, they failed to get a wheelchair there.

I get frustrated and just push Susie down to the plane, telling the gate guy to scan us on, and said  I will not be stopped by them. For Susie, the big issue is that first big step into the plane. It is uneven, far, and just a bit scary. I figured we just make it work–we have done it before, but as I get there, the stewardess who was heckling the staff before steps out and says, “How can I help,” and she carries all the bags on while I help transfer Susie to the chair/wheelchair which finally arrived to get her to her seat.

Susie and I have the last aisle seats in First Class. They had given away our seats and rebooked us to these. I was surprised when I checked in and found our seats changed. But two aisles next to the other bathroom, economy, worked for me. Susie just reached over and banged on my chair if she needed anything.

We get Susie into her seat, and everyone is happy to help us and glad to see the last passengers loaded. Ready to go.

Well, no. Catering was late, and so we waited. Then once we finally pulled away from the gate, the pilot told us that a “halt” was issued, and we saw fire equipment out to meet a plane with issues. But, it appears that it all worked out, but we spent another thirty minutes on the ground. I could see the IKEA sign in the windows and I suggest we visit “catering” to get meatballs for dinner.

Finally, we took off, and it was an outstanding experience. First Class dinner was good, and there were endless drinks. I stayed to coffee and ginger ale. One child managed to scream for about an hour after take-off, then on and off again, and finally for landing. I did not know a child could cry that much. I was able to ignore it as it was four rows away.

We landed and were the last folks off as the chair/wheelchair waited until everyone else was off the plane. I did help with the process and showed one of the Portland folks how to clip all the safety belts (I have done this a lot now). Luckily, we found our one bag locked in the lost baggage office as we missed the claim process as we were so late getting off the plane.

Mariah drove us home. We missed an exit, and Mariah had some issues getting to the airport as the torrential rains had flooded some roads, and folks hit the water and flipped their cars. But we made it home, unloaded the car, and drove Mariah home in Forest Grove. Finally, home at 2:30 and asleep about 3ish local time. 22-hours or so of work.

I am glad we are home now, and I hope you liked the story.


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