All good things must come to end - and so it was with our vacation back to South Carolina.
We drove our 12 passenger van back to the Atlanta airport, dropped it off, took a bus - a train - and multiple moving sidewalks and elevators to arrive at our terminal. And then we stood around for almost three hours and waited for our plane to leave. Because it took a lot less time getting to the airport from my mother's house, then it took for us to get from the airport to my mother's house.
Wait. Did that make sense?
I'm including a copy of this next picture of our children dragging their bags down the jetway, not to illustrate how cruel of a mother I am in forcing my children to carry their own gear because I'm too cheap to check it, but to point out where strollers are stored before you board the plane.
More than once, I've received inquiries from people who read this blog wondering how you get your stroller all the way to the plane.
See that little alcove, right there to the right of William's bright glowing back pack? That is where you would store your stroller - with it's gate check tag - before getting on to the plane. And when you get off the plane, your stroller will be sitting right there waiting for you.
I remain convinced that this "free service" the airport provides is one of the BEST free services available. (Rivaled only by public restrooms.) By allowing passengers to push their children in a stroller ALL THE WAY TO THE PLANE, and then have that stroller waiting for them when they land, saves parents so much trouble, I'm at a loss for words that would adequately express my gratitude.
But a lot of travelers don't realize that this option exists for them, which is why I see so many people checking their strollers with their luggage. On more than one occasion, I have gone up to absolute strangers and filled them in on this little travel secret. I'll usually say, "In case you didn't know, you can push your stroller all the way to the gate. Just clear it through security, get a claim ticket from the agent and then you can roll it directly to the plane."
My advice is often met with a blank stare so I'll smile and nod and excitedly add, "I am totally serious." And well, most parents who are taking a trip with small children are feeling exhausted within the first 15 minutes of arriving at the airport and once they understand the truth of what I'm telling them, the only thing that would make them happier is if the sky opened up and $20.00 bills rained down.
This is a photo of the on board interactive map, which shows our plane flying directly over Sun City, Arizona. That's where Alex and Kathleen live.
From Sun City / Phoenix, it's only another hour or so until we arrive in San Diego. And doesn't it figure, that was right about the time all four of our children (finally) fell fast to sleep.
Waking four soundly sleeping children up - after a full day of traveling - when their internal body clocks registered a time of 3:00 AM and require that they carry their own luggage off the plane and out of the airport - and then, sit and wait on the curb for the next hour for our car to arrive was the lowest point of the day.
Dare I say - it was even lower than William who grabbed the air sick bag just before take off and demonstrated to the kindly woman sitting next to him, how it is used.
On the outside, she is smiling and laughing. But she knew that she was on a row with four excited children under the age of five and I'll bet that she was trying to figure out the exact translation of five hours to minutes.
And she was counting them.
I'm kidding. OF COURSE. Our children were perfect angels on the plane ride home and I only thought about jumping from an exit once.
Which is a considerable improvement from the last time we flew with the whole family and I stood in the galley at the back of the plane, poised by the exit for the entire flight.
We are definitely improving.