Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Survived the Blizzard of 09

I'm finally back! Damn, I wasn't sure I was gonna make it. I had a pretty crazy Christmas weekend - and not "crazy" in a good way. I found out Xmas eve morning that my grandmother had passed away. I knew it was coming, so I was prepared for it. The only thing we weren't sure of was the day of the funeral. When it happened on the 24th, it meant that I had to try and get a plane ticket to Florida for the 25th.

Believe it or not, I actually got a pretty decent price for my plane ticket. The so-called "bereavement" fare was way more expensive, so my brother and I got a ticket online. Hurdle #1 had successfully been handled. The next problem was getting to the airport in the middle of a blizzard! Up until mid December, Nebraska was having one of the mildest winters on record. But beginning on Christmas eve, that was put to rest with a storm that dumped over a foot of snow in our metro area.

I know that the storm ruined a lot of people's Christmas plans, and I don't think a single church in Omaha was open for Xmas eve services. Regardless, we had to get to the airport on Christmas day for a 6 am flight. I got picked up by my brother around 4 am, and we began our treacherous journey to the airport.

At that time of morning, the snow plows had only just begun their work, so most streets had not been plowed. On the ones that had, the city was implementing a new system that had them pushing the snow into huge piles in the middle of the street. The trucks would then come back the other direction and clear the cross streets so they were passable. Unfortunately, when we were out there, many of the cross streets had not been done. So, taking a turn could be extremely dangerous. Almost no one was on the roads, which was a bonus. It was actually sort of like Mad Max in the Thunderdome out there -- no rules. There were no real lanes, and we didn't bother stopping at street lights or stop signs for fear of losing momentum and getting stuck. If you didn't have an SUV or a truck, you were not going to get far.

We made it to the airport, thankfully, and found that our plane was scheduled to leave on time. Bonus. After boarding the plane and pulling away, we sat there for about an hour waiting for the ground crew to de-ice the wings. By the time that happened, the pilot came over the loud speaker with some potentially bad news. We had to go back to the gate because a sensor on the left wing of the plane was not working. The plane had to be serviced. As we started to taxi back to the gate, the sensor suddenly started working again, so the pilot decided to try and get out immediately. So, after a 90 minute delay, we hit the skies.

We flew from Omaha to Dallas, and then were supposed to go from Dallas to Ft. Lauderdale. Though we made it out of blizzard conditions in Nebraska, somehow our flight from Dallas to Ft. Lauderdale was cancelled. There were no others the rest of the day. Realizing that West Palm Beach was actually pretty close by, we changed the tickets to West Palm and got on the next flight. After beginning the day around 3:30 am, we finally arrived in Florida a little after 6 pm. Whew.

I had thought that Christmas Day would be a light travel day since most people wanted to be at their destination prior to the holiday. I was wrong. The airports were packed. There were also tons of military folks traveling on Christmas as well. American Airlines opened up its Admiral's Club to all active duty military for free. I thought that was a nice gesture.

The funeral itself was on Sunday since Jews cannot be buried on a Saturday. It was a nice service, and I was finally able to see my grandfather's grave site for the first time (he died nearly 30 years ago). We realized that his stone had his "fake" birth date on it. At age 16, my grandfather had lied about his age and joined the army so he could fight in WWII. Since he was a veteran, the VA paid for the head stone, and naturally, used the birth date he had given when he signed up. So, for the rest of eternity, that will be his "official" birthday and year.

Traveling back on the 28th was much less of a hassle than going down. It was a relatively smooth travel day. I am very glad to be back, and am vowing to never again travel on Christmas. For the most part, all of the streets in Omaha have been plowed, and it is relatively easy to get around. We are supposed to get more snow tomorrow. Oh joy.


T. Paine said...

My condolences to you regarding the passing of your Grandma, Splash. Glad you were able to make it to the funeral in time and back home safely.

Dave Splash said...

Thanks. It makes for quite the story, I guess.