Our Harrowing Drive to Raleigh, Being Chased by a Dragon

This week’s Spin Cycle is our favorite posts. Mine was actually one of a series, called The Ordeal of a Lifetime. I really enjoyed writing about the cruise we took for my 50th birthday. Getting there was definitely NOT half of the fun. But, it’s makes a pretty darn funny story when I retell it, y’all.

I chose this third part installment, because it was one of the most looked at blogs, according to my blog stats. Sadly, my most popular blog of all time is Red Toes for Ruby Tuesday, which is basically a picture of my feet, and can’t in any way be attributed to my writing skills.

Another thing I have to add about this series: the whole thing was originally written for different Spin Cycles. My hat has to go off to Sprite’s Keeper, Jen, for coming up with such challenging and inspiring topics every week.

Please read The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part One and The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part Two before reading Part Three. This is for this week’s  Spin Cycle topic, Quirks.

When my husband took me on a cruise, to celebrate my 50th birthday, I ignored the advice of  every professional travel planner on the planet,  did things my own way, and in the process, managed to survive The Ordeal of a Lifetime. This is Part Three of the  story. It is true, y’all.  Every single detail of it.

Now, I had managed to live 50 years, without ever going on a cruise. Kinda like I think I might be the last living native Wilmingtonian, I think I might have been the last living woman, born before 1960, that had never been on a cruise. My mom, for example, has been on so many cruises that she’s on first name basis with the cabin attendants on Norwegian’s  Cruise Line.

100_0171The weird thing about all the cruises my mom has been on, is; she has no pictures. None. I’m not kidding. She and her husband, Bob (lovingly referred to as old fart stepdad number three) only bring back the solemn looking, 8 by 10  “pose”on Formal Night, that the ship’s photographers try to force on you complimentary shoot when you’re all dressed up for dinner.

I asked them about this. I said, “Mom, why don’t y’all take a camera and get some pictures of your trip?”

To which she replied, “Oh, Sweeeeeeetie. We don’t have time for all that mess! We’re too busy “doin’ stuff”  to fool with takin’ pictures!”

Well. I figure I must have a quirk about this. Let’s call it a camera addiction. I have to take pictures at birthdays, Christmas, Halloween, when the flowers bloom, when frinds come over, when the dog looks cute, when the cat looks annoyed, after Jeff cuts the grass and whenever we put our “dressy” clothes on, y’all. I wasn’t about to go on my first ever cruise and not take hundreds of pictures! How was I going to bore entertain all my internet friends ad nauseum for many enjoyable years to come, without a pictorial diary of each and every day’s activity?

Unlike my mom,  I’m too busy takin’ pictures to enjoy what I’m “doin’”, I guess. Needless to say, our camera was the most crucial part of our trip. Without it, well, we might as well have just stayed home.

After we survived the longest cab ride in the history of the world with that Dragon character, and woke Klinton up, surprising him with the news that he was going with us to Raleigh, I hurried into the kitchen to make a sandwich and a glass of diet coke. My stomach was growlin’, and I was feelin’ weakish, y’ all. After all, it was almost noon. By this time, I had planned to be relaxin’ on the deck of our cruise ship, enjoyin’ a nice buffet and comparin’ toe nail polish with my new internet friends.

Suddenly, I heard screaming from the living room. My very Yankee husband was screaming a very Yankee expletive that proper, southern-born gals from North Carolina also frequently say after they’ve been married to a Yankee for a while would never dream of typing, much less sayin’:

F**K!”

I dropped the bread and rushed into the living room.

“What’s wrong now?” I cried.

F**K… F**K… F**K!!!” was his answer.

I LEFT THE GOD DAMNED CAMERA BAG IN THE GOD DAMNED F**KING CAB!!” he screamed.

Poor Klinton came running out of his room, half dressed. “What’s going on?” he wanted to know.

“Jeff left our camera in the cab,” I explained, trying to remain calm. Going on this trip without our camera? Not an option.

Jeff already had the phone book out. “I’m calling the cab company!” he said.

The cab company’s receptionist was organized and efficient. She said she knew right where Dragon was, and promised to page him and have him call us back immediately.

“Here,” Jeff said, handing the phone to me. “When Dragon calls, tell him to turn around and bring our camera back! To save time, I’ll take the car and get it filled up with gas!”

Five minutes later, the phone rang. It was Dragon.

“Yes, yes, Ma’am. I have camera!” he said, triumphantly. “I bring back to you! As soon as I get back from driving another paying fare to Raleigh! I bring camera later today!”

At this point, I think my head almost exploded.

NOOOOO!!!!” I screamed into the phone said firmly.”Listen to me! WE have to go to Raleigh!! We have to leave NOW! We CAN’T WAIT!! WE NEED our camera!! You HAVE to bring it to us!!”

“OK, no problem,” he said. “I meet you at airport in Raleigh and give you camera.”

“NO! NO!” I was panicked. “We can’t meet you in Raleigh! We’ll be on too tight of a schedule! You need to bring our camera NOW!”

“I bring camera to Raleigh.” Then, unbelievably, he hung up on me.

I stared at the phone in my hand, as the call ended. I was thinking that I was going to make it my life’s work to have this Dragon fired. At that moment, Klinton, bless his heart, came out of his room and sensed that I was about to snap.

dscf4055“Mom,” he said, soothingly, taking the phone from me. “Calm down. Just  get ready to go. Let me handle this.  I’ll talk to the cab driver. You have his cell number in your cell phone now. His name’s Dragon, right? We’re all going to Raleigh. I’ll have him meet us on the road, somewhere between here and there.”

Mutely, I handed the phone to him. As I made myself a glass of diet coke on ice, I overheard Klinton talking to Dragon.

“Hello? This is Ginger’s son, Klinton. Yeah. We’re driving to Raleigh, too. Can we meet up somewhere and pick up our camera? Where are you right now? Which mile marker? OK. Call me back.”

dscf3896Soon, Jeff had returned and we were on the road. Klinton, in the back seat, was enjoying his role of mediator, in constant contact with Dragon. Jeff , in race car driver mode, was staring at the road, steely-eyed, while he gripped the wheel and drove down I-40 at 85 miles per hour. I was sipping my diet coke and chewing my nails,  hoping that we didn’t get pulled over for speeding, hoping were going to make it to the airport in time, hoping this was all just a bad dream.

Dragon claimed to be only a few miles behind us. Klinton made arrangements with him to meet up at a large rest area on I-40. We pulled into the rest area and waited. And waited. And waited.

We had about 40 minutes to complete our drive into Raleigh, find a place to park at the airport, get our five suitcases, camera bag, laptop case, pocketbook, incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps, and my itinerary into the airport, through security, and somehow onto the plane.

We waited for so long that we each had time to make a dash to the restrooms, one at a time. As we waited, Jeff kept threatening to leave, and Klinton kept promising that Dragon was almost there.

Then, Jeff said, “I think I see him!”

Sure enough, it was the taxi driven by Dragon, turning into the rest area. His window was rolled down and dangling out of his hand, looking for all the world like Michael Jackson’s baby, was our precious camera bag!

“He’s not gonna stop!” I cried. Jeff got out of our car, and stood alongside, waiting. Dragon drove by, barely slowing down, and tossed the camera bag at Jeff.  In his front seat, I could see a very flabbergasted and harried looking female passenger.

As Jeff jumped back into the car and we raced out of the parking lot, Klinton, always the optimist, said, “Well, at least now you have your camera back.”

But…..would we make it to Raleigh in time to catch out flight? Would we survive the stress? Would we ever get a bite of food? Would we be further harrassed by the airport security?

To be continued….

Part Four: Can a Can of Pringles and a Bloody Mary Be Classified As a Gourmet Meal?

Part Five: Another Cab Cab Driver Takes Us For a Wild Ride

Part Six: Did We Break The Sound Barrier?

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A Thousand Words Thursday # 14 – You Capture Happiness

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This is my youngest son, Klinton, and his pretty girlfriend.  The just celebrated their one year anniversary of when they started going out. I love how they are looking at each other in this picture. They look so happy.

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Aren’t they absolutely gorgeous?

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You can tell they love being together. And that makes me so happy.

I found a new photo blog to participate in on Thursdays! It’s called You Capture. Every week there is new theme. This week’s was “Happiness.” I immediately thought of these pictures – how the two of them not only look so happy, but how happy it makes me feel to look at them.

Click on the link here to read about how to play along. Then, do your best to visit the other participants’ site – everyone loves the traffic, the comments and the feedback (not just you!) Next week’s photo challenge is to try and capture the Feeling of Fall. So, that should be fun!

Happy Anniversary, Klinton and Sarah. I love you both so much. I’m so glad you found your way from being best friends –  to also being a couple in love.

I think the pictures of them together say it all… truly worth a thousand words.

Which just happens to be the rules of another photography meme called A Thousand Words Thursday. It is hosted by Jen, at Cheaper than Therapy. I think she’s on to something, myself. The idea behind this one is to post a picture that is worth a thousand words. Be sure and click on the link above, and add your photo to the list. Then have fun visiting all the other blogs and viewing what they think is worth a thousand words!

ATWT

The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part Four

spincyclesmallPlease read The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part One, Part Two and Part Three,  before reading Part Four. This is for this week’s  Spin Cycle topic, Time.

When my husband took me on a cruise, to celebrate my 50th birthday, I ignored the advice of  every professional travel planner on the planet,  did things my own way, and in the process, managed to survive The Ordeal of a Lifetime. This is Part Four of the  story. It is true, y’all.  Every single detail of it.

Well y’all, in Part Three of this saga, we had finally gotten our camera bag back, which was tossed to us, a la Michael Jackson’s dangling baby, through the open window of a moving cab. As the cab driver, “Dragon”, sped off in the direction of Raleigh, we were right on his heels.

images71We were seriously running out of time. Tick tock, tick tock; with each passing minute our stress levels were ratcheting up a notch. Now we had only 25 short minutes to complete our drive into Raleigh, find a place to park at the airport, get our five suitcases, camera bag, laptop case, pocketbook, incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps, and my itinerary into the airport, through security, and somehow onto the plane.

I was formulating a plan.

“OK, when we get to the airport, let’s not bother with parking the car. Let’s just pull up right in front, have Klinton drop us off and head right on into check in.”

img_0395To which The Devil’s Advocate, who looked amazingly like my husband, but with deep worry lines etched into his face, and a whole crop of new white hair around his hairline said, “And what if we miss the plane?”

Tick tock. Tick Tock.

I shuddered, thinking of another cab ride. “Well, we can call Klinton and tell him to come back and pick us up!”

To which The Devil’s Sidekick, who looked amazingly like my son in the back seat replied, “I didn’t bring my cell phone.”

“And why ON EARTH not?” I asked him.

“Because the battery was low, and it is on the charger,” he said calmly. ” That’s why I didn’t answer when you were trying to call from the Wilmington airport.”

“We’ll give him OUR cell phone!” Jeff announced. “We won’t be able to use it on the ship anyway, and at this point, it won’t matter anyway, because we’re probably not going to make it there on time.”

As I was gloomily muddling over the prospect of missing my first EVER cruise,  not to mention all the months of careful planning and days of methodical packing that would be going down the drain, we pulled into the Raleigh airport, with ten minutes to spare.

We stopped right in front of the main entrance. Jeff threw the car into park and jumped out. He hastily began pulling our five suitcases, camera bag, laptop case, pocketbook, incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps, and my itinerary onto the curb. Klinton ran around to the driver’s side and climbed in.

After quickly giving  Klinton a  hug goodbye and instructions to keep our phone turned on, we looked around for some help.

fourguysWhere was a sky cap when you really needed one? Apparently, we were on our own, so Jeff took the heavy golf club bag and two suitcases and I grabbed three suitcases (one on wheels, Thank God!) the precious camera bag, my laptop and pocketbook and we staggered into the airport.

First, we had to have our tickets verified. That took several agonizing minutes of waiting in line. The we had to check our bags in. Thank God we had already solved the weight snafu in the Wilmington airport. Then we had to pass security.

The security guard took our tickets. Looked at them for a long minute.

“I’m going to have to ask y’all to step over to the side,” he said, in a most authoritative manner. “We’re going to have to wait for extra security to have y’all checked out.”

Not again! My skin felt like it was going to crawl off my body, y’all. As the clock ticked and our precious moments passed, we stood there, and we waited. And waited.

Jeff turned to the security guard who was continuing to process other passengers, and in his most casual, conversational tone asked, “So, is this because we changed our flight schedule at the last minute?”

The security guard peered at Jeff over his glasses. “Sir, you not only changed your flights at the last minute, but I see here where you’ve already done it twice today!”

As I started to bristle up with all of my fifty years of pent-up, southern indignation fixin’ to come out, Jeff placed a warning hand on my arm. “OK!” he said, brightly. “No problem, man! We’re just in a bit of a hurry to catch our plane, but we’ll wait!”

F-I-N-A-L-L-Y, with the time down to three minutes left to board, we were cleared through security. We literally ran to the boarding area. The waiting area was empty and there was a lone employee waiting impatiently by the door. As soon as she saw us headed towards her, she motioned for us to hurry, and we ran down the hallway and onto the plane.

As we took the last two seats, on a the very crowded airliner, my stomach made a protesting growl. I still had not had a mouthful of food all day.

“Will y’all be serving lunch today?” I asked a passing stewardess, hopefully.

She rolled her eyes. “We have snacks, Ma’am. We’ll be coming back with the snack cart later.”

I looked at my watch. At least we were leaving on time. We had made it, miraculously, onto the flight. But we still had another hurdle. This plane was landing in Miami at 2:45 pm and we had to be on the ship in Ft. Lauderdale by 4:00 pm. That had seemed like enough time, when we accepted the tickets, but we were desperate, and desperate people make bad decisions. Now I wasn’t so sure. It was all making my head hurt.

I settled into my seat as the plane took off, and tried to ignore my growling stomach and my pounding head. Fear and stress had me in their grips and it was impossible to relax. I watched the flight attendant making her way down the aisle towards us, with a snack cart. She was dispensing pretzels, chips, crackers, peanuts, sodas, juice and tiny bottles of liquor!

I turned to Jeff, excitedly, “She has liquor! If she has tomato juice, I can have a Bloody Mary!”

img_4756-copyPraise God and the baby Jesus, she had tomato juice, y’all! And a tiny bottle of decent vodka. That, along with a small can of Pringle’s potato chips, was the best meal I had ever had in my entire lifetime, up until that minute. After the day I had had so far, it was more than gourmet, it was stupendous.

By the time we landed in Miami, I was feeling a teeny bit better. When the plane rolled to a stop, I glanced at my watch. It was 2:50 pm. We had one hour and ten minutes to get off the plane, collect our luggage, find a cab, drive to Ft. Lauderdale, and board our ship.

Was this even possible? My stomach started to knot up in fear.

Everyone on the plane stood up. And then we all tried to wiggle out into the aisle. But, for some reason, the door was not opening. We all stood there. We waited. We all started to sweat. We waited some more. Ten minutes later, we were still waiting for the door of the plane to be opened.

And I wondered, “What fresh hell now? Do we have a snowman’s chance in Dixie to make it to the cruise ship in time?”

To be continued……

Part Five: Another Cab Driver Takes us for a Wild Ride

The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part Three

spincyclesmallPlease read The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part One and The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part Two before reading Part Three. This is for this week’s  Spin Cycle topic, Quirks.

When my husband took me on a cruise, to celebrate my 50th birthday, I ignored the advice of  every professional travel planner on the planet,  did things my own way, and in the process, managed to survive The Ordeal of a Lifetime. This is Part Three of the  story. It is true, y’all.  Every single detail of it.

Now, I had managed to live 50 years, without ever going on a cruise. Kinda like I think I might be the last living native Wilmingtonian, I think I might have been the last living woman, born before 1960, that had never been on a cruise. My mom, for example, has been on so many cruises that she’s on first name basis with the cabin attendants on Norwegian’s  Cruise Line.

100_0171The weird thing about all the cruises my mom has been on, is; she has no pictures. None. I’m not kidding. She and her husband, Bob (lovingly referred to as old fart stepdad number three) only bring back the solemn looking, 8 by 10  “pose”on Formal Night, that the ship’s photographers try to force on you complimentary shoot when you’re all dressed up for dinner.

I asked them about this. I said, “Mom, why don’t y’all take a camera and get some pictures of your trip?”

To which she replied, “Oh, Sweeeeeeetie. We don’t have time for all that mess! We’re too busy “doin’ stuff”  to fool with takin’ pictures!”

Well. I figure I must have a quirk about this. Let’s call it a camera addiction. I have to take pictures at birthdays, Christmas, Halloween, when the flowers bloom, when frinds come over, when the dog looks cute, when the cat looks annoyed, after Jeff cuts the grass and whenever we put our “dressy” clothes on, y’all. I wasn’t about to go on my first ever cruise and not take hundreds of pictures! How was I going to bore entertain all my internet friends ad nauseum for many enjoyable years to come, without a pictorial diary of each and every day’s activity?

Unlike my mom,  I’m too busy takin’ pictures to enjoy what I’m “doin'”, I guess. Needless to say, our camera was the most crucial part of our trip. Without it, well, we might as well have just stayed home.

After we survived the longest cab ride in the history of the world with that Dragon character, and woke Klinton up, surprising him with the news that he was going with us to Raleigh, I hurried into the kitchen to make a sandwich and a glass of diet coke. My stomach was growlin’, and I was feelin’ weakish, y’ all. After all, it was almost noon. By this time, I had planned to be relaxin’ on the deck of our cruise ship, enjoyin’ a nice buffet and comparin’ toe nail polish with my new internet friends.

Suddenly, I heard screaming from the living room. My very Yankee husband was screaming a very Yankee expletive that proper, southern-born gals from North Carolina also frequently say after they’ve been married to a Yankee for a while would never dream of typing, much less sayin’:

F**K!”

I dropped the bread and rushed into the living room.

“What’s wrong now?” I cried.

F**K… F**K… F**K!!!” was his answer.

I LEFT THE GOD DAMNED CAMERA BAG IN THE GOD DAMNED F**KING CAB!!” he screamed.

Poor Klinton came running out of his room, half dressed. “What’s going on?” he wanted to know.

“Jeff left our camera in the cab,” I explained, trying to remain calm. Going on this trip without our camera? Not an option.

Jeff already had the phone book out. “I’m calling the cab company!” he said.

The cab company’s receptionist was organized and efficient. She said she knew right where Dragon was, and promised to page him and have him call us back immediately.

“Here,” Jeff said, handing the phone to me. “When Dragon calls, tell him to turn around and bring our camera back! To save time, I’ll take the car and get it filled up with gas!”

Five minutes later, the phone rang. It was Dragon.

“Yes, yes, Ma’am. I have camera!” he said, triumphantly. “I bring back to you! As soon as I get back from driving another paying fare to Raleigh! I bring camera later today!”

At this point, I think my head almost exploded.

NOOOOO!!!!” I screamed into the phone said firmly.”Listen to me! WE have to go to Raleigh!! We have to leave NOW! We CAN’T WAIT!! WE NEED our camera!! You HAVE to bring it to us!!”

“OK, no problem,” he said. “I meet you at airport in Raleigh and give you camera.”

“NO! NO!” I was panicked. “We can’t meet you in Raleigh! We’ll be on too tight of a schedule! You need to bring our camera NOW!”

“I bring camera to Raleigh.” Then, unbelievably, he hung up on me.

I stared at the phone in my hand, as the call ended. I was thinking that I was going to make it my life’s work to have this Dragon fired. At that moment, Klinton, bless his heart, came out of his room and sensed that I was about to snap.

dscf4055“Mom,” he said, soothingly, taking the phone from me. “Calm down. Just  get ready to go. Let me handle this.  I’ll talk to the cab driver. You have his cell number in your cell phone now. His name’s Dragon, right? We’re all going to Raleigh. I’ll have him meet us on the road, somewhere between here and there.”

Mutely, I handed the phone to him. As I made myself a glass of diet coke on ice, I overheard Klinton talking to Dragon.

“Hello? This is Ginger’s son, Klinton. Yeah. We’re driving to Raleigh, too. Can we meet up somewhere and pick up our camera? Where are you right now? Which mile marker? OK. Call me back.”

dscf3896Soon, Jeff had returned and we were on the road. Klinton, in the back seat, was enjoying his role of mediator, in constant contact with Dragon. Jeff , in race car driver mode, was staring at the road, steely-eyed, while he gripped the wheel and drove down I-40 at 85 miles per hour. I was sipping my diet coke and chewing my nails,  hoping that we didn’t get pulled over for speeding, hoping were going to make it to the airport in time, hoping this was all just a bad dream.

Dragon claimed to be only a few miles behind us. Klinton made arrangements with him to meet up at a large rest area on I-40. We pulled into the rest area and waited. And waited. And waited.

We had about 40 minutes to complete our drive into Raleigh, find a place to park at the airport, get our five suitcases, camera bag, laptop case, pocketbook, incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps, and my itinerary into the airport, through security, and somehow onto the plane.

We waited for so long that we each had time to make a dash to the restrooms, one at a time. As we waited, Jeff kept threatening to leave, and Klinton kept promising that Dragon was almost there.

Then, Jeff said, “I think I see him!”

Sure enough, it was the taxi driven by Dragon, turning into the rest area. His window was rolled down and dangling out of his hand, looking for all the world like Michael Jackson’s baby, was our precious camera bag!

“He’s not gonna stop!” I cried. Jeff got out of our car, and stood alongside, waiting. Dragon drove by, barely slowing down, and tossed the camera bag at Jeff.  In his front seat, I could see a very flabbergasted and harried looking female passenger.

As Jeff jumped back into the car and we raced out of the parking lot, Klinton, always the optimist, said, “Well, at least now you have your camera back.”

But…..would we make it to Raleigh in time to catch out flight? Would we survive the stress? Would we ever get a bite of food? Would we be further harrassed by the airport security?

To be continued….

Part Four: Can a Can of Pringles and a Bloody Mary Be Classified As a Gourmet Meal?

The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part Two

Please read The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part One before reading Part Two. This was for the Spin cycle topic, Survival.

When my husband took me on a cruise, to celebrate my 50th birthday, I ignored the advice of  every professional travel planner on the planet,  did things my own way, and in the process, managed to survive The Ordeal of a lifetime. This is Part Two of the  story. It is true, y’all.  Every single detail of it.

crowded_airport

Again, the loud speaker, with another announcement: “Attention passengers….”

(About 60 passengers who were sitting in the waiting area immediately got up and started to form a line.)

“….we are sorry to inform you…”

(About 30 more folks jumped up and started running over to the back of the line. Meanwhile, we were still standing off to the side trying to comprehend what was happening.)

“….that this flight has been canceled….”

OH GOD!! By now the line is 40 feet long and we are lucky to get into the tail end of it, along with a few stragglers.

“…..Unfortunately, the plane is in need of a repair, and due to the holiday, our mechanic is having to catch a flight from Philadelphia, which will arrive at  3 pm. If you need to reach your destination today, please form a line at our service desk and the first our service representatives will help you.”

OH GOD!!! Jeff is hissing at me, “CALL KLINTON!

Klintons phone is ringing and I get his voicemail. “KLINTON” I yell, as if he can hear me. “ANSWER YOUR PHONE! WE’RE AT THE AIRPORT AND WE MIGHT NEED YOU! CALL ME BACK!”

Jeff rolled his eyes at me. “Great! Where’s Klinton and where’s our car?”

“He’ll call back,” I assured him. “Anyways, maybe they can find us another flight,” I added, hopefully.

Things did seem to be moving along pretty quickly. Folks ahead of us were being given new flight assignments, it seems, and I overheard one couple (who were also going on a cruise, and yes, I was shamelessly eavesdropping) being offered a voucher for a taxi trip to the airport in Raleigh –  to catch a flight from there. While we were waiting, I continued to dial Klinton’s cell phone and each time I got his voice mail.

After what seemed like hours, it was our turn to step up to the desk. I breathlessly explained to the weary employee that we were going on our first cruise, to celebrate my birthday and anniversary, and we needed to get a flight to Ft. Lauderdale, ASAP. She looked and looked at her computer. Finally, she said, “I have a flight that arrives in Ft. Lauderdale  at 4 pm! What time does your ship sail?”

When I said 5 pm, she frowned. “That might not be enough time to get you onto the ship. Let me call your cruise line and see if they can help.”

She spent the next several minutes conferring with Royal Caribbean over the phone. Apparently, there’s this rule, y’all, that you must be on your ship exactly one hour prior to sailing, no exceptions. No amount of pleading could convince them to bend this rule.

I was trying to come up with a solution. “How about a flight to our first port, Key West, and we board the ship tomorrow?” I asked. We were informed by the cruise rep that they do not allow guests to board in Key West. They would, however, allow us to board in Cozumel, on day THREE of our five day cruise.

Well for cryin’ out loud, what good was that? We were so upset, y’all.

The airport employee continued to search. Then she said, “Well…..I do have a flight out of Raleigh that lands in Miami at 3 pm. From there, you could get a cab to take you to Ft. Lauderdale.”

We blinked. Miami? “How far away is Miami from Ft. Lauderdale?” I asked.

“About 30 miles,” she replied. “But, you’d have to get your own transportation to the Raleigh airport, because I have no taxi vouchers left, and that flight leaves in two hours.”

I turned to Jeff. “Can you drive us to Raleigh in two hours?”

His chest puffed out. If there’s one thing my husband is proud of, it’s his driving skills. “I can get us there is an hour and a half,” he said proudly, “but we need to go right now!”

The relieved airport lady was already printing our tickets. “You’ll need to retrieve your bags,” she reminded us, as we dashed off.

We had to wait a couple of minutes to get our luggage. As we were hauling  all five suitcases, camera bag, laptop case, pocketbook, incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps, and my itinerary out the door, onto the sidewalk, I was still trying to call Klinton. If we could not locate his whereabouts, we would have no vehicle to drive to Raleigh!

Jeff rushed over to the only cab parked outside the airport and started throwing in our stuff. We climbed in and told the cab driver we were in a HUGE hurry and needed to get to our address as quickly as possible.

images5The cab driver was all smiles. “Yes, yes,” he assured us, in a Scandinavian accent. “My name is Dddragon, and I get you there, quick like! I live here long time. I know short cut!”

Now we live about two miles from the airport, y’all. We could ‘ve walked home, if not for the five suitcases, camera bag, laptop case, pocketbook, incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps, and my itinerary. There really isn’t a short cut to our house, but there was, as it turns out, a much longer way to get there.

Dragon was happily chatting on, in broken english, about all the wonderful short cuts he knew about, when he passed the turn that would have taken us home in a couple of minutes. Jeff opened his mouth, tried to point out the turn, and mutely closed his mouth, helplessly.

“Where is he going?” I whispered.

Jeff shrugged.

“Excuse me, Dragon,” I said cautiously from the back seat. “Are you sure you know the way to our neighborhood?”

“Oh yes, yes,” he said, as he nodded emphatically. “I go there all the time. I know short cut. Good short cut.”

“Well, we’re in a big hurry,” I tried to explain. “We have to be at the airport in Raleigh to catch a plane, in less than two hours!”

Dragon turned around and smiled at me. “Oh, no problem, lady,” he said. “I drive you to Raliegh! I get you there, no problem!”

Thinking that we weren’t even sure where our car was, because we still had not reached Klinton, I asked, “How much?”

“Oh,” he said, still smiling. “Only two hundred and fifty dollars!”

“No thanks,” Jeff said quickly, rolling his eyes at me. “We’ll drive ourselves.”

“If we ever get home,” I thought.

Fifteen long minutes later, we pulled up in front of our house. Both of us were in major Panic Mode. Thank God our car was sitting in the driveway, since we still had not managed to speak to  Klinton. Jeff told me to go inside, find Klinton, and tell him he was going with us to Raleigh, while he got our things out of the cab, and paid the driver.

So while he was unloading our five suitcases, camera bag, laptop case, pocketbook, incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps, and my itinerary out of cab and into our car, I ran to my front door.

I didn’t have the keys.

I began ringing the door bell and pounding on the door. And shouting, “KLINTON!!”

n25000219_34032230_2891After a couple more precious minutes slipped by, the door opened and there stood my half asleep, bewildered son.

“What are you doing here? I thought you would be on your ship, by now, ” he said.

“GET DRESSED!” I shouted at him. “YOU’RE GOING WITH US TO RALEIGH!”

“Whaaaat?” Klinton was clearly befuddled.

“HURRY UP!” I yelled franticaly. “We have to be in Raleigh to catch a plane in ONE HOUR AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES! You have to go with us to bring the car back!”

Was this even possible? I had no idea. But we were about to find out.

To be continued…

Part Three: Our Harrowing Drive to Raleigh, (Being Chased by a Dragon)

The Sun Sets Over Downtown Wilmington, NC

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This is for Family Foto Fun Friday, hosted by Diana at Diana Rambles. She puts up a new theme each week, and you can submit your photo that fits the theme on your blog, along with any explanation that you want to add. You can use a photo you took in the past, a photo taken by other family members, or a photo taken during the week to fit the theme. You may link a previous blog post if it fits the theme. The best part is – anyone can participate!

This week’s theme is “Sun.” I immediately thought of this picture that my youngest son, Klinton, took in downtown Wilmington, NC.  Since I admittedly stole this picture off of one of his social networking pages, y’all leave a comment to tell him how great it is, so maybe he’ll forgive his snoopy old Momma.