Monday, September 5, 2011

With the wind at our backs


Things are looking good here at the Sheraton.
No sign of Irene yet
Well, we've heeded the dire warnings and changed the flight back to Dayton to an earlier time. Hurricane Irene has successfully chased us out of town.

It's the right thing to do for me and Yax, but I can't get past the disappointment of missing the second day of BlogPaws '11.

We have time to fit in one more networking breakfast and have the serendipitous luck to share a table with the founders of the PetWiki website - what a treat. Then back to the room to perform the magical act of fitting everything from the generous BlogPaws swag bag contents into my humble little carry-on suitcase.

It's not like I had the wisdom to travel light to begin with and now I'm stuffing literature, dog treat samples and squeaky toys in there. Oh, why did I bring those extra shoes? I didn't even wear them. In fact, I don't even like them that much. Vexations.

This rolling carry-on is a veteran and has survived many an adventure with me. A trusted protector of my essentials of life. Don't fail me now, rolly bag. Lay on your back and suck in your gut now, here goes the zipper. Laptop and and a handful of dog treats go in the shoulder bag and we're on our way.

An uneventful shuttle ride to Dulles where we print off our boarding pass and head to TSA.  Now the security check went rather smoothly when we departed Dayton. I was hoping for a similar experience at Dulles, but this was not to be our destiny this day.

Yaxley and I step through the metal detector together. Beep. Ok, go back through one at a time. I'm clear, but Yax's bling sets it off again. It would be crazy talk to remove his collar, just not gonna happen. So what to do?

Doggy pat down, that's what. Yax gets a quick, but efficient pat down by a TSA agent. Really, it's true. And you know, he sat there like he gets a body massage with latex gloves every day of the week. Good dog, Yax. The only things in his cape pockets are spare poop bags and a ziplock baggie of damp papers towels. These are not identified as a risk to national security, so we are released to pick up my rolly bag and other stuff on the belt.

Ruh-roh. It's not there. My shoes, my laptop and cell phone - there they are in the plastic tote.  But where's rolly bag?  Still being examined apparently. I see the agent there, squinting her eyes at the screen. Ugh, I wonder what countless bags of dog treats and a half dozen squeaky toys look like on an x-ray anyway.  Please don't make me open the thing, I think. Rolly bag somewhat resembles a tapestry version of a well-fed tick. I have a very real fear that once all goodies are exposed to the light of day, I may not be able to zip it back up again.

The TSA agent either figures out the contents or simply just gives up and I get my rolly bag back. And we're off on our quest to find the United gate. Not quite like Frodo's trek to Mount Doom, but Yax, rolly bag and I are still challenged with one-floor-at-a-time elevators, trains, a moving walkway and a lot of just plain old-fashioned power walking.

While Yaxley sits for a photo shoot at the train, I get to talk to a fella who knows another CCI puppy raiser in Florida - small world. As we walk through the terminal, I overhear the occasional  look at the dog. It's just like traveling with a celebrity, it is.

I kinda wanted all those ice cubes
And there's our gate! Woo-hoo and all that. Between the Odyssean journey to get here, the overstuffed bag, and my anxiety about the flight being cancelled due to the hurricane, I'm now sweating like a hot house tomato. But good luck is ours and there's a Wendy's where I can grab an iced tea for me and cup of ice for Yax.

We sit, set our drinks on the carpet and situate the bags. As I'm digging in the shoulder bag for a dog toy for Yax to entertain himself with during the wait, the rolly bag tips over like a new pledge on frat night. And lands on my Wendy's Large Iced Tea.

Crushed! Aargh, iced tea and ice cubes all over the carpet. Really, rolly bag?  After everything we've been through together, you would go and do me like this? Well, Yax. Looks like you're gonna be sharing your ice cubes, thanks very much.

A kind and thoughtful fellow passenger brings some paper towels from the ladies room. Ah, thanks. It's nice to know that not only can I count on someone to lend a hand in my klutzy moments, but I also have the comfort of knowing there was a credible eyewitness to this lack of grace.

It begins to rain outside, the cue that it's time to drag our luggage outside to get on the pencil plane. I've already lost my street cred with my fellow passengers over the iced tea incident.  Now here I am, faced with:

  • Rain
  • Wet metal stairs to get to the tarmac
  • Overstuffed suitcase that is surely over the weight limit for carry-on, but no one checked on it
  • A dog
Kinda reminds me of your driving, Food Lady

I'm standing at the top of the stairs as the plane idles on the tarmac. I may as well just throw the rolly bag down to the tarmac, because I sure as heck can't get down the stairs with it and the dog. I would, actually, do that. But I only have one hand due to the dog leash and can't even lift the bloated thing to throw it. I mean the rolly bag, of course. Not the dog. Although, I can't lift him with one hand either.

No shortage of kind passengers on this trip. A fellow notices that I'm about to either seriously harm myself or take out the poor lady in front of me as I tumble down the stairs. He asks if he can of help. Oh yes! Thank you my knight in a white t-shirt. Please!

I leave the rolly bag where it squats like a little tapestry covered troll. Give Yaxley a let's go and we tromp down the steps; a vision of grace and confidence. Behind me I hear a grunt and Holy [bad word], this is heavy!  Yeah, no kidding, cowboy. But thanks.

From here, things start to look up. It seems most folk had the sense to skip town already, so the pencil with a jet engine is only half full. Yaxley and I can have two seats together. He curls up to recharge his batteries over the next hour.

The pilot announces that we're leaving two hours ahead of Irene's landfall in the DC area. So I guess we timed this pretty well after all. But still - I'm missing BlogPaws Day Two. Blast that instinctual need for self-preservation. 

Good-bye Irene
Back in the small but mighty Dayton Airport (one elevator, no trains!), we are met with sunshine and puffy clouds. A gorgeous afternoon here at home with two feet and four paws back on Ohio soil. My car is stored at Westwind Limo's lot, so I give them a call  to come pick up the chick with dog.


Ridin' in style in the Westwind Limo.
Nothing but the best for this yellow dog.

And our BlogPaws '11 adventure is done.

New friends and new memories - the stuff of life. Now to plan for next year and you know, I can't wait.  I hear they don't have hurricanes in Salt Lake City.



2 comments:

  1. Your writing is the best!!! Love your blog and pictures. Glad you made it home safely. =)

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  2. Hi Donna! I just discovered your blog through the 31DBBB group and I'm so glad to have found it! I'm so interested in the work you do with CCI and these extraordinary dogs. I do some volunteer work for a service dog organization and I admire the work they do so much. I enjoyed reading about your BlogPaws experience as well, wonderful pictures!

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