There are hoards of people returning cars at 9AM. We filled up the car, so we are due a fuel refund or a ridiculous amount which means I get to go inside and stand in line. Luckily, this actually doesn't take that long. We waited through two shuttles and forced our way onto the third. There were far too many people for the shuttles they had going and the pushy younger types somehow always managed to get on the shuttle first. We helped push a couple who had two small children and all of the accompanying child junk with them onto the shuttle before us. They had been waiting forever but with two small children, never could manage, and had WE been pushy, we could have pushed past them with no problem as the shuttle driver huffed at all the child stuff he was having to find a way to fit. Off they went and I physically prepared to make the next shuttle. I knew if I did, Gwyndolyn would, by god, make it too. And we did. Sigh of relief.
We get in line to check our bags and it is a mighty line, though it could be worse. A darling smiling man was questioning passengers in line about who packed our things, where we had been. He tried to make this conversational, but he was doing his job jotting things down.
We checked our bags and got our boarding passes... Sigh of relief.
Ah, the security line. Yay! Loooooong line that everyone is used to all over the world. Shoes off, computers out, blag blah. Finally make it though that. Sigh of relief.
Pre-customs. We go to a machine which asks us questions and takes our photo. The photo is aimed for people who are 6 feet tall. If you stand WAYYYYY back, it will capture a shorter person, but that means your arms can't reach the button to take the photo. I watched this tiny woman struggle with this puzzle for too long before the employee noticed and helped her out. We walk away with a customs print-out including the photo. Awesome. That should save some time somewhere. Sigh of relief.
We are feeling pretty good about now and we spot a lovely gift shop. Gwyndolyn does a bit of shopping and off we go to the customs inspection line. This is pretty much exactly like the security inspection except you can bring opened bottles of water or whatever through the line. They are looking for smuggled goods here, not explosives. This one is long and it is frankly clear that all of these travelers are getting a little tired of this. Faces are saggier, children are less bouncy, but we finally all make it through. Sigh of relief.
Oh dear mother of god.... The line of lines. The line to speak to the real live customs officer. We are all hanging in there. The people directing travelers had their hands full. Those who didn't do the pre-screen, over here, those who did.... oh, excuse me, sir, sir.... over here. How many lines are we at? I don't even know. I would love to speak to the officer in a clever manner, but my brains are scrambled by this point. That's probably the WHOLE point. If you are doing something illegal, you're either cool as a cucumber or a COMPLETE mess which would be a red flag. All of us, we're just tired. Finally through..... SIGH OF RELIEF.
Oh good, it appears our gate is in the next county. That's my fault. I have THAT kind of luck. The good side of my luck includes a little bit of money I forgot about. Enough that we each have a beer ad split a toasty before getting on the plane.
|Captain Ameri-cat is supposed to be good luck in our travels home.|
And now, the fun begins. There is major flooding happening in Houston and BOTH Houston international airports are shut down. All of their flights are being diverted to Austin and San Antonio. We are bumped and circle for some time before having to go to Corpus Christi to land and re-fuel. There is no gate for us, so we sit on the tarmac for a good long while. While sitting there we are informed that the computer has some sort of malfunction. In awesome 21st century style, the pilot warns us that he has to turn OFF the system and turn it back on to reboot. Maybe that will fix it.
We finally get to leave the airplane. We take our things. The reboot does not fix the problem. It's now 9PM. All of the restaurants in the Corpus airport are closed. We are stuck. Our crew has until midnight to fly or else they have to stay grounded. Seems like a great time for a nap. I lay down on the floor and SLEEP. The only reason I woke up was that I was getting cold. It's now 10:30. Computer is still not fixed and people are getting super antsy. We are told that we could leave, but if we do, we can't come back because there are no TSA agents to inspect people coming back in AND if it turns out they cancel the flight and you have left, your luggage will be stuck in Corpus waiting for you. We either stay until they say so, or leave and be on our own without our luggage. I know just a tiny bit about air travel, and I let Gwyndolyn know to stick close to the desk because all indications say this is going to be cancelled, vouchers will be issued, we will have to wait for those vouchers and get on a shuttle. If we are near the front, we will be out of here much quicker. And sure enough, the agent begins to quietly issue vouchers about 11:30. She doesn't announce it, she just starts serving those in line. We are about fifth. We get on a shuttle and go to the hotel, check in and go to bed! We don't have our luggage, but at this point, I don't care! BED!
In the morning, we pack up our backpacks and head to breakfast. We have vouchers... that's nice. Remember the traveling man we chatted with in DC? He was there and told us he had rented a car and still had two seats if we'd like to go to Austin after breakfast. The flight that we were all rescheduled boarded at 2:30. A car ride would get us there about noon. Sold. One last problem, our luggage. We decided if we could get our luggage, we would definitely take his offer, otherwise, we'd have to see if the luggage would be forwarded or not.
After breakfast, we drove over to the airport, went to the counter and asked about our flight and luggage. We described ours and even though she said she didn't think there was any more back there, came out quickly with both of our bright pink suitcases. Away we went.
Gwyndolyn had a friend pick us up in the cell phone lot at the Austin airport and our new friend drove away to turn in his rental car. We were home.