We had to rise at 3:55 am. Isabella did not want to get up, of course, who would. I changed her out of her pajamas into a cute St. Augustine outfit. Kevin packed up the Pack 'N Play and grabbed the last of the luggage to put it in the car.
Keith and Tiff were up, too, getting the girls ready to travel. They put the girls to bed in travel clothes so they didn't have to wake them. (Good idea but Isabella pees so much during the night that I didn't want to risk her peeing through one of the days outfits.)
Grandma and Papa even got up to hug everyone good-bye as we left to drive two hours to turn the cars in.
We made descent time driving, not the best time. One the way, we saw deer running in the rode and a car fire. Now when I say car fire, I'm not describing a simple engine fire. I mean entire car engulfed in flames. People were standing watching the car holding one another, crying. Flames shot twenty feet in the air. Very scary! Isabella stayed awake the while ride, watching out the window and talking to us.
Leaving at 4:30 am gave us plenty of time to make our 8 am flight or so we thought. We already had our boarding passes so we didn't need to check in. All we had to do was turn in the cars, jump on the tram and check the bags at the road-side check-in. If it was that easy!
We pulled into Thrifty at exactly 6:15 am after filling up at a gas station right across the street ($4.39 a gallon - Can you believe that????!!!) The line was not long to drop off but there were a lot of people waiting for a tram. Luckily two trams pulled up at the same time and we loaded one with one other family.
The other family exited first and we were excited to see that the gate was empty. We shouldn't have gotten so excited...
At exactly 6:30 am we pulled up to Southwest. What was going on? was the first thought that went through my head. There were hundreds of people standing in line to check their bags. Hundreds!
The guys dumped our luggage off at the front of the line and we girls stayed with the bags and the kids while the guys searched for an answer. Inside, outside, they looked - Is this the line we have to wait in for an 8 am flight? Finally one employee said "You need to arrive 2-3 hours ahead of your scheduled flight to make sure your bags are checked?" What??!!!! Two-three hours! Our flight was in less than 1.5. We never thought we'd make it. Kevin and Keith went to the back of the line as Tiff and I guarded the bags. We waited and waited as one, yes, I typed one, lady checked people in.
At 7:40 am we finally made it to the front of line and had our bags checked - LATE CHECK-IN. Hopefully they all made it on the flight but at this point we didn't care; we wanted to get on the flight - with or without the bags because the next flight was not until 5 pm that evening. We'd be on stand-by and be charged $75 each for a flight change.
Bags checked. Yes!
We all ran to security. Tiff and I pushing the strollers. Kevin and Keith with the carry-ons. Oh crap is all I can say. There was no way we were making this flight now not with the line at security! We got in separate lines hoping one of us would get through fast and make it to the plane to hold it for the other. We told people in front of us to have everything ready to go once it was their turn to be checked - shoes of, kids out of the strollers, money out of pockets. It helped in Keith's line because they made it through in about 5 minutes. We didn't make it that fast. So Keith and Tiff and the girls ran a head and hoped to catch the flight, now at 7:46 am.
We made it through security about 5 minutes later. We RAN, and I mean RAN, to the gate tram. We know the exact time we made it to the tram because we were boarding the tram to the gates when the girl beside us, said her flight was taking off. We don't know if she made it or not.
At 7:55 am we made it to the flight 725 gate. No one was in site, not even a gate agent to check people in. Maybe we didn't make it!!! But we poked our heads down the gate and saw someone. "Can we board?" When we heard 'yes' we were thrilled!
Because of a malfunction in the pilot's seat, the flight was delayed 15 minutes. That and only that was the whole reason we made the flight. While we were waiting for the seat to be replaced we heard a disruption a few rows back. A passenger has lost her cell phone and was getting nasty with the flight attendants. She was swearing and at one point yelled to the other passengers that if one of us took it she's give a $50 reward to get it back, no questions asked. She continued to get louder until the flight staff brought on outside help. She quited down after that.
As the flight took off, Miss Bella fell asleep in Kevin's arms. She slept until we touched down in Cleveland. (Kelsey and Kylie kept Keith and Tiff really busy during the flight but we were several rows back so we enjoyed a nice quite flight.)
Well, farewell to St. Augustine!