Sunday, December 12, 2010

Surprise Trips

I’ve always enjoyed showing up in New York without much notice. The surprise element is fun to plan.

Seven years ago, I really needed to be on two coasts at the same time. I always endeavor to be present at my grandchildrens’ reception of the Sacraments. That year, my youngest daughter was expecting her first child right around the time one of my grandchildren was receiving his First Holy Communion. I could not plan anything as I needed to be in San Diego for my daughter. The little girl was born on Wednesday about 7 pm. That evening I got a reservation on a Red-eye out of Los Angeles for Friday night. I drove to Los Angeles that evening and flew to JFK (New York City) arriving around 5AM. No one but my son in Los Angeles and my New York City daughter knew what I was up to. My daughter met me at JFK and drove me to Beacon, NY. As we were driving north, we planned how I was going to surprise the rest of the family. As she parked the car, I tip-toed up the porch steps to the front door and waited. Meanwhile, she ran to the back door and entered the house yelling there is someone at the front door. My son-in-law opened the door. He later told me that for him it was like seeing a ghost. My daughter ran past him, yelling to her sister (his wife) that she had to get out of the shower and come downstairs right away, which she did. It was such a great surprise. When the family was ready, we drove to the church where we saw my eldest daughter. She responded with a routine “hello” and then, at her sister’s beckoning, realized that I was sitting in the passenger seat. It was a great surprise.

I told the lady who does my hair. She told her mother, who lives in Mexico City. Inspired by my spontaneity, her mother flew one day to see her children in San Diego without telling them. She arrived at the airport and phoned one of her daughters. Unfortunately, she picked a time when they were at work. The poor woman sat at the Tijuana airport for hours until one of the children could come for her.

Four years ago I did it again for my eldest daughter’s birthday. Then, however, her husband and the sisters knew about it so I had a lot of help. I stayed out of the way until I went to the restaurant. It was so nice standing in a room full of people at her surprise party just waiting for her to reach where I was standing. She walked around the room talking to each of her friends and then, finally, recognized me.

In April of this year, I replayed the scenario for my Beacon daughter’s special birthday. This time, however, I flew to NY with no one meeting me. I arrived at JFK around 4pm, went to the baggage claim for my large suitcase. When I got that, I looked for the Air Train (a monorail) that would take me to the New York City subway system. I was loaded down with a small cosmetic bag that held a C-Pap, a big red suitcase, and a large model bag holding my “valuables.” I decided to take the “E” train and had to ask a lot of directions. I found everyone to be very helpful. It was quite a trek. My final destination was Grand Central Station on 42nd Street. I rode the “E” train until I reached 42nd street and Eighth Avenue. Then, I took another subway line which crosses the city from east to west to get to Grand Central Station. I purposely took the long way around because the larger stations usually have an elevator at train platforms.

I finally arrived at Grand Central at 6:30pm when I met my eldest daughter (a little worried, since she knew I landed at 4pm). We went into the restaurant where I surprised the birthday girl and my New York City daughter. It was another great surprise with the eruption of tears as well as hugs.

This fall, my surprise trip was to attend my daughter’s baby shower. Since we e-mailed daily, I made a big mistake. I forgot to make up an excuse as to why I wasn’t around to answer her e-mails and calls. You don’t do that to a pregnant woman. My bad….

Monday, December 6, 2010

Return to San Diego

On Saturday I returned to San Diego on United Airlines. The first leg of the trip (Flight #7009) from Westchester County Airport was delayed almost three hours due to snow in Chicago. When the plane arrived in Chicago at Gate F1, we deplaned on the tarmac. I estimated that the first 100 feet was wet with occasional patches of icy slush, followed by approximately 500 feet on ice and slush. I actually had to hold on to the cement wall as I inched along very carefully, step by step, to reach the building, because I was concerned about falling. The snow had stopped but I guess no one bothered to clear that pathway. After I entered the building and made my way to the shuttle bus to go from Terminal F to Terminal C, I found the pathway to the bus clear, as well as a clear pathway when I arrived at Terminal C. There was an elderly couple on my flight who used wheelchairs to board the plane. I hope they were not too inconvenienced by the situation.

I contacted United to alert them to this fact, since it is only the beginning of the season. Hopefully, they will ensure that this pathway is cleared in the future.

The second leg of my trip (Flight #651) on United left 40 minutes late. After we were settled in our seats, we were informed that we were waiting for the crew who had just arrived from Providence. Before long, the captain apologized for the delay stating that they would do their best to quickly perform necessary preparations for the flight. I heard some men make comments about the words, "do their best," and I assumed it was because the captain was female. After a while, the captain announced that we would be delayed another approximately 15 minutes while the plane was de-iced. I certainly didn't mind that. I wanted a safe flight. And, I was so tired at that point I didn't have a reaction. By the time I arrived in San Diego, I had been traveling for 13 hours.

By the way, I like Westchester County Airport, but you don't really want to experience a delay there. After screening, you stay in one large room with a little snack stand. I had already purchased O Magazine at a stand when I arrived outside the screening area. I enjoyed reading the articles but I didn't need several hours to read the magazine. A few years ago, while flying to San Diego from Westchester County Airport, a plane to Florida was delayed. We seemed to have at least 200 people in that one room. Very uncomfortable, in my opinion. On Saturday, however, all the other flights were for the Eastern Seaboard so they didn't have delays. Just my plane.... :)

While I love New York and had a great time with the family, I was very happy today. I went out to the food store in a sweater set and immediately went back inside to changed to a short sleeve shirt. What a wonderful feeling. I obviously enjoy the warm sunlight as opposed to ice and snow. The San Diego weather forecast for the rest of this week is 68 and 69 degrees, and in the 70's on the weekend. I'm displaying my photographs of San Diego to show how inviting it is.