We awoke and ate breakfast early so that we could pack up and get on our way before checkout time at 11. I was anxious, given my extreme hatred of traveling. That coupled with the fact that The Wife can’t stand having me around when there’s packing to do caused the kids and me to go to the pool to swim for an hour. After The Boy proved that the rule about not running on the pool deck is a wise rule, swimming ensued and the three of us had a good time in the 90 degree water. Coming back to the villa, we found most packing done and allegedly “helped” to finish the job.
As we were carting things to the car, one of the checked bags decided to give up the ghost and the zipper busted, making containment of our stuff impossible. Great. Now we had to find a new bag to replace this one and do it quickly.
Have I mentioned recently how much I hate traveling?
So, we finished off the packing and loading of the car and went to the front desk to check out (a couple miles away). That went fine and smoothly, so we proceeded to WalMart to get the bag, which also went surprisingly smoothly. The Wife got the bag while the rest of us waited in the parking lot (no, I was not running the air conditioning while the car idled… four windows with the car off, of course). We transferred everything from the dead bag to the new bag and removed all Personally Identifying Information from the old one before finding a trash bin large enough to accept it. Now, only ten minutes behind schedule, we headed off to gas up the car and return it.
Florida is a self-serve state, of course, so idiots like me get to pump our own flammable liquids to our hearts content. Once again, I say to all the politicians who want to bring self-service to New Jersey – if it is going to save us money, how come all the self-serve states have more expensive gas than we do in New Jersey? Anyway, we found a station about 2 miles from the drop off point for the car and I filled the tank with $45 worth of high quality regular unleaded gas from a 7-Eleven. No spills or drips. Hooray for me! We eventually found the drop off point and the helpful attendant handed me the slip for the $47+ of taxes that I guess were not included in the original payment I made. Great.
We headed off to the shuttle area and got on the bus with our driver, Melanie. Melanie said that she went by the nickname of Elvis because she was such a big fan of his- That’s right, we spotted Elvis on our Disney World vacation, and Elvis gave us a ride to the airport. Melvis, as I now called her in my own mind, was very chatty and talked and talked for the whole ride. Of course, I am never afraid to be the peanut gallery so I played right along with her, talking about the weather, gas prices, Fourth of July festivities, reasons that New Jersey is better than Florida… all kinds of stuff. She told us about the losers who get on her bus 10 minutes before their flights are supposed to take off and complain that they’re going to miss the flight because of the shuttle. It was exciting.
She dropped us off outside the entry area for JetBlue and we entered to find a snarling mass of humanity waiting to check bags and get boarding passes. We, of course, already had our passes but I couldn’t figure out how to get into any line where that mattered. Eventually a guy helped us out and got us into the line. We were right behind some dude and his family who had like 27 bags (okay, maybe it was 7) but did NOT have boarding passes. In fact, it sounded like one of the children was going to have to go standby on another flight while the rest of them were standby for an earlier one. Interesting. It took like 30 minutes to sort out this one family, then we finally got up to the front where the agent was praising our patience. She then proceeded to get us seat assignments, four together with two of us separated by the aisle on each side (in other words, two groups of two, but in the same row). We were in the “Even More Legroom” seats, which you have to pay $20 more for unless you get assigned to them at the gate.
Have I mentioned these seats yet? Seriously, we were guaranteed that we had seats, but we could not get a seat assignment because they really wanted to get our $20 each out of us ahead of time. While this gives you like 2 or 3 inches of extra space, I couldn’t justify it given that 3 of the 4 of us didn’t need all the space that the regular seats provided, let alone anything extra. I think it is really poor behavior on the part of the airline to do this and cause stress to infrequent travelers like us who spent time worrying that they were going to stick us in four disjointed seats despite the fact that there were children involved. Sure, it turned out fine and didn’t cost us anything more, but in these difficult times this is the wrong way to nickel and dime us.
Anyway, we got checked in and headed through security, eventually getting to the food court in the airport, at which the only thing for a vegetarian to eat was pizza… well, Sbarro, but that’s not really pizza. Anyway, they were out of ice, they were out of Pepsi and Sierra Mist and Pink Lemonade. So, we had our second or third-choice drinks with our overpriced pizza-like meals, then headed to our gate.
The flight took off on time and was very, very smooth. The Boy, whom we filled with Bonine and who was wearing his Sea Bands, was fine for the takeoff, though he complained a little about the pressure in his head. The flight itself was smooth the entire time, virtually no turbulence or anything.
We circled around Newark for about 30 minutes and then came in for a hard landing. I think we may have even bounced. The landing was very, very rough, given that there was no weather-related reason for it to be. Whatever. We were nearly an hour early and The Boy had no trouble with the landing this time, so there was much rejoicing. We had to run off the plane, of course, since we hadn’t visited a restroom in an hour, but what else is new?
We collected our bags, and grabbed some pizza to go, figuring we’d get on the train to get home earlier. Of course, the escalator to the AirTran was broken so we all had to try to get onto the little elevator that was the slowest thing in the universe. The line was not real long, but only a few people fit at a time. We blew through ten minutes waiting for that to go. We eventually got to the real train station a minute before the train we wanted, but it was rush hour and the train was crowded and there was no way we’d be able to sit and/or eat so we opted out of it, figuring we’d take the next one.
Well, it got complicated then. The next train on the schedule I had printed out from the internet was actually to take us north one stop to Newark Penn Station, then board another train south. The ticket agent told me, though, that this was not possible because all trains that stopped in Newark also stopped at the Airport… so it would not help us to do this. Of course, she was wrong and there were several express trains that went straight from Newark to Princeton Junction. Oh well.
We waited for an hour to the next train that stopped at the Airport station and then continued on beyond Jersey Avenue. This was a double-decker train. We couldn’t sit together, but at least we all had seats. I sat next to a screaming child and her mother who didn’t seem to want to control the child, but that’s all right. We eventually got to the Princeton Junction station and our journey was over. We survived. We started the journey home at 10:30 AM in Kissimmee, Florida and ended up at the Princeton Junction train station at 8:11 PM.
So even though the air travel part of the travelling was simple and relatively hassle-free, we still had troubles that ended up making the 2 hour flight take 10 hours out of our day. Have I mentioned recently that I hate traveling?
At least it didn’t rain. For those of you keeping score, I did not wear sunscreen today, meaning that my theory, that if I wear sunscreen it will rain, is at least as reliable as the one about washing the car bringing out the rain. Oh, the things I will subject myself to in order to help the forward movement of scientific knowledge.