Getting There (and Back) in Hurricane Matthew

The moral of this post is that sometimes you just can’t win. No matter how positive I try to remain, sometimes there are days where it feels like the cards are stacked against you. I realize in the wake of the hurricane devastation in Haiti, four American police officers shot and killed this week, and other life circumstances in general, this is all trivial. But holy cow, I just can’t seem to get things right!

A few months ago, we started compiling our calendars and realized October would be a bit of a crazy month. I was scheduled for a work trip out of town for two whole weeks – which is pretty out of the ordinary for me. I may find myself working some long hours, but for the most part, it’s all local. While Steve is an awesome husband and father, by nature of being an awesome Marine as well, his schedule is a whole lot more unpredictable. His October travel plans have changed about 15 times in the last month. Typical. Being a military spouse is a whole lot of go with the flow, and I’ve become a lot better about it. We started to get the idea that we had no idea what to do with our own kids for a few weeks. It’s a pretty overwhelming feeling as a parent, I tell ya. In the past, we’ve always had grandparents come to the rescue. This time, they were busy, darn it. I guess I can’t blame them too much for having their own lives. Both grandpas are still working away and both grandmas are loving the retirement season. We reached out to my parents and they graciously offered to keep the kids in Kansas for a few weeks. They also graciously offered to keep them for a few months, but we politely declined because we kind of love them. So, a headache of plane tickets and a whole lot of sky miles later (thanks Mom!), we had plane tickets and travel plans. Meanwhile I was quadruple checking that I booked everything correctly. (A little insight on how complicated it was, I booked three roundtrip tickets for me and the kids to Kansas and back to North Carolina for three weeks, and then a roundtrip ticket in between for myself to North Carolina and back. It still confuses me when I explain it to people, and boy was I worried about messing that up!) Meanwhile, after I booked the flights, Steve was scheduled to be home, then gone, then home, and now gone. I can sure count on him to be great when he’s around, but we can’t always count on him to be around. He sacrifices a bunch for his country and we’re super proud of him. Given all his changes, we were glad we had our plans for this kids to stay with grandma and grandpa. Because they’d have a whole lot more fun getting spoiled than spending 14 hours a day in daycare for two weeks straight.

Cue Hurricane Matthew. We’ve lived in North Carolina for about six years now, and there have been a few hurricanes in that time. Hurricane Earl nearly cancelled our wedding and kept the groom at the barracks under lockdown (certainly setting the tone for a military marriage, ha!). But for the most part, the hurricanes have been relatively uneventful and just a whole bunch of rain. According to the local news, this one was supposed to be a little more exciting than most… arriving on Friday. The day we had our outgoing flight scheduled. And headlines plastering with news of the hurricane strengthening. Joy. So in preparation, we spent our last evening moving vehicles from my parent’s island condominium, grabbing the sentimental stuff to keep at the house, moving plants, lawn furniture, etc. (Instead of packing two toddlers for two weeks, which still desperately needed to be done). I suggested to the hubby to stock up on some food for himself at the commissary, because after Friday we were leaving him and the dogs to fend for themselves in the hurricane.

So, after days of stressing about our flight, we got out, and our unintentional evacuation plans were underway. I was initially bummed about flying from the airport two hours away, because who wants to drive that far at 2:30 in the morning? That’s two hours before my alarm clock normally goes off, but it’s only a ten minute drive to work and there’s coffee there. But it ended up working to our advantage because we were driving two hours inland, instead of flying from the coast. Given that the hurricane was scheduled to last until Sunday, I had about 80% certainty that I’d be able to get back in time for my commitment on Monday.

And then there’s flying with two toddlers. Because who doesn’t have that at the top of their “things I love” list? It’s a pretty comical sight to see us trekking through the airport with a double stroller loaded down with two kids, two car seats, one parent and all of our carry-ons. Camera included, because obviously, who is going to fly without a camera kit?  I’m thankful for double strollers, iPad movies, and good kids. I would say about 90% of people are either extremely gracious, empathetic, or even helpful. And then there’s the 10% that look at you like your kids are annoying them (they’re annoying me too, people). And of course, the ever present but thankfully rare few that ask 1) what’s the age gap (eighteen months), 2) was that an accident (no, people, it really wasn’t), 3) you know how to prevent that, right? (yes, we do, and we’re thankful for these little blessings no matter how much flying with toddlers can suck), 4) so you’re done having kids?, and 5) where’s your husband? (deployed, military training, generally MIA – take your pick). Yes, we’ve heard all of those questions. More than once. I think there’s something about flying and the fact that it’s a total stranger you’ll never see again that makes people extra nosey. I always try to answer with a smile and it’s a toss up whether they get a hello or dinosaur roar from Mitchell.

But no matter how rough our day of travel was, we knew we had four grandparent arms waiting on the other side with big old hugs! And guess what – it was smooth as could be. Much better than our last trip when I dropped Julia on her head. (Totally accidental, and I cried and felt bad for a week until that scrape went away. So bad, in fact, that I certainly didn’t post it on the blog for all to read. I’m over it now, but we won’t relive that less-than-stellar mom moment). My 48 hours in Kansas was full of fun, and we crammed as much as we could into those two days. More on that soon. Which brings me to the return trip. What could possibly go wrong when I’m flying sans two toddlers? Sounds like the easiest trip ever in my book. So, I hop off the plane a LAX (kidding, Chicago), and scroll through my email as I’m cruising down the moving walkway. Your October 10 class is cancelled due to flooding. Please feel free to register again for this training in the future. Sorry for the inconvenience. Or something along those lines is what the email read. Y’all, this is where I about lost it. I woke up at 2:30 and used up all those frequent flyer miles and drove in a hurricane and flew with two toddlers and left my kids for two weeks for absolutely no reason! Class cancelled. Call me crazy, but I felt like the worst mom in the world. And I did until about Tuesday night when I called Mitchell while he was out to dinner at Fritz’s and could hear the sheer joy in his voice as the choo choo train brought his “chichen nuggets” and I knew he was having the time of his life in Kansas City with Grandma and Grandpa. And then there’s the selfish side of me that just plain misses them. So here I am, in Chicago with no return flights for the kids for two more weeks.

So I made it home and picked up the car. Back to our long 2 1/2 hour trip to Raleigh in the hurricane, we were down to about 100 miles of gas for 140 mile trip. Not a big deal, except that I started trying to get gas on the very first exit out of the Raleigh airport, and every gas station to Richlands. Y’all, that’s 120 miles. I reiterate above where I only had 100 miles of gas. Every exit was out of power and flooded, and therefore, no pumps were working. It was a little eerie seeing all of the gas station lots filled with lines of cars just waiting for the pumps to be turned back on. And the highway was closed in the opposite direction for a sinkhole. Tree limbs and flooded cars abandoned on the side of the road. No w0nder they cancelled my class because it was right in the middle of flood zone, North Carolina. In case anyone with a Ford is wondering, 0 miles does not actually mean 0 miles and you can drive at least an extra 20 minutes on an “empty” tank. The hubby was on his way to fill up the gas tank to get me the extra gas I needed to get home. Luckily, I found the only gas station in 120 miles with gas at the last possible minute and made it home. To which I immediately said, “we’re going to Texas Roadhouse.” I wanted steak after this whole debacle because yes, since the gas stations were closed, so was every food establishment. And I was hungry.

We pressed the reset button on Monday. I took the day off of work (Steve had Columbus Day off), and stayed in bed until 10:00 (when does that ever happen?!), went to the gym, spent awhile at the beach, walked the dogs, and binge watched Hulu. By Tuesday, I was still feeling out of whack and completely unmotivated to work, only to find out that Steve’s out of town trip was cancelled that morning. Only to be rescheduled with another trip by afternoon. Y’all, I go through more erasers than pencils on my calendar with our crazy schedules. Or it could have been the dead car battery I was jumping before sunrise, ha! But there’s a silver lining. A fellow co-worker gave me a genius idea (why don’t I ever have them?!). Steve’s gone anyway, we had arrangements for the dogs, speech appointments cancelled, sub plans for my school, several weeks of vacation days built up, work wasn’t expecting me… why not take the week off and spend it with my mom in my hometown? All it would take is an earlier one way flight and I’d have EIGHT DAYS back in Kansas. Plus my dad was scheduled to be out of town for a week, so it would be a good old girls week! This would be the first time in over three years that I spent longer than a long weekend there. And long weekends are never enough to cram in everything you want to do. So, with a little pleading from the boss man and a call to Southwest Airlines, it was done. And boy, am I excited for some lazy hometown time. Especially since I have a 15 paged paper and final exam due in the next week. Ha!

So if you’re a mommy blogger still reading with me, I’d love to read your travel woes. Sometimes getting there can be super stressful, but sometimes you have to look at it like a comedy hour. And sometimes, even when absolutely nothing is going right, you can end up on top with a complete surprise ten day vacation. Whew. Good riddance. I’d say that Thanksgiving travel will be smoother, but Steve was already rearranging flight plans and rental cars THE DAY AFTER those flights were booked. To all my fellow military wives, Semper Fidelis, and equally importantly, Semper Gumby.

One thought on “Getting There (and Back) in Hurricane Matthew

  1. My husband was supposed to be TDY at Fort Bragg, NC for the next 2 weeks for a training school, but it was canceled because of the Hurricane Matthew flooding. Of course my husband didn't find out until he was 6 hours into the 9 hour trip there!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s