Ed and I have taken, oh, three vacations now since we got married. We just got back on the 17th from the third! We went to Wyoming to join Keith up on a mountain at my parents' cabin. It was quite the adventure. We left here on the 7th, flew to Chicago, then caught our connecting flight into Billings, Montana. I should mention here that I HATE to fly. Hate it. We're talking almost hyperventilating. Gin gets me through flights usually. So anyways, we're flying. Because it's a 3 day drive to Wyoming, and that's with one kid. Not two. Henry had his own seat (which he sat in his carseat in... the same carseat we had to drag through all the airports in order to get it into said airplane seat)
(see the carseat on the back of the stroller?)
but Caroline got to sit in our laps. She doesn't sit still very well. and I don't cope well with a baby who wants to look out the window.
I mean, we're pretty high up! I don't want to look, but I can't not pay attention to her, because she's not too steady on the feet. Ed usually ended up looking out the window with her, while I dug holes in the armrest with my fingernails. So we're on the connection to Billings. That was an OH SO FUN flight. It's one of those small planes - not a propeller plane but the next size up. So small that Chicago's airport doesn't use one of those tunnel thingys to get to the plane. INSTEAD, they make everyone gate check their carry ons which are bigger than, oh, a purse and THEN make everyone walk down some steps and out onto the tarmac. Oh, it was pouring when we were in Chicago. Especially while we were on the tarmac waiting to board the plane. And there were some issues, so we couldn't board the plane. Instead we enjoyed the rain for 20 minutes. Caroline was screaming, Henry was shivering, I needed a drink... you get the picture. So we get on the plane, the plane takes off, Henry falls asleep, Ed takes Caroline, and I order a gin & tonic. It was only a two hour flight, so fortunately it went by pretty quickly. That is, until the pilot said we were starting our descent into Billings. And then, a few minutes later, the pilot came back on and said that there were severe thunderstorms right over Billings that he wasn't going to fly through, and we only had enough fuel to circle Billings for 20 minutes so we might just be diverting to Bozeman. THAT announcement almost put me into cardiac arrest. So we fly for a minute or two (I swore it was more like 19, but Ed says it was just a couple) while I try to figure out how exactly the pilot knew that we only had 20 minutes of fuel - was there a low fuel gauge up there? Were their calculations right? What exactly happened if we ran out of fuel 10000 feet above the ground? All of this was running through my head while we were flying in some nasty turbulence. It was not a fun time. I think I told Ed that I was going to be moving to Bozeman, or Billings, or wherever the hell the plane landed because I was D.O.N.E. done. Then the pilot came back on and said that we were, indeed detouring to Bozeman to get fuel. So we go to Bozeman, land, get some gas, take off again, and fly the hour to Billings. I still haven't figured how a quick detour because we only had 20 minutes of gas turned into an hour return flight, but whatever. We landed, TWICE, in one piece. I was pretty impressed. I was also impressed that *I* was not the poor person who's final destination was actually Bozeman, which is about 3 hours by car from Billings. I overheard that poor soul at the baggage claim on his telephone. He was, how should I put it, not a happy camper.
Finally, we were off the plane. My mom's friend who had been staying with them was leaving in the morning, so she had driven their car up to Billings to meet us. We dropped her off at her hotel and then got on the road to the mountain. Fortunately the kids were exhausted (it was about 8pm Mountain time - 10pm Eastern! They go to bed around 7pm!) The road from Billings to Sheridan (I-90) is long, and straight, and boring. And the radio stations don't come in too well, and if they do you usually end up driving out of range pretty quickly. So we drove, and drove, and drove. We took highway 16 out of Buffalo, and then had to start paying attention to the directions. The directions said something like this:
Drive 27.4 miles out of Buffalo.
Turn onto state road 123.
Drive until you see a dirt road.
Drive down the dirt road 1.2 miles.
Don't drive through the fence, but instead go through the gate.
That last bit of directions is important. I'll get to it in a minute. So we're driving down highway 16, which is a windy highway up the mountain, and all of a sudden there's a tornado warning on the radio. And said tornado is in the county we're in. According to the radio, the tornado was outside of Story, and was going to be at mile marker 212 on highway 25 at 10:20pm, mile marker 224 on highway 25 at 10:23pm, mile marker 234 at 10:27pm, and so on. I know, you're thinking where in the hell is Story and all these mile markers? Don't worry, we didn't have a clue either. We were just crossing our fingers it was nowhere where we were! Fortunately, it appeared we were nowhere near Story or any mile markers on highway 25. We finally found the road we needed to turn on off of 16, and then found the dirt road. They weren't kidding - it was a dirt road. And dirt roads don't have streetlights. About this time (which was about 11pm), the skies decided to open up. No, it wasn't a rain storm, but instead a hail storm. So I'm driving down a dirt road with no light in the mountains of Wyoming in a hail storm looking for a fence and a gate. AND, the odometer on the car doesn't appear to have tenths of a mile on it, and we need to go 1.2 miles. After we drive what I'm guessing is just over a mile, I see a fence. And then we look, and it's a gate! So I stop. Ed's staring at said gate, I'm staring at said gate, and we're both thinking this can't be the gate. So I drive through the fence and keep going. A little while later Ed and I are discussing just how far we think we've driven, and he says he sees lights that look like a cabin, but they're behind us. So I turn around. I drive BACK to the fence and the gate. And I stop with the headlights pointed at the gate, and we stare at it. After a minute or so, I say "Ed, I think that's a horse corral."
(The daylight version of said horse corral, complete with horses. See the gate? I almost drove through that!)
So we decide not to drive through the gate, but to go through the fence again. I start down the road again, and Ed says "oh look! They sent help!" A car was coming down the mountain to find up - I guess they were watching our headlights going back and forth and my cousin's husband decided someone needed to rescue us. We drove toward the lights, and lo and behold, there was a fence. AND A GATE! And it was a serious gate - no horse corral here. Keith and my dad and my cousin's husband were there to greet us, and send us up to the cabin. Finally, a little after 11pm, we had made it! Stay tuned for the next installment :)