Friday, November 12, 2010

Three Travel Adventures

by Ramona DeFelice Long

As you read this, I am on my way to Crime Bake. It’s my first time, and I am excited to be traveling with my writing friend and colleague, KB Inglee, by train to Boston. It has been my experience that traveling is best when it is uneventful. Today, as I wing my way towards a weekend with storytellers, I thought I’d share some travel stories that were not so uneventful.

#1. Setting: Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Event: Honeymoon. Mode of transportation: Air shuttle.

Cape Cod was our honeymoon destination. Mid-week, we took the ferry to Nantucket. I was a new bride, and I must have been high on bliss, because when my groom suggested we return to the Cape by the fifteen minute air shuttle, I said “Sure, honey!” I should have said, “Define air shuttle.” Or ask, “Why does the ticket person need to know my weight?” No, silly me said, “Sure, honey!”

When I saw the size of the plane and heard that it sat a full load of 8, I popped a Dramamine. Half an hour later….heck, I have no idea what happened half an hour later. I was zonked on Dramamine.

I came to, sort of, during descent and heard the pilot’s warning that the airport was chaos because of The Wedding. “What wedding?” I asked, wondering if he meant ours. He didn’t. Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger were being married the next day at Hyannis Port. In the excitement of my own wedding, I’d missed that.

He was right about the chaos, but he forgot to warn us about the paparazzi. As we disembarked, flash bulbs went off in our faces. I clung to my husband’s arm, trying to focus and smile and look my best in all my honeymoonish, woozy glory.

The glory was short-lived. A photographer called out, “Bride’s guest or groom’s?” Before we could answer, the pilot climbed down beside us.

“Don’t waste your pics,” he told the paps. “They’re nobody.”

#2. Setting: New York City. Event: Big Apple Vacation. Mode of transportation: Taxi.

Our first time in NYC, we stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria. It was fabulous. On Saturday night, the hotel hosted a society wedding. We sat in the bar, sipping Cokes ($12 a pop) and watching the Beautiful People. On Monday morning, we went to the Statue of Liberty. As a tourist, I felt it was my duty to invest in a bright green foam Statue of Liberty crown.

While we were gone, the Prime Minister of India arrived at the hotel. Not long after the PM arrived, a group of Sikhs came to protest. It was a peaceful protest. But it was still a protest, so the New York City Bomb Squad and Riot Police were called. By the time we got back, the hotel was surrounded and the streets were in gridlock. Our taxi driver was annoyed. He got us as close as he could and then, basically, told us to get out of his cab. We were tourists. We got out of his cab.

We made our way towards the hotel. My husband approached a scary dude with RIOT POLICE on his chest. Hubby held out our room key. To my surprise, RIOT POLICE man yelled at the line to let us through the gauntlet. He smiled at me and said, “Enjoy your stay, ma’am,” which seemed odd coming from a guy holding a shield, wearing a face mask and protective leg guards and carrying a whole lotta serious fire power.

When we got to our room, I realized why he was so kind. I’d walked through a line of heavily armed peace officers and protestors while wearing a bright green foam Statue of Liberty crown. I’m sure RIOT POLICE man let us through because he was just plain embarrassed for me.

#3. Setting: The clean and friendly skies. Event: My sister’s wedding. Mode of transportation: Commercial airline.

My sister’s wedding was a happily anticipated event, except for one little thing. My oldest baby was suffering a little blockage problem. Despite a couple of baby firecrackers and copious amounts of prune juice, the child refused to go boom-boom. For four days. Frantic, I called our pediatrician. He said my son--and I--both just needed to relax.

You know the look of horror that spreads across waiting passengers when they spot a small child? Multiply that by two for twins and then by a thousand when one is cranky because he hasn’t gone boom-boom in four days.

The plane was packed. We couldn’t sit together. I sat in the second to last row. It was close to the bathroom, so I volunteered to sit with Cranky Blocked Baby.

We were about fifteen minutes into the flight when my son decided to take the pediatrician’s advice. He “relaxed.”

He relaxed through his diaper, down his legs, up his back, soaking his car seat pad. The sounds and smells of his relaxation were so dramatic that, six rows ahead, my husband stood up and looked back at us with horror. And then he pretended he’d never seen us before in his life.

I can’t tell you about the looks the passengers around us gave me. They still give me chills at night.

I took my son into the tiny bathroom. I think everyone on that plane prayed I’d flush the two of us into the sky. Trust me, I thought about it.

I did my best, but a power washer could not have cleaned off the child. Who, to the annoyance of everyone around, had the nerve to be sweet and gurgly and HAPPY for the rest of the stinky flight.

So there are my top three eventful travel stories: The paparazzi, the riot police, and the Case of the Exploding Diaper. I hope this train ride to Boston goes off without incident. In keeping with this month’s theme, if I arrive at my first Crime Bake with my dignity intact, I will be thankful.


Gina said...

Ah, come on, Ramona. Wouldn't you really rather have great travel stories like those than a completely uneventful trip?

Annette said...

Ramona, Ramona, Ramona. You neglected to mention the Sisters in Crime Great Flood and Writer's Retreat complete with creapy van and ladybugs!

Jenna said...

LOL! That last one, especially, is funny. I've been there and done that. And walked through Liberty Airport in Newark with - in this case - baby vomit all over my shirt. Have a great time at Crime Bake!

Laurie said...

HaHa! Thanks, Ramona, for making me laugh this morning. I, too, especially enjoyed your last story.
Have a wonderful time at Crimebake. I have to go next year! :-)

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Great stuff Ramona.

Gosh with as much travel as I've done, I could write a book about "eventful" travel.

Have fun at the Bake.

Joyce Tremel said...

Great, great stories! I think all moms have experienced something similar to your last story--at least the runny diaper part. Ah, memories.

Have fun at Crime Bake! Say hi to The Janet Reid for me. And try to keep her and Paula out of trouble!

NancyM said...

Our honeymoon began with an aborted takeoff---the plane litterally screeched to a halt at the very end of the runway, then went back to the terminal. Because we were newlyweds, the airline re-booked us, first class. (Which has never happened since, but hey--a nice way to start a honeymoon!)

Why do the worst travel horror stories involve our children, I wonder? I remember nearby passengers passing me napkins & Kleenex for a gross clean-up . . . .

Gina said...

Are we trading travel horror stories, then?

I've never traveled with children, but there was the time the little boy sitting beside me vomited for the entire descent into Heathrow. We passengers frantically scrambled for a barf bag while the kid's young father patted his head and made soothing noises. No one found a barf bag, so the kid threw up into an airline blanket. I hope they took it off before the next flight.

Patg said...

Wow, for a second there I thought I was back at work listening to my clients talk about their trips.
Good stuff Ramona, and I second the idea that they were only horrifying while they were happening, later they are fabulous experiences.
8 to 10 passenger planes are like flying in a cigar. My one way trip in one had me opping for a 4 passenger plane on the return leg. Contrary to general belief they are wonderful. It's 'healthier' to have a grand view when flying in a small plane.

Gina said...

True, Patg, and you're flying low enough to count the cows.

Ramona said...

Hi everyone! Made it safely to Boston via Amtrak. (New England is so gorgeous.)

So far, only minor mishaps; 1. I lost a brand new earring at the Wilmington train station. 2. Before we had traveled five miles, KB and I were scolded by the conductor for talking in the Quiet Car. Whoops.

Annette, I am saving the flood stories for my Natural Disasters I Have Known and Loved post.

Have a great weekend, all! Thanks for allowing me to shred my dignity with the Stiffs.

NancyM said...

Don't leave us hanging, Ramona! Did you vacate the Quiet Car so you could continue to chat? Or button up for the rest of the trip?

Annette said...

So sorry I chose to get married when baby #1 refused to go BOOOM BOOM. I wonder which side of the family such stubbornness comes from.