I turned 29 (on August 15) and started the celebration by…heading to the airport.
When we bought our return tickets to Budapest through Ireland, the cheapest ticket by a significant amount was on my birthday, I wasn’t too bothered. I mean, I would be flying to Ireland on my birthday. Things could be much, much, much worse.
After we made it through security (with every step in the long line I was regretting this birthday-travel decision more and more) and arrived at our gate, we discovered our flight was delayed.
No big deal. Happens all the time. We still had plenty of time to catch our connecting flight in Philadelphia.
Finally we got on the plane, and as we were getting settled, we discovered that the radar was out over Montana (that’s my home state, thankyouverymuch) so no eastbound flights could go anywhere. We waited on the plane for over an hour, eventually they shut off the engine, and then–finally–we got moving again.
Then. I guess turning off the engines had triggered something, because one thing after another kept breaking–so we were sent back to the gate and told to disembark. At this point, I was getting stressed about making our connection. We watched in dismay as the minutes ticked by and we missed our red-eye to Shannon in Ireland.
As we worked out what we were going to do, begging them to find us another flight, we heard over the loudspeaker–our flight had been cancelled. And the next flight to Ireland that American Airlines would put us on had us leaving the next day, with an extra layover.
After receiving our $24 dollar meal voucher (so generous!), they sent us on our merry way to a hotel.
It was disappointing, I won’t lie–losing one whole day of our seven-day trip to Ireland. We rescheduled things and tried to make the best of it–it was still my birthday.
The next day we got up bright and early, excited to finally make it to Ireland.
Can you see where this is going?
We made the first leg to Phoenix okay. But…
It was so hot in Phoenix, the plane was too heavy to fly (severely simplified physics here). So, first they asked eight people to get off and take a later flight. Time dragged on as they figured this out. It got hotter. Suddenly there was something wrong with the air and so it got even hotter.
The minutes crept by until it seemed like there was no way we would make another connection to Ireland.
Finally, they asked 35 more people to get off the plane. This time, they were offering vouchers for free flights, and since we had already missed our chance to go to Ireland that day (or so we thought), E and I quickly decided to get off. Might as well get something out of it!
We grabbed our vouchers and talked our way onto a flight that would still get us there a day and a half late, rather than two days late. So we flew into Dublin rather than Shannon, and drove too fast in rainy weather so our B&B wouldn’t charge us an extra night.
Of course, somehow our luggage had beat us, so we detoured to Shannon to grab our bags the next day.
Sadly, a million more things went wrong on our trip–I sprained my ankle by being stupid on some cliffs, inns didn’t have power, roads were closed, we got lost a million times, and more. It wasn’t exactly the relaxing birthday trip I had hoped.
And still, we were in Ireland. We walked on grassy cliffs and drank Guinness in lively pubs. We stayed a charming B&Bs and stopped at whatever vistas snagged our attention. It was still, essentially, the Irish road trip of my dreams.
So what, you may be asking, is the morale of this story?
Well, for one, that travel is not always glamorous–in fact, sometimes it completely sucks. And, in some ways, my 29th year started off on a rocky foot. But it also started with an important lesson about life–it will never always be smooth sailing. No matter how horrible the situation, you always have a choice.
You can make it a funeral, or you can make it a party.
It’s up to you.
(Bring it on, 29!)