Sunday, April 25, 2010

Alabama Bound

Yesterday morning found me at the airport on Roatan, standing in the usual long line waiting to check in on a Saturday morning. It seems crazy to arrive 2 hours early at such a small airport on a small island, but the lines are always long and move slowly. I must say though that bringing the computer age to the airport has certainly improved things, at least for checking in. Now, if immigration would get computerized, that would REALLY be an improvement. I moved from that long line to the exit fee line, paid my $36.00, and then got in the immigration line. Very slow moving, mostly because the security screening line was so backed up that no one could move.

The two adjoining waiting areas were packed. Standing room only. The Delta flight had been delayed coming in and that really caused a log-jam. There are at least three flights that arrive, do a quick turn-around (30 mins. or so) and leave again, coming very close together. The Delta flight got first priority and the Continental flights had to wait. I was glad that I had nearly three hours between my connection in Houston. I'm not sure what time we finally took off. I quit wearing a watch when we moved to Roatan, and I figured it did no good to stress out over something out of my control anyway, so why look.

We did land in Houston at 5:00 (4:00 Roatan time). I looked at my boarding pass, saw the 6:35 time and began to stress a bit. Then I saw the line for immigration. Holy Moly!!! I have never seen such a line. The huge room was full and backed up back into the hallway around a corner. I was beginning to feel doomed. As the line slowly inched forward and I got close enough to hear, one of the agents was announcing certain flights that had immediate boarding times. Oh, good, I thought. I may make it yet if they announce my flight. They didn't, so when I got close enough to inquire, I was told my flight was at 7:10. No worries, apparently. I wasn't so sure about that; it was nearly 6:00 and I was still in line. But I was praying the whole time that everything would somehow work out. Otherwise, I would be spending the night in Houston.

Finally, I cleared immigration, retrieved my bag, drug it through customs (interesting choice of verbs since the DEA had a drug-sniffing dog searching some of the bags beside the carousel), and then handed it off to the Continental agents. I raced up the stairs and down the hall to the train and just missed one. I glanced up at the screen over the door and saw the time was 6:25. Cutting it close but still doable. Waited another 5 mins. for the next train, got to B terminal and raced down the loooooong hallway to my gate. Hey! The plane was still there and they hadn't even started boarding!! I briefly collapsed into a chair and then decided I just might have enough time to use the bathroom. As I came out of the bathroom, the jetway door opened and they began boarding my flight. Perfect timing! God's timing is always perfect.  No dinner, but so what.

We landed in Pensacola an hour and 6 minutes later. I made my way downstairs to the baggage claim area and waited. And waited. And waited. I had already called my cousins, Bonnie and Grover, to tell them I was in and waiting on the bag. They were waiting outside for me. Grover finally came in to check on me. Still no bag and no more bags coming out. No one at the Continental baggage office or at the ticketing area. Walked around looking for someone I could report this to and finally, the Continental baggage office opened. I reported my missing bag, he looked it up and found that it was still in Houston. It just didn't have enough time to make it on the flight with me. No worries; they'll deliver it to my parents' home tomorrow morning. Excellent!

Stopped on the way to Foley for a quick bite to eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken - pretty tasty! Grover asked if I wanted to drop by the hospital to see my dad. I glanced at the clock on the dash - nearly 10:30! No, a little late for a hospital call. I certainly hoped he was soundly sleeping. My mother was waiting up for me and was very happy to see me. She told me my sister had missed her connection in  Dallas and was spending the night in a hotel. I was so glad that I had made my connection, even if my bag did not.  I borrowed a nightgown, made use of the new toothbrush she had on hand and went to bed.

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