Thursday, June 28, 2018

Give a Little...Get a Lot

Rome, Italy
So much water has gone under the bridge of life that I can't decide what to write about!  The good news is I am writing this from my computer!  I cannot tell you how much I missed it over the last month.  Our reunion was eye opening for me.  I had not realized what an intimate relationship I have with my computer, sad but true.  The large screen, the familiar keyboard, the easy access to my favorite sites, she knows me and I know her.  One interesting observation I have made is that I may have broken a habit because I have not spent nearly as much time on the computer since our reunion.  Using my stone tablet was a chore and may have cured me of my screen obsession....or not...don't touch my phone!

I spent much of one rainy day, while I was back in Houston, organizing the photos from our anniversary trip.  It may be the most documented trip I've ever taken.  Culling through over a thousand photos and trying to choose "favorites" is like choosing your favorite can't be done! Looking through them is like taking the trip over and over again and it gets better every time.  Every once in a while I have an ache to just go back to Croatia.  But I guess you can't go back...or can you?
Puntalina bar and restaurant, Rovinj, Croatia,
 cold and closed for the season
March 2015

Puntalina bar and restaurant
sunny, hot...and fully booked for the night.
May 2018
I vowed to come back and I did!
Since this was an anniversary trip maybe I'll give you a couple of glimpses into what makes this thing called "our 40 year marriage" work.  TJ shared some very sweet sentiments with me on our way home and I was touched.  He referred to them as, "reasons I am still in love with you".  Always nice to hear and they give me reasons to still be in love with him!  They were two situations where we accompanied the other doing something they love.

On our second night in Rome the four of us were riding back to our apartment after a full day of sightseeing and walking many miles (over 20,000 steps to be exact).  We enjoyed a delicious dinner and decided to give our aching feet a break so we took a cab back to our apartment.  While crossing one of the many bridges in Rome I suddenly said to the driver, "Can you stop the cab?  I want to get out."  I was not ill, I had just looked out and knew I wanted to walk the rest of the way.  The night lights were reflecting on the river and the buildings were all lit up against a deep blue sky.  It was a picture, or 100, in the making.  TJ asked the driver to "pull over now" and we got out.  I don't even think he had to ask why I wanted to get out... he just knew!  It was a memorable evening stroll.

St. Peter's Basilica in the distance.
So worth walking the rest of the way home.

"O" baby!
We walked in the twilight and marveled at the lights on the river.  When we crossed one of the bridges we noticed a bridal photo shoot.  What an awesome location for bridal portraits! 

We also met this guy....
Come on...we had to say hello! 
He has on a UT hat and is doing his best to keep Austin weird
with his skateboard and bottle of wine.
Note the color coordinated hat and shoes.
Turns out he studied for a semester in Austin and was just visiting (don't remember where he was from) Rome, just like us.  Small world indeed.  Plenty happening on the bridges of Rome!  We went on our way over the bridges and through St. Peter's square oohing and aahing at the lovely evening.  It was one of those times I wished time would just stop.  Perfect place, perfect person, perfect weather ...what more can a girl ask for?

The next situation came on the island of Korcula in Croatia.  I had done my homework and suggested we rent bikes on the island and explore the towns and vineyards via bike.  As many of you know, TJ is a very serious bike rider.  I....know how to ride a bike.  He was very excited at the suggestion of biking!  The one day we had to bike was overcast and rainy in the morning.  We delayed the ride hoping for nicer weather.  The forecast gave us hope that the rain would end by lunch.  With the promise of sunnier skies, we went and rented our bikes from the local shop.  I did protect my camera in plastic and we both brought rain gear.  The blue skies were in the distance....

In spite of the lovely blue sky ahead of us....we were getting drenched!
I will preface this by sharing that we had already done one bike tour in Rome.  The bikes were e-bikes which meant any time we got to a steep hill all we had to do was activate the "e" feature, pedal and it was easy to get up the hill.  The bikes we rented this day were NOT e-bikes, they were good old fashioned road bikes.  I was not ready for this!  TJ however was in his element.  I did my best to put on a smile and pedaled my legs off.  The farther we got, the heavier it rained.  I needed windshield wipers on my sunglasses!  All I could see were raindrops and TJ in front of me.  We were riding to the town of Korcula, a mere 5 miles away.  It only seemed like 10!  There were moments I wanted to cry because the perfect leisurely day spent biking through the scenic countryside along azure waters on one side and majestic mountains on the other was looking a lot like pea soup.  As they say...the best laid plans of mice and men...
Blue skies are coming...I just know it!
We persevered up the hills and through the rain to Old town Korcula.  We just kept chasing the blue skies!  We were soaked when we arrived!  We quickly locked up our bikes and found a dry place to have lunch and wait for the sun to come out.  I just knew it was going to come out...hope springs eternal!

Why are we still smiling?  We made it!
We coincidentally went in to a restaurant that was full of spandex clad bikers!  They had all dried off, had lunch and were heading back out.  Good for them.  We had lunch, dried off and were thrilled when the clouds parted and the sun came out!  We explored the old town and then just because I had to get the iconic view of the town, rode up many switchbacks out of town for "the photo".  At least it wasn't raining this time!

We were rewarded for our efforts!
The day turned out just as nice as we had hoped it would....before the rain.  We were so glad we decided, in spite of the rain, to go on with our plan and make the best of it.  I would have hated to miss this lovely town and the perfectly clear blue waters and the views...!  Sometimes you just have to get soaked.

I could share those thousands of photos to show you just how beautiful Croatia is but then why would you need to visit?  I've said it before and I'll say it again...visit Croatia!  It is a charming and lovely country.

As for us two married folks...I love that he is more than happy to get out of the cab and walk along enthusiastically with while I take hundreds of photos of city lights and bridges.  He says he loves that I am willing to get soaked on a bike for the sake of a good ride and some spectacular views.  We both give a little and we both get a lot...that's how you make it 40 years in this thing called marriage.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Unexpected Blessings

The fact that you are reading this is a miracle!  I am writing this with my old Samsung tablet which is like using a chisel on a stone tablet.  I miss my computer!  It will truly be a test of my infinite patience.  I could just cheat and post lots of pictures but I'm not a cheater so here goes my tedious first (because there will likely be more than one) post about the 40th anniversary trip.  Rather than just give a play by play I thought I would write my first post about some of the special God Winks (coincidences, moments of Divine Intervention, random it what you like) that made this trip full of memorable moments.

Like finding the Roman numeral for 40 on the Coliseum.

Our trip began in Rome.  So much to see and so little time!  There was a church Roberto wanted to visit in Rome, St. Cecelia's in the Trastevere area.  We managed to find the church only to find it was closed.  We were "parched" so we searched the area to find a restaurant where we could sit down, have a drink and maybe a snack.  It turned out to be a full service restaurant and they were not happy with our order of drinks and a light snack.  Our waiter was a very surly chap dressed in a cross between lederhosen and old country Italian farm wear.  I think that is why he was so grumpy!  Anyway, as we left the grumpy restaurant we passed St. Cecelia's again and it was open.  We went in and were treated to a group of nuns on the altar chanting a mesmerizing song.  Turns out St. Cecelia is the patron saint of musicians. Wink!

Our first stop in Croatia was Dubrovnik and after we walked the wall around the city we agreed that the other sight in the town we wanted to visit was St. Blaise Church.  After all...we had just climbed a million stairs and saw the entire city from above and it was close to lunch time.  We found the lovely church and it just so happened they were saying Mass when we stuck our heads inside.  We, of course, went in and stayed for the rest of the Mass.  Roberto had been fighting a sore throat that day, which is important to know since St. Blaise was a physician and the patron saint of throats.   After Mass, to our surprise, they did the blessing of throats and Roberto and Belladonna were extra blessed that day.  Right place, right time!  Lunch at the restaurant right around the corner was delicious too.  Wink!
If it is this lovely at night, the inside must be beautiful too!
Our next stop was the Island of Korcula.  Our Airbnb host volunteered to pick us up at the ferry port and drive all four of us and our luggage to his home, about 15 minutes away.  Very accommodating and he was rewarded with an excellent review.  The next morning turned out to be dreary and a bit wet, with the promise of clearer skies later in the day.  I was a bit disappointed in the weather since TJ and I had mentally planned to take this day, rent a couple of bikes and ride around the island exploring, more on that in a later post.  Roberto and Belladonna wanted to enjoy the day regrouping since they had been traveling longer than we had.  While we were away, once it finally cleared up, our friends went out on their own exploration.  They stopped at the nicest restaurant in our small town and made reservations for dinner.  They may have mentioned both couples were celebrating our 40th anniversaries.  This became known on the trip as "playing the anniversary card".  We never expected it to work so well!  Boy were we surprised when we were shown to our table!  The waitress and her little 4 year old helper/daughter went out of their way to make our dinner special.
Our table awaits complete with roses, candle light and a killer view!

The entrance to the wonder they chose it!
Zadar was a town we had visited before and liked so much we had to share it with our friends.  We were treated to a nice sunset and a lively little town, unlike the empty town TJ and I visited three years ago.  May is a much better month to visit than March.  On Saturday morning we walked the town and happened upon a Slovak festival in the main square near our apartment.  My grandmother was Slovak and I remember my aunt and cousin dressing in similar traditional dresses and dancing these dances.  I searched the festival for some of my favorite pastries and found one!  A Slovak festival only steps away from our Croatia.  Wink!
Slovak Festival!

Warming up for his performance

If you are like me, you like to have personal encounters when you travel.  It is nice to go and see monuments, museums and scenery but when you meet local people and get a glimpse into their lives the trip becomes more alive and dynamic.  Sometimes staying in a family run accommodation provides those opportunities.  Our rooms in Plitvice Lakes Park were that experience.  Firstly, the house was in a very rural area near the national park.  It reminded me of driving to our place in Nova Scotia....way off the beaten path.  We drove up to our accommodations and were greeted by the owner who promptly offered us each a shot of his homemade schnapps!  He insisted!  We toasted each other and it was down the hatch!  Since it was a Saturday, we asked if there was a church nearby and what time Mass was on Sunday.  His face lit up and he told us the church was only 2km away and Mass was at 10:30.  He also told us, in his broken English, that his grandson was going to be Baptized at that Mass and they were hosting a big party afterwards.  They were going to cook a pig and a lamb for the party, right there on the grounds outside our rooms!  We were treated to bread drenched in drippings from that roasting pig while we sat out on picnic tables with our happy hour wine and cheese.  We felt so welcomed!
Our host and his buddies roasting the pig

The view from our room...we loved it!
The next morning we packed up, went to church and witnessed the real community.  A church full of family and friends of the baby's family, the regular parishioners and four strangers who without understanding a single word knew exactly what was going on throughout the ceremony.  We left church feeling truly blessed and touched by God.  With so many choices of places to stay, for some reason I chose this one, something about it drew me in all those months ago.  I am so glad I listened.  Wink!
Apartments and Rooms Ruhige Lage in
Rakovica, Croatia

The best shot of Great Grandma I could get....
she worked from sun up to sundown!

The sweet church in Rakovica
translation "God is Love"
From our family baptism we went in search of Roberto's roots.  He had the name of the town his grandmother lived and it was on the way to our next destination.  None of us knew what to expect!  We found the town and found the church.  Every town has a church or three.  Croatia is 90% Catholic.  The name of his town is Hreljin and if you ask five people how to pronounce it you will get five different pronunciations.  The town is on a steep hill/mountain near the coast and according to our GPS every street is named Hreljin!  "Turn right on Hreljin", "turn left on Hreljin", "turn left on Hreljin" were the only directions we got from the GPS!  TJ refused to turn on most of the streets because they were blind drops!  Steep!  I am guessing Roberto's grandmother was in great shape if she navigated these streets!

Maybe these things don't seem unique to you and maybe they do but we noticed time after time the little things that happened that you just can't plan and never expected.  Part of enjoying travel is being open to the unexpected and unplanned treats.

Monday, May 7, 2018

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie....

One of my life's dreams is to live in a place where the weather is nice enough to enjoy outdoor spaces a good portion of the year.  This spring, Houston may actually be that place!  I have enjoyed more patio days this spring than any other in recent memory.  We were blessed with moderate temperatures, low humidity and plenty of sunshine in the month of April.  I hesitate to even acknowledge this for fear I will curse our good luck and summer's heat and humidity will suddenly be here.  (I wrote too soon, it's May and the humidity has found us...).
I spent much of April chasing a little white ball around in the great outdoors!  
It all started on Easter Sunday, the first day of April.  It was a glorious day, in more ways than one.  We sat outside all afternoon, enjoyed the patio and played with Logan.  The month just continued to provide us with day after day of perfect weather.  Except on the weekends, if you ask TJ.  Many of his Saturday morning training bike rides were cancelled due to rain. Those Saturday showers ushered in nice cool, dry air for the rest of the week though! There was one slight problem with all of that outside time.  April is also allergy season in Houston.  The more time I spent outside the more allergic I became.  It was a small but real price to pay. In spite of my sneezing and stuffed up ears I spent as much time outdoors as I possibly could and so did everyone else around here.
Always with a bat and a ball!
We took advantage of the good weather by tearing up our house and then putting it all back together.  We finally got a new roof.... which was like opening Pandora's box!  A new roof led to new gutters.  Our old roof leaked during Harvey and we had water spots on the ceiling inside which are finally repaired and painted...because we got a new roof.
April was also a perfect month to clutter up our yard!
When an entire roof is thrown onto the ground, flower beds take a beating.  Flower beds also suffer when you are away for the summer and the plants that did survive the summer neglect were frozen during our unusually cold winter.  It was so lovely outside ... we replanted the flower beds.  With the flower beds looking so spiffy our wood patio furniture looked a little tired and neglected so TJ decided to refinish it.  The entire experience started to feel like that child's book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.   There was one point in the process of house improvements I had the sinking feeling that out of the blue my husband was going to sit me down and say, "by the way honey, I've decided to sell the house."  I am happy to report we are not selling the house and it now looks like the people who live here actually care... just in time for us to vacate for the summer.

If you put a new roof on you house
 you are going to need to replant your flower beds.
One of the few days in April that did not have a brilliant blue sky and moderate temperatures was the day our ski friends went on a sunset sail.  As you all probably know....I am not a boat person.  The lure of a sunset and spending time with good friends caught me in a weak moment and off we went into the open waters for a three hour tour.   None of us fell out of the boat or got seasick.  We had some good laughs, a few glasses of wine, felt the wind in our faces and returned just in time for a somewhat lame sunset and we all want to do it again...on a sunny day!

Trying to look comfortable on a boat....
while holding on for dear life!
We can do better than time!
I really did have to pinch myself some days just to make sure it wasn't all a dream.  I adopted the "why not" approach to life and became somewhat carefree and impulsive.  "Want to play golf?"  "Yes!"  "Want to eat diner outside?"  "Yes!"  "Want to take a walk?"  "Yes!"  "Want to go somewhere and have a drink?"  "Yes!"  The house was a bit dusty...partly due to construction dust, partly due to mass quantities of pollen flying around, partly due to the open doors and windows, and partly due to my neglect.  It was a small price to pay for a month of outdoor living.

Why clean the house when I could be here?!
The final weekend in April was spent enjoying someone else's spring.  It was my grandson's 1st Communion in Madison and we went up to celebrate with him and his family.   I hung out with three of my grandsons and three of my own kids.  We played basket ball and baseball outside, we took after dinner walks/runs/bike rides around the block, and we partied on a beautiful lake front patio after the 1st Communion. 
The handsome 1st Communicant
3/4 of the Mahoney kids!
This kid has the right idea! 
Soaking up the spring sunshine!
Can we have another April?  It might just be my favorite month!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Rogue Walks...with Intention

Recently, I was presented with the opportunity to take a trip unlike any I've ever taken before. This trip took absolutely no planning on my part other than to be available.  Everything was taken care of... the flight, the rooms, the transportation, the schedule, most of the meals,  and last but not least....the cost.  A free (sorta) trip to London and Paris.

Hello, London Tower Bridge

Bon nuit Eiffel Tower
We all know there is no such thing as a free lunch/trip, so there was a catch.  I would be going on this trip with my daughter and nine high school students from her school... as a chaperone.  Going on any trip with my daughter is a treat and adding the students made it nine times more fun.  It was only one week from the time I found out I was cleared as a chaperone (yes, I passed the security check) until the departure date.  Not my usual months of planning and anticipation.  I took that one week to get into the proper frame of mind.  The frame of mind that says there will be no lingering in sidewalk cafes sipping tea in the morning or wine in the evening, watching the world go by on this trip.  There would be no spontaneous diversions when something interesting caught my eye.  There would be no trying to blend in anonymously.  I was going to have "tourist" emblazoned on me as we moved through all of the sights "en mass".  This was a trip for the students.  It was their first trip to Europe and I was so excited that I spent a whole week romanticizing all of the possible scenarios for my week of chaperoning.  It was all going to be great, I just knew it!

Our informative and humorous (British humor...the best!)guide in London 
who instead of saying to walk quickly
told us to"walk with intention" as he led our group.
Sometimes I get lucky and life actually mimics my imagination.  I need to imagine bigger!  I imagined the students would be fun. I imagined they would be interesting and curious.  I imagined they would experience moments of awe.  I imagined we would share inside jokes ("walk with intention" with a British accent) and stories.  I imagined everyone would get along famously.  I imagined seeing my daughter shine in her teacher role.  I never imagined it would all turn out as I imagined... but it did.

Seeing my daughter as Ms. Mahoney ...priceless!
I arrived many (at least 7) hours before the rest of the group and sat in Heathrow airport conjuring up even more perfect situations.  I never would have conjured up the situation where the group is diverted to Iceland on their way to England.  The group could now add one more country to their list of countries visited on this trip.  How many of you can say you have been to Iceland?  After their unscheduled trip to Iceland, they arrived and I finally met the nine new people in my reality.

Since they arrived many hours later than scheduled, we had to catch up to the rest of our tour group.  We managed, with the help of one very tired woman whose job it was to meet us and hook us up with the rest of the group.  So far, I was not buying into the "group tour" bit, but the students seem pretty great.  The day progressed as expected.  Put a group of tired travelers, two frustrated tour guides, crappy weather and 40 strangers together and what do you get?  A recipe for disaster?  It could have been, but it wasn't.  Adrenaline and Harry Potter to the rescue!  Give kids who love Harry Potter anything Harry Potter and you are a hero!  After planes, trains, buses and buying all the Harry Potter garb they could afford, the first day finally turned into night and we all wearily found our rooms and slept!

Our fearless leader....finding out where to meet our bus!
After almost two days of being herded around London, my daughter and I took our group after dinner and went rogue.  Most of the rest of the larger group consisted of middle school students and many parents/teachers/grandparents.  We were with nine students who were all juniors and seniors in high school.  We needed to get out and see the world.  It is much easier to move through a city as 11 people instead of 40 me on this.  Our tour guide realized that we were quite capable of navigating through the city and gave us permission to wander and directions back to our remote hotel.  We were giddy with freedom!

One view from our rogue walk.

Sadly, it was closed for repair.  Still
worth the walk along the river!
Our students really liked our post dinner walks.  I think the very best one came on our first night in Paris.  When our guide found out my daughter had lived in Paris, she was more than comfortable setting us free after the daily schedule was completed.  Paris is stunning in the evening!   The Seine and the views of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Hotel de Ville were well worth the extra steps we put in that day.  We closed the evening by letting the students shop until they dropped in the souvenir shops and topped it all of with an ice cream chaser.  They LOVED buying souvenirs!

Their feet may be tired but they can still shop!
Views like this kept us going!
Every night after dinner our students would ask if we were going on another adventure and our guide would get us up to speed on the plans for the next morning and release us.  We had spoiled a good way.  Their curiosity had been peaked.  There were a couple of night "the chaperones" were whooped but if the students asked, we indulged.  One night led to crepes for dessert.  One night led to dancing on the sidewalk to an awesome street musician who greatly appreciated their enthusiasm.  One afternoon walk led to Luxembourg Gardens and the Sorbonne where I am sure several of them now want to study for at least a semester.  Our job was done!
Dreaming of their semester abroad?

Everything the tour planned was great and well worth seeing and doing.  It was especially nice to have tickets purchased ahead of time and go to the front of many lines with our large group.  "Sorry" to people we passed up in line!   Our free time and walks together made the trip special in my eyes.  This was the time the students would ask questions and talk to us and to each other.  They were able to express their interests and maybe see or do something they wanted that was not included in the broader tour.  This was the reason I was there!

On the last night, which was the Eiffel tower extravaganza and river tour, my daughter and I bought some postcards and made little awards for our students.  We did not see much of the sights on the night cruise while we filled out our awards but the students were enchanted by the city of lights.  So to close this long post I give you the names...they know who they are!

-Most likely to have an awesome play list for whatever country he visits.
-Most likely to conquer her fears and hesitations in the name of adventure.
-Most likely to navigate through any city she visits.
-Most likely to actually get a good night sleep and dream about K-Pop.
-Most likely to attempt to learn the language wherever she travels.
-Most likely to be where he needs to be, when he needs to be there!
-Most likely to speak to Chinese tourists... in Mandarin.
-Most likely to come home with new clothing from every place he visits.
-Most likely to be the only one to board the train through Platform 9 3/4.
We will always have Paris!
Ms. Mahoney and Momma M.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Airport Games

You can't get home from here
It was both the longest and the shortest flight delay I have ever experienced.  After a perfect ski trip with the Red Solo Cup Crew we headed to the Hayden/Steamboat Springs airport.  The snow we wished we had on the slopes decided to fall as we were leaving...perfect.  Luckily, we showed up at the airport at least an hour before our scheduled 2:50 departure time just like good travelers.   Bags were checked, boarding passes were in hand, security had been cleared and we waited. 
The 7 of us heading to the airport... 
skis in the bag over my head, suitcases behind the guys and snow gently falling outside.
We waited dutifully for our plane to arrive in Hayden.  The visibility was limited at best.  Our plane passed once, twice...three times and headed back to Denver for refueling...among other things as we would find out MUCH later.  We were officially "delayed".   So we waited. 

Some of us read our books.  Some of us watched the stuff we had downloaded for the flight.  We watched it snow and waited.  Eventually, we got hungry and since the airport is small, we ventured outside of security and snagged a couple of tables at the only restaurant with a full bar and ordered drinks and lunch.  We ate, we played cards, we drank, we watched the updates on the flight status.  It was not encouraging. 
I am not exactly sure what "recovery" is....
but things were not looking good.
Meanwhile, we were holding court in the restaurant playing a lively game of "Oh Heck!" and keeping our waitress entertained and busy.  She sadly informed us that the restaurant was closing at 4 p.m.  4 pm!  What is up with that??  We stayed until they ran out of wine glasses and started serving wine in Stella Artois glasses.  Yikes!  After we finished our generous portions of wine and our Oh Heck game we were forced to go back through security and wait on the other side.  The other side was crowded and smelled like bacon.

Wine and cards...that's what you do during a delay.
With our flight still not officially cancelled we listened for updates and anxiously waited to hear that our plane was on its way from Denver.  Since it was the night of the Oscars we sat down at a table in the "bacon restaurant" and watched the Red Carpet.  We played Wisk.  We did not eat bacon but I think everyone else did!  As the day turned into night and our plane did not arrive, the inventory at the "bacon restaurant" dwindled.  The only food left was a few random bags of chips and day old yogurt parfaits....ewww.  The airline kept wheeling out carts with candy, chips, cookies and water as a consolation for the "delayed" flight. 

This one says it all!
Read the monitor, look of disbelief, check the weather and the flight status on your phone.
By now it was getting late.  We were getting a little punchy and were well past our lunch buzz and moving closer to our bedtime.  Our flight was the only group still at the airport waiting for a plane.  All of the others had either been cancelled or were in the air.  Many of us were making alternate flight plans for the next day just to cover our bases.  We were still all in fairly good spirits though, considering.  If you are going to be stuck in an airport for up to ten hours at least we were stuck with six of our good friends.  As the night wore on we finally heard that our plane had left Denver and was headed to Hayden/Steamboat.  There was joy and celebration all around! 

In anticipation of boarding an actual airplane we tried to stay awake by playing Heads Up.  You know...that game using your cell phone with clues you put up to your forehead and others give you clues and you try to guess who you are.  As we played, some people who may or may not have been trying to sleep by this late hour frowned and others joined in the fun.  What a hoot!  Two sisters who will now be known as the Super Fun Sisters joined in the Heads Up game.  We played many rounds!  It was the most fun I've ever had in an airport during a flight delay.  Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was the snow, maybe it was the six friends, maybe it was the was fun. 

Our plane finally made it to Hayden.  Passengers disembarked.  Some of them were friends of some of our friends and shared that the reason for the delay was mechanical.  Hmmmm.  We waited to board the plane.  And waited.  The bleary eyed pilot came into the gate area and announced there was a mechanical problem and by the time someone came and figured out the issue and fixed it, the flight crew would be timed out.  Bottom line...we were not getting out of here tonight.  Goodnight folks....see you tomorrow....good luck finding a ride back to town at midnight....or a hotel room....want some bacon?

This is when it is nice to have friends with a house in the area!  One smart person raced to the Avis desk and was able to rent one of the few large vehicles for the night.  There was a lot a scrambling going on in the airport all of the sudden!  People making sure they had a way home the next day, people trying to find transportation to town and accommodations for the night.  It was midnight!  The Super Fun Sisters were among those scrambling and ended up with us.  So now we were nine people, with luggage and a ski bag in a minivan heading back to Steamboat for the night.  The ride back to the house was hilarious...unless you were the driver steering our ship of fools home!

We made it back to the house and unloaded.  As a vacation home owner, the only thing worse than closing a house when you leave is having to close it twice in two days.  Many thanks to our hosts!  We all remade our beds, set up the Super Fun Sisters for the night and settled in for some well deserved rest a mere 13 hours after we first left.  What a day!

Red Solo Cups and Super Fun Sisters ready for departure!
We optimistically headed back to the airport the next day.  Yes, our flight was delayed...again.  Yes, we all sighed....   Fortunately, the delay was only hours instead of days.  We were all pretty much over the airport fun and games by this time.  We just wanted to get home... and we did....30 hours after our originally scheduled arrival. 

I will say, I have never laughed so much in one day in my life!  We played a lot of cards, we laughed, we read, we watched, we waited, we ate, we drank, we met some very nice sisters and we made friends.  We never really stressed out about our situation or got mad about it, we were with friends.  The airline compensated us for our inconvenience and the staff was more than pleasant dealing with over 100 unhappy travelers.   Life is what you make of it and I think we made the most of it that day.
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