My family has been globe-hopping (state-hopping at the very least) like stir crazy rabbits. While I was in D.C. and Maryland and briefly in Virginia my Father jetted off to London. By the time we went to call him on Father’s Day he was in Houston.

In the meantime, Ashley and Paisley went to Utah so they could go to California with Ashley’s friend. And THEN, after delaying my departure date to June 20th, I tried to go home.

I missed my flight on the 20th. I’m not ready to discuss that yet.

I booked a flight for the next day, I was already packed, and Julianne and I even managed an extra trip to Trader Joes! Triple Huzzah for THAT!!! Because I’d switched airlines I could pack a box with my spoils (QUINOA, et al) and check it. Julianne dropped me off at the airport with at least two hours to spare. The sky cap agent actually let one of my over-weight suitcases slide through without the penalty charge (he got an extra tip despite the fact that he seemed to think that I was his “Sweetheart”).

I passed through security without a hitch. This is when I tempted fate. I went shopping. I bought some festive amusing crabs (stuffed toys, of course). Then I went to The Body Shop. They were having a sale – a BIG sale. The purchase of several items, including a container of body butter and a bottle of shower wash (with PINEAPPLE in it), sent the World into some sort of Karmic tailspin.

First, my flight was delayed. It was also overbooked. I volunteered to take the incentive and give up my seat, but they wouldn’t take me because they couldn’t accommodate my connecting flight (hah). So we were delayed a little more while, “In just a few minutes we’ll have a flight crew [taken straight off a red-eye from Bora Bora?] from their other flight.” Blah blah. Finally, we planed (well, you DE-plane, yes?).

That’s when the pouring rain started (I tell you – BROUGHT ON BY RECKLESS SHOPPING). The pilot announced a weather delay. It was a lovely change of scene from the gate to sitting on the tarmac. I got on the phone with the airline right then and found out what would happen if I and several of my fellow passengers missed our connecting flight (as we had a twenty minute window or something to that effect). I was told that if they did not “hold the flight for us” we would be put up for the night, as there were no alternative flights.

When we landed in St. Louis, I kid you not, there wasn’t a gate available for the plane. I called to see if the connecting flight had, indeed, taken off. It was an hour gone. So I got on the phone with an agent again, and as I “deplaned” I started to arrange my alternate flight and put on my “you WILL [nicely] give me equitable treatment” demeanor.

As I walked through the airport she told me that evidently they were already trying to route me to Phoenix. I asked if there were connecting flights to Salt Lake City there. Nope. Bonus sightseeing? Anyhoooo, by the time I reached the desk agent, I knew that they were to issue me an “interrupted trip” voucher of some sort and that they should find my luggage (ugh – hadn’t REALLY wanted to see if again until Salt Lake) and I was to ask for a manager to get a hotel room voucher, etc. Someone attempted ONCE to say that they do not comp rooms for a weather delay and I had my index finger in the air in my forceful “talk to the [nice] finger” stance and explained that it was NOT just a weather delay and that I’d volunteered to get off the flight and before I got into the rest of the gory details that’s when they started to fetch things for me. So and so was going to fetch my luggage so it didn’t go to Phoenix or Bora Bora and someone else was running up to the something to get the signature for the voucher and was bringing it to me, etc. The agent next to mine started to look very concerned. Evidently, she’d just sent someone away from the same flight with NOTHING. So they paged him and somehow found a few others from our flight.

They handed my new partner-in-crime and I hotel vouchers and meal vouchers and explained where our luggage would be and that we were to call on the “red phone” (ooooh!) to get a shuttle. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about. I’ve never been to St. Louis. I got a scenic tour of the airport and the Double Tree Inn (not bad).

My new friend, Herr Schauble (don’t bring up the painful umlaut excision that his family suffered some years ago), was extremely gallant and helpful with my ridiculous amount of luggage (helping me protect my precious Quinoa). Turns out he’ll work for beer. I thought it was a good deal.

Herr Schauble offered to throw in a wake-up call as well, but if he makes this offer to you, DO NOT TAKE IT. He meant well, but something in my chemistry will adversely affect someone who is normally a “morning” person but deigns to speak with me late at night and THEY will sleep in. Luckily, I’d set an “pre-alarm” so I could attempt to wake up in stages as is my wont.

I missed my scheduled shuttle, but got to the airport with a shuttle full of Baptists. Then I went through security, where they confiscated my body butter and shower gel (with PINEAPPLE). I explained that I hadn’t intended to be going through security AGAIN. They asked if I wanted to get out of the three-mile line and go find my checked luggage and put it in. I didn’t think I should miss ANOTHER flight, so I watched them trash it.

While I was standing in line to “plane,” a slightly disheveled Herr Schauble showed up, apologizing for sleeping in. I believe I tried to explain that it was my fault…

He may have failed at wake-up call duty, but the plane ride was delightfully entertaining. Vielen Dank, Herr Schauble!

His hiking friends were there to pick him up at the baggage carousel, but my Mom was nowhere to be seen. It turns out that she did not get the message that said when I was arriving, so we had one of those, “Where are you?” “Where are YOU?” conversations. As it was, I was arriving on the 22nd instead of the 20th and she had to pick up my Father when he flew home from Houston that night. So we thought I could perhaps catch a shuttle.

After a very, VERY awkward period of time in which I tried to manage ALL OF MY LUGGAGE (I did not think it was a good idea to stand on the curb and shout, “HEY – who works for beer?” – that’s an unusual opportunity with which I probably won’t avail myself too often), I saw the shuttle driver walking by. On the run, he asks me if I have a reservation (which, naturally, I didn’t) and says that he’ll be right back. Then a very nice man, who’d helped me pick up the box containing my precious Quinoa and other Trader Joes treasures several times asked where I was heading. I told him, and he offered me a ride. “Are you serious?” I asked, as I sized him up. He was very clean-cut; it almost looked like he was wearing a uniform (black polo shirt, trousers, matching shoes and belt, etc.). That was my first thought. My second was, “Ted Bundy was very clean-cut…” I kept saying, “Are you sure?” and he said that he was picking up a rental car and that he could pull it around since I had so much luggage. Oh, what the hell.

As he loaded my luggage we got each other’s first names. Right away, in the casual banter on our way out of the airport, I asked, “What do you do?” He answered, “I’m Homeland Security.” I knew he wasn’t lying, because had he wanted to prevaricate he would have said, “I’m WITH Homeland Security,” or “I WORK FOR Homeland Security.”

I said that perhaps I should not ask any more questions. He laughed and said that all the secrets these days were on the Internet anyway. That’s not to say that he disclosed any matters of National Security whilst on the drive to Orem… He is an interrogator who was deployed to Iraq at the beginning of the war in order to question very high-ranking prisoners. He also made vague allusions to having been traveling around the World to “certain locations” before that deployment. My Mom called soon after we started the drive to see if I had managed to find the shuttle. I said, “Don’t worry, Homeland Security is taking me home; I’m in the car right now.” Somehow I don’t think she found it entirely comforting.

But I made it safely home, where soon after Ashley and Paisley returned back from California. Evidently it is a bad idea to take a one-year-old on a road trip when either she or you have a BAD intestinal bug. Then my Mom picked up my Father that night.

Sunday I drove my Mom and Dad to the airport. My Mom was getting on a flight to BWI, my Dad was headed on business to D.C./Georgetown. So my Mom vacationed with David and Julianne for several days and they fetched my Father from D.C./Georgetown so that he could spend his last few days relaxing (to the extent of his physical and mental capability, anyway).

The next day I drove Ashley and Paisley to Tooele to Janet and Erik’s house. I babysat Paisley and Anders and Leif while Janet and Ashley went to IKEA. Now, I would like to take this opportunity to contradict rumours concerning Leif and his dominating behavior with the Wii. Quite the contrary – he WANTED me to play against him and “learn how to drive.” He even picked out a character for me (he was usually Mario) – some blond chick named “Princess Peaches” or the like – and then changed his mind and made me “Daisy.” Evidently, “Her hair is more like your crazy hair.” I asked him if I had the craziest hair of anyone he knew. “Oh YEAH!” he said. I asked if I won a prize for having the craziest hair. I guess not. Sigh.

MEANWHILE, I got a message that Morgan, Amber, Kendyl and Emmry Kate are in town. I’ve got to call them.

Janet took Ashley and Paisley to the airport so they could go back to Kansas, and this past Thursday I picked up my Folks from the airport. AND I guess Mary Ellen assorted Lees are coming through this next week.

Now that I think about it, there’s really something to that expression: “I guess you had to be there.” This was all much more exciting in person. Too bad.