The holiday in the Outer Banks ended today. Man, did it end ...
In part because of some bad planning on our side, in part because Continental killed a flight we had booked last fall, the bride and I found ourselves up before dawn, on a minimal amount of nervous sleep, to make a multi-hour drive to the Raleigh-Durham airport.
We made this drive in an overpriced Chrysler Sebring from Dollar Rent-a-Car, said overpricing stemming in part from the stained back seat and dirty other spots, and the "oil change" notice that came on every time we started the car. (Again, we were a long way from the airport, and the rental car location, so we would have lost an entire day trying to take the car back. And one reason we took this fine motor vehicle was that -- reservations regardless -- the Dollar location was basically out of mid-size cars when we arrived, leading to much unhappiness with other customers, and our taking this car because it was being returned just as we got to the head of the customer line -- and we weren't going to wait hopefully like a couple of "Oliver" orphans until something else showed. Caveat emptor, y'all.)
Did I also mention that the lighter/charger in the car didn't work? This became significant because it meant that our GPS had no charge, and so was unusable for the trip to the airport, especially the part where we most needed directions, navigating the roads to and around the airport itself. While we finally made our way to the airport, it was only after a couple of wrong turns resulting from Mapquest listing the wrong exit from the highway.
Is this beginning to sound like a fun day? But wait, there's more: the inevitable long check-in line for Continental Express, the late plane departure. ... We breathed a sigh of relief when we were wheels-down in Cleveland; even caught a golf-cart shuttle ride from our gate to baggage claim. (Hey, it was a long freakin' walk. And we were tired. And old.) And it was fine to be home.
Well, for a bit. Having eaten almost nothing during the day (airline peanuts, oh joy), we went to the local Bob Evans for a late lunch/early dinner, only to find that we were not the only ones having a challenging day. Bunches of people had converged at a time when a couple of servers usually sufficed; I've never seen fear in a waitress's eyes like I saw that day. The restaurant handled it -- managers were pitching in on service -- but it was just another sign that Saturday was, well, there is more ...
And once again, this doesn't just involve us, although we were by this point feeling the bite of the snake. Thunderstorm. Power outage. Two hours and change of no lights, no A/C, load stopped in the washing machine ... no TV, no Internet, the bride making notes by flashlight. We would have turned around and gone back to North Carolina -- only we'd been turned off traveling for awhile.
So now it's Saturday evening. The power's back. We're feeling marginally saner. The vacation was good. Being home is good. At least, it is now that the lights are on.