Holden Beach: Day 1.
I think being in my house is what causes a lot of my anxiety because I am able to travel across the eastern half of the USA alone with the kids without any panic. Who knows how my brain works. I certainly don’t.
Ada cried all night last night and finally fell asleep around 4 in the morning. I fell asleep at 4:30, while Ada nursed and tossed and turned. My alarm went off at 6:30. I cried in bed over my extreme exhaustion until a little after 7, and then I forced myself to get up and get ready to leave for the airport.
I had carefully packed everything the night before–one suitcase to check full of everything the girls and I would need for the week.
My camera gear for the wedding was packed in my padded Jill-e camera bag like always. Since I was traveling alone with the kids I put the camera bag inside of a piece of rolling carry on sized luggage and then packed some of Ada’s beloved stuffed animals around it, along with the bundled cords and chargers we would need, and the flash just in case, and some lens hoods. It was super snug inside the suitcase, all perfectly packed in. I spent forever fixing it so it would be safe!
We also each had a backpack to carry on. I had the Macbook and my purse shoved in my backpack, along with snacks and a change of clothes for the kids. The girls had some toys in theirs, but nothing so heavy that they couldn’t carry them on their own.
I debated what to do with Ada. She wouldn’t ride in the stroller, so I decided not to take it. She hates riding in it. I couldn’t push the stroller, pull the carry on, wear the backpack, and hold Rosie’s hand all at once anyway. We decided to just rely on Ada walking as our best bet. Girlfriend likes to walk because she likes to be in control. But, I digress.
My parents picked us up at 8 and we drove about an hour and fifteen minutes to the airport outside of Cincinnati. Tyler has to work until Wednesday, then he is flying down alone to meet up with us. (We’re all flying home together on Saturday.)
Once we got to the airport there was a huge line for security. Surprisingly when they saw me coming alone with the girls the security guys came and got us and led us to the front of the huge line! We cut in front of like an hour of people. Yes! Then they didn’t make the girls take off their shoes, only I had to. When we came to the body scan, which I have been dreading, they said we didn’t have to go through it. Instead we just had to walk through a metal detector one at a time like the old days pre-9/11 security. Everyone else had to go through the body scan x-ray box.
I have no idea why we skipped all of that hoopla, but I’m not about to complain about it!
The only minor downside is that we had an hour and a half to kill before our flight boarded. The girls were nervous and excited. This was their first time flying.
Flying alone with the kids meant I had to deal with all of our carry on luggage in the bathroom, plus watch the two of them in the crowded bathroom while I peed. That was interesting. (Do you know how many bathrooms I visited today because of my 2 year old? Aaaaah! I hate public restrooms. Anxiety! Germs!)
(Our plane is behind her.)
When we got to the gate to board the first plane we had a problem. The plane was apparently small and they were asking people to volunteer to check their larger carry on bags. Not enough people volunteered, so the grumpy gate lady insisted that mine had to be checked. The girls were extremely anxious and impatient to get on the plane, and there was a line behind me.
I panicked a bit. I could not check my bag of camera gear and leave it to the mercies of the guys who carelessly throw luggage.
No, no, no. NO. Ten thousand times no!
I told her that I’m a photographer and that all my gear was in there. It’s like $8,000 of stuff. She told me I could buy expensive insurance for it from Delta. Uh, hell no.
Then she refused to let my bag go on the plane. She wouldn’t let it be put up front with the strollers and other such items. She wouldn’t let me carry it on and put it under the seat where it would fit because she said it was a larger piece of carry on luggage. For a fleeting second I involuntarily envisioned kicking her in the teeth and running away.
Everyone in line was growing impatient and my kids were bouncing off the walls. Finally I just gave up so we could get on the damn plane. My stomach sank as I watched her drag my bag of gear away. She was so rude about it too. I think she was angry with me because I asked her to change our seat assignments earlier. We were all sitting in separate seats. (I didn’t book the tickets…) She changed us to be seated three in a row together, and I thanked her a lot. Whatever. Isn’t that part of her job? Happy Monday.
We made it onto the plane and into our seats. We were seated in the very back row and the turbine thingy on the airplane totally blocked the window view. Rosie was so disappointed. If she stood up she could see a sliver of view from the window in front of us.
They liked flying ok.
I tried to invoke the power of electronics, hoping to hypnotize their brains until they became compliant mush. It didn’t really work. Their entertainment value only lasted for about ten minutes. Fail.
Good ten minutes while it lasted though.
Ada started crying when we had 45 minutes left of the flight because her ears hurt. Nursing helped somewhat. It at least quieted her down. I silently dared anyone on that freaking plane to say a word about it. Wonderfully no one did. I doubt anyone even noticed.
She fell asleep about 10 minutes before we landed. When it was time to get off the plane I couldn’t get her stand up, so I was forced to carry my big backpack along with her floppy 35 pound body, and her backpack off of the plane. Ada’s head got bumped and she screamed bloody murder as we were waiting in that long, hot sweaty line to file off of the aircraft.
We were at the Atlanta airport and it was noon, so I thought we might have time to grab something to eat during our two hour layover. We got off of the plane and I sat the girls in the nearest seat so I could figure out how to find the next place our flight left from. I’d never flown alone before, usually I just follow my dad on family vacations. Tyler and I have never been able to afford to take a big vacation since we’ve been married. It was a little scary to just be ON MY OWN like a real adult. I’m 26 years old, I guess I can be a real adult now…?
It’s so hard to think with little kids asking you a million questions and complaining. Not to mention the exhaustion of not sleeping all night! (Multiplied by many nights…) I finally realized I had to find one of those blue screens with the flights listed on them to figure out what gate our next flight left from.
The Atlanta airport is a) huge and b) super crowded with people going in all directions. Thank God Ada decided she was able to walk again, even if it was slowly. It took me for-freaking-ever to find a blue board of flight listings in that place. Why are there not more of them? We walked like a mile! Then there was a huge crowd around it and there were like 20 screen boards with flights in tiny prints. Holy crap, I think I need to get my eyes checked. I had trouble reading it! Do you know how hard it is to search for your flight in tiny white print on a blue screen in a huge crowd with a six year old and a two year old? I couldn’t look at the kids while looking at the screens, and if I looked away to check on them I lost my place on the screens. Headache.
Our gate was in the D terminal. We disembarked in the A terminal. Three huge escalators, two moving sidewalks, three subway stops, two bathroom breaks (thanks Ada for claiming you have to poop loudly through the entire airport and THEN NEVER POOPING!) and like a mile of walking later we arrived at D27.
Then I realized that terminal D has no fast food places in it. There was nothing to eat there but chips. I was not about to go back up three escalators, back on two moving sidewalks, or ride through three subway stops to get back to the food court area.
$10 later the girls each had a bag of Cheetos and a bottle of water for lunch. There was no where to sit–this place was packed to the brim. We sat on the dirty floor. (Anxiety alarm bells! SOS!)
Then we had to take yet another hurried bathroom break with only a short time to go before boarding, during which we had to wait in line for quite awhile. Ada yet again screamed she was pooping for the entire 15 minutes we stood in line. She kept yelling that she had to poop and no one had brought her favorite book. WHY DID NO ONE BRING HER BOOK?
Why didn’t I? WHY??
(Well mainly because I wasn’t going to spend 30 minutes reading a Dr. Seuss book in the airport bathroom, but Ada couldn’t seem to accept that explanation.)
How many people stared at me today? We could probably fill a football stadium with them.
And she never pooped, or even farted. She got on the toilet and said, “Oh never mind it was just a little peepee!”
We returned to D27 to wait for boarding. I suddenly realized the tickets were once again seated apart on the plane. I had so many things to think about that I didn’t check earlier. (I’m never letting this thing with seats being booked apart happen again.)
I asked the guy at the desk if he was able to move anyone around because we weren’t in the same row. Two seats were together, and the third seat was ahead. He asked how old my kids were.
Six and two, I told him.
He looked at his computer for a millisecond and said no, flight was full, couldn’t move anyone. A six year old is fine to sit alone. Then he started talking to someone else.
Ada was melting around my feet at that point. Literally, rolling and melting into a pile of pissed off toddler goo. WHY DID NO ONE BRING HER BOOK FOR THE POTTY!
Everyone was boarding so we just got on the plane before we missed it or they ran out of seats or some other sort of bad luck manifested itself out of thin air.
Rosie sat ahead of me by herself on her second ever flight. I was nervous about who would be seated next to her. Luckily it was a soft older man who was wearing a cowboy hat. He helped Rosie with her bag, her snacks, and her drink. He talked to her during the whole flight too.
Shew! What a nice guy. Thank you nice guy, whoever you are.
Ada was semi-happy on this plane ride. I sang her all of the preschool and kindergarten songs I knew, dramatically told her stories like The Three Little Pigs, and recited Mother Goose’s book of classic poetry page by page from memory. Basically I entertained the entire back of the plane. It was really quiet back there aside from the roar of an engine.
Not kidding when I said I could fill a football stadium with all of the people who stared at me today.
Embarrassment? I don’t haz it any moar.
That flight, by the sheer grace of God, was only an hour long. We arrived at Myrtle Beach at a little after 4 in the afternoon.
While we were waiting to get off of the plane (that’s the worst part–the waiting to disembark, so slowly, from the very back of the plane with impatient children…) I was listening to the man in front of me talking to someone else. The man was older, probably in his late 60’s. He was wearing a casual button up shirt and brown pants, a cowboy hat, and boots.
His wife had a certain look about her that I can’t pin down. She was the same age as her husband, not a younger woman. Her hair was blond but naturally so, nothing exceeding fake about it. She had her hair done up on top of her head in a bun with a poof in the front above her forehead, which made her head look about four times larger than it actually was. Amusing. Her hair had pink feathers arranged in the shape of a flower tucked perfectly to the right side of her bun.
I had been analyzing the feathers on her head during the entire flight. They looked like real pink feathers with irregular white edges, not fake dyed feathers. Having multiple kinds of chickens I stare at feathers a lot. They are sort of fascinating. I was trying to figure out what kind of feathers were in her hair and where she might have gotten them. To be honest I really wanted to touch them, but that would have made me look even more insane than I already did at that point.
Her husband was telling the other people around him that he ran a hunting business. His belt was custom made from alligator skin. He shot the alligator himself with a bow and arrow. His boots and wallet (which he took out for prime viewing) were also made of skin from that same gator.
Impressive, I guess.
Then he went on to say he ran a hunting business that took hunting parties out into the bush and the plains all over Africa.
And he showed off his carry-on bag. It was made of a skin I didn’t recognize. Very soft, with fine lines. There was a split second pause while he waited for someone to acknowledge the pure awesomness of his animal skin bag. Or maybe the pause was for dramatic effect, I don’t know.
This bag, he told his row mates, was made from elephant skin.
He shot the elephant himself and it was 10 feet tall. He had the head stuffed and mounted (gag me) and he was using the skin to make all kinds of custom bags and things. He was still deciding what to do with it, there was just so much skin.
How dare that poor elephant have so much skin! What is person to do when burdened with foot after foot of animal hide?
First world problem, that is.
I had an urge to spit on his stupid alligator boots and scream POACHER!
Someone invoke the power of Green Peace. Call PETA! Something! The people sitting around him were giving compliant smiles and nods. I think maybe they were screaming about poachers inside of their heads too.
(Dear God this plane could not disembark fast enough.)
I sat next to a real, live animal poacher on the airplane ya’ll.
I feel like I need a shower just thinking about him.
Back to the rest of our wonderful airport experience–
As a real adult I managed to lead us off of the plane and through the (much smaller and less crowded, and weirdly dark and empty) Myrtle Beach airport to the baggage claim area. My father in law was waiting there. Don’t tell anyone but I was pretty happy to see a more adult adult than me. Finally, someone else who can be in charge for the rest of the day! Someone needs to tell Ada that being in charge really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I was super nervous about my bag of camera gear. So nervous I even temporarily forgot about THE POACHER.
We waited and waited for my bags to appear. The kids pointed to each and every suitcase and yelled, “Is it this one?” My head.
Finally, yes it was this one, our luggage. Then we waited a few minutes more for the carry on that I was forbidden from carrying. Eventually it appeared and I drug it away to a corner to open it with much trepidation.
I unzipped it and everything inside was still intact. Nothing had moved an inch. Sigh of relief!
I unzipped the padded camera bag itself. Inside was my 5d Mark II. (Oh how I hate to be separated from you, friend!) I picked it up and…
The perfect end to a perfect day!
Just kidding. I think.
I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry.
Delta says that they are not responsible for electronics or damages to checked bags.
Even though they forced me to check it or not get on the plane. That is apparently irrelevant information. They gave me a $50 voucher so I can have a teeny, tiny discount should I choose to fly with them again in the next year.
I have some choice words for Delta that mostly start with the letter F and include the word you, but I shall refrain from typing them about 900 times in caps on this page.
The camera is still usable, it just has shattered glass on the back and the LCD screen underneath just has minor damage that looks like a permanent green thumb print is pressing on it.
No big deal.
I DIDN’T JUST FINISH PAYING OFF THIS CAMERA THAT COST SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS BY WORKING HARD AND BUILDING A BUSINESS.
I’m too tired to think more about it tonight. Tomorrow I will figure out what angry calls to make to which people. I’m really angry. I’m even more angry at Delta than I am at poachers, which is saying something.
So after we left the airport, shattered camera in hand, we had to drive about an hour and a half to the beach house on Holden Beach. (Will this day never end?)
The beach house is a pretty awesome monolith that even includes an elevator.
This is the view from the living room windows.
The girls had been looking forward to seeing the beach for the first time at the end of this long, long day. Unfortunately it was just below 60 degrees, the sun was starting to set, the wind was howling, and a storm was coming up. We took a quick walk down to the beach to say hello.
Camera still works, even in the semi-darkness of evening.
It was cold.
Rosie was impressed by the sand and the vastness of the ocean. She was shocked by the size of the waves. They were tiny waves for the Atlantic.
Ada was nearly drunk on exhaustion. She ran about in the semi-darkness exclaiming over the shells, frantically gathering as many as she could.
See that orange tape to the left behind Ada?
That’s a nest of 93 sea turtle eggs due to hatch any day! They are on day 64 on incubation. How thrilling.
The eggs are watched around the clock by volunteers.
In the picture below you can see a long trench behind the girls.
That’s to be filled with water to push the newly hatched sea turtles out into the ocean past the breaking wave so more of them survive.
There was a bright flash of lightening accompanied by a loud clap of thunder.
It sent the girls running back to the house as fast as they could move across the uneven sand.
It’s already almost 12:30 at night. I have to go to sleep. Exhausted doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Tomorrow is supposed to be 67 and sunny. Maybe it will be warm enough for the girls to at least play in the sand on the beach while I make angry phone calls to Delta.
Or maybe I’ll just build a sandcastle and get Tyler to make the angry calls for me.