I should've known, when we walked into O'Hare this morning and breezed through check-in and security in ten minutes flat, that the rest of the day would NOT go as smoothly... and yet, for a few brief moments, I actually allowed myself to think that this air travel thing was actually pretty darned convenient...
And then we got to our gate, and noticed that our plane was delayed. Not a lot -- only a half hour or so. Nothing we couldn't manage. But of course, as these things are wont to do, the half hour turned into an hour... at which point we noticed that our plane (to Dallas, where we would catch our flight to San Francisco) and a plane that was departing for (ironically) San Francisco, were scheduled to leave within five minutes of each other from the same gate. Well, THAT wasn't going to happen...
(On a side note, since about fifteen people asked us today why we didn't just take a direct flight to San Fran: we probably waited too long to make our reservations, at which point every direct flight was either super expensive, or departing at an inconvenient time, or both. And since Rick has been accumulating miles to get to "platinum" status anyway, we figured we'd just collect some extra miles... But as I mentioned to mom earlier -- we ARE taking a direct flight back to Chicago, fortunately...)
Eventually, our slightly delayed flight turned into a two-hours-delayed flight, and it became quite obvious that there was no way we'd be catching our flight to San Fran from Dallas. So Rick got on the phone and switched us over to a later flight... which worked out okay, because by the time we did finally get to Dallas, we were starving and had plenty of time to get food.
So after eating and procuring a couple cocoa cappuccinos from Starbucks (where, incidentally, they had a sign at the register saying "we do not accept tips at this location." What??? We somehow managed to find the only Starbucks in the world without a tip jar! :)), we made our way to the gate, where the flight was scheduled to leave on time. But the longer we sat, the more I noticed a change in the previously blue sky... I asked Rick to check the weather, and a tiny little storm had popped up outside of Dallas. "I hope that doesn't end up coming this way," I foreshadowed... without realizing I was foreshadowing.
Of course, as I said, I SHOULD have known that things would not go smoothly... So yes, the storms got bigger and meaner and ended up grounding all air travel at Dallas/Ft. Worth for a good hour. So our "on time" flight turned into another delay. But the good thing about those Texas storms is that they pop up and run their course pretty quickly, so we didn't have to hang out at the airport TOO long....
(Another side note: when we took off from Dallas, we could see a TON of the wildfires that have been plaguing the entire state of Texas recently. One was so big that we could actually see flames from thousands of feet in the air... not good... hopefully Texas will start getting more rain...)
Finally, at about 8:45 California time (10:45 back home), we arrived in San Francisco and headed toward baggage claim to face our final hurdle: when we switched our flight, we opted for one that departed late enough that we knew we'd have time to make the connection. There WAS an earlier flight, but we would've had to RUN across the Dallas airport to an entirely different terminal to even have a slight chance of catching it. When we asked a gate agent about our luggage, she said she didn't think they'd have enough time to switch our luggage over to that earlier, other-side-of-the-airport flight, so chances were good that our luggage would tag along with us on the later flight. So we stood at the baggage claim carousel at the San Francisco airport, hoping we'd see our bright blue and red bags on the conveyor belt... but they never appeared.
And THIS may be the only time today that things went off without a hitch -- because when we went to the baggage office and presented our claim tags, the woman behind the counter immediately found our bags and brought them out. (You know, sometimes I think those little claim tags are useless, but thank goodness I didn't misplace them on this trip...)
So after an entire day of travel, two cappuccinos, one caramel latte, and hardly any food to speak of, we are FINALLY in San Francisco, WITH our bags, and I think it's way past my bedtime... Food will have to wait until tomorrow... :)