Again we wake up on Pennsylvania time in Omaha, but this time not as early, I guess we're slowly starting to acclimate since it is time we return to Coopersburg and life as we knew it before this whirlwind of an adventure overtook us. Joe goes to the coffee maker and finds out that when the little coffee pods were replaced, they gave us packets for a full-sized coffee pot. He had to wait until the breakfast buffet opened downstairs to get his coffee. As can be seen by the pictures, he was up, dressed and waiting at 5:30 by the elevators for them to turn on the lights....yes, people, he NEEDS his coffee THAT BAD. He was starting to twitch when they let us in. Blessed relief....he got his mega cup of coffee....he was slowly becoming human again.
While we were eating our breakfast, the other Employee of the Year, Amy, and her family came down for breakfast. As we were eating, we discussed all sorts of things as Amy's mom worked as a med-tech at Hackettstown Hospital (in NJ) the same time I did the same at St. Luke's in Bethlehem, we discussed unruly patients and Amy and Joe compared war stories as well. Their 'handler/chauffeur' Justin came in and joined in the conversation. Hopefully no one else around us was listening in, as when medical professionals/staffers get together you can be sure the topic falls to blood, guts and gore. Justin and I even got to compare our artificial parts stories (his leg, my arm). In this conversation, I think Justin jinxed us, but more on that later. We, again, remarked on how weird it was that we meet in Omaha, when we both are from eastern Pennsylvania, I asked Amy's boyfriend, John, where in Allentown he was from, and he said, 'oh, I just say Allentown, as people know where that is, I am really from Emmaus'. Well, with that, the mouth drops open on this face, as anyone who knows where we live, I often joke that our address is schizophrenic....the mailman says Coopersburg, the tax man says Upper Saucon Township and the phone company...well, Verizon says we live in (tada) Emmaus. The man asks if we've heard of it.....well, duh. After having a good joke on this, we say good bye as they headed out to catch their planes, Amy and John back to Maui and her parents back to Pennsylvania via La Guardia in New York. We end it by saying maybe we'll see each other Christmas shopping at the Crossings in Tannersville, PA an outlet center midway between both our backyards.
Breakfast over, we go back upstairs to finish packing and hump all our bags and souvenirs down to the lobby to check out. Phew! Thanks to 'behaving' and not drinking the $3 waters in the fridge or getting kinky with the 'in room movies' - we entertained ourselves, thank you - (I just put this in to see if my kids are reading this.....if I hear 'ewwww, grosss, yuck' from the other room I know they read the blog) we escaped without any extra costs involved. Joe thought I was being weird (when doesn't he) but I took a few more pictures of the hotel before we left. This is something I want to remember....the experience, the place, and the feeling. We may never pass this way again, and it is something I want to be able to recall in my dotage.
Jonathan was supposed to pick us up at 8:30, as we were to be going to the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium that opens at 9:00 before we ended our time in Omaha. At exactly 8:30 we see him zip up in his SUV and out he hops saying 'I have the "little man" with me'. Getting in, we see, strapped into his carseat, one of the cutest little boys I've seen. (Now I KNOW cute little boys, all you have to do is look at Lucas and Brennan.....) Mr. Gavin falls right into the Lucas and Brennan category, big expressive eyes and a shock of blonde hair and a smile that lights up the room. Now, the Gramma in me kicks into overdrive. I reach into my pocketbook and pull out the bag I have been carrying around for the three days we've been in town....a bag filled with hot wheels. Two eyes widen, and I offer a car to Gavin....I think I have made a friend for life. Jonathan explains that he and Gavin will be escorting us to the zoo and his wife, Valerie and the Princess will meet us there after the little one is done dining at Cafe Mom.
As you can see by our pictures, it is an experience to visit a zoo with a small child. It is one I would highly recommend to anyone.....you see so much and can appreciate it so much more when you see it thru the eyes of a small child. Did you know that penguins are Gavin's favorite at the zoo? Maybe you did, but did you know why? When penguins stand up, they are the same size as him. Now, would you have known that? What would you think of the the snakes when you walked up to the glass you were eye to eye with them? What would you think of a salamander that when you looked at it, you realized it could swallow you whole? As a 'big person' those things don't pass thru your mind while you are at the zoo.
When we come out of the Desert Dome, we find that Valerie and Princess Deklynn have arrived and we arranged to meet up with them. Now, let me digress here, when Jonathan first told me that he and Valerie were going to have a little girl, I played twenty questions with him on their color scheme and how they were decorating for her....in my devious mind, I knew I had to surreptitiously get this info so I could make at least a baby blanket for the little one. So when I first got to Omaha, I packaged up the goodies I had made and gave them to Jonathan to take home and open at their leisure. When we met up with the 'girls', Deklynn was wearing the little hat I had made and was covered with the blanket. My heart melted. I was so worried that my meager offering would be met with a simple 'oh thanks' and would be put aside and not used only to end up in a white elephant somewhere. I did so want to do something for this little treasure who had such a struggle to get here, and her mommy made me feel like I did. Then my goal of coming on this trip was met.....not only did I get to see this little miracle, but I got to hold her close and snuggle her tight.
I must tell you, people, I was mightily impressed when I met Valerie. (You my kind readers, if you follow me on Facebook, know that I had asked for prayer for her during her pregnancy and delivery) After hearing of all she went thru while she was pregnant and how she was bouncing back, I expected to meet an Amazon-like being who kept Jonathan on the straight and narrow. The person I met was a tiny little china doll who had the same smile I saw earlier on Gavin. I couldn't imagine being so delicate and going thru all the machinations that she did and coming out the other side unscathed. I'm not sure I could have done it......being pregnant and knowing that just being pregnant may kill me and continue on with the pregnancy (I'm not turning this into a debate on abortion, just stating a fact). She did this to bring this little dumpling into the world. I have had the good fortune to know only one other person who did this, and unfortunately, she did not win that battle.....she gave birth to a healthy baby, but lost her fight in doing so. Valerie asked me if she could hug me for the present....honey, you can hug me, and if I hugged you back a little tight, that's because I was hugging you and Doreen at the same time. Jonathan, you got a keeper on your hands in this one.
Okay, enough with the serious (sniff, sniff)....back to the journey.
After we finished viewing the monkeys at the zoo, Gavin was so tired he was really starting to drag. It was decided that Gavin would go home with Mommy and Deklynn and have lunch and a nap (not before Gramma Ginny slipped the remaining hot wheels in Deklynn's stroller for later...do I know how to 'rotten up' a kid or what?) and Daddy would take us to lunch and then to the airport. Hugs were shared with Valerie and Deklynn and I got to get in an extra squeeze on Gavin as he tried to escape over the backseat into the trunk of the SUV (who does this sound like, Alyssa?)...after a good couple of squeezes and a kiss or two stolen from the squiggling mass of boy child, he was buckled in the seat and bets were made whether or not he would even make it out of the parking lot never the less home before he was asleep.
Jonathan ended up taking us to the Upstream Brewery for lunch (http://www.upstreambrewing.com) where we were able to sit and unwind a bit after our zoo experience and before we had to amp up to get on the plane. We talked about all sorts of things, family and life, and odds and ends in general......I even asked Jonathan if we could affect a trade, I'd trade Joey and all his drama for him. Lucas and Brennan would like another little boy to play with and lord knows, after all the boys, I would love to play 'gramma' to a little girl....but that is just wishful thinking. Ending our meal, we head out to the Omaha airport and IOWA!
We get to the airport in plenty of time to get checked in. We pass the ticket counter with no problems...then we hit security. Remember when I said Justin jinxed us? Well, part of his stories included how, with his artificial parts, he was pulled by the TSA and checked when he went thru security...I told him so far so good for me...well, not on the return trip. We strip off any metal, wallets, keys, belts, shoes, etc. and pass thru the scanner. Joe had to take apart his CPAP, unlike Philly but we didn't think anything of it until my turn came up. I go thru the scanner, they ask me to again...then they have me put my hands over my head 'in a diamond shape' and turn around....I felt like one of those ballerina hippos in Fantasia, then they pull me aside. Urp. I'm in deep doodoo now. I have to assume the position and get a good frisking (Joe said they didn't even buy me dinner and flowers first before they felt me up)....it wouldn't have been so bad if the nice looking young man running the scanner had done it (I bet HIS hands would have been warm), but it was a 65ish looking little woman with cold, bird claw hands saying 'you got anything here, or here, or here'.....I told them the only metal was in my arm, and it should have shown up on the scanner, but oh no, not today, that wasn't good enough. That should have been our first warning on the return trip....it wasn't like the outgoing trip.
We get on the plane and find out that the plane wasn't as empty as it had been going 'to' Omaha (was there a mass exodus? Maybe it was just normal Friday 'whoo hoo' get the hell outta town' sorta thing). We ended sitting in a three seat row, the window seat already taken (no return pictures, sorry) and nothing of any consequense except for the pilot hitting every pothole between Omaha and Chicago.....it was one bumpy ride. We get to Chicago by 5 and have an hour delay. The boarding gate was empty at the time, but we had 'C's on our boarding passes, which did not bode well. When they were ready to board passengers, the place was crawling, literally, with people.....There are 60 places for each alphabet, so that meant by the time they got to us, there already were 120 people on the 737.....we were 125 and 126. The plane was packed when we got on, and I was not in a good mood. I told Joe that how I felt on take off in Philly would be verbalized 'loudly' if we couldn't get a seat together. We get on and the only seats left are the middles of a couple of rows. Hearing that we wanted to sit together, a nice young man from Temple offered to move to another row and let us sit together.....again, thank God, as I didn't want to go all Diana Ross and risk getting tossed in Chicago.
Again, as in the trip out, we get a tailwind and make Philly 15 minutes earlier than the 8:55 arrival time. This is good, as there are two trains leaving from the airport to center city Philly the rest of the evening, the first being 9:21 and the second 10:21. I was afraid we would end up with the last train, meaning we would have a wait at 30th Street station for the Cornwells train, and Joe's dad would have to get us around midnight. Our luggage came out of the shoot, we grabbed it and made a mad rush for the train platform. We called home and had Jill check the schedule for us when we were in Omaha and verified it while we in Chicago, so we hoped above hope that we would get the train. Down the on the platform we see a sign that says 'this platform closed' and the train sitting on the next platform.....the time is 9:20. The Keystone Cops couldn't have scripted what happened next any better.......two suitcases, a carry on bag, a pocketbook the size of Rhode Island, a CPAP bag, and a suit bag bumping beside two slightly round, very out of shape, lumps trying to get from one platform (up one elevator, across the hall, down another elevator) in one minute. We hurtle toward the train, flop in a seat and whoosh, the door snaps closed. We made it.
We get to 30th Street with only minutes to spare for the next train to Cornwells Heights. If we get it, we can have Joe's dad pick us up by 10:30 and we will be an hour and a half ahead of schedule. We were late getting to the platform, but again, our angels were helping us, as the train itself was late. I wanted to whip out the camera and document the final leg of our adventure, but Joe wisely reminded me, it's late, it's Philly and you don't want to look like a tourist in a metropolitan city after dark....so no documentation there, either, boys and girls. The train was 10 minutes late, we got on, and we were on our way. Three stops before ours, we call Dad and tell him to come and get us. Our train stops right as he is pulling in to the parking lot. Sweet relief, we are back to Dad's, I get to visit the little girls room (the Imodium was very, very good to me this trip) and we load up our stuff in Joe's little Hyundai and off we head for home.
On the way, we go, 'oh crap, we didn't eat anything for dinner'.....we were running on pure adrenaline and fear...him on adrenaline and me the fear that if I ate anything after lunch or while we were in the midst of traveling, I would need the airline bathroom...and after almost mooning the friendly skies between Philadelphia and Chicago on the way out, that was an experience I did not want to revisit. So after all the wining and dining we experienced in our last few days, we end up at the local convenience store near the house and Joe gets a hot dog and I get nachos......Nachos, you may ask, when all I have been doing is popping Imodium like Chiklits....well, when the 'cheese' is synthetic and non-dairy, it doesn't have the same effect....definitely not good for me, but it did what it had to do in a pinch. Joe backs into the driveway at 11:55 p.m. on Friday night 9/28. We completed the whole experience in three days.
Wednesday we were in Philadelphia, not knowing what we were in for.....late Friday, we were back in Philadelphia after having a life changing experience in Omaha, Nebraska. Did I do everything I wanted? Looking back, I would have liked to have seen more, I would have liked to have seen Boy's Town, I wanted to visit the Mercy Sisters facility that Jamie works through.....woulda, shoulda, coulda, I know. But to quote another great Sou'thrn woman, Scarlett O'Hara, 'tomorrow is another day'...There is always next time, right?