For those of you that have not heard I had a great time in Australia. I will be retelling you the stories for the next few weeks. But as much as I enjoyed the trip the part of it that included getting home was not so much fun. After flying and traveling for almost 24 hours we landed in LAX to catch our flight to Chicago. We made a very organized but mad dash thru customs , to pick up our bags and then to return them to an area since they were already check thru to Detroit. Following that amazing race looking feat, we walked several blocks at a mad pace dragging our poor little 82 year old companion Elsie to get to the United Ticket counter. Elsie and I were panting but were proud we made it!! We arrived there with time to spare. Whew, we were sweaty and already stinky from all our flying and more than ready to get home. Well, apparently the man in line in front of us was having a bad day and was throwing three fits and a bad spell so we stood in line for about fifteen minutes before we got some one's attention. At that point she informed us that since we didn't check in 45 minutes before the flight (ugh, hello we were trying to check in....) that they had given our tickets away. These are tickets that we purchased several months before but they were now gone!!! Let's just say we were all very disgusted and exhausted and did I mention we smelled and looked very bad?
Having no boarding passes we were unable to enter the terminal. You know the one with carpet on the floor, chairs and restaurants? So all 27 of us laid in the terminal floor for six hours while our leader Mary tried to figure out between Air New Zealand and United Airlines who was to blame. After about five hours several of the courageous parents walked back to the international terminal and paid $300.00 for 28 personal pan pizzas and drinks. Knowing me so well after 12 days the brought me a diet coke and stepped back while I ripped open the cap and guzzled. I know for the certain that gesture saved the life of at least one or maybe two airline employees. Now we had to add dirty clothes to our smelly, looking bad status because the floor at LAX is not the cleanest place to lay down. I know that comes as quite a shocker, right?
When it was decided that there was no way we were going to get out of their that night, Air New Zealand stepped up and put us up in the Hilton which was a five star hotel. In order to get to the Hilton we had to take one of those little buses. There were already about ten people on there when we entered. The majority of our party had to stand and hold to the top rail of the bus. Can you see where this is going? About fifteen stinky teenagers with their pits in the air for the entire ride. I am sure the other travelers really appreciated that .
Thank God they had a buffet they supplied to us for free because by this time all the kids were broke. We all went upstairs , washed our unmentionables in the sink and crawled into bed. Our wake up call was for three a.m. We got to the airport and proceeded to try to get 27 people on stand by to Chicago. Folks, if you don't believe in miracles you should because we managed to get all 27 people to Chicago on three flights and again on three flights to Detroit. Some of us arrived home around 2, some around 5 and some around 9 but we all made it by the evening. We survived the chaos and the fatigue. I did fell a little cheated out of the big homecoming and seeing everyone with their parents. As usual I had fallen in love with a few of these kids and wanted to tell their parents what great human beings that were raising and how blessed I felt to have shared this experience with them. Oh well, I guess when I am recovered from the jet lag I just send them a note.