You never know what’s going to happen on a travel day. This morning we arrived the airport fairly early, in hopes of having loads of duty free shopping. Not much in Brussels though, unless of course you count all the chocolate, beer, and other food they have ready for you. It’s too bad most of it couldn’t come back to Canada.

We checked in the toboggan, not wrapped, and were surprised that our luggage wasn’t overweight. The plane wasn’t full, so that likely explained the no hassle about a kilo or two. I bought a book for the flight (9 hours to kill and I already knew the movies were pretty bad) and some chocolate, and some Belgian waffles to eat before the flight left.

So we’re walking out the gate ramp to the plane, and just as we turn the corner to board, you can see balloons tied to the plane and a big congratulations sign. Rob was kind of hoping it wasn’t for a brand new pilot. Turns out the pilot was retiring after 20 years at US Airways. His name was Yani (sp?) and he was born in Greece. As a young boy he dreamed of being a train engineer. But after watching the planes take off from his grandmother’s house near the Athens airport, he decided to do everything he could to become a pilot. He succeeded and even got a university degree in aviation (or something like that). His wife of 40 years and 25-year-old daughter were also on the flight.

So back to the flight. It didn’t start well for me when the Belgian old guy in front of me spilled his drink and most of it ended up in my boot, which I had just taken off. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to dry it out. I kept holding it up to the air vent, then got paper towels to try to soak it up. But they’re Ecco boots and really spongy so it didn’t seem to help much. Finally I decided to use the blanket bag as a sock protector when we got off the plane.

US Airways has pretty awful food, and little of it healthy. Never thought I would say that Air Canada food isn’t too bad, but compared with the rubbery chicken we got from Brussels to Philly, and all kinds of salt-laden snacks … And unlike our AC flight, the seats didn’t have individual screens, and you had to pay US $5 for headsets. Glad I spent 11 euros on the book.

So we land in Philly and pick the worst possible line for customs. About 40 people passed on either side of us before the 5 people ahead of us went through. All the while we’re watching everyone getting fingerprinted and iris-scanned, thinking thankfully we’re Canadian. Then, the customs guy says to Rob sorry but there’s a problem. You’re not on the flight manifest for the flight to Ottawa. So we said that we had the boarding passes. He replies it’s not that I don’t believe you’re going to Ottawa. He takes Rob’s passport and our form and puts it in a red folder. Then he says that he’ll walk Rob over to get things expedited. Poor people in line behind us….

So while Rob sat in the secondary inspection area, I set off to pick up our luggage. Amazingly, it all came through. Rob had both our carry-ons, but there was no way I could carry the skis, toboggan, suitcase and large ski bag without getting a cart. Well, at Philly the privilege of a cart will cost you US$3. Not having a choice, I tried to figure out how to use the machine: swipe your credit card, then pull out the cart. Great, except it won’t work for me. I can’t leave the luggage unattended to get help, and I’m trying to get the attention of an airport worker. Of course, they all have headsets on and aren’t really there to help you. I guess they were there to clean up messes. Eventually I figured it out, loaded everything up and found Rob.

After a few minutes, he was set to go. The guy in the line beside us, who actually had the nerve to pull out a camera and take a picture of the customs area, was still there looking like he was going to be there for a while.

We made our way through to Terminal F, where our commuter jet would take us to Ottawa. I wondered whether I would be able to take my wheeled carry on aboard and asked the agent at the gate. She responds with “you must be from Canada, right?” Okay, it was the “about” that I used. Everyone in New York City used to bug me and Catherine about it. But the agent said she really loves the way Canadians say “about.”

Our flight was about an hour late leaving, and we were worried about the freezing rain that was called for in Ottawa. The flight at the next gate to Toronto was then delayed for an hour. Things weren’t looking good. And looking at the size of the plane, I thought there’s no way we’re going to get all of our luggage home tonight.

Well sometimes it all works out. We made it home with all our luggage. The only challenge was getting from the cab to the house. Really slick out there tonight. Unfortunately, it also means no Timbit for Rob tonight. He’ll just be that much happier to see him tomorrow.

Well that’s it for this adventure. Stay tuned. There are always more. Oh, one last thing… my sinus cold must be the reason why my ears wouldn’t pop on the last flight. Can’t hear anything in my right ear. It was really painful on the flight then felt like something exploded in it. Will see how I feel in the morning.

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