Today we were booked to return from our son’s home in Hutchinson, Kansas to our home in Richmond. We didn’t reckon with the onslaught of the tornado season in the mid-West. So this blog is being written after an excellent Mexican meal at the Playa Azul in ………… Hutchinson.
The day started in a bit of a rush as a little over-indulgence on the last night meant we all overslept. Top priority was to get Henry up and delivered to school – in this part of the world school starts early at 7.50. It was a mad rush but at 7.49 I pulled up at the school gate and he made it by the skin of his teeth. Fortunately we will be seeing him at the end of school which is just before we are due to leave for Wichita Airport.
Beatrix was a more relaxed proposition. Her school, a Montessori pre-school, doesn’t have an official start time so a 9.15 arrival works well. In the car park we meet her teacher who has come out to the roadside mailbox to collect the mail. We get in our farewell hugs and kisses and she walks off happily in deep conversation with not a glance back. We had been dreading this moment but it all went off so smoothly that we were back in the car momentarily, as they say here.
The core of the day passed quickly with a final bit of packing, an eventually successful search for a Hutchinson/Kansas fridge magnet – a special request from my mum – and lunch with Katie. Just an aside for those of you who read my blog about our journey by Amtrak from Chicago to Los Angeles last September. You may remember that our train passed through Hutchinson in the middle of the night whilst we were sound asleep. Well lunch today was in a cafe on the station platform. As we ate we tried to picture the train in the platform – a little hard at a station that has the grand total of two passenger trains a day, one from Chicago and one to Chicago, and both in the middle of the night.
We picked up Henry from school at 3.10 pm and went straight back to his house. We had to leave in 45 mins for the airport and it seemed prudent to check on the interenet that the flight was on time.
It was at this point that news of extreme weather in Dallas, where we were due to change planes, started to surface. Flights to and from Dallas Fort Worth airport were being marked as delayed or cancelled. Then an email arrived from American Airlines confirming that the flight from Wichita had been cancelled. Later we discovered that some 600 flights to and from DFW were cancelled.
The news channels were now showing dreadful scenes of destroyed houses, gigantic tractor and trailor units being tossed in the air like Dinky toys and pictures of massive twisters and hailstones as big as your fist. By some miracle despite all the damage and danger no one was reported as being seriously injured.
Phoning American Airlines to find out our alternatives proved to very, very time-consuming. After about 1/2 hour on hold a calm, helpful agent, as they are called, came on the line. She confirmed we would be going nowhere tonight as there were no more flights due to leave Wichita for any destination with a longhaul connection. Accepting the position was the only option. She offered to book us on a crack-of-dawn flight to Chicago and onwards to London but the thought of a 3am start did not appeal so we were rebooked for the same flights that we should have been on today. Situation recovered, or so we thought.
Henry had soccer practice, he’s in the Azurri’s team of 11 and 12 year olds and, for the record, plays in defence as sweeper. He’s a good kicker and can clear a ball like the best plus he can deliver a mean shoulder tackle. After practice it was straight back for a shower and then we all repaired to the Playa Azul as mentioned at the beginning of this blog.
We can feel a “Groundhog Day” coming on. More tomorrow.