In the past five days I have experienced canceled and missed flights, what it feels like to run through an airport and stand inches from American Pharoah, and how to deal with yearling Thoroughbreds throwing temper tantrums (a bit more intense than human toddlers).
I have to start at the beginning.
On Thursday the 7th, Fargo, Moorhead and the surrounding area awoke to a lot of snow. Fourteen inches fell at our home, and that is absolutely not a joke.
I was packed and raring to head off for Kentucky to hang out with a friend, tour stallion farms and work for Taylor Made Sales as a horse handler during the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with horses or horse racing, this is essentially a very large auction for young Thoroughbreds who are prospective racehorses, or Thoroughbreds used as breeding stock who will hopefully produce future racehorses.
My plans skidded to a halt when I arrived at the airport on Thursday and discovered that my flight out of Fargo had been canceled – not due to weather, but a lack of de-icing fluid for the airplanes. I was rebooked for the following evening, setting me more than a day behind schedule.
Friday, I arrived at the airport for a second time. Flight was on schedule, weather was good, de-icing fluid apparently well stocked.
I must have looked like the Michelin Man walking through the airport. Rather than checking bags, I packed everything I needed for two weeks into carry-on luggage, and I wore whatever didn’t fit into my bags. I had a difficult time peeling off layers as I went through security, and they ended up having to give me a good pat down to make sure I wasn’t hiding anything under my tank top, long sleeved shirt, light jacket, sweatshirt and another jacket.
I boarded the plane and everything seemed hunky dory. Until the flight was delayed because they had to “rebalance the aircraft.” This involved pulling luggage from the storage area of the airplane and strapping it to seats in order to satisfy some kind of mathematical/physics equation and determine whether the plane could fly with a certain amount of weight. Or at least that’s how I understood it.
At first it didn’t seem like a big deal. I was caught up in conversation with the passenger sitting next to me and wasn’t paying attention to the time.
But the closer we flew to Chicago, the more difficult I realized it would be to catch my flight to Lexington. The more nervous I became, the more conscious I was of the multiple layers I was wearing and how hot the plane had become in the close quarters.
We landed in Chicago 10 minutes before my flight was scheduled to leave.
I was sweating.
The plane crept over the runway as we slowly taxied in. As the minutes dragged out, the only thing that kept me from unleashing the building panic was my new friend I had made during the flight, who remained cool as a cucumber and reassured me that no matter what happened, it would all work out.
I simultaneously muttered desperate prayers and a slew of swear words – two things that aren’t supposed to go together. Thank goodness God forgives.
We pulled up to the gate five minutes after my plane to Lexington was scheduled to leave. I wouldn’t make it, but I had to try. My friend helped me dig my carry-on bag out from under the seat behind me (which was apparently there the “balance the aircraft”), and other passengers cleared the way as I charged down the aisle of the plane, up the jet bridge and through the airport.
Folks inside the airport stared as I galloped past gate after gate, orange backpack clumsily bouncing around and blue rolling bag veering precariously from side to side. I arrived at the gate, panting from exhaustion and panic, only to find my plane long gone.
It was a real good try though.
Feeling deflated and thinking I would have to spend the night in Chicago, I halfheartedly followed an airport worker to a customer service counter, only to run into my friend from the flight again. This wonderful individual waited nearby until the airport re-booked me onto another flight leaving a few minutes later.
After bidding my friend farewell, I raced to a separate concourse, arriving just in time to board the plane to Lexington.
As soon as I found my seat, I peeled off three layers and sat back until my breathing had returned to normal. I thanked God for never failing to provide for me, and for the fact that there are still very good people in this world who care and are willing to help.
And off I flew to Lexington.
Check back soon to hear about the next part of my adventures in Lexington, Kentucky!