Saturday, October 23, 2010

Home Again, but Not Without a Story

We survived another trans-Atlantic journey but not without a hitch here and there. We returned our leased Kangoo to the Renault dealer and they gave us, along with Fergus and his kennel, a ride to the Toulouse airport. We got our boarding passes and put Fergus in his cage and sent him off to Denver. We then had to go through security which was heightened because of some unknown threat. In the past, travelling though Toulouse has been wonderful because of the ease of going through security.....but not this time. We had to take our wallets, keys and change out of our pockets, remove our shoes and belts, put our laptop and cameras in a tray, take off my sweater..........and still I had to be patted down and frisked with an electronic device.

We arrived in Frankfurt and after a bus ride to the terminal, had a quick jaunt of a few kilometers through that massive, dysfunctional airport, and through passport control. I'm pretty sure I know where all the grandsons and grand-daughters of the Nazi SS are now working. Yes....passport control.

Because we were flying to the US, we had to go though security again. Keys, wallet, camera, laptop, belt and shoes. We reached our gate and began boarding, but we had to pass though a turnstile. The electronic eye was supposed to read the boarding pass and allow us through the gate, but it didn't work for Nancy. By this time we were frustrated and angry. People were giving Nancy advice. "Turn your boarding pass sideways." "Turn it over." "Stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight." Just before the mob behind her became unruly, Nancy got down on her hands and knees and crawled through the turnstile, the throngs cheered, but she immediately got the attention of the Lufthansa staff.

Then we squeezed ourselves into our seats for the nine to ten hour battle with claustrophobia. I swear, next time I am going to take some kind of powerful drug and just spend the entire trip asleep and snoring, perhaps in one of the latrines.

We arrived in Denver in a frazzled state, went through passport control, got our luggage. Fergus arrived in his kennel and then we went through customs. After Nancy walked Fergus, I took off in the shuttle bus for a distant parking lot where my sister had left our car. I had told her to put the keys in the tailpipe, and she had done that. I could feel the keys but I couldn't grasp them. They were a half inch too far up the tailpipe. I wandered around the massive parking lot until I found a beat up old pickup (I can tell you, owners of beat up old pickups don't seem to fly much) and lo and behold, in the bed of the pickup, I found what I was looking for. A piece of bailing wire was mixed in with some hay, a few sticks of firewood, beer cans and the rest of the junk that accumulates in the back of an old pick up. Voila, the keys were in my hands and off I went to retrieve Nancy, Fergus and my sister Peggy who had just flown in from Seattle.

The Denver airport is the size of some counties and closer to Kansas than Denver, but I got back there eventually. I drove to the concourse and discovered there are three levels. Unfortunately the one Nancy and Fergus were on was a level that only buses can access through a security gate. I didn't have a cell phone and I couldn't leave the car and try to find Nancy on foot. They would tow any unoccupied car in this age of paranoid security. I was frazzled; pissed, fatigued and anxious to get to Nancy's location on the secure level, not really thinking clearly. After about three trips around the airport at about five miles a circuit, I piggy-backed through the security gate behind a shuttle bus. It's a trick I learned, but had not used, this summer on the French tollways. The bus driver was on the radio quite quickly reporting the security breach, but I didn't care. I was finally on the level where Nancy and Fergus were waiting for me. Except that they weren't there.

Some nice security agent had informed Nancy that I would never find her on that level in a million years and she should move down the the next level, which she wisely did. Meanwhile, I was driving around the secure level looking for her. I was just about to leave that secure level before I got apprehended, and begin a search of other levels.....when flashing lights appeared in my rear view mirror.

When you are stopped by security, of course, protocol must be followed. I needed to be dealt with by persons much higher up than the ones that stopped me. I endured two lady security personnel tell me what a dumb fuck I was, while I tried to tell them how screwed up their security system was. I don't believe that either of us changed our minds on the major issues, but we agreed to see if they could find Nancy and let me know of her whereabouts. I'm sure that if they had not been able to find Nancy with a handsome black Labrador, and now accompanied by my sister Peggy, the security personnel might have found me very suspicious and hauled me off to jail, or to be waterboarded. After a mercifully short lecture by the chief of security I was on my on my way on another five mile jaunt around the airport to get to the next level, to finally find my family. The sight of them waving to me as I drove up was the best thing I've seen in years.

We went to Peggy's house where we were greeted by Tony and the delicious smell of chili on the stove. I sucked down a bottle of wine, ate chili and salad and went to bed. We were awakened by jet lag at 2:00 am, so we got out of bed and tried to quietly leave the house and start the six hour drive back to Montrose. But we were beset by one more frustration......a flat tire at 3:30 in Brighton. But I can change a tire like a NASCAR professional and soon we were on the road again with coffee, and an egg-a-muffin, watching the sun come up on Monarch Pass.


Anonymous said...

Welcome home! I was wondering how you guys were doing with all the shit happening in France.


Harley said...

It sounds like Fergus had the easiest trip of all. Perhaps you should put on dog suits and ride in two big kennels next time!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you FINALLY got home! Have a happy halloween!

Catch you later. Luke