Friday, September 16, 2011

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Our Denver to Chicago return trip wasn't quite as charming as the Chicago to Denver leg of the vacation.  Just to add another element to the chaos, we had Dan's cousin's 3 year old with us.  His mom met us in Chicago to pick him up.  Turns out she could have driven to Denver to pick him up just to save some time...

So where to about at the beginning...

First of all, thank God for the internet which allowed us to know ahead of time that our 7pm departure time was going to be delayed until 11pm.  Frustrating but I didn't really let it bother me.  We all took naps that afternoon and the kids fell asleep in the car on the ride from the Lane Guest Ranch to the train station in Denver.  We arrived at about 10pm to wait for our 11pm train only to find out the train wouldn't be arriving until at least 1am.  Ok, sitting in a train station for 3 hours with 3 kids under 4 in the middle of the night wouldn't be my first choice in vacation activities, but there was nothing I could do and we made the best of it.  The kids were so so good and for the rest of the day people complimented me on how well behaved my kids were...all the time thinking ALL 3 were mine plus I was obviously expecting another!  Anyways, we got onboard at 3am.  Three o'clock in the morning.  Closer to the time we usually wake up than the time we usually go to bed.  Plus with the time change, it was actually 5am back home.  Lord have mercy.  Needless to say no one brushed their teeth that night.  We barely made it into pajamas before falling into our beds in our sleeper car.  This was 3am.

At precisely 8am we are awoken by this:
 Now granted, we didn't know exactly what "this" was.  We just thought the conductor had made a very hard stop as our car was one of the last on the train and remained on the tracks and upright.  The kids actually all slept right through it.  We heard the porter talking out in the hallway and he said we hit a crane.  Being only half awake at this point, the only thing that I could think of was that we had hit a bird "a crane".  I was confused about why we possibly had to stop just for hitting a bird.  Was it an endangered species?  Within the next 20 minutes we learned that we had to deboard with all of our belongings,3 car seats and 3 kids who had only been asleep for the last 5 hours.  The scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles came to mind when they are schlepping their heavy bags across that huge field.

This is the crane we hit.  No it is not a bird.
 Luckily when we got off the train TONS of rescue workers and volunteers were on the scene to help out.  We didn't have to carry anything but the kids and my purse.  They fairly quickly loaded us onto school buses and away we went to the high school gym.  Where unbeknownst to us we would remain for the next 8 hours.

 They fed us as much as we could eat and were very accomodating, but sitting in a hot gym with a couple hundred people after a 5 hour train station wait and only 5 hours of sleep with, let me remind you, 3 kids under 4 got really old. I hit my breaking point somewhere around hour 5. Before then, I had remained positive with a "it could always be worse" attitude. After leaving the guest ranch at 8:30pm and as I sat in a Nebraska high school gym in the middle of no where at 1pm I began to wonder if things COULD get worse? The closest car rental company was about 2 hours away so we didn't have many options. We knew that United Limo type buses were going to pick us up and so we waited.
I guess Boothe is dancing here.  Seriously check out those moves....

 They brought toys over from a nearby preschool for the kids to play with.
And so at 4pm we loaded up onto a bus that would take us halfway across the country during the next 18.5 hours getting us into Chicago at 11:30am.  Only 21 hours late.  Bringing our total travel time to just under 40 hours. Never had I been so happy to get into our own car.

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