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Friday, February 16, 2018

Flying Foxes

My Wonderful Husband and I will be flying to Los Angels and then to New York City at the end of April to participate in some Parkinson's disease related events. There's just one small problem. We both hate flying. We are NOT afraid of flying. It's just that whenever one of us gets on a plane, something always goes wrong. I don't think we have EVER had a flight go perfectly. In fact, I will tell you some very humorous stories about our past flight adventures. Though, they didn't seem funny at the time. After writing these stories down, we decided to make THIS flying adventure a TeamFox fundraising event! 

It is about 5000 miles round trip from Yuma to New York City. That's 10,000 flight miles total for the two of us. I am asking you to sponsor a mile for $5.00. If we can get every mile sponsored, it will raise $50,000 for the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's disease research! 

Yuma to New York City

Please read about our past flight adventures, laugh at them and then donate!

1. Shortly after we got married 32 years ago, my Wonderful Husband earned a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada as a bonus from his job. It was a long weekend, fly in on Thursday and back home on Sunday. Our flight went well, until we got to baggage claim. Hubby's bag was there, but mine was not. Mine was on its way to Seattle, then Chicago and finally got back to Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon, just in time to fly back home to Orlando. I ended up wearing the same pair of jeans all weekend and borrowed a tee shirt from Hubby. 

2. A year or so later, my Wonderful Husband earned a weeklong trip to Paris, France. We would be traveling with a group of about 15 other couples, all flying in from different airports to our international departure airport in North Carolina. We got to the Orlando airport with plenty of time to spare before our 9 am departure time. When we checked in at the airline counter, we were informed that our plane was about to leave without us! The flight departure time had been changed and we were never notified. 

We were too late to check our luggage, and we would have to RUN to get to the gate, carrying all of our bags with us. We could hear them mispronouncing our names over the PA system as we sprinted down the meandering halls. Thankfully, I used to work at the airport, so I knew every shortcut. The plane was already backed away from the gate, but they opened the door, and we scrambled up the stairs. We were red-faced from running and embarrassed for holding up the flight. When we got to North Carolina, the group director apologized for not telling us about the time change.  
YumaBev in Paris

3. Wonderful Hubby and I decided to take a trip on our own. We would fly from Orlando to San Francisco, rent a car, drive down the coast to San Diego and fly back to Orlando. We had a hotel reserved near the airport and dinner reservations at The Brown Derby. We get to San Francisco and it's fogged in, so we land in Oakland. We had to take a bus to the San Francisco airport and finally arrived at 10 pm. We still had the hotel, but we had missed our dinner reservation. It was well after midnight before we got to eat. 

4. Two years later, Wonderful Hubby earned a trip to Hawaii. This time we would be flying out of Orlando with Hubby's boss and his wife. Let's call them Mr. & Mrs. Paul. We knew the Paul's very well and we socialized together often. We even drove to the airport with the Paul's

Also on this trip was another employee and her husband, we will call them Mrs. & Mr. Jones. We didn't know the Jones' at all, they lived in a different part of Florida. 

Our flights to Hawaii went okay, although the Island hopper plane from Honolulu to Kauai almost ran off the end of the runway. 

Four days into our weeklong trip, Mrs. Jones is sick and throwing up. It turns out that she is pregnant! Mrs. Paul plans an impromptu celebration. Yippee! And then everything goes wrong. Mr. Jones wants to know who the Father is, because he knows it isn't him.  

What we didn't know was that Mr.Paul had a thing going on with Mrs. Jones. Yes, you guessed it. Mr. Paul was the Father. Needless to say, the rest of the trip was rather tense, the flight back to Orlando with all of us sitting together was downright stressful and driving the Paul's back to their home after, well, thankfully, was very, very quiet. 

Wonderful Hubby retired shortly after this, and it was over a decade before either of us ever got on a plane again. 

5. The next time I flew was when we were working at a RV resort in western Colorado. It was just after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks and I wanted to go visit my Dad in Orlando. Most people were afraid to fly, and airfares were cheap. I'd have to catch a regional flight to Denver and from there, I'd fly non-stop to Orlando. When I got to Denver, I found my non-stop flight had been cancelled. I never knew exactly why, but my guess is that there weren't enough passengers to make the flight profitable. I still got to Orlando, by way of Salt Lake City, which is the opposite direction from Orlando. What should have been a four hour flight ended up taking over eight. 

6. It would be several more years before we dared to get on another plane. We had moved to Arizona and wanted to fly back to Orlando to visit family. We were not living in Yuma then, we lived about 30 miles away in a small town called Wellton. Friends offered to drive us to the airport and pick us up. Our flight left Yuma at 7 am and our return flight got in at 4 pm, so we accepted their offer and thanked them.

Come fly with me.....or maybe not!

Our flight to Orlando went perfectly. Our flights back went good too, until we got to Phoenix. As we sat at the gate waiting to board the 3 pm regional jet to Yuma, other passengers began to arrive. The plane was parked at the gate, but there were no employees to be found. Three o'clock came and went, still no one from the airline showed up. We checked the departures board and it said "delayed." We called our friends and told them not to drive to the Yuma airport until we called them back. 

Four o'clock came and went, then five and six. An employee showed up, made an announcement that there was a "technical" problem and disappeared. Meanwhile, the passengers waiting at the gate kept increasing, as the folks scheduled for the 6:30 pm flight arrived. 

Seven o'clock ticked past, as did eight and nine. The 10 pm flight passengers joined the rest of us waiting at the gate. We called our friends and told them we had no idea when or if the flight would leave. They said they'd wait to hear from us. 

At 11 pm the employee showed up, said there was still a "technical" problem but said our flight should leave at 1 am and disappeared again. IF the flight left at 1 am, it would be 2 am when we got to Yuma, way too late for our friends to come get us. So I called the Yuma airport to see if we could rent a car. Sorry, all the rental companies were already closed. I even asked the other passengers if any of them lived in Wellton, no was the answer. We had no choice, our friends would have to come get us.

Around midnight, several more "passengers" showed up. They were all similarly dressed. By the time the plane left at 1 am, it was completely full. The late arriving passengers were the flight crews for the next day's flights. This was the "technical" problem. We were aggravated, but it was comforting to know that there were several extra pilots, co-pilots and flight attendants on board. This was our first experience in learning how flight crews get to work...they fly!

PS It was 3 am before we finally got home, and yes, our friends are still our friends, although they never offered to drive anyone to the airport again. 

7. Flights from Yuma cost significantly more money, and with our previous experience, the next time we flew, we decided to skip the regional airport and drive directly to Phoenix, which is over three hours away. My still undiagnosed Parkinson's was quite debilitating by now, so we chose an easy to find, offsite valet parking with shuttle service. All went well until we got back. Our car was blocked in by another car and they couldn't find the keys. We had to wait for a tow truck to come move the other car.

8. The next time we flew out of Phoenix, we rented a car, one-way from Yuma to get there. We went to pick up our reserved small SUV (easier for me to get in/out of) only to find they had none available. We had to take what they had, which was a mid-size sedan. The passenger seat was so low, I couldn't see out the front windshield, I felt like I needed a booster seat. Wonderful Hubby had to pull me up out of the car at every rest stop. After this, we decided to give up flying, it was just too uncomfortable. 

9. Many years go by, I've been diagnosed with Parkinson's, started this blog, wrote the book and then I get invited to speak at a Parkinson's conference in New Orleans in April 2013. I am scheduled to have DBS brain surgery six months before the date, so I say yes. We decide to fly from Yuma again; the Yuma airport only has one gate, so it's easier. This time we fly from Yuma to Los Angeles and then to Houston and New Orleans. 

I am short and thin. Wonderful Hubby and I both book aisle seats, across from each other, so he can help me if needed. The airline seats seem to have shrunk since our last flight. My knees are up against the seat in front of me and I can't put my arms down by my side. The gentleman next to me is tall and he must sit with his knees wide apart. These airplanes are equipped with TV screens in the backs of the seat in front of you; probably to distract you from how cramped you are. 

All during our flights, they kept running a commercial on the little TV's for this airlines air cargo service. They kept showing expensive antiques, delicate flowers and exotic animals and stating how your items would travel in a safe and comfortable environment. I joked to the tall guy, that next time, maybe we should fly air cargo instead. I spend most of the flight standing up in the back of the plane near the flight attendants area. 

We decide that from now on, if we can't drive there, we won't go. 
But New York City is too far to drive and there's no place to park even if we did. So, I wonder what will happen on this upcoming trip?

My Wonderful Husband has challenged me to see who can raise $25,000 first! So, for all you Wonderful Spouses and Caregivers out there, here's the link to his TeamFox page:


And for all you Parkies reading this, here's the link to mine:


And for those who hate flying and want to join our Flying Foxes team, or just want to donate, here's the link to our team page:

Let the FUNdraising begin! Don't let the $50 or $100 buttons scare you, just press "OTHER" and choose your own amount! 

PS Our flights went well, we made all our connections and we had a fabulous time with the other Parkies. Thank you to all who donated to the cause.