Monday, July 6, 2009

erutnevdA tsewhtroN cificaP taerG ehT(Or...The Great Pacific Northwest Adventure In Reverse)

Day 11--Sunday, July 5th, we rolled our wheelie suitcases through firecracker debris, and said a sad goodbye to The Pacific Northwest. My sister and John woke up early to make two treks to the Trimet with first the boys and then the girls. Dug and Du left at 6 for a free frequent flyer plane to Dallas and a 2nd AA flight to Chicago that got canceled. Fortunately, they were able to get seats on another less than half an hour later and arrived back after 7 and a half flight hours.

The girls left for the train at 9. We had to pay full price, but got a shorter and cheaper direct flight with United, clocking in at 4 hours 10 min.--since we caught a good tail wind and made it 20 minutes early. Sagezilla was charming and inappropriate as ever in her size 5T "WING MAN" t-shirt, a thrift score and hand me down from her big brother.Our early AM hour and a half train ride was slightly extended when Zilla belted out, "BATHROOM!!!!" slightly over half way to the airport. I sighed and sized up our two backpacks and two bulging rolling packs, then contemplated the joys of traveling with a sopping wet traveling companion, reeking of pee. We got off at the next stop.

A tattooed girl with waist length, multicolored hair and her nose in a book, got off with us. She overheard the dilemma and recommended a local burger place that was just a block away and "Is usually cool about not making you buy stuff to pee if it's a kid." Good. Our kinda joint. We ran up the street, with me lugging all the luggage.

They were ultra kind at the burger place, near the convention center stop, and didn't require a purchase or hassle us about a bathroom key. We bought a lemonade and found they even had a version with fresh raspberries in it. I tried in vain to talk Zilla into that one, but she stubbornly reiterated, "I do love them both, I just don't like things IN stuff!"

I was excited and a little homesick to see what I thought was a Chicago Blackhawks jersey in their case. The kid at the counter grinned and said, "Actually, it's the Portland Winterhawks, but I'm a Blackhawks fan.......and Bears.......and Cubs." Hmmm. Yet another sign of the wormhole linking Portland and Chicago. They have a major junior ice hockey team who has a similar name and identical logo to our own beloved Blackhawks?!?!? How did THAT happen? Looks like time to go home. We made it back to the station just in time, as the next 15 minute train rolled in. The Wing Man tee was working it's charms as we were in a nearly empty car this time with a 6 year old boy, who chatted up Zilla for the next 45 minutes, while I talked with his Dad. They'd come in on a 40 some hour Amtrack trip from Minnesota, only to find that the rental car they'd booked was at PDX and the train brought them to the other small airport across town. He left his wife and two youngest kids there, including one who is mildly autistic and was flipping out a bit at the change in his routine.

He regaled me with tales of their past visit to Chicago. They were passing through for what was supposed to be a one day visit, but accidentally parked in a private versus public garage and got locked in on Friday night, unable to retrieve their car till Monday morning!

Sage's 6 year old friend, William, disclosed his in depth, insider info on how to defeat the lava dwelling octopus in his Mario Space Wii game, between asking "Are we there yet, Dad?" at every stop. Finally Sage sighed loudly and said, "The airport is at the END OF THE LINE. That's why it takes a long time to get there." The two of them had a fine time entertaining each other till "the end of the line."We had an uneventful flight, where Zilla sat directly behind yet another 6 year old. What are the odds. She had a window seat this time, so we enjoyed the view, snapped snowy mountain peak pixs, and played cloud shape games.Back in Chi town, we were again at the airport at the end of the line. And, to give a nice symmetry, we took the blue line home, just like we'd begun on the blue line nearly 12 hours before and half a continent away. We walked the last few blocks home and were licked enthusiastically by our two dogs and reunited with the boys an hour later. Vacations are awesome, but there's no place like home.

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