Hi VP's...I bet you were wondering about our homecoming. I have quite a story to tell...we NEVER seem to do things without a little "blip" in plans. Now those aren't necessarily bad blips and our homecoming was no exception. We've been busy getting settled back into our desert living...let me just say that we just couldn't be happier to be home. I guess that just goes without saying, doesn't it.
OK...so here's the story. The last update I gave was Thursday and you know that Brenda wasn't feeling well at all. I really wondered if we would get to go home. Every time I asked her if she was OK to travel, she just got this very determined look on her face, and just said "YES!" Did I really expect to have her say anything different? NO!
So our dear "car transport" friend had to fly in on Thursday night because he was flying "stand-by" and the Friday flight was booking up. He got a hotel at the airport and at least he got a good night's sleep. We...on the other hand, didn't sleep well at all. Brenda was still trying to recover from her horrible bout of barfing, and I was fixated on how I was going to organize all the stuff sitting in the living room that needed to get packed into the car. I woke up at 3:00 am and just couldn't go back to sleep. Brenda was up and down all night. So at 4:30 we both got up and I got meds in our gal and got a can of food in her...that was a good thing...she needed food!
I got the car packed and those of you that know me, know I can really maximize space. We got most everything in, and I'm telling you...I couldn't have fitted one more thing in that vehicle. It was packed to the max!! Ha! We had no remorse in leaving that apartment...it served its purpose well, but we were more than over it! HOME...that was our total focus! We got to the hotel about 10:30, chatted with our buddy, and Brenda headed immediately for the bed and fell asleep. That was good. We got a late checkout of 4:00 PM so that meant we could let her sleep until we had to head over the the airport for our flight. I got Bren to drink a Boost and I went and got some lunch. I knew eating would be messed up.
We got over to the airport, checked in, and all was on track. So as we were sitting at the gate waiting for boarding, I noticed this huge weather system that was moving toward the airport...OH NO! Houston weather was predicted to be stormy that afternoon and the weather guys were absolutely right on target...this was NOT going to be a small storm. We got on board, pushed back from the gate, and started to taxi to the runway, when all of a sudden we STOPPED! The pilot got on the PA and informed us we had to hold on the tarmac because the airport had just closed down due to the storm!! DANG!! So we sat there for an hour and a half while the storm ragged around us.
Some of you know that we had planned a surprise homecoming gathering at the airport so while we were sitting there I phone Toni to update her on the delay. POOP! But an hour and a half delay wasn't too bad. We finally took off and headed for home. For those of you not familiar with Phoenix weather...we are in our annual "monsoon" season when we can get violent afternoon thunderstorms with lots of blowing dust, high winds, lots of lightening, torrential rain, and micro-bursts. These storms are nothing to mess around in. But the monsoon season this year has been next to non-existent and it really looked like the Phoenix weather would be calm. HA!!! Did I also tell you that monsoon weather was also quite unpredictable?
The flight thus far was typical...no problems. Brenda wasn't feeling all that well and couldn't sleep very much...she needed to lay down but the flight was PACKED. I felt our descent into Phoenix and had a smile on my face. But all of a sudden the pilot got on the PA system again and said that the Phoenix airport (Sky Harbor) was closed due to violent thunderstorms surrounding the airport. GREAT! It hasn't rain hardly at all all summer and now, when we want to get home to see our friends at the airport...WE CAN'T LAND!!! LORD!!! So we went into a holding pattern south of the airport and waited for the storm to pass or subside. About 45 minutes into the holding pattern, the pilot again came on the PA and said that we were going to try and land but although the airport had opened, the thunderstorm was still very active and we might have to divert. If we couldn't land he said we would have to go to Tucson because we would need fuel! WONDERFUL!
So we start our approach to the airport when all of a sudden we are changing directions...now what? The pilot again came on the PA and said that the winds had shifted and we would have to approach from the other direction. Aircraft fact: When you land, you want to land INTO the wind. This direction change meant we were going into the worst part of the storm. It wasn't a pretty picture...lightening all around...a lot of turbulence...OH...this was not looking good at all. So we turn on final approach to land and the bad weather gets WORSE! These were the worse conditions I have ever tried to land in and they weren't getting better...they kept getting WORSE. On short final, when our airspeed was low, we hit extremely nasty conditions. The plane was flipping up, yawing back and forth, the tail was flipping up and I said to myself..."WE CANNOT LAND SAFELY IN THESE CONDITIONS." Well I was right and the pilot finally gunned the engines and we aborted the landing...thank the LORD! YEP! We were now on the way to Tucson!!
Brenda was feeling worse and worse. She needed meds, she needed to get something into her stomach, and she needed to lay down and sleep, but none of that was going to happen right then. When we got to Tucson (a half hour flight from Phoenix) I did get meds into Bren and that helped a lot. But no one could get off the plane because we were just refueling and then would head back to Phoenix when the weather would let us. YEP...I was on the phone again advising the homecoming gang of the delays. They were going to stick it out and wait for us. What a great bunch of friends. Thank heaven the bar at the airport was still open so some of the folks just went and had some cocktails. Good for you.
OK while we were refueling the pilot came out of the cockpit and told us why we aborted the landing...which was quite obvious to everyone...we actually clapped when we landed in Tucson. Yep! He scared the crap out of everyone, but he was totally interested in getting us SAFELY home so he didn't take any chances. BLESS HIM! He said we aborted because we hit a wind shear and all the alarms in the cockpit were going off...wind shear is nothing to mess with!!! So we refueled and sat at the gate for a bit waiting for that dang storm in Phoenix to leave. Again the pilot got on the PA and said we were cleared to take-off...we pushed back, and headed for the runway. All of a sudden we STOPPED!! YEP! You guessed it...they closed Sky Harbor again and we had to wait!! OK...This was getting ridiculous. It was now about 10:00 PM and we were supposed to have landed at 7:03 PM!! We finally were cleared to take-off about 10:30 PM and got into Phoenix around 11:00 PM.
Julie met us at the gate (she's a pilot for US Airways and had access to get to the gate to help us.) It was soooooo good to see her. Brenda was feeling a little better and in true Brenda (fighter, warrior) fashion she didn't want to sit in a wheelchair...she wanted to walk. OK then! The homecoming at the other side of security was absolutely fantastic...banners, balloons, cheers, hugs, kisses...it was magical! Julie took some video so we'll send that a little later today when I have an extra minute to edit the footage. To all of you who stuck it out at the airport, you'll never know how much that meant to us. It really meant we were home and it was so good for both of us to see you all.
Becky and Julie took Brenda home after she got to say Hi to everyone, and Lynn, Kim and I waited for the luggage and they drove me up to the house. That's when we got the second amazing surprise. Yellow ribbons were everywhere on our front tree. It was BEAUTIFUL!!! Becky and Julie helped collect ribbons from all of you (thanks Vic for the fabulous idea and spear-heading this project!) and put them up in the tree and then had to scurry to take down some of the ones with pictures and notes that wouldn't survive the rain. I think Julie said she took a picture before they had to dismantle part of the tree!! I can just see them. Bless your hearts guys...this was so fantastic. There were yellow ribbons in the house too...on the cactus and on the front door. It was wonderful and very heartwarming. Bren and I go out front and read the notes on the ribbons. Thanks...it made the homecoming perfect! LATE, but Perfect!
I think we got to bed around 1:00 am!! UGH! So there's the Friday news...what a story... right? I have to close for right now. I've got to jump in the shower and head to the gym. I have an appointment with my trainer and have to rebuild all the muscle that turned to flab while I was building callouses sitting around on my ass in Houston!!! I'll fill you in on the homecoming movie and the rest of our homecoming when I get back.
As Dorothy would say..."There's no place like home...there's no place like home!"
Go workout and I'll catch you later. Love to all of you that have helped make our exciting homecoming PERFECT!!!
Dee and a healing Brenda