The next morning, we woke up at the hotel, drove to my parents' house, grabbed our suitcases, hopped on the plane, arrived at our destination and ran, hand in hand, to the Pacific Ocean where a lovely Australian passerby snapped this photo for us, perfect bliss, just me and my new husband...
Wait, that's not Joel! That's LUKE?!?! WTF?
Oh, please. Did you *really* think our honeymoon started out this smoothly for me and Joel? Have we MET? Blogger pauses to acknowledge the distinct possibility that, no, maybe we haven't met, actually.
We did wake up at the hotel across the street from the reception. That part was true. We stopped off at the other hotel where all our guests were staying to pick up my car, realized that lots of our favorite people were just inside partaking of the continental breakfast, and decided to get some free bagels. We said another round of hellos and goodbyes, then drove to my parents' house, and grabbed up our suitcases, but that's where we begin to deviate from the The Plan.
First of all, we hit a line of nasty thunderstorms on the road to the airport in Philadelphia. The rain was so heavy that people were driving with their blinkers on and pulling off under overpasses. We were not to be deterred! We were Intrepid World Travelers!
Honestly, honey," I said gently. "We're going to make it. Do you really think these storms aren't going to delay the flights at least a little?
I? Am a PROPHET.
But we didn't know that yet. We RUSHED to the long-term parking lot, RUSHED through the valet drop-off, RUSHED to the departure terminal. Our flight to L.A. was one of the only ones not marked delayed. I ran to the automated check-in machine; Joel dragged our luggage to curbside check-in.
We're checked in! Score! Curbside luggage people say we're too late! Boo!
The woman at the counter says it's a little late for luggage, but she sends it down the conveyor belt and promises to call the crew to let them know it's coming. We hurry through security, but get stopped when a trainee on the x-ray machine spies our mamma-jamma 300mm f2.8 telephoto lens.
"Is this a....scope?" he asks. "It's a camera lens," I pant, hurriedly putting my bomb-free shoes back on.
"Good catch on the scanner!" says the trainer, eyeing the lens. "That thing costs a lot of money, so just put it back in the case. Carefully!" he tells the trainee.
"Really?" asks the trainee.
"I'd rather you crash my Suzuki than drop it," I joke (not joking). Joel is about to have a heart attack from how close we're cutting it to our boarding time. We clear security and RUN to the gate as the flight attendant announces last call.
"Hi!" I pant, all red-faced, my hair sproinging from its ponytail from the rain and the running. I am PRETTY. "We (pant) were late (pant). They were supposed (pant) to call (pant) the crew? About (pant *hack*) our luggage? Do you think it made it?"
"Definitely!" says Crew Member #1, just as Crew Member #2 says, "50/50." Huh. Okay. We find our seats. Joel grumbles that "We are NEVER cutting it that close again, are we CRAZY?!?"
I, on the other hand, am Sunny McSmile. I tell him "We couldn't control the storm, and look! We made it!" Thunder crashes all around the plane, hitting the ground around the runway. Passengers from Amsterdam hustle on board. "Look, we're not even the last ones here! If their luggage made it from the international terminal, then surely ours did, too. It's our honeymoon! RELAAAXXXX."
The plane is delayed for fueling. Joel is worried we won't make our flight to Sydney if we don't take off soon for L.A. The man next to me is smelly. I discretely daub perfume under my nose. "We're 80% fueled," says the pilot. I issue "a ban on grumpiness," as it's our honeymoon.
We ultimately sit on the tarmac for three hours. First, we're finishing the fueling. Then, we need to get a new flight plan approved to avoid the storms. Forget it, the storm cell surrounds the airport; we're waiting out the storm. We are definitely going to miss our connecting flight to Sydney.
Joel waits on hold with Qantas Airlines, trying to rebook. His cell phone dies just as a real human picks up. Smelly Man offers the use of his, which is very kind. I feel bad for referring to him as smelly. It was so nice of him to loan us his smell phone. (Oh! That's just wrong! I'm terrible.)
The pilot interrupts with "good news for our passengers from Europe."
"We're returning to the terminal so you can all de-plane and get something to eat." The plane collectively groans. "Just as soon as we get a lightning truck to tow us back to the terminal," he adds. A girl two rows behind us starts to wail about getting "kicked out of school." Uh, what? Why? Because you'll be getting to L.A. at 1 a.m. instead of 9:30 p.m.? Who's taking attendance that late on a Sunday night? I mean, really? Also, please shut up.
The flight attendants serve us all half a thimble of water. "Any more and we'll run out," they cluck. I use the time to figure out what I can spell if I re-arrange the letters of my first, middle and newly-hyphenated last names. Answers include: "Lasagna Decal Jay Kiln Glue" OR "Eel Ugly Ink Jag Salad Canal" OR "Agile Jackal Auld Lang Syne." However, my personal favorite is "Alas! Angelically aged junk."
We get off the plane. I spend $60 in 15 minutes on food, water, books and a fancy neck pillow while Joel waits in line at customer service. Awesome! We get back on the plane before he gets to the front of the line, hoping against hope that our connecting flight might be similarly delayed from "severe weather." No such luck. Then, a double rainbow appears over the runway, and I know- I KNOW- it will all work out.
The ban on grumpiness is still in effect, but Joel's losing it. I promise to slip something special into his bottled water and seductively wave a travel-size package of Tylenol PM at him.
We arrive in L.A. at 1 a.m. local time, 4 a.m. back East. The plane to Sydney is long gone. Our luggage is nowhere to be found, and the only hotel room, according to the automated robot lady on the accommodation courtesy phone, is at a Super8 hotel in Inglewood. Christ.
Joel becomes The Trooper as I start to fade. He rebooks us on the next flight to Australia (10 p.m. the next day), takes the room at the Super8, tells customer service where they can send our bags when they arrive on the next flight, hails a cab, and asks the driver to wait outside the 24-hour McDonald's while he runs in for food. (No Drive-Thru in Inglewood. Apparently it's too dangerous). I'm in charge of staring into space (did I ever mention that I take a *lot* of prescription medication?) and cramming McNuggets into my maw.
We pass out until 7 a.m., when reception tells us our bags are downstairs. Score! I fetch them and step gingerly around a passed-out homeless man as I go in search of breakfast. I wonder if Luke's flight leaving our wedding was delayed by the same storms. At 8 a.m., I send him a text message. I figure he'll get it when he wakes up. Seconds later... salvation!
Me: You're up! Did I wake you?
Luke: No. I was staring at my ceiling fan.
Luke: What are you doing in L.A.?
Me: We got delayed because of storms. We're at the Super8 in Inglewood.
Me: I know.
Luke: Dude, that sucks!
Me: Tell me about it.
Luke: Only you guys would end up in Inglewood on your honeymoon.
Apparently, it could only be worse if we were in Watts. Only us, indeed. We shower and entertain ourselves bed-jumping until Luke rescues us.
We kill time at the Santa Monica Pier where we go to do the Matt Dance and discover our video camera is broken. Sweet! We go to Best Buy, figuring at least we found out BEFORE we got to Australia. That's good, right? Riiiiight.
Luke ran amok with my super cool camera. I love having friends who are amazing photographers.
This is the REAL version of the photo I described at the beginning of this entry: me and my new husband.
Luke drops us off at LAX and our flight to Sydney takes off without a hitch. One day later- we crossed the International Date Line- and one day late, Joel drives us to our hotel during morning rush hour in a rental car where the steering wheel is on the OTHER. SIDE. OF. THE. CAR.
Our adventures were just beginning...