Well, we returned from vacation this week. We spent about a week in the Northwest (Washington and Oregon) which is the region of the country where I grew up. As is often the case with a trip back to my homeland, a good portion of the time was spent visiting folks. We decided that we would rent a car to help make all the driving easier and so that we wouldn’t have to rely on others for transportation. This ended up being a good move and I think we put close to 1,000 miles on that rental when it was all said and done. We had a nice 2012 Chevrolet Malibu to drive around and the peppy four cylinder in that thing averaged nearly 31 mpg over the course of our time with it. It was also a pretty comfortable ride for the three of us plus my mom on the long drives from the SE side of WA state to the SW side of the state.
While on the SE side of the state we got to visit a lot of folks from my Mom’s side of the family at several family dinner gatherings. The Punklet was usually a pretty good sport and especially enjoyed all the different toys he got to play with at different locales. Our visit to the SW side of the state was a whirlwind but we did see quite a few folks and Liam, despite some pretty bad allergies from the wildfire smoke in the air, was usually a pretty good sport. He really enjoyed getting to play with some doggies at the house we stayed at during our time in SE WA. He got a kick out of petting the dogs and whenever he would see them his face would light up and he would vigorously make the sign for dog.
As good as visiting family and friends can be, the real highlight of the trip for Laura and I came during the two days we got to spend at Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast without our little guy. Since my mom came along on the trip (she flew up earlier but came back on the same flight) we were able to leave the little velociraptor with her and we took off for two days of vacation within our vacation. We stayed at a nice beachfront place called “The Waves” and managed to try a number of different restaurants including a trip for fish and chips and clam chowder at the famous “Mo’s.” We also made a day trip down the beautiful coastal highway to Tillamook where we visited the cheese factory, had lunch, and bought a couple of gifts for family. To top it all off, the weather was absolutely perfect. It warmed up into the 80s both days and the sky was blue and clear. As a kid when my family would go to the Oregon Coast I can remember many times it was rainy and cold but this time our weather was simply outstanding. Laura and I got to take a number of leisurely walks on the beach including one to specifically take pictures of the sun setting behind Haystack Rock and one to see the tide pools around Haystack Rock when the tide was out. It was a great trip and I am so happy my mom was able to come and watch our kiddo so that we could have that time. And from what I understand he was quite well behaved for Grandma!
Liam also did very well on the flights. They were nonstop flights so they were both around 3 1/2 hours long but other than being squirmy and the occasional very mild fussy spell he was very good. The takeoff and landing which often cause some trouble for little kids never even phased him. In fact, he would get very still and quiet during takeoff and landing because he could tell something was happening but he wasn’t really sure what was going on.
While the flights themselves were good. Getting on the flight home was quite an ordeal. We had a 10:40am flight and left for the airport in Portland with what we thought was plenty of time. We were wrong. When we pulled off the freeway to fill the rental with gas per the requirements of the rental agency we pulled off into a construction area. We had to drive around a good bit just to get through the construction and to the gas station. At this point I still wasn’t too worried because we were still on track to make the airport with time to spare. When we arrived at the rental agency which was just outside of PDX the one shuttle that was running had a delay. We ended up standing at the curb for about ten minutes with some other travelers until someone decided to fire up one of the other two unused shuttles sitting in the parking lot and take us to the airport. At this point we were going to be cutting it close but in all the flights (which is quite a few) I’ve been on in the past few years we’d always been able to move through the check-in and security process very quickly so I still wasn’t that concerned. When we got off the shuttle and walked into the terminal I got very worried. The check-in line at the Southwest counter was extremely long. So we stood in line and while the clocks on our cell phones indicated our time was getting ever tighter.
Thankfully, the long Southwest line moved pretty quickly. We got our bags checked and headed for security as quickly as we could. Then we saw it. A massive line waiting to get through security. This one was not going anywhere fast. So we waited. Again. All this time we had our carry-on bags, plus Liam, plus his big carseat that we had to drag through the line with us. When we got to the front of the line it looked like we were still going to have enough time to make the flight. Naturally, we got held up. The little baby food pouches which didn’t cause any trouble on our flight there resulted in my being pulled aside and Liam’s diaper bag being checked. We were ultimately able to keep the factory sealed baby food pouches but were informed by the TSA agent that some agents might have either made us toss them or had them opened up to be tested for explosives. Apparently this was because the pouches were 4 ounces. I didn’t think they would cause a problem because my understanding from reading the TSA regulations was that baby food was exempt. Apparently not.
While Liam’s diaper bag was being searched, Laura made it through security without a hitch. We were now very very short on time and our gate was about as far from the security check as it could be. I sent Laura to the gate with Liam’s carseat to inform them we were on our way. I made it through security after the diaper bag was cleared. Then my Mom got held up. They sent one of her bags through the Xray multiple times all while the clock was winding down to the final minutes. Turned out there was tiny pocket knife in the purse she had forgotten about and ultimately the purse had to be searched too. Finally, we made it through security after leaving the knife behind. I still had Liam in my arms and Laura had just sent me a text saying, “Get here NOW!” With a 30 pound toddler I half speed walked and half jogged the 200 or so meters to the gate. My heart sunk when I saw the door was closed. The lady at the desk called the plane and they said we could still board. She opened the door for us, took our boarding passes, and we rushed down the jetway and got on board just as the were starting their safety briefing. We were unable to sit together so I took Liam for the first part of the flight and we found a seat towards the middle of the plane in a middle seat. When I sat down I was literally out of breath, sweating, and my left shoulder was extremely sore from having held Liam in my left arm for so long. We made it and we were on our way home.
Other than the adventure making our return flight it was a great trip. I’m very grateful we were able to go and it was a much needed break the stresses of everyday life.