Late Sunday night, Haley and I got back from our whirlwind adventure in Niagara Falls. I learned lots of things this trip, but the number one: "Flying standby" is roughly equivalent to "having toenails forcefully removed." PAINFUL. We made it there and back, though. And bumped into quite a few nice people, enough that we made a list. And since I think the Nice People List tells the story of our trip quite well, here it is, followed by a couple of pics!
- My sister Becky. We were supposed to fly out on Tuesday evening. But, remember: Standby. There wasn't room for us on the flight, so Becky let us crash at her house for a few hours, AND drove us back to the airport at 4:45 in the morning. Now, you have to know that Becky is NOT a person who likes to be woken up. She likes her sleep, does Becky. So it was true sisterly love for her to help us out!
- The ticket agent in Salt Lake who so kindly re-booked our flight for the next morning. I think she was ready to go home for the night but she stayed an extra fifteen minutes to take care of us.
- The kind boy who swapped seats with Haley on the Long-Beach-to-JFK-leg of our flight out. Yes, we were flying from Salt Lake City, and yes, Long Beach is the wrong way. Again: standby. Anyway. This teenage-ish boy volunteered without us having to ask. He gave up his aisle seat to boot. That's a good kid! Haley was thoroughly relieved to be able to sit next to me. I, of course, was happy, too!
- The lady in the bathroom at JFK. Here's an embarrassing confession: until this trip, I've never been east of Colorado. So I had no idea of what to expect from New York City. Minuscule bathrooms in an enormous airport wasn't an idea that I had, but there you go: four stalls and an entire aircraft full of women who needed a bathroom. Thus, a line. A LONG line. The woman behind me was also traveling sans husband, and we talked for a good fifteen minutes (told you that line was long). She was nice.
- The ticket agent at JFK who must have pulled some strings to get us on that plane. After our three-hour layover we were both so ready to get out of JFK, and they first told us we couldn't get on the plane...but she did something to get us on.
- The woman who helped Haley and I sit together on the flight from JFK to Buffalo. (Apparently when you fly standby you just fill in the extra seats.) And the man who gave her his window seat. The woman was sitting in front of them, while I was one aisle over and up, and she heard the man ask Haley if she wanted to swap seats with him. "Excuse me, sir," she said over her chair, "but I think this little girl wants to sit by her mom." So the man swapped seats with ME. Haley got the window seat to boot!
- The woman at the Comfort Inn in Niagara Falls, NY who helped a very desperate, very lost, very tired me figure out how to get around the construction and onto the bridge to get to the Canadian side.
- The woman at the 7-11 in Niagara Falls, Canada, who FINALLY gave me correct instructions to the Brock Plaza (She was the third person I'd asked; the two others don't quite qualify for this list as they told me entirely incorrect instructions). Do you detect a theme? Yes, I got lost about 82 times trying to find our hotel. I'll NEVER travel without a GPS in the rental car again!
- The guy who took our picture when we were on the Maid of the Mist.
- The three other people who volunteered to take our picture (one at the White Water Walk, one at the Aero Tram, one outside the Butterfly Conservatory) but who didn't actually take the picture. It's the thought that counts, right?
- The butterflies in the Butterfly Conservatory that kindly landed on Haley she could have a picture of herself with a butterfly. OK, technically butterflies aren't people. But it still was the highlight of the trip for her.
- Whoever it was that left so that I could find a parking spot in Niagara-On-The-Lake, thus enabling us to wade in Lake Ontario, shop at the cute little shops, take pictures of old architecture, and eat too much ice cream.
- The girl at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo (where Buffalo wings were first created) who gave us impeccable directions for returning to the airport. (BTW, I am SO NOT a fan of Buffalo wings---or any chicken that isn't white and boneless, for that matter---but these wings were GOOD. Go there if you get the chance!)
- The ticket agent at JFK who totally refuted what the ticket agent in Buffalo had told me (picture Bosco from Third Watch as a JetBlue ticket agent saying "there's no friggin' way you're gettin' on that flight, lady" to me who is ready to melt into a small, anxious, frustrated puddle of stress, nerves, and too much diet Coke). "Just come back by 8:00," he said, "and you might just get on."
- Curtis Brian. This is Kendell's cousin who lives in Manhattan. We had a five and a half hour layover in NYC, and Curtis very kindly agreed to come downtown and meet us. We had it all planned out. Haley and I would ride the air train to the subway, take the subway to the Broadway/Nassau stop, come upstairs, and meet him on Broadway and Fulton Street. We'd take the ferry out to see the Statue of Liberty, then go back to the airport. Of course, it didn't work like that. First I got off the subway at the Broadway Junction stop. Then the A train was rerouted for construction and so we never even SAW our stop. Once I finally realized we'd missed the stop, Haley was in tears with terror, hunger, and needing the bathroom. We went out of the subway tunnels, called Curtis, got back on the A train, and finally caught up with him. He carried my suitcase and bought Haley food, not to mention calmed me down.
- The girl on the subway who made me realize I needed to get on a different train. This enabled one of the most rushed "tours" of New York City you can imagine: A sprint to a Starbucks so Haley could go to the bathroom, a sprint to a little pizza joint so she could get a slice of pizza (I was by now far too stressed out to eat anything), a sprint to the corner of Ground Zero, and then a sprint back to the subway.
- All the people who got out of our way as we sprinted through the airport. From Ground Zero to terminal 5/6 we had one hour and fifteen minutes to catch our flight, and let me tell you: we RAN through that airport. This also includes the people in line at the security check who let us go in front of them.
- The ANGEL at the ticket counter. Angel, I tell you. She sees us sprinting towards her---she can see us sprinting because there are only three people left who've not gotten on the plane---and shouts out "are you flying standby? Amy and Haley Sorensen? Get right on!" 100% serious: I burst into tears right there at the gate. "Home" had never sounded so good! I realized right then that the standby-flight experience can only be managed by prayer. Otherwise it's impossible. Just have your toenails removed and be done with it.
Now, a couple of pictures:
I took LOTS of this kind of shot... where you hold the camera up facing you and hope it'll turn out. This was the best one!