Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Our Alabama Adventure

This past weekend we flew to Alabama to meet up with most of the Wagner Clan! I have a large plethora of photos from the trip, but I'm waiting on some more (I just got them so I'll just need to edit them once I get home tonight!) before I post any of them...so - pictures to come soon. Probably in another post rather than sprinkled in this post.

We left on Thursday afternoon and upon reaching our first gate in Salt Lake, noted that they plane was delayed almost two hours. Two hours turned into three and we began to get nervous about whether we'd be able to make our connecting flight (we had a long enough planned layover in Dallas that it seemed possible we'd still be ok). When we first talked to a gate agent he said he didn't think we'd make it and that if we didn't, the airline would put us up for the night and then send us on the first flight in the morning. We went and grabbed a bite to eat (Popeye's - amazing chicken for a chain fast food place - I highly recommend it) and watched a bit of the World Cup before heading back to our gate. We talked to another gate agent and this one bumped our seats forward in the plane (as the delay had reduced our connecting time even further) and informed us that we could possibly get on a flight direct to Huntsville (standby) if our flight to Birmingham fell through.

We finally got on our flight, I located the connecting gate on my phone (conveniently in the same concourse as where we were supposed to get off), and we were off. We landed, and as we were taxi-ing, were informed that we'd been moved to a different concourse. Slightly more panicked, because getting from one concourse to another was going to be much trickier in our twenty minute window, I checked my phone and it confirmed that we were coming into an A concourse gate and we still needed to make it to a C concourse gate. We rushed off the plain as quickly as we could and headed left towards the C concourse, scanning for departure screens to verify where our gate was. After traveling a surprisingly short distance to where our gate was supposed to be, I realized that  not only were in the C concourse (rather than the A concourse where they had just told us we were going to exit from), but the gate they'd told us for the Birmingham flight was wrong. We walked back in the direction we'd just come to realize that our gate was essentially the same gate we'd just gotten off from (two gates that were split past the entrance door to the on-ramps). Ridiculous. But we made it on with plenty of time (as it was also delayed a little).

I don't know what it was with American, and with the Dallas airport, but I was highly unimpressed with their performance. Between the delays and the sloppy and incorrect information, they just didn't seem to be on top of their games. Occasional delays I can understand, but every single flight we got on was delayed at least 15 minutes. I'm certainly biased, but this is the exact opposite of how most Delta flights operate as they tend to leave on time and even get in a little early a lot.

Anyway! Landed in Birmingham, picked up a rental car, and drove to Huntsville! Arrived, checked in at home, and then once again headed across the street to the neighbor's house where we were staying (they seem to conveniently be gone exactly when we could use some extra beds).

Early Friday morning we headed across the street to have breakfast (pancakes and bacon!) and say hello to everyone (since they'd mostly been asleep the night before). After breakfast we slowly packed all the food and drinks into the cars and headed up to Monte Sano for some quality outdoor people time. While I enjoy hanging out at home, getting out of the house really helps me to focus on what is happening around me and be less distracted by things at home. We spent several hours just hanging out at the park chatting, eating food, and playing games. The new game for the weekend was Kubbs or Viking Chess. Pretty fun but surprisingly difficult. Late afternoon we headed home and got cleaned up and worked on a few things before heading over to Tracy and Brenda's to have dinner and celebrate Lauren and Grandpa's birthday. We also started doing henna tattoos that night and finished off the evening with several late rounds of Catch Phrase. Fun! (The only downside to the evening was the mosquitoes! I still have plenty of reminders of their presence that night.)

Saturday morning we again got up early and had a quick breakfast before once again packing up the cars and taking off, this time for Lake Wilson. In a car train we made our way to a friend's lake house with a deck on the house and a dock down below. With a speedboat and pontoon boat, as well as a variety of other water toys and equipment, we spent several hours playing. A favorite for me was paddle boarding - essentially where you're on a large surf-board like structure, either standing or sitting with a paddle. I really enjoyed it. Probably more than kayaking, though I enjoy that too. Brandon and I tried to take one out at the same time and while we could manage sitting, trying to stand on the board at the same time dunked us both times. We need more practice!

We had some delicious brats and sausages for lunch before continuing our fun. We (Brandon and I) had intended to go out on the speed boat and do some wake boarding (or knee boarding) but just before we were going to head out it started raining/lightning. So we instead all got out of the water and hung out above. There were games of Kubbs and Croquet, but I most went back to doing henna tattoos. We hung out for a little while after the rain before taking the boats back to the dock and then packing everything up and taking off for home again. Pizza at home and then off to bed!

(We had a moment of panic on Saturday night when we got back to the neighbor's house and the door was locked and no one was coming to the door. Turns out the neighbor's son had come home earlier that evening. He finally came to the door and everything was fine!)

Sunday morning we came over to the house early and got hard to work on breakfast as the whole crew was coming over. Everyone brought something - potatoes, goetta, chocolate cake, french toast casserole, muffins, fruit salad, yum! After breakfast we headed out into the woods behind the house and took a picture of everyone in their purple Wagner shirts (with the mosquitoes nipping at our ankles). We hung out until the early afternoon and then drove back to Birmingham to catch our flight home. Delayed flights again, but otherwise no complaints!

(Tangent: Between the sunscreen and a bad tube of henna, several of the henna tattoos I did on Saturday turned out super light (if they turned out at all), so we had some more replacement tattoos that we did on Sunday between breakfast and pictures while we were hanging out!)

It was a wonderful weekend. So fun to see most of my cousins and all of my siblings. :)

Pictures to some!

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