“I see the runway,” I said to Henry, the Uber driver. “But … um … where are the planes?”
Good question! Where were the planes?
We were pulling into the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, some 40 miles outside of Pittsburgh, and there was not a single plane on the taxiway, at a gate, or overhead, preparing to land. The complete absence of aircraft reminded me of that line from the Monty Python Cheese Shop sketch in which Michael Palin boasts that his all-but-empty cheese shop is “very clean,” and John Cleese fires back, “Well, it’s certainly uncontaminated by cheese!”
At midday, Latrobe’s airport was certainly uncontaminated by aircraft. The airport’s scrappy, little hub airline, Spirit, was my sole hope for getting out of Pittsburgh and home to Orlando for less than $800 a seat. It had two flights out that day—in fact, the only flights out that day—and neither plane had arrived yet. Winter storm Mars had already stranded me in Pittsburgh for an extra day, forcing me to cancel my appearance in Westport, Connecticut. Now I wondered if Nacio, blowing in right behind Mars, would scuttle these new travel plans as well.
I hoped for the best … and prepared for the worst. My flight wasn’t till 6 PM, but I’d already been on the road since 11 AM after peeking out my window and finding that Nacio’s gentle flurries were starting to stick.
That prospect made me a tad uneasy. I live in Florida now. The only snow I’d seen in years was in my Facebook feed. And I had no clue how long it might take to drive to Pittsburgh Airport to return my rental and then hail an Uber to Latrobe to I catch my flight home. Pittsburgh didn’t seem like the kind of city that would let a bit of snow bring it down. But then again, New York is made of pretty stern stuff, and I couldn’t help but think back on all the news stories I’d heard about people trapped in their cars on impassable roadways for 20-plus hours during one of New York’s blizzards a few years ago. If I were going to be stuck, I wanted to at least be stuck some place with a bathroom. Which is how I came to be stuck, at least for the time being, at Latrobe’s tiny little airport with oodles of time and nothing to do.
But looking on the bright side (since there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it): At least the airport was warm. The coffee, strong. The food, cheap. The staff, gracious. And the crowd, like this single mom, friendly.
By 7 PM, even the plane had arrived.
Other bright spots on this weather-challenged trip:
Coming off the highway after getting hopelessly, ridiculously, frighteningly lost while looking for my hotel (yes, even with GPS, which insisted I had “arrived” in the middle of the Pennsylvania Turnpike) with about an hour to go before the book party, and finding the front desk gal spectacularly unhelpful on the phone, I limped into another hotel where a grandmotherly lady took pity on my frazzled nerves and booked me into a mini-suite at a great rate. Thank you, Judy of Holiday Inn Express—Pittsburgh/Harmarville. (I really shouldn’t say which hotel chain failed so miserably that I (and my party hosts as well) could not stay there, but its name rhymes with Bays Dinn).
Partying with these fine ladies—bloggers Jennifer Schario Hicks, Stephanie Barone Jankowski and Amanda Muchnok Mushro—who managed to co-host our party even AFTER a full day of auditions for their Listen To Your Mother show in May. Well done, ladies!
Our “tech crew,” which figured out how to run my slideshow on the flat-screen TV. Way to go, girls!
Introducing moms to the wonder that is Boogie Wipes! “What are THOSE?” one mom asked, incredulously. Oh, Mama! You have no idea how easy cold season just got—on your little ones’ noses, that is!)
Playing Cards Against Humanity at Jen Hicks’s house while watching Denver win the Super Bowl. (And thinking the ads weren’t all that this year.) One of the dads even bought a book. (Who’s set for Mother’s Day? THIS GUY!)
Craziest moment: In a karmic-kickback moment, locked myself out of my hotel room barefoot and in my jammies. I’d gone to get coffee, the door slammed behind me … and the inside safety latch swung back and locked. Still had my keycard. Keycard worked fine. I just couldn’t open the door more than 1/8 of an inch. After many attempts to lift the latch from the outside, one of the employees heaved herself against the door and literally busted it open. And then … she wanted a copy of the book. Naturally, I gave her the breaking/entering discount.
That’s all for now! See you next time when the Boogie Wipes Tour heads for Dallas!