This is no longer a vacation. It’s a Quest.

“It’s a quest for fun. You’re gonna have fun and I’m gonna have fun… We’re all gonna have so much f***ing fun, we’re gonna need plastic surgery to remove our damn smiles.”

Clark Griswold, Family Vacation

Ah… where to begin with this one… Maybe with the second detainment, we’ve had in last two weeks upon our arrival in Mexico… or better yet, the third detainment at IAH in customs, on our return home thanks to a faulty system and the lack of communication between the CDC and USDA. But I feel those deserve their own post.

We, as a family, have this undeniable ability to somehow fall into the strangest of predicaments. It’s not always bad, sometimes the situation is just so unbelievable that our friends and family look at us with complete wonderment, sometimes doubt, or maybe it’s disgust (I can’t always tell) as we recant details from our recent experiences. In fact, not long ago, I had a good friend tell me that if she didn’t know me so well and see these things happen on a regular basis she wouldn’t believe a word I said. She’s not the only one. I wouldn’t believe it myself if I didn’t witness this vacation first hand and document it with my camera and phone as the chaos engulfed our family.

Hang in there, this one’s long… but it’s worth it to get to the end. I promise.

Day 1

6:00   Wake up, get four children dressed, double check that passports are all together and ready to go
7:00   Two drivers arrive to escort Bryan, myself, four children, Patsy Cline and our ever-patient nanny, Rachael, to IAH.
7:40   Start check in process, unload 59 bags off three carts
7:42   Print three children plus Ms. Rachael’s boarding passes
7:43   Attempt to print Bryan, my and baby J’s boarding passes. Red Alert. Warning. Do NOT Pass Go or whatever, pops up on the monitor, we wave at an agent
7:45   United Airlines counter agent cannot find baby J’s lap ticket so she picks up the phone and calls the help line, AKA the black hole of death
7:55   Agent continues rolling her eyes while muttering under her breath that “she should have skipped us and helped someone else”
8:15   Agent still on hold, boarding time is about an hour away and we still have to go through TSA (remember how good we are with them!?)
8:16   Bryan reminds me that we have plenty of time. I remind him otherwise.
8:19   Ask Rachael to take the three oldest children through security, we’ll catch up soon.
8:21   Text from Rachael, “this black bag has baby food and sunscreen, it has to be checked.”   <— where we should have given up and returned home
8:22   Bryan runs to get said black bag, I continue staring at the agent with purple, blue and pink eyeshadow who’s still on hold and going nowhere fast
8:24   I see our black back as it crowd surfs the security line, see… people really do care
8:24   Begin wondering if counter agent is actually a rainbow troll from the early 90’s sent to destroy me
8:27   Panic sets in as I realize they start boarding the plane in ten minutes and my children are already at the gate. Counter agent still on hold, still not saying a word to anyone on the other end.
8:30   Start to think that the counter agent is just screwing with us. She really must be a troll.
8:32   A second counter agent starts calling headquarters to see if she can get anywhere… it seems headquarters doesn’t speak troll
8:35   Second counter agent, who we discover is the supervisor (why wasn’t she in on this earlier!?) says, “go now, we’ll let security know and by the time you get to the gate you should be fine.”   <— famous last words
8:37   Get to the mile long premier security line, fellow passenger sees the look of terror on my face and suggests we go around and beg for mercy from the TSA agent
8:38   TSA officer agrees, then proceeds to chat like nothing is happening… nice guy, but we don’t have time for pleasantries. I’m pretty sure he was being trained by the other two non smiling agents flanking his sides
8:42   Get through security with baby J, myself, Bryan and Patsy Cline without a hitch
8:43   Cart driver, aka hero of the day, sees the stress we’re under and tells us to hop on he’ll get us to the gate fast
8:45   Arrive at gate, get in line… get denied then told to move aside as they board the other passengers and wait for our lap ticket to hopefully come in
8:46   3 out of 4 kids plus Ms. Rachael board our flight
8:55   Bryan asks gate agent about our missing ticket, she directs him to some loud obnoxious man screaming at another family about how he knows everything. literally everything
9:00  Panic sets in again for the second time as I worry that my babies will fly to Mexico alone and how the plane might crash and I won’t get to tell them how much I love them
9:06   Scary man, finished with previous victim, now yells at Bryan that he doesn’t know anything (ironic, no?) and we need to ask the gate agent because he’s in charge of four people. FOUR PEOPLE y’all. He’s important.
9:07   Bryan attempts to ask original agent about the ticket…
9:08   Scary… I mean important… man then yells at Bryan not to interrupt the agent because “she’s on a roll.”
9:12   FULL BLOWN PANIC ATTACK as I realize this is not my circus and not my monkeys, no one is in control… must find the ring master ASAP
9:16   Almost the entire plane has now boarded
9:20  Third gate agent who has been shuffling the same stack of paper over and over again, decides to check on our ticket
9:21   Low and behold… there’s a ticket and it’s probably been sitting there for 20 minutes
9:22   Sit down in seat. Flight attendant asks if I want a drink. “Sure”, I say, “I’ll take a large glass of bubbles with a side of valium. Thanks so much.”
9:24   Flight attendant sees Patsy, flustered, she says “you cannot sit in the bulkhead with a dog!” Then tells us that it’s our responsibility to find new seats   <— it is now apparent this is a united crew and not an old continental crew
9:25   We already knew this, it’s not Patsy’s first flight. We asked the row behind us to switch
9:26   Beg God to bring back continental
11:30   Land at PVR
12:10   Make it through immigration without any issues, hallelujah!!!
12:28  Spoke too soon. Detainment. Again. This time it’s Patsy’s fault.
12:30   Sit in Customs while they document the 1,293 forms and papers that are USDA approved and were required to travel with a dog
1:00   Finally out of the airport and on our way, all 59 pieces of luggage made it
3:00   Pool-side, tinto de verano in hand, reminiscing about our recent flight…. just kidding!

Over the next several weeks I will share the incredible stories and spirit of the people we encountered along our priceless adventure. I would say that it was a once in a lifetime event, but I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll be repeating it again very soon. Only next time, we hope that the the trip is longer and includes more ports than our first voyage… fingers crossed.


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