Last week, 6 of my friends and I planned to venture to New Orleans to catch our cruise ship for SB10. We met up at 4:00am to start the journey. Coffee in hand, I volunteered to navigate while Mary Grace took the wheel. Just the 7 of us and the open road. The drive was free and easy. We made up several games to play along the way. Rules for when we crossed state borders, saw double semi-trucks, and saw trucks pulling boats behind them. We sang "Wagon Wheel" on the hour, every hour (until about hour 4, and then we were over it). I peg hour 4 to be about the time our trip turned drastically wrong. Were approaching our first state border into Louisiana... or so I (the navigator) thought. It was then that I picked up the GPS and noticed that our car was heading West along the southern border of Arkansas. Rather than saying anything in an attempt to prevent panic, I casually grabbed the Atlas beside me and attempted to resolve this problem. After we had driven 30 minutes in the wrong direction, I decided we needed to turn around. And so we did... we drove 30 minutes back to our starting point, putting us an hour behind schedule.
Good thing we left at 4:00am, right? Sort of.
Our hour disadvantage added a little stress to the already stressful situation of Molly's flight delay in Kansas City. Everything that I had joked about happening in worst-case-scenario was actually happening. I began to regret voicing my hypothetical scenarios earlier that morning.
sidenote: for those of you keeping score... at this point, I believe that I am 2 for 2 for making everything go wrong on this trip.
Check in for our cruise is between 12:30 and 2:30.
We arrive in New Orleans at 2:15.
Stress level builds.
With Julie behind the wheel, we speed our way into New Orleans and follow the Carnival fin in the air in order to find our ship. At last, we find our ship. We also find 4 full parking decks, all of which have a 6 foot clearance. Which means, that if Sarah Scott had heels on, she would not be able to walk under that clearance. No less, our car be able to drive under it. You see, in order to have more space in our car, we had strapped a luggage Turtle to the top, making it reach a height well over 6 feet.
We were late. Parking decks were full. We had a Turtle on top of our car preventing us from parking. Molly was still on a plane. Panic ensues...
After several U-turns, Julie pulls into the Hilton Hotel for valet parking. Though, we did not intend to use the valet parking.... just the male valet parking attendants. We pile out of the car and hurriedly grab luggage out of the Turtle. Two valet attendants walk over and ask if we are staying here. We reply, "no." Then, they ask us if we need help. We reply, "yes... and if you are here on Thursday, we will need you to put this Turtle back on."
At this point, luggage is everywhere, the Turtle is being unstrapped and dismounted by two Hilton parking attendants, Grace is on the phone with Molly who is still en route, Sarah and I have to use the bathroom and do so in the Hilton Hotel, our car is still not parked, and check-in for our cruise is well-past over, and I am closer to a panic attack than I ever have been in my life.
After being called "men users" by the Hilton Hotel manager, Sarah, Callie, Katie, and I strap everyone's luggage to us and speed-walk to our cruise ship. I think the Lord knew that this very moment was coming and that training for the half-marathon would definitely be put to practical use. This is the moment we had been training for.
We cross the train-tracks (clearly not the correct way to get to the Cruise ship) and people begin to cheer us on and point us in the right direction. We are running at this point. It was either adrenalin or the realization that we were running parallel to the train tracks in downtown New Orleans. Either way, we made it to the ship. The line was still out the door, and people were still checking in. A luggage attendant came over to us to take our luggage from us. It was all I could do to keep from hugging him for taking the 3 suitcases strapped to me away.
After stretching my legs and my back and wiping the sweat off of my face, we got in line for check-in. A few short-moments later, we see Mary Grace and Julie casually walking over to us in the line. They had parked the car successfully... in a parking deck... connected to the cruise port... 75 yards away.... with a clearance tall enough for the Turtle to still be strapped on our car.
I laughed to keep myself from crying. All we could say was "That is so unfortunate."
10 months ago