Friday’s travels were seriously complicated by the storms that passed through Chicago in the morning. As you know, flight delays snowball and affect travel and connections all over the country. My trip went something like this:
9:30 AM — Arrived at University of Illinois Willard Airport in Savoy and returned my snazzy red Camry rental way in advance of the 11:30 AM flight to Chicago on an American Eagle commuter jet.
11:00 AM — Time to board the plane, but instead we got an announcement that the flight was delayed until 12:30 PM. My Chicago to Denver flight was scheduled for 2:30 but had been delayed to 3:15, so my connection was still okay.
Noon — Time to board the plane, but instead we got an announcement that the flight was delayed until 1:30 PM. Thank goodness for my new Kindle. I read the first half of Headwind by K.K. Brees during this trip.
We boarded the plane and taxied out to the runway, but on the tarmac the plane stopped and abruptly powered down. We had been told by Chicago ground control to hold until 2:15. I knew there was no chance to make a 3:15 flight, but hoped that my Chicago/Denver flight was also delayed again.
At 2:15 we took off and got to Chicago in excellent time, but then were held up a bit before landing. (Note: I hate circling over an airport way more than taking off, landing, or flying.) Finally landed and taxied almost to the gate….but had to wait just short of the jetway for a while. I think there was no one present to connect the walkway to the plane.
Finally in the airport, I discovered my Denver flight had indeed been delayed…until 4:30. I had a chance to get something to eat, a bacon, egg, and cheese bagel that sat in my stomach like a lump of lead. Headed for my gate and waited…noticed the departure time change again to 4:42 PM. We eventually boarded, taxied, took off and landed in Denver.
The thing is, I travel to Illinois at least twice a year. Sometimes I fly to Indianapolis and drive over, but that has been uncomfortable a time or two because of ground fog. I really hate driving for 2-3 hours in fog.
Other times I go through Chicago so I can fly direct into Champaign. The windy city is never calm, but wind is the least of our problems. The biggest risk throughout Illinois is from violent storms and tornadoes.
One time, my commuter flight was ready to board in Champaign and the tornado sirens went off. Sure enough, we saw the twister touch down in the distance to the west of the airport before we were sent to a lower level to hover under the stairs.
Another time I watched a violent thunderstorm play out in the dark in lightning flashes and roiling, black clouds as our commuter flight skirted the edge of the storm and scooted under the clouds to land. Just as I was walking out the front door to catch a shuttle, the tornado sirens sounded. I was ready to crawl back under those stairs, but the shuttle driver said, “No, come on, we’ll outrun it.”
I grew up on a farm in central Illinois, so you’d think I’d be used to the weather, just like that shuttle driver. It’s not so. I’m afraid of thunderstorms and terrified of tornadoes. In Northern Colorado, we don’t get too much of that. That’s fine with me.