There was drama.
I woke up this morning at 6:00am.
Sadly this was only about three hours after I had fallen asleep. It seems I was as nervous as the travelers. Nicole had made arrangements to fly into Sacramento at 11:15am while the rest of the Oville crew was scheduled to appear at 7:37pm.
As I was putting on my shoes around 9:45am, the phone rang. Eliza, our Alaskan tour coordinator (and parent of Nick), was on the line. She excitedly told me that the kids were just seen off. They had completed the first possible hang-up by actually making it to the plane in time with all of the appropriate identification and such. Excellent.
Eliza explained that after weeks of excitement the kids were rather calm about the whole boarding of the plane while the adults were nervous wrecks. Apparently airline security even asked at one point if everything was okay with these petrified parents.
She then informed me that they were sort of... late. And while they were able to scramble on board, they were not able to pay the $75 necessary for the "unaccompanied minor" treatment. This means, as far as I know, that these kids are traveling without the watchful eye of Alaska Airlines attendants. They will have to navigate gate to gate in Anchorage AND in Seattle on their own.
It seems it will be trial by fire with them gaining that independence in travel.
I assured Eliza that the kids would call home when they arrive in Sacramento and then woke up my nieces who wanted to accompany me to the airport to pick up Nicole.
We arrived about 25 minutes before Nicole's flight was scheduled to arrive. It turns out her plane was a tad early and was actually on the approach when we got there. It was a short Starbucks white mocha later that she stepped down from the escalator like she had been doing it all her life. She walked from the gate to baggage claim (to meet us) all on her own.
I was impressed.
The car ride back was talk talk talk and it became clear that Nicole will get along just fine with my nieces. Essentially all you have to do is laugh every few seconds and you'll get along just fine with them. :)
The next seven hours that passed before the rest of our party arrived Nicole fit in swimmingly with my nieces in front of the big screen TV playing wii. Can you spot the non-relative of mine in this picture? It's not easy.My parents and I went to Costco and Bel Air (grocery store) to pick up some lunch and some dinner for our crew while the of four them just shook the beegus out of their remotes playing Mario Party 8. They were brutal with the Smack Talk. But I am pretty confident the jeers and booing was all in good fun.
We then all loaded back into the car... actually two cars this time and went to the airport.
The flight from Anchorage to Seattle was over 90 minutes delayed so they were left with a layover of about 15 minutes in Seattle. This short time compounded by the lack of an "unaccompanied minor attendant" really had me nervous. I called the airline and was assured that Chinace Egoak made the third leg of the flight. I didn't confirm by phone all four... I assumed Chinace didn't just abandon the boys making her the only one who caught the flight.
So I was mostly unsurprised when I saw all of four of them with all their fingers and toes and a voracious appetite arrive out of Gate 26 at the Sacramento Airport.It turns out because they were late to their Bethel flight they had all of the luggage they were to check on them. It actually made the whole exiting of the airport a breeze. :) However, because they had to go through the personal security check with their big bags it seems all toothpaste (et. al) was confiscated. No worries though, we have plenty.
Here's our first real group shot taken outside the airport.
We're a good looking group, don't you think?
I gave them two options when they arrived. One is that they could go straight to my parents' house and relax with dinner. This choice was met with a "yesssss" from one out of the eight. The other option was to make it a late night. The other option was to leave the airport and go straight to the Sacramento 6 Drive In. This would mean we would not actually be walking into our air-conditioned home with couches, wiis, and beds until after 2:00am.
If you have any experience with Jr. High aged kids you'll know full well we ended up here. Since Alaska Airlines doesn't serve food any more, and the layover was a tight 15 minutes (where they had to ride a tram to their gate, etc), the kids were famished!
It was a less-than-pretty gorging on fried chicken, sourdough bread, soda, M&Ms, and dried salmon as we waited for the sun to set. With content bellies and the delta breeze blowing across us at the end of a 90-degree day, we all enjoyed the movies "Wall-E" and "Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian."
We arrived home at 2:15am and I fairly quickly went to bed. I have no idea how long everyone else stayed up. I suppose their wake up time will give me some hints on that. Currently it's 9:04am and no one under the age of 30 is awake. Everyone over the age of 30 IS awake.
A good first evening was had by all.