Notice the lack of exclamation points?
Let's just say we knew we were in for it when our connecting flight from Newark to Raleigh had already been cancelled before we even boarded our long-haul flight in Brussels. Our flight and every other southbound flight out of Newark. All due to the blizzard working its way up the atlantic coast. Beaucoup la neige.
We de-planed in Newark, made our way through immigration and baggage claim, and then joined the masses in the bowels of hell. Otherwise known as the Continental airlines "re-accommodation queue". Upon seeing the length of the snaking line and deciding there was no way we were going to get a hotel if we waited for all the people in front of us to be told they weren't going anywhere for at least 24 hours, Jason got on the horn and started calling around to secure a room. Marriott. Booked. Hilton. Booked.
This was not looking good.
We finally made it to the front of the queue and sure enough, were told that we weren't going anywhere for at least 24 hours. I quietly resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be sleeping in the airport with my Louis Vuitton and Rebecca Minkoff strapped to my body with about 50 yards of duct tape and a taser in my hand to take care of anyone who stepped into my personal space.
Little did I know, I was about to suffer a much worse fate: a Holiday Inn in Cartaret, New Jersey.*
(*I kid. I know we had it much better than some. We at least had a warm bed, a hot shower and free wifi. Some really did have to sleep in the airport. I am very grateful that Continental took good care of us. But it makes a better story if I bitch about it.)
We were given hotel and food vouchers and directions to the hotel shuttle pick up and sent on our way. We decided that we'd better eat something at the TGI Fridays at the airport instead of relying on whatever food options might be available to us at a Holiday Inn twenty minutes outside of Newark.
You know things are dire when a TGI Fridays is your most appealing option.
After having our fill of mediocre chain food, we figured it was time to resign ourselves to our fate. When we arrived at the hotel shuttle pick up point, we realized just how insane the snow had gotten. It was blowing everywhere. It was even snowing UP fercryinoutloud. And this was no nice quiet snow with big fat flakes like in holiday movies when someone looks out the window and states in childlike wonderment, "It's snowing." No. It was itty bitty stinging snow.
So... we assumed the hotel shuttle would have snow chains on the tires or something like that and that the driver would be some sort of no-nonsense, take-charge type of guy yelling authoritatively into a walkie talkie. (About what? I don't know. I can't be bothered with details.)
Turned out, the hotel shuttle was a regular old Holiday Inn van with regular old tires and the driver was a 60 year old lady in a pink fuzzy hat and matching mittens who occasionally mumbled to herself. (About what? I don't know. I can't be bothered with details.)
She appeared to be the night housekeeping lady who'd been hastily asked, "Stan can't make it in. Can you drive a van in the snow between here and the airport about 50 times tonight???" I imagine her reply was, "Eh, I guess so."
Against all odds, we made it to the hotel and nabbed the very last non-smoking room. After settling in, I got on the phone to the one friend who I knew could appreciate the hilarity/horror of my situation (love you B) and Jason went to explore the facilities. He came back with a bottle of Moet in an ice bucket. Apparently it was either a $15 bottle of Korbel or a $75 bottle of Moet. (And I think we all know where I stand on these types of situations.)
We had, in our possession, a bottle of champagne which cost more than the hotel room. And wouldn't you know it, it was off. Not like take-a-sip-and-spray-it-across-the-room-off, but more like take-a-few-sips-and-turn-to-your-companion-and-ask-if-it-tastes-kind-of-off-to-them-off.
Not to mention that we were supposed to be going to a hockey game in Raleigh that night; one of only five being played on home ice during our holiday visit. Instead, we listened to the Hurricanes beat the Panthers online while drinking slightly off champagne in a Holiday Inn in Cartaret, New Jersey. (Have I mentioned lately how frustrating it is to be a season ticket holder and live 4,000 miles away from the home team? Because it is.)
If that weren't enough, I realized that I was without the following items: jammies, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, a toothbrush and razor. Because I keep a stash of these things in Raleigh so I don't have to constantly remember to pack all my toiletries or waste valuable luggage space on pj's when we go home. So I had to sleep in Jason's t-shirt and use Jason's stuff. And I smelled like a boy all day the next day. At least he uses Aveda products and not whatever's cheapest at the grocery store like some dudes.
Anyway, long story longer...we finally made it home (about 26 hours late). And Jason's mom had a potroast and a bottle of wine waiting for us. And it finally started to feel like Christmas.