It was time to relinquish custody of my granddaughter. After a week encompassing a trip to Vermont to play with her cousin, beach and boogie board time, bike riding, coloring, Princess matching and other games, library outings, Frozen and Wizard of Oz DVDs, and of course lots of ice cream, her visit was coming to an end.
Sami’s parents live 1,200 miles away. Four-year-olds are not quite old enough to fly solo, so Grandma accompanied her home.
Our local airport is small and rarely crowded. Checking in, checking bags, going through security expended only a few stress-free minutes.
Before settling in at the boarding gate we detoured to purchase a treat – M&Ms – for the plane.
Settling in for Grandma implies something quite different than settling in for a four-year-old. Unable to sit still, Sami wiggled over me, around me, onto nearby seats, and in front of me.
I was already worn out.
Thankfully no delays increased our waiting time, and when our flight was announced we proceeded to the back of the line (zone 4 boarding) and slowly made our way to the check-in counter. Sami proudly handed the attendant her boarding pass and we strolled onto the plane.
Spirit Air is known for tight seats with essentially no space between the back of the seat in front of you and your knees. This did not bother Sami. Small and agile, the seat suited her.
Unfortunately most travelers are taller and heavier than the average four-year-old.
Once wheels left the ground, Sami demanded her M&Ms. Then it was coloring time. We opened our tray tables, coloring book, and markers. Available space was so limited the top of Sami’s marker hit the back of the seat in front of her.
Two hours and fifteen minutes after takeoff we landed in the Sunshine State. Exiting the plane, we entered what in the past could be described as Airport Hell.
The Spirit terminal in the Fort Lauderdale airport.
A cavernous space very different from previous visits confronted us. I thought I was hallucinating. The area was clean, bright, and uncrowded. I am guessing the new terminal was built with funds collected from customers buying insurance, paying for checked bags, priority seating, and other extras.
We walked – actually I walked and Sami pranced - towards baggage claim, and as soon as we left the security area Dad appeared, waiting along with Mom and big brother.
A few minutes later everyone relaxed under a canopy at an outdoor café, enjoying a late lunch.
About four hours remained until my return flight, so we indulged in the All American Pastime – shopping.
We went to a mall.
In our defense it was raining, limiting choices to indoor activities.
Time spent was not wasted. Summer sales beckoned, and I purchased a pair of sandals and a black shirt. Before spending more money we left for the airport.
The flight home proved uneventful. Losing myself in a book, time passed quickly.
Exiting the Atlantic City airport at 11:00 p.m., I slid into the front seat of the car and almost fell asleep on the short ride home (hub was driving). No physical exercise or manual labor accomplished this particular day, but I was exhausted and looked forward to sleeping late the following morning, then relishing sedentary, tranquil, uninterrupted time with a cup of coffee and the newspaper.
A hectic and tiring pace replaced, at least temporarily, by a peaceful interval.