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Published: March 11th 2020
Wow – I said we were going to have an early departure from the hotel, but leaving at 4:15 is really extreme! However our direct flight home had been rescheduled from around 9:30 to a different flight at 6:30 AM. We loaded up the car, checked out of our rooms, and headed for the Rental Car Return. Traffic was very light at that time of day but we had some problems finding the rental car location and had to drive around the airport for a while.
Eventually we found the Hertz location and turned the car in quickly, then had to walk over to Terminal-1 where Southwest is located. If we hadn’t had so much luggage, and if we hadn’t been tired from short sleep, and if Janet hadn’t been using the walker, then this probably wouldn’t have been a big deal. However it took a lot of effort with Janet working hard on the walk and having help from Jim and Kathy to get all the bags to the terminal, but we made it a little after 5:00.
Check-in went smoothly and there were a large number of wheelchairs waiting for use right next to the counter. Janet was able to get a ride through the TSA area and to the gate. We completed all the standard security checks and got to the gate in plenty of time. We even had time to retrieve something which had been left behind at TSA and also to buy/eat some breakfast at the gate before our flight.
Once again Janet was awarded a Comfort Seat, so she was able to reserve an extra seat next to hers on the plane. However the flight to New Orleans had about 30 vacant seats so it wasn’t that big a deal. The continuation of the flight to St Louis was a little more crowded but there were still some vacant seats. Anyway, Janet had “preferred boarding” so we got on quickly and chose some seats near the front. We got the normal minimal snacks from Southwest on both flights, but we were fine.
The flights were on schedule and it was fairly smooth in the air. We landed about 10:00 and there was a porter waiting at the gate for Janet with a wheelchair. David reclaimed the walker from the jet way, and we were whisked off quickly to the baggage claim area. The porter got a luggage cart and our bags were some of the first to appear on the carousel. So we made a very quick exit going to the shuttle bus area. We really didn’t have a chance for a proper farewell to the Sieberts. But we had a very enjoyable couple of weeks with them and we appreciate their help in making everything enjoyable all through the vacation.
We caught the shuttle bus to the parking lot and were dropped off at our car. This was probably our most expedient and easy departure from the airport – on other flights we have had some much more difficult times. We stopped to grab a carry-out lunch on the way home (nothing left in the refrigerator) and we picked up our mail, but we still got home before 11:30. The cat was waiting and was very vocal about welcoming us home. Thanks to Valerie for taking such good care of her during our absence.
An interesting item: Janet has a set of tennis balls on the posts of her walker. Nobody else on the cruise or in the ports or in Florida seemed to use these, but they are pretty common in St Louis. Anyway, she started with a brand new set of tennis balls when we began the trip but when we checked them back at home they have been completely worn through the bottoms. That gives you an idea how much walking Janet did on this trip.
FYI …. The Regal Princess sailed for a week of cruising the Eastern Caribbean after we disembarked on Mar-1. When it returned to port on Mar-8, it was denied access to Port Everglades to disembark the passengers until they tested 2 crew members for the Coronavirus. No disease was found but obviously those passengers’ follow-on plans were impacted by disembarking at least 12 hours late. We are glad that that didn’t happen one week earlier or it would have been us!
That completes our vacation story. We had a really good time! There is another cruise vacation in our future next June, but you will have to wait a while to hear that story.
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