What a great Fourth of July weekend!
People were ready to celebrate, not only in Aransas County, but also throughout the country.
I think patriotic Americans have had enough of the bile that’s been thrown around since before the November election.
I saw patriotism on display throughout Aransas County, and on the news, throughout the country. I purposely didn’t watch CNN or MSMBC this weekend so I wouldn’t have to listen to all the belittling of America. It was a nice break from all the made up controversies (institutional racism, murdering cops, cancel culture, more than two sexes, 1619 project, etc.); real controversy (the chaotic mess at or border and the Biden administration’s refusal to address it); and the all-out efforts by a very small percentage of our population that supports radically changing our great country.
The United States isn’t perfect, but it’s better than any country on this planet.
The day of reckoning is nearing in the United States, and I pray we don’t stray far from our Founding Fathers’ vision.
(Note: If you have an issue with the word “father”, deal with it.)
Leaning on faith
I’ve always been confident in my abilities to get something done when results rest on my shoulders. I recognize that as one of my strengths, but it is also a weakness.
For instance, my book Harvey Hit Here took exactly 30 days to publish – from my first interview with Aransas County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills, to receipt of the first 200 copies the day before the book-signing event on the first anniversary of the storm.
Recent events in my life showed how dependent I am on someone much greater than me – God.
At the first of the year one of our daughter’s and her husband asked if we could fly to Boise, ID, and then travel about four hours north of that city, in order to watch their three children, our grandchildren, for two days while they went on a couples weekend up some river in northern Idaho.
We looked at the dates and decided we could make it work.
Everything was rocking along fine until about a month before we were supposed to fly to the potato state. That’s when I received an email from Southwest Airlines (SWA).
It was then that the “series of unfortunate events” (think Lemony Snicket) began … all of which we couldn’t control.
The original plan was to fly from San Antonio to Boise Thursday, June 24, and fly back to San Antonio early Monday, June 28, giving me enough time to put the June 30 edition to bed.
The email from SWA said the return trip on our round trip had been cancelled, and we were moved to a later flight the same day.
The new return flight would have put us back in Rockport well after midnight, which was too late for me (press deadlines).
So, we decided to add two days to our trip, and return home by flying from Boise to Las Vegas that Monday, staying in Vegas a couple of nights, and then flying from Las Vegas back to San Antonio on Wednesday.
I booked those new return flights and all was well. All I needed to do was call SWA and cancel the return segment of our original round trip.
Unfortunately, I waited a couple of weeks to cancel those flights.
When I called SWA they said our round trip flight from San Antonio to Boise had been cancelled due to double booking.
This was a lesson learned.
When you double book a flight, something I had never done, the original flight gets canceled. And, since it was a round trip, the whole thing was canceled.
Fortunately, SWA said that was their issue, and they rebooked us on a one way flight from San Antonio to Boise.
Everything was in place.
Fast-forward to Thursday, June 24, the day our real adventure began.
My wife was in South Padre at a conference and was flying from Harlingen to Houston, and then from Houston to San Antonio, where we would meet up for our flight to Boise.
I didn’t have to leave for San Antonio - to meet her for our 7 p.m. trip to Boise - until later that afternoon. If all went as planned, she would “only” have to wait about four hours in the San Antonio Airport for our flight.
I went to my office around noon that day to check in and make sure all was well before I got on the road.
Why I did that first, prior to running about an hour’s worth of errands, is a mystery, but I’m glad I was steered in that direction.
The first thing I did was check my email in case there was anything I needed to address.
In my inbox was a nice little message from SWA saying, “Your flight from San Antonio to Boise has been cancelled.”
I felt nothing.
I was powerless.
We had to be at an RV resort just outside Riggins, ID (four-plus hours north of Boise) between noon and 1 p.m. the next day to give our daughter and son-in-law enough time to get to the dock where they were to catch a jet boat up the river.
I called SWA and they rebooked us. The original flight to Boise, through Denver, had been cancelled due to “weather”.
I saw no weather issues on my weather app.
Our new flight, from Austin to Boise, had a connection in Denver, as well, and left Austin about one hour earlier than our original flight from San Antonio.
I texted my wife to let her know the change in plans, that I was on the road to San Antonio, and to pray she didn’t have any delays, since we now had to drive to Austin to fly to Boise.
We had about an hour to spare at this point, and had I not seen the SWA email when I did, I wouldn’t have left in enough time to meet my wife when she landed in San Antonio.
As I neared the San Antonio airport, my wife texted saying she was on her connecting flight from Houston to San Antonio.
Things were looking good … at least that’s what we thought.
A few moments later she sent a one-word text.
That’s never a good sign.
That text was followed with, “Our plane has a flat tire.”
We’ve flown a lot on SWA through the years, and that has never happened.
That hour leeway we had went away with the tire change.
My wife landed in San Antonio, and I timed my circling through the terminal to the exact moment she exited.
I threw her luggage into the car, and off we went to Austin.
Miraculously, we didn’t run into any major traffic issues driving one of the busiest traffic corridors in the state.
We parked at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, ran through security, and approached the gate one minute before boarding.
There was a long, long line at the SWA counter at the gate.
Not a good sign.
I asked two pilots who were standing there what was going on.
I hadn’t received a text or email from SWA regarding anything about our fight.
One of the pilot’s said, “Our flight to Boise was just cancelled.”
Inside, I was demoralized and a bit frustrated, but quickly realized it was completely out of my control. I was hurting more for my daughter and son-in-law who were coming seriously close to having to cancel their long-awaited trip up the river to someplace with a bunch of other couples … because we couldn’t get there in time.
As other passengers stood in line to make other plans, I called SWA and asked when was the next flight to Boise.
We were booked on a 6 a.m. flight the next morning, this time through Las Vegas.
I talked to my son-in-law and let him know what the situation was. I told him we were set to fly out the next morning, but that would put us at the RV resort about four hours later than originally planned … if everything stayed on schedule.
Nothing had gone as planned up to that point.
He said he would try to book another river pilot to bring them to where they needed to be, and would let me know as soon as he knew something.
I told him there was no rush on our end, either way we weren’t driving back to Rockport that night. By then I was mentally and physically exhausted.
We had to eat the cost of our Boise hotel reservation (Priceline) that night, and booked a room at Holiday Inn Express near the Austin airport.
There was a Denny’s next door and we pigged out. It tasted like gourmet food because we hadn’t eaten a meal that day.
Halfway through my Denny’s T-bone steak, our son-in-law called and said another pilot agreed to bring them up river.
Our new schedule gave us one hour to spare the next day.
My wife slept like a baby, but I didn’t, which is a rarity when I’m tired. I figured, if worse came to worse, I could fly the dang plane. After all, we were staying at a Holiday Inn Express!
At 4 a.m. the next morning the alarm sounded. We jumped out of bed and darted to the airport.
Our flight wasn’t cancelled!!!!!
We actually got on a real, non-delayed, non-canceled airplane with a full crew.
We landed in Las Vegas and ran to another terminal to catch our connecting flight to Boise.
It was on time! The miracles started rolling in.
Everyone boarded and all looked fine.
There was an extremely drunk woman who boarded at the last minute.
They ended up having to take her off the plane.
That meant a “small delay” in order to redo paperwork.
Then there was a glitch in the computer system.
Remember the one-hour leeway?
That little escapade ate up 55 minutes.
Finally, we backed away from the gate and made it to the end of the runway.
Then the pilot announced we were seventh in line, and it would be about 15 minutes before we took off.
I didn’t hear anything else he said.
I just did the math and we were now 10 minutes past our new deadline … if all went well.
We made it to Boise and rushed to meet our driver.
Alex, of Sawtooth Transportation, LLC, picked us up and we headed north to meet up with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids.
(Note: A rental car would have cost close to $1,000 for three days. I highly recommend Sawtooth Transportation if you need a long ride anywhere around Boise. Their number is 208-869-6049. We ended up spending more than eight hours riding with Alex – four hours each way. He is a very interesting man. We learned a lot about Idaho, and talked about many subjects. I’m glad I like to talk to people, and I’m glad he liked to talk, otherwise, it would have been a L-O-N-G trip.)
I called my son-in-law and told him our new ETA. I suggested he make a video of anything he thought I needed to know about the travel trailer – our home away from home for two nights.
When we rolled into the RV resort, he airdropped his videos to my phone, and they took off with Alex for their destination dock.
About an hour later I heard from my son-in-law.
They made it … a little late … but the pilot waited for them.
The next two days were great with the grandkids, and we finally got to relax, even while keeping a close eye 24/7 on our two-year old stunt-boy grandson who thinks raging river rapids are nothing to fear.
At some point, I thought of something else … our return flight from Las Vegas to San Antonio wasn’t going to work because our car was now in Austin.
Another call to SWA, and another changed flight, put us in Austin earlier than we would have arrived in San Antonio.
It cost us more than $300 to change the flight because it was to Austin, and not San Antonio (not the same airport). I imagine that is clearly spelled out somewhere in fine print.
Luckily, my wife has had a SWA Companion Pass for about 10 years so it didn’t cost us $600 to change flights.
I was happy nonetheless. The new earlier flight back to Austin would give us plenty of time to change to a later flight if anything else went wrong.
In the end, our nerves were frayed and our faith tested, but it all worked out well.
Our daughter and son-in-law were able to enjoy their couple’s weekend, we had a blast with the grandkids during a rare Idaho heat wave, and our trip to Las Vegas on the way home netted more than enough to pay for the unplanned expenses we incurred.
I spent a lot of time praying the first 24 hours of our trip, while holding a wooden cross I carry in my car.
Our experience, once again showed me having faith in God, especially when what is happening is completely out of your control, is a great insurance policy.
My simple prayer when I back out of our driveway each day is, “Your will, not mine, be done.”
I know had things not worked out it would have been for a good reason, but I’m glad it did.
Needless to say, doing as little as possible this past weekend was quite refreshing.
My batteries are fully charged again.
Until next week, have a good week.
Mike Probst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.