In honor of the fact that fellow Miss Demeanor Alexia spent a full 36 hours last week on airplanes and in airports traveling from American Samoa to Albuquerque, NM (factoring in a couple of 8+ hour layovers), the rest of us decided to chime in with some of our most harrowing travel stories. Here follows some nail-biters:
Connie: My husband and I have had lots of exciting and unexpected travel experiences, but harrowing (thankfully) not so much. The closest thing to harrowing was our flight from Heathrow to Cairo a few years ago. The flight was late due to “mechanical problems”—never a good sign. We could actually watch what was happening on the tarmac from the lounge, and my husband (who was a pilot) said, “Oh, that’s not good. The problem is with the mechanics of the plane.” Not what I wanted to hear. I’d been in a near crash once when the plane’s hydraulic system went out. Anyway, the plane finally took off, but according to my husband, wasn’t acting right in the air. We landed safely at Cairo, but far away from the terminal building, and the plane had to be towed in. Yup—hydraulic problems. Apparently the pilot wasn’t able to steer the nose wheel. Pretty mild, as it turned out, but I was harrowed (is that a word?).
Susan: Harrowed is most definitely a word, in that context!
Michele: My honeymoon! The best man flew Steve and me to Nantucket in his four seater. I sat in the back seat next to the pilot’s wife as I reached for my new husband’s hand from the front. He said I almost broke it because I squeezed it so hard every time we hit a bump and, believe me, there were a lot on the flight from Connecticut. I was sure I was going to go from my wedding to my funeral in one short day. We survived that turbulence and a whole lot more in the next forty-two years!
Cate: I was in a large jet that was caught in a downdraft behind the stream of warm air wafting from the engines of another airliner—or so the pilot explained after our aircraft had seemed to drop from the sky before settling back into its flight pattern. Passengers had screamed. Babies were crying. The flight attendants even appeared unnerved. And I rediscovered religion, as tends to happen every time I am really afraid. All the prayers from years of Catholic Continuing Education classes came roaring back. There are no atheists in fox holes, and—at least for me—no “I believe in God but I am not sure he is paying close attention” mantras when it seems my plane might fall from the sky. I was like audible on 2x speed with my Hail Marys.
Robin: The first time Disneyworld closed for a hurricane coincided with the first time I went to Disneyworld. September 15, 1999 was supposed to have been the next-to-the-last day of a family trip. My parents were die-hard Disney fans who were disappointed we couldn’t go to the Magic Kingdom one more time just because of a “little rain” (torrential downpour). Meanwhile, I frantically called airlines and got us on the last flight out of Orlando before they closed the airport. My mom and dad stopped pouting and realized that, yes, this is serious, when the power flickered on and off at the gate as we were boarding the plane.
I’m sensing a theme with our stories…..
Susan: My own harrowing adventure involves a road trip in India. In 2018, I went to visit an orphanage in Banbasa, which is in the very easternmost part of India, near the Himalayas. When my visit was done, I had planned to take a train back to Delhi, but several of the people from the orphanage offered to drive me back, a trip of about 330 km, or 6 hours. Of course I said yes, and they were very good company and I think I laughed the whole way back. Great stories. But the road! (I should note that if you ever look at the State Department site for cautions about going to India, the number one threat to Americans, at that time, was death in auto accident.) There were moments where the drop-off to the side was sheer. And close. Then, the driver, a kind man with a gleam in his eye, said we were going to take a short cut and next thing you know we’re bumping along some deserted road, or it’s deserted until a truck comes barreling right at you. We passed by a sign that said, “If you see people in an auto accident, please stop to help them.” I found that alarming. Finally, after nine hours, we got to New Delhi and that’s a driving experience unto itself. There are at least two cars in every lane, and possibly a scooter, and sometimes an elephant. It was a fabulous experience, but next time I go I think I’ll take a sleeper car.
How about you, friends? What was your most harrowing trip?