Friday, June 29, 2012

Time To Check Off The Bucket List: A Project Chicago Edition

I do have a bucket list. It is rather a lengthy one. I have a lot of things that I have always wanted to do in my life but was too scared to do. I remember exactly when that fear began. I remember exactly when it began to be debilitating. Somehow I missed the cancerous thing growing inside me and woke up one day afraid to hang out with my friends at the tender age of 16. Sixteen man! Seriously? You realize how such a thing affects the needs of an adolescent girl to be a social butterly? Well, I do. So now, I'm making up for it. Or trying to.

These are a few of the things on my bucket list:

1) Travel by myself.

(Anyone who knows me knows that I have super duper anxiety and traveling of any sort causes all sorts of tummy issues. Not fun. Hence, no unaccompanied travel allowed)

2) Fly in an airplane.

(When I was younger and up until June 22 at 6:00am I would search the skies for planes and dream I was one of the passengers looking down on the world below)

3) Have my very own passport

(seeing #1 and #2 you can see why up until May 2012 I never had a passport, nor saw any reason to have one)

4) Travel to anywhere in the United States outside of Grand Forks.

(Nothing against Grand Forks. It's just that it's a two hour drive from my city and I've been there at least twice before)

Who would have thought that I would have four things checked off within a month and three of them in one weekend? Certainly not me.

The week leading up to my much needed weekend away I cleaned like my husband has never seen before. (And most likely never again). I exchanged my Canadian money to American "funny money" that sticks together like glue when new. I checked in my information twice to satisfy Homeland Security 80 hours before my flight. My husband secured my travel insurance. I had a to do list that had only two items left as I ran out of time. (It wasn't clothes. I had clothes.) My children were sad to see me go, and I couldn't wait to see 6am.

Six am saw me working on two hours of sleep. I dashed quietly to get dressed and ready to go. I downed two tablespoons of Kaopectate and kissed my husband good-bye. My Dad dropped me off at the airport by 6:30am. The rest of this was all me. Holy crap! I wasn't ready for this. I wanted to crawl back into that car and book my butt all the way back to the safety of my home and crazy children. But my Dad had already pulled away from the curb. I was stuck. Time to pull up my boot straps and show this anxiety who was boss. (The anxiety was winning. I was still too scared to eat anything for fear of being sick) By 7am boredom took over and I bought a book. (I knew I should have charged my e-reader) By 8am hunger was beating out anxiety so I grabbed a tall coconut frap from Starbucks and a cranberry scone. Oh delicious heaven it was. 8:30am the call was out to begin pre-boarding. Ten minutes later, the rest of us could board.

EEEEK!!! Look at the plane! I can almost touch it!

I had to take a picture. I had never been on this side of the airport before.

Excuse the angry look. I'm not. Just really, really nervous. My last pee stop before I boarded the plane. I wasn't up to leaving my seat. I still wasn't sure if I could keep down the scone I ate.

Eeek, my seat was a window seat. How lucky was I to get a window seat on my first flight? AAAhhhh!!!!

This was the window right beside, sort of behind me. I've never been this close to the wing of a plane. I've never been inside a plane. I couldn't wait to take off. Suddenly my anxiety was gone and I was grinning from ear to ear like a child at Christmas time.

What was really fab too, was that I was sitting beside a plane crew member. He lived in Winnipeg, but traveled to Toronto to work for week long stints. Brave of his family to loan him out to the airlines like that. Awesome for me as I had no clue how to put on my seat belt. Then realized that it was exactly like the old cars with the middle lap belts. (I felt pretty dumb right there) We talked about my first flight, my trip to Chicago, and obviously enough about himself that I knew what I reported above. I'm thankful to this gentleman that was wedged in the middle seat. It made that first part of the leg exciting as opposed to terrifying.

This crew member was also very awesome when it came to picking up my bags to connect to my next flight. For some reason for the connecting flight I had to pick up my bag from a different conveyer belt thingy than everyone else. Apparently that was for everyone flying outside of Canada. I was a bit nervous, but I went to where I needed to go and asked the same question a few hundred times (ok, not that many, but it felt like it). I had time to go pee. (Yes, I'm like a dog, I have nervous pees get over it) Then off to pick up my bag and connect to the next flight. I needed to listen more. I ended up walking from one end of Terminal 3 to the other and back to where I started. (Where I needed to be was exactly across from baggage claim. Oops.)

These last two picture were taken in the Toronto airport. I can now say I have also been to Toronto. I guess that is five things off my bucket list. I will be replacing it with, I need to go to Toronto and make it out of the airport. This ramp I went up and around the corner to head into customs. I must say, customs is not a very friendly group of people at all. I mean, I know they are doing their jobs, but sheesh. When someone says "Thank you" and "Have a nice day" if you can't smile at least, the very least, acknowledge them with a nod. I also believe with the amount of security I went through that Americans are slightly paranoid. Rightly so after 9/11, but hot darn man, I don't normally walk barefoot outside my home and yard.

After that I got on the smallest plane imaginable. American Airlines you are a friendly airline, but dang, really? I was so sick on that flight I'm so glad I didn't eat more than that scone and had kaopectate when I got up. I did meet a lovely lady who set next to me. Made that hour and a half flight that much better. We also walked to get our luggage and she helped me obtain a ride to my hotel.

Well, that is all for now. I have so much to write, only this is so long already. I'll see you in the next installment of Project Chicago - A.K.A. Cheesy Chicago Yo!


  1. Yes, US Customs and Immigration certainly could use a refresher course on how to be polite and friendly. After all, you are visitors and as a visitor, you should be treated with the utmost respect so that one day, hopefully, you’ll return. But I’m afraid we are far too paranoid to the point of being just damn rude. Treating everyone with a degree of suspicion has become the norm nowadays. I’m terribly sorry you had to experience this. But I do hope you’ll enjoy the rest of my beautiful country.

    I lived in Ottawa, Canada for two years and I have to say Canadian authorities are the kindest, most polite people on earth. They always had a smile on their faces and warmly greeted everyone at passport control with the phrase, “Welcome to Canada!”, instead of treating everyone as if they’re fresh off the plane from some rouge country hell bent on causing massive destruction around the world.

    Americans can learn a thing or two from our northern neighbors, especially when it comes to graciously welcoming foreign visitors.

    1. AT least they didn't frisk me lol. I was warned about the paranoia, but experiencing was still a shock.


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