California Dreaming

On the Way to California

Erin headed out to the west coast on a week-long tour to promote The Scorpion Rules. She visited booksellers in Seattle and Los Angeles before coming to the American Librarian’s Association in San Francisco. The kids had their last week of school and then, on Friday, we departed Waterloo Regional airport for a two-flight jaunt (via Chicago O’Hare) to San Francisco.

I had thought that going via the regional airport would make for an easier trip. And while it was far easier to drive just a half-hour to the area’s airport and board the plane on the tarmac, the flaw in that plan was that, in Chicago, we were obliged to clear through US immigration, customs, and then to change terminals and go through security a second time.

We had an hour and twenty minute connection scheduled for us by American Airlines. We arrived in Chicago about ten minutes late.

I have to say that I am impressed at how quickly US immigration clears people through, but that’s still a lot of people to clear through. Shifting us through security a second time was more than annoying, especially as my computer seemed to trip something that required me to be pulled aside and patted down (though I hasten to add that the TSA personnel were wholly professional and almost apologetic as the minutes ticked down on our connection.

It all culminated in the kids and I charging down the concourse looking for gate H-16 (which, if you know O’Hare, tells you how long of a walk we still had). Vivian was on the verge of a meltdown, Nora was exhausted, and I was ready to use both kids in tears to extract whatever concession I could from whatever American Airlines personnel I had to talk to when scheduling the replacement flight.

We arrived at the gate one minute after the scheduled departure time. Miracle of miracles, though, our departure to San Francisco had been delayed by twenty-five minutes. We basically collapsed with relief, then boarded the plane for the last leg of the trip. We arrived in San Francisco at sunset, even though our internal clocks told us it was 11 p.m. We took BART to the hotel and collapsed into bed, though the kids resolved (and succeeded) in staying up until their mom came home from a late engagement.

Jet lag being what it was, the kids woke up at six in the morning. iPods to the rescue! But we had breakfast at a lovely restaurant called Stacks in one of the less touristy areas of San Francisco, then the kids and I took the F-Market line to the Exploratorium while Erin did more work at the conference.

Sunday is Erin’s last working day, and she’s only occupied for the morning. The afternoon promises some Pride Parade watching, since we appear to have landed in the middle of Pride Week, and the parade is due to go right outside our hotel. And, of course, the community is in the mood to celebrate after the historic SCOTUS decision this week. Should be a lot of fun. We’ll be in the city on Monday as well before heading out to a party of writer friends on a converted tugboat where we’ll be spending the night. Then it’s off to Fresno.

So, all told, we’re glad to be here. Still, American Airlines might want to see what they can do about their hour and twenty-minute connection from Kitchener. If they can’t cut down the need to go through security a second time, they should at least lengthen the length of time between flights because that’s a lot of stress to place on the shoulder of travellers with kids.

Click here to see photos of the first two days of our California vacation.


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