Flying Home to New Hampshire

I’m writing this somewhere over northern Montana, finally on our way back to New Hampshire. We’re making this return trip exactly 6 days later than our original scheduled flight. Why? The mix of snow and the inability of the Pacific Northwest west of the cascades to deal with snow.

On Christmas morning, we were driving up to Tacoma from White Salmon, and just south of Olympia, snow started falling. We did make it to my sister-in-law’s house before it started really sticking, but that night, it started piling up. Best guess is over the next 24 or so hours they got about 4 inches accumulation. That’s not much, for places like White Salmon and New Hampshire, but for the Seattle area, it’s bordering on crippling. No worries! Still 4 days to our flight!

Back up. This was our first experience traveling with a pet, as we had brought Tigli along. Being still fairly new to the area, we hadn’t found a kennel for her that we’d trust to care for her for such an extended period of time. She really needs a place that she’s not locked up at all in a small cage, and has regular human contact. That means we have to vet some places, which we’ll do before the next trip. Bottom line: more complications.

A couple days before our flight, I get an email about a “pet embargo” that’s been laid down by Alaska Airlines, prompting a call to their service center. The customer service rep – through no fault of his own – didn’t know the details, but speculated that due to colder weather, the tons of cancelled and delayed flights, and short staffing (probably a combination itself of COVID and our government’s response to the pandemic) meant that Alaska Airlines couldn’t guarantee the safety of pets being transported in cargo. Can’t argue with that. OK, we’re flying back on Saturday the 31st now. Still back in time for the kids to have a day to adjust before school.

A day later, oops, another extension of the embargo — now the earliest is Tuesday, January 4th. Flight change. Scrambling to figure out all the downstream effects on school, work, various commitments, and what it’d mean to our gracious family hosts. Danica and I watched the weather forecasts and prayed.

Obviously it worked out, as I’m in the air, but jeezum crow. And we’re one of the lucky ones, comparatively. I know there’s probably plenty of families out there like us, but without a warm, loving place to hold up waiting for things to sort themselves out. I think it shows how tenuous our systems are. When 4” of white stuff can break things this badly, it’s not a good thing. Our society runs with a razor thin margin of give and slack. It’s a soft lesson that both preparation and patience are of high value, even now in our modern world of marvels. Don’t assume that the interconnected web we live in will be able to absorb unexpected events; instead, do your best to ensure you have the ability to absorb them when the broader system stutters.

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