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Goin’ on a lion hunt…

February 9, 2011

A week ago I embarked upon an adventure.  I got so caught up in life during the couple of weeks preceding the adventure that I never really had time to sit down here and talk about it what was coming.  Just as well.  You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men…

What?  You don’t know what they say?  Well…neither do I, now that I think of it.

Many months ago I was invited to Texas to speak at a women’s retreat.  The invitation came at the hand of my friend who plans these retreats and is normally the only speaker.  I felt pretty honored that she’d be willing to share her people with me, even though I’d met many of them before.   So for months, I looked forward to my time in Texas.

And then came last Wednesday morning.  You know what was happening in Dallas, Texas, last Tuesday and Wednesday?  Snow.  And ice.  Not just a little bit of it, either. Loads.  To the point that when I got to the airport in Panama City that morning I was told that I wouldn’t be able to get past Houston and I should just re-book for the next day.  So I did…and then I un-booked my re-book and rebooked my original book.  If I only made it as far as Houston, so be it. At least I’d be in the same state.

My flight was supposed to be direct to Dallas with a stop in Houston where I wouldn’t have to change planes.  But because of the weather mess, Love Field in Dallas was closed.  I had to get off the plane in Houston, where the airport was freezing, and recheck my bag and get booked on a flight they insisted probably wouldn’t happen.  So far that day they’d canceled one flight after another and nothing would be going out until at least 4:00pm, and maybe not then…but just in case they tagged my luggage for the 4:00 flight, even though my boarding pass was for a 6:00pm flight.  Except that 4:00pm flight was actually the first one to go all day…and I managed to get on the next flight to Dallas.  I got a reminder of how far a smile and a kind word can go when you’re dealing with frazzled, pressured, picked-upon ticket counter agents.

Dallas was like Hondas on Ice at the Ice Follies.  The roads had thick sheets of black ice with almost no dry pavement.  Everything that looked like snow, wasn’t.  It was ice in disguise.  But as we drove out of Dallas towards Van, Texas the next morning, we found that the horrible roads in the neighborhoods became moderately horrible roads on the thoroughfares, which became mildly horrible roads on the inner city interstate system, which became completely dry roads as soon as you got outside the city.  This wasn’t looking so bad at all.  The rest of the retreat attendees were scheduled to leave on Friday.  The roads would surely be clear by then.

Except…around midnight in Van, Texas, it started to snow.  And snow.  And it kept snowing.  There would be 4-5 inches before it stopped.  It was beautiful and I loved it, but we were a little concerned about those who had to drive in it later that day.  However, it became apparent very quickly that the snow on the cement porches and sidewalks melted to slush almost immediately.  It didn’t freeze.  So they’d be fine driving over…right?

We had no way to know that the main interstate was a complete and total mess.  Snow and ice, with no way to tell where the edges of the road was.  Two van loads did make it in on Friday, but a 1 1/2 hour trip took 5-6 hours.  We told everyone else to wait and leave on Saturday.  We would rearrange the schedule so they wouldn’t miss much, if anything.  In the end about half of those who signed up came.  And it was just the right amount.

I spoke on Saturday afternoon.  I didn’t get a lot of feedback to know what anyone was thinking, but nobody ran screaming from the room or threw rotten tomatoes at me (though that could be because tomatoes are out of season even in Texas, where they are strip-mined nearly year ’round).  I didn’t wet my pants or get a bloody nose or a raging case of the hiccups, so I consider the afternoon a success.  I know…I have such high standards.

The retreat in general went really well.  The warfare was brutal, but it was totally worth it.  Some things are worth fighting for, you know?  I’m glad I was invited. I’m glad I went.

But…remember the fiasco getting to Dallas?  I didn’t take into account that I would be trying to fly out of Dallas the same day that everybody and his cousin and their cross-eyed dog would be trying to get home from the Superbowl.  It didn’t affect my ability to get a boarding pass, but it did mean that security lines were very long and filled with people dressed in classy Steelers and Packers regalia…complete with cheesehead hats.  I was thanking God, my parents, and the academy that I didn’t have a standby ticket like I had last March.  I wouldn’t have made it to Dallas for days, and I wouldn’t have made it home on time, either.

I think I like this speaking stuff.  But the traveling?  Well, that’s a trip in and of itself!


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