Canceled: A short story

This travel blog is not off to a good start. Mostly because I can’t seem to travel!  Yes, the horror of the Galapagos trip has returned.  And, again, it’s all Chicago’s fault.


Imagine it is 8:30 at night. You have a 5:30 a.m. flight that you need to leave the house at 4:15 a.m. to make.  (Luckily, you fly out of a small airport, so that “get there an hour early, oh wait, TSA has gone crazy, make that 2 hours” can safely be 45 minutes.) So it is getting close to bed time. But then you check your phone. There is an update from the airline.  WHAT??? CANCELED!!!


So you call United.  You must have been one of the first to notice that your flight was no longer going to fly, because the wait time isn’t that long, a rep greats you almost immediately, and you are optimistic. Planes from CID do pretty much does nothing but fly back and forth to ORD- and you had a long layover, you’ll make it.  But tomorrow, it doesn’t matter. The rep spends 30 minutes searching and comes back with the news that there is NO way to get from CID to YUL tomorrow. On any airline.   How about Des Moines  or Moline? 15 minutes wait… nope, nothing there either.  It is impossible to get to YUL from Iowa tomorrow; not through Denver, not through Toronto. It isn’t going to happen.
He offers to look at Friday or to give us a full refund. We don’t know. This is a more expensive trip than we would take for such a short time; but cancelling means we lose $200 on the AirBnB.  So here is where I made my mistake: I told him we’d have to call back.

We talk about canceling the trip. We talk about driving to Chicago for the flight tomorrow (nixed due to expensive parking, gas, tolls, and the chance we’ll get there to a canceled flight.)

10 minutes later (and a bit of yelling… sorry sweetie) we had our plan. We’d try to rebook for Friday, hopefully coming back Tuesday instead of Monday. So I call.  “The wait time is greater than 30 minutes” the hold message tells me.  Well, shoot.  I’m holding…


We get on our apps and are able to rebook for Friday. Kevin can get on the early flight, but I can’t- for some reason, despite making the reservation together (I did it on the phone, so the agent did it)- they don’t seem to be linked. That doesn’t really help.  Okay, so he gets us onto a later flight. Late enough that Friday is wasted (as Thursday was going to be) by the time we get to Montreal, but at least we get there.
There are more voices raised in frustration. How does this happen every time we book a trip? And a bit of compassionate understanding when there actually wasn’t yelling when Kevin accidentally hung up the phone I had already been waiting for 20 minutes on.  And maybe a little bit of crying.

I was able to make an alteration to the AirBnB- the host was okay with us coming in a day late, no money lost. That was good.


And after 40 minutes of holding on the NEW call, I get to talk to an agent.  Can I fly home Tuesday instead?  Well… I still don’t know. I was on the phone with an agent, and the phone disconnected. It is now 10:15.


I have called back AGAIN.  I have answered “Existing Reservations” four times for the operator, and screamed it twice. (Worst phone system ever. Give me damn numbers to press!


And then on Thursday I fly to New York. So now I have 1 day to do my laundry and repack.


Lake MacBride Hiking

Today was a gorgeous spring day. It was not quite 80 degrees, so not too hot yet. It was one of those days where I had a great desire to get outside.  I floated some ideas to Kevin: take the dog for a walk around the neighborhood, bike to Red’s for lunch, kayak out at Lake MacBride, or go for a casual hike.

We chose the hiking option.

Lake MacBride is located in Solon, Iowa. It offers plenty for everyone: day use picnic shelters, “modern” and primitive campsites, hiking trails, boat ramps, fishing spots, and more.

There are two areas- Lake MacBride State Park, and also MacBride Nature Recreation Area.

It has been two years since we’ve been out hiking at Lake MacBride, lately we’ve been going kayaking (at the State Park side) when we head out there. Kevin didn’t even get to go out there this winter because there was never enough snow to cross country ski.

Our hiking took place at the Recreation Area. (That’s also where you can cross country ski in the winter.)


The Raptor Center is also in this area, but since we take the dog with us, we have never been able to visit.

Our day was really relaxed. After arriving in the parking lot, we quickly used the facilities and set off for our day.  Since we’ve only ever camped in the state park, we decided to use today to check out the various campsites in the recreation area. These are booked through the University of Iowa. The “Fox” campsites cost $10 a night and the “Wolf” campsites cost $20.
We headed towards the Fox campsites first.  From the main parking lot, it’s a quick walk to the limited Fox parking (1 car per site) and then a walk in to the sites.  These sites are very small- our large tent would likely not fit on most of them and there isn’t room to do much, like toss a Frisbee around. There is heavy tree cover so fires (in provided fire rings) would need to be kept small.

Fox 1 is a very short walk from the parking, so typical “Cadillac Camping” supplies could easily be walked in.
Our favorite of the sites though was Fox 6, the only one we thought might be large enough for our large tent. And I’ve  gotten to the point where I like to camp comfortably, so I’m a fan of the large tent that allows me to stand up and really spread out.


When we finished looking at these camp sites, we turned around and went back to the main parking lot. Elsa was already panting quite a bit, so we got her some water, and then headed off the other direction to hike the trails we generally go on.

Although there were a lot of cars in the parking lot, we only saw other people a few times. It was lovely solitude, just the sounds of the animals in the woods and a light breeze coming off the water.


The main thing to see was small flowers, and lots of downed trees. It’s a bit unbelievable to me that these trails double for cross-country skiing, because while the walk isn’t too steep, on skis it would be!


We took the trail to the Wolf campsites. These are also walk-in campsites, but again only a short walk from their parking lot. These are much larger than the Fox sites, but I wasn’t too impressed.The largest of the sites, Wolf 5, the hiking trail cuts through, and I don’t like that. When I’m in a campsite, it’s my home- and people who aren’t invited in shouldn’t come in.


A lot of the others were quite slanted. We thought Wolf 4 might be an okay location for future camping.


And Wolf 1 is right off the road, so you see all the cars coming and going.


A large picnic shelter is also near Wolf 1.  The Wolf campsites have room for multiple tents and have some space for kids (or adults) to run and play. The trees aren’t so low, so you could have a bigger fire and remain safe.

We spent a little more than an hour wandering around.  It was an absolutely lovely afternoon.