Traveling for Two by Kelly Reising
This is more a story about not traveling then actually going someplace. I was pregnant with my first child when 9/11 happened. Newly pregnant at only about 8 weeks when that day started, I was on my way to work, happy and cautious about the baby inside me after I had a miscarriage only a few months earlier. Before I had found out I was pregnant again, we had made reservations for a long weekend in Vegas in October. After 9/11, we decided to cancel our trip. It just didn't make sense to take the chance, no one was flying much right after it happened, and I’m sure the shear volume of vacation plans cancelled would make a travel agent’s head spin. All I cared about was that tiny baby in my tummy. There would always be time to travel in the future after the baby was born.
2 ½ years later
September again. I have a two-year-old little dolly at my side, and we are on the way to Florida to see my parents in Fort Walton Beach. My dad is part owner and GM of a hotel on the Gulf coast that we are going to stay at to visit with them for a week. My two- year-old is wearing a t-shirt to surprise her grandparents that says, “Big Sister To Be.” Newly pregnant, at only about 8 weeks along I feel fine enough to travel luckily. It’s not even the first flight I’ve been on since 9/11, but the thought weighs in my mind because it’s September, of course. I’m sure anyone thought of that fateful day in the few years following the attack when they were in an airport or on a plane. It changed travel forever. The flight itself was uneventful, and my little traveling companion was as good as gold happily munching on the snacks I had brought her, and drawing in her coloring books.
Little did we know, but a category five major Hurricane was headed towards the Gulf Coast after forming in the Bahamas around September 18th. Hurricane Rita became the 4th most intense storm ever recorded in the Atlantic. Just to put that into perspective Hurricane Katrina that same year was the 6th in 2005.
So we enjoyed two days in sunny, sweet Florida before the staggering worry of Rita started to weigh on my parents. They knew they would have to ride out the storm or evacuate quickly once they got the hotel battened down to nearby Pensacola, further inland and out of the line of fire of the approaching hurricane. Not only did they have their precious granddaughter to worry about, but their daughter carrying their second granddaughter to be! They wanted to get us out and back to the safety of the midwest where I was living. In Ohio. Where there aren’t any hurricanes.
They managed to pull some strings, and got my daughter and I on the last flight out of Ft. Walton before they closed the airport. That was fine with me, although I was a little ticked that I had to cut my week long vacation short to only two days. It’s a lot to pack and prepare to travel with a two-year-old. I don’t overly like to fly anyway, so having to jump right back on a plane after only two days was stressful. The airport was a madhouse of people trying to flee the storm. Yet as the plane took off, on our way back up North to safety, I was grateful that I didn’t get caught in a hurricane with both of my children, even if one of them was still inside my tummy. Traveling for two.