We haven’t always been able to travel by air. In the early years of Riley World, vacations were spent in the mini van driving for hours on end…prior to built-in video screens…with only read/sing-along cassette tapes blasting through the speakers. If I never hear Hakuna Matata or Circle of Life again I’ll be okay with that.
Travelling by air has been a process and continues to be a process. Different/changing security measures mean no routine. No routine means the unknown. The unknown means anxiety/stress for me…I…I…I mean Riley.
Now remember how I said I was able to schedule 3 flights (all under 3 hrs) with 2 layovers between 2 and 2-1/2 hours and it worked out great going down to Fort Lauderdale? Sadly the same options were not available for the trip home. Oh and to top it off....the nasty bug that had gone through both my sister's and my family had caught up with me on the last day of our cruise. I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck. :(
Our trip home went something like this:
· Disembarkation time was 9am.
· Wait (30 min) for shuttle to Miami airport (1 hr drive).
· Arrive at airport 3 hours prior to departure.
· Heading through Security was when the fun began. We have the taking off your shoes part; putting things in the bin part; and walking through the sensor part down pat now. The walk-in screener is ummmm still a work in progress. We both forgot about his sunglasses so R needed further “processing”.
Note: TSO – Transportation Security Officer
Note: TSO – Transportation Security Officer
TSO: May I see your glasses please?
R: *Leans into the TSO and looks into his glasses*
TSO: *confused look*
Me: Riley can you give the man your sunglasses.
R: *grumbling takes them off his head and hands them to the TSO* HERE.
TSO: Thank you.
Me: He has autism.
TSO: *nods and turns to me* I’m just going to have to touch his ankle.
TSO: *bends down to pat down his ankle*
R: HEY! YOU’RE TOUCHING ME! STOP TOUCHING ME!!
TSO: You’re fine to go.
· Pretty sure our gate was in a previously ‘set for demolition but temporarily reopened’ terminal. Only redeeming factor was the Pizza Hut Express for Riley.
· Our ~3-1/2 hr flight to Chicago was delayed by 30 minutes. We only had a 65 minute layover in Chicago.
· We had hoped to get a bite to eat in Chicago before our next 4 hr 40 min flight. We were all hungry. By the time we landed we had to go directly to our gate to board. We had to go by restaurants and a great looking food court. We had to settle for the Inflight Menu. *sob*
· We were the last to board and then waited at the gate for 40 minutes waiting to be de-iced. AUGH! We spent an additional 15 minutes on the tarmac.
· At about the 3 hr mark R started to become unglued. First it was because I had changed my watch back to our time zone. “Your watch is wrong!” Then he realized it was after 8:30 therefore it was time to change into his PJ’s. “Where are my PJ’s?” Finally almost in tears “I just want to go home.” *sigh* Me too buddy...me too. He thankfully nodded off until just before we landed.
· By the time we landed R was done. I was done. We were all done. We were at 14+ hrs since we had left Florida. In Riley World 5-10 minutes of waiting can seem like an eternity. Here’s a little snippet as we waited to get off the plane.
R: There’s lots of people. *totally annoyed*
Me: Yes. We need to wait patiently.
R: Like at Christmas.
Me: Yes, like at Christmas.
At this point 2 of the 3 people in the row ahead of us took a sideways glance at us. J2 later told me that an elderly couple 2 rows in front of us looked back and scowled. After 15+ years in Riley World, I have become better at focusing on Riley and ignoring “the lookers”.
Me: *I say nothing and place my hand on R’s knee.*
R: I’m going to PUSH THE PEOPLE!! *arms outstretched; tenses face and grunts as if pushing*
Me: We have to wait our turn.
R: TAKE TUURR-UURRNS!!!!
And then…R started scripting scenes from Caillou (the bane of my existence). I was beginning to crack and remember thinking “LET'S GO PEOPLE!! HE COULD BLOW AT ANY MINUTE NOW!” I can not remember much else. I was delirious from popping flu/cold medications.
· One final layover before our last flight home. On a prop plane no less. While waiting to board I remembered I had yet to pull out my “secret weapon”. What was I thinking?? Why had I not given this to him on the almost 5 hour flight??? Clearly…I was not thinking…ummmm cold medications…haaalloooo. I pulled out a copy of R’s newest obsession the Sleepy Kitten board book from Despicable Me and with that…a sense of calm came over Riley World. He had something to focus on and managed the 75 min flight home without a yelp, screech or grunt...that I was aware of. I was ummmm pretty much passed out for most of the flight.
As we landed at our final destination 17+ hours later, R was all smiles and said in a most relieved voice “We're home. Are we home? It’s good to be home again.” Yes Riley…it is good to be home.
Did you know there is a TSA Cares Help Line for Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions? There is. Be sure to check it out before you travel.