It was Wednesday a week and a half ago when, after many years of business travel, I made use of what the writer Hemingway called a “built-in, shockproof shit detector.”

It was 4:30 in the morning when our 5:10am’s flight was first announced to be delayed. A half hour later they rolled out a small, Costco styled kitchen cart, with bottles of water and some granola bars. That is when I just knew that we were embarking on a lengthy “hold” – my “shit” detector kicked in.

From the Delta gate agent came delay announcements, each pushing our flight back a half hour here, then an hour there. Each with assurance that something positive would be happening shortly – when in reality the little Chippewa Airport had shut down completely. With Delta being the only carrier and with just three flights a day it was difficult to assess what was really going on.

Anyway, between gate agent discussions and texts from Delta corporate I was soon facing a 6:35pm flight out to Detroit (1-hour away) with a connection to Austin, TX (our final destination) at noon the next day – NOT! I was offered a flight out at 3:30pm (which never landed) to Detroit, on to Minneapolis, and then Austin – NOT!

Finally I advised the gate agent that I’d be willing to transfer my whole itinerary over to Pellston airport an hour’s drive away in lower Michigan and their 1:20pm flight to Detroit.

It took a lengthy phone discussion with Delta corporate to achieve that change [outbound was no problem], their balking was to also have Marcia and I return to Pellston. The latter I felt necessary since my car would be parked there. They finally saw the brilliance of that thinking and complied. The rest of our travel was delightful – our Boarding Passes were now marked for TSA use with “Pre Screened” (a lovely thing).

“You can see a lot just by observing.” ~ Yogi Berra

We’re back at Northern Comfort and I woke up hearing the waves slap one of the boats. It was early and now finally dawn is breaking – time to stop a moment and get the coffee going.

Delighted – There is probably no way to fully describe how delighted I was to be with the kids and grand-kids.

Kirstin was truly the “glue” who kept and organized everything – and still managed to get a work project done. She chauffeured Vince to his, 5-hour long, Chemo sessions, ran Derek to band camp, and guided us to the various ‘musts’ when in Austin. Her strength had me awed!

Then Vince; we saw him as he completed the three-day long Chemo session and its aftermath – difficult and hard on both body and mind. Throughout, his upbeat attitude was contagious. Two days after the last of this session he and I were walking the dog for a mile plus. He was off to work driving himself and it was the Vince of old, complete with his sense of humor.

The underpinnings were the grand-kids, all six of them. They laughed, they played, they talked, they ran and they hid – as if they had always been together. The hub-bub of activity was exactly what I had hoped for.

Must see in Austin – The photos below need to clicked on to be properly seen. Some photos are things most everyone visiting Austin tries to see – the nearly million bats sleeping under the bridge leaving for their nightly dinner foray as an example. But, some are of lessor discoveries in the great town, Graffiti Park, the nearby caves, the Cathedral of Junk, and the town’s best kept not-so-secret Barton Springs swimming hole.

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Finis – We’re back in Canada complete with a ton of memories. Last evening’s dinner with Marlene and all our neighbors at Bulent and Barb’s cabin meant that normalcy was again the rule.

A little sadder about leaving Texas; a lot more grateful for all that I have. And some advice; a bit of grocery shopping at Wall-Mart in the Soo at 12:30am is the only way to shop there.

And not to forget, thanks Paul and Dia

Cheers.

Dirk

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