(Mark here. This story is too big for one blog post so we’re breaking it up and I’m going to write the first part because Wendelin is busy fighting with her computer at the moment…!)
Before we could attend the events in Puyallup, we had to GET there. Easier said than done, if you get a crazy idea that in the middle of a road-trip tour you should trade in your book-wrapped minivan for a jumbo-jet and fly to Illinois to present at not one but two different conferences (in different parts of the state) as well as throw in a few school presentations and an in-store signing. Right before the most important event of the tour.
First, we arrived in Puyallup, parked our van in Tim’s (the Library Director’s) garage, and then (after a quick tour of the venues, which got us excited for the following weekend) hopped a plane to Chicago. In theory. In reality, this was the day the nut-job set fire to the air traffic control center outside Chicago. Meaning we got to camp at SeaTac for most of the day, but we eventually arrived in Chicago. The conference (Anderson’s YA Festival) went wonderfully. Highly recommended to Educators/Librarians/YA Fans in the Midwest. Then we visited a school in the area, and had a nice in-store at Anderson’s Books.
Then we hopped on a hopper (what else?) and hopped down to Springfield for the Illinois Reading Council’s annual conference and a couple more schools. That conference was also very cool, as we presented both as a couple and individually. Everything went well until we arrived at the Springfield airport for our hop back to Chicago, where we were to catch our flight to Seattle that evening (Thu) to arrive in time for Friday’s event (centered around YA books and music) and of course the main event – the Sammy Keyes Goodbye Party on Saturday.
In brief, we were dropped off at the airport only to learn that ALL flights from Springfield to O’Hare (Chicago airport) were cancelled. And flying to Seattle via other nearby cities was also off the table for various reasons (believe me, we tried!). So in a desperate move to catch our Chicago-to-Seattle flight (leaving in 3 hours) we commandeered a taxi to take us halfway across Illinois (a 3.5 hour drive) in an effort to make our schedule. Talk about Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride! We informed our intrepid driver we were in a screaming hurry, and apparently he took us at our word. We probably averaged 80 mph that trip, including a brief but intense downpour that had freeway traffic slowing to 20 mph simply because you could barely see the road. (Don’t tell Wendelin - because she’s still recovering from the stress of that trip - but we hit triple digits more than once.) We came screeching up on two wheels and as I handed the driver a tip I said, “Promise me just one thing… that you won’t drive like that on your way back to Springfield. I want you to get home alive!”
As we ran through the airport we were notified (via text alert) that our flight to Seattle had been delayed. Which was actually a good thing, as we were cutting it real close and nothing is worse than killing yourself to get there only to miss the flight by 5 minutes. So we waited in O’Hare for a few hours, then finally boarded the flight back to Seattle. Tim and his wife Penny (both nominated for sainthood after this) picked us up at SeaTac and took us to our hotel in Puyallup. Where our sons and Nancy had arrived earlier that evening from California and New York, respectively. (We were SUPPOSED to all meet up at the airport and ride in together…ha!)
So we arrived at 3:00 a.m. Friday morning (5:00 to us, coming from Central time) and hit the sack for a few hours of sleep before prepping for that evening’s event.
More to come…