I am not sure I mentioned it eleventy-million times on Twitter or not, but I was supposed to be in Paris for the last two weeks of April, for a highly anticipated family vacation that had been in the works for, I shit you not, close to 12 months.
The backstory goes as follows: for my mother’s 60th birthday, she wanted us to hike through southern France. And so we did, and LO, a good time was had by all. Including me, who at the time had a dim view of hiking. In fact, I would have easily compared it to death marching (were I the sort of person who makes Holocaust jokes, which I am turning out NOT to be, as I somewhat gracefully age), but this was the wish of my mother, on this very important milestone birthday of hers, and so I shut my trap and hiked. In fact, SUCH a good time was had, that by the time my father’s 65th birthday rolled around this past summer, he too, requested a similar hiking trip.
We started planning in May 2009, and had planned to venture out in mid-October, as travel prices to Europe drop from astronomically ridiculous to merely somewhat incomprehensible in their multitude of zeros around this time. We also planned to include significant others, so now our hiking party numbered SIX, with the attendant number of schedules to coordinate and jobs to obtain vacation from, etc. It was around this time, meaning late May 2009, that my brother decided to play some roller hockey, as he is wont to do upon occasion, although on this particular occasion, he was rather jetlagged, having just come home from a (different) trip to Paris. It would appear that roller hockey while severely jetlagged is a supremely bad idea, as he popped his ACL and was therefore out of commission for the next six months, which takes you right where you suspect it does.
“No problem!” says my mother, and reschedules the trip for April 2010. “Just think,” she says, “Paris in spring time!”
J and I strong-armed our schedules into compliance and bought new hiking shoes and were generally looking forward to hiking, until my feet decided they categorically hate me and essentially stopped working. Since I (still, currently) cannot take a single, solitary, lonely, individual step without my foot falling asleep and tingling and generally going numb, hiking was starting to look highly questionable.
“No problem!” says my mother, and rents a car for the trip, so while the rest of the gang hikes, I will tool around the French countryside in an automobile and join them in the evenings where ever they’ve decided to stop.
And thus, J and I pack our bags with sweaters and socks and hiking shorts and hiking pants and a nice outfit for Paris and are you wearing jeans on the plane and can I wear yoga pants in the streets of a major European capital and so on and so forth. I will admit that I was SO laissez-faire about this whole trip that I didn’t even bother to check the flight status the night before, and woke up with the alarm ready to head out to the airport. At which point I discovered our flight had been canceled.
Iceland, it turns out, had had a rough night. Unless you’ve been caught under a rock for the past three weeks, you know all about this Icelandic volcano with its immensely long name and equally long plume of ash, so I’ll spare you the recap. J and I rescheduled our flights three times, still hoping to fly somewhere in the European Union before Tuesday, when the hiking trip was scheduled to begin.
By Sunday, France had closed its ENTIRE AIRSPACE for the forseeable future, and even my mother, queen of “no problem!” couldn’t see a way out of this one for us.
Hot Tip: volcanic explosions that ground all in-bound and out-bound flights over the majority of a CONTINENT are considered “acts of god” and as such, our plane tickets were eligible for a full refund. I’d give a shout-out to my airline at this point, but the refund has yet to post to my credit card account, so I will remain skeptical until it does. Flush with this theoretical cash, J and I decided we were taking a vacation, volcano or not, and booked tickets to Mexico instead.
Eleven days of golden sunsets, white sand beaches, and enough cerveza to fill an Olympic sized pool managed to drown out any sorrows I might have had regarding my missed trip to Paris. Vacation, people. That is where it’s at.