A Clue for Adrianna (Captain’s Point Stories) The first novel in the Captain’s Point series. A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit novel written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.
Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) a full-length, cozy mystery by Annie Acorn.
It was my first time to fly from D.C. to Seattle. It would be my first Christmas with Son #2 and his new wife. It was my first stretch of vacation time in quite a while.
The best daughter-in-law in the world had booked reservations at the Needle and a special excursion to Victoria, B.C. for her mother and me to enjoy on our own while I was visiting. We would be staying at the Empress Hotel and would visit the world famous Butchart Gardens. I couldn’t have been looking more forward to both of these treats if I had been twins.
It was cold in D.C. on the day I was scheduled to take off from Baltimore – bitter cold with small snowflakes and occasional tiny pellets of ice sharing the air. An hour before my sister collected me for the drive to the airport I received a phone call from Son #2.
“It’s been snowing here for two days,” he told me. “The streets are a mess, and I don’t have chains. Would you mind taking a cab from the airport?”
“No problem,” I assured him. “Just pray that I make my connection at Midway in Chicago.”
Always an optimistic traveler, my first understanding that the snow might really cause trouble didn’t occur until the plane for the first leg of my flight had taken off from BWI around two in the afternoon and the woman next to me shared her story.
Heading for Chicago, she had boarded a plane in Detroit at seven that morning. Due to icy runway conditions, her flight had been redirected to Baltimore for some reason that neither of us accomplished businesswomen could quite fathom.
Frustrated, she pointed out that if the airline had explained the situation before takeoff, she would’ve rented a car and already arrived at her daughter’s. Instead, here we were, heading to exactly the same place, which the Weather Channel was reporting on the airport televisions currently was experiencing the exact same conditions as this morning.
Grateful that I would be changing planes in Midway and not O’Hare, I settled in for what proved to be an uneventful flight, but then we touched down. Due to weather delays being experienced here, there and everywhere, the gate where we were supposed to park was still being utilized by an earlier flight, and we would have to wait on the runway until that plane received its fill of fuel.
Not to worry, I told myself, I had an hour and a half in which to make my connection, and I did – with about ten seconds to spare. Still, the good news was that I had made it into the next can of sardines, along with a lovely woman who I judged to be in her mid-thirties and was now seated next to me.
“Are you heading home to Seattle or going there for a visit?” I attempted to strike up a conversation.
“I’ve been visiting my parents here in Chicago, and I’m heading home,” the woman explained, but then she retained eye contact in a way that made me think there was more, so I remained silent as the lights in the plane dimmed prior for takeoff into what was now a night sky.
Perhaps it was because I was so much older than her. Perhaps it was because, in the dim light, it was easy to believe we were the only two people in the world. Whatever it was, she took a deep breath and continued.
“My father has liver cancer,” she shared, “and I’ve been flying back and forth to Chicago every third week since he was diagnosed. We’ve been told that my next visit will probably be my last with him.”
“I lost my mother to cancer in 2005, and my father to cancer just last year,” I filled her in.
“What can I do to help my mother get through this?” she asked, her beautiful dark eyes sparkling with tears.
“Be there for her, first and foremost,” I began, once again glad that I had given my husband’s death purpose many years earlier by learning how to counsel others in grief, as I proceeded to give her what I hoped she would find to be helpful pointers.
And so, we talked on during much of the longer leg of my flight as she shared concerns and I shared experiences as well as lessons learned. Finally, our common bond now exhausted, she attempted to get some work done on a small laptop and I covered myself with my coat and dozed off.
A while later, the stewardess woke me with her reminder to everyone that the pilot had turned the seatbelt lights back on. As we taxied our way along the runway towards SeaTac a few minutes later, the younger woman thanked me again for my shared insights.
“It helped to get some of it off my chest,” she said, “but most of all, I’ll be better able to concentrate on being a wife and mother during the next couple of days.”
Older and slower, I took my time retrieving my carryon bag and lost sight of her, only to find her waiting for me at the end of the ramp.
“Do you need a ride to your son’s?” she asked once I reached her side.
“I’m taking a cab, which should work out fine,” I assured her, not surprised when she gave me a hug.
“I hope you have a wonderful visit and a merry Christmas,” she said. “I’m very grateful that I sat down next to you.”
I did manage to get a cab, but not before I had waited in a long line. Unaccustomed to snow, Seattle was a mess the cab driver shared with me gleefully before he began pointing out noted landmarks as we made our way to my son’s condo.
Two hours late, I finally arrived at my destination – stiff, hungry and tired, to be greeted by warm hugs and a delicious pasta supper.
The next day it snowed. Still, my son and I made our way by cab to the famed Pike’s Market area where we enjoyed a nice lunch and I bought some small gift items to take back for my sisters and friends.
That night it continued to snow, and I realized the next morning that I had yet to see Mt. Rainier, the volcano that looms over Seattle on a clear day. This intrigued my writer’s imagination no end as I considered how skewed our realities could sometimes be, limited as they are by our five senses.
The dozen roses I had ordered through the internet for my DIL had yet to arrive.
We never made it to the Needle as the restaurant’s staff was no longer able to get to work. Undeterred, the next day Son #2 declared himself able to get his mother-in-law and me to the dock where we would catch the ferry for Victoria.
Sliding our way downhill towards Puget Sound, I managed to convince him to turn his car right, park and let us out. The three of us then hauled our suitcases through over a foot of snow as we made our way along the next three blocks and across several train tracks to the dock.
Twenty minutes out, the ferry suddenly slowed almost to a stop as the captain suggested we look over the starboard side of the boat where a huge group of orca whales were swimming, the cold temperatures having drawn them much nearer the city than was normal. Since it is possible to search for orcas all day and never see one, this was amazing!
Arriving in Victoria, we discovered that the cabs there had virtually disappeared since this city, blessed by the nearness of warm currents off the coast, did not boast a snowplow if several natives were to be believed.
Luckily, the Empress Hotel was actually within sight, and my companion and I made our way there. I can’t say enough good about this hotel. From the warm greeting you receive upon your arrival to their famous cream tea to the fine dining to the lounge on the concierge floor, my stay there was wonderful and one I hope to repeat someday soon.
As for Butchart Gardens, I can’t comment. Our tour bus did arrive at the hotel, slid along ice-covered roads and dropped us off at the welcome center. The paths, though, were a mess, so my DIL’s mother and I settled for drinking hot chocolate and enjoying a warm scone while we watched the ice skaters. Next time I visit Victoria, I plan to do so in the spring.
The following morning, I breakfasted in the concierge floor’s lounge as I watched a family of otters work hard to maintain a breathing hole in the ice-covered bay seen from the window next to my table, even as small sea planes landed further from the shore.
Upon our return, we found Seattle bracing for yet another round of the white stuff. Still, after a bus ride and a short hike, we managed to gather at my DIL’s sister’s home for a Christmas dinner that proved to be a true feast as it morphed the Russian, Anglo-Saxon and Asian heritages represented by our gathered family members into a whole.
The dozen roses had still failed to appear, even though the tracking number with which I had been provided clearly documented their arrival in Seattle two days before.
Woefully short of snowplows in the numbers required to deal with this quantity of snow, Seattle’s streets became silent as snow continued to fall. Blessed with plenty of food and full power, the television became our best friend as my new daughter-in-law and I discovered a shared love for both Jane Austen and Colin Firth.
Understandably, when we informed Son#2 that we had finally exhausted his wife’s supply of PBS Jane Austen dvds, he let out a loud whoop as my DIL slid her copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary into the player. As his mother, I almost felt sorry for him.
And so we passed the time for three more days – visiting, watching TV, visiting, eating, visiting, enjoying a movie, visiting and taking naps – as the Weather Channel kept us posted as to the fact that snow was still falling outside our windows.
The roses I had ordered my DIL had still not arrived, so I told her about their sad plight, suggesting that she throw them away upon arrival as they must now be a sorry sight.
My departure day arrived and, miraculously, the snow stopped falling. According to reports, my change of planes in Chicago would be doable.
After hugs all around, I was dropped off at SeaTac where I had plenty of time before boarding. For a large airport, I found it to be easy to navigate and filled with more interesting shops than in most other airports.
The winds were not in our favor, and upon our arrival at Midway, other passengers were asked to allow those of us attempting to catch my next flight off first. The boarding gate was next to the one into which we entered, so we lined up with our fellow passengers per usual.
Upon arrival at BWI, those of us who had made the change were advised that, while we had made it onto the plane, our luggage hadn’t. My sister joining me at precisely this moment, I ended up third from the end of the line formed for us to arrange for baggage delivery to our homes.
Just as I earned my turn at the counter, the attendant’s phone rang. “One minute please,” he requested and then answered it.
The call was to advise the desk that our luggage had arrived and was being processed, the airline having sent it from Chicago to Baltimore on a flight by itself. Ten minutes later, we were loading my suitcases into my sister’s trunk.
The next day, my DIL called. The roses had arrived, and all but one of them appeared to be in great shape.
So is there a moral to my story? Absolutely!
Winter travel comes with weather risks, so prepare to be flexible. Being with your family is the best part of any Christmas. Sometimes, the end of the line is the best spot in which to be. Long-stemmed, red roses are much more hardy than you would think.
And last, but certainly not least, you never know when circumstances will put you in a position where you and you alone can truly be there for another, so keep your eyes open as we enter the new year!
A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn
Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries) by Annie Acorn
NOTE: Author is NOT responsible for anything the main character says!
Captain’s Point Stories Box Set The first box set in the Captain’s Point series. A romantic women’s fiction/family saga/chicklit series written by Annie Acorn & Juliette Hill writing as Charlotte Kent.
This set contains the first three novels of the Captain’s Point series – A Clue for Adrianna, A Man for Susan and Love’s Journey as well as the Christmas short story A Christmas Kiss.