4:15am – Lauren and Baxter drop me off at the airport. I am pleased; we are to AUS in plenty of time for me to go grab some breakfast.

5:30am – My mood is soured a bit when the flight to Chicago is delayed 30 minutes. I was already worried about making my connection in massive O’Hare, and now I had 30 fewer minutes in which to do so.

6:30am – The flight begins boarding, and within minutes we are all asked to deplane as rain in Chicago is so fierce that Ground Transport has cancelled all service.

7:00am – Realizing now I will definitely miss my connecting flight to Sioux Falls, I jump straight to the front of the United ticketing counter and schedule a new connecting flight through Sioux City, through American Airlines. Jordan or Calvin could easily pick me up and deliver me to Carpenter.

9:00am – The flight to Chicago finally re-boards and takes off. I figure I’m set.

12:00pm – The flight to Chicago lands and I attempt to find my way from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3… but I somehow EXIT THE AIRPORT ENTIRELY! I must now stand in a line at least 1,000 people deep as flights everywhere are cancelled and angry travelers wait for new ticketing assignments.

12:30pm – I realize there’s no way I’m making the Sioux City flight. Thinking quickly, I grab my boarding pass from my original Sioux Falls flight and go to the security line, hoping it will at least get me back into the terminal and to my gate. To my horror all security lines are so long they made new temporary queues. I begin to panic and approach a security attendant, who miraculously allows me to cut to the front of line! I can’t believe that worked!

1:15pm – I check in at American and they give me a nice seat up front. I can rest easy now with a quick lunch in the nearby Chilis.

1:24pm – I hear that my flight to Sioux City is cancelled. I cancel my order at Chilis and run to the ticketing counter, where I am put as the tenth person on a standby list on a new late flight to Sioux Falls.

2:00pm – After waiting in a hot crowded underground gate with angry, sweaty travelers, I say F this and go speak with a new ticketing agent, saying I want off the Sioux Falls list and would prefer to take a flight to Minneapolis instead, even though I have no idea how I’ll get from MSP to South Dakota. The ticketing agent gives me a great economy row seat on a flight to Minneapolis that originally would have left ten minutes ago but, of course, was delayed.

4:00pm – The flight to MSP is delayed again and again, and the forecast looks grim. I figure it’s going to be cancelled too—and then what? I am on the verge of an all-out anxiety attack. Do I rent a car and drive home? Do I sleep in the airport overnight? The fact that I can leave the airport if I have to is somewhat comforting; not like I’m locked in jail or buried alive or something. At any moment I can abandon plans and just leave. But that would be fairly idiotic.

4:30pm – My phone battery is on 9% and my Macbook battery is on 10%. I suck the last of the Macbook juice out to charge my phone up to 20%.

4:52pm – It is announced that the MSP flight… will begin boarding! At this point, I declare to a fellow stressed traveler that I would not entertain any offer under $10,000 for my seat on this flight. And I really seriously would not have.

5:45pm – The plane begins creeping forward. I pray it takes off before some other announcement, sorta like the climactic scene of Argo. Thankfully the plane departs and I smile as I leave Chicago behind, a city I don’t really like all that much to begin with.

7:00pm – I land at MSP and waiting to greet me in the unseasonable–even for Minnesota–cold and snow, is Christopher Walsh. I am beaming as I leave the airport.

So anyway, I spent the night with Walsh, Sarah, and Feeney, then in the morning Steve Poulter delivered me as far as Granite Falls, MN where Dad picked me up and drove the remainder of the way home.

Any time I am ever feeling upset or frustrated in the future, I will think about how I am NOT sitting at O’Hare in inclement weather trying to find a way out, and that should make me feel much better. I seriously would rank my travels that day right up there with my unfortunate night in the Minneapolis slammer as my two worst experiences of my life, and that includes the day I broke my two bones in my leg and other illnesses or ailments. I will never ever schedule a connecting flight through O’Hare again.