#97 Travel Nightmares – Toronto, Part 2

From Retirement Experience #91, one month ago: “In the end, we had enough of Toronto. If we never return to the city, it would be too soon. To be continued? (7/17/18)” (If interested, see link at end of post)

Returning from our second trip to Canada this summer we were flying from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Dulles Airport in Virginia. We needed to change planes in Toronto. From there we were to change planes again in Detroit.

On August 16, 2018 we had a family emergency that caused us to change our vacation plans. While we were originally scheduled to return on August 18th, we needed to return the next day. So, on the morning of August 17th we cancelled our overnight stay planned for Halifax and drove 200 miles straight from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, to the airport in Halifax. We changed our flight plans to pick up the same flight later that day. In the meantime, Mary Ann made her plane reservations for the next evening (18th) to fly from Washington to St. Louis. We had to get the flight home on the 17th to make her follow-on flight on the 18th.

Everything looked good as we left Halifax on a clear sunny summer day. However, as we neared Toronto there we encountered weather problems. Our flight was put in a holding pattern and arrived later than scheduled. After deplaning we still had plenty of time to catch our connecting flight. We passed the hurdle of US Customs and thought we were good to go. Then there were more delays – delays departing as well as delays on incoming flights. Our plane was one of the incoming delays. Due to weather problems at the origin airport in the US, it remained grounded. Every half hour or so we would get updates that our flight was delayed another half hour. We waited and waited. The flight was delayed so long that we would never make our Detroit connection. Things were looking bad.

Then the deja vu moment. Our flight was cancelled. We needed to get our luggage from Customs and go back to the ticket counter to work out change of flights for the next day. Us and a few hundred people. Through the confusion we found where we were supposed to line up for changes at the ticket counter. While in line Mary Ann got on the phone to Air Canada to make arrangements. She had a brilliant idea that took a while to sink into my thick skull. Cancel the remaining flight plans, rent a car and drive home. My first thought was, “You got to be kidding me. Drive all the way from Toronto back home in time for you to get on the next plane? Can it be done?” Quick thinker and awesome travel planner she is, she figured we could drive all night with a short sleep and make it home by noon. I still thought it was too long of a drive. A few clicks on her phone and she informed me that it is about an 8 ½ hour drive. OK, we can make it.

We dragged our luggage over to the car rental counters (9 pm.) and requested a one way rental home. Our helpful agent did some checking. There was supposed to be a car available but it wasn’t physically showing up. While we were waiting, a worker returned a key from another customer arrival. For being very unlucky, we finally had some luck. We accepted the rental and by 9:30 we were on the road.

As we started heading out, we realized why flight were being delayed. We hit rain from Toronto well into New York. The further we drove the worse the rain. We had to travel on single lane US routes as there were no interstates going in our direction. Heavy rain and no street lights. It got so bad that we had to stop around midnight to sleep for a few hours.

After sleeping about 5 hours, we got back on the road. It was still raining and difficult to drive until daylight. Eventually it cleared up and we traveled through New York and Pennsylvania until we got to Maryland.

We had enough time to get home and Mary Ann repack for her next trip, but not enough time to pick up our car at the airport. You see, Mary Ann needed to fly out of National Airport (near Washington, DC) and our car was parked in Dulles Airport in rural Virginia. After a brief rest, I drove Mary Ann to the one airport, dropped her off, then drove to the other airport to return the rental and pick up our car.

What a day.

So “In the end, we had enough of Toronto. If we never return to the city, it would be too soon. To be continued?” It had better not be repeated!

(No photographs on this experience. I don’t want to visually remember.)

Retirement Experience 91: (https://937experiences.wordpress.com/2018/09/27/91-tour-city-by-bus-toronto/ )

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