we arrived at the airport somewhere around 11:30, and even though it was prime time for holiday travel, it was late enough that we got through security without waiting in line for even five minutes. we got to the gate with about half an hour before boarding began.
there were a ton of people waiting to board, and because of our super duper cheap economy tickets we were in the very last group to board, with our seats being in the very back of the plane. it was so crowded that there weren't any seats available in the waiting area, and so we stood around for awhile until the boarding process finally began.
as it turned out, the flight was oversold without a single no-show. everyone who'd bought a ticket showed up to board that plane, and pretty soon the attendants were offering airline vouchers to anyone who was willing to give up their seat and take a later flight. we didn't really pay much attention to it, as we continued to wait for our group to be allowed to board. but then they bumped up the voucher value to $700 per person, and we started to consider it as no one seemed to be taking them up on it. after all, we didn't have a plan as to what to do when we landed at the ungodly hour of 5am - we couldn't check into the hotel, and we weren't going to wake up the ILs that early. and so after we all agreed to go for it, the hub got up to have a little chat with the folks at the desk.
the next flight was scheduled to depart at 6am the next morning, arriving in dallas at 11. and as he was waiting for our tickets to be rebooked and have the vouchers issued, the voucher value went up again...this time to $1,000 per person. YESSSSSSSSS.
with vouchers in hand, we grabbed our bags and made our way out of the airport and back to the car to head home and get a few hours of sleep before catching our rescheduled flight. we arrived back at the airport around 5:00, this time finding a parking spot within walking distance to the terminal for not much more than what we were going to pay at the remote lot.
it was an uneventful flight, and we even landed a little ahead of schedule. we caught the shuttle to the rental car center, picked up our sweet cadillac and hopped onto the highway to grab some breakfast at cracker barrel. i LOVE cracker barrel. can you tell?
the bean and i already knew what we wanted to eat, and i was extra excited to see a new item from their coffee menu - the goo goo cluster latte.
it was definitely sugar overload, but i enjoyed every bit of it.
while we were waiting for our food to arrive, i noticed something - the old lady's apple watch was somehow coming apart. the face of it was dangling by a thread:
so weird. but the hub said he'd seen it before - somehow the battery had expanded, probably due to all the sweating she does while working out with the watch on. and what she didn't know was that santa was bringing her a brand new apple watch for christmas in just a couple of days. he's a clever one, that santa.
chicken & dumplings with hash brown casserole and mac & cheese on the side. it's not a pretty photograph, but it sure was tasty.
the old lady opted for chicken fried steak:
the hub's entree was even more boring, since he was still sticking to his keto diet. he seemed to enjoy it anyway, and then as he waited at the counter to pay for our meal the rest of us wandered around the country store. i eyed the candy section longingly, but i knew i couldn't really buy anything because we only had carry-on baggage and i didn't have a lot of room to play with.
afterwards, we made another stop at the nearby bass pro world to do some christmas shopping. we'd decided to buy all of the ILs' presents in texas so that we didn't have to pack it all in our luggage, and this was the perfect place to get it done.
texas loves their presidents bush. this was the first thing we saw when we stepped inside:
i know it's no big deal for a lot of people, but i was a little taken aback at the sight of guns for sale just hanging out on the shelves, as well as the ammunition kicking it in bags and not behind a counter in a locked cabinet or anything.
the bean loves a good photo op as much as her mother does. i didn't even have to ask her to pose here.
we found perfect gifts for everyone, and after we got through the registers with bags in hand we headed back to the car. check out our cadillac:
since we needed to wrap all of our gifts, we stopped at a target close to the ILs' house and ended up squeezing in mani/pedis at a nail salon in the same plaza. we had just enough time to get changed and hop back into the car to get to the restaurant and help get the banquet room set up with fun decorations for the party.
grandpa was in his element all evening, surrounded by his friends and his whole family. he seemed pretty excited that we'd all come out to celebrate his big birthday, and it was fun to hear him tell stories about his life and career and accomplishments. i even managed to get some fun pictures of us:
after helping to take down the decorations and saying goodbye to everyone, we made our way to the hotel.
the next morning, we headed over there to have brunch with them and exchange presents. thanks to the hub, i got to enjoy some mimosas with my breakfast.
he had some fun playing with his cousins and the new nerf guns they'd just opened.
and brother wan had gifted us with some fun kitchen goodies.
the ILs had given us a huge gift basket full of snacks and treats, and with not much room in our luggage to pack it all in the hub and MIL ended up heading to a local fedex store to pack it and ship it all to the house. when they got back, we had just enough time for hugs all around before leaving to drop off the rental car and check in at the airport for our flight home.
it was a super quick whirlwind trip, but it was all time well spent. we hadn't expected to be able to see everyone for christmas, so that was an extra added bonus. and we still got home with plenty of time to relax and get ready for santa to come.
ah, the holidays. truly the most wonderful time of the year.