The festivities were done, the good-byes said, the hugs hugged. Joe and I decided to motor up to Simon Creek Winery, about 50 miles north of Green Bay. We had plenty of time until our flight, so why not?
We got there just fine, although Google Maps lied about the winery's whereabouts. We bought two bottles of lovely wine and arranged for shipping. The nice folks gave us a box of crackers. We hopped back into the Caddy and started back down the road to Appleton.
We'd been hearing rumors of a winter storm that morning, so we tuned in the radio to see if we could find a forecast.
The rumors were true: a winter storm was brewing, aimed right at us. Four to eight inches of fresh snow was due to be dumped. Joe stepped on it. Halfway to Green Bay, the flakes started. It was okay, though -- just some blowing snow, nothing serious, puffs of whiteness skittering across the road.
Oh, but that didn't last. As we closed in on Green Bay, the snow started sticking. And clumping. The puffs turned into piles. Tracks appeared on the roadway. We made it through DePere and onto Highway 41, where things got very serious very fast. By the time we were halfway to Appleton, visibility was poor; pretty close to white-out conditions. We passed two cars in ditches and one rather horrifying wreck. Joe was ready to turn around, but by this time we were closer to the airport than we were to Green Bay.
Finally we drove into the airport. We did a few doughnuts in the rental car lot before finding the Enterprise spots, but find them we did and we parked the Caddy, grabbed our bags, and plowed our way through the snow to the terminal. I tossed a bunch of old maps and paperwork into the nearest trash can.
First stop, Enterprise. We turned in the car, but the nice guy at the desk promised we could get it back if we needed it. I was fervently hoping that we would not need it.
On to the Northwest counter, where the flight was still on. We checked in, handed over our bags, and repaired to the coffee shop for a very late bite of lunch. I was actually quite enjoying my fried cheese curds when I heard the announcement canceling our flight.
It was inevitable, really. The snow was pounding down out of the sky and the wind was brutal. I popped another cheese curd in my mouth and headed back to the counter.
The great thing about little airports -- and Wisconsin, for that matter -- is that people are nice. And they remember you. Our guy at the counter worked with me to get us rebooked on earlier flights the next day, then fixed us up with the "Distressed passenger rate" for the local Holiday Inn. He was about to call the hotel when he saw the shuttle bus driver.
"Hey John! Got room for two more?"
"Oh yah, sure!" hollered John. "Are ya ready?"
"Two minutes!" I hollered back. "Gotta get my husband!"
John the Driver grabbed our bags and loaded them into the bus. I picked up a to-go box on my way into the coffee shop, scooped up my curds, and scooped up Joe. Off we went to the lovely Holiday Inn Select along with four other distressed passengers. We checked in, dropped our bags, and found out that the lovely and talented Fredlet was also distressed!
After a quick phone call, we beat back the blizzard with our faces to join Fredlet at Outback, where a good time was had by all.
The next morning, we headed to the coffee shop, where we were offered a free "confidential" breakfast. I won't tell if you won't.
To be continued...