Chautauqua Day 1: Gone Fishin’

I’m sitting on the plane now. We’re on the first leg of our dualie through Minneapolis (Small City, I don’t think I like it much) and finally into Buffalo, New York. Apparently, the in-laws have arranged for a limousine to pick us up at the airport there and haul us and our dog-and-pony show of children’s gear into our terminal destination of Chautauqua, New York and the Chautauqua Institution.

I am far more stressed about flying than either Kira or Sophie. Mostly, both of them really need to be fed and rested and they’re fine. They strap on the luggage and smile all the way through security. They sleep on the flights. They are just generally well-tempered people.

For the record, that makes me nuts.

I’m very much not a well-tempered passenger. You should see what we’re flying with this time around: Sophie has by far the largest suitcase, packed to the gills with her highchair, a full bag of diapers and, I kid you not, all the clothes in her wardrobe; Kira has the middle bag, her roller that’s packed almost as full; I have the smallest, my new Swiss Army duffle that forces me to pack light. Traveling alone, I could go for at least 10 days with nothing but that bag and my iPod, Palm, and Palm Keyboard. But no, now I have to factor in all the carry-ons. We’ve got Sophie’s diaper bag, now so full of extra diapers, clothes, toys, and my stow-away electronics that it weighs almost as much as her suitcase; we’ve got a cooler, a great, big shoulder cooler full of chopped broccoli, yogurt, bananas, cereal, water, you name it; and the full on backpack for Sophie, which comes in it’s own handy carrying case which makes for another thing to shoulder through security. Too it’s credit, it makes moving through the airport a breeze: Sophie loves riding high.

Planes, Trains, Automobiles

As happy as they are, the trip has started out on the rougher side of fine. Sophie was a full on grump when I woke her at 6:00 this morning. As was I, so it was something of a showdown. We got our six bags and car seat unloaded at the airport, then I got back in the car to drop it at the long-term lot. There I am, standing in bus vestibule “H,” when my cell rings. It’s Kira.

“So, did you PUT and diaper on her this morning?”

“Did I put… of COURSE I put a diaper on her this morning!”

“Well, she exploded. Pee. Poop. All of it. Pouring all over my sweatshirt, right here in line.”

Still not sure what happened there. When I caught up with them back in the terminal, she had it all cleaned up, less a day’s change of clothes for Sophie and a sweatshirt for her, but clean nonetheless. Just lucky, I guess.

We sat next to the evil Minerva Mayflower on the first flight. Old Mean Woman With Grudge. This is the first time I’ve flown with Soph and sat next to someone who was genuinely, actively disinterested in the baby. Turns out, from the 30-scant seconds of talking we did, that she’s a baseball freak, heading to Wrigley Field to kick off a tour for the next 10 days. Crazy old baseball lady. “Bas-e-ball has been berry, berry, good to me.”

The second flight is so far much less daunting than the first. Sophie’s sleeping on Kira now. We met up with the Strands in Minneapolis (Small City), and they’re sitting right behind us. A word to the wise: never sit in front of Ted Strand on a plane. He won’t stop touching me.

And then, Chautauqua. I’ve had the hardest time over the last few days trying to explain to people exactly what we’re doing in Chautauqua. At first, I would go into the whole spiel about the lectures and the music and the art and the architecture, but that tends to go over folks’ heads. I’ve narrowed it down to this: Chautauqua, during the summer, is the ultimate gated community. ‘Nuf said.

So, I’m here for the next eight days. I’ve got my Palm and keyboard and will do my best to keep up entries as I move through the week. The theme this week is Security and Justice, headlined by Secretary Tom Ridge Monday morning, followed by a handful of fascinating experts throughout the rest of the week. In the meantime, we’ll get settled, and I’ll check in a bit later.