On July 8, 2014 the kids and I flew from Houston, Texas to Calgary, Alberta. We packed light - one large suitcase for all of us and the required car and booster seats.
We were saying goodbye to my husband at the ticket desk when the ticket agent realized we were not all travelling together. She offered my husband a "granny pass". We had never heard of a "granny pass" before - it's a pass that allows a non-flying person to go through security and into the gate area to help with children or say their farewells. The granny pass was great! My husband came in with us and we had a cup of coffee (or at least I did) in the gate area before we headed onto the plane. It was a huge help to me - the kids were calm and organized until boarding (and not crying for their dad!).
We boarded the plane and had a very uneventful flight to Canada. Big Boy sat a row ahead of me and the other boys and read "Harry Potter" for most of the flight. Baby Boy fell asleep in my lap and Little Boy watched "Iron Man".
Once we arrived in Canada we passed through customs and gathered our bag and then headed to the car rental desk where I had reserved a car. We waited forever in the queue and the kids started playing up. They had been good all day and were fooling around in line....burning off some energy. When I got to the desk I handed over my reservation. Instead of simply handing over the car and doing the paperwork, the employee asked me about 8,000 questions in a mumbling low voice to see if I might want to rent a different class of car. I had to give the kids a time out so that I could hear him!
Eventually, he offered me a different class of vehicle (for $30 more per day than the car I reserved) with a smaller back seat than the car class I had reserved. I was concerned about the back seat size because I needed to fit all 3 kids in the backseat and would not be able to with this new vehicle he was offering. He mumbled and questioned forever and finally I asked "can't I just rent what I reserved? I know it is the right size and will suit my needs." He then said he could upgrade me (to the car with a smaller back seat) for only $20/day. I asked why on earth I'd want that - it's still too small. He finally just rented me the car I reserved. All of this took forever and while I was at the rental desk Big Boy's school was trying to call and rang my line a few times to add to the chaos.
We went to pick up the car and I installed the car seats and popped the kids in. Then I called back the school (it was great news! - Big Boy was admitted into a preferred programme) and was checking the car before driving to the desk. A couple who rented a car at the desk after me walked by and said "oh you're the lady alone with the kids...." and then smirked....not sure what they meant but it didn't seem positive!
Finally, we were off. It took almost an hour from the time that we entered the car rental agency area until we were driving away. We spent 20 minutes of that time queuing for the car and about 10 minutes installing the car seats and kids. The rest of the time was just a waste - silly questions trying to convince me to rent an inappropriate vehicle....this is my first time renting a car and I'm not impressed! Airport security, customs, boarding, and the flight were all easier than renting the car.
I programmed my GPS and we drove off to stay with friends in Wintergreen. It was lovely to see old friends and the kids were playing together within moments. It was such a comfortable place to arrive! I basically melted into the chesterfield for a bit of a rest.