When I think of family vacation, detours and donuts aren’t the two things that would normally pop in my head.
But two weeks ago, I hopped on a plane and went to Maine for a week with my family. For once, we didn’t have an itinerary. It was a new way to spend quality time together, since all the precautions and guidelines prevented us from doing typical touristy activities.
We explored the rocky coast near our Airbnb in the afternoons, chipped away at 500-piece puzzles well into the nights and found random trails nearby where we could admire the fall color display.
It was hands down the smoothest family trip I’ve ever been on. That is, until we headed home.
We skated into the Portland International Jetport almost two hours early. This was more than enough time, considering there were only three other people waiting in line for security and 12 total gates.
The five of us settled in at our seats with an hour to spare before the 3:54 p.m. takeoff. I joked with my mom that we would’ve had time to check out Maine’s oldest operating lighthouse after our pitstop at the Holy Donut after all. It wasn’t funny for long.
The gate agent came over the loudspeaker with an announcement. The plane we were planning to board had a medical emergency on the previous flight, so they needed to restock some supplies that were used. Not to worry, she said, we would still be leaving “shortly.”
First, it would depart by 5:30 p.m. OK, 6:30 p.m. It took longer than they thought, so plan on 7:30 p.m.
The only real food places — Burger King and Shipyard Restaurant — had closed up shop at 5 p.m., so my sister ordered us Applebee’s through DoorDash.
I asked for a lemonade, but she had to ask the delivery driver to keep it as a tip since she couldn’t bring liquid back through security.
So, I ate my chicken salad without lemonade at 7 p.m. The only other food I’d had between then and breakfast was a dark chocolate donut, snack size package of Gardettos and a couple coffees. Just enough sustenance to keep me going.
We found other things to do in the meantime. My brother challenged me to race up the down escalator. My parents and I played a few hands of Rummy 500.
Then came 9:30 p.m. They informed us that we would receive hotel vouchers to spend the night in North Carolina and that connecting flights would depart in the morning.
At this point, I was getting delirious and everything I did made me giggle. I danced to the jazz music playing from the closed Starbucks and the steady beeps alerting us of the freezer’s temperature in the closed Burger King.
Soon, the clock struck 11:30 p.m. We found out our flight would still leave for Charlotte, but it wouldn’t be leaving until the following morning. In other words, there was no way we would make our connecting flight to Minneapolis.
My mom’s forehead hit the wall. My dad groaned. A collective outcry emerged from the rest of the passengers and echoed in the otherwise vacant, high-ceilinged space.
My sister did the opposite and entered into immediate problem-solver mode. She sent my dad to grab a rental car before they closed at midnight while she cancelled our North Carolina hotel reservations and rebooked our flights to leave from Boston.
We had another two-hour drive ahead of us to get there. On the road again.
We rolled up to the Boston Logan International Airport at 2:44 a.m. I tried to catch some z’s once we made it to our gate, but my senses were on overload. I couldn’t shake the sound of people murmuring and machines humming as I dozed in and out.
I grabbed some Dunkin’ Donuts fuel before we departed for our new layover in Philadelphia.
Around 13 hours and a few detours after our original arrival time, we trudged through the Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, sleep-deprived and relieved.
I have many fond memories of our week-long excursion, but the last travel day is one I’ll always remember. Although the detours tested my patience, the extra donuts made me smile. Even in the harder moments, there are still ways to choose joy.