Thursday, August 16 – Day 8 – Rome and Home

Thursday, August 16 – Day 8 – Rome and Home

We left Rome on a flight that departed the gate on time but was called back for the mechanics to check an unusual reading on a system. The delay cost us about 90 minutes and was resolved with a simple computer restart, but still caused some fretting and worry for us.
As I write this, we are about 30 minutes from landing after which who knows how long it will take to stop at the gate and get deplaned, make our way through customs and immigration, another pass through security, and through two concourses and the main terminal to our next flight to Denver which leaves exactly one hour from now. We shall see. We could make the plane or we could miss it. If we miss it, there’s another one at 10:30 pm getting in at midnight Denver time.
I’m hoping we make it so we can stay on our plan and get home before 10:00 pm.
Update: we made our plane to Denver, but only because the Lord intervened on our behalf in answer to some heartfelt prayers. Let me explain how things unfolded after we landed so you can get an idea of how unlikely it was that we even had a chance of making it on this plane for our final leg home.
First of all, a great deal of thanks goes to the pilots of our Rome flight for making up almost 45 minutes from the time we lost due to the delay in Rome. If it hadn’t been for their planning and favorable winds, we would have landed too late to even have had a chance.
Second, our seats were in row 37 – right at the back, so our chances started out pretty slim. As anyone who has ever been seated toward the back of the plane knows, it seems to take forever for everyone further up the aisle to retrieve their bags from here and there and move forward so you can have your turn to do the same thing. So, with a connecting flight that was scheduled to depart at 6:20 pm and the doors scheduled to close at 6:10, and with us standing patiently waiting at 5:35 for our turn to get off the plane, I was starting to doubt if we even had time to get to the gate before the door closed. The math wasn’t working in our favor. After what seemed like forever but was only about 10 minutes, we deplaned and went as fast as we could to the customs and immigration hall, which took another 15 minutes. While there, we were reminded we needed to pass through another security check to gain access to the domestic terminal and gates. This reminder felt like a punch in the stomach because by now, my watch showed the time at 6:05 pm and the doors would be closing in just 5 minutes with a security check looming.
Amy looked at me and just shook her head. There was no way we would make this plane. But, after 12 hours of sitting on a plane from Rome, I knew we had to give it a shot, so when we arrived at the security checkpoint line, I begged the people in front of us in the line to let us go ahead so we could make our plane. People were very nice and waved us on. Amy and Leah got through quicker than I did since my belt and wallet showed up on that scanner you have to stand in with your hands up, so I sent them on ahead while I waited for TSA to put my wallet through the X-ray machine. It came through and I was off. Didn’t even have time to put on my shoes, so I was running through the airport in my socks holding my shoes and dragging my suitcase. I saw Amy running on ahead carrying her shoes too but not Leah as she had run on ahead to the gate.
When I pulled up panting at the gate, I was curious as to why everyone was still standing around in the waiting area when the information screen clearly showed that the final group had already boarded. I asked a guy standing next to me and he told me that they HAD boarded the plane on time, HAD gotten everyone seated (except for us of course), and were doing their final checks, when someone remembered they hadn’t done the proper security and cleaning checks on the airplane that had been sitting at that gate ALL DAY because it had come in the previous night, so the flight attendant came on and told everyone they needed to deplane with their bags and carry on luggage so the crew could make sure things were in order and the cabin was cleaned properly. Fortunately for us, this process took an extra 45 minutes and allowed us to make our flight even though every single factor was stacked against us from the time we got on the plane in Rome. I felt a deep sense of gratitude for the little miracle we had just received and witnessed.
Now, some may read this tale of mine and comment about how lucky we were that the Denver flight was delayed and attribute our good fortune to blind chance, but not me. I know the hand of Divine Providence was at work on our behalf in helping us make that flight. The reason I know this is the simple fact that Amy, Leah, and I had prayed in faith at the start of our trip and along the way for just such intervention as needed and I believe God answered our prayers for safe and smooth travels. I know He has done and will do the same for any of His children who ask for His help when we have exhausted all other options within our control. I know we are His children and that he loves us. Our Father is not a punitive parent, but a kind and generous Benefactor to all who invite Him into their lives through a pattern of personal seeking.
Update, flight to Denver is now airborne with a scheduled arrival at 8:30 pm MDT.
Touched down right on schedule with a couple of very travel-worn and weary women. We had to make a beeline for the RTD sky ride stop and just caught the 8:50 pm bus back to where I left my car last week. With all the delays and the long periods of sitting in cramped seats, punctuated by the few minutes of frenetic activity I’ve described above, we ended up just 30 minutes off our original plan and that time delay was one-hundred percent okay with me because it meant that we got to sleep in our own beds after 22 hours of travel.
This has been a glorious week of travel, adventure, meeting new friends, and visiting new places. Over the course of eight days, we’ve crossed an ocean – twice, a sea – twice and driven over a thousand miles. We’ve kept a very busy schedule to see dozens of the great treasures of the Italian Renaissance, the seat of the Catholic Church, countless ancient ruins, scores of old churches, the only city in the world with waterways for streets, a leaning tower that should have toppled over centuries ago, the exceedingly beautiful area of Tuscany, the Apennines and Dolemites mountains, had dinner in a 400 year old Italian villa, threw a coin into the Trevi fountains while making a wish, and a hundred other experiences that I’ve only begun to share in these posts.
It’s been even sweeter because I’ve been able to share it with two of my favorite people. Amy and Leah have been terrific traveling companions and the only thing that could have made it better would have been to have had all of my favorite people – Steven, Rachel, little Nate, Ethan, and Sarah – with us for this week…
…that and maybe another gelato.

 

Thanks for reading and sharing our trip with us. It was wonderful in every way.
Until next time, Ciao!
~Mark Tenney, August 16, 2019

 

 

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