#WOMBATSDOAMERICA, Day 8
Blogging our recent US trip day by day, four weeks after the event.
Tuesday 12th August – Swamp and Floods
We were due to fly to Sioux Falls from Erie late afternoon, so did not want to overdo things in the morning. We visited Asbury Woods, a nature area not far away, in searing heat. The buildings had curved green roofs, covered in plant life. We immediately discovered that American Robins are much bigger than their British counterparts, as one perched on a rail just a few yards ahead of us.
Butterflies seem a lot larger than ours, too, and we came across several walking about the trails that wandered through the woods. We were walking about the trails, I mean, not the butterflies. Sheesh, Wombat, I thought you were supposed to be a writer?
We passed a tree devastated by woodpeckers, almost now a work of art, and wandered along a rough wooden platform into a swamp area. I loved the atmosphere here, so close and humid. Stories began to swim in my mind. Swampy stories. Eventually, though, we were driven away by flies and the heat.
Asbury Woods has pretty interesting exhibits in its small Nature Centre, and acres of trails and boardwalks through a variety of habitats. To do it justice, though, would have required a visit on a cooler day. All our energy was sapped after about an hour.
Later we visited a local tech college where Kim’s brother-in-law is principal. Joe was his name, and the tour of his school turned out actually to be pretty interesting, despite my prior reservations. Mary enjoyed herself, I could see, comparing US and UK educational policies. We saw all manner of labs, from IT with ranks of Apple Macs, through cosmetology (no, I didn’t know either. Turns out it’s what we might call ‘beauty therapy’) to a honking great workshop full of cars for teaching auto maintenance and engineering.
They had design labs, metalwork rooms (with that burnt metal forge smell that still haunts me from my school days) and woodworking. We saw their 3D printer, some twenty-five thousand dollars worth of grey box. Joe was personable and spoke about his school with passion. A good man.
Storm clouds darkened the sky and thunder growled as the afternoon aged. Occasional large drops of rain quickly became a torrential downpour, which raised some concerns about our flight, but the storm soon passed over and the internet told us that the flight was on time. Kim dropped us at the airport with time aplenty.
However, just after we had checked in and passed through security, the board showed a delay of two hours. Soon after that there was an announcement that the flight, the last out of Erie that day, was cancelled, and we were told to go back to the Delta desk. The cancellation, we discovered, was due to flash floods in Detroit preventing aircraft from either landing or leaving. It had been, apparently, Detroit’s wettest day for eighty-nine years.
By the time we reached the front of the queue there were no seats left out of Erie on the following day, so we called Kim to ask whether she would be able to get us to Buffalo instead, some two hours away, for a flight to Minneapolis where we would connect to Sioux Falls. We initially misunderstood the times the agent had told us, and thought at first that the flight from Buffalo left at 10:20.
Soon we realised, once we had the boarding passes, that 10:20 was in fact our arrival time at Sioux Falls. We would have to leave Buffalo at 7am, and therefore would need to get up at 3am to allow time to reach the airport and check-in. We were also a bit apprehensive since the pass the agent had given us for the second flight had no seats assigned, though we were assured that we were confirmed on the flight.
Kim, bless her, returned to fetch us, this time in a glorious sunshine that seemed to mock that our plans had been messed up by torrential rain. Back we went to the pretty house in the green trees for some really tasty leftovers and a documentary about Laura Dekker, who sailed alone around the world when she was fifteen, the daft a’porth.