The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 11, 2012

Mike Pound: Vacation ends with search for airport

They keep moving the airport.

Last year, when we drove back to the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., airport, they moved it at the last minute.

We were on a 12-lane Florida expressway where the average speed was 895 miles per hour when they moved the airport. We could see it off to our left, but when we took the exit it was gone. So we had to get back on the 27-lane Florida expressway and try to circle around and find the airport.

An hour later, we got off the 72-lane Florida expressway and told a nice woman at the toll booth that we were looking for the airport.

“Well don’t get on that thing,” the woman said, pointing to the 179-lane Florida expressway.

So we drove into Fort Lauderdale, and when my wife saw a guy walking down the street, she told me to stop and ask him where the airport was.

“He won’t know,” I said.

“Do you want to get back on the 349-lane Florida expressway?” my wife asked.

I got out of the car and asked the guy where the airport was. Turns out he worked at the airport, and he told me how to find it.

“They won’t move it again, will they?” I asked the guy.

He gave me a funny look and hurried away.

This past Sunday, we set out, once again, to find the airport, but this time I vowed to stay off the 539-lane Florida expressway.

The route I chose was a bit more scenic, which in Florida means “completely jammed with tourists.”

My wife, our 14-year-old daughter, Emma, and I had spent a week as tourists, but on Sunday we were on our way home, so we no longer considered ourselves tourists. When you’re on your way home from a vacation, you’re more like a prisoner. Coming home from a vacation is like being taken to Alcatraz.

On Sunday, the drive from the Florida Keys to Miami went well. I suppose that’s because there is only one way to get to Miami from the Keys, so getting lost is hard to do.

Once we got to Miami, I found the route I wanted to take and began our drive to the airport.

“We’ll be there in 30 minutes, 40 tops,” I said.

An hour and a half later, my wife asked me if I was certain I knew where the airport was.

“Sure,” I said. “Unless …”

“Unless what?” my wife said.

“Unless they moved the airport again.”

My wife made me stop at a gas station and ask somebody where the airport was. She said that if I didn’t ask for directions, we were going to be late for our flight home. And, since she was in a bad mood already, if we missed our flight she likely would kill me and leave my body on the 895-lane Florida expressway.

When I walked inside the gas station, a guy was holding up what appeared to be 38 lottery cards and was having the clerk slowly read off a long list of numbers. Since the guy spoke one language and the clerk spoke another, this process was taking a while.

I glanced outside at my wife sitting in the car. She looked as if she were thinking of creative ways to kill me, so I politely interrupted the lottery number exchange and asked if the road I was on would get us to the airport. The guy with the lottery tickets said it would.

“Seven miles,” he said.

I got back in the car.

“Seven miles,” I said.

My wife gave me one of the meanest “it had better be” looks I have ever seen. My wife and I have been married for almost 21 years, and in all of those years my wife has given me the “it had better be” look thousands of times. On Sunday, my wife gave me the look of all looks.

As I got back onto the road and started driving, I said to myself “it had better be” over and over until I saw the sign for the airport. I took the exit, found the sign for rental car return, found our rental car company and parked the car.

As we were walking to the terminal, my wife asked me why the drive took so long.

“Simple,” I said. “They moved the airport again.”

Then my wife gave me the “don’t even start with me” look.

So I didn’t.

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