The volcano refugees are almost home. 

We woke up this morning in Memphis. Not where we’d hoped we’d be when we left Anchorage yesterday morning. But we’re grateful to not have an ornery volcano spewing ash over our plane routes home.

When we sat in the Alaskan Air plane yesterday a.m., we all breathed a sigh of relief. My family’s eyes lit up when they saw me walk on the plane with just minutes before takeoff. I had to go standby to get on board with them.

As we prepared for takeoff, the pilot announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, Redoubt erupted again 30 minutes ago.”

There was a collective intake of air as every passenger sucked in the oxygen around them. Would we be bumped again?

“But it shouldn’t affect us yet, so we’re cleared for takeoff.”

There was applause throughout the aircraft, and suddenly the two seatmates on either side of me that had been strangers moments before were now comrades. We chatted it up all the way to Chicago.

In Chicago, we realized how confused our ticket situation was. Our connecting flight to Memphis had our names but no ticket numbers. Alaska Airways took care of that. Our experience with them has been nothing but positive.

But when we arrived late in Memphis (11:30 p.m.), only my luggage rolled off the belt at baggage claim. Then when we made it to Budget Car, they had no rental for us. In spite of Carolyn having reserved one just hours before on the phone from Chicago. They were nice enough in helping us get a hotel.

So one way or another, we’ll be home today. We’ll either get out on the 9:45 a.m. flight to Little Rock that Alaska Air put us on (only a hold, no ticket numbers apparently), or we’ll get out at 2:45 p.m. on another flight that the Northwest folks were able to get us on last night via phone.

We’re pretty sure our luggage will go at 9:45. Let’s hope we make it with those bags. Otherwise, the ones under our eyes will weigh more by the time we make it home.

However, we’re extremely grateful for how close to home we are. We had an incredible time in Alaska. “But there’s no place like home.”

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