Traveling After that Second Vaccine-And More Owen Time!

Last Thursday evening we flew to Cincinnati to visit Oona, Sam and………. grandson Owen.  It’s been a hectic few day since our return on Sunday.

Destination Cincinnati!  And I love flying at night–it’s like a light show when you make the landing!


Presently I’m in the midst of baking a birthday cake.  It’s for me and my stepdaughter.  Saturday evening I’ll be hosting a post-vaccination dinner with me, my husband, my son Roman, my stepdaughter Clare and her husband and daughter.

Actually, I made the cake yesterday.  I procrastinated this post.  Why?  I was busy taking yesterday off from work to cook and bake. BTW,  this is the Momofuku Milk Bar Birthday Cake and I use the recipe from the Milk Bar Cookbook.  HOWEVER,  I’m posting the link for the recipe from Boston Girl Bakes because her recipe is so clear and concise that I think you’ll appreciate it should you want to attempt this:  Boston Girl Bakes Birthday Cake Reccipe!

So yeah—I’m making my own cake. It’s a process that I startedWednesday night.  Tomorrow I’m going out to dinner with my friend Grace and Friday, my official birthday, I’ll be home from work and cooking for the family.

Actually, I ended up baking TWO cakes. I want chocolate..

And because I don’t like waste–I make Cake Truffles from the leftover cake scraps!

And…the cakes are in the freezer now until this evening!

The best thing about this upcoming dinner is that everyone will have been vaccinated. We won’t need masks.  We were together at Christmas but it was stressful.  I made anyone coming into our home give me proof that they were tested negatively for COVID.   It just …. well, it was just different.   And I have to say that mentally, it’ll feel a lot safer now that we’ve all received our vaccines.

Which brings me to the original topic of this post.

We traveled together by air for the first time since returning from Paris in December of 2019. Our last road trip was March of 2020—a week before the infamous lockdown. We spent a weekend in New York City and it was eerily empty.

TBH, I love traveling with my husband-we are a great travel team and it was just like old times to be traveling together again!

Now—I’ve traveled by air twice during the pandemic. In November to visit Oona and Sam before Owen was born and in February, a week after Owen was born.  During those flights, I took every precaution known to humanity.  Double masked at the airport and during the flight.  Wore my eyeglasses for protection and upon arriving at the house, took my travel clothes off, jumped in the shower and scrubbed any and every germ that happened to come my way.

Second dose received and one mask!

But this time, things were better.  Both Bonaparte and I having had our second vaccinations, it was both a relief and feeling of protection.  That’s not to say we have a false sense of security because we don’t. It’s just that being vaccinated has given us hope—and a measure of emotional stability during this time and a safety net.

The bags were packed—those little jaunts are perfect for carry-on luggage (and mine was half-filled with baby clothing.  The masks were in hand and away we drove to Philadelphia airport.

The less I carry-the happier I am!

Now here’s where I bitch and complain.  When we fly from Philly, we normally park in the economy lot and take a jitney from the lot to the terminal. The lot is huge so the process takes a while.  Because of the pandemic, and due to the fact that people aren’t traveling as much, the lot happens to be closed.  Now, when my husband gave me the news about the closed lot, I was overjoyed. It meant parking in the short-term garage directly across from the terminal.  Park the car, and walk through an enclosed overpass to the tunnel.  Easy—right?

I ALWAYS take a photo of where we park. Trust me, it’s the best travel tip I can offer because it saves a ton of confusion!

Well, not exactly. You see, where other airports (JFK in particular) have proper signage and more concise direction to parking lot space, Philly airport has the bare minimal signage and absolutely no direction whatsoever.  After circling the airport twice, we finally figured out how to get to the garage.  We park the car in the designated area for Terminal F, unload our stuff and head to the terminal.  But we couldn’t find the exit to Terminal F. There were NO SIGNS!!  No arrows pointing the way to the overpass. Nothing.  We ended up two terminals away and walking to our much-needed Terminal F. As in eff-you-see-kay. Quite frankly, Philly airport is one of the absolute worst airports I’ve ever had to deal with.

Thursday evening at Philadelphia Airport. It’s empty yet there were a ton of cars in the garage!

We had a couple of hours to kill because we left directly from my office.  It didn’t matter because we figured we could grab a bite to eat and chill.

Now here’s where the reminders that we are still in the midst of a pandemic come in.  The Food Court. In this huge rotunda of all things fast food, all but two places were closed.  At that point I was salivating over the thought of enjoying a pillowy soft, salty Philly Pretzel—but the Philly Pretzel stand was closed.  In fact, the only two opened were Sbarro and Smashburger.

And the owners (if it is a franchise) of these two establishments are geniuses.  Both made a small killing while we were there and I can just imagine the bucks made during the entire pandemic.  It was the first time I’ve ever had sweet potato fries and they were quite good.

It is an enigma as to how my refined Frenchman who demands only the best in dining, is so hooked on fast-food burgers! But he is! And thank the Lord Smash Burger was opened for a quick bite to eat!

The plane wasn’t as crowed on the way to Cincy as it was during our trip back—but in being fair, we did fly home on Sunday!  And as empty as Philadelphia airport was last Thursday, on Sunday you would never even know there was a pandemic.   Lots of travelers.  They all must’ve felt mighty safe because most of them looked like they just rolled out of bed. Dirty feet and flip-flops abound. Things are getting back to normal.

BTW, to all those who insist on wearing flip-flops to showcase their fungiesque and filthy feet and pajamas, a little black jersey dress that doesn’t wrinkle and flats are just as comfortable and stylish. 

And as we made our way back to our car, wondering how long the walk would take us, we saw a sign.  It was a small sign.  The printing was not eye-glass wearer friendly, but more of a 20/20 vision entitlement. But we spotted it anyway.  It was a sign leading to the overpass to get to the parking lot via Terminal F.  It took us less than a minute to get to our car!

And as we exited the short-term lot, and got ready to enter the toll, it was a surprise to find that the cost of parking from Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon was Seventy dollars.  Yes. $70.  Seven-tee bucks! The airport spared no mercy to those who were unable to use the economy lot.  Bonaparte was fine with it but I wasn’t.  At JFK, we park for five nights and days and the cost is $38.50.  No jitney. A few feet to the little train that takes us to the terminal.

Regardless, we had a great time. It was great to be with Oona and Sam and Owen and their dog, Gracie.  And it was wonderful to be able to travel again and not feel stressed or afraid.

Gracie-girl and French Grandpa!  She’s so adorable..

And loves her attention–is she competing with Owen?

It was so much fun to be back with Oona, Sam and Baby Owen.  He’s just so adorable and I wish I could see him every day!

Tummy Time with this l’il nugget is so much fun!

It’s been two months since I last saw him but he’s just growing by leaps and bounds.

He’s looking so serious. He was absolutely mesmerized by Bonaparte’s speaking French to him. Most likely because my family is so loud and he speaks so softly..

The weather was kind enough to allow Sam to grill burgers and brats and we enjoyed dining al fresco.  Bonaparte was in his glories!

The only indication of His Supreme Gaulness is the wine! 

We had such a wonderful visit. The two-day journey was just enough to allow the new parents to be great hosts and then get back to their life as a new family!

And he slept the entire ride to the airport to drop us off.  I cannot wait to see him again…

And back to Philly we flew..

My new jam is the mobile boarding pass.  My old-fashioned husband was indifferent!

And now it is back to reality!  Hope you enjoyed our little visit and things are looking good as we get back to baby-steps of travel!!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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9 Responses to Traveling After that Second Vaccine-And More Owen Time!

  1. Terri Christensen says:

    Happy Birthday!! Thanks for the story of the airport adventure as well as the visit to your new grandson. I’m going to see my son in CA Memorial Day Weekend (I haven’t seen him in 1 and 1/2 years — way too long). I took the day off just to make sure I have enough time in SeaTac (Seattle) to get on the plane. 🙂

  2. It’s so great to see people getting vaccinated and back to travel again. Here in Canada, we’re getting worse and worse because our vaccination plan is so slow. I’m lucky to be on the east coast because some of the other provinces are totally locked down right now. It’s shameful that we’re so far behind other countries in our Covid-19 response.

  3. BluestOfSkies says:

    Your birthday cakes look fantastic! So glad you were able to visit your family in Cincinnati! Owen looks perfectly angelic. How cute that he was mesmerized by your husband speaking French to him! I will be flying this week to see my far-flung out-of-state family, who are all gathering at my brother’s house. All of us are fully vaxxed except for my nephew, who’s only halfway done. I’m so grateful to have gotten the shots! Still I am cautious whenever out and about, because that virus is so sneaky, and some still refuse to protect themselves and the rest of humanity by getting jabbed or even wearing a mask! My DIL’s mom is one – a nice person in so many ways, but deep in the weedy, dark rabbit hole of far-right conspiracy thinking. Hard to take! Anyway, hope your year to come is wonderful. Happy Birthday!

  4. Momcat says:

    Aww, Happy Belated Birthday!! Getting to see Owen must have been the BEST present ever he is a little bundle of cuteness. Congrats on having had jab #2…up here in Ontario we are in heavy lockdown for six weeks ( our premier is an ass but that’s another story) You are right to not be too cavalier about the vax. Both of us were vaccinated ten days ago and SURPRISE spent yesterday morning being tested for Covid…yup. We have been very sick for a few days and we’re encouraged to be tested..thank God both are negative as the results came back last night. Two shots of Pfizer or Moderna should get you 95% immunity one shot of AZ 70% 10/14 days after first shot but it increases over time arriving at 90/95% after second shot…but second shots not given for 12 weeks here.
    So glad you can travel, they have even closed down the playgrounds here and the varient is attacking the young people…it’s hell. But we’ll get through it.
    Again, enjoy your birthday celebration XX
    I am so happy that parts of the world are returning to some kind of normal:)

  5. Sandra says:

    Wishing you a very Happy Birthday! Your grandson is just gorgeous.

    I have not seen my 17-yr old granddaughter and 13-yr old grandson since August 2019, but we’re still reticent to travel despite having been doubly vaccinated. Maybe over the summer…

  6. Leslie says:

    Owen is beautiful!

  7. Susan D says:

    Happy birthday, hope you have a great day. The cake looks amazing, but sounds a bit of a faff to make. Just had my second jab of AZ this morning – 12 weeks between jabs here in the UK, and of course lots of controversy surrounding the AZ vaccine. Fingers crossed we’ll be OK.
    Owen is just gorgeous, your weekend sounded perfect. Loved what you said about Bonaparte speaking to him in French, it must have been very strange for him!!

  8. vavashagwell says:

    Happy Birthday to my fellow Taurus. Glad you and Bonapart had a great time! Sometimes short trips are the absolute best! Your cake looks amazing, too!!! I love your travel outfit, and I really am not ready to see pajamas, sweatpants, and flip flops on dirty feet in any airport. UGH!!!

  9. Liz McGarry says:

    I am in love with Owen…he is a beautiful boy and the whole family is blessed to be graced by his presence. Also,I love your travel ensemble….the lbd and the flats are cute and appropriate and comfy. Your carry-on bags are swell too. LV and Longchamps…couldn’t be better. Do you still have the Goyard bag you got a couple of years back? I’ve rambled long enough…wishing you and the family good health and happiness.

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