July 22nd, 2002
Day 96

Start: Long Key, FL
Finish: Chicago, IL

Miles Today: 65
Miles to Date: 9366
Trooper Mileage: 178287

No pictures today - most of you hae seen the insides of airports and aircraft, so I don't think any imagery from this day would have held much interest for anyone.

I broke camp at Long Key in the morning, showered, packed up and headed to Miami airport. I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare to catch my flight back to Phoenix in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the flight was not ready for me. Weather delays had pretty much clogged up the whole air transport system this day. I had to fly to Chicago to make a connection to Phoenix.

After about 3 hours of weather-related delay, we finally got going. Well, sort of. The plane taxied out to the runway, sat there for a few minutes, and then the captain announced we had to taxi back to the terminal. It seems that the original flight plan they had filed with flight services got modified in order to get around some storms, and when the pilots got the read-back, they realized that the new, modified flight plan involved an additional 600 miles of flying. This, of course, involved additional fuel, and they realized that they didn't have enough fuel for the new flight plan. So, we had to go back for more gas, which delayed the flight another hour.

It was obvious that there was no way any connection to Phoenix from Chicago could be made at this point. That's the bad news. The good news was that since the delay and missed connections were due at least in part to things not weather-related (specifically that little fuel problem) United Airlines agreed to pick up the hotel tab for the night. So, I got to spend yet another evening in a hotel.