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You must crawl before you can fly

I have been accused of ethnocentrism or, at least, a lack of adventure, because these days, I rarely drive beyond Del Mar to the south or Oceanside to the north.

Now most residents of North County absolutely understand my form of regional agoraphobia. It’s paradise here.

Still, things do happen “outside the bubble” and all of us are occasionally required to venture beyond.

One big hurdle to staying North County-bound is the airport. It appears that in the summertime, getting from here to the airport can be very risky business.

One time, a co-worker needed to pick up his mother, flying in from O’Hare, at 6:30 p.m. Anyone who has ever driven a freeway immediately knew he was in trouble.

Then, every time someone passed his desk, they had yet another reason why getting from here to there was going to be a hot mess.

Already knowing a rush-hour pickup would be dicey, things began to really pile on. First, someone reminded him that the Del Mar Racetrack was in the second day of its season. Ouch.

Then another well-meaning friend pointed out that it was the first full day of Comic-Con, with people streaming in from all around. Couple this with summer tourist/beach traffic from here to Sea World. Yeow.

At this point, he thought he had heard every horror story/warning possible about the impending trip. Oh no.

It’s then I chimed in with my own sad reminder about airport terminal work underway, leaving no nearby parking and a very, very slow-moving line of drive-by traffic.

I had discovered this the hard way, when I went to pick up my son coming in from Boston.

Somehow, I had missed the fairly major development that the parking lot was now gone and if you intend to actually meet your guest as they descend to baggage claim, you need to drive to a faraway parking lot and take a tram back to the terminal.

That is doable if you have planned adequate time. I had not. Thank heaven for cellphones.

Suddenly, we realized that the list of traffic-stoppers had reached the ridiculous level, and the speculation began.

We figured that within minutes we would hear that Interstate 5 was completely closed due to a flipped semi, probably because of an earthquake, and that freak high tides had washed a whale across Coast Highway 101, as well.

We figured in a hurricane, just for good measure.

We began to wonder how hard it would be to “borrow” a helicopter and pilot from Camp Pendleton, because the terminal renovations won’t be finished anytime soon.

After all this, I dragged my family out hours early to drop off my now-departing son. It was Sunday morning, but I still expected the worst.

Me making him load up early and him not wanting to is his magic charm. Without fail, we had light traffic all the way, no beach crush, no Comic-Con commuters, only a handful of Arizona license plates, and even the drive through the airport was manageable.

We arrived almost two hours before his flight was scheduled to leave. He gave me the look mothers are given when they are wrong.

I stopped just short of telling him all my “almost missed a flight” stories … again. There is no justice.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer in the market for a crystal ball and a cheap helicopter. Contact her at [email protected].