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Arno
When Beedoo! booked her flight to The Netherlands, I instantly employed my greatest talent: fretting. I worried about the length of her tourist visa, I fretted a lot about transporting her dog Kayenta, and how she ('she' being the dog) would be so upset to be transported, and to be here, if she even made it through American customs, after which she would surely be impounded by Dutch customs or something.

In all my planning for various theoretical disasters, however, I carelessly neglected to take the Eyjafjallaj´┐Żkull volcano into acount. It erupted on March 20th 2010, and by april 15th the ash cloud had reached Europe, leading to a complete shut-down of air traffic in Northern Europe. Beedoo! and accompanying dog made it as far as Detroit before being turned around, and overall she managed to travel for some 20 hours only to end up where she started: back in Flagstaff.

Fortunately, we are patient dragons, and she could fly in 9 days later. But it just goes to show: you cannot plan meticulously enough. ALWAYS consider Icelandic volcanoes when planning your trip!


Beedoo!
My mom and I stayed at her friend's apartment in North Phoenix (against my better judgement). They just bought it, and have been fixing it up... however, it is not (yet?) equipped with any essential devices of communication with the outside world; no TV, no Internet, no radio, no phones. (Also no hot water on this trip; someone had been stealing electricity from this apartment recently, and they had installed locks on all the utility boxes... but one of the family took the key that would allow us access to the water heater.) So although this was supposed to be a fairly simple procedure, it was a miserable morning. We happened to meet another friend of my mom's (it's been confirmed that she knows everyone in the world...) working in a shop at the Phoenix airport. (He also happened to be Dutch.) We got our first information about the volcano and ash cloud and closures from him. But despite his warnings to us that things were closing in Europe, the closure to Schiphol Airport had not reached the ticketing agents.

When I reached Detroit, I was called by an agent, who then rebooked me to Phoenix immediately, and made sure someone was taking care of my dog in the meantime. I was told to call and rebook my flights to Europe ASAP. Good advice, since everyone who had to rebook flights to Europe would ALSO be rebooking as soon as possible. Thankfully, the ash cleared within the week, and I was able to leave the following Saturday.

My dog, Kayenta, was a little shaken up, mostly because I was out of sight for hours on end, and partly because she was stuck in a very small space for so long. Kayenta will have to stay here with Arno and his parents when I come back to the States; no airline will fly a pet when the temperature is more than 85 degrees at any point along the route. That makes Phoenix more or less impossible to fly into, and Flagstaff isn't worth flying to, since it is such a small airport and most of its flights come only from Phoenix anyway. So, for better or worse, to her joy or remorse, Kayenta has to stay in the Netherlands when I go home. Depending on what kind of things I need to go through for Dutch citizenship, this may only be for a month. I hope... Here, Arno.... Have a dog.

Also, thanks to Leva for sending me the link for Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Ash Clouds above... I've been passing this along to everyone who asked about it. ;)