Where were you during the Blizzard of 2005? Were you at home, hoping that the power would not go out? Were you in your driveway, shoveling, trying to keep up with the snow? Did you have to leave your house and go stay with friends, or in an emergency shelter? Or were you one of the lucky few, who were out of town, and missed the storm entirely?

For me, none of the above applies. When the blizzard began, I was supposed to be at home, packing my bags for Mexico. When the storm was over, I should have been lounging on a sunny beach. But I got caught in between, and ended up waiting out the blizzard at the Hilton Hotel at Boston’s Logan Airport. Although inconvenient, it wasn’t the worst way to endure a storm.

The blizzard began on Saturday afternoon. My husband, sister and I were scheduled to fly out of Boston early Sunday morning, to meet my parents in Mexico. But when we heard the weather report on Friday night, we decided to book a room at the Airport Hilton. In New England, you never know what will happen with a storm until it is over. We didn’t want to take the chance of getting stranded on the South Shore and missing our flight. We arrived at the hotel at 4 p.m., just as the snow began to fall.

That morning, Janis, our travel agent had called to tell us that our original flight was already cancelled. She had rebooked us for Sunday afternoon. “It’s not so bad,” we thought. We didn’t have to check out of the hotel until noon, so we’d have a leisurely morning, then take the shuttle to our terminal. If all went well, we’d arrive in Mexico that evening, only 10 hours late.

But just in case, we extended our reservations at the Hilton for the following night. By the time we had settled into our room and gone to dinner, Janis had already called to inform us that all flights for Sunday had been cancelled. The airport was closed. But ever-vigilant, she had made new reservations for us – for first thing Monday morning.

We would have to wait out the blizzard. This was frustrating news, but there was nothing we could do to change the weather. We were relieved to have someone looking out for us. Friends who were also staying at the Hilton and headed for Mexico were spending most of their time on the phone, on hold, waiting to rebook their flights, but Janis had taken care of that for us.

Really, we had nothing to complain about. We were missing the first day of our vacation, but at least we were safe, warm and dry. As it wasn’t our responsibility to shovel the snow, we could sit back and enjoy watching it accumulate – which was fascinating, as much of the time it seemed to be falling horizontally. There was good company and plenty of food. For entertainment, we had cable TV and the books we’d intended to read on the beach, plus the gym and the heated pool. And we had time to explore.

The public areas of Logan Airport include five airline terminals and several parking garages, all linked together with window-lined, insulated walkways. The Hilton is an additional link in this system, enabling people to walk from the hotel to Terminal E, and all the way around the airport. We may have been stranded, but we had plenty of space to stretch our legs.

On Sunday morning, after stuffing ourselves at the Hilton’s giant buffet breakfast, we headed over to Terminal E to explore. The walkway gave us a bird’s-eye view of some outdoor parking areas, where snow had already drifted over the roofs of the cars. In the terminal, we had expected to find people sleeping in chairs and on benches, but instead it was practically empty. One newsstand was open, and one coffee shop. Otherwise, it was a ghost town.

It was strange to see the airport without its usual semi-controlled chaos. Usually I’m in such a rush to check in, check my luggage, go through security and be at my gate on time, that I don’t get a chance to look around. But with no crowds, no schedule and no immediate destination, there was plenty of time to observe some of the smaller details. For example, I never would have known that the floors between Terminal E and the Hilton are embossed with marine images – squids and seashells and right whales.

I can’t say that I would ever choose the Airport Hilton over a beachfront hotel in Mexico. But since this was not a choice, I can happily report that I enjoyed myself. Certainly, I felt powerless from time to time, but overall it was a pleasant experience. The hotel staff was friendly and accommodating. Stranded together, strangers seemed less guarded about speaking to each other in hallways and in elevators. We were all in the same boat.

We did finally make it out of Boston. The airport reopened Monday morning. By then our early plane had been cancelled, but Janis had gotten us on an afternoon flight. After one more rebooking (due to a power failure at Logan), we were on our way, arriving in Mexico only a day and a half later than we’d planned. Our luggage arrived about twelve hours after we did.

Perhaps as a reward for our patience, the sometimes-temperamental weather on our island getaway was perfect all week — sunny and warm. After all the snow-related anxiety we’d suffered trying to leave Boston, we appreciated it all the more.

By Kezia Bacon-Bernstein, Correspondent
January 2005

Kezia Bacon-Bernstein’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168.