Extension of holiday weekend is fun for some, but not for the man who misses his monkeys

By Michelle Boorstein
Monday, December 27, 2010; 8:35 PM

At noon Monday, Loretta Lipari was supposed to be home on Long Island, N.Y., looking back warmly upon her Christmas visit to her son's family outside Baltimore, thinking of holiday ham and lasagna and of watching the kids open their new skis.

Instead, the "60-ish" grandmother was sitting outside a Play It Again Sports store. While her grandchildren got ski poles inside, Lipari worried about whether her car back home had been buried by snowplows clearing her condominium building parking lot and whether she'd be refunded for the multiple tickets she'd bought online as weekend snow canceled bus after scheduled bus.

Then there was the question of whether everyone was thrilled by the unexpected vacation extension or, rather, kind of tired of one another.

"No comment," Lipari said with a weary chuckle. "That's to be continued. I'm getting tired of wearing the same clothes. Everyone wants to get on with their business."

Thanks to the weekend's devastating snowstorm, which continued to disrupt travel up and down the Eastern United States on Monday, Christmas's end remained ambiguous for many, testing how long warm-and-fuzzy could stretch before it morphed into inconvenient-and-annoying, and snapped.

There was the neurology student on deadline, anxious about getting back to his monkeys and his data in snowy Rhode Island. The boyfriend unable to reunite with his girlfriend in Paris after four months apart. The cat left alone for an unexpected extra day. The in-laws.

But some folks embraced the holiday's extension and saw it as a fun delay to regular life's return.

"We were supposed to go run errands today, so the kids are very happy," said Kjerstie Lupo, a Potomac cartographer who was in line Monday afternoon for the open climb at a Rockville gym with her two kids and their cousins from Texas.

The relatives - on her husband's side - had spent Christmas with the Lupos and planned to drive to other relatives in North Carolina through the new year, but they heard warnings about the roads and canceled the trip's second leg. The four cousins, ages 12 to 16, got an unexpected extra six days together.

"We feel badly they won't see their other relatives, but we are very happy they can't drive," said Lupo, who had planned for the day off from work.

People stuck in the Washington area or Washingtonians trying to get home from elsewhere in the country spent Monday on hold as hundreds of flights were canceled and customer services lines remained jammed. Airports in New York and New Jersey were closed, but the Federal Aviation Administration reported that the airports were expected to reopen by Monday evening.

Most bus travel north of Washington was canceled, although some operators kept telling passengers to check throughout the day for possible route reopenings. Regular service was expected to resume Tuesday.

Amtrak officials restored holiday service between New York and Boston on Monday morning, but there were delays and cancellations between Washington and New York because equipment was snowed under in New York.

Brian Falasca, 27, an MBA student from Columbia Heights, had been scheduled to leave his parents' home in Fairfield, Conn., on Monday evening for Paris, where his girlfriend has been studying for four months. But a 1 a.m. text message from British Airways brought news that the reunion wouldn't happen as planned; luckily he was able to book a flight for Tuesday night, and instead of traveling Monday, he shoveled snow and ate waffles.

If all goes as scheduled, the couple will be drinking champagne and watching New Year's Eve fireworks along the Champs-Elysees.

"I see my parents infrequently, so it was good to see them for another day. My dad took off work to drive me to the airport [Monday], and instead we got a whole day together," Falasca said. "Besides, it's the weather; you can't blame anyone. You have to just take it as it comes."

Other people spoke of getting an unexpected chance to explore Mexican food with relatives in Arlington County and to watch "A Christmas Story" while an actual blizzard took place outside in New England.

Adrian Bondy spent Monday hoping he'd be reunited with his monkey data. The 25-year-old Tenleytown resident was scheduled to fly Monday night to Rhode Island, where he studies neuroscience at Brown University.

Although his airline said some flights were landing there, others had been canceled. After a week with his parents and childhood friends, Bondy was eager to return because of an approaching work deadline, and he needed to actually be in Providence to access the massive supercomputer and the monkeys that are part of his research about the patterns of connectivity in the brain.

Monkeys are trained for certain studies, he said, and it's important to observe their behavior soon after the training, so the ideas are sharp in their minds. An article about his work is to be submitted for publication in a month.

"Every day it's delayed makes it harder," Bondy said.

As the day went on, Christmas's end was in sight for some.

Bondy's plane was delayed just 20 minutes. Lipari had an offer for a possible lift north Tuesday, but after her bus company canceled all routes late in the day, she gave up and went to a grocery store. Planning dinner for her son and his family, her mood seemed brighter.

"I'm tired of looking at leftover ham and lasagna," she said. "I'm making linguine and clam sauce; c'mon over."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company