FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Holiday travel weather was ideal Wednesday in North Dakota and South Dakota, but some air travelers were knocked off schedule by fog in Chicago that threatened to put a damper on the start of Thanksgiving.
Robert Johnson, 63, was trying to get from North Dakota to Houston on Wednesday morning, but his first flight from Fargo to Chicago was delayed by the fog. His arrival to his hometown area was pushed back about five hours to 10 p.m.
"I'm stuck for a while," Johnson said. "But I guess everyone will be happy to see my face."
Johnson, who owns a cleaning service in Fargo, was relaxing in the airport cafeteria Wednesday morning after having breakfast. A native of Beaumont, Texas, he said he returns home twice a year. About 10 family members are expected for Thanksgiving.
"I love ham. I'm not too much of a turkey person, but I will eat it," Johnson said. "I love the yams and the homemade cornbread and the rice dressing. That's what I'm after. I don't get that up here."
Katelyn Weimerskirch, 18, a freshman at North Dakota State University, was hoping to get from Fargo to East Dubuque, Ill., on Wednesday. Her flight to Chicago was pushed back by fog, so she was spending the morning texting and talking with friends.
" It's making me nervous that I am going to get stuck in Chicago," Weimerskirch said.
"I am hoping that my original flight from Chicago to Dubuque, Iowa, is delayed as well," she said. "If not, I might have to take a bus from Chicago to Rockford, Ill., which means my parents would have to drive an hour and a half to pick me up."
Weimerskirch, recruited by NDSU for track and field, is making her first trip home since starting school.
"The weather is not doing me any favors," she said.
Oriana Pasch, 21, of Grand Forks, was waiting in the Fargo airport Wednesday morning for a flight to Denver to have a combined Thanksgiving and Christmas celebration with her parents and sister. Her flight was on time.
"I debated driving, I debated the bus, I debated trains," said Pasch, a full-time member of the Army National Guard. "Flying was the best deal."
Pasch said her mother was planning a Thanksgiving menu to include orange basil chicken and honey roasted ham, along with all the fixings, and a "fantastic apple pie."
It was perfect weather for highway travelers in most of the Dakotas. The mercury in Sioux Falls, S.D., hit 70 degrees Wednesday, breaking a record for the date set in 1960, according to the National Weather Service.
The day before Thanksgiving is typically one of the busiest travel days of the year, and Highway Patrol troopers were watching. The agencies in North Dakota and South Dakota said they put all available personnel on the road, from troopers to supervisors to command staff.
Jackie Spencer, 64, who works in the business office of Martin County (Minn.) Social Services, was driving through South Dakota to get from her home in Fairmont, Minn., to spend Thanksgiving with her sister in Lexington, Neb.
Gas prices are a big concern, but when she filled up her Dodge Durango for the trip, her credit card rewards program chipped in $2.82 a gallon to bring her fuel bill down to 45 cents a gallon.
Spencer said she's glad that gas prices have leveled off a bit, but the rewards contribution was a huge help.
"With this vehicle, the gas prices definitely add up," Spencer said. "Four dollars is something that I can't handle. It's pretty sad when $3.25 a gallon is good."
Associated Press writer Dirk Lammers contributed to this report from Sioux Falls, S.D.