So I haven’t been here in a while. Didja miss me at all?
I’ve been on the road a lot these last few weeks – and travel seriously crimps your writing time.
You’d think that all that time on planes and in airports would give you MORE time to write, wouldn’t you? But, as luck would have it, I’ve spent the bulk of my layover time in the ONE international airport too cheap to spring for Wi-Fi. (Chicago, I’m glaring at YOU. And yes, I’ve ranted about this airport before. ORD is the airport where flights go to…well, NOT go. I’m told that “O’Hare” is actually old Irish brogue for “F@#&, the plane is late.” OK, I totally made that up, but no one who has spent more than ten minutes in this Midwestern airport hell will quibble with you for actual facts. )
And the time you DO have in the airport is eaten up by one or more of the following:
- Locating an acceptable restroom. (After bypassing several that are closed for either cleaning or repair, you change your standards from “clean” to “there.” After three hours of entrapment in a flying sardine can, where you did your due diligence in staying hydrated, you’re desperate to make a hefty deposit in the First National Bank of Flushing, and you don’t even care that there’s a skirtless man on the door, it’s an opportunity you are NOT missing.)
- Running from gate A6 to ZZ127. (By the way? Airport-induced asthma is totally a thing. You think you’re in shape running 3 miles four times a week, but that simply doesn’t prepare you for the 2500-meter dash between the aforementioned gates with 40 pounds of carry-on crapola and ten minutes until the plane door slams shut. Keeping it exciting, United. Keeping. It. Exciting.)
- Foraging for sustenance. It’s always a bit of an airport scavenger hunt to identify a snack that has some semblance of nutritional value AND costs less than a year’s college tuition at a reputable liberal arts school.
- Tracking down your bags. Like trivia games? Good at geography? Let’s play Guess Where My Bag Went and try to find THAT airport on a map. My bags have approximately 52% more Frequent Flier miles than I do. That’s why they look like they’ve been rode hard and put away wet:
(And yes, I COULD travel with carry-on luggage only. And I often do. But that leaves very little room for the important things in life – namely, shoes. So if we’re gonna look good, we check a bag.)
Suffice it to say that if you travel frequently, you quickly learn to expect the unexpected. This past month has been no exception. I’m convinced that Murphy’s Law originated at an airport, and have come to believe that departing on time, having a smooth flight, and arriving on time can only result after a series of coincidences, magic tricks, and small miracles.
And, true to THAT theme, a couple of my recent trips have been a little rough.
Sucktacular Trip #1: Snow Delay. Now, to be fair, it’s winter, and because of where I live (Great Frozen Tundra) and where I fly (Snow Belt, USA), that’s just gonna be a factor I gotta roll with. But when your flight gets cancelled on Sunday, you do NOT want to hear “we may be able to get you on a flight by Tuesday…Wednesday for SURE.”
Wednesday? Oh HELL no.
Given the bleakness of THAT option (and the expense – the airlines offer no assistance when delays are due to weather), I confirmed a flight the following day at a “nearby” airport, crashed at a local hotel, and hoped for better luck in the morning.
Ten hours (and a foot of snow) later, after digging out the indeterminate mound I was pretty sure was my rental car, I was back on the road, headed 90+ miles north on I-90, which, by the way, was voted “Most Likely to Whiteout” by the class of 1957 . And yes, it was STILL absolutely hemorrhaging snow. The wipers on my “premium” vehicle were…slightly ineffective:
My travels often take me through Western NY, so fortunately, although I couldn’t SEE the road, I had a really good idea where I was going, despite the unplanned detour.
What’s there? Pretty much nothing, actually. This is where the Seneca Nation of Indians is located, so, as you’d expect, you’ll find casinos, bars, discounted fuel, and cheap tobacco products. There are several wineries, too – miles and miles of grape vines line the highway between bulletin boards advertising the local specialties:
Sucktacular Trip #2: I’m back in Western NY two weeks later (because I’m a hella slow learner, I guess.) But despite the time of year, it’s highly unlikely that snow will derail my return trip this time, because they were having a heat wave and it was freaking SIXTY degrees there. In January. (This is a likely sign of the apocalypse, or zombie cockroach invasion, or both. Hoard water and Twinkies and don’t say I didn’t warn ya.)
So…what could go wrong?
How about the plane being 45 minutes late when you have a 28-minute connection?
Nah. That’s amateur hour.
How about instead, when the plane DOES arrive 45 minutes late, you give it a flat tire?
So, yeah, bonus night in Buffalo. AGAIN.
This time, at least, since it was a mechanical issue, the airline paid for my hotel stay AND they gave me $20 in food vouchers – $10 for dinner and $10 for breakfast the next day.
Which sounds good. But…The hotel? I kept my shoes on. Let’s just leave it at that. And, in case you’re wondering, here’s an example of the gourmet cuisine a $10 airport voucher will get you. (All those years of watching The Price is Right have paid off – I rang in at $9.92 with the following):
As of late, though, it seems that the tides have turned. Last weekend, I completed a trip in and out of Cleveland – not only was it on time, but on the way back, I got a free upgrade to first class. Which meant I had all the red wine I could drink. I quickly crowned myself Queen of the Cheap Dates, because I had two glasses – TWO! – and barely found my way to baggage claim. (We’ll call this a happy ending because I managed to pour myself into the right car when the hubs came to pick me up. All I remember is giggling at a couple wearing cowboy hats. And while I have three blurry pictures of what appear to be part of my finger and my right foot, I have no photographic evidence of the aforementioned cowboy couple. Bummer.)
And this week, I’m at a
big honkin’ HR party worker’s comp conference in Orlando. So far, so good: My plane actually arrived EARLY, and I gotta say, palm trees do not suck. (It took me less than ten minutes to officially OD on All Things Disney – but it’s warm, so I’ll cope.)
So here are some of the sights so far (that I got to experience WITHOUT A PARKA, yo):
The view from my hotel room:
My new friend. (I named him Skeeter Eater. I needed some extra security what with Zika running rampant and all….)
The happiest sign on earth…?
Makes you wanna dive headfirst into the E.Coli cesspool, doesn’t it?
A Lego Loch Ness Monster. Maybe he’s there to enforce the Rules of the Water Feature. I mean, just LOOK at how menacing this is.
Cool, but I just do NOT have the patience. On the plus side, that’s about a million Legos you and I will never step on at 3 AM.
And a random interesting tree. I could sit under here with a good book for hours:
So, after an afternoon of relaxation (and a vegan, gluten-free cupcake!) I’m all set for this conference tomorrow. While things are calm and peaceful now, there’s ample opportunity for a good ol’ fashioned plot twist before my plane lands back on the Great Frozen Tundra on Friday night:
Will Kate humiliate herself in a drunken blunder and get lost on the way to her 20th-floor hotel room? Will someone spot her in the hotel gym at 5:30 AM without <gasp> makeup? Will she be able to find a decent cup of coffee before 8:00 AM roll call? Will her return flight be diverted to Detroilet, trapping her for entire weekend in a slurry of missed flights and disappointing gastric experiences?
Stay tuned for more mishaps and adventures….