Is There a Mr. Fix-It In the House?

I thought I had been lucking out the past few months. Not only did a get a bit of a break from traveling so much, the trips I did have to take were relatively smooth and story free.

I should have known the odds would need to right themselves eventually.

I just didn’t expect it all to happen in one trip.

I had a “quick” trip planned to North Carolina this week. Out on Wednesday afternoon, and back Thursday evening. Since there aren’t a lot of direct options for me into Raleigh/Durham, NC, my out flight was a connection in Baltimore.

The flight from Denver to Baltimore was smooth, and even arrived a little early, giving me those few extra minutes to grab some food before boarding leg 2. If I had seen the future, I may have grabbed a little more to eat.

We boarded the Raleigh bound flight on time, but were quickly informed once boarding was complete, that there was a maintenance issue with one of the plane’s navigation systems. Not to worry though. Maintenance was already here addressing the issue, and we hoped to be cleared to leave shortly.

No big deal.

Sure enough, they were back on about 15 minutes later saying maintenance had fixed the issue and we would be pushing back.

They finished up the paperwork, closed the main cabin door, and we pushed back from the gate.

Only to have them immediately put it back in drive and pull us right back up to the gate.

“Sorry, folks. While maintenance did fix the problem with the first navigation system, now the second system is throwing an alert, so we need to have them back to look at that one.”

I can already see where this is headed.

About 10 minutes later the captain is back, this time with a less optimistic message.

They are pulling the plane from service for the night, so we all have to deplane. Please see the agent at the top of the bridge for information on a new plane.

I’ll give them credit. We were off the plane less than 5 minutes before they were sending us to a new gate, with a new plane, and less than 30 minutes later we were all loaded on the new plane.

The problem was, the bags were not so lucky.

We were sitting on the plane for an hour, before the little carts with all the checked bags finally pulled up beside the plane.

At exactly the same moment that the flight attendant  came over the intercom to call for help with a medical emergency for a passenger in the back of the plane.

Which meant the bags had to wait to be loaded on the plane until the Emergency Medical Response team could board the plane and get the passenger back off.

Another 45 minutes later, the medical emergency has been taken off for care, the bags have been loaded and they announce they have closed the front door and we will be leaving soon.

Which was evidently just what the man in row 2 was waiting for as his cue. He decides to choose that moment to throw a fit and demand to be let off the plane.

Despite the fact that the flight attendant explained in order to do that they have to get clearance to re-open the door, get ground crew to do so and re-do all the paperwork which will only delay things even further, the man continues to demand to be let off the plane

I’m actually surprised he made off the plane in one piece. I thought the entire plane was going to riot .

Another 30 minutes later, we are FINALLY ready to go. For real this time.

I finally get to my hotel and in bed a little after 12:30AM, and had to be up at 5:30AM for a 7AM meeting. That set my Thursday up to be a great day!

I come out of my early morning meeting to a message that my flight for that afternoon had already  been delayed for 3 hours.

You have got to be kidding me!

This time my plane, which was starting it’s day in Burbank, was scheduled to make a pit stop in Denver, on it’s way to pick us up in Raleigh to take us back to Denver.

Evidently, before it could leave Burbank, however, it was pulled due to a flat tire and left Burbank 3 hours late.

Even I can change a tire in less than 3 hours.

So, this is how I find myself landing in Denver, 3 hours later than planned, and then still have to make the drive home when it’s already past my bed time.

Now, not to toot my own horn, but I had done a remarkable job of staying cool and letting all these irritations roll off my back to this point, if I do say so myself. Even though I was beyond tired,  I figured the irritations were at least behind me, and all I had to do was make it home.

I should have known better.

I get to my car in the garage, and pull up behind one car in line to pay my for my parking and put the airport behind me.

And I watch as the guy in this car tries 3 times to insert his parking ticket. Then watch as he tries 3 different credit cards to pay his fee. And then continue to sit there, and sit there, and sit there, as he does who knows what. Finally, after about 10 minutes, the arm goes up and I breathe out my irritation as I assume the guy will finally leave.

Except he doesn’t.

I’ve already admitted I was beyond tired, so I assume maybe this guy is too, and possibly he fell asleep behind his wheel and failed to see the arm go up releasing him from parking planet. So I decide to play a gentle alarm on my horn to wake him up and urge him into freedom.

Except he still doesn’t move.

So I toot again.

This elicits him popping his head out of his window and yelling, “Stop that!”

Stop that?? Ummm, what??

Maybe he doesn’t speak horn? He wasn’t able to figure out the message I was trying to send?

So I decide to help him out and translate to plain English for him. I pop my head out of my window and say

“You need to go!”

To which I get,

“I’m not going! They have my license on camera showing I didn’t pay!”

I am beyond confused as to what this guy is missing, but he must be more tired than I am. The arm doesn’t pop up to let you out unless you pay. The arm is clearly up! So, I decide to translate for this guy again.

“The arm is up, so you obviously paid. Now you need to go!”

To which the guy decides to pull his head back in his car, put it in reverse and back it quickly up half the distance to my front bumper.

This seems an interesting move for a guy who was just expressing concern about them having his license plate on camera for not paying, but doesn’t seem concerned about being on camera backing his little car into my SUV.

I get it. Drive and Reverse can be confusing. And this guy is obviously having a difficult time figuring things out at the moment. So I decide to try to help one more time.

I pop my head out the window and say,

“Ummm, you need to go forward…”

Which got him backing another several inches towards my car in response.

Then his head is back out the window and he yells, “I’m not going! If you don’t like it, you can move!”

“Ummm, I’d love to! Except you are in my way, and I can’t!”

Now the parking attendant two booths down starts yelling at the guy that he needs to go, but the guy continues to just sit there.

I try one more time and offer “He’s telling you you can go!” out the window, as the attendant continues to yell at the guy, and the guy continues to sit there.

Finally, another attendant comes out of the main booth and starts to walk towards the guys car. The guy finally decides to move.

After reversing one more time to come as close as he can possibly come to hitting my car, without actually hitting it, he finally puts his car in drive and takes off.

I sure hope he managed to find his way home and to bed a lot easier than he found his way out of DIA parking.

At least I found my way home and to my bed without anymore delays.

Goldilocks & Papa Bear

While things have been a little quiet on the travel front this summer, tonight I have a story for you, thanks again to my dog Auni.

As any of my followers know, Auni suffered from a broken leg this past winter, and already has arthritis in her front leg. So as part of her “therapy” to keep her as active as possible, we go on almost daily walks.

Tonight, we headed out for our constitutional after dinner, and after the thunderstorms decided to clear out, around 7pm.

We were having a nice leisurely walk, stopping to sniff anything that might be suspicious, and exploring everything that might have changed since our walk two days ago, when I happened to catch a glimpse of something moving out of the corner of my eye.

We have a creek that runs parallel to the road in our neighborhood, and most of the driveways have little bridges going over the creek to get up to their houses.

Taking his evening constitutional and heading across one of these little bridges in our direction was our neighborhood Black Bear.

When I saw him, we were about 10 feet from running smack dab into him at the end of the driveway.

Luckily, since he was looking in the other direction, and ambling even slower than my canine companion, we were able to quickly back up about another 10 feet and come to a stop before he got to the end of the driveway and the road we were on.

And it gave me a few seconds to get my camera.

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I actually never carry my phone with me on our walks, but I happened to be waiting for a return call (on a package delivery issue, of course) and so had brought it with me tonight. However, my photography skills were a little lacking after this one picture when I realized he was looking right at us. I figured I should maybe pay more attention to what he was going to do, then take pictures.

And what did my faithful companion do? The same companion who literally turned into a wild woman 3 nights ago, when this guy was clearly outside our house around 10pm? That night she was pacing back and forth across the house, barking at every door and trying desperately to make me let her out to face her foe head on. (There were a few moments when I wondered why I wasn’t doing just that). But tonight, when she actually did confront her foe head on?

She sat calmly by my feet and watched him with me from our spot on the side of the road.

Which is probably a good thing in hindsight.

Our fellow ambler spent a few seconds in the above pose checking us out, and then turned and loped off across the street and into the yard on the other side, and we turned and continued our walk back to our house.

It’s always nice to make new friends in the neighborhood.

 

This is why We Can’t Have Nice Things…

As most of you know, we just got back from a few weeks overseas. Evidently, while we were gone, we got a lot of rain, and the weeds, which seem to be the only things that grow easily in my yard, had taken that as their cue to grow thick and tall.

Basically my yard was overrun. And the fake grass, that seems to be the only grass that really wants to grow on my “lawn” was knee high.

So, I decided that this past weekend would be a great weekend to whip my yard into shape for the summer.

I decided that not only would I attack the weeds into submission, I would also plant flowers and shrubs to replace the ones that didn’t bounce back from last year’s hail storm, and give my yard a whole new face lift.

So off I went to HomeDepot after my coffee Saturday morning, to get supplies and plot out a landscaping strategy.

I added so much top soil, bark mulch, flowers, shrubs and vegetables to my cart, I actually had to make two trips to my car with it all. Every square inch of my car was full of my future garden.

It was a beautiful, sunny morning, and I was actually enjoying working up a sweat pulling weeds and digging holes.

And let me just say, I pulled SO. MANY. WEEDS. Enough to fill 3 extra large hefty bags.

My yard, as you my faithful readers know, is all on a hill, so I have many tiered beds, formed by the retaining walls, on all different levels up my hill.

I didn’t even mind hauling all the bags of mulch and dirt up my 28 steps.

Probably about 3 hours later, I had finished weeding, planting and mulching all the beds in the front of my house, when the afternoon showers forced a rain delay.

I wasn’t even upset by the call of the game, as it gave me time to run back to Home Depot for more bags of mulch and plan for the next day’s planting.

Bright and early, right after my coffee on Sunday, Auni (my faithful canine helper, who, by the way, is a great gardening assistant) and I were back at work, tackling the beds by my front door.

Another 3-4 hours later, my masterpiece was complete. I had planted beds of flowers, pots of flowers,  a bed of tomatoes and fresh basil (Hello, Caprese salads!), planted some shrubs around the fence line, and even strewn some wildflower seeds, hoping they might be more hardy for our Colorado climate. I had watered all the new plants, added root boost to give them the best start in their new homes, and done everything possible to help their transition.

I’m just going to say it. My yard was lovely!

And I was already looking forward to the coming months, when the plants and shrubs really started to flourish and I was eating fresh veggies from my “garden”

I took some pictures for posterity (and maybe a little bragging rites) and then poured some ice water to sit on my deck and enjoy my landscape for the remainder of the afternoon.

This was about 1 o’clock in the afternoon.

Around 4 o’clock I got ready to head to my hair appointment.

As I walked down the steps to my car, I smiled at how pretty my yard was, and what a reward those hours of work turned out to be, and took more mental pictures of the results.

If only I had known this was to be the last time I was to see that lovely yard.

On the way to my hair appointment, about a 10 min drive away, it started to rain. I’ll admit my first thought, was Good! This will be great for all my new little flowers!

By the time I pulled up to the hair salon, it was a torrential downpour. So much so, I sat in my car, literally right outside their front door, for 10 min, waiting for it to let up enough that I could make that 5 foot or so run, and not be completely drenched.

While it did let up long enough for me to reach the door, the torrents continued for a solid hour. The roads had trenches 3 inches deep along both sides as the drains struggled to keep up with the deluge.

People’s phones kept going off in the salon with weather alerts and flash flood warnings.

I’ll admit, I was a little concerned about what was going on at my house, partly because I had left all the windows open, and a little bit about the yard.

But I checked the radar and the weather alerts, and it appeared that the storm was just missing my area. Maybe we just got a lot of rain too.

If only that were the case.

As I drove home a couple of hours later, the closer I got to my house, the worse the roads and yards around people’s houses got. In fact, about a mile from my house, there was such a pile up of slushy hail, it looked like there was about 3-4 inches of slushy snow in the road. The rest of the road was covered in inches of thick mud and sand the rushing river that had run down it during the storm had left behind.

When I pulled onto my road and rounded the corner to head up my hill, I already knew I was not going to like what I saw.

Apparently the storm not only brought torrential rain to our area, but very gusty wind, and lots of hail. While the hail was not big enough to do any damage to the cars or houses, there was so much of it, it piled up literally inches thick.

My whole yard looked like it was covered in 4 inches of snow.

And not only were all my flowers gone, and plants completely crushed or literally razed away, but the leaves and debris from the surrounding trees and that the rushing water left in my yard, made the weeds that had been having a hay day just a couple days before, look inviting.

I couldn’t even really assess the damage until this morning, when the hail all “melted”. But it was basically as bad as I assumed.

So, I am very glad that my 6+ hours of work, allowed me to enjoy my pretty summer yard for exactly 2 hours. And the good news is, I have lots more projects to fill my weekend’s for the rest of the summer now!

I also have a feeling I will be putting that “unconditional plant guarantee” to the test in the near future, so stay tuned! You know there will be a story or two to accompany that!

Memories are the Best Souvenirs…

I just returned from a lovely trip to Europe with my family, to celebrate my son’s graduation from college. (I know, I can’t believe it either).

The trip was amazing, beautiful, fun, and of course, not without stories.

Our trip started off with a lovely visit in London. As we landed from our 9 hour flight, I saw an email from Air B&B that there had been a flood in the apartment we had booked and they would be unable to accommodate us. Cue a slight panic, as sleeping on the streets of London was not how I had planned this trip starting out. Luckily, that panic was short lived. When I logged into Air B&B to read the entire message, our hosts apologized for the inconvenience, but let me know they had another apartment just around the corner from the original booking, and they would be happy to accommodate us there. The apartment was comfortable, and a perfect home base for exploring all London had to offer.

Waking up on day 3, it was quickly apparent that someone on our long flight had decided to share with me my first trip souvenir.

From my scratchy throat, clogged head and the worst cough I have ever had, I was pretty sure I had Typhoid, Bubonic Plague, the Bird Flu, or possibly all three.

This was not exactly the kind of souvenir I had been looking for.

I still had 12 days of sightseeing planned, however, so I was not letting a pesky, (possibly deadly) virus slow me down. So I just added several European pharmacies to my sightseeing agenda, added several pills, sprays and lozenges to my souvenir collection, and soldiered on.

The various pills and medicated state I found myself operating out of, soon came in very handy.

We arrived in Ireland and rented a car for a drive across the county.

I was already a little nervous about driving on the wrong side of the road, but surprisingly found that that, itself, was pretty easy to adapt to. It was actually amazing how quickly going left around a traffic circle became second nature.

And can I just say, they love their traffic circles in Ireland?? I’m not even exaggerating a little when I say that we couldn’t go more than half a mile in any direction without hitting a traffic circle.

We made it to Galway without issue, but the real fun came the next day, when we decided to take a trip further west to Connemara.

Driving on the wrong side of the road was relatively easy on a 4 lane highway. However, you leave those highways in Ireland, and the roads quickly narrowed to no more than a lane and a half of what we are used to here in America.

With absolutely no shoulder.

There is literally the road, and then a hedge, or a tree, or a house a mere inches from your car.

Oh, and did I mention the roads are windy? Like you can’t see more than 100 ft down the road because of all the sharp bends and curves, windy.

This all just added to the fun of driving on the wrong side of the road. Especially when you met another car. Or one of the many tour buses on these roads.

With nowhere to move over. And all going a mere 100 km/hr.

But, in case that doesn’t sound like enough fun for you, it got better.

On this particular day, they were also doing a bike race on this road, in this part of Ireland.

So on top of dealing with sharp curves, tour buses, and super narrow roads, we also found ourselves dealing with bikes.

Lots and lots of bikes.

That were not going 100 km/ hr.

And had no where to go either, except smack dab in the middle of the lane we were driving in. Sometimes in groups of 10+ bikes thick.

While I appreciated the additional challenge to my driving skills, I was more amazed at these bikers, who obviously were Frogger level Master Plus back in the day.

Somehow, we made it to our destination with no casualties.

The middle part of trip was relatively uneventful, at least in the story department. Besides the fact that I had to continue adding pharmacy stops to our itinerary in every destination, we continued to enjoy the beautiful weather and amazing sites everywhere we went.

Until it was time to come home.

We ended our trip in Paris, and were preparing for our departure the night before, when my parents went to check in for their domestic flight back to Maine after their Trans-Atlantic flight stateside.

We had all booked our international flights together, but their return flight was bringing them back to Newark, while ours was bringing us to Denver. So they had to book another flight from Newark to Maine.

Which my dad had done back in February.

Or so he thought.

As he went to check them in for that flight, he was treated to a pop up that said that flight reservation had been cancelled.

That was going to be a little inconvenient.

Which is how he found himself on the phone with the travel site through which he booked the reservation. For roughly an hour and 45 minutes total, across about 3 calls, and about 75% of that time being on hold, while they tried to figure out what happened.

All at a mere $2/ minute on his international cell phone plan.

Which didn’t get any easier to swallow when he was told that, “OOPS!”  Somehow, when he booked the flight back in February, the travel site had never actually sent the payment  to the airline, even though they had charged his card for said payment. Which had caused the airline to cancel the reservation.

Not to worry, though. The flight was still available. At about 3x what the original fare had  been.

Cue more hold time, calls back and $2/minute cell phone time.

Luckily, he eventually got a supervisor who was able to get them booked and waived the extra charges.

Yay! Everyone would be able to get home.

Or so we thought.

We arrive at Charles de Gaulle the next morning, make it through security, and to our gate with plenty of time to spare. Everything seems to be going as planned.

Until about 30 minutes before our flight.

When we start getting announcements and alerts that our flight to Frankfurt is delayed about 10 min.

This got my attention as we both only had exactly an hour, once we touched down in Frankfurt, to make our connecting flights. 10 min shouldn’t affect our ability to still make our connections, as long as it wasn’t any more than that.

But of course you know that wasn’t the case.

Soon we were looking at a delay of 30 min, and I was getting alerts on my phone that my parents were not going to make their connecting flight, but we should still be good on ours. Which was very confusing as we had 5 minutes difference in our connecting flight times.

So, I find myself at the desk, trying to see what our options are.

Sure enough, it didn’t look like my parents would make their connection, although their system was saying “no problem, you’ll make yours” as far as ours was concerned Still confused on that, but first things first. We needed to find another option for my parents.

The gate agents explore options, spend lots of time on their computer, phoning friends, and conversing in French, but finally come up with an alternative flight plan.
They will now fly to Munich, catch a flight to Newark, and still be there in time to catch their domestic flight to Maine.

Thank goodness, after all those $2/min minutes on the phone last night!

They get their new boarding passes, and head to their new gate.

Then the gate agent turns to me and says, “Now I have bad news”.

Of course now the system is saying we will not make our connecting flight either.

Nice of it to catch up.

So thus begins the search for alternative options for us to make it to Denver.
Cue more computer time, more phoning friends and conversations in French.

All to tell us that they have no other options. Any alternative flights are sold out or bounce us all over the country once we make it back to the US.

Our “best option” for now is to stay on our current flight to Frankfurt, and then try again for other options there, as they would have many more options available to them.

Which is how we find ourselves waiting to board our delayed flight. Which at least the plane has now showed up for and landed during all this research time.

We board our plane and are ready for push back and taxi by noon. The pilot comes on to announce the conditions are favorable and he thinks he can get us to Frankfurt in about 50 min as opposed to the hour and 5 minutes scheduled.

Hmm. Our connecting flight is scheduled for 1:25. If he can get us there in 50 min, that would leave us 30 min to still make our flight. We are in the front of the plane, and we can run if needed, so maybe we’ll make our connection after all!

Of course you know I wouldn’t be writing this if that was the case.

We push away from the gate, taxi out to our position for take off…and sit there for 20 min.

As the minutes tick away, I am realizing our chances are ticking away with them.

Finally the pilot comes on and says:

“Well folks, sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately, the plane that was right in front of us, had an ‘incident’ and needed to be contacted by police/security, which caused us to lose our take off slot, so now we are waiting for a new time”

I can’t make this stuff up. And now I really want to know what is going on on that other plane. Which of course I never find out.

But thanks to this “incident”, we find ourselves landing in Frankfurt at the exact same time that our flight to Denver is taking off.

Which is how we get the chance to add a 5th country and another night to our trip itinerary.

Despite all the glitches and the added visit to Urgent Care upon our arrival home, it really was an amazing trip, and I wouldn’t have traded the stories anyway. Just maybe the cough.

 

It’s A Short Story

This week’s trip brought a collection of short stories that all came together to create one memorable trip.

Chapter 1- The Tale of 5 Boarding Passes

Have you ever wondered how to collect 5 boarding passes in less than 12 hours? Look no further! I have your answer!

Boarding pass #1 was for my original booked flight on Southwest  from Denver to Oakland on Tuesday evening. However, that flight was cancelled, for reasons unknown, mid Tuesday morning. Frustrating, but I did appreciate the advanced notice.

Boarding pass #2 came when I was able to rebook on another flight on United from Denver to San Francisco that left just 15 min prior to my original flight. I can deal with that.

So I head up to DIA around the time I planned to leave, get to my gate and get settled in-  just in time to hear the announcement that this flight was also cancelled. Evidently, the plane had literally been struck by lightening on it’s approach to Denver, and needed to be pulled out of service for maintenance. I was glad it hadn’t been struck while I was on it, I guess.

Boarding pass #3 occurred when United took it upon itself to rebook me on a flight later that evening. Except that flight didn’t arrive into SFO until 1am, which would then be followed by an hour drive. That wasn’t really my idea of a good time, so I was already on the phone trying to rebook.

Boarding pass #4 was the result of my co-worker and I  both trying to rebook on another Southwest flight the next morning from Denver to Oakland at 8:25. Evidently, she is faster than I am with the app navigation, because she got the last seat and I got the “sorry this flight is sold out” message. So I had no choice but to book the 9:15 Denver to SFO flight.

Boarding pass #5 came from some savvy, frequent flyer persistence on my part. Since we were supposed to share transportation and had prep work to do for our meeting later in the day, I kept checking the 8:25 flight to see if someone got struck by lightening and wouldn’t be needing their seat after all. Sure enough! Around 9:30 pm a seat opened up on that flight, and after a call to Southwest I was rebooked on the 8:25 to Oakland.

Is it really any wonder that after all that, it took me 3 times of scanning the wrong pass at the gate, and 5 min of arguing with the gate agent that YES, the Denver to SFO boarding pass was the right one for trying to board my Denver to OAK flight? Give a girl a break!

You too can collect all 5 boarding passes just by following these few easy steps!

Chapter 2: Sea Kayaking in Wal-Mart

Just as I was leaving my house to head to the airport, I happened to check my email, and noticed two emails from Wal-Mart.com.

The first email was to thank me for my purchase of 2 sea kayaks for a mere $698.

The second email was to regretfully inform me they had to cancel my order, due to being unable to verify all my billing data.

You can imagine my confusion (and relief), since I had no recollection of placing any orders for sea-kayaks. Nor was I aware of any seas in which to kayak in our lovely Colorado. I also can’t  remember the last time that I shopped on Wal-Mart.com.

(It is possible this could have been another case of early onset dementia. Refer to Chapter 4)

I checked the credit card this was supposedly billed to, and sure enough, there was the charge for $698. Followed, thankfully, by the refund of the same amount.

What was more puzzling, though, was the fact that this is the same credit card that is constantly send me fraud alerts, or randomly declining my charges, for transactions that I am actually making. Like trying to buy tacos for a grand total of $32, 5 min from my house.

While I appreciate the concept of the fraud alerts, and also appreciate them trying to keep my information safe, I begin to feel there may be a flaw in their system if they decline my transaction for $32 tacos, but I don’t get as much as a whisper for them when someone else purchases kayaks for $698, at a place I never shop.

So I decide I need to call and explain the flaw in their system to them.

The only thing I got from that call was less logic applied to the explanation than is apparently applied to their fraud detection system. No one had any answer as to why tacos would trigger a high alert, but sea kayaks seemed of no concern.

They could agree I probably needed a new card, either way, since some sea loving criminal had obviously gotten their grubby hands on my number.

All I can say is, thank goodness Wal-Mart’s fraud detection system seems to operate better.

And so sorry, Mr. Sea-Kayaking Identity Theft. I hope this doesn’t mean you’ll drown on your sea adventure.

Chapter 3: Titanium is Higher than Platinum

Amidst all the fun I was having booking and re-booking multiple flights, I began to think the hotel personnel might be wanting some attention too, and realized I would need a place to sleep in Denver, so I could be up bright and early for round 2.

Of course when I logged on to search for hotels, every hotel within a 10 mile radius of DIA was sold out.

Evidently there was a lot of lightning striking and boarding pass roulette occurring this particular evening.

As any of you who know me know, and as my co-worker pointed out, I am not very good at taking no for an answer, however.

What good is having Titanium Elite hotel status, if it can’t turn a “no” into a “yes”?

So I call the Marriott reservations line to invoke my Titanium Elite, guaranteed room, ” we will kick someone out to welcome you” perk.

The first agent I spoke to tried to tell me that that perk was only good if invoked 48 hours prior to needing the room. Not only did this not work for me, but I was pretty sure that was inaccurate as well. So without wasting a lot of time going back and forth with her, I decided talking to someone at the Elite benefits desk might be in order.

I started to despair when that agent started out by telling me that indeed, there were no rooms available for that night but there were several open over the next few nights, then paused like he expected me to take him up on that offer. I had already explained the reason I needed a room was because my flight was cancelled and I was rebooked on an early flight the next morning, but he somehow thought presenting this option would make me go, “Oh! Ok then! I’ll take a room on Thursday night instead! Thanks!” ??

Evidently my reluctance to accept that offer transmitted through the phone lines, because he chose to quickly move on to options that might actually help me that night.

“I have status with Marriott and I thought that guaranteed me a room when needed?”

“Yes, it does guarantee a room for Platinum members”

Which is how I found myself uttering the phrase: “And I’m Titanium, which is higher than Platinum, so I should be able to get a room as well”

It took a little more “searching” on his part, and him patching me through to Gwen at the front desk of the airport Marriott, but he got it done.

And Gwen is now my new BFF. Not only did she get me a room, she put me in a suite that I seriously considered just booking from now until eternity and making it my home.

Chapter 4: Signs of Early Onset Dementia

I finally make it to CA, check into the hotel that really is starting to feel like a second home, and have plenty of time to unwind and prep for the evening meeting that made all of this worthwhile to begin with.

We head back to the hotel after the meeting and decide to change and head out in search of a late dinner and possibly (definitely) an adult libation or two.

I ride the elevator to my floor and then something happened that has never happened before.

I literally COULD. NOT. REMEMBER. MY. ROOM. NUMBER.

I have had momentary lapses before, especially after being in multiple hotels in the same week. But usually if I just stop for a second, focus and take a deep breath, I could quickly recall the right combination of numbers.

Not this time.

I walked down the hall to where I thought I remembered my room being, stopped in front of the door I thought was mine, and tried my key.

Nothing but a blinking red light.

I then did the slow, sad circle in the middle of the hall, looking for anything that would trigger recognition.

No luck.

I walked all the way to the other end of the hall to try the door in the same spot on that end, hoping I just zigged when I should have zagged.

Again with the red light.

Then I tried a couple random doors, just because I’m not a quitter.

Finally, I realized what I was going to have to do.

I was actually going to have to go down to the front desk and tell them I was an idiot.

I walked up to the girl at the front desk and decided to open with:

“Ok, you have to promise not to laugh too hard”

“Ok” she says with all her customer service training behind her, but I can see she is dying to know what comes next.

“I forgot what room I’m in”

Of course she laughed.

“Ok, I totally deserved that. You can tell that story as much as you want when I’m gone’

She looks me up and gets me my room number and a new key.

“I’ll just write that down for you here” she offers helpfully as she hands me the key.

“That’s probably a good call”

It’s sadly possible I’ve forgotten other great stories that happened on this trip before I had the chance to write them down for you.

Chapter 5: No Good Deed 

Once I found my way back to my room, I managed to change and find my way back to the lobby to meet my co-worker to head out for dinner.

We manage to find our way to the restaurant, but only because she was navigating, and I pull into the parking lot adjacent to the restaurant to park. It is pretty packed, and I pull into the only open spot I find. I get out to pay the meter, but the machine will not take my card. (I’m getting a complex when it comes to cards with magnetized strips). But it doesn’t like my co-workers card any better. Thankfully, someone in the row right behind us is pulling out, so I move the car to take that spot, and my co-worker walks over to feed that meter. We have more luck this time and head into to dinner.

Or so we thought.

After some great food, we come back out and as I start to climb into the car, notice a piece of paper flapping under the wiper. That can’t be what I think it is!

Sure enough, it a pretty little parking ticket worth $30.

How is this possible? We parked. We paid the meter. We followed all the rules!

Because of that little problem with “no” I mentioned before, I am climbing out of the car to take a picture of our meter, that still has time left on it, and already searching the ticket for a phone number.

Which is when I realized. Since the meters are not directly in front of the parking spot (which would be logical) but off to the right side (or so we thought) we had logically paid that meter. When I got out to take the picture, however, I realized we had paid the meter for the car next to ours, and left ours (on the left side of the car) blinking red and beckoning the parking police.

You’re welcome, random stranger, whose $30 ticket we are now paying. How does one expense a parking ticket?

Chapter 6: Mystery SOLVED!! 

Because we’ve covered airlines and hotels in this collection of short stories, it only seems right to include Uber.

And Amazon.

After another evening meeting tonight, I was headed back to Oakland for an early morning flight back to Denver. So I call an Uber, and off we go.

I never get car sick. Tonight, however, I was doing a lot of deep breathing to keep everything in my stomach where it was.

It wasn’t just that my driver was driving like the world was on fire, the shocks in his car probably should have been replaced at least 10 years ago. So every bump and turn in the road, turned my Uber into a carnival ride.

I was able to solve one of life’s great mysteries on my ride, however! Anyone who has read any of my posts, knows of my adventures with Amazon and packages being delivered (or not) or disappearing into the shipping black hole. I have finally discovered what happens to all the Amazon packages that never make it to my house!

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I know it’s a bit blurry, but it’s hard to take a good photo when you’re flying down the road at 90 mph.

But at least now I know where to look for all my missing packages!

In short, this weeks travel has fully prepared me for my upcoming 3 week vacation. I’m sure travel for fun will be much less eventful!