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.

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!

IMG_0616.jpg

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!

Episode 134: The Girl in the Hotel Room

I was going to start this post with the way my trip this week started. Which was with me pulling out of my garage to head to the airport, only to discover that I had a flat tire. But I thought “there is no way my faithful readers are going to believe that this is the start of another story barely over a year after it was the start to the first”  (let alone that this is the 5th time in a year). So I decided not to start with that. Even though it is 100% true.

Instead, I want to start with another phenomenon that seems too bizarre to have happened twice. A Bomb Cyclone.

I am pretty much convinced that whoever coined this phrase, is trying to get as much play out of it as possible before the next new and never before heard of weather phenomenon takes it’s place.

Like a “Grenade Tornado”. Or maybe an “Uzi Hurricane”.

I can’t think of any other reason I had never, in all my years, heard of a Bomb Cyclone, until a month ago, let alone how one could never have occurred before the year 2019. And yet we have now (supposedly) had 2 in a month.

I saw all the signs on the highway on my way to DIA, flashing Blizzard Warnings and alerts to expect travel disruptions.

So I can’t say I was very surprised when I woke up yesterday morning to an email saying my 7pm flight had already been cancelled.

Since I was in the lovely Bay Area, where it was gorgeous, and sunny and in the 70’s and where all the trees are in bloom, I wasn’t even that upset about being stuck another night in that climate, as opposed to dealing with a blizzard back home.

I was a little less understanding this afternoon, however, when I landed at DIA a little after noon, to find less than an inch of snow on the ground and completely clear roads.

Evidently the biggest weather event that CO ended up experiencing yesterday was a 60 degree drop in temperature. From a balmy 80 degrees on Tuesday to a chilly 23 degrees on Wednesday.

But in Colorado that just means you throw on your North Face fleece with your shorts and flip-flops.

So I got to spend another night in CA thanks to the “Little Blizzard that Wasn’t”.

(Just a thought for the future: Could we maybe wait until we actually see a snowflake before we shut down the city?)

If it wasn’t for this fantastic overreaction, however, I wouldn’t have a story to share with you this week, so for that we should all be grateful.

Since my flight was cancelled, and I was rebooked on an early morning flight out of Oakland this morning, I found myself in need of a hotel.

I haven’t spent any time in Oakland, mainly because Oakland is not a place one spends any time. However, I do know that there are areas of Oakland you do not want to venture into. With that in mind, I was pretty adamant that my hotel needed to be very close to the airport.

Unfortunately, while on the phone with our travel agency trying to find such a hotel, the only one with an available room, was a Radisson about a mile from the airport.

I have never stayed in a Radisson before, and it definitely would not normally top my list of places to stay, but the pictures looked okay, it was near the airport, and in an area I knew was okay, so I took it.

Or so I thought. Oh, what a difference a mile can make.

I arrive at the hotel at a little after 9pm, and as soon as I pull into the parking lot, I realize the area and the hotel may not be quite as ideal as I had anticipated. I actually sit in my car for a few moments trying to decide if I actually want to check in. But after weighing my options,  I decide that this is still a (maybe marginally) safer option than sleeping in my rental car on the side of the road, so I decide to just bite the bullet and just get to my room.

Just to paint the picture for you, the hotel is a 1950’s style motor court hotel, with two floors of rooms, that all have exterior entrances that open off the exterior corridor, and all look down on the central courtyard and the pool.

Think of every hotel where the person who does not want to be found in every tv show and movie you have ever seen has been, and that was this hotel.

I check in, and get to my room as quickly as I can, and decide to just turn in early and try to get these few hours over with as quickly as possible, hoping that I don’t wake up in an episode of Law & Order.

In all fairness, the hotel interior had obviously been recently upgraded, and despite the retro, art-deco 70’s era decor they chose not really being my style, it was clean and comfortable.

And despite the fact that it smelled like spaghetti-O’s and had this continuous, low volume ticking that sounded like the timer on a homemade bomb, coming from somewhere I never did locate, my room was pretty decent.

So I decided to just get in my pj’s try to forget the outside and the area, and just pretend I was in any of my normal hotel rooms for the next few hours.

I had just got in my pj’s, arranged everything for a quick departure in the morning, and was just getting ready to climb into bed with my book, when there is a knock at the door, followed by a pause, and then a male voice saying “Maintenance”

Because of course there is. If I was writing the script for this tv crime drama, I couldn’t have written it any better.

Which is also the reason there is no way I am opening that door.

I hesitate a second trying to decide what to do, then try to put on my most intimidating  “I’m a Judo black belt, don’t mess with me” voice, walk close to the door and say:

“Umm, maintenance for what?”

No answer. I am actually just starting to think I actually had scared him off and turned to go back to bed, when there is another knock, followed by a brief pause, and then the voice announcing “Maintenance” again.

Seriously. This writer is obviously a pro, and is following the recipe for a successful crime drama to a T. I can almost hear the “this is not going to end well for her” music swelling in the background.

“What are you here to fix?”

Another pause.

“I am here to fix….. that thing that is broken. Someone call the front desk”

Oh, in that case! Please come on in! That thing, that evidently neither one of us knows is broken, definitely needs to be fixed.

“I didn’t call the front desk. There’s nothing broken here”

I stand there and wait for over a minute, but I must have sounded way more scary this time because there is nothing else from his side of the door, and I assume he is gone.

I am definitely not going to pull aside the curtains and look out the window that makes up the entire wall to the right of door, however. That is a sure fire way to make the creepy music hit a crescendo when the psycho’s face is in the window.

(Seriously. whoever thought an exterior wall made of glass was ever a good idea in a hotel??)

I double check to make sure the deadbolt is secure, drag the armchair in the corner in front of the door for good measure, and decide if ever there was a night that sleeping pills were invented for, this was it. At least then I can say I slept through any nefarious events that might occur in the course of the night.

Thankfully, the sleeping pill does it’s job and the rest of the night passes uneventfully (at least to my knowledge) and I am up and out and on my way to the airport bright and early this morning.

I also want to take a moment to thank the airlines and air traffic control, that were so concerned for my safety, that instead of allowing me to fly in a non-blizzard, they allowed me to have a night in Hotel California instead.

 

Things Seem a Bit Foggy…

This week was a quick trip to Salt Lake City for dinner with a client.

At first I was excited, because I can actually get a quick direct flight from right here in COS without having to drive all the way to Denver!

Alas, when I looked at my two daily options, one put me into SLC way too early for my 6pm dinner, and one put me in too late.

But I wasn’t really in favor of spending 1/4 of my exactly 24 hour round trip on the road back and forth to Denver.

So instead I booked connecting flights with my dear friends on United out of COS. I did make sure the connections were in Denver, however, just in case my United friends continued their near perfect streak of travel issues. At least I would be within driving distance of home.

My trip to SLC was relatively uneventful. My super long 17 minute flight from Colorado Springs to Denver was a little bumpy, but who had time to really care.

I had just enough time on my 50 min layover to get some water and be ready for boarding.

My actual time in SLC, while with very few hours actually awake, was pretty nice. It was a beautiful evening in the bowl, and a pleasant dinner with good company.

I set my alarm before drifting off for 6am to make sure I had time to get to the airport and get the ever important coffee, before my 8:25am flight.

Except.

Having got my coffee, and starting to become pleasantly awake, I walk up to my gate just in time to hear them announce that we are on a “ground hold” from Denver flight control, due to “freezing fog” in Denver.

Wait. What?

Freezing fog? Is that really a thing?

I have traveled a lot for a lot of years. How have I never heard of frozen fog at any other time, on any other trip? Not to mention my slightly more than a few years on this planet. I’m quite sure I have never heard of freezing fog at any point during this time.

I make a note to consult with my super smart 3rd grade friend, Christopher, who I happen to know, through his mom, is studying weather.

They continue to say that at that point, the delay is only set for 30 min, and everyone should be good on their connections, so I decide to finish enjoying my coffee.

As the coffee continues to clear the un-frozen fog in my brain, however, I realize I am hearing the ongoing boarding announcements for the Delta flight to Denver, that is also scheduled to leave at 8:25.

Something is wrong with this picture. Both flights are heading to Denver?

Check.

Both are scheduled to leave at 8:25?

Check.

But somehow, the Delta flight is actually boarding and not delayed, while us lucky United passengers are sitting here at the gate and at least 30 min delayed.

Curiouser and curiouser.

I decide not to get too worked up yet. Maybe the Delta crew just haven’t gotten the message, and all those people will actually just sit on the plane during their ground hold, instead of in the slightly more comfortable terminal.

But I just continue to watch as the Delta plane is loaded, the doors closed, and it pushes off the gate.

Sure enough, it takes off merrily on it’s way to Denver as planned.

What kind of weather is this that only affects one airline and not another?!?

I bite my tongue, and take a deep breath, and decide as long as we leave at 9 and my connection is intact, all will be well in the end.

But of course we don’t.

At 9, instead of coming on to announce we will be starting the boarding process, they come on to announce that we are now on another delay for at least another hour, because instead of the Denver fog un-freezing, it is actually getting more frozen. And now I will definitely miss my connection

Now I can’t help myself. I must inquire.

So I walk up to my United agents and ask if they can explain what I obviously missed in 3rd grade weather, about this frozen fog that can affect one airline and not another.

Of course they missed that day in 3rd grade too, and have no answer for me, except that since United has the largest fleet, they are often the most affected by weather issues.

But not to worry! They have already rebooked my connection to the 3:45pm flight to COS.

I literally can not form a response to this, despite being fully loaded with coffee, except to  give them my tilted head, scrunched up eye look.

I take another deep breath and decide continuing the conversation is going to be pointless, so instead I head back to my seat, while I pull up the Delta app on my phone. Sure enough, their 8:25 flight is en route to Denver and still on track to touch down in about 20 minutes time. I also see that they have another flight heading to Denver at 9:59, that is also, miraculously, showing on time.

So I make my way over to the Delta desk directly across the terminal from my United desk.

“I was just curious, if this was accurate, and if your 8:25 flight actually took off to Denver with no issues?”

“Yes”

“And your 9:59 flight is still on time and not delayed?”

“Um, yes I think so. Let me check. Yes. It’s on time”

“Hmmm. I’m just a little confused, because I’m on that United flight right there, that was also supposed to take off at 8:25 to Denver, but was delayed due to weather. So, I’m not really sure how the weather isn’t affecting your planes”

“Yeah, I heard those announcements, and I was wondering what that was about.” Then she looks at me. “But, um, sometimes, it’s the type of aircraft that is affected or not”

I just give her my “I don’t really know what to say to that” look and move on.

“Ok, so are there any seats still left on your 9:59 flight?”

She consults her computer. “It looks like there are 4 seats left”

“Great, thanks! I’ll be right back”

I turn and walk back across the hall to my United friends, wait for them to finish finding solutions for the other un-connected passengers, and when it is finally my turn, I ask them to push my ticket to Delta, so I can travel with an airline that appears impervious to weather.

“But that will only get you to Denver. You won’t have your connection to Colorado Springs”

“I’m pretty sure I can manage” is all I say. I don’t say that even if the United flight did manage to take off at 10, I wasn’t exactly planning on sitting around DIA until 4pm waiting for a 17 min flight.

To the agents credit, he pushed the ticket to Delta without much more to-do, except to say that he has never really been able to figure out the way they manage weather delays either. I just give him a smile, thank him for my Delta voucher, and head to my Delta gate to check in.

5 min later, I have a boarding pass, and another 5 min after, we are actually boarding the plane. While the United crew is still sitting at their gate.

Besides being a bit more bumpy than normal upon approach to DIA, our hour long flight flew by, and I land to what appears to be a sunny, 45 degree day in Denver.

I hop on the train to the main terminal, call an Uber as I ride up the escalator, and walk out to Arie waiting for me at the curb.

Arie is a tiny Asian grandpa, who seems genuinely excited when he sees he has to drive me to Colorado Springs. I assume it’s the triple digit fare that helps with this.

As soon as we leave the airport, Arie literally drives his Prius like there are monsters chasing us, and we make it from DIA to COS airport in an hour and 30 min flat. That might actually be a record, even for me, who has had a speeding ticket or two.  I could take driving lessons from Arie, I think.

And at 3:45 I had had my lunch, unpacked and was sitting comfortably in my house.

Cats aren’t the Only Ones with 9 lives

I almost died this week.

You’re probably wondering how I can be emotionally recovered enough to be writing about that, just a day or two later. But the truth is, this is not my first near death experience.

I seem to have regular, periodic episodes that allow me to evaluate my life as it flashes before my eyes and see how I’m doing so far.

Some of these episodes may, admittedly,  be of my own doing. I seem to have this occasional cerebral hiccup that  allows me to believe my skills and abilities are far above where they are in reality. Some are due to the choices of others or the Fates. Either way, they do manage to keep life exciting.

Like the time I was trampled by a horse.

Or the time I was hit by a car.

Or that time I almost rolled backwards over the edge of Pikes Peak. Good times!

Or that one time I tried CrossFit. (Seriously people. Who invented that torture??)

I also know that my frequent traveling increases my potential for danger. While I understand that flying is stastically safer than driving in my car, let’s face it. When you’re hurtling through the air at hundreds of miles per hour, thousands of feet off the ground, it doesn’t take much to throw things off.

Even with that delicate balance, in all the hundreds of flights I have taken in the past few years, I have never been in danger, and have escaped with nary a scratch (if we don’t count the head injuries from the monstrous backpacks people carry).

I’m afraid I can’t say the same about the airports, however.

Like the time that the escalator handrail decided to eat my sweater, that I happened to be wearing at the time. The handrail tried to pull my sweater back down, as the rest of me continued to follow the step under my feet up.

That could have ended badly.

Or the time that I nearly got crushed by the automatic train door. I barely escaped, but my bag wasn’t so lucky,

The airport was the scene for this week’s near death encounter too.

For any of you unfamiliar with the Denver airport, to get from any of the terminals to the main terminal, you have to take a train. And to get to this train you have to go down a set of escalators.

There is one escalator that takes you halfway down, then you make a U-turn to get on the second escalator that will take you to the bottom.

This means the second escalator is slightly offset and below the top one. This will be important in a second.

I had successfully made it down the first escalator, made my U- turn, and was about halfway down the second, when the incident occurred.

Someone who was still on the top escalator- and who evidently skipped or slept through the day momentum and gravity and falling objects was explained in physics class- either failed to see the need to secure their metal water bottle to their bag or their person, or decided that was a good time to juggle this metal water bottle and missed the grab.

The water bottle took a swan dive over the side of the top escalator and arced through the air to miss my head by inches, and land on the step right behind me on the bottom escalator.

Did I mention this water bottle was metal?

So when it failed to give me a much more serious head injury than any I’ve received from gargantuan backbacks, it nearly succeeded in taking me out with a heart attack at the sound of metal hitting metal right behind me.

At least, had it succeeded in ending my life, I would have been glad I hadn’t seen it coming.

I retrieved the water bottle, and had a very educational lesson on physics ready to deliver to the owner when they retrieved it at the bottom. However, the owner decided they weren’t interested in either the lecture or the water bottle, and never came forward.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to try to make sure I get all I can out of the few lives I have remaining.

 

 

 

 

 

Escape Room: Bathroom Edition

Thanks to my last trip of the year delivering on the story front, here’s an early Christmas gift for all of you.

Last night I was in Sioux Falls to close out one part of the projects we have been working on there. To celebrate we went out for a team dinner and a little pre-holiday cheer.

One of our team mates found a super cool, rehabbed warehouse with a craft fair/market type decor for us to patron.
Since we were a larger group, they sat us in their basement area with one other larger group.

Shortly after we sat down, I decided to visit the lady’s room before we got too far into the wine drinking and noshing. I scoped out the downstairs dining room, and in the back corner I spied a heavy-duty metal door, that looked like an outdoor exit door, but that clearly had a “restroom” sign over it.

So off to the far back corner I headed.

I pushed open the door and found myself in another industrial type area that was like a cross of a church basement and outside alleyway on the inside.

Interesting.

I immediately found the men’s room just to the right, but didn’t see a women’s room anywhere in the vicinity. There was an open area just past the men’s room, and several hallways going in multiple directions. I walked around the open area, peeked down the closest hallways, and tried a couple of doors, but didn’t find anything that appeared to be a women’s room.

Since there didn’t seem to be any other human being in sight, and the men’s room was a single-seater, I decided that bathroom had just become unisex, and would do just fine for what I needed.

So I locked myself in, completed my to-do’s, and prepared to head back to join my group.

Except when I pulled on the door I came through, it didn’t move.

Huh.

I did a quick look around to make sure this was the door I came through, and there wasn’t another twin somewhere nearby.

Nope. This was the door.

I pulled again, thinking maybe I just needed to apply a little more muscle.

Nothing. This door was clearly locked.

Did this fun, funky, warehouse/market restaurant throw in a free escape room experience to the first lucky guest who decided to use the restroom?

I mean, I guess that could be cool, but having not been prepared for this, I wasn’t sure that was how I wanted to spend my evening.

I quickly considered calling my crew and asking someone to rescue me. But contrary to current culture of having your phone permanently affixed to one of your appendages, I actually don’t bring my phone to the bathroom with me on a regular basis. One, because I don’t think any restroom activity needs to be recorded for posterity or social media sharing. And two, I don’t feel the need to discuss holiday plans, dinner recipes or any other vital life matters in the echoing confines of a bathroom stall.

So I had no way to contact anyone on the other side of that door.

Then I spent a few minutes wondering how long it would take for my group to realize I was gone and come looking for me. As much as I like to think I am an essential component of any party or good time, and that my incredible wit and captivating conversational skills are key to any get together, I quickly realized that the entire meal could be completed and it may not be until everyone was looking to depart back to the hotel that they realized their driver was missing.

Well. I guess it was up to me to find a way out of this unexpected situation.

Luckily, I had just watched the new Lara Croft, Tomb Raider on the plane the week before, so I felt well prepared to tackle this challenge!

First, I gave the door one more good shake, jiggling it on its hinges as much as possible. You know, just in case the industrial lock on it was defective and I could pop it by sheer force.

I know you are as shocked as I was that that didn’t work.

So I turned to survey my surroundings.

I know this building used to be some sort of warehouse, and we are in the basement, so I decide, logically, that there may at least be some sort of outside exit down here somewhere. If I could at least get outside, I was sure I could find my way back to the front entrance.

I also know that the staircase we came down, and the front entrance, were to the right of where I was standing now.

So I decide to start with the hallway furthest to the right.

At the very least I’m hoping I’ll find a fire alarm I can pull and invite lots of people to my little escape adventure.

I walk past the men’s room, into that open, rec room type area, and head towards the hall on the right.

Just a couple of steps down the hall, there is a door labeled “Public Staircase” on the left. I pause in front of the door to consider this option. At the very least it looks like it could lead outside. Provided it isn’t locked.

I am just about to test it, when I clearly hear the sounds of people dining and restaurant white noise coming from further down the hall.

I decide to go a little further, on the off-chance there is access back to the restaurant.

I walk literally about 5 more steps, where the hall takes another little jog to the right, and sure enough, a pair of swinging double doors appear in front of me.

The door on the right is propped open, through which I can clearly see wait staff trekking back and forth and further in the distance, a table full of diners.

Wait. What?

How did I miss the part where I got to use my shirt as a makeshift tourniquet? Or use my hair pin to secure a jungle vine so I could swing across the big ravine? Or where I cling by my fingernails to a sheer cliff while the ground beneath me tilts and disintegrates?

Did I really watch the Lara Croft training video for nothing??

Because here I was at an exit, less than 50 feet and one right turn from where I started.

I let the restaurant know in my Yelp review that their escape room experience could use some work. But the food got rave reviews.

 

 

 

Lost In Paradise

We just got back from an amazing week on the beaches in Belize. One of those vacations that you don’t want to end. Sun, sand and sea. Can’t think of a much better combo.

But of course, even Paradise has stories.

On our first full day, after spending the morning soaking up as many sun rays as possible, we decided to take the paddle boards out for a spin. We get the paddle boards in the water, get on our feet and start slowly paddling out to sea. We had just cleared the end of the pier, enjoying the starfish the size of dinner plates hanging out on the bottom of the ocean, when yours truly tries to adjust her footing…. and promptly loses her balance and finds herself swimming with the starfish.

I break the surface, flailing like a fish out of water, recover my paddle board, finish hacking half the Pacific out of lungs and start towing my board back in so I can get back on top of it, since the view was better than from underneath.

I go a couple feet when I realize my sunglasses, that I had just pushed up on my head prior to deciding to take a swim, are no longer there.

Of course.

I do a quick look around to see if any of those starfish are sporting a new pair of shades, but no luck.

J-man, who was still comfortably on his board starts paddling around in circles close to where I tumbled to see if he can locate them. Even with the crystal clear water he wasn’t having much luck, so I towed my board back to shore,  grabbed a snorkel mask instead and decided to extend my swim and see if I could enjoy some tropical fish who hopefully had found my glasses.

Finally, after about 10 minutes, of J-man scouting from his perch, and me swimming around with my face in the water, he finally located them.

And patiently paddled in place until I decided to come up from below and could actually hear him trying to tell me that I was heading in the wrong direction and the sunglasses were right in front of him.

The important thing is the sunglasses were rescued.

Fast forward to our last evening on the island. We walked back to our cabana after dinner, which was the very last one on the end of the island.

Believe me when I tell you that it gets dark on the island at night. Which is great for watching the stars from the hammock. But not so great for what was coming next.

The wind had been picking up through dinner and we were watching lightening over the water on our walk back, so I decided I would collect all our various swim gear and towels we had hanging out on the deck to dry.

I collect everything hanging in various places, and realize half of one of my bathing suits was missing.

Luckily, using the flashlight on my phone, I quickly find it. Bobbing in place in the water, about 10 feet from our cabana.

We have an overwater cabana, with a ladder directly into the water.

Except the bathing suit is bobbing on the “bad side” of the cabana. Remember I said we were on the end? One side was clearer and swimmable.

The other side was seaweed laden and not so clear.

And it is dark.

But the suit is bobbing not too far from shore, and J-man is like “you can totally just wade out and get it.”

But I can’t see without my flashlight.

So I decide to wade out with my phone in my hand and try to reach it.

I make my way down to the edge of the water, where there is a water break I have to climb over with lots of seaweed jammed up against it.

I take one step over the water break and into the water,

And sink up to my knees in muck.

It literally sucked one of my flip flops off my foot (thank goodness I hadn’t taken those off) and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to extract the other from the salty quicksand.

As I’m trying to extract my one foot without putting my other back in the muck and not losing my balance and dropping my phone in, my child is laughing from the deck.

Very helpful.

I finally get free of the sink hole and safely back on shore.

Justin says “Just go around the other side and wade under the cabana to it”

Except it’s dark. And I’m definitely not doing that with my phone in hand. I’m not real keen on going for a night swim and  running into one of the stingrays, nurse sharks or barracuda’s  we’ve been sharing the water with, when I can’t see a thing.

I didn’t like that bathing suit that much anyway.

And now I am covered from toe to hip in nasty, black muck.

So much for bed, I need a decontaminator.

I finally go to bed, assuming my bathing suit bottom with peacefully float out to sea over night to it’s forever resting place.

Except it doesn’t.

It’s still bobbing there in the morning.

I can’t just leave it there to be the welcoming sight to the next guest walking up the ramp to their cabana.

And if I don’t retrieve it, that means one of the workers is going to have to.

And although they are probably much better equipped with long poles and the such, my conscience gets the better of me and I find myself ready to wade back in.

The good news is, Justin was right. It was relatively easy going in from the other side and wading under the cabana.

Especially in the daylight, when I could watch for predators.

The good news is the bathing suit bottom was rescued.

And I leave the island with everything I arrived with.

And a great tan.

 

The Old Woman who Lived Without a Shoe

This week was a 3 day trip to a couple of our countries fair cities, which included a day of 3 time zones, 2 flights and 5 hours in a car. And that was just Day 3.

With all my flights this week, I got to experience TSA at a super small airport with no Pre-Check. So of course my bag was selected for special screening.

The supervisor who opened my bag to look for the dangers lurking within, rifled through all my stuff and commented that I had “numerous” toiletries, (all under the requisite 3.6 oz, might I point out) but that she would let it fly (yes, that is a pun), but she wanted to give me a heads up as “other airports may not be as accommodating”

Since she was being nice, and didn’t make me go back and check my bag, I decided not to point out that I have flown through many, many, many airports, and that I pack the same way every week, and have never had an issue elsewhere. Instead I just said “thanks for the tip” and moved on.

Speaking of packing, I know I dispelled the myth a few months back, that just because I am a frequent traveler does not mean that I am a great or efficient packer. However, I may have had the ultimate example of the lack of my packing expertise a few weeks back.

It was just a quick overnight trip, and I was scheduled on the last flight out that night. And that flight was delayed for 3 hours out of Denver.

I know, I know. You’ve heard this story before. Bear with me. There’s a twist you aren’t expecting coming, I promise.

I have a routine when I pack, and I found I really can’t vary from that routine, without there being a negative consequence. I pack for each day individually, and make sure I have everything I need for that day before moving on to the next.

Since this was just a one day trip, I’m not sure how I managed to mess it up as royally as I did, but it happened.

As the meme I found earlier this week said, my brain browser often has multiple tabs open, and frequently one or more of those tabs may freeze up and stop responding.
That is what must have happened to my packing tab on this particular day. I just didn’t realize it was frozen until it was too late.

I finally arrive at my hotel, 3 hours late, and as I always do,  proceed to open my suitcase, and take out my clothes for the next morning, to allow for as much “de-rumpling” time as possible. I hang my dress and jacket up and then pull out one shoe, and …..

Wait a minute. Why is there only one shoe?

Indeed. Upon further inspection of my bag, it held only one shoe.

Please don’t ask me how this happened. I still can’t tell you. I would have actually felt better if there had been no shoes in the bag, and I had forgotten them altogether. But how I managed to pack one shoe and not the other remains a mystery.

So now I am faced with the dilemma of how I am going to resolve this shoe problem before my meeting at 8am the next morning. It is now almost midnight, so there is no way anything is going to be open now.

As much as I could use the exercise, I know there is no way I have the stamina to hop around on one foot all day.

I consider going barefoot and saying I’ve embraced a simpler lifestyle, want to be in tune with the earth and all that, but I’m not sure I can pull that off in a suit jacket.

And there is no way the boots I wore on the plane are going to work with my dress and fall into the business dress code.

But what shoe store is going to be open before 8am in the morning?

I’m a little afraid I’m going to have to get two cast shoes from the 24-hour Walgreens and try to pass them off as the latest fashion trend. (C’mon, I know you already want a pair)

So this is how I find myself googling for “shoe stores” at almost midnight, to see if there is anything that might open early.

Luckily I find that the local Target is open at 7am!

So, instead of sleeping in an extra 30 min or so to make up for not getting to bed until midnight, I find myself setting my alarm even earlier, so I can be waiting at the Target when they open their doors at 7am.

I manage to find a pair of shoes that are actually presentable (I’ve even worn them again since!), check out (they were literally still turning on the self checkout scanners) and make it back to pick up my co-worker, to get to our meeting on time.

Mission accomplished!

I will, however, be sure that I am refreshing that packing tab to make sure it is fully loaded prior to zipping up my suitcase moving forward.

 

Cloudy with a chance of Candy Canes

**Warning**: I am about to leak an international secret that may not be suitable for small children and more than a few adults.

Santa Claus summers in Sioux Falls, SD.

I know this because I saw him at the airport today.

Oh, he thought he was being clever in his cargo shorts and Hawaiian shirt. But there is no camouflaging that snow-white hair, that beard and those rosy cheeks.

I suppose, from the North Pole, Sioux Falls is a reasonable southern destination. Maybe he’s a fisherman.

I should have risked making the naughty list and blowing his cover to try to get some of his Christmas luck before embarking on my trip back to Denver.

Now, I will admit. I may have incured some bad travel karma earlier in the day, when I was listening to my team mates tell their travel woes while trying to connect through Minneapolis last night. Evidently there were thunderstorms in the area that caused them to suffer long delays and resulted in them not arriving until the wee hours of the morning. I may have been silently gloating about my hour long direct flight from Denver to Sioux Falls and back.

I won’t be doing that again.

It was, indeed, slightly over an hour for us to reach the DIA air space this afternoon. The flight crew came on to announce we were making our final approach and would be at our gate in 10 short minutes.

And then, 5 min later, we are suddenly banking sharply right and ascending towards the clouds again.

Our pilot comes on to let us know we are needing to circle around and approach from the other direction, due to a “weather anomaly”.

Hmmm.

Ok, so I may have been craning to look out my window for Santa’s sleigh….

Our circling around, became at least 3 circles and about an extra 45 min in the air watching DIA from every direction down below us.

Now, I have flown A LOT, and have never once even come close to getting air sick. But whatever that “weather anomaly” was, made me think I may lose the lunch I didn’t have at least a couple times in those endless circles.

We finally land, pretty close to the Colorado/Kansas line, and drive approximately another 4 hours on the runway, just to come within view of the terminal.

Which is as close as we got. The pilot comes on to inform us that all airport traffic is on “hold” due to the weather in the area. Even the ground crews have been pulled off the tarmac.

Fantastic. I, for one, am a big fan of being delayed when you can actually see your gate right in front of you.

We finally are cleared to approach…  and are told we will be deplaning via jet bridge.  Onto the tarmac that 10 minutes earlier, it wasn’t safe for the ground crew to be on.

Oh. And by the way. Would those of you who checked your bags at the gate (because our plane was too small to have overhead bins larger than the average glove box), just stand to one side, on this tarmac, to wait for your bags.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t mind acting as an additional human lightening rod for the Denver airport. It’s not like my hair was frizzy enough today already.

I will say this, though. Lightening and stormy weather do make the ground crew move a lot faster in retrieving and delivering our bags!

I really think I deserved for it to rain at least one candy cane after all that.