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.

 

 

The Wheels on the Bus and other stories

I knew it was a trip destined for stories before it started. I had a last minute meeting tacked on top of another that I couldn’t move, which meant I was going to have to fly from home to Boise, to Orlando over the course of 3 days. It had fun written all over it!

Because of other meetings and commitments, I booked the last flight out to Boise for the night. Which meant I left my house just before 4pm. I climbed in my car and backed out of my garage, only to hear the ding of an alert popping up on my dash.
I looked down to see my low tire pressure alert illuminated.

This wasn’t really surprising. With the crazy temperature swings we had been having, I had had to go in a couple times over the past couple months to have them top up one tire or another. I checked my tire pressure monitor, only to have it tell me that my back left tire had a tire pressure of zero.

Hmmm. That’s a little more than low. My car wasn’t driving like it had a completely flat tire, though. Just to be safe, I pulled over at the bottom of my hill to check.

It was pretty low. But it wasn’t completely flat. It wasn’t riding on the rim or anything like that, so I decided it was safe to drive it to the dealership and have them top me up. (All you car enthusiasts can message me later to explain why this was a horrendous idea) And yes, I was still telling myself a little air in the tire would solve my problem.

I get to the dealership, and say I hate to be one of “those people”, but I was on my way to the airport and didn’t have much time, and could they please just add some air to my tire so I could be on my way. The tech was very gracious and said he’d go right out and take a look.

Which he did. And then came right back in.

To tell me that I had a piece of metal in my tire, and that adding air was not going to do me much good. I was going to need a whole new tire. He went on to explain that if they had it in stock (they did) they could have it replaced within an hour.

Except I didn’t have an hour to wait. If I hadn’t left my house 20 min early to give myself time to grab something to eat, I would already be borderline on making my flight. And I was already on the last flight out.

Luckily, I have really good friends. As soon as I called my friend Jane and explained the situation, she offered to switch cars with me for the week and was on her way. By the time we had finished the paperwork, she was there, and I threw my suitcase in the back of her car and was on my way.

While she sat to wait for them to finish my tire. Like I said. I have good friends.

Her husband, Scott, did mention, as he handed me the keys, that the car was a little low on gas (as they hadn’t anticipated a last minute trip to DIA), but I shouldn’t worry about it and just go. I had plenty of gas to make it.

So off I went.

I got all the way to the airport exit when the gas light came on.

I checked the “distance to empty” meter and it told me I had 7 miles to go.

The airport was 10 miles away. Plus the miles back to the gas station upon my return.

I spent the next 5 miles debating whether I should stop and risk missing my flight.

I decided I had no choice and pulled into the gas station about 2 miles outside the airport.

Somehow, I topped up, found parking and made it to my flight on time.

Crisis averted!

The rest of my trip to Boise was uneventful.

However, due to the late hour of my meeting in Boise the following day, I could not make any flights out to Orlando that night. So I found myself up at 5am to catch the first flight out in the morning.

Because, believe it or not, there is no easy way to get from Boise to Orlando. How do these people get to The Happiest Place on Earth?? It involves an entire day of traveling, which does not seem right when one wants to pay a visit to Mickey and Minnie.

I make it to my Orlando hotel just in time to check-in, drop my bag and head to dinner with my team. It was not as warm as Orlando should be, but we had a great dinner, even if it wasn’t on a patio.

I dropped one of my teammates at her hotel around the corner from mine and head back to mine.

I am sitting at the light on the backside of my hotel, when 4 firetrucks, and ambulance and a police car come flying through the light and make the turn towards the entrance to my hotel.

I don’t think much of it, besides the typical “wonder what’s going on?” sirens always elicit, since the entrance to the highway was just past my hotel, so I just assume they are headed there.

Until my light turns green and I make the turn to my hotel myself.

And see all the EMS vehicles stopped in the road, blocking the entrance to my hotel with the police car pulled around blocking the road, about halfway down the block.

The policeman sees me coming and climbs out of his vehicle and gestures for me to go back.

I roll down my window and explain that I am staying at the hotel.

He shakes his head, and simply says again “I need you to turn around”

We are on a one way street and there are cars lining both sides.

“I’m not sure where I’m supposed to go”

“Not my problem. I need you to turn around” is the response.

Thank you. That is very helpful. (But I only think this) as I put the car in reverse and reverse back to the end of the block where there is finally a hole that allows me to turn around before I’m forced to back into two way traffic.

I manage to find another entrance to the parking garage, explain to the attendant on duty, that while I am staying at the hotel, I had used valet when I checked in, so I had no ticket to enter the garage, and he nicely showed me how to drive through and get to valet and the front entrance the back way.

I pull up to valet and see that now all the guests from the hotel are standing in and along the street, and the valet comes up to tell me, that indeed, they are evacuating the hotel. They are unable to tell me what is going on, but the let me just sit in my car there until either the building explodes or they let us all back in.

Luckily, after 10 or so minutes, the building is still intact and they are allowing people to return inside.

As I make my way to the elevators, however, there are hotel employees blocking access to them and letting folks know, the elevators are still out of service and we will need to use the stairs to get back to our rooms.

I again take the opportunity to ask what is causing all the excitement, but am again told they don’t know.

So I ask if they are actually letting people back onto the floors. I am on the 13th floor (yes, the irony is not lost on me), and while I am not above a good jaunt up the stairs, I didn’t relish climbing 13 stories only to be told we couldn’t get on the floor to our rooms.

I was again told they didn’t know.

So I opt for waiting in the lobby until someone who might know something might appear and at least verify that it was safe to make the trek.

After awhile two of the elevators start moving, and out pour fireman and all their equipment when they hit the lobby.

They let us all know that everyone may return to their rooms, with the exception of anyone whose room was on the 5th floor.

I do wonder what is still going on on the 5th floor as I make my way back to my room, and for the briefest of moments wonder what the poor souls on the 5th floor are going to do, but by this point it is 10:30, I have been up since 5am, and all I care about is getting into bed. If the 5th floor collapses and all the floors above it by default, I plan to be sound asleep while I plummet to my demise.

Luckily, I wake up the following morning, still in my bed, which is still on the 13th floor, and the hotel seems no worse for the wear and much calmer than the night before.

I take one last stab at trying to get to the bottom of the prior nights excitement as I check out, but the clerk only says “oh yes. I read about it in our shift report. But I’m not really sure what happened”

Hmmm. Curiouser and Curiouser. I’m afraid I will be unable to solve the mystery for you in this post.

The good news is: By the time I got home, all four of my tires were inflated and rotating as needed.

 

When Murphy’s Law kicks your butt….

It all started with static cling.

I should have known when my dress was clinging to my tights before I even left the hotel room- despite a vigorous application of Static Guard- what kind of day this was going to be .

I probably should have just curled back up in the hotel bed and  decided to skip the day.

But I didn’t.

I foolishly ignored the signs and ventured out into the world.

And Murphy laughed and said “Game on!”

I got as far as the parking lot before he fired his first shot.

I popped the trunk on my rental car, threw my bags in, and closed the trunk.

Only to hear those 3 little horn honks that say “you just did something really dumb”

As soon as I heard them, I knew exactly what that dumb thing was. I had just shut my car key in the trunk. I tried the trunk release button over the license plate, only to hear the same 3 honks letting me know that wasn’t going to work with the key inside.

No big deal. At least I had been smart enough to unlock the car before I did that. So I just had to go inside and pop the trunk with the release button.

But here’s a fun fact!  The new Chevy Malibu does not have a trunk release button on the interior of it’s vehicle. For some unknown reason, the designers of the new Malibu-quite likely in the hopes of being perceived as innovative and cutting edge- decided there was no need for an interior trunk release button.

I know this because after I spent many minutes searching for one ( and fearing that I may not be as smart as I thought), I actually googled “where to find the trunk release in a Chevy Malibu”.  Only to have Google tell me there isn’t one.

Huh.

Well, that’s fine. I’ll just climb in the back and pull down one of the seats, or at the very least, the cup holder arm rest in the center. There is always at least a hole to the trunk there, and I can just reach in and grab my bag and rescue my key.

I know you can see where this is going.

Evidently, the Malibu engineers felt there was absolutely no reason anyone would ever need access to the trunk from inside the vehicle. And Google confirmed, that indeed, the only access to the trunk was through the key fob.

Which can’t be accessed if it is in the trunk.

Google does have some stories of other unfortunate souls, who obviously had also challenged good old Murphy to a duel, and they had been successful in retrieving their keys by contacting OnStar.

So I climbed back into the car and pushed the handy OnStar button.

But of course I do not own the vehicle I am sitting in, so my friendly OnStar tech had no way of knowing that I was actually the owner of the bag I say I am trying to access in the trunk and not some nefarious character trying to purloin someone else’s wallet.

So they have to contact the car rental agency, which takes a very long time to accomplish.

We finally have three people on the phone trying to work this out, and the car rental person is telling me that the only option we have is for them to send a tow truck, since the keys are locked in the car and we can’t get in: I am explaining that key is actually locked in the trunk, and that I am actually in the car at that moment: and then she is saying there is no way to pop the trunk: when all of a sudden I hear the trunk pop.

I think the OnStar tech took pity on me.

I quickly thank the rental car rep, tell her I’m good to go, and jump out and rescue my key.

The day can go on!! Take that Murphy!

I’m only a few minutes late for my meeting, the meeting goes off without a hitch as does my two hour drive back to the airport.

I’m thinking Murphy was so impressed with my ingenuity that he has moved on.

Then I get to the airport.

I go up to the desk to check in and inquire if there is any way to get on the earlier connecting flight out of Chicago. The ticket agent actually laughs and says everything is completely sold out due to fog in Chicago earlier that morning that has wreaked havoc on the flight schedules.

No big deal. I check in for my original flight, check my bag and head to security.

I make it through security and head into the gift shop to get a water and a snack. I’m just checking out, when my phone dings with an alert.

My flight to Chicago has just been cancelled.

Since I already know that all the other flights are already sold out, I jump on the phone with our company travel agents and they scour every airline for any available seats.

They find only one seat that will get me home before Sunday. And it costs roughly as much as a semester of college.

But I have no choice, as I HAVE to be home the next morning to continue my fight with the insurance company from having been hit by a car on my bike nearly two years ago.

(Oh, have I not told you that story yet??)

They book the seat, and I go back out to check in to have them retrieve my bag (because of course this is one of those times I had checked a bag). There are lines a mile long at every customer service counter, the baggage claim office and the check in counter, and as I join this line I am seriously concerned that by the time my bag is radioed for and retrieved, I will miss my other flight.

After nearly 30 min, I get within one person of the front and take a chance. I tell the guy in front of me, that I have already been re-booked on another flight, and I promised not to steal his seat, but that I just needed them to get my bag back so I could make my new flight.

Luckily he was a kind individual and let me go first.

They radio for my bag, and unbelievably my bag appears at baggage claim in a record 10 min.

I am rechecked in, back through security and at my new gate with time to spare.

I never thought I would say United saved the day.

I make it to Houston, change terminals and board my plane to Denver without further incident.

I land in Denver 3 hours later than planned, but it looks like I’ll make it home without further incident.

Until I look at my phone.

I have a little weather alert that notifies me there are currently “light snow showers” in Denver.

Huh. I had been looking at the weather and it was 60 degrees earlier in the day without even the slightest hint of snow mentioned in the forecast.

Like any good Coloradan, however, I know we can go from summer to winter in 3 hours or less without any warning, and I am not too worried about “snow showers”, so I think nothing of it.

I collect my bag (which despite the bright orange “Star Priority” tag on it, and the small fortune I paid for my seat, which should have ensured it was one of the first bags off the plane, is nearly the last- of course!), get to my car and head out on the long drive home.

It may, indeed, have been snow showers for the first few minutes, but those “showers” quickly turned into a full on blizzard which is making it very challenging to see 3 feet in front of you.

Murphy is having himself a good laugh by now I am sure.

The weather and the roads only get worse the further I drive, until you can no longer tell where the lanes on the road are because we are driving through at least 4 inches of snow on the highway.

Let me just take a minute to say, we have not had any winter in Colorado until the past two weeks, so I would assume the snow plow drivers would be happy for some work and working overtime to keep our roads clear. However, the only plow I saw in the entire drive from Denver, was one that was plowing the frontage road that runs beside the highway ( and where there were no cars driving) , but not the highway itself. I’m sure there is a logical explanation for this in some alternate universe.

Thankfully, I make it home safely, despite passing several accidents, cars off the road, and one that is up on it’s side and blocking the lanes of traffic.

I crawl into bed just before midnight, and hope that I have survived my Murphy’s Law day and he will move on to more worthy opponents tomorrow.

Keep Calm and Travel On….

So, I have my first trip of 2018 under my belt. And while it was a short trip, there was still time for a couple blog worthy encounters.

I was especially excited to be heading to balmy Sioux Falls, SD, where the real feel temp when I got off the plane was -19 degrees. Yes, that is a negative sign before the 19. This was an extra shock to my system, since Old Man Winter hasn’t really decided to show his face in Colorado yet, so it’s been easy to forget temperatures like that even exist.

It was all good though when I collected the keys to my rental and walked out to find I had been given a super exciting…. Dodge Grand Caravan. This seemed a bit excessive for just me and my little old carry on bag, but hey. It was almost midnight and -19 degrees. It wasn’t worth walking back in to exchange it. When I climbed in and realized this Caravan came complete with heated seats AND a heated steering wheel, I must say it was better than any fancy Maserati! Seriously. Is there any invention better than heated seats??

I think not.

I was also surprised, although maybe not as pleasantly, when I started driving and realized that this particular Caravan also performed a low grade vertical “bounce” as it proceeded down the road. Think all those low-rider vehicles you have ever seen that literally bounce in time to the over active bass thundering through their tinted windows. That is what my Caravan was doing. I still haven’t figured out why someone thought a mom-mobile needed to bounce down the road like I should be listening to “Drop it Like it’s Hot”, but it indeed was.

I managed to avoid frost bite during my short time in SD, mainly because I only went from my car to inside and back again. I don’t think the real feel temp ever made it above -4 degrees. I actually heard a couple people talking about the temp when I returned to the airport and using phrases like “It really wasn’t that bad”. I’m pretty sure they just said that because they never fully thawed out and were numb their entire visit.

One of these folks  was the gentleman I sat behind at the gate for my return flight. And he said this exactly 10 times. I know, because I had the pleasure of listening to him have the

Exact.

Same.

Conversation.

with 10 different people over the course of 30 minutes or so. The only difference was when he called Dan (yes, I know everyone he called by name, because he used Siri to voice dial all of them). He first called Dan on his home phone, which was disconnected. So then he had Siri call Dan on his mobile. When Dan answered, my friend’s first question was if Dan had disconnected his home phone. To which Dan replied, “Oh, yeah. I had to get rid of that. All I ever got on that thing was those Viagra calls”

Can we all just agree as part of our 2018 resolutions, that speaker phones really have no place in public spaces? Seriously. Everyone within hearing vicinity does not need to be a part of conversations about what you had for lunch, what Netflix show you binged on last weekend or the delicate reasons your home phone was disconnected.

SD had one more special encounter in store for me before I left. The planes that fly back and forth from Sioux Falls to Denver are very small. So small, in fact, that even my little carry on bag won’t fit in the overhead bins.

So I was prepared to be whacked in the head a time or two during the boarding process.

You might think, from the amount of times this happens that I have an abnormally  large head. I really don’t think I do. I have spent time comparing my head to other heads, and it falls quite squarely into the average size category.

What is abnormally large, however, are the sizes of the backpacks, bags and other various and sundry items that people carry on their backs in small enclosed spaces these days.

And what seems to be inversely proportionate to how big the back appendage, is how little these people’s spacial awareness is. While some of the biggest offenders of this seem to be the generation who have a lot in common with perennials, basic spatial theory and area awareness seems to be leaking out of the general knowledge banks at an alarming rate.

Thus I get whacked in the head on a regular basis.

This weeks offender, with an especially large back pack on her back, decided, for whatever reason, to start practicing her washing machine spin cycle dance moves right next to my seat. This led to several good whacks to the side of my head, but I may have been able to lean away from the aisle and avoid further injury until she moved on, if it was just that.

But of course it wasn’t.

She and her friend then realized they were standing next to their seats and my spin cycle buddy offered to help her friend put her equally  large back pack into the overhead bin. All without removing her own backpack, which is now turned squarely in line with the side of my head.

You’ll remember I said that these planes are small. And that normal carry ons will not fit in the overhead.

This, however, did not stop our back-pack laden friend from trying to shove her friends mutant pack into these bins.

With every shove on the backpack, I got the resulting “opposite reaction” up aside the head. I literally had to put both my hands up and push back on the bag with all of my Superman holding back a speeding train strength to stop it. (Going to the gym is for self defense, boys and girls). The gal finally turned around with a puzzled look as to why she could no longer move, and finally realized there were other people on the plane with her. Her response?

“Oh”.

But she did remove the back pack and threw it on her seat for the rest of her wrestling match with the overhead bin. So I did arrive back in Colorado, awake and alert and concussion free. It’s good to be home!

Thank you 2018, for making my first trip a memorable one. Cheers to many more memories over the next 361 days!

 

Let’s talk about Uber, baby

I feel like there has been a big part of my travel life that has been largely excluded to this point.

Uber.

I know there are Uber lovers and Uber haters out there, but I happen to be one of the former.

When I travel to places such as NYC and DC, where you will never catch me behind the wheel of a car, dealing with all those whirling dervishes others call traffic, I become, quite literally, an Uber VIP. I love them, and they, in turn love me.

I know people who are like, “yeah, but if you take an Uber, you have to like, talk, to your driver”.  Gasp!! Anything but that!

I actually like talking to my drivers. I have had a great many fascinating conversations in Ubers. And don’t even think about challenging me to Uber trivia. You will lose.

I’ve also had my share of odd Uber drivers. Like the guy who wanted to stop for a bottle of wine. Or the ones who have wanted me to drag my bags 5 city blocks so they don’t have to go around the block.

But my driver to the airport last week may have claimed the Number 1 worst spot.

I should have known I was in trouble when I put in my pick up spot as the hotel I was staying at, and instead of pulling up to the front door, as most normal people would do, he pulls over at the end of the block and sits there, evidently waiting for me to come to him.

The doorman and I spend a few moments debating on whether that is my car, and then he runs down the block and tells my driver to pull up and get me. He pulls up, pops the trunk, and leaves me to fend for my own bags. Okay, fair enough. Women’s equality and feminism and all that. I can toss a bag in the trunk with the best of them.

I settle myself in the back seat, and we take off for the airport. Or at least this is what I assume, as that is what I entered as my destination.

Now, I will admit, that I do not always pay very much attention when in the back of an Uber. If my driver is not the talkative type, or I just don’t feel like talking, I may just settle in and surf my phone. Or nap. Or whatever. And I hadn’t slept very well all week, so I just tucked in and was staring rather blankly out the window. After about 10 minutes of what should have been a 20 min drive, at the most, something started nudging the back of my brain, and I started to focus on the scenery outside the window.

Which is when I realized I had already seen this scenery about 5 min or so ago.

Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I decided now was a good time to engage my driver in conversation.

“Ummm, we are going to the airport, right?”

“Yes. That’s where you want to go, yes?”

“I do, but is this the way to get there? I’m pretty sure we just went in one big circle”

“I’m just following my GPS” He waves the phone in his hand emphatically for effect.

“Are you sure you didn’t miss a turn or something? Because we’ve driven by this building twice now”

“Do you know how to get there? You have directions?”

He did have me there. I can be rather directionally challenged. And I do live in a place where we have big mountains by which all navigation occurs. Take me away from those and north, south, east and west take  way more brain power to decipher.

“Well, no. I’m not from here. But I’m pretty sure we have to cross the river at some point. And not keep driving by the same building”

“I just follow my GPS! Maybe it re-routing because of traffic”

Now I have spent a lot of time in NYC lately. I know traffic. We were not in traffic.

I decide to play along. But now I am watching his GPS.

We approach the river again. The GPS is very clearly telling us to go left to cross the bridge.

We go right.

And start the circle again.

“Ok. I’m pretty sure we were supposed to go left there, and that’s what the GPS said. I think maybe I should navigate now.” I pull out my phone and start to pull up my maps.

“Ok, fine. You want to do it. Fine”

“While I’m getting this pulled up, why don’t you turn here, and head across the bridge.” This much I can figure out without my map.

So we finally make it across the bridge. Where his GPS and a HUGE sign say to keep right for the airport. Which way do we go?

You got it. Left!

And end up in the line of cars heading into Arlington Cemetery.

I realize I didn’t get a lot of sleep and may have been looking a little rough, but I really thought with a little makeup and some body work that morning, I was still passing for a live person. Not someone who needed to be taken to the cemetery.

And not only that, but my driver is literally just sitting in the line to proceed into the cemetery.

Now I am flabbergasted and more than a little irritated.

“What are we doing?? This is definitely not going to take us to the airport! This is a cemetery”

“I don’t know! I just go where it says! I..”

“Ok, well first, you need to go out that exit right there and get us back on the highway”

At least he seemed to listen to me better than the GPS.

We make it back to the highway.

“Now we just need to follow the signs. They are everywhere!”

Not that I trusted that for a minute. I still told him every turn to take.

“Can I just make one suggestion? If you are wanting to drive an Uber, I would suggest you at least learn the way to the airport.”

“I know the way to the airport!”

Of course he did. My mistake. Cemetery, airport. Easily confused.

Believe it or not, we finally made it to the airport, and I didn’t miss my flight.

If only the story ended there.

I am never anxious to leave feedback for my Uber drivers, and most times never do until the next time I request a car.

Not this time.

As soon as I dropped off my bag, I was on my phone to leave feedback on this ride.

Except my lovely driver hadn’t ended my trip and was still driving around on my dime. Probably trying to find his way out of the airport.

I text him and said “Ummm.. You need to end my trip”

I keep checking. For the next 15 min. Until he finally ended the trip.

And charged me about $10 more than it should have been.

I gave him a very good rating. And left a very long feedback message. My hope is he will not be long for the Uber world.

But despite all this, I am still an Uber lover.

 

 

Expert Packing tips for any trip

I know some of you have been thinking “Gee, we haven’t heard from her for awhile. I hope she hasn’t run out of stories!” Fear not. There were still stories from this week.

Unfortunately, the big story from my last week of travel involved a poor gentleman who experienced a medical emergency and collapsed at the gate while we were waiting to board. And while I can find the humor in almost any situation, there is never anything funny about someone experiencing a medical emergency anywhere, but especially not in public.

The good news is, by the time the paramedics arrived, the gentleman seemed to be doing much better. Prayers everything turned out okay for he and his wife.

And now I am preparing for my next event filled week on the road. Two weeks actually.

Everyone assumes I must be the world’s best packer by now, after over 3 years of packing nearly every week.

I really wish everyone was right. I know by now it should be routine and something I can do in 20 min or less.

It isn’t.

I hate packing. Still. With a passion. For lots of reasons.

One of those reasons being that I can think of SO many things I would rather be doing with the few precious days I have at home than packing again for the next time on the road.

Like spending time with my fabulous friends and going to watch Dueling Pianos. Such a fun night listening to great performers playing all the fun and classic songs of the ages. I was actually a little hoarse from all the singing last night. For those of you thinking, “wow, the girl can sing too!” Don’t worry. I absolutely can not sing. Not even a little bit. That fact did absolutely nothing to prevent me from belting out tunes at the top of my lungs.

I’d even rather spend some of my weekend  cleaning out my refrigerator when I realize it has eaten all my food storage dishes, then packing. Just FYI, I found several dishes in there I didn’t recognize. While it may be true they’ve been in there so long I forgot I ever had them, if you by chance brought any food to my house at any time in the last few months, I may have your dish.

Hey, this is a judgment-free zone, right? And if it isn’t, I’m sure you’ve already judged me on something worse than the condition of my fridge by now.

 

Another reason may be because I may have a few too many clothes. I may have a bit of an online shopping problem. I am on first name terms with my UPS man, he spends so much time at my house. We have coffee on the porch weekly.

I know the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one. I’ll admit it. But I have no interest in solving this particular problem.

So I spend the beginning of every packing episode staring dumbly into my closet trying to figure out where to even start.

I know they have these great apps that will help you organize your closet and even put outfits together for you. It’ll even let you take pics of rocking outfits you managed to put together on your own, so you remember them for the future. I even have a couple of these apps on my phone. But it takes a lot of time and effort to be that organized. Organization has never really been my strong suit.

I do much better with the spontaneity and chaos of living in the moment.

Which may be why I always end up with stories.

So I stand and stare into my closet until something inspires me to pull it out. Then I pull out half my closet, throw it across my bed, and begin the process of trying to figure out what goes with what and what I might feel like wearing for the next 4-5 days.

By the time my suitcase is holding enough clothes for my next trip, my room looks like a typhoon has hit and I have lost hours of my life I will never get back.

And somehow I still never have exactly what I need or feel like wearing when I want it.

I really, really wish everyone was right. I wish this post was full of  lots of amazing tips I could offer everyone on how to be a great packer. Maybe someday I will be bitten by the efficient packer bug.

Instead,  I now have at least an hour of cleaning up from the typhoon of packing for 2 weeks calling my name.

Happy weekend!

 

 

 

 

The Rush for A17

I love the heart pounding, adrenaline rush of leaving things to the last possible second. Of making a save right before the buzzer. Of rushing to your gate with literally less than a minute to boarding.

I am no novice to this travel gig. I have been doing this for a year or two. I have it down to a science exactly what time I need to leave my house and make it to my gate with 15 min or so to spare. Sometimes, if all the stars align, I even have a 30-minute buffer. I don’t like to give myself too much extra time. I already spend enough time in airports as it is.

Yesterday, all the stars most definitely did not align.

It all started with traffic, as does every good story.

For no reason that was readily apparent to my limited view of Colorado life, there was a sudden influx of cars that decided to travel between my house and the airport. It wasn’t a holiday. There was no big event going on in between, that I am aware of. No celebrity was standing on the side of the road signing autographs. So I’m not sure what led to this influx of vehicles. I even go the “back way” to try to avoid these vehicles. But evidently, yesterday so did everyone else.

The downside to the back way? It is very difficult to get around those folks who have not figured out what the long, skinny pedal does.

So I found myself stuck behind a long line of such folks.

Eventually, I made it to my off site parking spot, where they know me by name. Who needs a bar stool?

The shuttle stars were out of wack too, and there was an unusual wait for the shuttle to transport us to the airport. Of course.

This gave me a chance to spend some time with a precocious little 6-year-old. She informed me that she has already visited 26 states. And that she had just returned from one trip. But not on a plane. And was now traveling to San Diego. This time on a plane. And that, having  2 brothers, she was the only princess in her family. Naturally. Trust me.  I took notes. Being such an experienced traveler, she had a lot I could learn to become a better traveler myself. But I was more interested in the tips on being a princess.

I did not, however, take tips from her parents on packing lite. I thought I was a hefty packer. At 9 bags (not counting car seats and strollers) they had me beat by a long shot.

The stars that were the most out of line yesterday?  The beloved TSA Security.

I pay for TSA Pre-Check. Partly because I enjoy feeling like I’m in a VIP club. But mostly because I enjoy the shorter lines and the expedited experience. It’s not even about not having to remove my shoes. I regularly wear heels, so I still have to remove them. The x-ray machines are evidently biased against the steel rods in women’s heels.

But I digress.

I did not enjoy a shorter line or an expedited experience yesterday. I suspected there might be trouble when the end of the Pre-Check line was around the corner from the entrance. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw people in the regular security line getting through security faster than those of us in the expedited Pre-Check club. Yes, those regular people who have to remove their shoes, laptops and liquids were speeding through faster than us VIPs. Something was very wrong with this picture.

20 minutes later, and with slightly more than 5 minutes until boarding, I was standing in line waiting for the train to the terminals.

And waiting. And waiting. Was anything running on schedule today?

Not the train.

4 min and counting. And 3 terminal stops to go.

I finally exit the train exactly at boarding time and get stuck in the slow flow of folks funneling up the escalator.

For those of you wondering why boarding time is such a central part of my story, as opposed to the time they close the boarding doors, I have one word for you.

Southwest.

I love Southwest airlines. I fly them all the time. I am part of their VIP club.

But to fly Southwest airlines makes boarding position very important. If I was late by even a minute I could lose my coveted A17 spot.

Thankfully, I did not lose my spot. Or my front of the plane aisle seat. I walked up to the gate as the last pre-board passenger was being wheeled onto the plane.

I did have to forgo my liter bottle of water and any lunch though. At least it was only a 2 hour flight so it was very unlikely I would die from starvation or dehydration.

The one thing that happened to run on time yesterday, oddly enough, was the flight.

Where’s a good delay when you actually need one??

 

Oh, the people you will meet…

I will admit. I did hope by taking a week off from travel I might get lucky and reset my travel karma. But it was not to be. I am sitting here waiting for my flight that has been delayed an hour.

I did miss the chance to be a part of the eventful week for travel stories though.

Like having the chance to travel with the couple who decided to wage a shirtless protest over being told to check their bags. Evidently Baby Bags, decided to regurgitate it’s lunch all over Mamma Bags’ shirt shortly after take off. Mamma Bags then decided the shirt was “unwearable”.

Now, I’ll admit that I haven’t had the pleasure of being regurgtated on by a Baby while at 30,000 feet. But I have dumped an entire Venti dark roast down the front of my white shirt shortly before boarding, and still managed to wear it for the remainder of the trip. So I suspect there may be some grey area around this “unwearable” determination.

Nonetheless, Mamma Bags removes her shirt, and Daddy Bags gives her his to wear. Very gallant. Until he proceeds to argue with the flight crew when they tell him he cannot remain shirtless for the remainder of the flight. Not so gallant.

I guess the airline needs to add the “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” pic to their boarding passes.

Or how about traveling with this lady? She decided to do a headstand. In her seat. On a plane. Perfectly normal in-flight activity. I would probably do the same if I could do a headstand.

Possibly she had been delayed so much she finally reached her breaking point. I get it.

Or maybe she should travel on the airline, who I won’t name here, but who has the initials “AA”. Evidently they are making “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” mandatory listening for all their passengers. I think they may be  requiring an endless loop download prior to boarding.

Although, they may be on to something. If everyone is tuned into a little “Woo-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh” then who will notice a shirtless dude or a lady doing headstands?

While I did miss possible interactions with all these colorful travelers, I did have the opportunity to survive the Labor Day Basement Flood.

Our Plumbing Angel left shortly before 7pm last night, after a whole day of no water or indoor plumbing. And after an early morning trip to Home Depot for Sandless Sandbags to barricade the lower level bathroom. Just in case, when they popped the toilet to rotor rooter, the totally clean and sanitary toilet backflow decided to attempt to make a trip across the basement.

Luckily, this barricade was unnecessary, as everything that went down, stayed down. No shirts were deemed unwearable, and after several long hours of fighting with Roots gone Wild (that evidently decided my pipes were precisely where they wanted to be), all passage ways were clear and flowing again.

And I was able to shower prior to my 4 hour flight East. Which I am sure the 180 close friends I will be traveling with are thankful for as well.

 

 

 

Revenge of the Plumbing

So I knew my “boring life” wouldn’t last. I did not travel this last week, but that does not mean adventures can not occur at home!

Evidently, the toilets and plumbing world did not appreciate my post about them eating my blow dryer.

Or perhaps that was my training for handling electric appliances while standing in water.

Either way, I have been spending a lot of time standing in water today.

No, I did not decide to spend the last official weekend of summer at the beach. I had contemplated this and am now thinking I should have gone with that whim.

But  I did not.

Instead,  I decided to welcome the beach into my basement- quite uninvited.

This morning I went down to my basement, which happens to house my laundry. There I discovered a small puddle in front of my washer. No big deal. Maybe the dog spilled her water dish. I cleaned it up with a couple of towels and moved on with my day.

An hour or so later, my son went downstairs to his room and yelled up the stairs, “MOM!! There’s water on the floor down here!!”

Again, another small puddle in front of the washer. Strange, as we had not been running the washer. So where is this water coming from?? Hmmm….

An hour later, and there is a handyman in my basement, checking out this water.

We run the washer. No increase in the water on the floor. We shine flashlights in cracks and crevices. No apparent leaks or running water. We do a little deductive reasoning. Possibly, the issue could be the water line to the hose sprocket on the outside of that wall?

Ah-hah! That must be it. We rarely use that faucet. But we have a couple times in the past couple days. Once, when my lovely dog decided to play with the cute little black and white kitty around midnight. And needed a very serious bath before re-entry to the house. (But that is a story for another time) And once to clean out a cooler that should have been cleaned out several  months ago.

This must be the problem. We agree that this hose will not be used for the remainder of the weekend, and this issue can be contained through the holiday. This sounds like a good plan in order to avoid the incredibly reasonable prices of plumbers called on a holiday weekend.

Whew! Bullet dodged.

For about an hour or so.

When I go back downstairs and discover, not only is the puddle back, but it has now expanded quite a distance across the floor. This is no bueno, and I am quickly running out of towels.

My incredibly lucky sister and brother-in-law, who chose this perfect day to visit, now get sucked into the fun of the Labor Day Basement Flood. I am sure my brother-in-law was not anticipating a trip to Lowes to buy me a shop vac to replace my now dripping towels.

But there he was none the less.

So, I found myself again standing in water holding an electric appliance.

At least this time I am wearing my cute rain boots.

We have sucked up about 7 vac fills so far.

And my water is now off.

Until those extremely reasonably priced holiday weekend plumbers make an appearance tomorrow.

I have a sneaking suspicion that getting zapped holding an electric appliance while standing in water would be less painful.

 

 

The Night of the Disappearing Door

Oddly, it’s been a week with no real stories. I know. I’m as shocked as you. I’m not sure what to do with my suddenly normal life, but I guess I should enjoy it for a moment or two.

I actually have two uneventful trips under my belt in the past week. I went to dinner with an incredibly smart friend, here in NYC last week, who looked at me cross eyed when I was lamenting about my travel woes, and said “Uh, I have one word for you. Newark” To which I returned her cross eyed stare and said “I’ve heard Newark is a nightmare. And plus, it’s like crazy far.” Neither of which is true, evidently.

So, I called and changed my flight home last week to leave out of Newark. And the flight left on time. And we landed early! Yes. Early! 

I was waiting for meteorites to fall out of the sky and strike my car on the drive home.

Nothing.

I was home, unpacked and had dinner at my own house, all before it was dark. I was completely off kilter all weekend.

And then, to top that, I had another completely on-time, uneventful trip back into Newark this week.

Eerie, right??

Almost as eerie as my night in the haunted hotel room.

I was spending a night in Boston and had been given a suite. It was a great room, and I was disappointed that I was only going to be there for one night.

It had a large,  comfortable living room with a small hallway down to the large bedroom. The bathroom was right off the hallway, just outside the bedroom door.

I spent as much time enjoying it as I could, in the short time I had, but finally I decided I needed to go to bed. As I went into my room, I closed the door, climbed into bed and was soon sound asleep.

Now, I spend a lot of time in hotel rooms, and different ones every few days, so I am used to beds, lights, doors and bathrooms being in different places, and never have an issue remembering where things are.

Or, almost never.

Sometime, in the dark of the night, Mother Nature nudged me gently in the ribs, and suggested a visit to the bathroom.

As I’ve shared in previous posts, I value my sleep and will do pretty much anything to avoid disruption to my sleep (even sleep through fires). So when Mother Nature asks to visit in the middle of the night, I do not see the need to turn on lights. Or even open my eyes any more than absolutely necessary. The idea, of course, is the less I travel out of sleep, the less I have to travel back to sleep.

Somehow, I remembered, in my semi-conscious state, that my room had a door that I needed to navigate to get to the bathroom. So I climbed out of bed, and stumbled towards where I knew the door to be, with my arms outstretched to prevent me finding it with my face. My hands found the door, and I started moving my hands around to find the doorknob that was there when I turned out the light.

Except, they didn’t find one.

No big deal. I know my depth perception may be off with my eyes barely open in a squint. So I merely expanded my search on the wall.

Further and further.

Still no doorknob.

Suddenly, I am fully awake and slightly panicked, as every Twilight Zone and horror movie I have ever seen came rushing into my brain in a jumble of plots against me! I’ve been teleported into an alien ship and I am in their holding room with no escape! Or worse, I have checked into a haunted hotel, and the ghosts have made the door disappear! I am their prisoner as they drive me mad with their psychological torture.

All of these scenarios are, of course, perfectly logical when it’s o’dark thirty and you are barely awake.

Finally, after many long seconds of panic, and me desperately clawing every square inch of wall, the doorknob reappeared, right under my fingertips. The ghosts had had their fun, and realized, if they could make me panic that quickly by just moving the door, I may not be the best candidate for psychological torture.

Or, maybe my panic had awoken my brain to the point my eyes actually had to open and I could find the door.

Either way, I made it to the bathroom with no further incident, and survived the rest of the night in my haunted room.

I still limit my intake of fluids after dinner, just in case the aliens decide to return.