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!

 

Be The Exception

Let me be upfront and say this is not going to be one of my usual posts. But I have been processing a lot of things over the past couple of days, and have some things I want to say. Some of you may choose not to read any further, or not read this whole post. That’s ok. No hard feelings. Maybe some of you will stick with me and hear me out. I hope so. Maybe this is something I just had to say so I can go back and read it again when I need a reminder.

I’m sure everyone is well aware of the events of the past weekend and all the conversations that have been going on since then. The thing that has struck me in all of these conversations and that I keep coming back to, is the fact that the real issue seems to keep getting lost in conversations that only continue to perpetuate this real issue.

What has amazed me continually over the past couple of days is that the stories that are constantly popping up in my news stream are more about how certain people responded (or didn’t) to the issues, and not about the issues themselves. It has become another example of  armchair quater backing by those who are not involved in the decisions and don’t have all the facts, using the opportunity to point out why the other side is wrong and highlight all their shortcomings (which, ironically, is part of the issue).

The one story I actually saw that came close to highlighting the issue, chose instead to focus on a game of “who said it best” comparison between leaders instead of on the actual message.

I have no political clout what-so-ever, and no one is going to accuse me of saying it best, I am sure, so I wanted to say it again here and let it soak in for a minute.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it’s opposite” ~Nelson Mandela

We were not born hating anyone. So why have we so willingly allowed hate and anger and disparaging others to become our default response to anything anymore? When did we lose sight of the fact that no matter our skin color, religious beliefs, political views or anything else that sets us apart and makes us “different” that we are all still human beings? Why is it the minute someone dares to disagree with us, or express an opinion that might differ from ours we are so quick to tear them down and tear them apart; attacking not just the differing viewpoint but who they are as human beings?

Is part of it because we all so easily have a “voice” now with the plethora of social media platforms available to us? Or because those platforms allow us to voice this anger and hate safely and anonomously from our own living rooms, hidden behind our keyboards? I wonder: Would we be so quick to say those same hurtful things if we had to look the person we were tearing down in the eye and remember they are in fact a human being?

And here’s the real kicker. Even if we are standing up for the “right” side of the issue, if we do it using the same hate, anger and disparaging comments, doesn’t that make us just as wrong? This only spurs more anger and hate from the other side and drags us further down the path of division and conflict.

It has to stop somewhere.

“…People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it’s opposite”

If we learned to hate somewhere along the way, can’t we un-learn it, just like any of the other bad habits we have picked up along the way? It won’t be easy, just like dumping any bad habit isn’t easy. It seems to have become part of who we are as a culture.  But doesn’t it start with making the choice to not engage in the hate and the anger, and instead choose to try a different strategy and respond with hope and love? Wouldn’t it be harder for the other side to continue to respond with the hate and anger, if it isn’t being fueled with more of the same, but instead dampened with it’s opposite? And I know that I am going out on a limb here, but what if we remebered that the person behind all the hate and anger on the other side is still a human being too? They, at some point, had to learn that hate somewhere. And what incentive do they have to change or learn anything new if all they are seeing reflected back to them is more of the same?

Here’s the thing. I don’t believe that the hate and horribleness that was demonstrated in Charlottesville this weekend is the majority opinion of our country. I still believe that there are more of us that still believe in love and humanity and hope. I think that the group that wants to propegate hate and conflict have just chosen not to be silent, and are getting the attention that goes with speaking out. So what if those of us who believe in love and hope decided we weren’t going to be silent any longer either? And not in a hateful, confrontational, angry way, but in a loving way, focused on inspiring unity and bringing us together? The “Golden Rule” became golden for a reason, so what if we focused more on only responding in ways and saying things we would be okay with hearing or receiving about ourselves?

I realize most of us probably aren’t in highly influential roles or the public eye, so our default response may be “what can I do about anything”? But it has to start somewhere. So what if each of us chose to be the Exception in our small circle of influence? What if instead of engaging in the negative conversations on Facebook or Twitter or whatever platform you are on, we chose to start a positive one instead? What if instead of returning insults and anger to someone who may have chosen to disagree with us, we return love? What if we had every conversation as if we were looking the other person in the eye?

If each of us chose to be the Exception where we are, and could maybe affect 5 people, who chose to be the Exception where they are, could the Exception eventually become the Rule?

I am in no way trying to say I have it all figured out, but these are the things I’ve been wondering over the past couple days. While I hope I can say I have never been part of the anger and hatred on the scale that was seen this weekend, I have definitely been guilty of anger on a smaller scale.  And for that I am truly sorry.

But I have a choice. As do you. Every day. We can get bogged down in the past and stay stuck and continue to perpetuate the cycle. Or we can choose today to be the Exception and try to make love and hope the rule.

I choose to be the Exception.

Making Mountains out of Ant Hills

So my recent encounter with the bat got me thinking about other wildlife encounters I’ve had over the years. The proximity of this encounter to the 4th of July made me recall another such encounter from a 4th of July weekend a couple of years ago.

I had decided to spend the holiday weekend with some friends in lovely Crested Butte, and planned to drive up that Friday. About a week prior, I had been rear-ended, so my car had been in the shop, and I picked it up that morning, packed up and hit the road.

As anyone who has spent any time in Colorado knows, you can’t get to any of our lovely mountain towns without going over a mountain pass.

The pass I was crossing that weekend was Monarch: About 12 miles up and 12 miles down, with  2 lanes most of the way with an occasional third lane to pass.

About halfway up, I moved into one of these passing lanes to get around some of those sight seeing, slow pokes, and suddenly my car revs, revs again and dies completely.

In the middle lane. With heavy, holiday weekend traffic flowing by on both sides.

I’m still not 100% sure how, but somehow I made it back over to the side of the road and out of traffic before my car came to a complete stop.

I waited a few minutes and tried to start it back up. No luck.

And of course, there is no cell phone service on the middle of Monarch pass either.

Now, it’s a holiday weekend, and I’m on the path to the mountains, so there are a LOT of other cars flying by. Do you think anyone could be bothered to stop and see if I needed help?

Of course not.

After 15-20 min, when I realized help wasn’t going to appear, I decided I had no choice but to hoof it up the hill until I could get reception and call for help.

So that’s what I did. I made it up, made my call, and made it back down without any further issues.

When I got back to my car, I climbed back in to wait, but quickly realized that wasn’t going to work. It was July. And almost 90 degrees. It was hotter than blazes in my car.  Mountain passes aren’t exactly known for having ample shoulders, so there were barely inches between my car and the traffic on one side and between my car and the steep up-side of the mountain on the other. I didn’t feel like adding getting hit by a car to my weekend, so I decided the hood of my car was probably the safest place for me.

The thought did occur to me that perhaps a stranded gal, sitting on the hood of her car in the middle of a mountain pass, may raise some curiosity among my fellow holiday travelers and maybe someone would finally stop.

No such luck. A few helpful people did lay on their horns as they went past. As if I was just sitting there for fun and to irritate them as much as possible.

Luckily, I had brought water with me. It’s Colorado. We don’t go far without water. So I sat on my hood, drank my water and waited for help to arrive.

After about an hour of waiting, I realized I was suffering the consequence of drinking my water. I needed a bathroom.

These are not that abundant in the middle of mountain passes.

I start weighing my options.

Like I said earlier, there was not much room between my car and the mountain cliff. And nothing but a very steep climb on that side.

Across the road, there was about a foot behind the guard rail before a very steep drop down. And not a lot of privacy options either way.

I decided to go with the down option and crossed the road and climbed over the guard rail. I thought if I could climb down just a little ways, at least the vital privacy portions of me would be blocked by the cliff face and I could make it work.

There was a fairly thick sapling that I thought might hold me and act as my “rope” to lower myself down a bit. Have I mentioned it was a very steep drop??

The sapling holds me, and I baby step down enough that I think I’m safe and decide to go about my business.

I’m squatted and balanced and almost through, when all of a sudden I am aware of a very intense burning and stinging on both of my legs.

I had been trying very hard not to look down and see how far I had to fall, but I looked down fast at that moment.

I was covered from my knees to my belt in red ants.

Yup, I had decided to rain on their anthill. I guess I couldn’t really blame them. They hadn’t asked for a flood.

Needless to say, privacy was no longer high on my priority list, and I jumped up, wildly dancing a jig. On the side of a cliff.

I managed to rid myself of my hitchhikers, get myself back together and back over the guard rail to flat ground.

Somehow that very unusual sight of a crazy lady dancing a wild jig was still not enough to catch any good Samaritan’s eye or cause even one person to tap the brakes to see if help may be in order.

Guess I didn’t need to worry about privacy so much after all .

Back on the hood of my car, I realized that now would not be a good time to find out I was allergic to red ants. Luckily, another hour later, when my help finally arrived, I had not passed out or gone into anaphylactic shock.

I still take all precautions to ensure outdoor bathrooms will not be needed in the future.

Things that go bump in the Night

Some of you may know that I recently moved. While my new house is still technically “in the city limits”, it is enough outside the hustle and bustle that we can enjoy up close and personal encounters with our wildlife neighbors.

Sometimes a little too up close and personal.

The other night I closed up the house and got ready to head to bed. I went up the stairs, washed my face, brushed my teeth, got in my PJ’s and had just climbed into bed with my book, when something moved out of the corner of my eye. I thought it was a moth, and turned my head just in time for something much bigger to swoop by.

This was not a moth, but a bat. In my room.

Now, I am not freaked out by most of the creepy crawly creatures we share the planet with. Give me a mouse or a snake or a spider and I can deal. Even in my bedroom.

But put wings on the critter and let it blindly dive bomb my head and it’s  a whole other story.

I threw the book in my hand over my head as a shield, jumped off the bed, and made my way across the room in a half run, half crawl position. (I’m sure there was logic behind this stance at the time). I somehow managed to throw open the sliding glass door on one end of the room and make it back to the stairs and down without making physical contact with the bat.

Once downstairs, I bravely took up my post:-hiding around the corner at the bottom of the stairs – and cautiously peeked up the stairs every few minutes waiting for the bat to fly out.

Except every time I looked, it was still there. Swooping back and forth across the room.

After about 15 minutes, I realized that this visitor may not show himself out, and I was going to be forced back upstairs to help.

I also realized, standing there in my PJ’s, that I was not exactly battle ready.

The problem was, all my battle gear was in my room. With the bat.

I scavenged around in the lower levels and finally found suitable battle gear: One of my kiddo’s sweatshirts, a large straw hat and a broom as a weapon. For good measure, I grabbed a basket off the counter for a shield.

Thus armed, I slowly crept back up the stairs. I made it halfway up before I was again treated to a fly-by from my equally panicked guest.

I tried to use the broom as a gentle guide to show him the door, but he was not having it. If I swung to the front, he went behind me. If I whirled around, he feinted to the other side.

Sneaky little bugger.

I admit. I retreated back down the stairs. But only to regroup for plan B.

From my perch around the corner, I realized that the air conditioner and the fan were on in my room, and that the wind from those might be confusing the critter and keeping him from finding the door.  The problem was, the A/C was on one end of the room and the fan on the other. And the bat was swooping in the air between.

While I was trying to gather the courage for a fool hardy, kamikaze mission to attempt to shut both of these off, I realized the bat had ceased swooping.

Maybe he had finally found his way to the door??

Armed with my broom, I slowly crept back up the stairs to see.

There he was, perched on the wall beside my bed. Resting.

I took the opportunity to creep from one end of the room to the other and turn off the fan and the A/C, and made it back to the stairs just as he decided to start swooping again.

Finally, after another 10 minutes or so, I didn’t see any more movement up there. Fingers crossed I crept back up the stairs to evaluate my territory.

No bat.

I slowly kept creeping forward and didn’t see him perched on the walls or any place I could easily see.

I was not, however, about to throw open the doors to the bathroom or closet or climb into bed without being sure.

The bugger was probably hiding in my pillows.

And I couldn’t be sure without backup. What if there was a sneak attack??

And my backup was still at work until midnight.

I text my child to tell him about the invader and outline the battle plan for when he got home.

I got, “What do you want me to do??” with the laughing emoticon, as a response.

He’s lucky I needed him as an ally.

Finally, after midnight, we were able to complete the recon mission, check the closets, under the bed and the pillows and ensure the enemy was indeed gone.

I still slept with one eye open for the rest of the night.

Spreading Christmas Cheer with Christmas Lights

I know it’s been a little while since I posted anything. I have to admit I lost my travel humor somewhere on the Island of Lost Baggage in the last few weeks of 2016. Luckily, there is nothing like traveling with family over the holidays for that humor to show back up in your Christmas stocking.

I was lucky enough to travel with my sister, brother in law, nephew, niece and son, for the first time all together, to Maine to see the rest of our family on Christmas Day.

Now I have traveled enough to realize that 4 adults, 2 kids in car seats, 12 bags of various shapes and sizes and a stroller, were going to be slightly more than a Fiat could handle. So I called ahead and spoke to a fantastic manager at the National rental desk and arranged for a much bigger car to be available when we arrived.

We made it across the country, from CO to ME, quite smoothly actually, and poured out of the plane ready for the 3 hour drive to my parent’s house.

I left the boys waiting at baggage claim and ran to the car rental office to pick up the vehicle and bring it around to load up the crew. The rental car staff were ready for us and handed me the keys to a shiny new Tahoe.

Awesome!

I pull up to the curb just as the boys start rolling out the first of the bags and we start loading up.

I will admit I have never solved a rubiks cube. But I am pretty good at puzzles.

After the 3rd time of rearranging bags and realizing there was still a bag and a stroller sitting on the curb, I turned to my brother in law and said,

“This is not going to work”

“No. I do not think it is”

This is how I find myself running back to the rental car office, saying “Please don’t hate me, but do you happen to have an even bigger car?”

I have to give them credit. They barely even gave me a funny look before they start scrambling to see what else they may have. They really were two of the best customer service folks I have had the pleasure of working with. Within a few minutes they have the keys to a shiny new Suburban available, the vehicle switch is made, and I am back at the curb to start re-loading.

Shockingly, it was still a bit of puzzle solving to get everything in this massive boat. We do it, but we have used Every. Spare. Inch available. Good thing as I don’t think they rented out buses.

But we are all loaded up and ready to hit the road!

We get on the highway and decide we all need food to make it through the rest of the drive. We see a sign for a rest stop with a Burger King and that’s where we head.

It’s Christmas Day, so there are not many people in the drive through line. Just one car in front of us. But still we sit there for about 5 min before that car moves and we pull up. And we still wait about another 15 min before the guy is ready to take our order. In fact, I have to gently ask him if he has forgotten about us in order to prompt him to take it.

I realize an order for 6 people might be a little bit confusing, but it takes about 3 repeats for us to be at least 50% sure the guy has gotten it right. And when we pull up to the window, he still gets 3 of our 5 drink orders wrong.

After straightening out our drinks, he asks us to pull around the corner and park to wait for our food, as it will be a few minutes for them to grow the veggies and butcher the cows.

We pull around the corner and park in a spot parallel to the curb. And directly facing the drivers side of  a little Hyundai parked in front of us.

Now I realize that our lights are shining directly into the drivers window, and I turn the knob all the way in the opposite direction, assuming this will turn the lights off.

It doesn’t.

So I turn  the knob back and forth a few times trying to find the “off” position. No luck. Finally, I settle with it back on what I assume is the parking lights position at the least.

It takes about 30 seconds of the annoyed and irritated looks the driver starts shooting us, to realize that the lights are still not off.

“Dude, I’m trying to turn them off” I say, turning the knob a few more times.

(My sister points out, much later, that all this knob turning has done is continually flash our lights at the poor fellow, probably, most definitely, only increasing his irritation)

The guy throws a few more less than friendly looks in our direction, then suddenly he digs up a flashlight from somewhere in his car and starts flashing it in our direction.

This has the effect of a lightening bug flashing in the windshield of a 747.

“Dude, that is not going to bother me in the least. Flash away”

Of course at this point we are all laughing.

“I really can’t figure out how to turn them off” I say, flicking the knob a couple more times.

“I don’t think you can turn them off in some of the newer cars. They’re all automatic” my sister adds, helpfully.

The guy gives up on the flashlight after a minute or two, shoots us a couple more less than friendly looks, and then slams his sun visor over across his window.

“That should help. Then just don’t look over here and it won’t bother you so much!”

“I wonder what he is even doing, just sitting there anyway?”

We continue these musings for a few minutes, and then the guy has a flurry of irritated activity behind the wheel, throws his car in reverse, and hurtles back out of his space.

At first, I think he is going to back up beside us and start something.

He doesn’t.

Then I think he is going to turn his car around to face us and shine his lights into our car. Which I was actually already laughing about, since the lights from his Hyundai would have probably shone directly under our Suburban.

He doesn’t do that either. He tears out of the parking lot and disappears.

“That was weird. I wonder what he was even doing just sitting there?”

“I don’t know, but we obviously ruined his Christmas!”

“I think we successfully ruined his entire year!”  I flick the knob a few more times.

“I really can’t figure…. Oh. Look at that. I found the “off” spot”

Oops.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Hyundai dude…

 

 

 

 

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.