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.

 

Campfire Dreams

I had been in SC for several months and had just settled in for my last night there for awhile. Soon after snapping off the light, I was snuggled safe in my bed with dreams of sugarplums dancing in my head.

Or possibly deep in a dreamless sleep. Either way, I was sound asleep.

When somewhere in the depths of that slumber, what to my slumbering ears do I hear?

The obnoxioiusly loud blaring of the fire alarm in my room. Accompanied by the seizure inducing strobe light attached to this alarm.

Now, I was sound, SOUND asleep. So it took a minute or so for these assaults on my senses to register in my brain. And for me to realize this was really a fire alarm.

As soon as I did realize what it was, I did what any normal person would do.

I rolled over, pulled the pillow over my head and tried to go back to sleep.

It was 2AM. I was not about to get up. I was pretty sure the firmen would get there eventually and get the flames under control. No sense in losing out on valuable sleep.

After about 5 min of trying to block out the ruckus and drift back to sleep, I realized that probably wasn’t going to happen. Have you ever heard one of those industrial fire alarms?? Those things are LOUD! My pillow was not nearly as effective as earmuffs as I’d hoped.

So I roll out of bed and decide to find out how long I might expect to be losing out on sleep. I will admit, I did not follow proper fire safety protocol and check the door for heat before throwing it open. But who are we kidding. I was just trying to sleep through a fire.

I do feel badly for all the other hotel guests in the immediate vicinity of my room, and who apparently did not feel sleep was more important than their lives. They were already startled out of sleep, and now stood in the hall worried about burning to a crisp.

And then they are treated to the sight of me. Barging out of my room. At 2AM. After being woken out of a sound sleep.

Let me tell you that would not have been a pretty sight.

Since these life loving guests had been up longer than I had, they had already found out that this was all the result of some charming, hilarious individual, who thought pulling the fire alarm, at 2AM would be funny.

See? I knew there wasn’t really a fire.

We still had to wait several more minutes for the fire department to arrive and turn off the alarms before we could all return to our sugarplums and dreamlands. But at least no lives were lost in the making of that wonderful practical joke.

Yet.

I am still on the hunt for that charming individual.

And I didn’t even get to meet any fireman.