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!

 

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.

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 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.