Is There a Mr. Fix-It In the House?

I thought I had been lucking out the past few months. Not only did a get a bit of a break from traveling so much, the trips I did have to take were relatively smooth and story free.

I should have known the odds would need to right themselves eventually.

I just didn’t expect it all to happen in one trip.

I had a “quick” trip planned to North Carolina this week. Out on Wednesday afternoon, and back Thursday evening. Since there aren’t a lot of direct options for me into Raleigh/Durham, NC, my out flight was a connection in Baltimore.

The flight from Denver to Baltimore was smooth, and even arrived a little early, giving me those few extra minutes to grab some food before boarding leg 2. If I had seen the future, I may have grabbed a little more to eat.

We boarded the Raleigh bound flight on time, but were quickly informed once boarding was complete, that there was a maintenance issue with one of the plane’s navigation systems. Not to worry though. Maintenance was already here addressing the issue, and we hoped to be cleared to leave shortly.

No big deal.

Sure enough, they were back on about 15 minutes later saying maintenance had fixed the issue and we would be pushing back.

They finished up the paperwork, closed the main cabin door, and we pushed back from the gate.

Only to have them immediately put it back in drive and pull us right back up to the gate.

“Sorry, folks. While maintenance did fix the problem with the first navigation system, now the second system is throwing an alert, so we need to have them back to look at that one.”

I can already see where this is headed.

About 10 minutes later the captain is back, this time with a less optimistic message.

They are pulling the plane from service for the night, so we all have to deplane. Please see the agent at the top of the bridge for information on a new plane.

I’ll give them credit. We were off the plane less than 5 minutes before they were sending us to a new gate, with a new plane, and less than 30 minutes later we were all loaded on the new plane.

The problem was, the bags were not so lucky.

We were sitting on the plane for an hour, before the little carts with all the checked bags finally pulled up beside the plane.

At exactly the same moment that the flight attendant  came over the intercom to call for help with a medical emergency for a passenger in the back of the plane.

Which meant the bags had to wait to be loaded on the plane until the Emergency Medical Response team could board the plane and get the passenger back off.

Another 45 minutes later, the medical emergency has been taken off for care, the bags have been loaded and they announce they have closed the front door and we will be leaving soon.

Which was evidently just what the man in row 2 was waiting for as his cue. He decides to choose that moment to throw a fit and demand to be let off the plane.

Despite the fact that the flight attendant explained in order to do that they have to get clearance to re-open the door, get ground crew to do so and re-do all the paperwork which will only delay things even further, the man continues to demand to be let off the plane

I’m actually surprised he made off the plane in one piece. I thought the entire plane was going to riot .

Another 30 minutes later, we are FINALLY ready to go. For real this time.

I finally get to my hotel and in bed a little after 12:30AM, and had to be up at 5:30AM for a 7AM meeting. That set my Thursday up to be a great day!

I come out of my early morning meeting to a message that my flight for that afternoon had already  been delayed for 3 hours.

You have got to be kidding me!

This time my plane, which was starting it’s day in Burbank, was scheduled to make a pit stop in Denver, on it’s way to pick us up in Raleigh to take us back to Denver.

Evidently, before it could leave Burbank, however, it was pulled due to a flat tire and left Burbank 3 hours late.

Even I can change a tire in less than 3 hours.

So, this is how I find myself landing in Denver, 3 hours later than planned, and then still have to make the drive home when it’s already past my bed time.

Now, not to toot my own horn, but I had done a remarkable job of staying cool and letting all these irritations roll off my back to this point, if I do say so myself. Even though I was beyond tired,  I figured the irritations were at least behind me, and all I had to do was make it home.

I should have known better.

I get to my car in the garage, and pull up behind one car in line to pay my for my parking and put the airport behind me.

And I watch as the guy in this car tries 3 times to insert his parking ticket. Then watch as he tries 3 different credit cards to pay his fee. And then continue to sit there, and sit there, and sit there, as he does who knows what. Finally, after about 10 minutes, the arm goes up and I breathe out my irritation as I assume the guy will finally leave.

Except he doesn’t.

I’ve already admitted I was beyond tired, so I assume maybe this guy is too, and possibly he fell asleep behind his wheel and failed to see the arm go up releasing him from parking planet. So I decide to play a gentle alarm on my horn to wake him up and urge him into freedom.

Except he still doesn’t move.

So I toot again.

This elicits him popping his head out of his window and yelling, “Stop that!”

Stop that?? Ummm, what??

Maybe he doesn’t speak horn? He wasn’t able to figure out the message I was trying to send?

So I decide to help him out and translate to plain English for him. I pop my head out of my window and say

“You need to go!”

To which I get,

“I’m not going! They have my license on camera showing I didn’t pay!”

I am beyond confused as to what this guy is missing, but he must be more tired than I am. The arm doesn’t pop up to let you out unless you pay. The arm is clearly up! So, I decide to translate for this guy again.

“The arm is up, so you obviously paid. Now you need to go!”

To which the guy decides to pull his head back in his car, put it in reverse and back it quickly up half the distance to my front bumper.

This seems an interesting move for a guy who was just expressing concern about them having his license plate on camera for not paying, but doesn’t seem concerned about being on camera backing his little car into my SUV.

I get it. Drive and Reverse can be confusing. And this guy is obviously having a difficult time figuring things out at the moment. So I decide to try to help one more time.

I pop my head out the window and say,

“Ummm, you need to go forward…”

Which got him backing another several inches towards my car in response.

Then his head is back out the window and he yells, “I’m not going! If you don’t like it, you can move!”

“Ummm, I’d love to! Except you are in my way, and I can’t!”

Now the parking attendant two booths down starts yelling at the guy that he needs to go, but the guy continues to just sit there.

I try one more time and offer “He’s telling you you can go!” out the window, as the attendant continues to yell at the guy, and the guy continues to sit there.

Finally, another attendant comes out of the main booth and starts to walk towards the guys car. The guy finally decides to move.

After reversing one more time to come as close as he can possibly come to hitting my car, without actually hitting it, he finally puts his car in drive and takes off.

I sure hope he managed to find his way home and to bed a lot easier than he found his way out of DIA parking.

At least I found my way home and to my bed without anymore delays.

This is why We Can’t Have Nice Things…

As most of you know, we just got back from a few weeks overseas. Evidently, while we were gone, we got a lot of rain, and the weeds, which seem to be the only things that grow easily in my yard, had taken that as their cue to grow thick and tall.

Basically my yard was overrun. And the fake grass, that seems to be the only grass that really wants to grow on my “lawn” was knee high.

So, I decided that this past weekend would be a great weekend to whip my yard into shape for the summer.

I decided that not only would I attack the weeds into submission, I would also plant flowers and shrubs to replace the ones that didn’t bounce back from last year’s hail storm, and give my yard a whole new face lift.

So off I went to HomeDepot after my coffee Saturday morning, to get supplies and plot out a landscaping strategy.

I added so much top soil, bark mulch, flowers, shrubs and vegetables to my cart, I actually had to make two trips to my car with it all. Every square inch of my car was full of my future garden.

It was a beautiful, sunny morning, and I was actually enjoying working up a sweat pulling weeds and digging holes.

And let me just say, I pulled SO. MANY. WEEDS. Enough to fill 3 extra large hefty bags.

My yard, as you my faithful readers know, is all on a hill, so I have many tiered beds, formed by the retaining walls, on all different levels up my hill.

I didn’t even mind hauling all the bags of mulch and dirt up my 28 steps.

Probably about 3 hours later, I had finished weeding, planting and mulching all the beds in the front of my house, when the afternoon showers forced a rain delay.

I wasn’t even upset by the call of the game, as it gave me time to run back to Home Depot for more bags of mulch and plan for the next day’s planting.

Bright and early, right after my coffee on Sunday, Auni (my faithful canine helper, who, by the way, is a great gardening assistant) and I were back at work, tackling the beds by my front door.

Another 3-4 hours later, my masterpiece was complete. I had planted beds of flowers, pots of flowers,  a bed of tomatoes and fresh basil (Hello, Caprese salads!), planted some shrubs around the fence line, and even strewn some wildflower seeds, hoping they might be more hardy for our Colorado climate. I had watered all the new plants, added root boost to give them the best start in their new homes, and done everything possible to help their transition.

I’m just going to say it. My yard was lovely!

And I was already looking forward to the coming months, when the plants and shrubs really started to flourish and I was eating fresh veggies from my “garden”

I took some pictures for posterity (and maybe a little bragging rites) and then poured some ice water to sit on my deck and enjoy my landscape for the remainder of the afternoon.

This was about 1 o’clock in the afternoon.

Around 4 o’clock I got ready to head to my hair appointment.

As I walked down the steps to my car, I smiled at how pretty my yard was, and what a reward those hours of work turned out to be, and took more mental pictures of the results.

If only I had known this was to be the last time I was to see that lovely yard.

On the way to my hair appointment, about a 10 min drive away, it started to rain. I’ll admit my first thought, was Good! This will be great for all my new little flowers!

By the time I pulled up to the hair salon, it was a torrential downpour. So much so, I sat in my car, literally right outside their front door, for 10 min, waiting for it to let up enough that I could make that 5 foot or so run, and not be completely drenched.

While it did let up long enough for me to reach the door, the torrents continued for a solid hour. The roads had trenches 3 inches deep along both sides as the drains struggled to keep up with the deluge.

People’s phones kept going off in the salon with weather alerts and flash flood warnings.

I’ll admit, I was a little concerned about what was going on at my house, partly because I had left all the windows open, and a little bit about the yard.

But I checked the radar and the weather alerts, and it appeared that the storm was just missing my area. Maybe we just got a lot of rain too.

If only that were the case.

As I drove home a couple of hours later, the closer I got to my house, the worse the roads and yards around people’s houses got. In fact, about a mile from my house, there was such a pile up of slushy hail, it looked like there was about 3-4 inches of slushy snow in the road. The rest of the road was covered in inches of thick mud and sand the rushing river that had run down it during the storm had left behind.

When I pulled onto my road and rounded the corner to head up my hill, I already knew I was not going to like what I saw.

Apparently the storm not only brought torrential rain to our area, but very gusty wind, and lots of hail. While the hail was not big enough to do any damage to the cars or houses, there was so much of it, it piled up literally inches thick.

My whole yard looked like it was covered in 4 inches of snow.

And not only were all my flowers gone, and plants completely crushed or literally razed away, but the leaves and debris from the surrounding trees and that the rushing water left in my yard, made the weeds that had been having a hay day just a couple days before, look inviting.

I couldn’t even really assess the damage until this morning, when the hail all “melted”. But it was basically as bad as I assumed.

So, I am very glad that my 6+ hours of work, allowed me to enjoy my pretty summer yard for exactly 2 hours. And the good news is, I have lots more projects to fill my weekend’s for the rest of the summer now!

I also have a feeling I will be putting that “unconditional plant guarantee” to the test in the near future, so stay tuned! You know there will be a story or two to accompany that!

Memories are the Best Souvenirs…

I just returned from a lovely trip to Europe with my family, to celebrate my son’s graduation from college. (I know, I can’t believe it either).

The trip was amazing, beautiful, fun, and of course, not without stories.

Our trip started off with a lovely visit in London. As we landed from our 9 hour flight, I saw an email from Air B&B that there had been a flood in the apartment we had booked and they would be unable to accommodate us. Cue a slight panic, as sleeping on the streets of London was not how I had planned this trip starting out. Luckily, that panic was short lived. When I logged into Air B&B to read the entire message, our hosts apologized for the inconvenience, but let me know they had another apartment just around the corner from the original booking, and they would be happy to accommodate us there. The apartment was comfortable, and a perfect home base for exploring all London had to offer.

Waking up on day 3, it was quickly apparent that someone on our long flight had decided to share with me my first trip souvenir.

From my scratchy throat, clogged head and the worst cough I have ever had, I was pretty sure I had Typhoid, Bubonic Plague, the Bird Flu, or possibly all three.

This was not exactly the kind of souvenir I had been looking for.

I still had 12 days of sightseeing planned, however, so I was not letting a pesky, (possibly deadly) virus slow me down. So I just added several European pharmacies to my sightseeing agenda, added several pills, sprays and lozenges to my souvenir collection, and soldiered on.

The various pills and medicated state I found myself operating out of, soon came in very handy.

We arrived in Ireland and rented a car for a drive across the county.

I was already a little nervous about driving on the wrong side of the road, but surprisingly found that that, itself, was pretty easy to adapt to. It was actually amazing how quickly going left around a traffic circle became second nature.

And can I just say, they love their traffic circles in Ireland?? I’m not even exaggerating a little when I say that we couldn’t go more than half a mile in any direction without hitting a traffic circle.

We made it to Galway without issue, but the real fun came the next day, when we decided to take a trip further west to Connemara.

Driving on the wrong side of the road was relatively easy on a 4 lane highway. However, you leave those highways in Ireland, and the roads quickly narrowed to no more than a lane and a half of what we are used to here in America.

With absolutely no shoulder.

There is literally the road, and then a hedge, or a tree, or a house a mere inches from your car.

Oh, and did I mention the roads are windy? Like you can’t see more than 100 ft down the road because of all the sharp bends and curves, windy.

This all just added to the fun of driving on the wrong side of the road. Especially when you met another car. Or one of the many tour buses on these roads.

With nowhere to move over. And all going a mere 100 km/hr.

But, in case that doesn’t sound like enough fun for you, it got better.

On this particular day, they were also doing a bike race on this road, in this part of Ireland.

So on top of dealing with sharp curves, tour buses, and super narrow roads, we also found ourselves dealing with bikes.

Lots and lots of bikes.

That were not going 100 km/ hr.

And had no where to go either, except smack dab in the middle of the lane we were driving in. Sometimes in groups of 10+ bikes thick.

While I appreciated the additional challenge to my driving skills, I was more amazed at these bikers, who obviously were Frogger level Master Plus back in the day.

Somehow, we made it to our destination with no casualties.

The middle part of trip was relatively uneventful, at least in the story department. Besides the fact that I had to continue adding pharmacy stops to our itinerary in every destination, we continued to enjoy the beautiful weather and amazing sites everywhere we went.

Until it was time to come home.

We ended our trip in Paris, and were preparing for our departure the night before, when my parents went to check in for their domestic flight back to Maine after their Trans-Atlantic flight stateside.

We had all booked our international flights together, but their return flight was bringing them back to Newark, while ours was bringing us to Denver. So they had to book another flight from Newark to Maine.

Which my dad had done back in February.

Or so he thought.

As he went to check them in for that flight, he was treated to a pop up that said that flight reservation had been cancelled.

That was going to be a little inconvenient.

Which is how he found himself on the phone with the travel site through which he booked the reservation. For roughly an hour and 45 minutes total, across about 3 calls, and about 75% of that time being on hold, while they tried to figure out what happened.

All at a mere $2/ minute on his international cell phone plan.

Which didn’t get any easier to swallow when he was told that, “OOPS!”  Somehow, when he booked the flight back in February, the travel site had never actually sent the payment  to the airline, even though they had charged his card for said payment. Which had caused the airline to cancel the reservation.

Not to worry, though. The flight was still available. At about 3x what the original fare had  been.

Cue more hold time, calls back and $2/minute cell phone time.

Luckily, he eventually got a supervisor who was able to get them booked and waived the extra charges.

Yay! Everyone would be able to get home.

Or so we thought.

We arrive at Charles de Gaulle the next morning, make it through security, and to our gate with plenty of time to spare. Everything seems to be going as planned.

Until about 30 minutes before our flight.

When we start getting announcements and alerts that our flight to Frankfurt is delayed about 10 min.

This got my attention as we both only had exactly an hour, once we touched down in Frankfurt, to make our connecting flights. 10 min shouldn’t affect our ability to still make our connections, as long as it wasn’t any more than that.

But of course you know that wasn’t the case.

Soon we were looking at a delay of 30 min, and I was getting alerts on my phone that my parents were not going to make their connecting flight, but we should still be good on ours. Which was very confusing as we had 5 minutes difference in our connecting flight times.

So, I find myself at the desk, trying to see what our options are.

Sure enough, it didn’t look like my parents would make their connection, although their system was saying “no problem, you’ll make yours” as far as ours was concerned Still confused on that, but first things first. We needed to find another option for my parents.

The gate agents explore options, spend lots of time on their computer, phoning friends, and conversing in French, but finally come up with an alternative flight plan.
They will now fly to Munich, catch a flight to Newark, and still be there in time to catch their domestic flight to Maine.

Thank goodness, after all those $2/min minutes on the phone last night!

They get their new boarding passes, and head to their new gate.

Then the gate agent turns to me and says, “Now I have bad news”.

Of course now the system is saying we will not make our connecting flight either.

Nice of it to catch up.

So thus begins the search for alternative options for us to make it to Denver.
Cue more computer time, more phoning friends and conversations in French.

All to tell us that they have no other options. Any alternative flights are sold out or bounce us all over the country once we make it back to the US.

Our “best option” for now is to stay on our current flight to Frankfurt, and then try again for other options there, as they would have many more options available to them.

Which is how we find ourselves waiting to board our delayed flight. Which at least the plane has now showed up for and landed during all this research time.

We board our plane and are ready for push back and taxi by noon. The pilot comes on to announce the conditions are favorable and he thinks he can get us to Frankfurt in about 50 min as opposed to the hour and 5 minutes scheduled.

Hmm. Our connecting flight is scheduled for 1:25. If he can get us there in 50 min, that would leave us 30 min to still make our flight. We are in the front of the plane, and we can run if needed, so maybe we’ll make our connection after all!

Of course you know I wouldn’t be writing this if that was the case.

We push away from the gate, taxi out to our position for take off…and sit there for 20 min.

As the minutes tick away, I am realizing our chances are ticking away with them.

Finally the pilot comes on and says:

“Well folks, sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately, the plane that was right in front of us, had an ‘incident’ and needed to be contacted by police/security, which caused us to lose our take off slot, so now we are waiting for a new time”

I can’t make this stuff up. And now I really want to know what is going on on that other plane. Which of course I never find out.

But thanks to this “incident”, we find ourselves landing in Frankfurt at the exact same time that our flight to Denver is taking off.

Which is how we get the chance to add a 5th country and another night to our trip itinerary.

Despite all the glitches and the added visit to Urgent Care upon our arrival home, it really was an amazing trip, and I wouldn’t have traded the stories anyway. Just maybe the cough.

 

It’s A Short Story

This week’s trip brought a collection of short stories that all came together to create one memorable trip.

Chapter 1- The Tale of 5 Boarding Passes

Have you ever wondered how to collect 5 boarding passes in less than 12 hours? Look no further! I have your answer!

Boarding pass #1 was for my original booked flight on Southwest  from Denver to Oakland on Tuesday evening. However, that flight was cancelled, for reasons unknown, mid Tuesday morning. Frustrating, but I did appreciate the advanced notice.

Boarding pass #2 came when I was able to rebook on another flight on United from Denver to San Francisco that left just 15 min prior to my original flight. I can deal with that.

So I head up to DIA around the time I planned to leave, get to my gate and get settled in-  just in time to hear the announcement that this flight was also cancelled. Evidently, the plane had literally been struck by lightening on it’s approach to Denver, and needed to be pulled out of service for maintenance. I was glad it hadn’t been struck while I was on it, I guess.

Boarding pass #3 occurred when United took it upon itself to rebook me on a flight later that evening. Except that flight didn’t arrive into SFO until 1am, which would then be followed by an hour drive. That wasn’t really my idea of a good time, so I was already on the phone trying to rebook.

Boarding pass #4 was the result of my co-worker and I  both trying to rebook on another Southwest flight the next morning from Denver to Oakland at 8:25. Evidently, she is faster than I am with the app navigation, because she got the last seat and I got the “sorry this flight is sold out” message. So I had no choice but to book the 9:15 Denver to SFO flight.

Boarding pass #5 came from some savvy, frequent flyer persistence on my part. Since we were supposed to share transportation and had prep work to do for our meeting later in the day, I kept checking the 8:25 flight to see if someone got struck by lightening and wouldn’t be needing their seat after all. Sure enough! Around 9:30 pm a seat opened up on that flight, and after a call to Southwest I was rebooked on the 8:25 to Oakland.

Is it really any wonder that after all that, it took me 3 times of scanning the wrong pass at the gate, and 5 min of arguing with the gate agent that YES, the Denver to SFO boarding pass was the right one for trying to board my Denver to OAK flight? Give a girl a break!

You too can collect all 5 boarding passes just by following these few easy steps!

Chapter 2: Sea Kayaking in Wal-Mart

Just as I was leaving my house to head to the airport, I happened to check my email, and noticed two emails from Wal-Mart.com.

The first email was to thank me for my purchase of 2 sea kayaks for a mere $698.

The second email was to regretfully inform me they had to cancel my order, due to being unable to verify all my billing data.

You can imagine my confusion (and relief), since I had no recollection of placing any orders for sea-kayaks. Nor was I aware of any seas in which to kayak in our lovely Colorado. I also can’t  remember the last time that I shopped on Wal-Mart.com.

(It is possible this could have been another case of early onset dementia. Refer to Chapter 4)

I checked the credit card this was supposedly billed to, and sure enough, there was the charge for $698. Followed, thankfully, by the refund of the same amount.

What was more puzzling, though, was the fact that this is the same credit card that is constantly send me fraud alerts, or randomly declining my charges, for transactions that I am actually making. Like trying to buy tacos for a grand total of $32, 5 min from my house.

While I appreciate the concept of the fraud alerts, and also appreciate them trying to keep my information safe, I begin to feel there may be a flaw in their system if they decline my transaction for $32 tacos, but I don’t get as much as a whisper for them when someone else purchases kayaks for $698, at a place I never shop.

So I decide I need to call and explain the flaw in their system to them.

The only thing I got from that call was less logic applied to the explanation than is apparently applied to their fraud detection system. No one had any answer as to why tacos would trigger a high alert, but sea kayaks seemed of no concern.

They could agree I probably needed a new card, either way, since some sea loving criminal had obviously gotten their grubby hands on my number.

All I can say is, thank goodness Wal-Mart’s fraud detection system seems to operate better.

And so sorry, Mr. Sea-Kayaking Identity Theft. I hope this doesn’t mean you’ll drown on your sea adventure.

Chapter 3: Titanium is Higher than Platinum

Amidst all the fun I was having booking and re-booking multiple flights, I began to think the hotel personnel might be wanting some attention too, and realized I would need a place to sleep in Denver, so I could be up bright and early for round 2.

Of course when I logged on to search for hotels, every hotel within a 10 mile radius of DIA was sold out.

Evidently there was a lot of lightning striking and boarding pass roulette occurring this particular evening.

As any of you who know me know, and as my co-worker pointed out, I am not very good at taking no for an answer, however.

What good is having Titanium Elite hotel status, if it can’t turn a “no” into a “yes”?

So I call the Marriott reservations line to invoke my Titanium Elite, guaranteed room, ” we will kick someone out to welcome you” perk.

The first agent I spoke to tried to tell me that that perk was only good if invoked 48 hours prior to needing the room. Not only did this not work for me, but I was pretty sure that was inaccurate as well. So without wasting a lot of time going back and forth with her, I decided talking to someone at the Elite benefits desk might be in order.

I started to despair when that agent started out by telling me that indeed, there were no rooms available for that night but there were several open over the next few nights, then paused like he expected me to take him up on that offer. I had already explained the reason I needed a room was because my flight was cancelled and I was rebooked on an early flight the next morning, but he somehow thought presenting this option would make me go, “Oh! Ok then! I’ll take a room on Thursday night instead! Thanks!” ??

Evidently my reluctance to accept that offer transmitted through the phone lines, because he chose to quickly move on to options that might actually help me that night.

“I have status with Marriott and I thought that guaranteed me a room when needed?”

“Yes, it does guarantee a room for Platinum members”

Which is how I found myself uttering the phrase: “And I’m Titanium, which is higher than Platinum, so I should be able to get a room as well”

It took a little more “searching” on his part, and him patching me through to Gwen at the front desk of the airport Marriott, but he got it done.

And Gwen is now my new BFF. Not only did she get me a room, she put me in a suite that I seriously considered just booking from now until eternity and making it my home.

Chapter 4: Signs of Early Onset Dementia

I finally make it to CA, check into the hotel that really is starting to feel like a second home, and have plenty of time to unwind and prep for the evening meeting that made all of this worthwhile to begin with.

We head back to the hotel after the meeting and decide to change and head out in search of a late dinner and possibly (definitely) an adult libation or two.

I ride the elevator to my floor and then something happened that has never happened before.

I literally COULD. NOT. REMEMBER. MY. ROOM. NUMBER.

I have had momentary lapses before, especially after being in multiple hotels in the same week. But usually if I just stop for a second, focus and take a deep breath, I could quickly recall the right combination of numbers.

Not this time.

I walked down the hall to where I thought I remembered my room being, stopped in front of the door I thought was mine, and tried my key.

Nothing but a blinking red light.

I then did the slow, sad circle in the middle of the hall, looking for anything that would trigger recognition.

No luck.

I walked all the way to the other end of the hall to try the door in the same spot on that end, hoping I just zigged when I should have zagged.

Again with the red light.

Then I tried a couple random doors, just because I’m not a quitter.

Finally, I realized what I was going to have to do.

I was actually going to have to go down to the front desk and tell them I was an idiot.

I walked up to the girl at the front desk and decided to open with:

“Ok, you have to promise not to laugh too hard”

“Ok” she says with all her customer service training behind her, but I can see she is dying to know what comes next.

“I forgot what room I’m in”

Of course she laughed.

“Ok, I totally deserved that. You can tell that story as much as you want when I’m gone’

She looks me up and gets me my room number and a new key.

“I’ll just write that down for you here” she offers helpfully as she hands me the key.

“That’s probably a good call”

It’s sadly possible I’ve forgotten other great stories that happened on this trip before I had the chance to write them down for you.

Chapter 5: No Good Deed 

Once I found my way back to my room, I managed to change and find my way back to the lobby to meet my co-worker to head out for dinner.

We manage to find our way to the restaurant, but only because she was navigating, and I pull into the parking lot adjacent to the restaurant to park. It is pretty packed, and I pull into the only open spot I find. I get out to pay the meter, but the machine will not take my card. (I’m getting a complex when it comes to cards with magnetized strips). But it doesn’t like my co-workers card any better. Thankfully, someone in the row right behind us is pulling out, so I move the car to take that spot, and my co-worker walks over to feed that meter. We have more luck this time and head into to dinner.

Or so we thought.

After some great food, we come back out and as I start to climb into the car, notice a piece of paper flapping under the wiper. That can’t be what I think it is!

Sure enough, it a pretty little parking ticket worth $30.

How is this possible? We parked. We paid the meter. We followed all the rules!

Because of that little problem with “no” I mentioned before, I am climbing out of the car to take a picture of our meter, that still has time left on it, and already searching the ticket for a phone number.

Which is when I realized. Since the meters are not directly in front of the parking spot (which would be logical) but off to the right side (or so we thought) we had logically paid that meter. When I got out to take the picture, however, I realized we had paid the meter for the car next to ours, and left ours (on the left side of the car) blinking red and beckoning the parking police.

You’re welcome, random stranger, whose $30 ticket we are now paying. How does one expense a parking ticket?

Chapter 6: Mystery SOLVED!! 

Because we’ve covered airlines and hotels in this collection of short stories, it only seems right to include Uber.

And Amazon.

After another evening meeting tonight, I was headed back to Oakland for an early morning flight back to Denver. So I call an Uber, and off we go.

I never get car sick. Tonight, however, I was doing a lot of deep breathing to keep everything in my stomach where it was.

It wasn’t just that my driver was driving like the world was on fire, the shocks in his car probably should have been replaced at least 10 years ago. So every bump and turn in the road, turned my Uber into a carnival ride.

I was able to solve one of life’s great mysteries on my ride, however! Anyone who has read any of my posts, knows of my adventures with Amazon and packages being delivered (or not) or disappearing into the shipping black hole. I have finally discovered what happens to all the Amazon packages that never make it to my house!

IMG_0616.jpg

I know it’s a bit blurry, but it’s hard to take a good photo when you’re flying down the road at 90 mph.

But at least now I know where to look for all my missing packages!

In short, this weeks travel has fully prepared me for my upcoming 3 week vacation. I’m sure travel for fun will be much less eventful!

Episode 134: The Girl in the Hotel Room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Umm, maintenance for what?”

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

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

“What are you here to fix?”

Another pause.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I Think My Dog Is Broken

My dog broke her leg a couple of weeks ago.

Maybe this doesn’t seem like it should be story worthy to most people, but it is my dog after all.

As anyone who has read any of my posts knows, we have a lot of steps in our yard. These steps are made of stone. Stone steps and ice don’t always mix that well.

Thanks to the “Colorado Cyclone” that occurred here a few weeks ago, the stone steps in my yard got very icy.

Now, I always make sure to keep the steps in my front yard, going to my front door salted and clear of ice.

Mostly, because I am accident prone enough without having any help from icy steps.

However, I do not take such great care with the steps to my back door. Which is where my dog goes out to do her business and chase her balls.

So, my best guess is when she tore out of the house and down the stairs after her ball, on this particular morning, as she is prone to do, she hit that ice and broke her ankle.

But I’m really just guessing, as I did not realize anything was wrong until she came back in the house and was one leg short on the ground.

She has come in in this 3 legged position before, usually when she has picked up a rock or one of the annoying little pine cones we have in our yard in her paw. So my first thought was to grab the leg and check for debris.

No debris.

Well, I’m sure she just stepped on something and it’ll be fine. She’ll walk it off.

And she did seem to over the rest of the afternoon.

But the next morning when I came down the stairs and looked at her leg, she had a golf ball growing on the inside of her ankle.

I used to be an ortho nurse, albeit a human one, so I had a sneaking suspicion I was going to find myself at the vet later that day.

Sure enough, that is where we ended up.

After x-rays and aspirations and palpitations, it was decided we needed to make an appointment to see the doggie orthopod the next day.

Sigh.

The next day we find ourselves at the doggie orthopod, where after more palpitations, a review of the x-rays and a CT scan, it is determined she did indeed break her ankle.

Which is how we find ourselves going home  in a hard splint and with strict instructions to keep her quiet and limit activity.

For any of you fortunate enough to have met my dog, you know that she was chasing squirrels the day the quiet gene was passed out, so quiet is not in her vocabulary.

I am already tired thinking about how fun this is going to be for the next several weeks.

When we get home, I also realize we have another problem.

Remember those steps in my yard?

Those all of a sudden become much more challenging with a broken ankle and arthritis in one of her front paws already.

I also realized that throwing my 80 pound dog on my back to get her up the stairs would probably lead to many more broken limbs.

We somehow make it, albeit slowly, up the stairs and to the door, but I realize we are going to need a better long term solution.

So I go to my life- hack partner, Amazon, to see what I can find.

Obviously, my dog is not the first one to have the combination of injury and steps, because I found this handy dandy “dog sling” that looks like the perfect solution, and quickly order it with Prime 2-day shipping.

I know I don’t need to remind you, my faithful readers, of all the fun I have with deliveries at my house, so I know you will not be surprised at all that this did not go as planned.

The package was scheduled to be delivered on Sunday with Amazon Prime shipping service. I get all the alerts that the package is out for delivery, the truck is in my area, and then that they are 5 stops away. Great!

And then I get the alert that my package has been delivered.

Hmm. That’s odd. I didn’t hear the truck or have anyone at the door.

Regardless, I go check outside the front door.

Nope.

I then open the tracking alert and see the delivery note “Handed to resident”

Imagine my surprise since I am the resident and I was not handed any package.

I call Amazon. They have no way to contact their drivers on the road (evidently cell phones are foreign concept to them) so they can’t ask him to come back and try again, or even tell me where he might have delivered it. The best they can do is re-order and re-ship in another 2 days.

Really?

I check with my immediate neighbors, but none of them were handed any package either, so I decide re-order and re-ship is my best option.

I mean it’s not like we really need this sling or anything.

Eventually, 3 days later ( I mean why would I expect it to be delivered on time this time??) it is delivered.

The same day that the person the first one was delivered to, finally decides they really should bring it to the person who actually ordered it.

At least now we have a back up sling. Which in my world, is not really a bad idea.

So, back to the dog, who, for as high strung and neurotic as she is, did a pretty good job of leaving her cast alone.

At first.

After about 6 days, however, I came down the stairs in the morning to find the top half of her cast shredded.

Which involved an emergent call to the vet and them squeezing us into their already packed Saturday schedule for a cast change.

The cast has rubbed at her ankle, so the on-call vet decides to forgo the hard cast and just put her in a soft wrap.

Which does not thrill her actual treating vet when we follow up with him 3 days later, since he really wanted her in a hard cast for at least 4 weeks.

Her swelling is going down and she seems to be doing okay in the soft cast, so he decides she can keep this regimen for the remaining 2 1/2 weeks and call it good.

Obviously, he is not well acquainted with our family.

Fast forward about 4 days later, to the next Saturday.

(Yes, just like with kids, these things always happen on a Saturday when your regular doctor is not available.)

Again, I come down the stairs in the morning (yes, I’m starting to get PTSD about that journey) and start to put on the nylon boot she has to wear over her cast before going outside, and stop.

What is that smell????

Yup, sure enough, on closer inspection, her soft cast is emitting a not very pleasant odor.

You have got to be kidding me.

Queue another call to the vet on a Saturday morning to be squeezed into their schedule.

It is about 8:45 and they want to know if I can be there before 9:30 when the vet goes into surgery for the day.

I am still in my pjs, haven’t finished my coffee, and it’s about a 20 minute drive. Not to mention the additional time it takes to get down the steps and in the car with the doggie sling now.

Sure, no problem. I’ll be there.

So, off we go again. I am considering asking them if we can just take up residence in one of the kennels for the next couple weeks.

This time, after taking the princess to the back for the bandage change, she and the vet come trotting back, this time with no bandage whatsoever on her leg.

I’m sure this is not in line with the treatment plan.

“So, it appears that she peed on her cast, and now has a “pee burn” on her ankle,(sure enough, there’s a good size sore on the front of her ankle)  so I can’t replace her cast”

Only my dog found a way to pee on her cast. Better yet, she found a way to pee on her cast while it was in the nylon boot that was always on when she was outside.

Gotta give her points for style.

We head home again with strict instructions that she needs to stay quiet since she is now without a cast, walking on an ankle that is still broken.

I decide not to review the fact that she missed the quiet gene, but do consider asking if they’ll just send her home and keep me in the kennel at least.

Or can they send me home with enough sedative to last the next 2 weeks? Whether that will go to the dog or me I can figure out later.

Today we were back for the follow up with our regular guy again. I was prepared for his eye rolling. And he literally threw his treatment plan in the trash while we were there.

At least he’s learning that the best laid plans rarely go as planned in our house.

And we are still without a cast until the custom made brace he had ordered to help her transition back to activity  (2 weeks from now when the cast was supposed to have come off) comes in.

Maybe we’ll have better luck with that.

 

 

Escape Room: Bathroom Edition

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

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

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

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

So off to the far back corner I headed.

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

Interesting.

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

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

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

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

Huh.

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

Nope. This was the door.

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

Nothing. This door was clearly locked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I turned to survey my surroundings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait. What?

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Flight of the Bumble-Hornet

I know I have been remiss in writing in a while. I could offer you up a bunch of excuses, but I hope this story will be enough for you to forgive me.

Most of you know that I live in an area where up close encounters with our wildlife  can happen often. I’m sure we will all remember what happened when a bat decided to come and pay a visit.

This story involves yet another winged critter.

A few weeks ago, I decided to enjoy one of our few and last beautiful fall days, and spend some time reading on my deck.

(What happened to fall BTW?? Did it forget it is supposed to make an appearance between summer and winter??)

Anyway, back to the deck.

I am an avid reader. And like any avid reader of the 21st century, especially one who travels frequently, my library is conveniently stored on my easily packable iPad.

So I am sitting on my deck, reading my book, on my iPad.

When a hornet decides it really likes something about my hair in this particular moment, and takes up doing laps around my ears.

I absent-mindedly try to flick him away a few times, but he is having none of it, and quickly resumes his laps.

We have a special name in our house for hornets, thanks to my dog, who loves gobbling them up in mid-air, like they are the tastiest snacks ever offered.

So we call them Scooby Snacks.

However, on this particular day, my trusty canine companion is more interested in working on her tan, then feasting on Scooby Snacks. Despite my cries for help, she refuses to come to my rescue, so I am left to fight on my own.

I make a few more vigorous attempts to encourage this pesky winged bugger to find another arena to continue his workout, but he refuses to leave.

So I put my iPad on the arm of my chair, and jump up to confront my foe face to face.

And give my iPad just enough of nudge with my thigh as I get up to knock it off the chair to the floor.

Where it slides under the deck rail. And falls the 10 feet to the walk below.

I had been considerate enough to leave my case open, and it was considerate enough to fall face up, so I could watch my screen shatter on impact from my perch 10 ft above.

Sigh.

I go down and rescue my iPad- which is miraculously still working- not that it matters much, since I can’t see anything through the millions of fine lines criss-crossing my screen.

Immediately my thoughts go to the fact that I am leaving the next day for a 2 day work trip, followed immediately by a trip to California to meet a friend for the weekend. Which meant a lot of plane time. And a lot of reading time. Which was going to be hard to do with my shattered library.

Luckily, I had purchased the protection plan when I bought this iPad a mere 5 months prior, because I have lived with myself long enough to know this protection would come in handy, with or without the help of hornets.

So I head out to the big box store that supposedly offers the Best place to Buy electronics and the like, and where I had purchased my iPad and this protection plan.

After waiting in line to talk to one of the Geeks behind the counter, I am informed that even though they sell iPads and the protection plans, they actually do not honor or provide any service when this protection is actually needed. They don’t even offer replacement on these insured products.

To take advantage of this protection, I would actually have to go to our local Apple store.

Now, I don’t know what it is like at your local Apple store, but I have been to ours enough times to know that this is never an “in and out” excursion. In fact you can pretty much plan on sacrificing hours and hours of your life that you will never get back, waiting for assistance at the big store of the Fruit.

I am not happy about this change to my afternoon plans.

I log onto my handy-dandy Apple app, in the hopes of making an appointment and minimizing my wasted time.

Only to find that the next available appointment is Friday afternoon.

It is currently Saturday afternoon. I will be in California by Friday.

This is less than ideal.

I call the Apple store, in the hopes they will take pity on me with my sad tale and find a way to work me in.

Not only does the phone ring endlessly, until I am finally punted over to the national Apple hotline, when this agent attempts to call the local store for me, even she has to wait approximately 30 minutes to get through.
And the manager she speaks with basically laughs at her when she asks about the possibility of getting me in that day.

It is about 4:30 in the afternoon. The store is open until 9. Yet the manager tells us they are basically sending people away because they are on a 5 hour wait for a service appointment.

I guess I’m glad I called before I drove all the way up there.

I am told my “best” option is to show up 30 min prior to store opening the following day, wait in line until they open, and hope that I am one of the first ones there so I can be first on their walk in list.

All for them to literally take my busted iPad and hand me a new one.

What happened to the good old days when you could walk in, grab the product off the shelves and walk up to the counter to complete the transaction??

While I begged to disagree about this being any sort of “best” option, I realized my options were greatly limited if I wanted my mobile library to accompany me on my trip.

So guess where I found myself at 10:30 the next morning?

That’s right.

Standing in line outside the Fruit store.

Luckily, I was the second one in line. The guy in front of me had longer legs and walked from his car one step faster than I walked from mine. He may not have known we were racing, but I did.

I was amazed that in that 30 minutes, the line grew to 50+ people behind me.

I guess I’m not the only one who needs to purchase those protection plans.

I will say that the Fruit vendors were very efficient and I was in the door and with a tech at 11 sharp and out the door with my new iPad at 11:30.

So when I headed out later that day, I did so with my library on my back. Despite the Scooby Snacks best efforts.

The Old Woman who Lived Without a Shoe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait a minute. Why is there only one shoe?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mission accomplished!

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

 

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.