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.

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.

 

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.

 

When Murphy’s Law kicks your butt….

It all started with static cling.

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

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

But I didn’t.

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

And Murphy laughed and said “Game on!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Huh.

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

I know you can see where this is going.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think the OnStar tech took pity on me.

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

The day can go on!! Take that Murphy!

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

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

Then I get to the airport.

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

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

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

My flight to Chicago has just been cancelled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I never thought I would say United saved the day.

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

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

Until I look at my phone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ticket to Ride

I just returned from a visit to our Nations capital and a visit with all my colleagues. I was very grateful that they ordered in some warmer temps prior to my arrival than they had been experiencing recently.

On Wednesday night we were lucky enough to attend a team building event at the Capital One Arena and watch, what I was told, was an exciting game of basketball between the Jazz and the Wizards.  I will admit that I may have spent more time eating and socializing than actually watching the game, but since the scoreboard read 74-74 the one time I did look at it, I’ll take their word for it.

Standing in front of the arena waiting for an Uber after the game, I couldn’t help remember the other wonderful Uber adventures I’ve had in our fair capital. (Remember my driver who drove in circles and confused the airport with Arlington National Cemetery? Good times).

While this Uber ride turned out to be relatively uneventful, I wasn’t so lucky on my previous trip to DC a  couple months ago.

We had gone to see a Nationals game as a team on that particular trip, and, as you can imagine, there were quite a number of people pouring out of the stadium and requesting Ubers after the game.

There are also multiple gates leading out of the stadium and onto many, very different streets around the stadium.

And if you are from out of town, you may or may not be aware that there is an Uber “pick up spot” outside one of these gates.

The group I was with fell into the may not camp.

So we filed out of the gate nearest our seats, divided into two groups, and took off to the nearest corner, to request an Uber using the cross streets over our head.  One group went one way, and myself and my new boss went the opposite.

We requested our Uber and proceeded to watch it’s progress on it’s way to find us. I think the original ETA was about 5 min. However, as we continue to watch the progress, we begin to notice that the Uber seemed to be moving in the opposite direction and the ETA is getting longer, not shorter.

After the estimated 5 min and a few more has passed, and we seem to only be further from having our Uber arrive, I decide to give our driver a call.

I get her on the phone, and immediately it is clear there is much confusion as to where we might be.

I spend several minutes telling her where we are based on the streets (which in my mind should be the easiest landmarks, especially for someone whose business it is to drive on said streets) and when that fails to help her locate us, I start naming every landmark I can spy with my little eye.

Meanwhile, obviously not cluing into any of my landmarks, she is trying to tell me where the Uber pick up spot is using landmarks of her own, which may have been effective, if I was from the area, and had ever been to that specific part of town before.

But neither was true.

Then she proceeded to tell me we would need to walk to her, because all the streets around the stadium were closed and she wouldn’t be able to get to us, even though I gently informed her that I was watching numerous cars drive on those streets as we spoke.

I finally decided that this may be a fruitless venture, and told her I would cancel my request so she could just find someone who knew where the pick-up spot was.

My boss and I decided to walk down a few blocks, further from the stadium, before requesting another ride, in the hopes that we would have either better luck or an Uber driver who actually believed in GPS.

Of course the other group had somehow found one of DC’s best drivers and had already been picked up and were halfway back to the hotel.

We get to our new “pick up spot” and request another car.

This one is about 8 min away, but at least seems to be moving in the right direction in the first few minutes, so we are hopeful. About 5 min in, my phone rings. IRead More »

Keep Calm and Travel On….

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

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

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

I think not.

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

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

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

Exact.

Same.

Conversation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But of course it wasn’t.

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

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

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

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

“Oh”.

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

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

 

Let’s talk about Uber, baby

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

Uber.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We go right.

And start the circle again.

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

“Ok, fine. You want to do it. Fine”

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

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

You got it. Left!

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

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

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

Now I am flabbergasted and more than a little irritated.

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

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

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

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

We make it back to the highway.

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

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

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

“I know the way to the airport!”

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

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

If only the story ended there.

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

Not this time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Expert Packing tips for any trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

It isn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Which may be why I always end up with stories.

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

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

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

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

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

Happy weekend!

 

 

 

 

The Rush for A17

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

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

Yesterday, all the stars most definitely did not align.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I digress.

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

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

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

Not the train.

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

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

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

Southwest.

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

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

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

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

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

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