Well, our summer came to an end October 3 when Dancing Mandolin Player and her Boyfriend Bob picked us up to take us with them to Spokane.
But we had one last celebration: Bob’s birthday! And dinner at the Safari Room at the Davenport, along with the 1/2 price Happy Hour drinks and appetizers and the mini-desserts.
Too. Much. Fun.
They were leaving the next morning for DMP’s class reunion and Bob was hoping to catch a fish off Catalina Island.
After a fabulous meal we headed to the Hampton Inn. We both had early flights out the next morning, though Banjo Man and I reserved the airport shuttle for 3:30 AM for our 5:30 AM flight. Why so early, you ask? Because I’ve had some bad experiences with those pre-dawn shuttles, as in not showing up. My twitchy-traveler self needs to have a cushion of time.
But we were in luck. The shuttle driver was on time, cheerful and wide awake, and we were at the security gate before the security personnel had arrived for work.
That was a first. Banjo Man may have rolled his eyes in disgust.
United Airlines changed our seats–no idea why–but we got the seats with the extra leg room. Hurray for extra leg room! My rolling carry on bag, the one designed to fit under the seat in front of me (I don’t risk a shoulder injury by shoving my bags in the overhead compartments when I travel by myself) was filled with technology: computer, GPS, Bose mixer, microphones, cords, plugs, Amazon Fire TV box, 2 Kindles and more.
It weighed 350 pounds, according to Banjo Man, who announced mid-trip that “we are too old to travel this heavy!!!” And also pronounced that next year we were not taking so much stuff.
We had a quick stop in Denver, but no time to get breakfast. So it was on to the next flight, with four carry-on bags (we’d checked three) and empty stomachs. I inhaled my bag of pumpkin seeds and a Diet Coke. Breakfast of Champions, right?
And then we were in Dulles, in Washington, DC. We were so excited to have an hour and a half to grab some food and decided–after a long hike and a bus ride to Terminal A—to try “Smashburger”.
It was no Safari Room, but the burgers were good and the service fast.
And then we learned our flight was delayed an hour. At the end of Terminal A is the dead end Gate A-1, which has doors B, C, D, E, F, G radiating from its tip.
For some odd reason, flights from those gates were also delayed. Not from the impending hurricane, but–we would learn eventually–from broken airplanes that couldn’t leave wherever they were to fly to DC.
We settled ourselves in chairs, opened our Kindles and prepared to wait. The flight to Albany finally boarded hours late, when their repaired plane had arrived. It arrived early, in fact, after everyone had been told there was a delay. So there was another delay while they tried to find the passengers. And the pilot!!! No one had any idea where he was, even after passengers had been told to line up to board. He eventually was found and the plane took off.
Which still left a large number of tired, disgruntled and trapped passengers slumped in chairs and huddled in groups waiting for flights to Harrisburg, PA and Providence, RI.
The delays kept mounting. I texted my daughter and told her not to go to the airport–we were supposed to arrive at 6:42 PM and now we were arriving–maybe–at 9:15. I had reserved a rental car just in case our daughter had to work late, so now I had to call Dollar Rent A Car and explain the delay in pick up time so they wouldn’t cancel the reservation.
There is something about trying to understand an accent on a cell phone in the middle of an airport that is a little bit stressful.
United announced that the replacement plane for the flight to Harrisburg had arrived! Jubilation! Uh…not so fast. The plane, they explained, could only hold 36 passengers. Passengers with cheap tickets would not be boarding, but would be put up in a hotel and flown out the next morning. So sorry for the inconvenience.
But maybe, the United person said, they would rent a shuttle to take the others to Harrisburg (only 150 miles away) and would be “exploring that possibility” and would “keep everyone informed”.
This is when a drunk guy started pacing back and forth, hauling his carry-on behind him, his cell phone in his hand, shouting, “Shuttle! Shuttle!”
I couldn’t take my eyes off him—either his pants were going to fall down or he was and I didn’t want to miss it.
People gave him a wide berth as he staggered back and forth.
Five members of airport security arrived and gently talked him into taking a seat away from everyone while they asked him if he’d had anything to drink.
Gosh oh golly, he said yes! He’d had one drink! They eventually talked him into agreeing to take a flight out in the morning and he took off, two officers running behind him to catch up.
After this Banjo Man saw a Middle Eastern man changing into a pilot’s uniform in the men’s room as he spoke Arabic into his cell phone. Banjo Man kept an eye on him, but it turned out he ended up in a group of United employees and was not a potential terrorist.
Meanwhile the poor Harrisburg passengers were told the plane might be too heavy.
Our flight was still delayed. They’d found a “replacement plane” in Dallas, so we were waiting for it to arrive from Texas. It finally did. We wouldn’t be in Providence until almost 10 PM, but we were on our way.
Our flight attendant was so young and so inexperienced (and yet so sweet and earnest) that the woman next to us wondered if this was a joke and if there were cameras on the plane to record it.
It did have that vibe. Or maybe we were all so tired we were hallucinating.
Once the flight landed and we’d rented a cart and retrieved our luggage, it was time to take an elevator to the third floor and begin the mile-long trek to the rental cars. Once we’d arrived there the Dollar attendant told us to pick any car we wanted, so Banjo Man’s eyes lit up when he saw the mini vans. Three mini vans later we still hadn’t figured out how to put the seats down flat (we had some very heavy suitcases!!), so the attendant was asked to help.
Poor Banjo Man.
The van’s brakes were very tight, so we lurched and lunged across the parking lot to the exit ramp, with Banjo Man swearing and me bracing myself against the dashboard.
“It’s never easy,” Banjo Man muttered, and we both recalled the late night flights with the snow and below-zero cold temps and dead battery and ear infection and lost car keys and missing parking receipts.
But we made it home. Safely. And that’s a good thing!!!!