Just a thought… He didn’t really like travel, of course. He liked the idea of travel, and the memory of travel, but not travel itself. [Julian Barnes]
Welcome in! I hope you had a terrific weekend and if you did try those mini Capreses that I shared Friday, post a pic on FB, won’t you? I hope you had great success.
I mentioned to you on Friday that we’re on the road again and I’ll explain more here tomorrow. But first, there’s a story I didn’t share with you earlier this month when I shared tales and pictures of our drive from Nevada to Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Montana. It’s a tale of sheer panic and it’s set in an airport.
I’d given myself 90 minutes to get from the Victoria-Seattle flight to my connecting trip to Las Vegas, where Rob was to meet me after having made the drive (and ferry trip) from our home near Victoria, BC. You’d think with all the air miles I’ve accumulated over years of flying as a kid with my folks, on my own as a teen to Alberta to spend summers with my grandparents, and the pleasure and work trips that came in the decades that followed, I’d feel pretty “at home” in an airport.
Well, no: without Rob at my side to calm me and lead me to where I need to get, I just feel lost most of the time. And I have an innate talent of going exactly in the opposite direction to where I should be.
It didn’t help that there wasn’t a ramp ready for us after a 30-minute flight to Seattle; apparently one was broken and due to construction or some other reason, we had to wait for a full half hour for a chance to off load the airplane. Then there was a shuttle bus taking us to the terminal; that added another 10-15 minutes. By the time we got inside, I was shaken to see a very long single line for passengers transferring to the US.
Because I have a Nexus card, I’m usually fortunate to skip long lines and just sail through. But not this time. A fellow traveller, a man coming in from Nashville, told me that there was a different line for “trusted travelers” of which I thought I was one. So, at a sprint, we headed off on a kilometre-long trek to get to what I hoped was a checkpoint that I could speed through.
We took a shuttle train to the proper terminal and then made our way through the busy airport to get to security. On our way to it, we passed a huge Disney World-worthy snaking line of people waiting to get through a different checkpoint. I said a silent “thanks” that I wasn’t going to have to be in that awful mess.
Out of breath and by now quite frantic over possibly missing my flight, set to leave in one hour, I showed the security agent my boarding pass. But there was no sign of me being approved in advance. Something had gone wrong in this new world of increased screening and, nope, I was going to have to go back to that endless lineup. Actually, it did have an end: someone was standing by an escalator several hundred feet from the actual queue holding up a sign saying “End of Line.” That’s sure how it felt for me, too. I called Rob and said I wasn’t going to make the flight and that I’d keep him posted.
I stood in that line, constantly checking my watch and waiting for any signs that we were making progress. Yes, we were moving, but at an impossibly slow pace. Eventually I made it to the security check. I had no luggage (Rob had the packed suitcases with him as he drove to Nevada) and I was asked a few times about that.
I ran to my gate and sat, awaiting word on our Delta flight’s fate. We were past boarding time by then, but still all of the seats at our gate were full! It turns out that luck was in my favour and the flight was having a similar difficulty to that which faced my earlier incoming plane: a shortage of ramps and gates at which to park. (An $830 million expansion appears to be the cause of all of this, including the initial difficulties with long lines and a shuttle from one terminal to another that was also in the midst of a construction zone.)
Finally, we boarded our flight to Vegas. But if I thought my travel troubles were over that day, I was wrong. When I got to the terminal, I just followed a flight crew and got onto a shuttle connecting to a different arrivals area. I had told Rob I’d meet him in the arrivals parking lot; I was to call him when I landed and he’d pull up and get me. Or at least that was the plan.
Rob had gone to the terminal at which Delta lands; I’d instinctively headed to the place where we had landed on Canadian flights in the past. So I stood there in the 38C heat, trying again and again to call Rob. No answer.
After about six attempts, he picked up. Apparently he was in an area with poor cell reception – at a different terminal! Yes, I’d said I’d be where I was the time before when he caught the shuttle to a rental car agency while I scooped up our luggage and then stayed at the airport to be picked up. But Rob assumed I’d be in the parking area of the terminal at which I landed. I think I probably should have been. But it was just the icing on a slice of really lousy travel cake that day.
My next US flight, I’ve left two hours to connect. I’m going to make sure my boarding pass says exactly what I think it says. After all, I don’t want that whole debacle to have occurred with no lessons learned! And fortunately, a bad luck day at two airports certainly did not foretell my fortune once I got seated at a favourite video poker machine (as I told you here two weeks ago).
Here’s to smoother travels and the things we have to experience to make sure we do it right the next time! Tomorrow, I’ll be doing it again with a smoother outcome – I hope!