Air Travel Adventure Time Again! Or, Why I Love Summer Travel
Monday I left for Chicago, and naturally there were some delays. I was pleased, however, to only arrive in Chicago about an hour and a half later than scheduled. Since there were several conferences in town that week, I stayed at a hotel I don't usually stay at, but I might pick it again. It was an Embassy Suites (fridge! microwave! separate living room!) across the street from a big, nice grocery store and about half-way between Navy Pier and The Good Part of Michigan Ave. It was also only about an 8-9 block walk from the office and 2 blocks from the best italian restaurant downtown, and that's a fact!! (in my opinion). Guaranteed!! (not a guarantee). If you're ever in Chicago, check out Volare at the corner of Grand and Santa Clara. Good prices, terrific service, great food, loud and crowded. Get a reservation.
The plan was to fly home Thursday evening after class, arrive in Raleigh a bit before midnight, work Friday, and fly to Austin after work on Friday afternoon. Then I'd spend a fabulous weekend in Austin with family and friends, and fly home on Monday at the crotch of dawn and go straight to work.
But O'Hare had other plans. I should have suspected something was up when I never received notification that my first-class upgrade request went through. When I arrived at the airport, the airline had annouced that my flight home was cancelled and there was no way to get me home that night. They offered to put me on standby for a flight the next morning, but there were LOTS of people already on that stnadby list, so my chances weren't great. I decided it would be easy enough to work from the Austin office on Friday, so I asked to be rebooked on a flight directly to Austin. I could just wash a few things and buy some more things when I got there, since all I had were 2 workout outfits and 3 business dresses.
The Austin flight was full. I was 3rd on the standby list. No one on standby made it onto the plane, including the poor guy who had left India 30 hours before and was trying to get home to Austin.
Then I made friends with the nicest lady at O'Hare, Yolanda. She had been rebooked for a Houston flight, planning to rent a car, drive, and get to Austin around 3am. I asked if she wanted company, and she said sure, so we teamed up to rent a car from Houston to Austin, and everything was working out. Until the Houston flight cancelled. By this time, of course, every flight out of O'Hare was cancelled, so there were somewhere around 100000 people with nowhere to go, and the hotels were filling up fast. Yolanda and I managed to reserve the last room at a Doubletree in the distant suburbs and get rebooked for flights to Dallas and then to Austin the next day (there was no way to get to Raleigh in time to make the flight from Raleigh to Austin, so it was really the only choice). After waiting over an hour for a cab, we got to the Doubletree around 11:30 and they rolled out the red carpet for us-- cookies, free breakfast coupons, replacement deodorant, the whole 9.
After a 6am wake up call, we caught a limo to Midway airport, I left my cell phone in the car, and spent 35 minutes trying to explain to the gate agent why I was going to Austin from Midway airport when I had been scheduled to go from O'Hare to Raleigh the night before, and making sure I still had a ticket from Austin to Raleigh at the end of the weekend. This was, clearly, too much to comprehend. After several false starts and nearly having my Austin-Raleigh reservation cancelled, they FINALLY figured out that, yes, I had to get to Austin today even though I didn't go to Raleigh yesterday and I had to get back to Raleigh Monday even though I didn't go to Raleigh today and that these had been, in fact, two separate itineraries even though I didn't go to Raleigh yesterday and that yes, I really was supposed to be flying out of Midway airport this morning even though I was supposed to fly out of O'Hare last night to go to Raleigh and that I really did have to get to Austin today even though I was supposed to go to Raleigh last night and I definitely had to be confirmed on a flight home to Raleigh in a few days even though I didn't go to Raleigh yesterday.
Anyway, now I'm here. My cell phone arrived in the mail at my house yesterday and the sweet Polish lady who drove the limo will get a nice, generous tip in the mail from me, and I'm absolutely having the time of my life with all my aunts, girl cousins, sister-in-law, brother, dear friends, and mom. My twinkies (brief backstory: there are 4 siblings in my mom's generation, and each had one and only one daughter, so the 4 of us are the Twinkies-- more like sisters than cousins) threw a baby shower for me, mom and her sisters made wonderful food, we had a fantastic party, and IHPE has had a TON of attention. I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend. SNG is home missing out on the estrogen-fest, but I think he'd have enjoyed himself in spite of all the "ooh"ing and "aah"ing over bibs, onesies, pacifiers, little dresses, and two gorgeous hand-knitted blankets.
Gosh, what else to say? I will fill in with a few pictures later, but for now I just wanted to vent about the crazy travel adventure and dish over the wonderful weekend that followed.