Travel Karma

30 01 2010

Dear Travel Karma, Whatever did I do to make you angry? I was on such a good run for a while there, with amazing trips to Portland and New Hope and more, but my last three trips have proved rather taxing. Aruba went smoothly as far as flights go, but the actual trip was spent being stressed and lost and telling myself at least it was warm. Then there was my holiday trip home to California, when I managed to bypass the blizzard and get out of New York but weather in San Francisco (yes, California) stranded me in the Las Vegas airport for a day.

Now here I am on my much anticipated trip to Nashville, but I haven’t made it very far. Last night I sat strapped in and hanging in a puddle jumper plane to Philadelphia (while two like teenage girls like prattled behind me about how, like, they were going to party over the weekend and about, like, the airports in the south – a.k.a. Wisconsin, no joke – having, like, barbecue joints in them), only to discover that a snow storm in Nashville had me grounded for the night.

A lesser traveler might have cut her losses then and there and hightailed it back to New York where we aren’t (ahem, most people aren’t) afraid of a little snow, but not me. In true “mishaps are adventures style I accepted a 6:45 flight connecting in Charlotte and booked the “distressed” rate at a nearby hotel. If only that hotel had been in Philly and not Springfield, where the best attraction seemed to be the Target down the road (to which, incidentally, I never made it – too cold). I ate pretzels for dinner, but was warm inside and hopeful that my luck would turn.

This morning I awoke at 4:30, played some some music while getting ready, and remained hopeful while the man from Kentucky on the airport shuttle waxed on about how we were likely to get stuck in Charlotte since the storm had moved there.

It didn’t look much better at the gate, where a a passing pilot gave me a grim look and a warning while I was assessing my chance with the attendant at the gate. The concensus seemed to be that Charlotte was no good today, and yet no one would tell me not to go. Finally the kindly attendant suggested a direct flight to Nashville at noon, a flight that yesterday had been oversold. But my miracle worker got me on it, and I a dose of friendly folks.

And so here I am, at 7 am in the Philadelphia airport, with five more hours to go. Libby is already in Nashville and leaves very early tomorrow, so by the time I arrive later this afternoon we will have a total of six or so hours to explore music city together.

But, Travel Karma, lest my complaints about my last two trips have dealt me this latest mishap, please do not misconstrue this account as whining. Rather, I find it hilarious now, and hey, there are bright spots:

– I will, eventually, make it to Nashville.
– I am penning this diatribe, currently, from my iPhone – the wonders of technology (and kudos to my adept thumbs).
– I’m sitting in a rocking chair – at the airport.

Four Hours in Las Vegas (Airport)

22 12 2009

I have been traveling all day. And I’ve been having some pretty terrible travel luck. Perhaps my complaints about Aruba made for bad travel karma? Let’s recap the course of events…

I had a pleasant afternoon of packing yesterday. Having resigned myself to checking a bag, I went for the big suitcase, and stuffed it to the brim, though only (please be impressed) half with clothes. The key to traveling home, I learned over the summer, is to travel bearing gifts. Items that stay there make for room in the suitcase on the way back, fruitful for shopping trips to stores we don’t have in New York (Nordstrom, Ambiance…) or simply taking advantage of errand-running with a car. At any rate, yesterday I took my time, mapped out a few options for Christmas outfits, and filled my roomy suitcase, all to alternating Christmas songs and Gilmore Girls reruns.

Last night, I braved the cold and met up with Libby (and later Tiffany) for some yuletide, er… beers at McSorley’s before heading out. While warming near the ancient stove, I tried umpteen times to call my favorite Brooklyn car service, Arecibo, to no avail, but finally managed to book my car online. I was home by 12:30 am, in time to do some final cleaning and double check with Arecibo, who assured me that a 7:30 am pick-up would be plenty of time to get to JFK by 8:00. (Note to self: do not listen to the guy on the phone.)

Monday morning, 7:00 am. I wake, dress, and proceed with my morning routine, beyond excited that it’s finally the day I’ll be going home. Monday morning, 7:30 am. I am standing in the entryway to my building, waiting for my car. The minutes drip by. I call Arecibo, and no one picks up. I call, again and again, with alternating results of busy signals and no answer. I call Mexicana cab, who answers and puts me on hold. I wait two minutes, then hang up, call back, finally get through and beg not to be placed on hold. I’m told a car will be to me in five minutes.

Monday, 7:45 am. A car with a Mexican cab drives past my building but doesn’t slow, and is turning the corner by the time I am able to get out of the building, realizing, as the door slams behind me, that my keys are in my bag, insside the locked building door. In my only stroke of luck that morning, another tenant leave the building a minute later, thereby letting me back in, to stand and wait some more. More phone calls. More waiting.

Monday morning, 8:00 am (the time I wanted to be at the airport to make my 9:30 am flight). I’m on the phone, after being placed on hold, again, with Mexicana cab, begging for a car, when the Arecibo driver rolls up. She stops, and the two of us have to hoist my massive, book-laden suitcase over the giant snowbank that is my sidewalk. I clamber into the cab with wet feet and try some deep breathing.

We arrive at the airport at 8:50 am (the woman at Virgin has told me during my frantic call to her from the cab that the gates close a half hour before the flight is scheduled to depart). I run, stand in line, jump when they make the last call for Las Vegas, apologize humbly when the attendant reprimands me for my tardiness. Lucky for me, security line is short, and I scramble through with plenty of time to spare.

My first flight was uneventful. Thanks to Google’s offering free Wifi on Virgin flights as a special holiday treat, I was able to get a little work done in addition to catching up on my New York Magazine reading. We wait a half hour before taking off since several runways are still blanketed in snow, but still landed in Vegas on time.

I had a two and a half hour layover to start. It’s not 4:30 pm and I’m still in the airport, waiting for my 3:55-scheduled flight to begin boarding. I’ve wandered the Vegas airport twice over, eaten a pretzel, wandered through Brookstone, contemplated trying my luck at the slot machines that checker the airport, but, given my day, I’m guessing that would be a waste of some quarters.

I thought I had evaded the weather delays in New York. Pleasant San Francisco, it seems, has had such bad luck that the entire runway in San Francisco airport has been closed for an hour and a half. And so I sit, contemplating the city that I was so happy to come home to, and the city that I currently loathe. Groan.